Coming in 3 days: the BLOGGER-BATTLE OF AXANAR!

These days, I don’t typically engage directly with the AXANAR detractors.  There’s no point.  I’m not gonna change their minds, and they’re certainly not gonna change mine.  Any “discussion” we get into quickly breaks down into all the old beating-dead-horse accusations and rumors and criticisms—often with a generous helping of vitriol and vulgarity—and frankly, it’s just a waste of my time.

And yet, in just three days time, I’ll be posting (in conjunction with Trekzone.org) an epic 3-part discussion and debate between myself and noted Axanar detractor MATTHEW MILLER…and I do mean epic!  Take a listen to the teaser that Matthew just posted…

When we set out to have our across-the-globe (Matt’s in Australia) audio “smackdown,” we had no idea how long the discussion would last or how heated it would get.  There were no rules and only a loose outline of topics/questions to guide us.   Our intention was to keep things civil, and for the most part, we did…although not completely.

When all was said and done, we’d managed to go at it for nearly three hours over the course of two days of Skype calls!  On the second day, I’d caught my son’s cold, and if you listen carefully, you’ll probably hear from my voice the exact point when the day one conversation ended and day two began.

What makes this interaction between me and Matthew so interesting and enlightening (and dare I say “fun”?) is that we actually interview EACH OTHER.  Matt’s done scores of interviews with notable Trek people, as have I.  So rather than simply having one of us interview the other, we ask questions back and forth…and tough questions at that!  And best of all, unlike the recent pay-per-view Michael Hinman/Carlos Pedraza podcast on Alpha Waves Radio, this one is not only presenting BOTH sides of the controversial topic (rather than a simple echo-chamber), but it’s also absolutely FREE to listen to!

So how did this whole “Blogger Battle of Axanar” come to be?

Continue reading “Coming in 3 days: the BLOGGER-BATTLE OF AXANAR!”

Star Trek STUNT DOUBLES doubles its offerings!

Ah, how do I describe STAR TREK STUNT DOUBLES to the uninitiated?  The words wacky, zany, low-budget, irreverent, unpredictable, funny, low-budget, inspired, creative, one-man show, clever, did I mention low-budget?, wild, crazy, thr0w-caution-to-the-wind, Star Trek fan film parody vignette series all seem to get close…but not quite there yet.

Star Trek Stunt Doubles is a “I’m doing it my way, marching to the beat of my own drummer, if you don’t like it then don’t watch it” labor of love that, to me, is what fan films are all about.

And you may very well not like it.  That’s okay.  Personally, I love it because I never know what’s coming next.  Most of the time, it’s word-for-word recreations of scenes from classic TOS Star Trek episodes, lovingly crafted and redone by one guy in front of a green screen wearing uniforms, costumes, make-up, wigs, fake mustaches, and lord knows what else!  Then, just when you least expect it, a character will say something that leaves your head spinning in the What-The-Frak??? moment of weirdness and humor.  As I said, I never know what’s coming and when.

And hey, if you don’t like what you see, nearly all the episodes have runtimes of only  between 2 and 5 minutes.  So Stunt Doubles is hardly much of a time investment.  But if you look closely, you’ll realize just how much time and effort its creator, who goes only by the name MrBonk85, has to put in even to get this ultra-low budget fan production done.  After all, HE is playing every part!  And where does he find all those costumes???

I chatted with MrBonk85 back in May of this year (you can click here for the blog).  It’s a short audio interview if you’d like to listen now…

At the time, there were seven Stunt Doubles episodes that had been released: vignette parodies of “The Enemy Within,” “Spectre of the Gun,” “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “This Side of Paradise,” and “Charlie X”…plus two original shorts not based on specific TOS episodes.

MrBonk85 ended our interview saying he wasn’t sure if he’d be making any more parody vignettes in the future.  Well, guess who has released SIX more episodes since then…!

Continue reading “Star Trek STUNT DOUBLES doubles its offerings!”

Finishing touches – ALEC PETERS updates AXANAR supporters on the ARES BRIDGE set!

