ATROPA – what REALLY happens when you try to sell your sci-fi fan film to the “BIG GUYS”! (audio interview with ELI SASICH)

ATROPA is not a Star Trek fan film, nor was it ever intended to be one.  In fact, it’s closer to an independent sci-fi film than a fan film.  So why am I talking about it here?

Ever since the Star Trek fan film guidelines came out two years ago, armchair quarterbacking fans have suggested than Trek fan filmmakers simply create original sci-fi stories and then go sell them directly to Netflix or some other streaming or on-demand service.  They offer this advice with the same casual confidence of telling someone to remember to use brown sugar to make chocolate chip cookies…as though what they’re suggesting is the easiest thing in the world.

It’s not.

And that’s why I’m focusing today’s blog on Atropa, a film by ELI SASICH.  In a really fascinating and enlightening audio interview, he taught me a LOT about how things work in the real world of Hollywood for an independent filmmaker trying to break into the industry.  If you’re one of those people who thinks it’s a simple thing to make a good film and sell it to Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime…this interview is going to open your eyes.  (So if you want to keep your eyes closed, don’t listen!)

Now, if you absolutely, positively MUST have a Star Trek fan film connection to care about this film, then I’ve actually got one for you!  The visual effects for Atropa (and they are STUNNING!) were created by TOBIAS RICHTER of the The Light Works in Cologne, Germany.  Tobias has done equally stunning VFX for Star Trek: New Voyages, Renegades, and Axanar.

Here’s a trailer for the 7-episode Atropa miniseries (totaling about 80 minutes):

You can only watch Atropa via the special STUDIO+ app from Vivendi (download it here) on an iPhone or iPad, which is a little frustrating if you prefer watching a TV (or don’t use Apple products).  Fortunately, I’ve got an iPhone and was able to use my AppleTV to watch on a big screen TV, and there are other technologies available to get video from your phone or tablet to your television, as well.  There is also a monthly subscription of $3.99, but the first month is free.  So watch Atropa (and maybe a couple of other series) and then cancel…no big deal.

By the way, Atropa was one of ten finalists in the inaugural edition of Canneseries Digital at the Cannes Film Festival.  Although Atropa did not win (that award went to a digital series called Dominos out of Canada), making to the finals is nothing to sneeze at!

And now, here’s an interview with Eli Sasich that I’m certain you’ll enjoy…

STONE TREK is now available on YOUTUBE!

One of my all-time favorite fan series is the mash-up parody STONE TREK.  From 2000-2007, BRIAN MATTHEWS, the creator of Stone Trek, and WALLY FIELDS, who did the voices, released nine hilarious episodes (eight of them 2-parters), masterfully combining the modern stone age of The Flintstones with the final frontier of Star Trek.  You just have to see those episodes to appreciate their comedic perfection, and I’ve enthusiastically rated it as a MUST SEE fan film.

There was only one small problem.  These nine episodes were all created in Adobe’s Flash application  and never exported to YouTube.  The original flash files weren’t even viewable from many smart devices because of the Flash format.

I interviewed Brian and Wally a few years ago (click here to read the interview), and after we finished up and were just shooting the breeze, I asked if he ever thought of maybe exporting the episodes in video format and uploading them to YouTube.  Brian told me that he’d think about it, but in the years since then, all I ever saw were a few of the episodes posted to YouTube by other fans, in varying states of quality.  But the majority of these nine comedy mashup classics remained absent from YouTube.

Until now, that is…

Continue reading “STONE TREK is now available on YOUTUBE!”

New video for THE ROMULAN WAR spotlights the ACTORS!

One of the most anticipated Star Trek fan films at the moment, THE ROMULAN WAR, is currently seeking $10,000 in donations from fans with an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign.  As of today, with 19 days left, they’ve advanced more than 42% of the way toward their goal, which is awesome news.

