We’re not going to make it, are we?

As you might recall from last week, Lee Quessenberry and I kicked off a HeadTalker Campaign to try to get 500 people to agree to have a message posted to their Twitter, Facebook, and/or other social media account(s) at noon EST on June 13.  The message would say:

“We want to change the Star Trek #Fanfilm Guidelines. Follow Small Access Trek to find out how you can. https://hdtk.co/VSsvF

The idea was to get the message to trend long enough to bring some more attention, eyeballs, and ultimately (hopefully) members to the SMALL ACCESS campaign to get CBS and Paramount to revise at least one of the fan film guidelines.

With less than 24 hours to go, we’re just short of 100 out of the 500 sign-ups we need.  So barring a miracle (or Spock sacrificing himself in engineering), to quote Sulu, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”

No, we’re probably not.

So what does this mean for SMALL ACCESS?  Well, in the words of Monty Python’s peasant: “Not dead yet!”  In fact, we’ve taken in 45 new members in the last two weeks, which is 3.5% growth.  No, it’s not the hundreds and thousands we need, but it’s better than stagnation or collapse.  I choose to see the glass as 3.5% full.

And hey, even if we don’t grow large enough to succeed in our holy quest, we’ve still got a great group that’s spreading the gospel of Star Trek fan films…and I very much want that group to continue.

So what happens next?  I’m not sure yet.  Probably we’ll try another HeadTalker campaign with a smaller goal number.  But I’ll be contacting Lee Quessenberry this week to get his ideas for plan B, C, D, and possibly E.  We’ve got a few months before Star Trek: Discovery premieres, so there’s still time to grow this group some more.  I’m willing to give it a chance if you are.

And hey, if you happen to know 407 people with social media accounts who might be willing to help us make it to our 500-person goal before noon tomorrow, please ask them to sign up here:

Small Access Trek

R.I.P. – ADAM “Batman” WEST

I awoke this morning to the news on my alarm clock radio: “The actor who played Batman in the 1960s has died.  Adam West passed away last night after a short battle with leukemia.  He was 88.”

Adam West was always “my” Batman, just as William Shatner was always “my” Starfleet captain.  The two shows, Batman and Star Trek, were kind of joined at the hip.  They both premiered in 1966 and ran for three seasons (on different networks–Batman was on ABC).  Both series were created just as color television was becoming widely available…and both series made ample use of a vivid palette and bright hues because of this fact.  The shows shared many notable guest stars, including Yvonne Craig, Julie Newmar, Lee Merriwether, Frank Gorshin, Grace Lee Whitney, and Joan Collins.  (Betcha didn’t know about those last two!  Take a look–there were actually 13 famous actor crossovers between the two concurrent series.)

And of course, the two shows each featured a leading man with a unique (some might say “over the top”) style of acting.  William Shatner was known…for…his…dramatic…

…pauses.

But Glen Weldon, author of the book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture, made this comment about Adam West’s delivery of this lines:

“He inserts pauses that are not merely pregnant but two weeks overdue. Those pauses were of course a deliberate choice — he wanted the viewer to see Batman’s intellectual processes, the way he thought through a puzzle and excitedly seized upon the answer.”

It was campy and dazzling all at the same time.  But it just felt right…from both actors.  I can’t imagine anyone else doing as much, er, justice to those two roles.  Despite the Vietnam War, civil rights, assassinations, riots, and social upheaval, the 1960s were still a simpler time—at least on network television (and at the time, there was nothing other than network television if you watched TV).  And these two men helped define it.

As a child of the 70’s, I watched both shows repeatedly.  And these two characters, played so ironically by these two actors, helped to shape me as a person.  I saw role models who were brave and strong, willing to stand up to the bad guys and fight for what was right—whether it was with a phaser, a batarang, or just their wits…always with their wits.  They were human, of course, but also something more.  They had a moral compass that was unshakable.  They knew what was right, and there was no gray area.

As I said, a simpler time.  Two decades later, their franchises would evolve with other captains and darker knights.  But Adam West always saw himself as a Bright Knight, a version of Batman untainted by the dark turn the character took in later years.

While I loved the Michael Keaton and Christian Bale interpretations of the characters (the jury’s still out on Affleck…and the less said about Kilmer and Clooney, the better), there will always be a special place in my heart for Adam West.  His voice will always be unmistakable.  And really, what other actor would have done stuff like this—week after week after week—for three years?

C’mon–admit it!  It was brilliant comedy.

I was so heartened to see Adam West’s career continue in later years on shows like Family Guy, despite some unavoidable typecasting.  But he embraced it all, and his fans, in a way that William Shatner only did after a decade of resisting and trying to deny the inevitable truth that he would always be Captain Kirk.

