A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 3)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last time: Having released a very impressive debut episode, Pilgrim of Eternity,” in May of 2013, STAR TREK CONTINUES was ready to bring fans even more episodes from what they imagined would have been the never-produced 4th and 5th seasons of TOS Star Trek.  They just needed one thing: money.

Vic Mignogna had funded their first episode himself as a way of telling fans, “Hey, this is what we can do.  Please donate so we can make more episodes like this.”  Some of the sets had already been built by the team at Starship Farragut, which agreed to share their studio with STC.  Other set pieces, like the briefing room and captain’s quarters, had been partially constructed in Oklahoma City for the never-made fan film Starship Ajax, and Vic purchased them from Ajax show-runner John Hughes to take to Georgia.

In 2012, Farragut Films moved to a larger studio in Kingsland, GA, with 10,000 square feet to expand into.  With their combined resources, the two productions were now able to have a TOS bridge, transporter, crew quarters, briefing room/mess hall, sickbay, and corridors.  New set construction—including improvements for the existing bridge—were overseen by local contractor William Smith, who became the de facto “custodian” of the entire set, as he lived close to the studio.

But a fan film needs more than just sets.  There was also rent for the sound stage, rent for the equipment, utilities, prop creation, costume production and rental, make-up supplies and equipment, and post-production costs for things like hard-drive storage.  Add to this costs for travel and lodging for out-of-town cast and crew plus food for everyone during the week and a half of filming.  And while most of the team were volunteers, some professionals were working at a discounted rate (about 10% of their normal fee).  It all added up!

STC-15Vic determined that if STC could raise $100,000 in a crowd-funder, they could afford to make three additional episodes.  The campaign was held in late 2013, and on November 6, the Kickstarter (or KIRKstarter, as they called it) finished with $126,028 from 2,981 backers.  That was more than enough for three new episodes!

Let’s take a closer look at each of them…

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 3)”

ROBERT MEYER BURNETT resigns as director on AXANAR!

Almost from the very beginning, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, who directed and co-wrote the film Free Enterprise with William Shatner and Eric McCormack, has been almost as synonymous with the AXANAR project as Alec Peters himself.  He edited Prelude to Axanar and is credited by many as being a major reason that this mockumentary-style fan film came out as well as it did.

For the past three years, Rob has been listed as the director of the upcoming Axanar fan film, originally intended as a 90-minute feature film.  In fact, Rob directed the impressive 3-minute “Vulcan scene” vignette, planned to be a part of that final feature.  After a legal settlement with CBS and Paramount, the Axanar production has now been shortened to two 15-minute mockumentary-style sequels to Prelude.

Rob has been one of the staunchest supporters and cheerleaders for the project (probably even more than me!) and has been involved in pre-production efforts, podcasts, convention appearances, and social media outreach for Axanar over the past two and a half years.  But with the move of Alec Peters and the Axanar sets across the country from Los Angeles to Atlanta, GA, the logistics of a bi-coastal collaboration became more of a challenge.

Yesterday, Rob announced that he was moving on from the production…

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HARRY MUDD – thief, swindler, con-man, liar, rogue…and SOCIOPATHIC MASS MURDERER??? (editorial review)

I really enjoyed the seventh episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

…until I didn’t.

Perhaps the title “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” forgives Harry Mudd’s descent into a bloodlust resulting in the repeated serial killing of Captain Lorca and the rest of the Discovery crew while stuck in a repeating time-loop.

Perhaps having that kind of “cosmic undo” power made Harry snap and become someone other than the lovable but conniving scoundrel we’d come to know and laugh at over the past 50 years.  And maybe that insanity was, in fact, only temporary—and ten years later, Mudd will return to just being, as Kirk said, a thief, swindler, con-man, liar, and rogue…and no longer a mass murderer.

As I watched this week’s episode, I actually thought it was a lot of fun.  As countless other fans noted, it was like the movie Groundhog Day, only told through the perspective of the other residents of the quiet hamlet of Punxsutawney, and where Bill Murray is replaced by a malevolent sadist who is out to kill all the townspeople and destroy the town itself.  And of course, the parallels to TNG‘s wonderful fifth season episode “Cause and Effect” are also pretty evident…except that the spatial anomaly is replaced by a homicidal lunatic who is out to murder the crew and obliterate the Enterprise-D.

