INTREPID crowd-funder proves Jonathan absolutely WRONG!

January is a bad month for crowd-funding…or so I thought.

I usually advise people who ask (and advise them strongly) to avoid scheduling their fan film crowd-funding campaigns in December and January. Both months compete with the holidays. In December, people aren’t really paying much attention to requests to donate to fan projects. And by the time you reach January, many people’s wallets and bank accounts are recovering from holiday expenses like gifts and vacations. So if you can, wait until mid-February to launch your crowd-funder.

A good example of this was VANCE MAJOR, who kicked off his latest GoFundMe for CONSTAR CONTINUES in December. With previous Constar campaigns trying for a $500 goal, Vance had been able to cross the finish line within days. But that was in March. This time, with a goal of $1,175 for costumes and props, Vance took in just a few hundred dollars over the first few weeks, and even now, more than a month later, is only up to $675 from 17 backers (including me). He’s getting there, but it’s definitely slower this time out. Was I right about December and January?

I thought I was…which is why I scratched my head when I saw NICK COOK launch an Indiegogo campaign for STARSHIP INTREPID‘s next fan film, “Echoes.” The long-running fan series out of Dundee, Scotland is trying to raise $2,600 for:

  • Travel expenses
  • Room hire (location rental)
  • Food for the actors
  • Props and costumes
  • Make up
  • Associated consumables (such as batteries)
  • Post-production expenses

With a goal more than double what Vance was asking for, I contacted Nick Cook and suggested we hold off doing a crowd-funding feature/interview here on Fan Film Factor until February—expecting that he (like Vance) wouldn’t get too far over the next few weeks.

It’s only three days later, and Intrepid‘s campaign is already nearly 40% of the say to their goal with $1,036 from 28 backers (including me). Boy, was I wrong! But why was I wrong?

Continue reading “INTREPID crowd-funder proves Jonathan absolutely WRONG!”

Surprising NEW CAST MEMBER added to CONVERGENCE! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

If you think of fan films without visual effects as being like plain chocolate bars, then there’s one person in our community who is definitely nuts!

Yes, folks, it’s time to check in once again with the elf who cobbles the CGI shoes, the beaver that builds the digital dam, Great Britain’s own SAMUEL COCKINGS. I like to joke that it’s quicker to list the fan films and series that Sam hasn’t worked on than those he has. And while that’s certainly a bit of an exaggeration, the fact is that in 2019 alone, Sam did the VFX for two episodes of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, two episodes from the AVALON UNIVERSE, LINE OF DUTY from Aaron Vanderkley in Australia, THE FEDERATION FILES: “THE EQUINOX EFFECT”, WAR STORIES from the upcoming THE ROMULAN WAR fan film (which he’s also working on), plus his own mega fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY. In addition to all of this, Sam releases regular weekly episodes of TREKYARDS (click here for the YouTube playlist) with STUART FOLEY plus reviews, interviews, and other special Trek and scifi features.

Considering how busy he is, it’s a wonder Sam has the time to make yet ANOTHER Star Trek fan film, but back in 2018, he crowd-funded through an Indiegogo campaign $7,385 from 114 backers for CONVERGENCE (surpassing two stretch goals)! The fan film itself is a crossover of characters, aliens, ships, and/or actors from five different fan films: INTREPID, DARK ARMADA, RENEGADES, STARSHIP REPUBLIC, and Sam’s own TEMPORAL ANOMALY.

Although one green screen shooting weekend had already brought together four of the cast members (the European ones), the Indiegogo would fund a second green screen shoot, this time also flying in actor JIM VON DOLTEREN from America to Britain. The idea was to schedule the shoot for mid-2019 and release the completed film before the end of the year.

But that didn’t happen.

So what did happen? Well, why don’t I just let Sam tell you that himself…?

Hmmmm…a lot to unpack there. With so much news about the project, Sam and I had an informative one-on-one chat to go a little deeper into the significant casting change, the last year of production, progress on the visual effects, and the timing for production in 2020 and release in early 2021. Take a look…

INTERLUDE Confidential #3: neither RAIN nor SNOW nor TORNADOES will stop these filmmakers!

VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN didn’t think it was necessary that I write this blog. “We do this sort of thing all the time,” they told me. “It’s part of our job.” Well, maybe for work where they’re being paid professionally, but this is a FLIPPIN’ FAN FILM. And what they did this weekend meant a lot to me personally, and I want to tell you folks about it.

First though, I need to ask: what is it about INTERLUDE that invites acts of God, fate, or just Murphy? Do you remember last May when the Arkansas River flooded and trapped my composer KEVIN CROXTON on one side for days? Or the stray dog that delayed my GoFundMe rollout? Or the woodpecker trapped in the chimney? If you’ve forgotten, here’s the blog that listed everything that went wrong leading up to the launch of the Interlude crowd-funder.

Knowing our track record, I had a Star Wars-like “bad feeling” in the pit of my stomach when we scheduled the Sickbay shoot at WARP 66 Studios for the second weekend in January. It wasn’t that I was worried about bad weather in Arkansas. It’s a southern state, and at most, it’ll get four or five inches of snow over an entire winter season. And as for tornadoes, while there have been some during the winter months, those mostly come in the springtime there.

No, I was worried about Cleveland.

The fellow who is playing the wounded Admiral Ramirez in Interlude, DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS (read more about him here), lives in Cleveland, OH. And when I booked his flight to Fayetteville, I had visions of a huge Noreaster or Polar Vortex hitting the northeast and upper midwest and grounding his plane. I purposefully looked for connecting flights to Fayetteville through Raleigh, NC rather than Chicago just to try to minimize the risk of winter storms screwing up our January shoot.

DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS will be playing a wounded Admiral Ramirez in INTERLUDE.

Turns out that I should have been more worried about snow and tornadoes in Arkansas…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #3: neither RAIN nor SNOW nor TORNADOES will stop these filmmakers!”

The first panel from AXACON 2019 is now available for viewing!

Say what you will about AXANAR. But the one inescapable fact is that, perhaps more than any other Star Trek fan film (maybe any fan film period), Axanar is teaching fans a LOT about the process filmmaking. Sure, some cynics will say, “Yeah, it taught us all not to piss off the copyright owners!” But it’s also provided fans, fan filmmakers, and those wishing to become fan filmmakers an unparalleled up-front view into the entire production process.

Granted, most fan projects aren’t nearly as elaborate or ambitious as Axanar. The majority of fan producers just make their film and put the finished product up on YouTube. A few take behind-the-scenes photos or videos while they build sets or do make-up or have their shoots, but Axanar takes all that to an entirely other level.

Through countless Axanar Podcasts and updates on Axanar Confidential, we’ve watched this production walk through the fire of the lawsuit, emerge on the other side, pick itself up, dust itself off, and get back up to speed again with a move across country, a completed bridge set, and two shoots so far (soon to be three!). Along the way, there’s been a parade of features on countless aspects of filmmaking—from VFX to set-building, make-up, costume design, budgeting, writing, pre-production, production, and post-production…and just about everything in between.

But the one thing Axanar hasn’t really done a deep-dive into yet is directing. There was some commentary from PRELUDE TO AXANAR director CHRISTIAN GOSSETT on one of the behind-the-scenes features on the Prelude Blu-ray, but not much in-depth coverage of the full process. And ROBERT MEYER BURNETT left the project before getting the chance to sink his teeth into directing actual production.

However, now that Axanar has started shooting, director and co-writer PAUL JENKINS had some very, very interesting insights to share during AXACON 2019. Unlike the first Axacon in 2018, the second Axacon didn’t take place in a hotel with convention rooms and dealers tables and membership badges. This time, “attendance” was FREE to anyone on YouTube and included four panels broadcast live from the bridge set at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA.

Continue reading “The first panel from AXACON 2019 is now available for viewing!”

What would GENE RODDENBERRY have thought about SHORT TREKS “Children of Mars”? (editorial review)

There can be spoilers…just for one blog!

Wow.

