FARRAGUT moves FORWARD into post-production while trying to reach the $50K crowd-funding limit…can they make it?? (interview with JOHNNY K.)

Back in 2016, CBS and Paramount placed a $50,000 limit on public crowd-funding in their fan film guidelines. Since then, only one Star Trek fan film (that I know of) has reached that limit. And while a handful of fan projects have made it into the tens of thousands, most top out in the four-figure range. So when a crowd-funded fan project starts realistically knocking on that $50,000 ceiling, it’s certainly newsworthy!

And that brings us to FARRAGUT FORWARD, the sequel fan film to the beloved fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT that produced five full-length episodes, three short vignettes, two animated episodes, and one comic book between 2004 and 2016. The TOS sets that Starship Farragut constructed went on to be used for the entire run of the series STAR TREK CONTINUES and live on still as NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA, providing the starship setting for such fan series as DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE, AVALON UNIVERSE, and a host of other Trek fan films and series. The proud legacy of Starship Farragut and the team behind it has benefited the entire Star Trek fan film community for two decades.

But the man behind FARRAGUT FILMS, JOHN BROUGHTON, wasn’t content to just wrap everything up back in 2016. In late August of 2021, John announced a new Farragut project (originally conceived years earlier) that would move Farragut FORWARD into the 1980s movie-era of Star Trek. Such fan films and series are a rarity in the community because of the challenges involved building both the sets from that era as well as the precision required to create those elaborate “monster maroon” uniforms that fans love so much.

But John was up for the challenge, as was his newly-chosen director for the project, JOHNNY K. of KAOTICA STUDIOS. Johnny’s Batman fan film The Oath has already won multiple film festival awards, and he was eager to tackle Farragut Forward.

Director Johnny K. (seated) and executive producer John Broughton on the set of Farragut Forward. Photo credit: Britt Dvorak.

Their Indiegogo kicked off in February of 2022 with an ambitious goal of $30,000. It was definitely a campaign done right, with frequent updates, photos, videos, interviews, and other features letting fans and donors know exactly what was being done and planned for. The Indiegogo fully funded on March 25, and by its “end” date of April 2 had taken in a staggeringly impressive $33,005 from 139 backers!

I put “end” in quotation marks because Indiegogo has a feature that allows campaigns that reach their goals before the deadline to continue fundraising with InDemand status, and that’s exactly what Farragut Forward has done in the two years since. Another $10K in donations has been raised in the last two years, bringing the campaign within just $7K of the $50K guideline limit, and the race isn’t over yet. Farragut Forward is continuing its crowd-funding efforts, having published this recent blog and released the following video after wrapping up its final major location shoot last month…

If you’d like to help Farragut Forward with a donation—or a second or third donation if you’ve already contributed—here’s the link to their Indiegogo campaign…


And if you’re wondering why this project is still trying to raise money even after exceeding its crowd-funding goal by $10K, then read on—as that is the first question I asked Johnny K. in our latest interview, which covers a number of things not covered in their recent blog post…

JONATHAN – With $43,160 from 220 backers already raised for this project, Johnny, what expenses are you still needing to cover?

JOHNNY – At this point, it’s all about recouping as many costs as possible. All the wood, computers, monitors, and other materials that went into those elaborate physical sets we’ve been shooting on for 18 months weren’t cheap. Our set team built a full sickbay set with bio-beds, a maze of starship corridors, officers’ quarters which we redressed as crew quarters, a laboratory, a brig cell, and a 360° Klingon bird-of-prey enclosed bridge set with a viewscreen and ceiling. Then after all that, they built an incredible museum-quality, movie-era starship bridge which we were able to redress as a couple of different ships.

Other costs included all those incredible costumes (for principal cast and a sea of background actors), elaborate alien makeup, props, food, and other production costs for a project of this scope. We were committed to making this film the right way, and once our costs started adding up, it’s not like we were going to stop at the halfway mark. We were determined to finish it and have something we could all be immensely proud of.

Makeup artist Michele Clauser on location filming Farragut Forward. Photo credit: Certain Gravity Photography.

