A first look at FARRAGUT FORWARD…and it looks AMAZING!!!

Two months ago, I published a blog interviewing JOHNNY K., the producer and director of the new fan series FARRAGUT FORWARD. It’s a “sequel” series to the long-running STARSHIP FARRAGUT, which recently released its own series finale, “HOMECOMING” on October 1…after five years in post-production! (And if you’re wondering why I haven’t covered that release yet, please help me nag showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON, writer PAUL SIEBER, and post-production supervisor/composer STEVEN SEMMEL to finish writing up their answers to my interview questions.)

For the past several months, Johnny K., John B., and the Farragut Forward team have been hard at work building sets and props, polishing the script for the debut episode, and even creating physical ship models in order to film their visual FX the “old fashioned way”—none of this new-fangled CGI nonsense!

On October 16, cameras began rolling for the first time on the new series, shooting footage for what will be an initial 3-minute “teaser” prologue to the debut episode. The first look fans got came earlier this week with three photos posted on the KAOTICA STUDIOS Facebook page

Talk about firing an actor!

The post included the following caption:

Fun fact: it takes the Farragut Forward costuming team weeks of painstaking work to recreate accurate uniforms for our production. The attention to detail is extraordinary. It takes costume assistant Belle Bredehoft just a few seconds to light those items ON FIRE! 🔥🔥🔥

The next day, Kaotica released two new images from the actual footage shot in 6K on the set. You can see John B. below as Captain Jack Carter of the U.S.S. Farragut in the Wrath of Khan movie era (wearing a gorgeous and properly-fitting “monster maroon” uniform)…

From the NEWS section of the Kaotica Studios website, John Broughton had this to say (reprinted with permission):

A lot of preparation and hard work went into last weekend’s shoot which paid off in being well-organized, professional, and successful in best capturing our story. More importantly, the film shoot was FUN, which at the end of the day, is what this is all about, right?

It was surreal playing Captain Carter again and wearing a Starfleet uniform, but like an old worn glove, it fell right into place, and this time, it was a bit more natural. It’s great working with Johnny K., Kaotica Studios, and all the talented cast and crew in bringing the next chapter of Farragut to life and in in the best ‘light’ (or perhaps ‘low-light’). Thanks again to everyone involved!

The other still image posted was this shot of actor WILLIAM JAY in full Klingon makeup and armor…

William had this to say:

Continue reading “A first look at FARRAGUT FORWARD…and it looks AMAZING!!!”

The real significance of sending WILLIAM SHATNER into space…

It all started in the summer of 1983 with the flight of the first female astronaut, SALLY RIDE, orbiting the earth on board the space shuttle Challenger. And it ended on January 26, 1986 with the death of civilian teacher CHRISTA McAULIFFE and six other crew members on board that same spacecraft as it exploded and broke apart just 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

What ended? The hope of sending a poet into space.

“We need people other than MIT physicists to tell us what it’s like up there,” said novelist JAMES MICHENER in the early 1980s. A space enthusiast, Michener served at the time as a member of a special NASA task force. In 1983, after Sally Ride had reinvigorated Americans’ enthusiasm for the multi-billion dollar-a-year NASA space program, the task force issued a report that called for sending professional communicators, such as writers and educators, on future space missions. “It is desirable for NASA,” the report explained, “to fly observers on the shuttle for the purpose of adding to the public’s understanding of space flight.”

And so began the search for the perfect candidate out of literally millions of Americans. A NASA spokesman said they were looking for “…someone who can make an eloquent contribution to the literature…a broadcast journalist, a newspaper reporter, an artist, a song writer, or even a poet.”

I remember at the time (I was just starting college) learning that singer/songwriter JOHN DENVER was lobbying hard to be considered for this program. I imagined the man who wrote one of my all-time favorite songs, Looking for Space, actually traveling TO space and coming back to share that experience with the world through music and lyric. It could have been glorious because most people (nearly all) who were alive in the 1980s would have no chance to ever go into space.

