SD Comic Con PICARD Trailer 2019 vs SD Comic Con DISCOVERY Trailer 2016 – What has CBS learned…?

It’s hard to believe that it was only three years ago that fan got their first glimpse of the new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY at San Diego Comic Con 2016. And when I say got our first glimpse, I don’t mean of the show itself. That wouldn’t happen until the following summer. I mean we got our first look at what a disorganized mess CBS was in dealing with the launch of their first-ever Star Trek TV series that would also be the first-ever Trek series to air only on subscription-based services (All Access, SpaceTV, and Netflix).

Let’s take a moment to compare the two Star Trek series trailers that premiered at San Diego Comic Con to give fans their first look at the new show. The first debuted in July of 2016…

The Discovery trailer was obviously a rush job. The marketing department knew they needed something to show at Comic Con because that has become THE place to premiere the big sci-fi and related genre movies and shows. But there was nothing ready yet! No footage had been shot because, unbelievably, no actors had yet been cast! The sets and uniforms were still being designed.

Remember that, at the time this trailer was first screened for fans, Discovery was still scheduled to debut in January of 2017…just six months after Comic Con. As a comparison, the new STAR TREK: PICARD series is currently set to premiere in January 2020—just six months after Comic Con. So really, no one (especially CBS) should have been surprised when Discovery ended up launching nine months behind schedule.

Still, desperate to show SOMETHING, the show-runners of Discovery decided to render out a quick CGI animation revealing the look of the new starship. Of course, even the ship wasn’t fully designed yet…as you can see from the “rocket” nacelles and the fact that the saucer section was still all one piece. But at least CBS would have something to get the fans excited. (Whether or not it succeeded is still up for debate.)

But what isn’t up for debate is how excited Trekkers have been for the last few days after seeing the extended trailer for Star Trek: Picard that debuted this past Saturday at Comic Con…

What a difference three years makes, huh?

Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane (no relation to me) and look back at the CBS of 2016 versus 2019 and what has changed for Star Trek in that time…

Continue reading “SD Comic Con PICARD Trailer 2019 vs SD Comic Con DISCOVERY Trailer 2016 – What has CBS learned…?”

INTERLUDE GoFundMe – How long to the point of no return?

When I launched the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE, I knew going in that there were three possible outcomes…

  1. Total failure – I was using GoFundMe (not Kickstarter or Indiegogo) with no perks…would that even work? If I’d only managed to take in a few thousand dollars in the first month or two, I’d likely need to refund the donations and give up on my dream project.
  2. Smashing success If I quickly blasted past my $19.5K goal in a few weeks, then full speed ahead and maybe even start planning for a second production.
  3. Something in between.

We’re definitely in the third scenario, folks, which is fine. In fact, I kinda expected it. When I wrote my budget blog, I even said the following:

If we come up short, we’ll need to figure out ways to trim things. For that reason, I’ve “erred on the side of caution” and created my budget to assume costs on the high side. That way, if we don’t make our goal, we’ll hopefully still have enough to make a decent fan film by streamlining and trimming things from the budget.

And that’s where we are. It’s been a little over a month, and we’ve just crossed the half-way point to our goal. We’re at $9,768 as I type this…plus another $100 or so in Paypal donations. It’s a solid start, and donations are still coming in. But they’ve slowed down (as they usually do after a quick start), and I need to look at practical considerations now.

In order to film in November, we need to commit to certain things by September. For this reason, I can’t simply keep up the GoFundMe until we reach our goal (even if it takes months or years). We have to figure out a “point of no return.” What is the minimum we need to get this project filmed? Can we do it for $17K? $15K? $13.5K? Do we have enough with just the nearly $10K raised so far?

Obviously, if we have to cut things out of the budget, we won’t have all the bells and whistles. But for me, it’s more important to turn this dream into a reality. So I’m going to sit down with my co-directors, VICTORIA FOX (who is also my producer) and JOSHUA IRWIN and start figuring out what can be trimmed, and by what date we need to lock down our GoFundMe to either commit to filming in November or else delay the production until we’re better funded. (I think we’ve taken in enough to no longer need to consider canceling the project.)