But Adam West was and always will be Batman…a special kind of Batman that carved out his own special batcave in our hearts and minds.  As he goes off to answer that great bat signal in the sky, I can only say this:

Farewell, old chum.

AXANAR fan announces a new AXANAR COMIC BOOK! (Interview with TREY McELWAIN, Part 1)

On May 19, a mysterious Facebook post went up on the Axanar Fanpage (not to be confused with the Axanar Fan GROUP on Facebook) announcing the first-ever AXANAR COMIC BOOK titled “The Final Plan.” I say “mysterious” because the post was made by “Captain Magnus” with no other identification.  The announcement said:

Alec Peters loved my idea that, in order to help honor and preserve the great legacy that which is Axanar, we are going to present something very special to you wonderful guys and gals, and hopefully to all trekkies and trekkers everywhere! The Axanar Fanpage​ is going to be doing a mini-series graphic novel/comic (nothing too big mind you, about 3 full length colored pages long–like I said “mini”), expanding upon if you will but still being directly tied into the story of Axanar​ (more closely to Prelude to Axanar​). This will be one way to pay a special tribute to the Fans/Donors, the entire Axanar Production Team (and all else involved whether directly or indirectly), and of course to Alec Peters​. (Hopefully several more installments of the graphic novel to follow). As soon as it is ready to launch we will post it right here for everyone to enjoy!

Believe it or not, this is not the first time a Star Trek fan film has been adapted into a comic book or graphic novel.  Way back in 2002, the fan film Starship Exeter was featured in an 18-page comic.  Seven years later in 2009, Starship Farragut also got its own comic, this one a whopping 48 pages!  Both comics were produced by Kail Tescar on his StarTrekAnimated.com website.  And of course, there’s the more recent fan film novelettes based on the fan series Star Trek: Phase II.

Many fans wondered who this pseudonymous fan creator was and why he was using a pen name.  So I tracked down the mysterious “Captain Magnus” and it turned out to be none other than Axanar mega-fan TREY McELWAIN, who created that same Axanar Fanpage on Facebook in the first place!

So mystery solved, but I still had a whole bunch more questions…

Continue reading “AXANAR fan announces a new AXANAR COMIC BOOK! (Interview with TREY McELWAIN, Part 1)”

Secure from battlestations…

I really hate when things go nuclear.  It happens all too often these days…especially online.  Neither party wants to give an inch, each believing he or she is in the right and the other is a total git and knee-biting jerk.  People start taking sides, arguments get heated, “evidence” is collected, and folks generally begin gettin’ real pissy.

That was yesterday.

JAMES HAMS and I went toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano for much of the day over what amounted to three words in a recent blog he wrote.  Granted, they weren’t just any three words, but the point is that the world wasn’t ending.  And yet, you’d never know from all the urgent text messages and e-mails I had to read and write throughout the day.  I’m sure James had a similar experience on his end.

Vance Major Owen – peacemaker, diplomat, good friend

Enter VANCE MAJOR OWEN.  Vance is a friend of both James and myself, and he’s also one of Trek fandom’s calmest and coolest heads.  Think of Vance as Switzerland…only with a beard.  Not liking the escalation of tempers he was witnessing between his two friends, Vance stepped in, spoke to us both separately, and negotiated a “cease fire.”

In short, James will be removing those three words from his blog (along with half a sentence that will no longer make sense with the three words gone).  I’ll be telling the folks on SMALL ACCESS (and here on FAN FILM FACTOR) to stand down, secure from general quarters, cancel battlestations…whatever you want to call it.  We’ve both agreed not to mention the other—or their blog(s) or Facebook group(s)—on our own blogs in any negative way on a go-forward basis.

We’re both in agreement on this, and there’s no hard feelings.  There were definitely hard feelings yesterday, but it’s nice to know that things can, with a little give and take, be worked out without going to DefCon 1.

I’d like to thank James for being part of the solution…and also Vance for making that solution possible in the first place.  I much prefer writing a short blog entry like this one over writing a long entry like yesterday’s!

Setting the record straight on SMALL ACCESS!

Man, I so hate dealing with misinformation!  Really, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

When I screw up, as I did on this blog a few months ago, I am quick to correct the mistake.  I usually hope that others will do the same. Alas, it doesn’t always happen that way…

And that leaves me facing a choice: let the misinformation remain uncorrected (potentially confusing people and spreading the false claim even further) or try to correct it myself, potentially coming off as petty and vindictive.

It’s really a no-win scenario for me…which is why I hate having to decide what do do when confronted with blatant misinformation.  In this case, I’m choosing to shine a light on the situation and try to correct it.  And I apologize in advance if I seem petty or vindictive, as that’s not my intention.  And hey, feel free to skip this blog entry if you prefer to come here just for the fan film stuff.  I’ll get back to that after this blog.

