ALEC PETERS chokes up at a panel from AXACON…

In the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy,” Kirk mentions that Garth’s exploits were required reading at Starfleet Academy. Well, if you’re a fan of AXANAR and ALEC PETERS, then the video below should be considered “required viewing.”

AXACON took place last November in Atlanta, and about 30 people attended. However, knowing that there were thousands and thousands more supporters of Axanar who wouldn’t be able to make it, Alec hired a video crew to film every panel—along with several interviews with the guests—through the 3-day weekend event. About ten of these interviews have already been released for early viewing to ARES STUDIOS Patreon donors, with about half of those now posted publicly to YouTube. (You can view all of the public Axacon videos here.)

The latest video to be released to the public debuted on Friday evening as a livecast on YouTube. Since then, it’s been viewed nearly a thousand times…and with good reason. It’s a really FANtastic panel…especially if you love Axanar. And for me, it was probably my favorite panel of the weekend. Why, you ask?

Well, it was an exhausting weekend…three days of non-stop fun mixed with hard work and little sleep (or was it hard work mixed with fun and almost no sleep?) where I conducted countless interviews and led seemingly endless panels. And honestly, I totally don’t know how to lead panels! I’m not sure if there are classes in it, but it there are, I never took any of them. So for most of the weekend I was flying by the seat of my pants and getting terrorized by J.G. HERTZLER and GARY F-ING GRAHAM. (You’ll need to watch my interviews with them to get that joke…and some haven’t been released yet.)

By the time we got to the “Elite of the Fleet” panel—the next-to-last of the weekend—I was totally spent. You can tell it from watching the video below. But now I had to lead STEVE JEPSON and Alec as we discussed Admiral Slater and Garth. I’d already interviewed Steve about Slater a few hours earlier, and Alec had already spoken on another panel about Garth. So I just kinda winged it…as did Steve and Alec.

To my utter surprise, this exhausted trio managed to have a fascinating and lively discussion—just three obsessed Axanerds chatting about their favorite fan film. It’s the kind of geeked-out conversation we fans love to have from time to time, and it was totally engaging and fun. Each of us got ample time to talk, and everything was SO interesting.

And then a very unexpected and special “moment” happened.

Continue reading “ALEC PETERS chokes up at a panel from AXACON…”

STARSHIP DEIMOS goes on location with their 12th episode “CHILDREN OF EBERUS” (field report from RANDY LANDERS)

It’s kinda strange when two months feels like a “long time” between fan film releases. But when it comes to POTEMKIN PICTURES, two months is almost “red alert!” That’s because for the past several years, these folks have been releasing an average of a dozen or more Star Trek fan films per year. Currently, they have six different creative teams working on six parallel fan series—each on their own schedule with their own personnel—creating short fan films on ultra-low budgets.

These folks aren’t trying to bowl anyone over with super-slick sets or elaborate costumes and props. Instead, they simply try to tell interesting stories and hopefully have some fun while doing it.  You can view all of their many fan film releases on their website.

I’ve decided to do something a little different than I usually do (which is announce the latest episode, say a few words about Potemkin Pictures, maybe include a short quote from show-runner RANDY LANDERS, and then show the episode). But when I watched “Children of Eberus,” the twelfth episode from the STARSHIP DEIMOS creative team that was released a week ago, I marveled at the amount of outdoor footage. While such scenes might look cheap and easy to shoot, there’s actually a lot more moving parts and careful considerations than you might think.

So this time, I asked Randy to tell us all about the challenges of filming this episode and some of the funny behind-the-scenes stories. But first, let’s check out the episode itself, shall we…?

Continue reading “STARSHIP DEIMOS goes on location with their 12th episode “CHILDREN OF EBERUS” (field report from RANDY LANDERS)”

To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!

Among the more annoying and often-ignored fan film guidelines is number 6e: “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.”

Boo. Hiss. Expletive.