Have you donated yet?  Have you at least helped to spread the Indiegogo link?  How it is, by the way:

Last week, I featured an 2-part interview with show-runner MARK NACCARATO, and it sure got fans talking!  One of the most interesting comments I saw was a person who wanted to donate but wasn’t sure he was going to like the acting.  After all, many Star Trek fan films can’t or don’t use trained actors, and for $10,000—well—I guess this guy really wanted trained actors.

And as it turns out, Mark’s got ’em!  (Remember that the guidelines don’t preclude using trained actors.  You simply can’t pay them as professionals.)

In fact, Mark has just released a new update video featuring interviews with four members of his cast along with brief clips of their performances (and reveals of their character names).  As Mark mentioned in his interview, 75% of the green-screen scenes for this project have already been filmed, and the $10,000 is intended primarily for post-production (sound, editing, VFX, music, etc.) as well as filming that last 25% of the scenes.

The latest video appears below.  Buckle up…


(My apologies in advance for the length of this blog.  But I think the current situation merits it.)

As you probably know, there are certain areas on the Internet (mostly Facebook) where many of the most hard-core AXANAR detractors congregate and feed off of one anothers’ obsessive antipathy toward this fan project and its show-runner.  Just look at the image to the left.  Here’s a detractor who has spent countless hours creating literally dozens and dozens of these faux movie posters…each of them denouncing ALEC PETERS and Axanar, hurling insults and accusations, and mocking Axanar supporters (like good ol’ “Slow” Lane here—they love calling me that for some childish reason).

Most of the time, this “fear and loathing” of all things Axanar remains safely locked away in the echo chambers of these Facebook groups.  But last week, I was concerned to read the following message posted on the main Axamonitor Facebook page by SHAWN O’HALLORAN……

Continue reading “How AXANAR DETRACTORS condone HARASSMENT (editorial)”

THE ROMULAN WAR fan film launches a $10,000 INDIEGOGO! (interview with MARK NACCARATO, part 2)

Yesterday in Part 1, I began chatting with MARK NACCARATO, the show-runner behind the upcoming fan film project THE ROMULAN WAR.  People have gotten really excited about this new production…and with good reason!  The brutal interstellar war between the Romulan Star Empire and Earth and its allies has fascinated fans since it was first referred to during the TOS episode “Balance of Terror.”  But before the TV series Star Trek: Enterprise could really sink its teeth into the conflict, the show was canceled.  So frustrating!

But now an ambitious new fan production will give Trekkers a unique look inside this fascinating struggle…not simply as a scripted drama but in a mock documentary format similar to that presented in the fan film hit PRELUDE TO AXANAR.  Mark revealed in part 1 of his interview how his project actually predates the creation of Axanar by over a decade, as he began working on The Romulan War as far back as 2000.

The production just launched  a $10,000 Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign last week, and yesterday alone, they took in more than $800…bringing them nearly 21% of the way to their goal.  And because this is Indiegogo and not Kickstarter, they don’t have to reach that goal to actually collect their contributions.  Every dollar donated WILL go to their project, which has already filmed about three-quarters of their scenes and will soon be entering post-production.

If you haven’t watched it yet, they’ve created a very engaging promotional video about their project and crowd-funding campaign:

And now, let’s dive right into the conclusion of our 2-part interview with Mark Naccarato…

Continue reading “THE ROMULAN WAR fan film launches a $10,000 INDIEGOGO! (interview with MARK NACCARATO, part 2)”

THE ROMULAN WAR fan film launches a $10,000 INDIEGOGO! (interview with MARK NACCARATO, part 1)

As any long-time Trekker will tell you, the founding of the United Federation of Planets happened just after the end of the Romulan War with Earth and the Coalition of Planets.  In fact, Star Trek: Enterprise was just beginning to explore the origins of that war when it was ignominiously canceled after only four seasons.