So here’s what happened…

Continue reading “Setting the record straight on SMALL ACCESS!”

Could you do me a favor? It’ll only take you three clicks!

I NEED YOUR HELP!  Yes, you!

Two weeks ago, I discussed how Project: SMALL ACCESS needed to grow in order to give the group any reasonable leverage in trying to convince CBS and Paramount to revise the “no ongoing fan series” portion of fan film Guideline #1.  Since then, we’ve added about 40 new members (3% growth)…which is certainly a nice start.  But we need to grow a LOT more than that, my friends!

Needing advice from people more experienced in guerilla marketing on the social media front, I sought the assistance of Lee Quessenberry, who had helped with the online marketing efforts for Axanar during their Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns.  One of the first things Lee did was to set up a HEADTALKER campaign for SMALL ACCESS.

What’s a HEADTALKER?

It’s pretty simple.  People sign up to allow HeadTalker to send out a single post from one (or more) of their social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr—on a certain day at a certain time.  With enough simultaneous posts, the message will “trend” and get a boost.

For example, here’s the message you would be agreeing to share (it would be posted automatically for you) on June 13, 2017 at 12:00pm Eastern Time:

“We want to change the Star Trek #Fanfilm Guidelines. Follow Small Access Trek to find out how you can. https://hdtk.co/VSsvF

 

There’s only one catch: we need 500 people to sign up to share this message or it won’t get sent out.  Right now, we’ve got 67 (which, according to the Headtalker page, gives us a social media reach of 941,141…assuming everyone’s contacts read the message).

BUT WE NEED TO MAKE IT TO 500…AND WE HAVE ONLY 7 DAYS LEFT!

If we don’t make it, we can always try it again with a smaller goal like 100 or even 75 or 50.  But it would be so awesome if we could get to that 500 goal.

A note on your privacy

When you log into HeadTalker using your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or LinkedIn account, you’re allowing their platform to share a single message on your behalf. That’s all. They use the absolute minimum permissions possible to post a message on your behalf. The social media platforms they integrate with sometimes include additional permissions that we do not use.

It’s really as simple as three clicks (well, possibly four if you’ve never used HeadTalker before):

1. Click here to go to the campaign page.

2. Then click on the social media platform you want to use (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

3. On the pop-up window, click the “Add Support” button.

And you’re done!  Simple as that.

Can you please help us?

 

STAR TREK CONTINUES announces RELEASE DATES and TITLES for their FINAL THREE EPISODES!

It’s a bittersweet time for followers of the groundbreaking fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES.  The “sweet” part is that we will be served with FOUR new full-length episodes from this production team in the matter of just SEVEN months!  We’ve already seen the first of these four episodes, the ambitious and poetic “Still Treads the Shadow,” released at the beginning of April.

The “bitter” lies in the fact that this is it for STC…the end of this amazing fan series.  Although they were originally planning to make 13 episodes—and instead they will now only be doing 11—the fact is that they always intended for the series to have a completion point.  Some fans have been asking them to continue (no pun intended) and not shut down, but the end story has been written and filmed and soon will be released.  The Georgia studio sits quiet and unused (or so I’ve been told).

Show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA himself said in interviews that, at his current age (he turns 55 in August), he wouldn’t be able to play a 35-year-old Jim Kirk for much longer.  So yes, folks, this is the inevitable end of the line for STC…with a return of the U.S.S. Enterprise from its historic 5-year mission.

And here’s the schedule for release dates.  The episodes will premiere at three different cons during three weekends and then be posted online a day or so later:

Episode IX, “What Ships are For” will premiere at Florida Supercon in Ft. Lauderdale the weekend of July 27-30.

Episode X, “To Boldly Go (Part One)” will premiere at Salt Lake City Comic Con the weekend of September 21-23.

Episode XI, “To Boldly Go (Part Two)” will premiere at New York City Comicon the weekend of October 5-8.

So the gap between episodes VIII and XI will end up being about three and a half months.  Then the gap between XI and X will be less than two months.  And finally, fans won’t have to wait more than two weeks for the second half of the final two-parter.  That’s quite a feast!

Although few details of the series finale have been released, we do know that the ninth episode, “What Ships are For,” was written by Kipleigh Brown, who plays Lt. Smith on the fan series.  There will also be at least three professional actor guest stars in that episode: Elizabeth Maxwell, Lex Lang, and Sandy Fox.

For a closer look at this fan series from its beginnings in 2012, check out this three-part history of Star Trek Continues.

 

Lightning strikes AGAIN as WARNER BROTHERS allows another high-quality HARRY POTTER FAN FILM to be produced!