But really, it was fun watching and re-watching and re-re-watching Lorca get murdered and the Discovery blow up time and again.  I’m not sure what that says about me—or about the writers on the show who came up with a script that included such scenes!—but perhaps because we all knew it was a time-loop and that nobody would die at the end, that makes it all okay, right?

Right???

As I thought more about the episode, though, I began to wonder…

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STARBASE STUDIOS shuts down, documents removal and damage of set pieces

The fan film world was jolted yesterday to learn that STARBASE STUDIOS, which had recently relocated from Oklahoma to neighboring Arkansas, has shut down—at least for now—due to the removal of critical pieces of their TOS sets and damage to items that still remain.

To document was was done to the sets, KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS and SCOTT JOHNSON, two of the four joint owners of the Starbase Studios sets (the other two owners being GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS…although it is possible that Dan has stepped away; I don’t yet have confirmation on that) have made a 22-minute video with the help of prolific fan film-maker VANCE MAJOR.

Here is that video…

You will notice that the video bleeps out the name of co-owner Glen Wolfe.  This is because Glen was the one responsible for the removal of the set pieces.

Now, before anyone starts targeting their phasers on Glen, I want everyone to understand that there are, in fact, TWO sides in this situation, each with reasonable grievances against the other side.

I have friends on both sides of this, and I have been speaking with them over the past two months off the record.  That was their request, and I have and will continue to honor it.  The hope on both sides was that this matter might be resolved before needing to make it public.  Obviously it hasn’t been, and now Scott and “Words” have decided to take the next step for them, which is releasing the above video.

I have promised each side that I will report this story as fairly and objectively as I can, quoting each of them with minimal editorializing.  I have been told that Scott is now willing to speak on the record, and I’ll reach out to the other side shortly to see if they are ready, as well.

However, the one thing I can report on right now is why the police are not getting involved in what appears to be a case of theft and vandalism.  And that’s because it’s not.  Glen is a co-owner of these sets, and if he has a key (which he does), the police do not consider that to be breaking and entering.  Moreover, when there is a question of ownership, such cases are not considered criminal but rather under civil jurisdiction to be fought over by business lawyers.  In short, like it or not, this is a civil case…if it does, in fact, wind up in court.


I beg your indulgence if I don’t get around to reporting on this further until next week.  I’ll be volunteering at my son’s school all day for their Halloween carnival and then trick-or-treating with Jayden tonight.  Then I have to clear time to speak to folks on both sides of this mess and organize their comments into an objective and coherent presentation for all of you.  Please stay tuned.

STAR TREK CONTINUES gives fans a SNEAK PEEK at their FINAL EPISODE!

It was truly one of the most extraordinary moments I’ve ever experienced at a convention.  And for the rest of my life, whenever someone uses the word “bittersweet,” my mind will remember seeing the finale of STAR TREK CONTINUES at L.A. Comic Con with the entire cast, some guest stars, writers, directors, VFX and make-up people, crew, about 200 fans…and my son Jayden.

But in addition to “bittersweet,” I would use words like amazing, inspiring, suspenseful, intimate, dazzling, heartfelt, loving, and incredibly satisfying to describe both this final episode and the nearly 90-minute discussion that followed.

THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS!

In fact, when this episode is finally released onto the Internet on Monday, November 13, I recommend you rush to watch it as soon as you can and allow yourself NO advanced knowledge of anything.  There are truly unexpected surprises in this episode, and you don’t want them ruined.  “To Boldly Go, Part II,” as promised, will end Kirk’s five-year mission with drama, emotion, and an intensity seldom seen in fan films.

It’s a MUST SEE-PLUS-PLUS-PLUS!

As director JAMES KERWIN commented to the audience, he loved hearing everyone applauding at just the right moments, some sniffles at others, all the reactions he was hoping for.  This one hits on all cylinders, folks, and is a beautiful way to wrap up eleven top-notch episodes and five unforgettable years of this beloved fan production.

Anyone wanting to put down show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA or trivialize the accomplishments of these dedicated and talented individuals…well, you’re going to need to do it elsewhere.  As a proud donor and follower of this celebrated fan series, I will stand up for Star Trek Continues every single time!

