HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me…and to FAN FILM FACTOR!

Today I turn 51 years old…and FAN FILM FACTOR just turned two.  This blog doesn’t have an official birthday, but my earliest posts are dated January 10, 2016.  It’s two years later, and in that time, I’ve published 465 blog entries!!!  Holy shat!

Although some of my blogs are just 200-400 words, others get well over a 1,000 or even 2,000 words.  (If they reach 3,000 words, it’s time to split them into Part 1 and Part 2!)  So assuming I average a little over a thousand words per blog, that means I’ve probably written nearly a HALF MILLION WORDS in two years…mainly about fan films!

Some folks out there criticize me for writing blogs that are too long, but think of it this way: that’s dedication!  Do ya know how long it takes to research, plan out, organize, and write a half million words of blogs???  (Don’t make fun of me; it’s my birthday.)

About 15 months ago, I added Google Ads to the site to help generate some revenue.  Since then, my ads have earned me a whopping $529.65…or about a tenth of a penny per word.  If you check online, most freelance writing assignments pay about 10 cents a word (maybe a bit higher for more high profile work).

So I’m making 1/100 of what a gainfully employed freelance writer makes!  And yet I still do this.  Why?

Well, there’s a few reasons…

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Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 2)

Read Part 1 of this blog entry if you haven’t already.  Did you do it?  Good.

So it was now a few weeks before Christmas, and VANCE MAJOR was ready to tag out and I was ready to tag in to try to get this compromise settlement for STARBASE STUDIOS to the finish line.  Vance was exhausted, but he got the runners 90% of the way there.  Just a few teensy details left to work out…or so I thought.

Keep in mind, neither Vance nor I is a lawyer.  Instead, we were just trying, as friends, to help SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT EDWARDS work out a way where GLEN L. WOLFE would drop his lawsuit against them, and Starbase Studios could continue without fan filmmakers having to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to use the Starbase Studios TOS sets.

By the time I tagged in, there was a full legal settlement agreement already written up by Glen’s lawyer, ready for Scott and Kent to sign.  But they still had some issues with it.  One of the biggest was that Scott decided that he didn’t want Glen to own 100% of the Starbase sets.  But he was willing to split them 50/50.  Would Glen agree?  Scott didn’t think so.  And frankly, neither did Vance.

“Look,” I said to Vance, “Maybe he’ll say no, and we’ll be back to square one.  But if Glen says yes, then we’re there!  It’s worth it to at least ask him.”

Vance agreed to make the call.  Five minutes later, I had Glen’s answer…

Continue reading “Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 2)”

Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 1)

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at STARBASE STUDIOS recently, and I’ll get to that in a moment.  But first, you might want to read up on the current situation if you don’t already know about the lawsuit and all of the other drama going on of late.

All right, strap in.  Let’s start with this past weekend when a group of 5th and 6th graders from Parkview Elementary School Music Club got a chance to film a music video project on the amazing TOS sets of Starbase Studios, currently located in Marble Falls, Arkansas.

The field trip was set up by their teacher, KEVIN CROXTON, who had composed the music for THE FEDERATION FILES’ second episode Walking Bear, Running Wolf last summer.  In exchange, Kevin had asked show-runner GLEN L. WOLFE for the opportunity to bring Kevin’s music students (they’re local) to the sets to film a video project.  So this past weekend’s excursion has been planned for nearly 7 months.

And, really, isn’t this what Starbase Studios is all about?  Sets by the fans, for the fans…and even attracting a whole new (next!) generation of young fans.  So what could possibly be wrong with that?

Well…

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Fan COMIC BOOK shows the FINAL VOYAGE OF JAMES T. KIRK! (feature)

I know I usually cover fan films, but today I’m looking at a full-length COMIC BOOK…written by well-known fan filmmaker MARK LARGENT.