Remember that bridge set that the AXANAR detractors said would never be finished?  Well, I’m sorry to disappoint the detractors (no, I’m not), but it’s almost finished, folks!  I’d estimate we’re more than 95% of the way there at this point, but that’s just a subjective opinion.  The important point is that things have now moved from the “big” stuff to the final little details.

In an update published last week on the Axanar.com website, ALEC PETERS provided a list of things that still need to get done:

  1. Replace two broken upper monitors.
  2. Install rubber matting in section of bridge that needs it.
  3. The edges of the plexis need to all be painted black so light does not bleed around the edges.
  4. Rout out and finish Tactical, Fleet Ops and Pilot consoles and install plexis.
  5. Plexis for Tactical and Fleet Ops upper monitors.
  6. Plexis for controls on Captains Chair.
  7. Replace computers for eye-level monitors with Rasberry Pis to reduce power needs.
  8. Install Plexis for 10 eye-level monitors.
  9. Install lighting above and below consoles.
  10. Green screen or 84″ TV for the main viewer.
  11. Get chairs in place for all stations.

The biggest challenge at this point involves power consumption.  The studio can supply 200 amps.  Obviously, there’s the lights and A/C for the building and whatever is plugged in at the moment.  But the real energy drain comes from the various electrical elements of the bridge set itself.

Now, Alec could opt for a solution similar to the one used recently for the TOS sets formerly known as Starbase Studios that were moved to Dogpatch, Arkansas.  That facility didn’t have enough capacity to power all the bridge stations simultaneously, so folks filming there would meed to light one station at a time for close-ups and then try to minimize wide shots showing multiple stations at the same time.

This option was not acceptable for Alec.  He hadn’t put four years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of both donor money and his own money into completing this incredible set only to be limited to filming it from only tight close-up angles…even though the level of detail provided will make those “hero” shots look pretty awesome!

No, Alec needed a solution where, if he flicks a switch or three, the whole bridge set lights up for filming whatever scene from whatever angle the director needs.  But how…?

Continue reading “Finishing touches – ALEC PETERS updates AXANAR supporters on the ARES BRIDGE set!”

VOYAGER CONTINUES: RAVEN is now STARSHIP PROMETHEUS…adds new CGI footage!

I’ve got some good news for you and I’ve got some bad news.  I also have some neutral news, and I’ll start with that.  The fan film formerly known as Star Trek: Raven, later known as Voyager Continues: Raven (or was that Raven: Voyager Continues?) will now be known as STARSHIP PROMETHEUS…with its pilot episode being “Raven.”  Is that all perfectly unclear?

The original RAVEN fan film was released in October of 2016, one of the first fan films to come out after the fan film guidelines were announced a few months earlier (although filming for the production had wrapped prior to the guidelines).  Initially, show-runner DAVID WHITNEY of Starfleet Studios in Iowa was prepared to challenge the guidelines openly by releasing Raven in defiant non-compliance with the new rules.

Ultimately, though, he only broke two of the “no-no’s”—the video was 30-minutes long but wasn’t released in two separate 15-minute parts, and the title appeared as Star Trek: Raven (the guidelines sy you can’t use the words “Star Trek” in your fan film title).  However, the title appeared in the YouTube description as RAVEN: Voyager Continues – A Star Trek Fan Production.  So David kinda half-followed the guidelines in that department.

In the end, CBS took no action (and probably no notice).  After all, this was still the “transition” period just after the guidelines were released, and fan films released at that time seemed to be allowed a bit of leeway.

Since then, Raven has generated an impressive 130K views.  The cast was a mix of older Star Trek fans who weren’t necessarily actors (including JIM VON DOLTEREN in one of his earliest Trek fan film roles—he would later go on to appear in The Federation Files, Starship Republic, and the upcoming Convergence) plus young fashion models…truly an interesting mix!

And even though it was called Voyager Continues (in addition to being called Raven), there was only one brief scene buried in the closing credits showing Seven-of-Nine (played by CAT ROBERTS, who has also appeared in multiple fan series including Star Trek Continues, New Voyages (an unreleased episode), The Federation Files, and The Red Shirt Diaries).  Although the missing starship Voyager was discussed, nearly all of the action in Raven took place in the Alpha Quadrant.

