The AVALON UNIVERSE launches a new INDIEGOGO! (audio interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX)

It’s here! The first new 2019 Indiegogo campaign for a Star Trek fan film is now live and taking donations. Why should YOU donate? Lemme tellya…

THE AVALON UNIVERSE kicked off its debut last Halloween with a complete surprise for most fans: the 2-part GHOST SHIP, a sort of “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” hybrid fan film that quickly went viral and now has a combined 280K views on YouTube!

Filmed both in Kingsland, GA on the old Star Trek Continues TOS sets and also in the new WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas, Ghost Ship looked amazing. Lighting, make-up, directing, editing, music, VFX, acting…everything came together flawlessly to present fans with one of the most polished-looking set-based fan films in a long time.

The only thing fans found a little odd were the uniforms worn by the Starfleet crew: a mix of the first two Kelvin-verse styles with Star Trek Beyond and TOS uniforms, all in a classic TOS setting. Even the USS Excalibur looked somewhat strange with a blue glow on the nacelles.

But then fans discovered that this was yet another alternate universe, the Avalon Universe, where things are a little different. (Avalon was the island on which King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged.) Fair enough; Trekkers are used to alternate universes by now.

Then, on February 2, the second Avalon Universe fan film, AVALON LOST, premiered., and it’s already up to nearly 35K views! This time, it was a one-parter with a very unexpected ending. Before you listen to my audio interview with the two Avalon show-runners at the end of this blog, I invite you to watch their most recent offering because there WILL BE SPOILERS in there interview…

Pretty awesome, right? I love that shuttlecraft! Anyway, I chatted with Josh and Victoria about their latest fan film, their new Indiegogo campaign, and their plans for future episodes from the Avalon Universe.  Enjoy…

Click here to donate to their Indiegogo Campaign.

Behind-the-scenes on STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER! (a MUST-SEE interview with MATT GREEN and SCOTT LYTTLE)

The era of the “big” professional-looking Star Trek fan films is NOT yet over, folks! In fact, fans are still awaiting four major productions that predate the guidelines of nearly three years ago: Axanar (of course), Pacific 201, the series finale of Starship Farragut (with a cameo by the late-great Stan Lee), and Star Trek: First Frontier. And one of those four fan films is about to cross over from post-production to release…and it’s just weeks away!

I’m sure you’ve already guessed from the title of this blog that it’s STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, a professional-quality fan production that was first conceived back in 2013 by writer/show-runner KENNY SMITH. The story features the first captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Robert April, and his crew on their maiden voyage. The actors are trained professionals, the uniforms and sets constructed to look pre-Pike era (TOS, not Discovery), and the production crew were mostly industry folks with experience. I know the guidelines preclude most of the above now, but all of the production footage was “in the can” nearly a year BEFORE the guidelines were ever announced.

After an aborted 2015 Kickstarter that only raised $30K of a $130K goal, Kenny decided to fund the production himself, filming scenes using a mix of practical sets and green screen shots later that year. Originally planned for a September 2016 release to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, and even though all the live action scenes were filmed, post-production would end up taking three times longer than anticipated!

But they had a very good excuse! The production decided NOT to use traditional CGI animation and instead built a physical 11-foot model of April’s Enterprise (estimated materials and labor cost $30,000) and filmed the VFX the old fashioned way…in a studio in front of a giant green screen!

But they didn’t stop there…

After shooting that gorgeous starship model in early 2017, they next went on to construct an equally-amazing 1/24th scale hangar deck and shuttlecraft for a number of VFX scenes that take place in that area of the ship. Photos of their incredible miniature shuttle bay have only just begun to circulate, and fans’ jaws are dropping left and right!

Fortunately, the two gentlemen in charge of the construction of these incredible models took pictures and videos along the way…hundreds in fact! And I’ve got most of them to show you in this exclusive Fan Film Factoraudio interview with a special video montage “bonus.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you MATT GREEN and SCOTT LYTTLE, the men behind Captain Robert April’s Enterprise and hangar bay…

Remastered CHASING THE INFINITE SKY debuts on first AXACON spotlight interview with ALBERT MARTINEZ!

