VANCE MAJOR is the “WHERE’S WALDO of Star Trek Fan Films!” (interview)

Since he first made his debut as Chief Engineer Minard on the initial episode “Legacy” of the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT back in 2014, VANCE MAJOR has been involved with no less than FIFTEEN different Star Trek fan films and series…in positions both behind and in front of the camera.  That’s why I like to call Vance the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films!”

Here’s a complete list of the films he’s either produced, written, directed, or appeared in (or any combination of the above)…in addition to “Legacy”:

Starship Valiant – “The Ties That Bind”
“Pen Pals” and “Pen Pals 2”
Melburne – “Storm Front, Part 1”
V’Ger for Women
The Hunt
Melbourne – “First Duty”

V’Ger for Men
Dark Glimmer
Resistance
Dreadnought Dominion/Starship Valiant crossovers:
“Chain of Command” and “Command and Conquer”
and he worked for a short time on
Starship Republic – “Serpent of Yesterday”

Vance’s latest release is, I think, one of his best yet: the 7-minute Minard.  The episode provides a series of scattered glimpses into the professional and personal life of Vance’s engineering character as Minard advances through Starfleet.  There’s laughter, excitement, tears, and tragedy…all in just 7 minutes.  It’s worth checking out before you listen to our audio interview with Vance…

I already did a 2-part print interview with Vance back in April, and I invite you to read it, as well.  But I’m following that up with a new AUDIO interview that was only completed just a few short weeks ago.  In the brief time since we chatted, the prolific Mr. Major has released not just one but TWO more completed Trek fan films that were still in post production when we spoke: Minard and “Command and Conquer.”  (This fella is quick!)

Vance is a great guy and really interesting to listen to, but what makes this interview really compelling is that his fan films are so cheaply done…and he doesn’t mind that!  Many in the fan film community lament the passing of the high-budget mega-projects like Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, Renegades, and Axanar.  Barely two years ago, the future of Trek fan films seemed to hold such promise…

And it still does!  That’s what this interview is all about.  Sure, we might not see the hundred-thousand and million-dollar Trek fan films any longer, but the genre is far from dead!  Guys like Vance Major are keeping the dream alive and prospering, and he’s about to tell you how and why…

Was “NIKKY SYNDER” really ANTHONY SHUH? (follow-up editorial)

Coincidences are a funny thing.  Sometimes they’re simply random occurrences of pure chance.  On the other hand, the more coincidences you pile on top of each other, the less likely the two events are totally unconnected.

That’s the situation facing us in the disturbing case of the fictitious “NIKKY SYNDER,” a fraudulent Facebook account created back in June of 2016 and used primarily for bashing ALEC PETERS and Axanar.  The fake account was updated regularly with photos lifted from the Twitter updates of a woman who was NOT Nikky Synder.  In fact, she was a young TV reporter who, at the time, worked for a local news affiliate in Peoria, IL.  The 14-month ruse ended this past Tuesday when this young woman was made aware of the fraudulent account using her face and photos and reported it to Facebook.

Before Tuesday, “NIKKY SYNDER” had posted regularly on the SMALL ACCESS Facebook group—having joined on February 7, 2017…a day before the group completed a week-long poll to determine whether ANTHONY SHUH should be expelled for belligerent and insulting behavior.  Some suspected that “Nikky” might have been an alias that Anthony Shuh used to stay in the Small Access group.

I made clear in my blog from Tuesday that I was NOT making that accusation:

It’s a horrendous feeling of being violated, made worse by the fact that you can almost never discover the identity of the perpetrator. In this case, we have a suspicion, but even then, we aren’t certain…and I want to state that up front in this blog. We can’t prove anything or even make a firm accusation. Instead, all we have is an interesting series set of coincidences, which I’ll share…along with how the impostor was finally “caught.”