And as lovely as the words of NEIL ARMSTRONG (“One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind…”) and BUZZ ALDRIN (“Magnificent desolation…”) were when they stepped onto the moon’s surface in 1969, they really weren’t trained to be communicators. They were military men, pilots, engineers, and scientists of a sort. Their training and skillsets never included inspiring others with words and evoking visceral feelings and emotions. Writers and artists know how to do that, but they weren’t the ones leaving the planet.

Christa McAuliffe

In 1984, the decision was made to send a teacher into space to kick off the program. Thousands of applicants were whittled down to 114 semifinalists from all fifty states, and then to 10 finalists—six women and four men—with Christa McAuliffe of Concord, New Hampshire being the final selection.

Phase two of this civilian-in-space program would have sent a journalist into orbit the year following the teacher. More than 1,700 candidates were under consideration, including former CBS anchor WALTER CRRONKITE (who was 69-years-old at the time), WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR., GERALDO RIVERA, TOM WOLFE (author of the widely-acclaimed book The Right Stuff) and NORMAN MAILER. Phase three would launch some kind of artist.

And then the Challenger disaster happened.

Continue reading “The real significance of sending WILLIAM SHATNER into space…”

Tragedy strikes one of the showrunners of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL…

JOHN ATKIN has just lost the love of his life and the mother of his three-year-old son EDWARD, his beautiful wife of three-and-a-half years, MIRANDA GERMANI. She died on Saturday, October 2, from complications caused by Crohn’s disease, a condition involving inflammation of the digestive tract which can become potentially very serious in certain circumstances, as it did for Miranda.

I am reporting on this for two reasons. The first is that both John and Miranda should be considered part of the fan film community, John as co-showrunner (along with STAN WOO) of the long-awaited YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, featuring footage filmed back in 1985 of GEORGE TAKEI playing Sulu and actor JAMES SHIGETA as Admiral Nogura. John helped Stan restart the production in 2010 after a nearly two-decade “pause,” providing resources to create new scenes that would never have been possible back in the 1980s. Some of those scenes were filmed at JAMES CAWLEY’s Retro Studios in upstate New York, and Miranda had a small cameo as Dr. Amanda Cruz.

Miranda Germani as Dr. Amanda Cruz in the upcoming YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL

The other reason that I am reporting on this is because I consider John Atkin to be a friend, and as a now-single father of a three-year-old who will, tragically, barely be able to remember his wonderful mother, John needs our help.

John’s sister-in-law, ELENA GERMANI, along with friends from Humbler College in Toronto—where Miranda did post graduate work—has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for Edward’s post-secondary (college) education when he graduates high school in 15 years.

Elena’s comments on the GoFundMe page explain the reason for the campaign:

Miranda deeply valued education. After obtaining her degree from McMaster University, she carried on her studies at Humber College, York University, and the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she graduated with a MSc in Health Economics, Policy and Management.

We know she would want her son Edward, now three years old, to have access to opportunities provided by post-secondary education. We set up this GoFundMe for Edward so that his dad John has a little less to worry about during this incredibly difficult time.

Miranda offered so much to the people and causes she loved — and there were many. In fact, she received the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, presented by the Governor General of Canada, in recognition of her commitment to community.

This is an obviously painful time for John, coming just as he was putting the finishing touches on Yorktown—“polishing up the music and sound design,” as he posted on the Yorktown Facebook page back in August. But now, John has other thoughts and feelings to deal with, and perhaps we can help ease his grief with just a little financial help. As I type this 84 people have already donated $9,130 in just three days, including $50 from me.

If you’d like to give something for young Edward, here is the link…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/In-memory-of-miranda-edwards-education-fund

Continue reading “Tragedy strikes one of the showrunners of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL…”

Starship Deimos’ 17th release: “LEVIATHAN” (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

The STARSHIP DEIMOS has been flying around the fan film sector for more than five and a half years now…ever since their first release on March 9, 2016. It came on the heels of the new fan series STARSHIP TRISTAN, which had debuted just four months earlier. Both productions sprang from the venerable POTEMKIN PICTURES, which had already, by that time, released thirty episodes of their debut fan series, PROJECT: POTEMKIN.