Back in the summer of 2016, ALBERT MARTINEZ debuted a new fan film consisting primarily of breathtaking CGI visual FX inspired by the Kelvin-verse style of starship design. CHASING THE INFINITE SKY quickly went viral with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. One of those viewers was ALEC PETERS of Axanar, and he quickly fell in love with this beautifully crafted fan film, talking it up every chance he could.

Skip ahead two years, and Alec invited Albert to be a guest at AXACON last November. Albert was honored to attend and drove all the way from Texas to Georgia with his wife for the event.

Also in attendance was yours truly, as I had agreed to be a panelist for the mini-con. I knew Alec was planning to record all of the sessions on video to debut later on YouTube, with myself and KEITH M. SEDOR as hosts and interviewers. However, I wasn’t expecting for Keith and I to be put to work immediately on day one…when when everything was just a tour of Ares Studios and not even at the hotel yet! Alec, however, had hired a three-camera video crew plus sound engineer to record right there at the studio…and I was given almost no time to prepare to interview multiple guests, beginning with Albert. Geez, Alec, no pressure!

Usually, my interviews of fan filmmakers are simply audio or text (’cause I can’t afford camera crews!). But today I present to you a special VIDEO interview. At the end, the video also includes a new REMASTERED higher-quality version of Chasing the Infinite Sky. (By the way, Albert Martinez has now joined the Axanar VFX team.)

The following video has been available for the past few weeks to donors who’ve signed up for the ARES STUDIOS PATREON. If you haven’t signed up yet, just a couple of bucks a month will get you early access to videos like this one (as there’s over 22 hours of amazing interviews and panels that will be edited and shared). Also, you’ll help keep Ares Studios open so that fan filmmakers and students and even professionals can shoot scenes on that amazing USS Ares bridge!

I’d just like to give a quick shout-out to BRIAN T. ALEXANDER, who shot and compiled the video, and to JOHN STREKIS, who did an amazing job editing it. All of the Axacon videos are being lovingly preparing by a small, dedicated team of editors and sound people to look as good as possible. Here is the first one…

TEMPORAL ANOMALY is finally released…it’s about time! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

The time has finally come! After nearly six years, TEMPORAL ANOMALY has been released to astound and amaze Star Trek fans. Written, directed, and produced by SAMUEL COCKINGS—the King, Ace, and Jack of all trades involving CGI animation—back in 2013, Temporal Anomaly has traveled a long and challenging path on its way to completion. This included an e-mail directly from CBS saying, “You can’t release this fan film!”

Yep, for only the fourth time, CBS stepped in to put the kibosh on a Star Trek fan film project (the others being Axanar, Federation Rising from Tommy Kraft, and “He Walked Among Us” from Star Trek: New Voyages. Considering there are literally several hundreds of Trek fan films, the VAST majority never hear from CBS. But Samuel did…just weeks before releasing his half-decade labor of love.

The fan film world was all ready, one year ago, to see this long-awaited masterpiece. In fact, I even featured a 38-minute audio interview with Samuel in mid-February of 2018 in anticipation of a March release. But then CBS contacted Samuel, and things came to an immediate halt!

However, in a very unexpected turn of events, Samuel was able to convince CBS to allow him to make certain changes and release the fan film after all, even negotiating a one-time exemption from the 30-minute limit to allow for his full 50-minute film to play out as scripted.

Unfortunately, making the required changes—which included stripping out the music track and finding a composer to re-score the entire feature—took nearly another year. In the meantime, Samuel made other improvements to the VFX, CGI backgrounds, etc. The result is one of the most visually stunning and impressive green screen Trek fan films you are ever likely to see.