I just finished watching the sixth and final SHORT TREKS of the second round of mini-episodes (do we call them “seasons”?). The shortest of all of the Short Treks thus far, the episode runs only 6 minutes and 47 seconds before the closing credits roll. But it’s time well-utilized!

It’s hard to know what to say first. In these editorial review blogs, I try not to just parrot what all of the other reviewers are saying because…what’s the point? Most reviewers are offering a summary of the episode. If you want that (and don’t mind the spoilers), then check out this review for a short summary or this review for a much more detailed recounting.

Many reviewers are concentrating on the kick-in-the-gut feel of the attack on Mars, and that was very obvious. This incident is going to be a paradigm shift for the Federation …just as the December 7, 1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 were for the United States and the world. Nothing would ever be the same again. After “Children of Mars,” the date that will live in infamy will be April 5—First Contact Day—and the culprits won’t be a foreign Pacific power or Middle Eastern extremists but these mysterious “Synths” (whatever they are).

A few folks are complaining that the starships at Utopia Planitia look more like movie-era or even Discovery-era designs rather than 24th century vessels. And yeah, the VFX guys probably kept things cheap and used the models they had on hand. Others complained that it was never really explained why these two girls initially hated each other (was it all just over a shoulder bump?), although I don’t think that was important for us to know. The impact of the story wasn’t why they were fighting so much as what made them stop.

So no, I’m not going to rehash any of that. Instead I am going to say something totally provocative and controversial:

I think GENE RODDENBERRY would have hated “Children of Mars” being presented as Star Trek.

And even more controversial:

I also think he would have been dead wrong!

Okay, let’s begin…

Continue reading “What would GENE RODDENBERRY have thought about SHORT TREKS “Children of Mars”? (editorial review)”

Things that go IndieBOOM! – three Trek fan filmmakers win big!

The winners of the third annual IndieBOOM! film festival awards have just been announced, and three Star Trek fan filmmakers did really well. The first, GLEN L. WOLFE (along with DAN and KELLY REYNOLDS) took the FAN FAVORITE overall grand prize of $500 for their recent fan film THE EQUINOX EFFECT, filmed at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas. You can listen to an interview with the three of them here. As a side note, Glen also won for best FAN FILM in the first IndieBOOM! film festival in 2017 with HIS NAME IS MUDD…the first of THE FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series.

The second Star Trek fan filmmaker didn’t win for a Trek fan film—even though he had one entered, as well—but he did take first place in the FAN FILM category with a 1960s BATMAN musical fan film titled THE SCHEME IS SOUND. This fellow is Emmy Award winner KEVIN CROXTON, who teaches music at Parkview Elementary School in Arkansas, and each year his 4th and 5th grade music club students produce a musical fan film in a specific genre. In 2018, it was Star Trek (THE BUNNY INCIDENT—which was also a finalist this year). Right now, Kevin and the kids are working on a JAMES BOND themed fan film for 2020.

The third Star Trek fan film to take a first place award was THE LOOKING GLASS from Neutral Zone Studios (directed by MIEK HEATH). However, even though it was entered in the FAN FILM category, The Looking Glass actually took the first place award in the SCI-FI category, in which it was also entered.

Rounding out the eight finalists in the FAN FILM category were two films from the UK (one a Dark Knight theme and the other XBox vs. Playstation), one Halloween themed fan film from Canada, and a Lost Boys sequel from the USA. The annual IndieBOOM! film festival is one of the only competitions to offer a category open specifically to fan films.

On a personal note, I couldn’t be happier with the results. While I certainly support and celebrate ALL Star Trek fan filmmakers, Glen Wolfe and Kevin Croxton are both part of the team for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. They’re also both residents of the state of Arkansas, along with my directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX…so a lot of Star Trek being made down there in Arkansas, folks!

A few people asked me why The Equinox Effect didn’t win the FAN FILM category as well as the overall prize. According to the rules, the film with the most views per category wins first place in that category, and the film with the most views overall wins the grand prize of $500. So if Equinox won overall, wouldn’t it have also won its category?

Continue reading “Things that go IndieBOOM! – three Trek fan filmmakers win big!”

LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 1)

As Willy Wonka’s great glass Wonkavator soared over the countryside, the candy-maker looked into the face of the boy who would be inheriting his amazing factory. “But Charlie,” he said with great seriousness, “don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted…”

“What happened?” Charlie asked.

Willy smiled, “He lived happily ever after.”

That scene played out in my mind as I read over the answers that brand new Star Trek fan filmmaker BENNY HALL sent back to me. When everything else is stripped away, fan films are the chance we adults get to live out the fantasies we had as children. We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams. And Benny Hall is the very epitome of what fan films are all about. You’ll discover that as you read the heartfelt and uplifting interview below.

But first, a little about LET OLD WRINKLES COME, a 16-minute fan film shot both at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA as well as at the iconic Vasquez Rocks Park north of Los Angeles where Kirk fought the Gorn and Vulcan was destroyed by Nero. But this time, Kirk isn’t fighting a Gorn—he’s fighting a Mugato! Take a look…

The fan film has a real flavor of the 1960s TOS Star Trek, right down to Kirk putting the moves on a female crew member. I mention this because, what seemed totally normal five decades ago as Kirk regularly hit on crew women like Yeoman Rand, Dr. Helen Noel, and Lt. Marlena Moreau has been supplanted by the #MeToo movement. And while Let Old Wrinkles Comes has generally been getting very positive feedback, Kirk’s romantic overtures toward a female crew member in this fan film are stirring up a bit of controversy.

Another notable item is that Let Old Wrinkles Come marks the return of VIC MIGNOGNA to the credits of a Trek fan film for the first time since STAR TREK CONTINUES ended its 11-episode run in late 2017. And it wasn’t only Vic who returned. STC alumni LISA HANSELL and TIM VITTETOE (make-up) and Ralph Miller (sound-mixing) signed aboard, as well. So did ADRIENNE WILKINSON, who played Lexxa Singh in STAR TREK: RENEGADES as well as Edith Keeler in the fourth episode of STC, “The White Iris.”

Just before being posted to YouTube, Benny hosted a red carpet premiere of the film at a Los Angeles theater for the cast and crew and selected guests. And yes, there’s nothing in the fan film guidelines preventing that (as long as it’s a free screening). However, that’s still rare treatment for a Star Trek fan film, so I made certain to ask Benny about that later in the interview.

One last thing, Benny is currently crowd-funding his second fan film, TEARS OF J’KAH. His goal is an ambitious $50,000, but he’s already near $6,000. If you’d like to donate, please click below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/funding-for-tears-of-j-kah-a-star-trek-fan-film#/

And now, let’s chat with Benny Hall…

Continue reading “LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 1)”

LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 2)

Last time, we began chatting with BENNY HALL, who seemed to have come out of nowhere to release a $50,000 Star Trek fan film shot at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA, as well as at the iconic Vasquez Rocks in Southern California. That money was NOT crowd-funded, by the way. Benny paid it out of pocket…and thereby was he able to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise. And isn’t that what fan films are all about: living our dreams?

Benny was accompanied on his journey—his trek, if you will—by some veterans of the much-loved fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES, including VIC MIGNOGNA, LISA HANSELL, TIM VITTETOE, and ADRIENNE WILKINSON…as well as some friends, volunteers, and a few industry professionals (and one very convincing Mugato!).

The result was an impressive production made even more so by the fact that Benny had not previously been involved with the creation of any Star Trek fan film before…

When the film was completed, and before it was released onto YouTube, Benny held a private screening at a theater in Los Angeles, inviting cast and crew and special guests to view the film on a big screen. (And yes, the fan film guidelines don’t forbid that…as long as no admission fee is charged.) He is already working hard to crowd-fund his second $50,000 Star Trek project (this time he is asking for donations), but more on that later.

When last we left off, Benny was discussing filming the Mugato scenes at Vasquez Rocks. And that led to the following question from me…

Continue reading “LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 2)”

“LET ME HELP”…do you have any extra STAR TREK stuff that you no longer need?