I shared a couple of those coincidences (but not all of them) in my previous blog post.  But then Anthony Shuh posted the following comment onto the Fan Film Factor Facebook page, and now I need to spend yet another blog post talking about something other than fan films (don’t worry, things return to normal on Friday with a great audio interview with Vance Major!).

Here’s what Anthony Shuh wrote that prompted this follow-up blog…

Continue reading “Was “NIKKY SYNDER” really ANTHONY SHUH? (follow-up editorial)”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION/STARSHIP VALIANT team up again for “COMMAND AND CONQUER”!

Last November, the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION returned from a 16-month hiatus with a new episode that crossed over with sister fan series STARSHIP VALIANT…an episode entitled “Chain of Command.”  You can read more about that endeavor here in this Fan Film Factor blog.

Written by Vance Major, Gary Davis, and David R. Wrenn, and directed by Vance and Gary, the scenes for “Chain of Command” were filmed separately in the states of Ohio, North Carolina, and Oklahoma (the former location of Starbase Studios) and then edited together into a 7-minute fan film.  It focused on the new CO of the USS Dominion trying to find a first officer.

It’s rare to see the full (or nearly full) casts of two different fan series cross over into a single fan film.  What’s even rarer is to see them cross over TWICE!

And it’s interesting that I said “cross over” because the latest film film to feature these two crews crosses viewers over into the Mirror Universe with a retelling of the “Chain of Command” story with the same characters but from the Terran Empire’s ISS Dominon and ISS Valiant.

It’s fun and fascinating…all at the same time!  Written by the same team, the directors were now Gary Davis and Kent Edwards.  And the locations still included Ohio and North Carolina, but Starbase Studios has now moved to Arkansas, and some scenes were also filmed in Georgia.  I’m told the entire production was shot last month (with a few scenes filmed in May) and edited together pretty quickly to come out with such a fast turnaround.

I’m going to provide links to three different fan films here.  The first is mirror universe “Command and Conquer.”  Below that is the prime universe “Chain of Command” for you to compare it to.  And finally, there’s a short vignette written by and starring Vance Major titled Project Defiant: “Dark Glimmer.”  Although it came out in late June, it’s a sequel to the newly-released “Command and Conquer.”

And look for a really great audio interview with Vance Major on Fan Film Factor this coming Friday!

And now, the prime universe “Chain of Command”…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION/STARSHIP VALIANT team up again for “COMMAND AND CONQUER”!”

A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2016-2017 (feature, part 5)

Last time, the world of Star Trek fan films was shaken to its core by a copyright infringement lawsuit against Axanar Productions in late December of 2015 followed by a call to Tommy Kraft of Star Trek: Horizon in April of 2016 telling him to shut down his new $250,000 Kickstarter for his sequel, Star Trek: Federation Rising.

And what of STAR TREK: RENEGADES?  In November, they had raised a very impressive $375,000 for their new continuing series.  Even though CBS had rejected their offer to make Renegades into a pilot for a new Trek TV series (and by now, Star Trek: Discovery had been announced), the Renegades team hadn’t been told to stop.  So it was full steam ahead with plans to use the existing sets and CGI models and props to make an ambitious TWELVE half-hour webisodes per year (yes, per year…that was the plan), beginning with a two-parter called “The Requiem.”  It would feature both Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and Walter Koenig playing Chekov for one final swan song.

Although Trek fan filmmakers were feeling very uncertain (and downright nervous) at the moment—with the Axanar lawsuit dragging on for months and mixed messages coming from JJ Abrams and the studios themselves—the show must go on, as they say.  And so Star Trek: Renegades scheduled the first day of filming on “The Requiem” for June 22, 2016.

The initial scenes on day one were all green screen, featuring Nichelle and Walter, Tim Russ as Tuvok in full Vulcan make-up, and even Cirroc Lofton reprising his role as Jake Sisko.  The production would also feature other veteran Trek actors reprising their roles, including Terry Farrel as “Jadzia” (minus the Dax symbiont), Robert Beltran as Chakotay, Aron Eisenberg as Nog, and even Hana Hatae as a grown-up Molly O’Brien!  The sets were built, the costumes made, the studio rented…it was time to make an awesome new fan series!