Mark gained notoriety as the creator of the hilarious STALLED TREK series of 3D-animated Trek parodies using puppet/muppet versions of our favorite characters.  The first Stalled Trek was the 15-minute episode “Amutt Time” and the other was the award-winning “Prelude to Ax’d-We Are” (which I worked on, as well).  But before there was Stalled Trek, there was a comic book!

Well, actually, the comic book existed both before AND after Stalled Trek.  Let me explain that statement.  Back in late 1991, Mark Largent and his friend Mark McCrary both wanted to break into the comic book industry, Largent as a writer and McCary as an artist.

TNG had just aired the 2-part episode “Unification,” which featured the elder Spock trying to bring the Romulans and Vulcans back together.  A month later, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country came out and looked to be the final appearance of the original TOS crew.  No one imagined that the seventh Trek feature would bring back Kirk (and the kill him off) or that Scotty would appear in a TNG episode called “Relics” a year later.

Fans might not remember that, back then, the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” was the only hint anyone had of what happened in between the two series.  So after seeing “Unification” and then Trek VI, the two Marks decided to create a story that would fill in the missing 78-year gap of time between Trek VI and the beginning of TNG…leading up to Spock’s decision to go to Romulus and showing the final fate of James T. Kirk.  (Remember, this was years before Generations.)

Largent wrote the script, and McCary pencilled some 60-odd pages.  They created Starfleet uniforms that seemed to be a reasonable guess of what was halfway between the “monster maroons” of TOS and the jumpsuits of TNG, and the story featured most of the main TOS characters.  They photocopied the pencilled pages and mailed them to DC Comics, which was publishing Star Trek comic books at the time.  But they never heard back.

Then came the TNG episode “Relics,” and it completely screwed up their story since they had featured Scotty along with Kirk, Spock, and Bones.  Now only an “imaginary” story at best, the comic book project was abandoned—until something happened nearly a quarter century later…

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VIC MIGNOGNA posts a special “thank you” video from the sets of STAR TREK CONTINUES

This past Monday evening, STAR TREK CONTINUES show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA posted a very special video onto the STC Facebook page.  Principal photography was completed last February on the final STC episode, “To Boldly Go.”  Shortly thereafter, Vic walked the corridors of the amazing TOS sets on a rainy day in Kingsland, GA, filming himself using a selfie stick as he discussed his feelings about wrapping up the series after nearly six years.

In the background, you can see how the sets are laid out in the warehouse, what some of the Enterprise “walls” look like from the other side, and how close everything was from the edges of the soundstage itself.  They certainly filled that space.

Some of the TNG set pieces on display at the now-closed Hollywood Entertainment Museum

The video shows a quiet and thoughtful moment for Vic, similar to one I experienced several years ago during my final visit to the Star Trek: TNG sets on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum.  For several years, I and friends from a local Trek fan club used to give docent tours in uniform once a month before the museum closed its doors forever.  While I can’t completely equate that experience to Vic’s in terms of time commitment and dedication, I still understand a little of how he felt when he made this video.

Everyone else was gone (or so it appears on Vic’s video), and it was a final chance to take in everything this project had meant to him personally for those many years.  Like Vic, I also did my final “set walk” alone.  I stayed there for about 45 minutes in silence (the museum was now closed to the public and we’d been helping get props organized and stowed—I was the last one there).  I sat in Picard’s chair, walked around Worf’s station, stood in the transporter, and took one last look at all the humorous details Mike Okuda had hidden in Geordi’s engineering cutaway of the Enterprise-D: Nomad, an airplane, the rubber duck.  And for no reason whatsoever, I gave one final tour…to no one.  I went through every part of the docent speech my friends and I used to give for the tourists, as I’d long ago memorized every line.  It was just a special moment with the sets…one last time.

And while Vic obviously still has access to his sets, I can imagine how deeply introspective he must have felt when he made this video—and I’m glad he decided to share it with us…

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY just royally PISSED ME OFF!!! (spoiler-filled editorial review)

Did I mention there will be spoilers?  Oh, there WILL be spoilers!