As you know, the CBS/Paramount fan film guidelines allow us to fundraise up to $50,000, and we’re hoping to raise as much of that as possible to help offset all of our production costs, which have been considerable…well over $50,000.

JONATHAN – Is all filming now completely wrapped now on Farragut Forward, or are there still some pick-up shots to get?

JOHNNY – Principal photography wrapped on March 17 after 18 months (cameras first rolled in October 2022!). There are still some minor pickup and insert shots that need to be filmed, along with some ADR, but thankfully no re-shoots! Many of our sets only stood for 48-72 hours, so there was an incredible amount of pressure to make sure we got everything we needed as we went.

JONATHAN – What has been the most challenging aspect of this project for you personally as a director?

JOHNNY – We all knew Farragut Forward would be a marathon, not a sprint. The extended production period has been a challenge, but was necessary. We committed to using real/physical sets, and each of those sets were built at different times throughout production, so our big weekends of filming took place after each set was built, every two or three months. Then we had a 9-month gap between our last two shoots since we weren’t going to schedule our night/exterior shoots in the middle of winter.

I come from the indie-film world, where you can shoot an entire short film in a just few days, so maintaining high energy and momentum across 18 months of production was a challenge. On the flip side, it gave us time to fully prepare for each shoot, and to recharge ourselves in between. After each shoot, we always got our department heads together and did an after-action review of what went well and what could be improved before the next shoot. Shooting on each new set felt like its own mini-movie with its own dedicated pre-production period. If we had been able to shoot the entire movie in a month, we would have lost a lot of that critical prep time and probably would have burned out a lot of people.

I can’t say enough about our cast and crew. Despite the LONG production period, everyone always brought their A-game and kept up their high energy right until the very end when we crossed the finish line.

JONATHAN – What has been the most rewarding aspect of the project so far?

JOHNNY – The people. Directing Farragut Forward has introduced me to many new friends from the cast and crew—people I would not have otherwise met, and now we’re lifelong friends. I met so many new friends on this production and am looking forward to working with them again.

JONATHAN – How satisfied are you with the footage you’ve gotten?  Is there anything you wish you could have done but weren’t able to do because of either time, money, or resources?

JOHNNY – I’m extremely happy with our footage. An assembly cut of the film has already been pieced together, and I’m really happy with everything I see. John Broughton (Executive Producer) came by recently to see some of the footage, and he also loved what he saw.

We are each our own worst critic, so there are always little things I see that I wish I’d spent five more minutes on here and there, but that’s a normal part of filmmaking at any level. Filmmakers always want five more minutes to dial something in and to make a great shot perfect, but those five minutes stack up and become hours and days which can really put you behind schedule, and falling behind schedule was not a luxury we had on Farragut Forward. I’d rather have a great movie that gets released than a perfect movie I’m still tweaking for the rest of my life.

Aside from always wanting just a little more time on set, there’s really nothing I felt we had to sacrifice due to a lack of money or resources. It would have been much easier and cheaper to shoot our final scenes in a nice comfy indoor set, close to home, with electricity and bathrooms, but I was adamant about shooting night/exteriors to really open up the end of our movie and get us outside in the open air. It was much more challenging and difficult to get all those people to a field in the middle of rural Virginia, but now that it’s over, I’m very glad we didn’t sacrifice it for the sake of comfort and ease. We never once pushed the “easy” button during this production.

JONATHAN – When do you estimate fans will be able to watch the premiere of FF?  What is still left to do at this point?

JOHNNY – We’re currently targeting a late July 2024 release on YouTube. A few more inserts and pickup shots need to be filmed this spring, as well as some ADR, and some VFX and CGI starship shots need to be finalized. The CGI ship shots are being worked by SAM COCKINGS in the UK, and even his rough/pre-viz concepts are stunning.

Our assembly cut will soon become a rough cut, and once the picture is locked, focus will then turn to sound design and color grading. And there’s the trailer! Just because cameras stopped rolling doesn’t mean the work is over!

Thanks as always for the coverage and support!

JONATHAN – The honor and pleasure is always mine, Johnny. And speaking of support, here’s that Indiegogo link one last time…