So what do I need from you folks right now?

Continue reading “INTERLUDE GoFundMe – How long to the point of no return?”

TREY and TREY’s excellent INTERLUDE commercial!

TREY McELWAIN has been one of AXANAR‘s staunchest supporters. He shows up each week for the Axanar Confidential livecast. He was the first (and second) to create an Axanar Universe comic book and launch the Axanar Comics website. In fact, Trey inspired me to write and publish the first Axanar Universe short story, “Why We Fight,” and later to create my own Axanar Universe comic story, “Stardate 2245.1” (currently being released one page per week).

A few months ago, Trey launched his own Axanar Comics Youtube channel. Initially, it simply featured updates on the latest developments in the world of Axanar Comics and Axanar itself. Then Trey began doing stop-motion versions of his comic stories. Most recently, Trey has expanded his offerings to include interviews with folks in the Axanar and fan film community, including THOMAS RAUBE and MARK PAYTON.

Trey already has an impressive 445 channel subscribers (not bad for three months!). And with each new release, Trey improves and expands his skills using his video editing software. His latest offering pushed his abilities to tackle a new challenge: being in two places at once!

The catalyst for attempting this feat was my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Trey wanted to create a “commercial” on his channel in support of my GofundMe campaign (have you donated yet?). And as a way of playing off my whimsical “ask” video—where I interview myself—Trey decided to go one step further and appear next to himself, using green screen compositing. He even went so far as to comb his hair differently and put glasses on one of him, similar to what I did in my “ask” video.

The finished product looks very impressive, considering this was a first attempt at a new skill. And it was actually much more difficult to execute than Trey makes it look. (In other words, it looks slick and polished despite having a lot of moving parts.) Keep in mind, as you watch, that Trey needed to follow a script and leave himself enough of a gap each time one of his characters stopped talking for the other Trey to say his lines (since each Trey is a continuous shot). And that’s not easy! Wait too long, and there’s an awkward moment of silence. Come in too soon, and the Treys might end up talking over each other.

So kudos to Trey for pulling this off, and thanks to Trey for helping to promote my GoFundMe campaign (currently just $172 short of the half-way point…hint, hint):

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

Take a look at Trey’s video below (and “marvel” at his new opening sequence!)…

TREKYARDS: Mission America II – Crowd-funding now…with AWESOME PERKS!

Can you believe that TREKYARDS has been going on for nearly FIVE years??? Do you even know what Trekyards is? You don’t? Oh, man…are you missing out!

Trekyards is a Youtube channel with more than sixteen million views and 50,000 subscribers watching over two-thousand videos! STUART FOLEY (from Canada) and SAMUEL COCKINGS (from Great Britain) release new shows almost daily spotlighting the various ships and vessels from all eras of Star Trek and all genres of sci-fi…plus they do interviews and provide reviews of new episodes, old episodes, toys and collectibles…you name it, they talk about it with two different accents and often with other people from the Trek community (some of them famous)!

Of course, the vast majority of their shows are transatlantic, with the two hosts separated by space and time (well, timezones). But every so often, these two fellows meet in person. And while the universe doesn’t suddenly implode in some timey-whimey vortex of infinite impossibility, it does set one or the other (or both) back a decent amount for international air travel and lodging. In fact, the last time Stuart and Samuel got together for a Trekyards show, it was two years ago.

But over the next twelve months, Stuart and Samuel have FOUR different, special trips planned. But they need the help of supporters to make those events possible for them, and so they’ve set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise $12,000…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trekyards-mission-america-ii

So where are they planning to travel to, and what will they be doing there?

Continue reading “TREKYARDS: Mission America II – Crowd-funding now…with AWESOME PERKS!”

Just posted: PAGE 5 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!