And then the guidelines happened…

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2016-2017 (feature, part 5)”

PACIFIC 201 releases NEW TEASER CLIP and needs $1,000 FAST!

The long-awaited fan film PACIFIC 201 has nearly completed principle photography, but there have been some unexpected delays and challenges that have pushed things back and strained the project’ available funding.  Now on the cusp of finishing the filming of all the scripted scenes, the production is faced with the cost of moving their sets out of the warehouse that was being leased and into a new facility.  Moving will require $1,000…and the funds are needed quickly.

Pacific 201 still has an active Indiegogo page up, with $30,685 as I type this.  If you can spare anything—even just a little—it’ll make a BIG difference…

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

With physical sets and well-designed costumes, profession actors, and some awesome visual effects, Pacific 201 will be the first fan film (or any Star Trek film, for that matter) to cover the period smack dab in between the end of the Enterprise NX-01 era and the beginning of the Enterprise NCC-1701 era.

The time of Pacific 201 is the turn of the 23rd century, 40 years after the founding of the United Federation of Planets.  It’s a critical period for Earth, still reeling from the horrors of the Romulan War but just beginning to emerge from fear and paranoia with a tentative first step back into the exploring of strange new worlds.

To encourage donations, writer/director ERIC HENRY has released this new 3-minute vignette filmed on the bridge set of the Pacific NCC-201.  Enjoy…and PLEASE DONATE!

NINER FANS release an UNOFFICIAL TRAILER for imagined DS9 SEASON 4 Blu-Ray!

Back in late 2015, two hard-core Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans, DAVID FRANK and CHRISTIAN LERCH, created a unique fan film.  They imagined what a teaser/trailer for an High Definition DS9 Blu-ray collection might look like.  It had been a year since the completion of the seven-season Blu-Ray releases of Star Trek: The Next Generation in December of 2014, and like many “Niner” fans, they hoped that CBS would give the same treatment to DS9.

Talented motion designers, David and Christian used their skills to create a minute-long teaser/trailer using nothing but CGI graphics of the station consoles coming to life, with a majestic DS9 musical soundtrack.  They described the sequence:

It features the Cardassian Space Station shortly before the pilot of DS9. The Cardassians just left after over 50 years of occupation, and the Bajorans are about to take over the Station. The Station kind of senses the imminent arrival of the Bajoran military forces and “wakes up.”

It ended with the words: “BRING IT TO BLU-RAY”

A few months later in March of 2016, David and Christian released a new minute-long trailer for a hypothetical DS9 Season 2 HD Blu-Ray…again ending with the words “BRING IT TO BLU-RAY.”  But this time they added voice-over clips from the episodes “The Circle” and “In the Hands of the Prophets” to their CGI and haunting music track…resulting in a dramatic and chilling finished piece.

In July, the Season 3 teaser/trailer was released…this time with CGI space battle footage featuring Romulans, Cardassians, Jem’Hadar, and the USS Defiant (with ship models provided by the one-and-only TOBIAS RICHTER)—and voice-over clips from “Improbable Cause” and “The Die Is Cast.”  Man, if you don’t get goosebumps from seeing this one and immediately rush out to rewatch that season of DS9, you might want to turn in your geek membership card!

Those three teaser/trailers were released within about eight months of each other, but it’s now been just over a year since their last endeavor.  (Keep in mind that David and Christian do this in their spare time for no money.)

But the wait for the Season 4 teaser/trailer is over.  It was released last week and looks AMAZING!  Now nearly two and a half minutes long, the final message has changed to “BRING IT TO HIGH DEFINITION.”  Amen to that!

If you want to see the teaser/trailers for the previous three seasons, here they are…

Continue reading “NINER FANS release an UNOFFICIAL TRAILER for imagined DS9 SEASON 4 Blu-Ray!”

JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)

This is what I get for going to Colorado instead of Las Vegas!  I wind up taking an antique train ride through the Rocky Mountains to visit an old silver mine with my son and my brother and his family…while at the same time, JAMES CAWLEY makes a HUGE announcement about fan films and CBS licensing!

It’s amazing the kind of cell coverage you get on a train in the middle of mountain wilderness, but it seemed like everyone was coming to me for answers about Saturday morning’s big news from the creator of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and the officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour in the small and lovely town of Ticonderoga, New York.

Of course, I had no answers.  Yes, I knew the announcement was coming a few days earlier and that it involved James Cawley and his sets—but I didn’t know the details.  My news Saturday came from Carlos Pedraza’s Axamonitor blog site and TrekMovie.com.  And for those that haven’t heard yet, here’s the basic info…

Continue reading “JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)”

A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2015-2016 (feature, part 4)

Last time, it had been a long road for STAR TREK: RENEGADES… getting from there to here.  “There” was a an idea back in 2006, on the last day of filming Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, of a “Star Trek meets The Dirty Dozen” fan series concept…maybe even a pilot to pitch to CBS!  And “here” was the Crest Theater in Westwood, August 1, 2015, for the red carpet premiere of a 90-minute, $400,000 Star Trek “fan” film with veteran actors and professionals working alongside amateurs and novices…all for the love and passion of a sci-fi franchise that hadn’t seen a new television episode in more than a decade!

In between were three different crowd-funding campaigns, many months of pre-production, two weeks of studio shooting with 61 actors and a total crew of 170, nearly two years of post production, and 637 different visual effects shots.  And it all led to this moment with a movie marquis on Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles that read:

SKY CONWAY PRESENTS
STAR TREK RENEGADES

There were two showings, each with a limited number of tickets available (the theater only seats 460, and there were cast members and crew in attendance, as well).  The Renegades team made 325 tickets available to donors and the general public for the first showing at 4:30 pm for $20 each (and that’s when I made my first donation to the project).  And thanks to a friend of mine who worked on the production, I was able to get in again for the second 7:30 pm showing that was intended to be exclusively for cast, crew, and the media.

It was quite the happening!  The first showing was mainly fans, many in costume.  But after the theater was cleared from that audience, the red carpet and “runway” background were set up, the Paparazzi began to assemble (seriously, there were more than a dozen of them…including me!), and the limousines started arriving.  Yes, there were limousines.

Nichelle Nichols (who came to support her friend Walter Koenig), Adrienne Wilkinson, and Robert Picardo arrive on the red carpet for the premiere.

Wanna see what it looked like inside?

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2015-2016 (feature, part 4)”

TRISTAN Production Crew releases new episode: “THE VOICE OF YOUR BLOOD”!

Chalk up yet another fan film release for the folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES!  This brings their total number of finished fan productions to (I think, because it’s easy to lose count) FIFTY-FIVE!  Their latest offering is from the Tristan Production Crew—which is based in Georgia (the other teams are in Alabama)—and provides fans another look at the adventures of the crew of the USS Tristan in the movie-era TOS time frame.

The 14-and-a-half-minute “The Voice of Your Blood” is the ninth completed fan film from the Tristan team.  It brings back WILLIAM C. SEARCY’s fan-favorite character of half-Vulcan Chief Medical Officer Skep Anderson.  (William also wrote this episode.)  Fans of the various Potemkin Pictures series will also enjoy an unexpected cameo by a cast member from one of their other productions.

You can watch all of the Tristan Production Crew’s episodes (along with the other four dozen or so Potemkin Picture releases) here on their website.

And here is “The Voice of Your Blood”…

SPOCK’S ever-growing family!

Hey, folks.  Now that we know that Spock not only had a Vulcan half-brother (that he never talked about) but also an adopted human half-sister (that he also never talked about…the lead character of Michael Burnham from the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery), I thought I’d create a fun little revised Sarek and Amanda “family portrait”…