Okay, so what’s the good news and what’s the bad news…?

Continue reading “VOYAGER CONTINUES: RAVEN is now STARSHIP PROMETHEUS…adds new CGI footage!”

NO CENSORSHIP for MIDNIGHT’S EDGE on Fan Film Forum… (editorial update)

Last week, I published a blog about the MIDNIGHT’S EDGE tabloid-style reporting on Star Trek…and the controversy it often triggers among fans.  I myself am more than somewhat conflicted when it comes to this video series and the content it presents online.

I also reported last week that the Fan Film Forum Facebook group was being polled to see whether members wanted to ban all postings providing links to Midnight’s Edge videos because such postings tended to rile up many fans on both sides of the Discovery/CBS fence (supporters and detractors) and result in rancorous commentary.

After a week of voting, the polls closed last night with a final tally of 21 votes to ban and 40 votes not to ban.  So by a margin of 2-to-1, there will be NO censorship of Midnight’s Edge on Fan Film Forum.

I have to say, I am very relieved.  I’m not comfortable with censorship of anything that isn’t rude and crude, insulting, or patently false.  And as I said, Midnight’s Edge isn’t patently false.  But it is filled with rumor and innuendo that all too often turns out not to be true.

As an example of one such misleading claim, Midnight’s Edge just this past Tuesday released a legitimate interview with the legendary NICHOLAS MEYER (writer and director of Star Trek II and VI, among other films).  He was asked about his proposed Ceti Alpha V project for CBS, and here’s what he said…

Now check out what Midnight’s Edge was reporting about the new Nick Meyer series during the summer of LAST year…

Obviously, their “reporting” from last summer was completely wrong.  Meyer has now said that his project was only ever commissioned as three-night event and not a new TV series…and certainly not as a replacement for Discovery.

Granted, back in their 2017 podcast, Midnight’s Edge did say “word is…” and “rumor…”—so Midnight’s Edge isn’t committed to standing behind what they said last year.

But let’s face it, when listening to that second video (from 2017), it’s hard NOT to assume that these rumors are true, right?  The narrator’s voice just sounds so sure and confident.

In a perfect world, Midnight’s Edge would report only verifiable facts and not rumors and speculation.  But then the world wouldn’t be so perfect for Midnight’s Edge…which I’m certain would not have nearly as many views.

So once again, I advise folks to take what Midnight’s Edge says with a healthy pile of salt and listen carefully and intelligently, not blindly accepting everything they tell you.

GHOST SHIP appears out of nowhere! (audio interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX)

The vast majority of the fan film community had no idea that GHOST SHIP was coming (including me)!  But just a few weeks ago, on Halloween, the newest full-length Star Trek fan production from JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX debuted on YouTube.

Although shot mainly on the STAGE 9 STUDIOS starship sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut, I learned from interviewing Josh and Victoria that some scenes were also filmed at the Arkansas sets originally known as Starbase Studios.  Their visual FX were done by Trekyards’ CGI genie SAMUEL COCKINGS, who will soon be releasing Temporal Anomaly and Convergence.  Even VANCE MAJOR makes a cameo as the character Erick Minard.  So these guys definitely got around the fan film world to make their project.

And what an impressive production it is!  A “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” mash-up, of sorts, the film combines spooky zombie horror tropes with comedic moments and fun characters to create a wonderfully enjoyable space adventure.  And it follows the guidelines completely, including dividing the fan film into two less-than-15-minute segments.  The cast is made up of trained actors along with a crew of experienced film producers.  The result looks great, sounds great, and is written, directed, and edited at a noticeably high level.

That might be one of the reasons that the views for Ghost Ship have exploded on Youtube.  When I conducted our interview on Wednesday of last week, Josh and Victoria were excited to see their total views had climbed over 8,000.  Well, guess what?  As I write this 8 days later, they’ve gone viral with more than 105,000 views!

