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 12014, 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…

From SURVIVOR to SURVIVORS – a 7-YEAR fan film journey (audio interview with Matthew Blackburn)

How many people does it take to make a Star Trek fan film?

Think about the actors, writer(s), director, camera people, sound people, lighting people, costumers, make-up, props people, set designers and builders, special effects, visual FX, music composers, editor…and don’t forget all the production assistants and even the folks who bring the snacks, do the catering, or just run our for pizza.

For the “big” productions, like Star Trek Continues or Axanar, the number can be 50 or even 100 people!  For some of the smaller productions, maybe one or two dozen.

But for a little fan film released in 2010, the answer was just…FOUR.  Titled STAR TREK: SURVIVOR, the 10-minute production featured just four names in the credits, including one name who was the writer / director / producer / star / director of photography / camera operator / editor / music composer / special effects / miniatures / make-up / visual effects / and additional voices guy: MATTHEW BLACKBURN.

Considering the small size of the production team, the fan film itself was quite ambitious…with on-location shooting at multiple locations, a lot of physical acting, diverse and dynamic camera angles, and original music.  And while a super-low budget necessitated the use of a few toys and collectibles in place of expensive animatronic monsters or familiar Star Trek actors, the story was darkly engaging, and the acting was surprisingly strong for an amateur production.

Seven years went by, and Star Trek: Survivor seemed content to hold its place in fan film history as a simple one-off project.  I’d written a blog about it early on for my FAN FILM FRIDAY feature on the Axanar website, and I was planning on bringing it over here to FAN FILM FACTOR eventually.  But before I could, Matthew Blackburn surprised me with a SEQUEL!!!

Continue reading “From SURVIVOR to SURVIVORS – a 7-YEAR fan film journey (audio interview with Matthew Blackburn)”

What is…THE CIRCUIT? An audio interview with MANU INTIRAYMI

What is THE CIRCUIT…and why are fans so excited by it that the project’s Kickstarter campaign surpassed its initial $50,000 in just ONE WEEK???  (They’re now up to $64,000!)

Is it a fan film?  Kinda.  Is it a professional independent film?  Well, yeah, it’s that, too.

Is it Star Trek?  No.  But on the other hand, just take a look at this cast…

  • Walter “Chekov” Koenig (Star Trek)
  • Terry “Jadzia Dax” Farrell (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
  • Robert “Chakotay” Beltran (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • Armin “Quark” Shimerman (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)
  • Robert “EMH” Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • Ethan “Neelix” Phillips (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • JG “General Martok” Hertzler (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine)               
  • Robert “Gowron” O’Reilly (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
  • Hana “Molly O’Brien” Hatae (Star Trek: TNG/DS9)
  • Tim “Tuvok” Russ (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • Doug “Lt. Saru” Jones (Star Trek: Discovery, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth)
  • Manu “Icheb” Intiraymi (Star Trek: Voyager)

But wait!  There’s more…

  • Ryan Eggold (The Black List, The Black List: Redemption)
  • Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit, Doctor Who)
  • Gigi Edgley (Farscape, Rescue Special Ops)
  • Miltos Yerolemou (Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
  • Valerie Leslie (The Paranormal Hour, 5th Passenger)
  • Corin Nemec (Stargate SG-1)
  • Rob Archer (Lost Girl, Pixels, Kick Ass 2)
  • Jai Koutrae (Death’s Requiem)
  • Mindy Robinson (V/H/S/2)
  • Olivia D’abo (The Wonder Years, Conan The Destroyer)
  • Cody Saintgnue (MTV’s Teen Wolf)

Interested yet?  Well, guess what?  YOU might even be able to work on this project!  Yes, YOU, Mr. or Ms. Fan! And it isn’t even just one fan film; it’s TEN—all linked together in…The Circuit!

But what is…The Circuit??  (Didn’t I already write that?)

I recently sat down with MANU INTIRAYMI (the actor who played the Borg teenager Icheb on Star Trek: Voyager) for one of Fan Film Factor’s first-ever audio interviews.  And I asked him to help fill in the mystery of what is……The Circuit???  So let’s find out the ANSWER…

MANU INTIRAYMI as Icheb on STAR TREK: VOYAGER (left) and today.

To learn more or to donate, click here.

DS9 show-runner IRA STEVEN BEHR discusses the FAN FILM GUIDELINES! (audio interview)

Last year, Justin Lin and J.J. Abrams both went on record as being supportive of Star Trek fan films and that the fans should be encouraged to make them.  A month later, CBS and Paramount issued a set of fan film guidelines that shocked many fans and angered others with their restrictions on length, shutdown of continuing fan series, and moratorium on participation by anyone who had previously worked on any studio-authorized Star Trek project…from movie and TV series to video games and even package design.

On the one hand, it was nice to finally have a set of guidelines that clearly defined what the fans would be allowed to produce without the fear of getting sued.  On the other hand, a good number of fans familiar with fan productions felt that certain of the guidelines (like the ones I just listed) had overshot the mark, landing in a place of being too constraining and unnecessarily Draconian.

However, unlike a year ago when big names like Abrams and Lin spoke out on the fan film issue, no major names in the world of Star Trek have commented on the new guidelines other than John Van Citters (who was one of the people responsible for writing them).

But now that has changed, as I was able to interview Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Executive Producer STEVEN IRA BEHR and ask him directly, on the record, how he felt about the guidelines.  Granted, I don’t expect Ira to rush out and rally for the guidelines to be revised and loosened.  But I was curious if we fans who feel so negatively toward some of these guidelines are justified in feeling that way or not.  Would Ira agree with us….or would he think that we’re just being petulant (or crazy!) to have any problems with these reasonable studio rules?  You can find out below…

And for anyone curious how a small-time blogger managed to score an interview with Ira Behr and get him to speak on the record, I donated to the Indiegogo campaign for his Deep Space Nine documentary “What We Left Behind,” which blew through its initial $150,000 goal to reach nearly $650,000!  (Click on the above link to learn more about this exciting project.)

The perk I donated for was a 10-minute call with Ira Behr where I could ask him anything.  I cleared with his assistant beforehand that I’d be able to record the call and post it on my blog site, and last week, we spoke for more than 15 minutes.  It was a really great conversation.

And here’s what we talked about…