And as I’ve said elsewhere, a number of post-guidelines fan film crowd-funding campaigns have ignored that one…offering posters, patches, and a bunch of other perks. Thus far, CBS hasn’t seemed to mind. In one case, the production even got permission from CBS to offer perks!

However, I’d be naive to believe that CBS won’t have me and my production under a microscope. So I’m taking great pains to keep INTERLUDE completely separate from Alec Perets’ Axanar sequels (other than having Alec play Garth) and to establish very clearly and publicly my intention to follow ALL of the guidelines.

And that means…no perks!

Man, it’s a huge risk. Perks are exciting! Perks are cool! Perks make people think they’re getting something tangible for their donation (which, if you think about, isn’t that different from simply buying that perk…which is probably why CBS doesn’t want fan productions to do it).

But perks also cost money to make and to mail. In addition to the patches or posters or T-shirts or mugs, you’ve got to buy shipping materials and pay for postage. And heaven help you if you’ve got backers from places like Asia or Australia. That $10 donation is likely gonna cost you $25 just to mail them a frickin’ patch!

So I’ve obviously got a pretty good reason NOT to offer perks. I’m already trying to raise about $20K. Add in perks and packaging and postage, and you can increase that number easily to $22K or $23K!

So instead, all I am going to be offering as a “perk” is getting your name in the credits. But are people going to want to donate simply to see their name at the end of my fan film??? Granted I do have some fun categories for listing the names:

  • Ensign – donate up to $10
  • Lieutenant – $11-$50
  • Lieutenant Commander – $51-$100
  • Commander – $101-$250
  • Captain – $251-$500
  • Commodore – $501-$1000
  • Admiral – $1001-$2500
  • Associate Producer – $2501 and up
    (no Fleet Captain…that rank’s reserved for Garth!)

The idea is that, the larger your donation, the higher your rank and the larger your name in the credits. And for the Associate Producers (assuming I get any), they will also be invited to join us at ARES STUDIOS for filming. They’ll have to pay for their own transportation and lodging—but I figure if they can afford thousands of dollars to donate to a fan film, they shouldn’t have a problem with a plane ticket and a Holiday Inn Express.

And there’s one more fun thing I wanna do…!

Continue reading “To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!”

Newest SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter is off to the races…AGAIN!

So what do you call a fan film that’s already raised over a million dollars, turned a warehouse into a studio with those donations, then closed the studio, isn’t finished with the film yet (even many years later), and is now asking supporters for even more money…and getting it?

Yep, it’s MARC SCOTT ZICREE’s SPACE COMMAND…back again for yet another Kickstarter!

And the fans are still showing their support. With a stated goal of $35K, their newest campaign was already well past $45K before it even launched! How did they manage that? Easy…just open it early to previous donors for 36 hours when they can be the first to claim special limited-time perks. It’s now about a week later, and the Kickstarter is well over $60K and climbing steadily. (I should be so lucky with my crowd-funder next month!)

So if Space Command has already taken in over a million dollars and hasn’t even finished their first 2-hour pilot yet, then what are they doing asking for even MORE money? Glad you asked!

Space Command got its start waaaaaaay back in 2012 with an early Kickstarter that brought in a staggering $212,000 from more than 2,000 donors. It then took five years for the project to reach post-production, where a second Kickstarter raised an additional $108,000 that would help complete the first hour of the 2-hour pilot episode “Redemption.”

The first half-hour segment of the pilot premiered last summer at San Diego Comic cons and debuted on YouTube for fans in August. Then a third Kickstarter raised $102,000 more for post-production on the second hour of the pilot. Marc is also selling individual $7,500 shares in the venture for supporters looking for a return on investment if/when the series sells. Those shares have brought in an additional half million dollars.

Space Command will ultimately span six 2-hour episodes for its first season, featuring such notable sci-fi actors as DOUG JONES (yep, that Doug Jones); ROBERT PICARDO (from Voyager) ; MIRA FURLAN, BRUCE BOXLEITNER, and BILL MUMY (from Babylon 5); FARAN TAHIR (the captain of the USS Kelvin from Star Trek 2009); JAMES HONG (from Big Trouble in Little China and Kung Fu Panda); and host of others. This is a true professional sci-fi endeavor, created through public funding for a fraction of the cost the networks are paying for their shows (although hopefully they’ll be buying it).