Thanks to the Pocket Books Trek novels, fans have gotten a better glimpse into the Romulan War.  But what if you want to WATCH the war unfold?  Star Trek fan films have offered fans a couple of options.  The long-running, low budget fan series THE ROMULAN WARS (based in Arkansas) produced ten episodes over the span of a decade.  Then in 2016, TOMMY KRAFT released the super-impressive STAR TREK: HORIZON, also based during the Romulan War and featuring the crew of the starship Discovery NX-04.

And now, lightning is about to strike THRICE with a brand new fan series titled THE ROMULAN WAR (no ‘s’ at the end) that’s going to take a very unique look at this significant piece of Star Trek history.  Creator MARK NACCARATO (from Nashville, Tennessee), has created a mockumentary-style production looking back at the Romulan War as a 24th century historical documentary.  Trekkers haven’t seen a fan film approach like this since the wildly popular PRELUDE TO AXANAR with featured a mockumentary-style look back at the Federation’s Four Years War with the Klingon Empire from the point of view of a decade later.

The Romulan War just launched a $10,000 Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign last week, and a lot of people are getting very excited.  Already, fans have donated over $1,200.  Why are they so excited?  Watch this video and see if you get excited, too…

Unlike last month’s Kickstarter campaign for The Holy Core, which only made it halfway to their $12K goal and, therefore, received nothing, Indiegogo doesn’t require that campaigns reach their published goal to turn pledges into actual donations.  So every dollar donated to The Romulan War will go toward funding the project.

Also, most the scenes have already been filmed!  So the question isn’t whether this fan film will be completed but simply how awesome will it look when it’s done.

I chatted with show-runner Mark Naccarato about his project and campaign…

Continue reading “THE ROMULAN WAR fan film launches a $10,000 INDIEGOGO! (interview with MARK NACCARATO, part 1)”

New video added to FUNNY STUFF: “Fanboys Anonymous – Star Wars v Star Trek STREET FIGHT”

Yeah, I know you’ve probably seen a TON of “Star Wars versus Star Trek” fan films, but this one is totally MENTAL…and I mean that literally!  The creators have recently released a series of humorous short films focusing on the fictional (at least, I hope it’s fictional!) TOTAL REHAB MEDIA CLINIC for addictions to Star Trek, Star Wars, Minecraft, Skyrim—you name the fan addiction, they treat it.  You can view their other recent releases here.  But their funniest and most ambitious production yet is an inspired “field trip” where the patients from the Star Trek and Star Wars therapy groups —usually separated—are dropped off together to stretch their legs  for a short bit while the clinic director goes off to make a quick phone call.  What follows is hilariously brilliant and a MUST SEE funny video…

LEAKED scripted scene from the season two premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY!


Now THIS is exciting!  I don’t know whether the producers of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
intentionally leaked this snippet of the script for the first episode of season two or if it just “sneaked” out the door somehow.  But it provides an intriguing look at the direction the creative team will be taking going into the second season.

As has been reported elsewhere, the writing team for Discovery re-assembled at the beginning of last month to begin breaking down season two.  Co-creator Alex Kurtzman, who will be directing the first episode of season two, recently explained, “Breaking story is, in some ways, the easier and faster thing; it’s the ability to execute on it that’s much harder. We want to take the right amount of time and don’t want to rush.”

But with production on the first episode set to kick off later this month, the first script needed to be completed quickly.  Jonathan Frakes, who just confirmed that he will be directing an episode later in season two, commented, “I just read the first script of the second season and the outline for the second script and it’s on fire now.”

Indeed!  And from this leaked scene, I think he’s right.

Granted, there’s no guarantee that the following snippet from the season two premiere script will make it into the actual episode exactly as initially written.  Dialog can get changed, segments added and cut, etc.  But if this leaked scene does make it into the finished episode, I think we’ll all be very surprised and even enthusiastic about the new direction of the series now that the Klingon War is over.

Naturally, the most exciting thing about this leaked snippet is that fans get a glimpse into how the series will be handing the character of Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise who, like Sarek, Amanda, and Harry Mudd, has already been seen in canonical Star Trek history.  Will Captain Pike hew closely to his original version (like Sarek does), or will he be a radical departure (like Harry Mudd)?