I actually liked the tenth episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY…until I hated it.

Well, “hate” is a strong word.  So instead, I’m just gonna go with “totally pissed me off!”

So what was the straw that stuck in my craw?

Was it the underwhelming “surprise” that Ash Tyler is really the Klingon Voq and that there never was any “rape”?  Nah.  I knew he was Voq all along.  Being predictable doesn’t piss me off.

Was it that Ash/Voq killed Dr. Culber…arguably the only character on the ship I was starting to actually like?  No.  That stung, but as I said in a previous blog, I’m not really emotionally invested in any of the characters.  So I got over Culber pretty quickly.

Was it that I still have to wait to say “I told you so!” when we finally learn that Captain Lorca was/is originally from the Mirror Universe?  Not really.  I can wait another week or two for that “surprise” reveal.

Was it the cringe-worthy scene of Tilly’s first attempt at being “Captain Killy”?  No.  I pretty much expected something like that to happen—the inevitable “fish out of water” scene to establish that our civilized folks are gonna find it tough to pretend to be barbarians.  And it wasn’t too bad.  It was even kinda fun and cutesy.

Was it the Mirror Universe uniforms that somehow managed to be even more outrageous than the Starfleet uniforms?  No, I pretty much ignored the glitzy half-vests…right after singing Let’s Do The Time Warp Again when I first saw the Discovery crew wearing them.  Actually, I was more horrified to discover that the Elvis-like Starfleet uniforms on this show include golden soles on the boots!  Who designed their footwear…Usain Bolt???

Was it the lack of banter?  No.  This episode actually had some decent banter for a change.  (When I see/hear banter in an episode, my friends, I freely admit it.)

So why did this episode piss me off so much…and why did it only piss me off at the end?

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THE FEDERATION FILES releases its third episode “Extraction”! (feature)

Just before the start of the new year, the anthology series THE FEDERATION FILES released its third full episode: “Extraction.”  Produced by GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS, this episode was written by Glen and features Dan as the captain of the USS Nikita, a dreadnought-class starship.  Glen also appears briefly as a shuttlecraft pilot.

But the cast is much more extensive than that.  The 12-minute fan film features Romulans, a Starfleet bridge crew, shuttlecraft pilots, and a team of TOS-era MACOs.  The episode also features a Starfleet shuttlecraft interior set that took about four weeks to build.  The control console, front view ports, and one panel on the the left side were supplied by JAMES CAWLEY and were used previously for one of the episodes of Star Trek: New Voyages, “The Holiest Thing.”  Glen and Dan built out the rest or the interior, including the iconic lightbox ceiling, and the electronics were custom made by Glen.  The shuttle interior remains standing at Dan’s WARP TV studio in Harrison, Arkansas, available to use in future fan films.

The rest of the episode was filmed both at STARBASE STUDIOS (mostly before the recent controversy) and by a second unit in a rock quarry close to the Harrison studio during a few hours while Romulan make-up was being applied to JIM VON DOLTEREN and ALLYSON MARX back at the studio.  In total, about four days were spent filming all the scenes, mainly during July of last year.

The Federation Files has already released two previous episodes: “His Name Is Mudd” and “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.

Dan reports that he and Glen will soon be choosing one of the remaining ten scripts that Glen has already written to film as their fourth production in The Federation Files anthology series.  Now that Glen has moved to Arkansas, Dan expects them to have a lot more time to brainstorm, write, create, and produce new Star Trek. .

How quickly the next episode gets started and  produced depends on the resolution of the current lawsuit regarding the Starbase Studios sets.  From what I understand, there is some hopeful progress happening in that situation.  I’ll report more as soon as I’m cleared to.