Since that time, Potemkin Pictures has spawned an additional SIX series of Star Trek fan production teams with nearly two dozen episodes of their own. (You can access all of the nearly-100 Potemkin fan films from their website.) But by far, the most prolific productions came come from the teams making Tristan and Deimos. Tristan released their most recent fan film (their 21st overall) this past March, but Deimos had been running silent for nearly a year…since last Halloween, in fact.

That changed on September 24, 2021 with the release of Deimos‘s 17th fan production, LEVIATHAN. It’s a good ol’ fashioned ship-in-peril-from-a-spatial-anomaly story, and it’s very well-acted. It was filmed on the new Potemkin Pictures sets in Lexington, KY. Check it out…

Time to ask showrunner RANDY LANDERS some questions…!

Continue reading “Starship Deimos’ 17th release: “LEVIATHAN” (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE spoofs Star Trek (again!) AND billionaire astronauts…

Saturday Night Live has never shied away from parodying Star Trek…starting way back in their first season (1976) when JOHN BELUSHI, CHEVY CHASE, DAN AKROYD, and ELLIOTT GOULD brought viewers the unforgettably hilarious “Last Voyage of the Starship Enterprise.” Since then, their parodies have been somewhat hit-and-miss, with mixed reviews on such sketches as “The Restaurant Enterprise,” Love Boat: The Next Generation,” “Emergency Room/Worf, M.D.” and the recent “Lost Episode” featuring CHRIS PINE as Captain Kirk and BOBBY MOYNIHAN as Spock’s vulgar half-brother from Queens, Spocko. Now THAT’S a Star Trek!

The last one was also the latest parody of Star Trek until this past Saturday night when SNL kicked off its 47th season (c’mon, you’ve GOT to have a Star Trek sketch when the season is 47!), with host OWEN WILSON. Take a look:

As Homer Simpson would say, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

Now, if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’d like to make two editorial observations…

First off, billionaires have been getting MUCH more interesting lately! Granted, none of them are dressing up like a bat at night and fighting crime in Gotham City or designing suits of flying armor and leading a team of superheroes. But even still, building rockets to take civilians and other payloads into space is pretty darn cool. I mean, a century ago, a “typical” billionaire looked like this:

John D. Rockerfeller, Henry Ford, and Andrew Mellon

These guys were certainly impressive and all—successful businessmen, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, patrons of art and science, and even one a secretary of the treasury. But were they fun? I mean, no complaints about making automobiles affordable to the masses or starting a top notch university…but fun?

Billionaires became more fun with this fellow:

That’s WILLIAM RANDOPH HEAST…the man built a frickin’ CASTLE on the central California coast, fer gosh sakes!!! And then he would invite famous celebrities, political leaders, and brilliant minds from all over the world to come and stay there, asking only that they attend communal dinners and certain other gatherings to share their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives with each other and with him. Seriously, if you ever have a chance to visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, and learn its history, it’s totally worth the visit. It’s fascinating!

And who could forget this guy…?

Continue reading “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE spoofs Star Trek (again!) AND billionaire astronauts…”

The BJOs are BACK, baby!

Beginning in 2015, the world of Star Trek fan films has had its own, exclusive annual awards show…thanks entirely to the exhaustive efforts of ERIC L. WATTS and the panels of judges whom he has assembled each year. It’s a daunting task: keeping track of, viewing, and scoring so many Star Trek fan films. A typical judge might have to devote as many as 10 or 20 hours to what is essentially a volunteer task. And of course, that effort increases exponentially when you get to Eric Watts himself!

The name of this annual competition was changed to the BJO AWARDS in 2018, in honor of BJO TRIMBLE, credited with saving Star Trek from early cancellation in the 1960s by organizing the “great letter-writing campaign.” Bjo was a guest of honor that year and graciously agreed to the name change. And they have been the Bjo Awards each year since.