Another week, another $700 for the ol’ GoFundMe campaign for INTERLUDE. We’re just about half-way, and at this rate, we’ll make it to our $19,500 goal by mid-October. But we don’t have until mid-October—more on that situation at the end of this coming week.

In the meantime, we’re just $442 away from passing the $10K threshold. So if you haven’t donated yet or would like to increase your donation a weeeeee bit, operators are standing by…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

And now, the blog…


SPOILER ALERT!

By now, you know that the spoiler alert is there because this comic book one-shot tells the same story as INTERLUDE. So if you want to be completely surprised by the fan film when it comes out, then completely don’t read the 5 pages (plus cover) at the end of this blog.

Heed my words, humans.

Okay, if you’ve stuck around, you might be wondering how close the comic will be to the final fan film. The dialog is pretty darn close, but it’s not an exact match. The comic book needed to be truncated in places in order to keep it at just seven pages and not have all of the artwork covered up by word balloons.

But there’s also two places where you’ll discover that the comic and film will diverge quite a bit. One of those two places is at the end. But since we’ve still got two pages to go, I won’t spoil that for you just yet. I’ll discuss that divergence in two more weeks.

The other place where the two versions are different comes closer to the beginning—in fact, it’s right after the opening VFX sequence. Originally, the shooting script matched the comic book much more closely. But after VICTORIA FOX, my producer and the co-director for Interlude, read the shooting script, she had some feedback.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t looking forward to making any more changes. I’d already sat with this script for nearly two years, tweaking it here and there, and I was pretty happy with it. So was ALEC PETERS. Why mess with “perfection”?

Well, it turns out it wasn’t quite perfect just yet…

Continue reading “Just posted: PAGE 5 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!”

INTERLUDE intro: “getting from there to here” – MUSIC!

Quick update: after four weeks, the INTERLUDE GoFundMe campaign is just a few hundred dollars short of the HALFWAY point! Please donate anything you can spare…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude


Two weeks ago, I showed you how I worked with CGI artist LEWIS ANDERSON on the VFX for the opening 20-second sequence for Interlude. Then last week, you got to watch my sound-mixer, MARK EDWARD LEWIS, add some awesome sound effects to the sequence.

Now it’s time to shine the spotlight on KEVIN CROXTON, my music composer. In 2018, Kevin wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning musical Star Trek fan film THE BUNNY INCIDENT with his fourth and fifth grade students. Oh, and did I mention (about 47 times!) that Kevin has won an Emmy?

Kevin was eager to get to work composing music for Interlude. He adores Star Trek and LOVES Axanar. The idea of writing music that would evoke both Prelude and classic/movie Trek intrigued him (and me!). But he had one request. Before composing music for the Interlude “commercial” and also for the longer “ask” video, he wanted Mark to add in the sound effects for the VFX sequence. That way, Kevin could compose around the louder and quieter beats.

For anyone who didn’t watch all the way to the end of the video in last week’s blog, here’s where things were left with my minute long “commercial” after Mark was finished adding the sound FX…

Note that the last scene from Prelude to Axanar was taken directly from the final fan film…complete with voice-over, sound FX, and music. This would later become problematic because I had no way to separate the three elements. But Mark added really amazing sound effects under the new VFX footage, along with quiet swishing noises when each of the intro titles zoomed in.

Now it was time to see what Kevin could do…!

Continue reading “INTERLUDE intro: “getting from there to here” – MUSIC!”

TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE…that dweam within a dweam! (audio interview with LARRY FLEMING)

I think it was Deforest Gump who once said, “Star Trek fan films are like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get…” Or did I dream that?

Speaking of dreaming and never knowing what you’re gonna get, I recently experienced the brand new 2-part Star Trek fan film TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE, written and directed by (and starring) LARRY FLEMING…and it was quite a head trip, lemme tellya!