In the meantime, enjoy “Extraction”…

The TOP 10 fan film news stories of 2017

A few days ago, I posted a blog looking back at the MANY fan film news stories I covered on Fan Film Factor over the past year—nearly 75, believe it or not!  (Not bad for a sub-genre that some predicted would be all but extinct by now.)

But what were the fan film news stories from 2017 that had the greatest impact on the world of Star Trek fan films?  Well, guess who just made a Top 10 list of that very thing!

I’m sure some folks won’t agree with all of my selections.  Heck, some of the stories I chose aren’t even directly Star Trek-related.  But hey, everyone’s got opinions, right?  And if you think a different fan film story should have made it onto the list, feel free to tell me in the comments.  (That’s a sneaky way of turning a “Top 10” list into a “Top 10 Plus” list!)

And so, without further ado, here’s the biggest fan film stories of 2017…

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2017 Star Trek fan film YEAR IN REVIEW!

“Why are you even bothering with this blog?” one anonymous poster wrote to me a little over a year ago.  “Star Trek fan films will all be gone soon, even your precious Axanar, and you’ll have nothing left to write about!”

Well, I’m still here…and so are Star Trek fan films!  (And I really hope that anonymous person is reading today’s blog because he wasn’t just wrong; he was VERY wrong!)

2017 was a BIG year for Star Trek fan films…possibly one of THE biggest!  And that’s kinda funny considering how many people told me that the fan film guidelines would spell certain doom for Trek fan films.  Even I thought that at first!

I will admit that, one year ago, things did seem kinda bleak in fan film land.  The Axanar lawsuit was less than a month from trial.  The Axanerds and Axa-detractors were going at it like Hatfields and Dr. McCoys.  The guidelines had been in existence for half a year, and already the long-ruinning Star Trek: New Voyages had halted production, the also-long-running Star Trek: Dark Armada had released its final episode at the end of 2016, Star Trek: Renegades had become Renegades: The Series-that-n0-longer-had-anything-to-do-with-Star-Trek-beyond-all-the-acrtors, and Star Trek Continues had announced their intention to produce only four (as opposed to six) final episodes to complete their fan series.

But I believed in fan films and the people who make them.  I had faith that the genre would continue despite the guidelines—perhaps even because of them (since they now gave Trekkers official permission from the studios to create their own productions…albeit within some overly-strict limits).

And Trek fan films certainly didn’t die!  In fact, they kept me pretty darn busy with news, features, and interviews all year long.  Anyone who believed Trek fan films were on their deathbed at the end of 2016 should join us on this trip down Memory…er…Lane (!) as I take a look back at what fan film news made my blog’s headlines over the past 12 months.

This special post will list the biggest Fan Film Factor news articles for 2017, in order by month, with links to each one of those blog entries if you want to dive in deeper.

And be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a few final words from me about what’s coming in 2018…!

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SETH MacFARLANE’S many STAR TREK fan films!

It’s no secret that the creator of The Orville, SETH MacFARLANE, is a major Trekkie.  He’s said as much in interviews.  But few fans realized that Seth’s preoccupation with our favorite sci-fi franchise went BEYOND simply watching it or collecting stuff or even doing Captain Kirk impressions.  Yep, Seth MacFarlane actually made his own Star Trek fan film!

And no, I’m not talking about The Orville (although many have argued that he’s made a kind of Star Trek “fan film” in creating that show).  I’m talking about an honest-to-goodness amateur Star Trek fan film…where a teenaged Seth sits in the center seat on a home-made bridge set, wearing a do-it-yourself command tunic, barking orders at a friend wearing pointed ears while an AMT model of the refit USS Enterprise—complete with a drooping left nacelle—speeds across a blue screen chroma-keyed with a cheesy black hole space effect.

Here, take a look…

But believe it or not, Seth MacFarlane would go on to have many MORE opportunities to publicly geek out as a Trekkie…from playing James T. Kirk on real TV to hiring Patrick Stewart and even appearing on two actual Star Trek episodes!

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