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.
“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 EdgeAfter 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.”
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?
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!
Back in September of 2010, author KEVIN DAVID ANDERSON saw his novel NIGHT OF THE LIVING TREKKIES (still available in hardcover, paperback, kindle, and audio format) published by Quirk Books. A brilliant mash-up of a Star Trek convention and zombie movies, the book was filled with hilarious and clever jokes and references that Trek fans would get in a nanosecond (including giving all of the chapters TOS episode titles). And to help market the book, a 3-minute trailer was created that, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the top MUST SEE funny fan film shorts ever! See if you agree…
I realize it’s unusual to re-eulogize the same person two days in a row, but STAN LEE was special. Also, since this is Fan Film Factor, I wanted to take a moment to highlight his appearances in two fan films (and his love for Star Trek) before <sniff, sniff> letting him go.
Three years ago, the folks at STARSHIP FARRAGUT raised $15,787 from 202 backers in a Kickstarter intended to fund their series finale “Homecoming.” You can read about the full history of this cutting-edge fan series in this 3-part blog.
Although “Homecoming” is still unreleased (all of the scenes and reshoots were completed by summer of 2016, so the finale remains in a state of post-production), a brief segment was released in August of 2017 featuring none other than STAN LEE! I captured a still image of Stan from that video and used it yesterday for my eulogy blog. Here is the full minute-long clip that includes Stan’s full cameo…
Stan had previously appeared in an early pilot vignette for the fan series TREK: ISOLATION, which was set to spin off from Starship Farragut back in 2015. The vignette, “A Great Responsibility,” viewers with stunned looks on their faces as they saw the legendary Marvel Comics godfather sitting at a desk, wearing a gold TOS Starfleet admiral’s tunic! Here is that video in its entirety…
The fact that someone as famous as Stan Lee, a man who was already well into his 90s(!!!) when these two productions were shot, would even agree to appear in a “silly” Star Trek fan film says so much about this amazing man whom we lost yesterday. Stan was so easy-going, so humble, and loved to have fun. He truly appreciated the fans and would often bend over backward for them.
And Stan loved Star Trek. He discussed the original series with ROD RODDENBERRY (son of Star Trek‘s creator GENE RODDENBERRY) for the documentary TrekNation…
I leave you with this wonderful illustration that I saw yesterday on Facebook…
But for a brief flicker of precious time on this planet, it seemed like STAN LEE just might. He was only seven weeks short of his 96th birthday when he passed away on Monday. But almost until the last moment, Stan would make cameo appearances in nearly all of the MARVEL Cinematic Universe movies. While flying back from Atlanta last week, I watched Avengers: Infinity War once again, and there was Stan, driving Peter Parker and his high school classmates to a field trip on Coney Island. It was a fun and amusing reminder of the guy we all have to thank from these blockbuster films and the wondrous characters they feature.
I bought my first five comic books back in 1979, three of them with the words “STAN LEE PRESENTS…” written just above the title. To a young Jonathan growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Stan Lee WAS comic books. Oh, sure, names like John Byrne and Chris Clamemont, Roger Stern, Roy Thomas, Jim Shooter, George Perez, Frank Miller, Alan Moore…they were super-exciting, too. But “STAN LEE PRESENTS…” was right up there above all their names on every Marvel comic book that I’d pay my 35 cents to buy. (Yep, that’s what they cost when I started!)
The list of characters that Stan Lee created or co-created is massive. You can see them all here.(Seriously, go check out that link. You’ll be amazed.)
But what’s uncanny to me is how many of these characters were created day after day, week after week, month after month…all while Stan was just doing his job at Marvel Comics.
Last week, we met Ensign Williams, the youngest security red shirt on the starship Enterprise…and perhaps the only sane person in the entire crew. Ensign Williams is the protagonist of the brilliant and hilarious fan parody series The Red Shirt Diaries, which adapts the classic episodes of TOS in order from the point-of-view of someone who has absolutely nothing important to do…or does she?
I dug out this 2016 interview from the virtual closet because of the announcement by CBS of the new animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks, focusing on the “little guys” (and gals) who keep the starship running. While the response to the announcement have been mixed, having a comedy with the perspective from the bottom up during a mission has actually been done before with Trek—by fans!—and done really well. Take a look…
All of the episodes have been collected in the order they debuted here on this YouTube playlist. And with each episode only 3-to-6 minutes in length, you can actually binge-watch the entire series in less than three hours! The series ran from September of 2014 through January of 2016, and it’s fun, creative, inspired, and absolutely hilarious!