Before I get to the fan and interview, let me take a moment to mention that GHOST SHIP and a growing number of other Trek fan films would not be possible without the generosity of RAY TESI, present owner of the TOS  sets in of Kingsland, GA.  Ray makes these sets available for free (well, the cost of electricity used during the shoot) to any fan filmmaker following the guidelines.  But the $3,000/month rent is paid out of Ray’s own pocket.

Currently, there is an opportunity for fans to contribute a little bit each month (even a dollar makes a difference) through a PATREON.  Right now, fans are donating $163 of that $3,000 monthly expense, but there’s always room for more help from our community.  To donate, go to:

https://www.patreon.com/stage9studios

And now, here are parts 1 and 2 of Ghost Ship

Pretty good fan film, huh?  Want to learn more about how it was made, how long it took to complete, and where to go to find a dozen convincing zombies in southern Georgia?  Take a listen to this really fun interview with writer/director Joshua Irwin and producer Victoria Fox…

JOSHUA IRWIN as Commodore Joseph Austin and VICTORIA FOX as Commander Amanda Beck in GHOST SHIP

Thank YOU for two reasons…

I know that nearly everyone in America is busy saying “Thanks!” today for this and that.  Even before I woke up this morning, I received about a dozen private and public messages from folks thanking me for being their friend, for writing this blog, for reading their blog or listening to their podcast, and for just being me.  And to them I say: “Right back atcha!”

But I feel it’s very important for me to thank YOU today for reading my blog.  It truly means the world to me!  And not just because I made $5.97 over the past week in ad revenue (although, hey, nothing to complain about).

I’m thanking you for two reasons…

1) Love it or hate it, you’re coming here to read what I write, or listen to the folks I interview.  That feels amazing, especially since I put so much time and effort into this blog.  Whether it’s a multi-part blog feature about the history of a long-running fan series, a 2o00-word editorial, a short 350-word news update, or an hour-long audio interview, all of that takes time to produce.

For example, tomorrow I’ll publish a 55-minute audio interview with the show-runners for the just-released fan film GHOST SHIP.  In addition to watching the half-hour fan film (and then re-watching it), I also had to set up the interview (clear time in my schedule to match theirs), conduct the interview, go back later and remove the “um”s and long pauses and places where we accidentally talked over each other (that took about three hours to edit), listen through the finished interview once again, take screen caps for the feature image and interviewee photos, and then write a 400-word intro for the blog.  So it’s nice to know that at least a few hundred (or few thousand, if I’m lucky) people are reading and listening.

2) I love fan films.  I don’t know how it happened, but it did.  And now that I’m hooked, I want to spread the love and appreciation.  It’s why I keep doing this blog: not just for me as an ego trip, and not just for you as a fan base…but for all of the fan film creators out there who work even harder than I do.  They deserve our support, and Fan Film Factor is here to celebrate them all (or as many as I can cover before I run out of time!)

So on behalf of myself and of the FANtastic community of fan filmmakers out there, thank YOU for visiting my blog.

COZMO’S Kickstarter asks for $16,000…winds up with $54,397!

I think we can call this one a successful campaign!  The team that produced RENEGADES opened their Kickstarter to fund post-production on their new original series pilot for COZMO’S  to the general public on Tuesday , October 23… having already passed their $16,000 goal!  In fact, by the time they went “live,” donations had actually topped $22,000!

How did they manage that?

They invited supporters on their mailing list—who had already donated more than a million dollars to their previous successful crowd-funders for Renegades)—to get special access to a 48-hour “pre-launch” with exclusive access to certain perks.  Yep, if you’re crowd-funding, it helps to have an existing base of supporters to call on!

It also helps when you have a cast that includes actors from Star Trek and Babylon 5 in your pilot episode:

  • Ethan (“Neelix”) Phillips
  • Robert (“The EMH Doctor”) Picardo
  • Aron (“Nog”) Eisenberg
  • Claudia (“Susan Ivanova”) Christian
  • Plus many other professional actions from sci-fi and related genres

Also, the footage (which was all shot back in early 2017 using sets originally constructed for Renegades‘ “The Requiem”) was directed by Stephen Furst (Vir from Babylon 5…who tragically passed away during June of last year).