And then I interviewed Larry, and things got even more unexpected. While we talked about his recent fan film (of course!), we also discussed NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS, the fan film guidelines, how to avoid the most common mistakes in fan filmmaking, Screen Actors Guild union regulations, emaciated zombies in body suits, Chinese philosophers, brains in glass jars, cats with bells on their collars, unforgettable pizza deliveries, why you need to give coffee to older people, Nero Wolfe, and what to say if you ever meet William Shatner.

All of this is to say that Larry is a VERY interesting guy! And his involvement in Star Trek fan films is expansive—from Starship Farragut and their spin-off Trek Isolation to Dreadnought Dominion, Potemkin Pictures, the Minard saga, Melbourne, and the new Tales from the Neutral Zone. But that’s not all! Larry has also worked on a variety of Hollywood movies and TV shows including The Resident, MacGyver, Legacies, Dynasty (the new one) and many others. He’s been on The Walking Dead as a Savior, and he’s had Robert Downey Jr. tell him to cut his beard off on the set of Captain America: Civil War.

To Have Boldly Gone is the first time Larry has been a show-runner on his own Trek fan production…and the film is a pretty wild ride! Is it a parody? A dream sequence? Theater of the absurd? Take a look at this 2-parter and decide for yourself…

To Have Boldly Gone was crowd-funded back in April with an Indiegogo campaign that brought in $4,220. Filmed at Neutral Zone Studios, THBG joins a growing list of fan films shot on th0se amazing TOS sets since Star Trek Continues ended its run…fan productions including Dreadnought Dominion, Ghost Ship, and the recently-released Looking Glass. Here’s the link to donate to the Patreon for Neutral Zone Studios:

https://www.patreon.com/neutralzonestudios

My audio interview with Larry is definitely worth a listen…

Just posted: PAGE 4 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!

As usual, a quick check on the GoFundMe campaign. While donations have slowed, they’re still coming in and inching us closer to our $19,500 goal. Right now, we’re 45.3% of the way there and 118 donors, with some promotional pushes planned over the next couple of weeks. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, if you haven’t donated yet, have a little extra to spare at the moment, or simply want to help us spread the word, here’s the link…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

And now, the blog…


SPOILER ALERT!

The spoiler warning is there to remind you that this short comic book story is pretty much identical to what you’ll see in INTERLUDE when it’s finished…only the comic is two-dimensional drawings without sound or motion or all the other cool stuff you see in fan films.

Interestingly enough, we’ve reached the point where I need to start being very selective in choosing which panel(s) to show at the top of the blog entry. I always like to show some thumbnail, as it increases the visibility of the link when I post to Facebook and Twitter. Also, if I don’t set the thumbnail, Facebook and Twitter will use their mysterious algorithm to decide for themselves with thumbnail to use…and that could inadvertently end up giving away an important spoiler.

So as you can see from the image at the top, I’ve chosen something very ambiguous to display while still showing off the amazing artwork of my illustrator DANIEL FU.

And speaking of Daniel, I’d like to take a moment to point out something that many of you might not have noticed. Sure, his art looks awesome…with great composition that moves the eye around the page, dramatic expressions and poses, confident line work, and contoured contrasts of light and shadow.

But did you notice the colors? I mean, they’re bright and vibrant and all, which is important for this era of Star Trek (before things got darker and less saturated in the later TV series like Discovery and Enterprise). But it’s more than just that.

When Daniel and I discussed the story and pages, I art directed him that I felt it was important to distinguish the two bridges—Ares and Artemis—which are, of course, identical. And they’re both at red alert, meaning they both should be colored to reflect that emergency battle status. So how could Daniel make two identical bridges, both tinged red for battle status, look different?

Continue reading “Just posted: PAGE 4 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!”

INTERLUDE intro: “getting from there to here” – Sound FX!

If you liked last week’s blog about the previs that went into the opening 19-second VFX sequence for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE, then you’re probably going to find this week’s blog just as fascinating.