And speaking of Vic, he respectfully asked for anyone who was recording Sunday evening’s live panel discussion to please not share the video until after the episode had a chance to circulate…as many details were mentioned that could spoil the viewing experience for others.

So I have some wonderful footage from the Q&A session that I will share in a few weeks.  But for now—and I hope Vic will indulge a proud father—I would like to share this one SPOILER-FREE response to a question from my son Jayden, as Vic Mignogna explains his production in a way that any seven-year-old can understand…

Thank you, Vic, for that answer.  And thank to everyone on the STC team for sharing Vic’s dream with appreciative Trekkers who have waited five decades to see Kirk’s historic five-year mission finally reach its conclusion.

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 2)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Cover 2Last time, we looked at an overview of what made STAR TREK CONTINUES unique among fan films.  This week, we’ll take a closer look at how this fan series got its start and some of its earliest fan film releases.

Months before producing and releasing its first full episode in 2013, STC filmed three short vignettes in May of 2012 to “introduce themselves” and get their space legs.

THE VINGETTES

The first vignette, about four minutes long, recreated the ending of “Turnabout Intruder,” the final first-run episode of TOS to air on television. But instead of ending on the depressingly somber line from Kirk, “If only…” the vignette CONTINUED the scene (get it?), following Kirk, Spock, and Scott into the turbolift and onto the bridge. Joined a few seconds later by McCoy, the somber mood is lightened by a good-natured poke at Spock by the doctor, and then Kirk orders the Enterprise to rendezvous with the Potemkin. The music shifts to an uplifting, optimistic melody, portending new and exciting adventures into the future. The camera pans out to reveal the entire bridge crew as the credits roll.

You can watch the vignette here…

And if you’re curious, here’s a couple of still-frame comparisons to the original version of that same scene from TOS…

STC-8
A comparison of the original “Turnabout Intruder” (left) and the recreation of the scenes by STAR TREK CONTINUES.

This first vignette was released onto the Internet on July 31, 2012 and served to do more than simply say, “Hey, we’re here! Look what we can do!” It also introduced four of the main actors who would be starring in the new series.

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 2)”

Is STAR TREK: DISCOVERY getting TOO PREDICTABLE? (editorial review)

SPOILERS AHEAD!  BIG, HUGE, MASSIVE, GINORMOUS, HULKING SPOILERS!!!  (Don’t say you weren’t warned!)

Last week, I commented on the fan theory that Captain Lorca of the USS Discovery isn’t from “our” universe but rather from the Mirror Universe.  At first, it sounded like a pretty wild theory.  Now, I’m pretty well convinced that it’s the truth.

Is that the “discovery” that the series is named for?  After all, these show-runners are all about things having multiple layers of meaning, like episode 5’s title “Choose Your Pain.”  Maybe Discovery is not just the starship’s name but also alluding to the crew’s discovery that their captain is from another universe…a much meaner and nastier universe, as it turns out!

What?  You don’t believe me?  (Well, actually, some of you probably do.  This theory is already spreading rapidly through fandom—at least those watching the show—and a growing number are, like me, getting on board with the idea.)

Here’s the clues…

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YOUR Star Trek fan film could WIN $500!

Hurry!  You’ve only got until November 3, 2017 to enter your Star Trek fan film for a chance to win $500!

(Of course, it’ll cost you $35 to enter on their website.  But hey, it’s worth a shot, right?)

Yesterday, I told you about how some independent film festivals are beginning to add a new category specifically for FAN FILMS.  The Berlin Sci-Fi Filmfest has already completed its entry period.  But there’s still a week and a half left to enter the New York-based IndieBOOM! film festival for a chance to win that $500 cash prize.

Created by the team at the award-winning Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, IndieBOOM! is for filmmakers and short-form content creators working everywhere, in all genre categories. There are no restrictions on completion date, as long as the films run no longer than 40 minutes.  So a Star Trek fan film that’s already been out for a few years is still eligible as long as it’s shorter than 40 minutes.

Here’s the description for their Fan Film category:

Are you a super-fan who has created an amazing “trailer” for the superhero (or super villain) film you wish existed, a lightsaber battle set in a galaxy far, far away… or a film that dares to trek where no-one has gone before? Or maybe you made a film about one ring that rules them all. Whatever your fandom, we want to see your fan film!