Wonder no more!

I’m not sure if I’m even allowed to post this, so read it fast before I get an e-mail on Monday morning from someone with the initials of “C.B.S.” telling me to immediately take it down.

Enjoy this sneak peek into season two…

Continue reading “LEAKED scripted scene from the season two premiere of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY!”

CBS contacts and delays the STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY fan film!

Okay, no one panic!  CBS isn’t going all lawsuit-happy again.  In fact, it’s possible that their experience in the Axanar lawsuit has resulted in a new approach to dealing with Star Trek fan films that concern them: Ask questions first, shoot later.

The first time post-lawsuit that CBS contacted a fan filmmaker with concerns was early in 2016 when Tommy Kraft was trying to raise $250,000 for Star Trek: Federation Rising, his sequel to Star Trek: Horizon.  CBS requested strongly (but politely) that Tommy shut down the project, and he complied.

CBS has been pretty quiet since then when it comes to fan films, until now.  SAMUEL COCKINGS recently released his trailer for STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY,  a fan production he has been working on for five years.  I interviewed him about that project here.  For reasons that will likely become super-obvious when you view the trailer, this planned fan film raised some red flags with CBS for not following a few of the announced guidelines.

Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly was supposed to premiere today on YouTube.  Instead, apparently CBS has asked for (apparently, again, politely) for some changes before it gets released.  Samuel Cockings just posted this announcement to the Temporal Anomaly Facebook page:

Hello Everyone,

While the intent was to release Temporal Anomaly today we were contacted by CBS and are now delaying release of the film until those discussions are concluded and resolved. These have been polite communications and we thank CBS for their approach in dealing with these concerns.

We had hoped to release the project in its pre-guideline state as Temporal Anomaly was written in 2013 and filmed in 2013/2014 however a public release of this now dubbed “Directors Cut” is no longer possible.

A public altered edit of the film may be able to be produced but we are in the early stages of that.

Thank you for the support and interest you have shown, there will be an update on Kickstarter for our backers shortly.

Samuel Cockings

More news as it becomes available…

4th and 5th GRADERS meet the EASTER BUNNY at STARBASE STUDIOS! (audio interview with KEVIN CROXTON)

Easter came early to STARBASE STUDIOS on a cold day in January.  That’s when Emmy-winning musician and Parkview Elementary School teacher KEVIN CROXTON brought 33 students from his Music Club to shoot a Star Trek fan film.

The previous summer, Kevin had agreed to compose and record music for GLEN WOLFE’s and DAN REYNOLD’s fan production “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” (part of their FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series).  In exchange, Kevin was invited to bring his 4th and 5th grade students to the Starbase Studios TOS sets in Marble Falls, Arkansas (about three hours from Parkview Elementary) to spend a day there filming.

The finished product was released a couple of weeks ago and is already up to an impressive 3,200 views.  I consider this a MUST SEE Trek fan film not simply because the kids are adorable but because it really is a remarkably well-produced fan film!  It’s well-lit with lots of interesting camera angles, the sound levels are perfect, the music is great (the kids even get to sing!), there’s amazing make-up on Spock and the Klingons (plus really nice TOS Klingon uniforms), and all of the children do a spectacular job.

But don’t just take my word for it, have a look…

I reached out to Kevin for an interview, and we had a wonderful chat.  Toward the end, he told me that a photographer named BRENDA YELVINGTON had taken hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos, and offered to let me use them for the interview.

Normally, I just do my audio interviews as MP3 files with no visual elements.  But this time, I was able to do something a little extra special and turn the interview into a full YouTube video.  But before anyone says, “That looked really great, Jonathan, you should do it more often…” it only works when you’ve got hundreds of photos and I have a lot of extra time!

Anyway, now that you’ve watched this wonderful little fan film, please enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at group of kids and adults who made it possible…