The first 2-hour (pilot) episode “Redemption” has already been fully funded, completely filmed, and half-completed with 900 visual FX shots, sounds, music, color adjustment, etc. And the first hour has been available for free on YouTube since January 1. Check it out…!

But now it’s time to crowd-fund the second episode, “Forgiveness.” Let’s talk about that one for a little bit…

Continue reading “Newest SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter is off to the races…AGAIN!”

INTERLUDE will be filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS instead of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS…

A slight change of plans for my fan film INTERLUDE, which will be set in the Axanar Universe and will be crowd-funding soon!

The majority of the fan film will be shot on the amazing bridge set of the USS ARES in Lawrenceville, GA. Initially, the plan was to film there for two days in late September and then drive down to Kingsland, GA for a third day of filming on the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios. There are two scenes that take place in my fan film—one in sickbay and the other in engineering—that are brief but still very important to the story.

The new plan, instead of filming in Kingsland, has the sickbay scene being shot in Arkansas at WARP 66 Studios, which is run by GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS. Those TOS sets have been used for episodes of THE FEDERATION FILES as well as recent Avalon Universe productions from my Interlude directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX. In fact, Josh and Victoria live relatively close to Glen and Dan, so the change of location actually makes things quite a bit more convenient for them.

It also trims about $1,000 or so from our budget…YAY! Without the need to drive 5 hours across Georgia, I won’t have to rent a car in Atlanta for the weekend. Plus, we won’t need three or four hotel rooms in Kingsland for the night.

Glen is already coming up with ideas for altering his TOS sickbay set into looking more like the earlier sickbay from the second Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” If so, that’d be totally AWESOME(!!!), since Interlude takes place during the Four Years War, two decades before Kirk’s 5-year mission. So Glen has my undying appreciation (that’s a subtle Kharn reference for all those Axanerds out there)!

As for the engineering scene, WARP 66 doesn’t have that set as yet. However, the engineering scene in Interlude is so brief (like, maybe, 10 seconds) that we can easily “fake” it with a green screen composite. And there’s a bunch of engineering backgrounds available out there for our VFX guy to use.

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on a really fun “ask” video for the crowd-funding campaign, which will launch in just a couple of weeks! The opening VFX sequence is being scored right now, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. My team is excited, I’m REALLY excited, and I hope that soon you’ll be just as excited, too!

2019 BJO AWARD winners from TREKLANTA!

Who says Star Trek fan films are dead? Certainly not I! And certainly not the 2019 BJO AWARD winners, which included a number of first-time Star Trek fan filmmakers and their projects…along with winners who are veterans in the community.

The annual Bjo Awards show takes place each each at the TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, which celebrates Star Trek in general and Star Trek fan films specifically. A total of 28 new Trek fan films, all released during calendar year 2018, qualified for consideration by the panel of judges (view the entire list here).

The finalists were announced last week in 11 different categories. And interestingly enough, over half of the winners (six) were for fan films produced in Northwest Arkansas! Specifically, the fan film GHOST SHIP from Arkansas writer/director JOSHUA IRWIN took four Bjo Awards, and the fan film ADVENTURES OF THE USS PARKVIEW: “THE BUNNY INCIDENT” from Arkansas writer/director/composer KEVIN CROXTON took two Bjos.

Another three awards were claimed by the wonder from Down Under, Australian fan filmmaker AARON VANDERKELY and his team for their NX-era fan films GOOD MEN and THE FALL OF STARBASE ONE.

Of the other two awards, one went to MATTHEW BLACKBURN of California for the final installment of the “Survivor Trilogy,” LAST SURVIVOR, and the other to SHELTON E. WALKER for a guest actor appearance as Commodore Alwine in the two-part STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR: “THE MONOLITH, PART ONE” and “THE MONOLITH, PART TWO” from Potemkin Pictures in Alabama.