The Red Shirt Diaries was the brainchild of Los Angeles-based ASHLEY VICTORIA ROBINSON and JASON INMAN. Like William Shatner and James Doohan before her, Ashley hails from the great white north of Canada. And like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Superman before him, Jason is from the sunflower state of Kansas.
My head hit the pillow on Saturday night, I blinked, and it was suddenly 7 hours later (thank you, daylight savings!)—I was that exhausted after two days of Axacon. But now I was recharged with only one day to go…and this day was much less hectic. I was only scheduled to lead two panels, and nearly everyone I could think of had already been interviewed in the director’s chairs alcove.
I heard the shower running in the bathroom that I shared with STEVEN “Admiral Slater” JEPSON (we each had our own bedrooms in Alec’s house), so I started packing up my stuff. I’d be leaving the con and taking the hotel shuttle directly to the airport a little after 4:00pm. When Steven was done, I hopped into the shower and got myself dressed.
Steve was already downstairs, and for a little while, it was just the two of us waiting for the others. Over the weekend, Steve quickly became one of my favorite people in the entire Axanar brother-and-sisterhood. A music and vocal teacher at the University of Missouri School of Music, Steve is also a singer and performer, and a really smart, well-spoken guy. And like me, he’s incredibly funny (see what I did there?).
As we waited for the rest of the posse to get ready, Steve and I admired the new Starfleet admiral’s uniform, had-sewn for Steve by Axanar costumers CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIÈRE and ANGELA AVINO from Italy. Steve’s original Admiral Slater uniform was the same one worn by actor TONY “Admiral Ramirez” TODD…who is a BIG guy! When Steven tried the uniform on for his photo, it was like wearing a parka. So it literally needed to be clipped (with binder clips) all along the back in order for Admiral Slater not to look like a toddler wearing his daddy’s Starfleet uniform.
This new uniform had been specifically tailored for Steven, and when he tried it on, it looked amazing! And that gave me an idea…
As for Day Two, I can sum it up in just one word: WOW! It was unquestionably one of the craziest but most fun times I’ve ever had at any Trek convention (big or small). As I did yesterday, this will be a “deep dive” into what Axacon was like for me…
It began with breakfast at ALEC PETERS’ house. After Friday’s multiple skipped meals, I wasn’t gonna make the same mistake again…not with everything I was expected to do on Saturday! And anyway, Alec provided quiche!
After fueling up our bodies, the five residents of Casa de Peters piled into three cars to drive the 45 minutes to the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Airport hotel. Arriving about 45 minutes before Axacon and its host convention SphinxCon kicked off, we each carried boxes and posters and Garth’s original costume and loads of other stuff in from Alec’s trunk.
I found myself immediately impressed by how organized everything seemed to be. Those Honor Harrington fan volunteers from the Royal Manticoran Navy certainly had their their act together (and looked really spiffy in those black military-style uniforms!) with folks assigned to security, check-in, set-up, etc. The fellow handling the A/V system carried along about 15 different cables and adapters to make sure anyone could get video and sound from their laptop to the large monitors in the panel rooms.
As things were set up, the only “oops!” I could see was the following (see if you can spot it)…
I love a small, intimate convention…especially one with guest celebrities. While the huge Creation Cons and Dragon*Cons and San Diego ComiCons can be mind-blowing, the quiet, intimate setting of a small convention is a unique and treasured experience for me. In my youth, it was at small cons where I once had breakfast with James Doohan, went jogging with George Takei (okay, I rode my bike alongside him…and could still barely keep up!), and helped a falling-down drunk Colm Meaney find his hotel room in the Marriott Hunt’s Valley Inn (“This place is a fookin’ maze…!”). Good times.
I hadn’t been to a small con in many, many years. And I didn’t realize how much I miss them…until this past weekend when I went to Axacon in Atlanta, GA. Axacon was never meant to have tons of attendees. The 30-40 people who showed up over the three days was about what ALEC PETERS had expected. In fact, there were only about three dozen chairs in the Axacon panel room…a larger turnout wouldn’t have had a place to sit down!
This time, though, I wasn’t just an attendee; I was a guest. And Alec made sure to put me to work earning my free room and board. I stayed over at his home and even had my own bedroom, as did fellow house guests STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater) and LEE QUESSENBERRY (Axanar art director and webmaster). Both of these men are now two of my favorite people.
In fact, the whole convention was filled with folks who are now my favorite people! That’s just the kind of weekend it was. There was love here, friendship, camaraderie, and a feeling of shared teamwork and dedication to bringing a dream to life.
It was a really FANtastic con. Let me tell you all about it…