IndieBOOM!’s official selections will be chosen by a panel of industry professionals: critics, producers, writers, directors and actors.

It’s also an interactive festival. IndieBOOM will give entrants tools to help them promote their films to their networks and increase their fan-base. The most-viewed film in each category (Comedy, Sci-Fi, Documentary, Fan Film, etc.) wins an award.

“Ah, I know that trick!” I can hear you say.  Just get a bunch of friends to keep refreshing their browsers a few thousand times, and you’ll win.  Bah, humbug!”

Well, not this time.  IndieBOOM! will keep track of total views and also overall time viewed for each selection. (So just refreshing a web page over and over won’t help you win.)

Their jury of industry professionals will acknowledge a single standout film with a special Jury Prize, regardless of the views/votes.  All winning selections will get a one year non-exclusive streaming contract on Brooklyn On Demand (which is carried on Roku to a worldwide audience and already has 16,000 subscribers).

And the selection (from all the categories together) with the most views overall wins the Fan Favorite Award—and a $500 cash prize!

So what are you waiting for?  (Well, assuming you’ve produced a fan film, that is!)  The submission deadline is November 3, 2017.

Click here to enter.

INDIE FILM FESTIVALS are starting to add a NEW category: FAN FILMS!

While studios like Paramount, CBS, Warner Brothers, Disney, Fox, and others try to figure out what to do about fan films, Independent Film Festivals already have a solution: CREATE SPECIAL CATEGORIES FOR THEM!

Up until recently, if you were a Star Trek fan film, your options were pretty limited when it came to entering your production into a film festival or contest.

For the last few years, the annual Treklanta convention has held the Independent Star Trek Film Awards (now called the “Bjos”). Obviously, entries are limited to only Star Trek fan films.

And then there are the independent film festivals that allow entrants from all genres and production backgrounds.  There’s a lot of these.  In fact, Prelude to Axanar won awards in 19 different film festivals, including the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Creative Arts Film Festival, Widescreen Film & Music Video Festival, Nevada Film Festival, IndieFEST Film Awards, and California International Shorts Festival.

Star Trek Continues has also taken in its fair share of awards at the Accolade Global Film Competition, The Burbank International Film Awards, and most recently was given awards in five categories of the International Independent Film Awards.

And while some award shows, like the Geekie Awards, limit the range of entrees to specific genres like sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc., Trek fan films are still competing with “real” independent films with professional production teams and budgets that are often into the six or even seven figures.  Micro-budget Trek fan productions often face almost insurmountable competition.  And if the awards show is not limited to just sci-fi and related genres, the competition becomes even more wide ranging.

With high budgets, Hollywood actors, and professional production quality, Prelude to Axanar and Star Trek Continues were able to make their mark. against stiff competition.  But with the guidelines now limiting how much fan films can spend and who can work on them, will Star Trek fan films be able to be competitive again in film festivals?

Perhaps…

Continue reading “INDIE FILM FESTIVALS are starting to add a NEW category: FAN FILMS!”

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 1)

NOTE: About a year a half ago, I published a 3-part blog tracing the fascinating history of STAR TREK CONTINUES.  In honor of their penultimate episode being released this past week and their series finale next month, I will be reprinting these blogs and adding an additional blog or two covering what happened between then and now.


Cover 1“If only…”

Those were the last two words uttered by Captain Kirk before Star Trek the original series was canceled in 1969.

“If only…”

Kirk was referring to the tragic descent into hate-filled insanity of his former love, Dr. Janice Lester. But for me, these two words were so much more powerful: If only Star Trek hadn’t been canceled. If only Star Trek could have…

…continued.

TOS fans always felt a pang of frustration that the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise was cut short after only three years in space (and on the air).  Sure, in 1973 an 1974, we got to see 22 animated episodes of the series, voiced by the same original actors, but we never got to see the end of that five-year mission.

Even when Star Trek crossed over into motion pictures, the end of Kirk’s first mission was still a mystery.  And the days of seeing those those bright red, blue, and gold uniforms and those amazingly colorful starship Enterprise sets—those days were gone forever…except in reruns, of course.

I used to have this dream where I was watching an episode of TOS that I’d never seen before.  Of course, I’d seen every episode dozens of times, so when I woke up, I’d sadly remember that there were no “lost” episodes of TOS.

Until there were…

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 1)”