The judges this year were Diana Dru BotsfordAndrew GreenbergJason P. HuntDeborah StevensonWilliam Schlichter, and Andrew Wallace. The presenters included Star Trek: DS9 veteran actor Aron “NogEisenbergBill Blair, and Nichole McAuley.

And now, let’s find out who won what…!

Continue reading “2019 BJO AWARD winners from TREKLANTA!”

How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)

Last week, I revealed that I’m going to need to raise $18,800 (possibly more if I end up getting production insurance) in order to make my fan film INTERLUDE, which takes place in what I’ve decided to call the “Axanar Universe.” Now, $18.8K is pretty ambitious in the post-guidelines fan film world. So how am I going to get there?

Over the years that I’ve published the Fan Film Factor blog, I’ve seen a LOT of crowd-funding campaigns—some more successful than others—and I’ve noticed some things that work and some that don’t. I’ve shared this “acquired wisdom” with many folks along the way, but now it’s time to see if I can practice what I’ve been preaching!

They say that a magician should never reveal how they do their tricks, but today I am going to do just that. I’m gonna tell you all exactly what I’m planning to try to make this a successful crowd-funding campaign. And hey, if you’ve got any additional ideas that I haven’t thought of (and don’t require me to “break bad”), please feel free to share them in the comments.

Okay, let’s pull back the magician’s curtain…

Continue reading “How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)”

FINALISTS announced for the 2019 BJO AWARDS!

Each year at the annual TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, GA, the Star Trek fan film community holds its version of the Academy Awards. But instead of Oscars, ours are called Bjos, named after legendary fan BJO TRIMBLE, who is credited with having saved Star Trek from cancellation back in 1968.

This will be the fifth consecutive year that Treklanta has honored Star Trek fan films and their creators with awards. Originally named the Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards, the name was changed to honor Bjo Trimble after the 2016 awards were presented by Mrs. Trimble herself. For a full listing of previous winners and the complete history of these awards, click here to visit their website.

Treklanta will be held this coming weekend at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel, and tickets are still available. The guest list includes Star Trek cast members and background players, authors, artists, fan filmmakers, fan club representatives, and a host of others. While not a large convention, those who attend Treklanta always have VERY positive things to say about the experience there.

Fan film selections are made by Treklanta Chairman ERIC L. WATTS based on Star Trek fan films released during the previous calendar year and which meet certain requirements for eligibility. (For a complete list of all 28 selections for this year’s competition, click here.) Then finalists are chosen for various categories (this year, there are 11) based on points determined by a panel of judges. Typically, there are four finalists per category, but occasionally, an unbreakable tie for fourth place ups the number of finalists in a specific category.

The judges this year are Diana Dru Botsford, Andrew Greenberg, Jason P. Hunt, Deborah Stevenson, William Schlichter, and Andrew Wallace. Winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony to be held Sunday afternoon, May 26, at Treklanta. Presenters will include Aron Eisenberg, Bill Blair, and Nichole McAuley.

Below is a list of finalists with links to the films…

Continue reading “FINALISTS announced for the 2019 BJO AWARDS!”

Did CARLOS PEDRAZA just cost my fan film an extra $2,000?

Okay, it’s not what you think!

Sure, CARLOS PEDRAZA and I have seldom seen eye-to-eye on most things (although we both think the Tardigrade lawsuit is ridiculous and should be thrown out of court…but I digress). However, good advice can come in many sizes, shapes, and packages. And after I published my projected $18,800 budget last week for my fan film INTERLUDE, Carlos posted the following comment:

Jonathan,
You, Josh and Victoria appear to have neglected to include production insurance, which you will definitely need, especially if you plan on having minors working as crew. And your liability is likely to be complicated because your cast and crew are all volunteers rather than employees. Insurance could cost you upwards of $2,000.