Well, ALMOST each year since…

Last year, 2020, was—if you can remember that far back—just a little f’d up. (Yeah, I said “f’d”!) The world transformed into an alternate reality of shutting down and shutting in, and like nearly all social gatherings, the annual TREKLANTA convention, where the Bjo Awards are announced, could not safely take place in person. The event went virtual, but without a physical venue to present at and hand out plaques, Eric elected not to hold the Bjo Awards last year.

Bjo Award plaques are always presented in person.

This year, however, even though Treklanta is still not taking place, Eric has decided to once again resume the Bjos. But what to do about the “missed” year? Traditionally, each year’s Bjo Award nominees are Star Trek fan films released during the previous calendar year. Fan filmmakers don’t actively “enter” the competition. Instead they automatically qualify if they meet the following requirements…

1) Be a live-action dramatic presentation set in the Star Trek universe, not animated or CGI, or a satire or parody of Star Trek.
2) Have “Based upon Star Trek, Created by Gene Roddenberry” (or similar) in the title sequence, opening credits or closing credits. (This requirement may be waived under certain circumstances and at the sole discretion of Treklanta.)
3) Have been released to the Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) during the previous calendar year.
4) Have an entry on IMDb.com with full cast and crew credits listed.

It’s #3 in the above list that’s the problematic one…

Continue reading “The BJOs are BACK, baby!”

“MASK” marks FIVE releases in a row from THE FEDERATION FILES without a TOS set in sight! (interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)

I want you to imagine something. You and your best friend have built a bunch of super-accurate Star Trek TOS sets near your homes. You’ve got a partial bridge set, sickbay, transporter room, briefing room, corridor, and even the inside of a shuttlecraft. You can go there anytime you want, stay as long as you like, invite friends, etc.

You might even…I don’t know…shoot a Star Trek fan film??? C’mon, you know you would!

And starting in late 2017, that’s what GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS began to do. Actually, they had both been involved in fan filmmaking for years previously, working on both other people’s projects as well as their own. The Federation Files released the first of its many, many Star Trek anthology-style productions back in 2016. Titled “His Name Is Mudd,” much of the episode was shot at the now-dearly-departed STARBASE STUDIOS while it was still in Oklahoma. Their second episode, “Walking Bear, Running Wolf,” and part of their third episode, “Extraction” were filmed at Starbase Studios after the sets were moved to Arkansas.

But “Extraction,” released in late 2017, also marked the first time Dan and Glen shot on their own set…in this case a shuttlecraft cockpit made of some elements donated from JAMES CAWLEY of STAR TREK: PHASE II after being used in their episode “The Holiest Thing” and completed in a TV studio building that Dan owns near his home in northern Arkansas.

Likewise, their fourth episode, “Galaxy Hopper,” included scenes shot in the briefing room, transporter room, and corridor sets at Starbase Studios early in 2018. But the episode featured, for the first time ever, scenes filmed on a brand new partial bridge set constructed by Glen and Dan at another of Dan’s studio facilities. With both a shuttlecraft cockpit and a bridge set, and with more sets planned, the two fan filmmakers officially christened their production location WARP 66 STUDIOS (“WARP” standing for Wolf And Reynolds Productions and “66” being the year that Star Trek debuted).

Amusingly, their fifth episode, “The Equinox Effect,” shot in 2019, utilized almost none of the TOS sets that Glen and Dan had constructed. The TOS sets that appear in that fan film were actually the ones located in upstate New York, rented out by James Cawley back in 2015 to the producers of the never-completed STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “The Night of Time,” footage which Glen Wolfe “rescued” to include in this original episode of The Federation Files. Meanwhile, Glen was building out a sickbay, transporter, briefing room, and corridor set to add to WARP 66.

Why this elaborate history lesson, you ask? It all goes back to the question I asked above: if you had complete and total access to high-end TOS set recreations, wouldn’t you want to shoot some cool fan films on them?