I joined STARFLEET, the International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc., way back in 1983 and have been a member ever since. (Heck, it wasn’t even an “Inc.” back then! STARFLEET incorporated in 1992 and became a 501(c)(7) non-profit shortly thereafter.) STARFLEET itself has been around since 1974 and has grown into the largest, continuously active Star Trek fan organization in the world with more than 5,300 members in 225+ chapters in more than 20 countries worldwide.

But this blog isn’t about STARFLEET itself. It’s about its new president, STEVEN PARMLEY.

Every three years, the STARFLEET membership holds an election to select its next Commander and Vice-Commander. The most recent election happened last fall, and Steven Parmley was the victor with 1,014 votes (51.7%) over Denise Rush with 946 votes (48.3%). Normally a cause for celebration, Steven didn’t feel much like celebrating. Around the same time, Steven and his family lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire…

We had a fire in 2019 when we had moved in to a new rental, but due to an electrical issue, the house had caught fire, and before we had insurance. I lost 20 years of STAR TREK Memorabilia and we lost furniture, clothes, etc.  While we were able to replace the furniture and clothes, I have been unable to replace my collection. But as long as I have my daughters, then anything is possible.

Steven is a single dad of two beautiful girls: Natalie, 15 and Fiona, 8. He works as a deputy jailer in Western Kentucky. He also serves as an assistant chief of the local fire department and as a Lt. Cmdr. in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, responsible for 115 cadets and 37 instructors in his posting as the regional commander for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

I wasn’t aware of any of this until a few days ago. I simply reached out to the new Commander, STARFLEET shortly after he took office on January 1 to congratulate him and say “hi.” My own rank is Vice Admiral (the CS is a Fleet Admiral), and I’d served as Chief of Communications for the club back in 2008-2010. As Steven and I chatted, I discovered that he was a big fan of AXANAR and enjoyed reading my blog. I also learned about the fire. Steve had lost his entire collection of Star Trek memorabilia and didn’t have the money to replace anything.

I immediately went onto eBay and ordered these for Steven…

It seemed the least I could do for a fellow fan and STARFLEET member—let alone the new Fleet Admiral! But then I had an idea…

Continue reading ““LET ME HELP”…do you have any extra STAR TREK stuff that you no longer need?”

Time to give VANCE MAJOR a little money for CONSTAR CONTINUES (he only needs $700)!

We love VANCE MAJOR. How could we not? Whether you watch and enjoy his nearly 70 fan films, avoid them completely, or simply chuckle at the cord in the doorway and/or grumble when the sound of the blowing wind drowns out a line of dialog…you can’t deny that Vance is the beating heart of Star Trek fan films.

Sure, Vance isn’t producing snazzy, Hollywood-quality fan films with Oscar-caliber acting, cdazzling VFX, meticulously-tailored costumes, and pitch-perfect sound. But what his is doing is so much more important: he is having FUN—and he’s inviting us all to come along on his amazing…trek.

Last month, I published a blog featuring an audio interview with Vance, celebrating the release of 51(!!!) brand new fan films from THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES—ready for binge-watching over the holidays—plus another 18 special edition re-releases of fan films from Vance’s MINARD saga. And even with all of that, he’s still not done! Vance is planning to produce even more fan films!! In fact, in just a few more months, Vance will be shooting ALEC PETERS himself as Garth at Ares Studios in Georgia.

Vance has always been known as a man who can do a LOT with very, very little. I’ve joked in the past that he funds his film projects with the loose change he finds in the cushions of his sofa. And for the most part, that’s true. But costumes and props are the exception to keeping things ultra-cheap. Sure, you don’t have to buy the custom-made $500 screen-perfect versions that Anovos offers, but even an inexpensive Halloween costume can run $25-50. And keep in mind that Vance needs to have a variety of different sizes, as Star Trek fans cover a wide spectrum of body types. And Vance opens up his roles to many, many fans (even me!).

Vance has crowd-funded costumes/uniforms before, and he doesn’t ask for much. For his current GoFundMe crowd-funder, he’s only looking for $1,175…and he’s already got $475 of it (including $40 from yours truly). So if you have a few bucks left over after the holidays, please consider clicking below to donate to a very worthy and dedicated fan filmmaker…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/constar-continues