The Kickstarter ended its 4-week run reaching $54,397 from 865 backers (including me).  You can read a brief interview with show-runner SKY CONWAY about the production that I posted just as the campaign kicked off.  And if you haven’t checked out the trailer for this hilarious “Cheers in Space” series from sci-fi lovers like you, take 82 seconds to check it out:

The campaign surged past two stretch goals.  At $40,000, fans were able to fund…

  • improved quality of music and postproduction
  • a release of Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Cozmo’s 
  • a release of exclusive Cozmo’s deleted scene #1

Once past $45,000, fans also unlocked…

  • a release of new Cozmo’s THEME SONG
  • a release of exclusive Cozmo’s deleted scene #2

Currently, the plan is to complete and release Cozmo’s by June of 2019 on the Atomic Network and to any donor who contributed $17 or more.

My love/hate relationship with MIDNIGHT’S EDGE… (editorial)

“The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth!”  Picard said those eleven words to Wesley Crusher in season five of TNG, but for me those were words I’d already been living by for a quarter century.  I don’t hate much in my life, but I do hate lies.  It’s one of the reasons I call out Axanar detractors when they make up provable falsehoods and why I publicly correct even my own readers when they say things like James Cawley used crowd-funded donations to build his TOS sets (he didn’t).

So what do I think about MIDNIGHT’S EDGE?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Midnight’s Edge (and its sister podcast Midnight’s Edge After Dark) is a YouTube channel made up of hundreds of videos—most of them very well-produced—from different voice-over “reporters”covering films and TV shows from the sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and superhero genres.  They bill themselves as “spin-free analysis of Hollywood corporate politics, film & comics.”

Well, kinda.

I will admit to only watching the videos they’ve made covering the behind-the-scenes “ugliness” of Star Trek: Discovery.  And as I said, the quality of their graphics, sound, background music, transitions, and the organization of information is extremely good.  I’m never bored and usually am quite engrossed for the entire extent of these 20-to-30 minute long videos.  And that’s probably part of the reason these folks typically get views in the tens or even hundreds of thousands (occasionally even cracking a million!).

But every time I watch an episode ofMidnight’s Edge, I have to stop and ask myself: “Is this really going on?”  I mean, it’s usually so JUICY—the intrigue, the back-biting, the incompetence, the panic at CBS!—that a cynical part of me certainly wants it to be true.  Those with a passionate dislike for CBS and Discovery will likely get an emotional rush of satisfaction to see things unraveling behind the scenes at All Access as the house of cards appears to be crashing down.

But is it all, in fact, true…or are fans being duped?

Continue reading “My love/hate relationship with MIDNIGHT’S EDGE… (editorial)”

SATAN sues NETFLIX and WARNER BROS. for COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT for $150 MILLION!

Wow, if that isn’t a click-bait headline, I don’t know what is…but it’s true!

Well, technically, Satan isn’t suing anyone…but rather his followers are suing on behalf of the First of the Fallen for illegal use of his likeness.  Seriously!

Okay, I admit this has nothing to do with Star Trek or fan films, and on its face, this seems like a ridiculous, frivolous lawsuit barely worthy of anyone’s attention.  It doesn’t even have a Tardigrade!

But the further I followed this lawsuit down the rabbit hole (not all the way down—I don’t really want to go there), the more more intriguing it got!  This isn’t as frivolous as you might think, folks.  Personally, I find copyright law fascinating, and when I discover a juicy case like this one, I just can’t help but cover it.

So if you don’t mind indulging me diverting slightly off course from fan films for a short bit, I’d like to tell you a little about THE SATANIC TEMPLE of Salem, Massachusetts and why these Satanists are accusing two multi-billion dollar corporations of stealing their intellectual property (and their deity) and irreparably harming them to the tune of $150 million!

Continue reading “SATAN sues NETFLIX and WARNER BROS. for COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT for $150 MILLION!”