Continue reading ““MASK” marks FIVE releases in a row from THE FEDERATION FILES without a TOS set in sight! (interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)”

“STAR TREK IS REAL” and so is PIXI NEREID…real AWESOME, that is! (video interview with PIXI)

Finally! I get a chance to interview PIXI NEREID and share it with all of you…and it’s a really FANtastic interview.

Last week, I was supposed to interview Pixi along with AVALON UNIVERSE showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and angel-supporter RAY MYERS, who donated $3,000 to their current GoFundMe campaign as a match for $3,000 in fan donations that came in last week. The Zoom call interview was supposed to accompany the released of Pixi’s new Avalon Universe music video STAR TREK IS REAL (edited by Josh), which debuted last Friday. You can watch it below…

Catchy, ain’t it? Yeah, you’re gonna be hearing that song in your head for hours!

Pixi (whose real name is Ilia McNeil—“Pixi Nereid” is her stage name when she’s appearing at children’s birthday parties as a mermaid…and yes, that’s a thing) is a very busy woman, teaching high school, working on a Masters degree, teaching improv classes, and of course, the mermaid gig…all while starring in the next major Avalon fan film release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (coming out October 31) and serving as producer on the fan series.

Unfortunately, Pixi’s schedule unexpectedly exploded just before our Zoom call was supposed to start, and she felt so sorry that she had to bail at the last second. However, Josh was able to get Avalon actor TYLER DUNIVAN to fill in for Pixi, and we still managed to have a great interview discussion with the three of them (Josh, Ray, and Tyler). You can watch it here, if you’d like.

Speaking of Tyler, Josh released this fun “Shatneresque” interpretation of Star Trek Is Real sung by lounge lizard Tyler and his vape pen (hey, at least it wasn’t an actual cigarette like Shatner smoked on Rocket Man). Have a look…

But I was still determined to interview Pixi…mainly because she is just so darn awesome! I know this because I’ve gotten to be friendly with her since she “drafted” me onto Team Avalon to help guide their crowd-funding efforts. It’s tough to say no to Pixi—even if you’re NOT looking at that irresistible smile! Anyway, I kept hounding Pixi for that interview, and I finally got it on Saturday afternoon.

It’s hard to say why, but sometimes an interview just fires on all cylinders. This is not to disparage the interviews I’ve done with other fan filmmakers, but when you watch the recorded Zoom call below, you’ll see what I mean. Pixi herself is fascinating to learn about, full of surprises that I never even imagined! We learn about her theater, acting, and dance background, musical albums she’s released, and her oh-so-positive way to deal with her critics (not that there are many!).

Pixi also managed to draw out of me an unexpected 15-minute detour into my own background experiences with film production—which include some photos of when I stuck onto the sets of Star Trek: Voyager in 1996! Pixi and I just have a wonderful back-and-fourth, and I think you’ll find her enthusiasm to to be absolutely infectious…

And remember that you can still donate to their campaign here:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

“STAR TREK IS REAL” – the next AVALON UNIVERSE song that will get stuck in your head (video interview JOSHUA IRWIN, TYLER DUNIVAN, and RAY MYERS)

On Monday of this past week, showrunner JOSH IRWIN and the folks in the AVALON UNIVERSE got the song “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON stuck in our heads when they released this hilarious blooper-filled video announcing the kick-off of their donor-dollar-matching promotion week. However, the “week” ended up lasting only two and a half days, as that was all the time it took for fans to donate a whopping $3,000 to their GoFundMe campaign, the maximum that angel-supporter RAY MYERS had offered to match. That brought the total raised so far up over $11,500!

The campaign goes on, by the way, as it still has about $8,100 (40%) to go to reach its overall goal of $20,000. You can donate here…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

After seeing the announcement video, Avalon supporters requested a longer blooper reel, and Josh obliged on Wednesday when he posted this expanded video filled with even more bloopers and outtakes. Once again, fans got a healthy dose of Eric Clapton’s hit from 1986 (and later from Rick & Morty‘s fourth season).