The news has been spreading through the fan film community faster than a snitch through a quidditch match!  According to a rapidly-expanding plethora of online sources, Warner Brothers studios, which owns the movie rights to the HARRY POTTER franchise, have given approval to the producers of a high-quality fan film titled VOLDEMORT: ORIGINS OF THE HEIR to be made.  The only conditions: the producers must make no profit, and the completed project can only be shown for free via YouTube.

This didn’t seem to be the case last July when Warner Brothers shut down the Kickstarter page for this project.  The production had already successfully funded a $30,000 campaign, but faster than you can say “Expelliarmus!” all trace of the campaign was gone, replaced by a pretty harsh sounding notice:

Description of infringing material: It recently came to our attention that users on your site, at the link(s) below, were contemplating a project that violates Warner Bros.’ rights. We have discussed it with the users who have agreed to remove the project from the site and have requested that we send this notice so that the project is removed. I have a good faith belief that the project is not authorized by Warner Bros., its agent, or the law. Accordingly, please act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the URL listed below.

In fact, some fans actually thought there was some sort of litigation (apparently, there wasn’t), and even Wikipedia erroneously reports that in their entry.  (Look quick, before they fix it!)

But then this happened…

Continue reading “Lightning strikes AGAIN as WARNER BROTHERS allows another high-quality HARRY POTTER FAN FILM to be produced!”

DEIMOS Production Crew releases their fifth episode: “No Greater Love”!

Anyone who says that Star Trek fan films are “dead” needs to get that message out to the fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES!  These guys continue to churn out new releases with the constancy of the north star and the inevitability of death and taxes!

Currently, two Potemkin Pictures production teams are working on a series of fan films featuring two different Starfleet crews.  Over in Georgia, the Starship Tristan production crew is currently in pre-production on their NINTH fan film.  And in Pelham, Alabama, the STARSHIP DEIMOS production crew has just released its FIFTH episode, the 14-minute “No Greater Love.”

Both productions use actors enrolled in drama programs at nearby academic institutions, along with other actors from local community theater.  As such, the performances of many who appear on camera in these two series tend to be slightly more elevated than your typical Trek fan film that uses only fans who are usually untrained in the performing arts.

“No Greater Love” is no exception.  Constrained by budgets, Potemkin Pictures concentrates primarily on character and st0ry-driven scripts.  The result is a fan film without the glitz and sizzle of the sleeker, higher-budget fan productions, but with a lot of heart and soulful performances.

So no, my friends, Star Trek fan films are not dead…not if Potemkin Pictures and show-runner RANDY LANDERS have anything to say about it!  You can read a 2-part interview that I did with Randy last year by clicking here.

And you can watch “No Greater Love” below…

THE ROMULAN WARS releases PART 1 of their FINAL EPISODE!

On May 13, 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise aired its series finale, “These Are the Voyages”–completely skipping over a half-decade of the much anticipated Romulan War with Earth and the Coalition of Planets.

Many fans were, quite understandably, disappointed.  In addition to strengthening the alliances that would form the Federation and shaping the very direction of Starfleet technology from pure exploration into vessels that could also fight and defend, the very nature of the Romulan War promised action and drama that the fifth Star Trek television series (sixth if you count the animated series) had not previously been able to develop.

Two and a half years later, on November 23, 2007, Star Trek fans began to fill in that missing half decade with a new fan series: STAR TREK: THE ROMULAN WARS.  Led by show-runner LEE GARTRELL, this Arkansas-based production didn’t have the financial resources or the professional polish of a Star Trek: New Voyages or Starship Exeter, but what they did have was passion and commitment.  They sewed their own costumes, built their own simplified sets, green-screen composited in backgrounds behind their actors, and created their own VFX.

It was a labor of love that didn’t always have the best lighting or sound quality, but you could still see how much time and effort went into this fan series which was, at the time, the only fan production that attempted to tackle the 22nd century NX-01 era of Star Trek.

Over the course of the next eight years, The Romulan Wars would release nine full-length episodes ranging in length from 22 to 45 minutes (nearly four and a half hours of content!).  Their previous offering, a prequel episode entitled “The Atlas,” was released a year before the fan film guidelines were ever announced.  At the time, Lee Gartrell was planning for a full run of 16 episodes to finish up the war.

Unfortunately, Guideline #1 prohibits continuing series.  So The Romulan Wars is wrapping up with their tenth episode, a two-parter entitled “The Tunnel at the End of the Light.”  Part 1 has just been released, with Part 2 planned for posting within the next week or so.  Part One runs 23 minutes (longer than the 15 minutes permitted by the guidelines), but the first four minutes doesn’t really count.  And if Star Trek Continues can release 45-minute episodes post-guidelines, I doubt 19 minutes for a non-crowd-funded fan film will wake the sleeping giant.

You can view all the previous episodes here.

And below, Part One of the series finale, “The Tunnel at the End of the Light”…