Now, I’m sure there’s some suspicious minds out there wondering what Carlos’ angle is on posting such a comment here to Fan Film Factor. After all, he’s never mentioned production insurance for any other Star Trek fan project before (not even Axanar). Is Carlos trying to make it harder for me to make it to my goal by driving it up to nearly $21K? Is he trying to make me reconsider inviting locals students to help out on set? Does he not believe I’ll play by the guidelines and pay my crew instead of requiring them to all be unpaid volunteers?

I’ll be honest, many of these cynical thoughts (and others) went through my own head. And unfortunately for me, my directors (JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX) were both shooting their own fan film this past weekend, and I didn’t want to bother them until they returned back home. So I had ample time to fret over this new wrinkle.

While I waited for a chance to talk to Josh and Victoria, I read up on film production insurance on this website, and it doesn’t seem to be the scary boogey man I feared. And hey, they even allow for productions to have volunteers and interns. It’s not “complicated” after all, since many productions do the same thing. So yay!

On Monday, I finally touched base with Josh and Victoria and had a very enlightening conversation with them. Keep in mind that I’m a total novice at this whole filmmaking process. While I’ve worked on a few fan films over the years (decades now), I’ve never been a show-runner. I never had to worry about all of the details and deal with questions like “What is production insurance and do I need it?” Josh and Victoria, on the other hand, do all of this professionally, and they have been wonderfully patient with me. So on Monday, I shared Carlos’ message with them…

My angels of production (and directors): JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX
Continue reading “Did CARLOS PEDRAZA just cost my fan film an extra $2,000?”

ALEC PETERS announces first shooting date for AXANAR sequels!

It’s the announcement fans have been waiting more than three years to hear!

Production on AXANAR (the sequel to PRELUDE TO AXANAR) had originally been scheduled to begin in early 2016. I had even cleared my schedule to drive to Valencia, CA to visit the set on the morning of February 2 and then drive a contest winner from there for a quick trip to nearby Vasquez Rocks in the afternoon. Fans were so excited to see this highly-anticipated full-length Star Trek fan film finally begin shooting.

You know what happened next.

A copyright infringement lawsuit filed by CBS and Paramount forced ALEC PETERS to suspend production, and a year-long legal battle finally ended in a settlement that allowed Axanar to be made with the same actors and professional crew…but only as two 15-minute short films rather than a full 90-minute feature, and with no public crowd-funding allowed (although private donations are permitted).

The subsequent loss of Industry Studios in mid-2017 resulted in a move from California to Lawrenceville, Georgia, and additional delays…during which time the amazing USS Ares bridge set has been nearly completed.

The delays in the start of production have confounded fans and supporters. Shooting had initially been announced (in an audio interview I did with J.G. Hertzler) to begin late last year, but Alec didn’t officially confirm the dates, and 2018 ended with no cameras rolling and the bridge still unfinished (although very close to completion).

In January of 2019, a new Patreon campaign was started to help fund the monthly rent for Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, renamed after the 18-month sponsorship of the studio by OWC Digital ended. Four months later, the Patreon is 55% of the way to its $4,000/month goal and still growing…currently at an impressive 229 backers contributing $2,184 each month.

For most of 2019 so far, Alec had been hinting at an unnamed fan production, in addition to Axanar, that would be filming on the USS Ares bridge set. Then earlier this month, I announced that the mystery project was my fan film, INTERLUDE, and would take place in the Axanar Universe…separate from Alec’s sequels and intended to fit in between them and Prelude (hence my title). But still no official word on when Axanar itself would begin filming.

This past weekend, the word was finally given. Production on the first of four shoots for Axanar will kick off during the first weekend of October, 2019…one week after I complete my two-day shoot at Ares Studios (plus one day at Neutral Zone Studios in nearby Kingsland, GA). The timing is not entirely coincidental, but I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog.

Right now, however, I turn the spotlight over to Alec Peters himself and a video update from Saturday that’s already garnered several thousand views…