On Friday, Avalon released yet another new video, but this one isn’t a blooper reel. Instead, it’s a full-fledged MUSIC VIDEO, shot on the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. However, you’re STILL going to come out of watching it humming a song for the rest of the day!

In this case, the song is “Star Trek Is Real,” written and performed by Avalon star and producer (and part-time mermaid) PIXI NEREID. Pixi wrote this song 15 years ago, but it’s still pretty fun and upbeat—just like Pixi herself! Take a look and a listen…

(It’s already echoing in your head, isn’t it? Go on, sing!)

This little firecracker has only been in the fan film community for a few months and hasn’t even appeared in her first full fan film yet (that’ll be October!). But nonetheless, she’s taken our little fiefdom by storm, spreading her unbridled energy and enthusiasm far and wide.

That said, I need to apologize to all of you reading this blog today expecting to see a video interview with this effervescent little elf. I was supposed to interview Pixi, but she got buried in work and had to bail on our Wednesday night Zoom call. That left Josh Irwin and Ray Myers as my 2-out-of-3, and Josh quickly reached out to TYLER DUNIVAN, another star of Avalon, and asked if he could fill in for Pixi, and Tyler joined us.

It seemed strange to talk about Pixi’s new music video without Pixi, so we ended up talking about the campaign, finding out more about Ray Myers and why he’s been so generous to fan filmmakers, and discussing how Josh has ended up having driven his car over 5,500 MILES TOTAL just for one fan film! We also have an exclusive sneak peek at a never-before-scene from the upcoming Avalon release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (at 38:10) plus more info on what’s coming after.

Enjoy…

AVALON UNIVERSE reaches their $3,000 dollar match in just TWO AND A HALF DAYS!!!

I certainly didn’t see THIS coming! I mean, I was initially feeling hopeful that the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe campaign would be able to reach (and maybe even surpass) the $3,000 maximum that wonder-supporter RAY MYERS was offering as a dollar-for-dollar match to any donations that came in this week between Monday and Sunday. That would double that maximum to $6,000—and more-than-double their total from where the week had started (which was just over $5,500 raised in about two and a half months).

I figured that Team Avalon (and I) would need to pull out all the stops and really talk up the dollar-match promotion as much as possible for the entire week to even have a snowball’s chance of reaching that $3,000 maximum. Instead, it only took two and a half days to get there, and good as his word, Ray donated a whopping $3,000 to the campaign earlier this morning…

As I write this, the total shown on Avalon‘s GoFundMe page reads $11,572…about 57.8% of the way to their $20,000 goal. This is, by far, the most ambitious Star Trek fan film crowd-funder to come along in a couple of years, and it’s not nearly as easy to reach into the five-figures as it used to be!

I chatted with showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN last night, wondering whether or not to publish this blog today announcing the good news. On the one hand…YAY! On the other hand, to point out that the $3,000 maximum had been reached runs the risk of potential donors thinking, “Well, if my donation isn’t going to get doubled anymore, why bother?” Likewise, some folks might be confused and assume that the goal was only $3,000 and say, “Great, mission accomplished.” But the overall goal for the ENTIRE campaign is still about $8,400 away.

In the end, we decided share the good news. After all, this will be my fourth Avalon Universe blog in four days, so why ruin the streak, right? And if all goes well, tomorrow will be my fifth, as I just completed an awesome video interview with Josh, actor TYLER DUNIVAN, and this angel donor Ray (who also donated more than $3,000 to my fan film INTERLUDE). Fans have seen multiple interviews with Josh and Tyler, but who is this Ray Myers guy, and why is he being SO generous? Is he just super-rich, or is his wife gonna kill him for throwing their nest-egg away on a couple of silly Star Trek fan films?

And in the meantime, remember that the Avalon GoFundMe is still VERY much alive and active—and still aiming for a $20,000 goal. So if you haven’t donated yet, even though your dollars won’t be doubled, this is still a wonderful group of fan filmmakers and very deserving of our support….just ask Ray Myers!

Here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021