But first, a reminder to please donate to our GoFundMe campaign (we’re nearly halfway to our $19.5K goal—just cracked $8.7K!)…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

Okay, let’s get this blog rolling!


I really feel like I’m walking with giants. This is totally my first rodeo. I’ve never executive produced a fan film (or any film) before. BUT!!! Through goodwill, good fortune, good nature, or just blind luck, I’ve managed to attract some incredibly skilled and experienced people to direct, produce, do casting, create visual FX, and take on other important tasks to make Interlude amazing. And isn’t that what fan films are all about—bringing together people who love Star Trek?

Three of those tasks were still required for completing the opening sequence for Interlude. My CGI guy, LEWIS ANDERSON (not his real name), had already produced this amazing VFX masterpiece…

But of course, there was no sound yet. We still needed music, sound effects, and someone to mix them together so that the music didn’t overwhelm the sounds of the engines/torpedoes/explosions…and also vice versa. These three tasks were the job of two of my “giants”: KEVIN CROXTON and MARK EDWARD LEWIS.

Kevin is a musical composer who has won an Emmy Award (and yes, I will say that over and over and over again!) and now teaches music in Arkansas. Last year, he wrote and directed the musical Star Trek fan film THE BUNNY INCIDENT starring his 4th and 5th grade music students.

Mark was the sound-mixer on PRELUDE TO AXANAR. He also did editing and sound-mixing on two episodes of Star Trek: New Voyages (plus dozens of other independent films and shorts), and will be doing the editing for the upcoming Axanar sequels. Mark has access to all of the original sound effects for Prelude, and he was happy to mix them into my fan film, too.

The only question now was kind of a chicken-and-egg one: who works on the opening sequence next? Does Kevin write the music first, or does Mark add the sound effects first?

Continue reading “INTERLUDE intro: “getting from there to here” – Sound FX!”

Why I am NOT “neutral” about NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS…

I need to clear the air regarding myself and NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS, the TOS sets in Kingsland, GA that were originally used for STARSHIP FARRAGUT, later used for STAR TREK CONTINUES, and were recently purchased by RAY TESI and opened up to any fan filmmaker who wanted to use them, was able to pay $300/day, and was willing to follow the fan film guidelines.

I want to state for the record that I wholeheartedly SUPPORT Neutral Zone Studios and encourage anyone who is a fan of Star Trek fan films to support them, as well, through their Patreon campaign:

https://www.patreon.com/neutralzonestudios

As many of you know, I was originally scheduled to film two of my scenes for my fan film INTERLUDE there. Ray Tesi was 100% on board. In fact, when I was considering bringing my son Jayden to Georgia watch the shoots, Ray told me that he’d make sure the entire studio was lit up (all the lights and buttons) before we arrived so that when Jayden walked in, the first thing he’d see would be the USS Enterprise in all of its glory. Ray was even going to see if he could manage to drive up for the day from Florida to finally meet me in person and watch the shoot.

But over Memorial Day weekend at Neutral Zone Studios‘ Fan Appreciation Weekend 2, Ray informed my directors, JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX (who were there shooting interviews with VIC MIGNOGNA, MICHELLE SPECHT, and CHRIS DOOHAN to help promote the studio’s Patreon campaign) that Interlude was no longer welcome to use the sets.

Although ALEC PETERS, who was similarly banned, accused Vic of being the reason for Ray’s sudden change of heart, Star Trek Continues make-up artist, LISA HANSELL, posted this comment on Facebook the Monday after the event…

Now, all things considered, I should probably feel angry, hurt, insulted, frustrated…and to be honest, I did feel those emotions quite deeply for a short time. But I moved past it.

However, something happened this past weekend that has left me wondering if others haven’t let this go as I have. And I now feel that it’s important to state publicly that I have forgiven Ray and Lisa and (if he was involved in the decision) Vic…and anyone else who pressured Ray Tesi into changing his mind about letting my production film at NZS.

So what happened this past weekend?

Continue reading “Why I am NOT “neutral” about NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS…”