And see it you shall, right now (in two parts)…

Pretty amazing, huh? Now take a listen to a FANtastic new audio interview with Samuel. This time, we discuss exactly what happened with CBS and how Samuel was able to convince them to change their minds and let him release Temporal Anomaly…and even make it 50 minutes long! We also discuss the fan film world in general, what makes good CGI, behind-the-scenes stories from Samuel’s production, and updates on his next fan project, Convergence.

If you’re thinking of listening to the following interview before watching the fan film—DON’T DO IT, MAN! There are spoilers in the interview! Watch Temporal Anomaly first, and THEN listen to this…

The FINAL FATE (?) of the Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS!

Well, this isn’t the happy ending I was hoping to write. It almost was, but then things turned disappointing in a very short amount of time.

Okay, let me first give bring everyone up to date on the story so far. The TOS sets that were formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS have been sitting in a building in Marble Falls, Arkansas since early 2017. The building is part of an abandoned and dilapidated former theme park known as Dogpatch, which is owned by Charles “Bud” Pelsor.

Ownership of the TOS sets—which included a full 360-degree bridge originally constructed in 2004 for a fan film called Starship Exeter “The Tressaurian Intersection,” a partial sickbay, a transporter room, a briefing room, and corridors—was, until recently, divided among GLEN L. WOLFE (50%), SCOTT JOHNSON (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%). Unfortunately, the three owners weren’t typically (if ever) on the same page, and frictions quickly developed and escalated.

“Bud” Pelsor had apparently offered to house the sets until the end of 2018, after which ownership of the Dogpatch property was to transfer to Heritage USA, and the sets would need to be relocated. But where would they go? Who has space for a full bridge, sickbay, transporter, and briefing room?

Earlier this past week, an answer seemed to have miraculously presented itself—with a solution worthy of King Solomon himself…

Continue reading “The FINAL FATE (?) of the Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS!”

GHOST SHIP appears out of nowhere! (audio interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX)

The vast majority of the fan film community had no idea that GHOST SHIP was coming (including me)!  But just a few weeks ago, on Halloween, the newest full-length Star Trek fan production from JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX debuted on YouTube.

Although shot mainly on the STAGE 9 STUDIOS starship sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut, I learned from interviewing Josh and Victoria that some scenes were also filmed at the Arkansas sets originally known as Starbase Studios.  Their visual FX were done by Trekyards’ CGI genie SAMUEL COCKINGS, who will soon be releasing Temporal Anomaly and Convergence.  Even VANCE MAJOR makes a cameo as the character Erick Minard.  So these guys definitely got around the fan film world to make their project.

And what an impressive production it is!  A “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” mash-up, of sorts, the film combines spooky zombie horror tropes with comedic moments and fun characters to create a wonderfully enjoyable space adventure.  And it follows the guidelines completely, including dividing the fan film into two less-than-15-minute segments.  The cast is made up of trained actors along with a crew of experienced film producers.  The result looks great, sounds great, and is written, directed, and edited at a noticeably high level.

That might be one of the reasons that the views for Ghost Ship have exploded on Youtube.  When I conducted our interview on Wednesday of last week, Josh and Victoria were excited to see their total views had climbed over 8,000.  Well, guess what?  As I write this 8 days later, they’ve gone viral with more than 105,000 views!

Before I get to the fan and interview, let me take a moment to mention that GHOST SHIP and a growing number of other Trek fan films would not be possible without the generosity of RAY TESI, present owner of the TOS  sets in of Kingsland, GA.  Ray makes these sets available for free (well, the cost of electricity used during the shoot) to any fan filmmaker following the guidelines.  But the $3,000/month rent is paid out of Ray’s own pocket.

Currently, there is an opportunity for fans to contribute a little bit each month (even a dollar makes a difference) through a PATREON.  Right now, fans are donating $163 of that $3,000 monthly expense, but there’s always room for more help from our community.  To donate, go to:

https://www.patreon.com/stage9studios

And now, here are parts 1 and 2 of Ghost Ship

Pretty good fan film, huh?  Want to learn more about how it was made, how long it took to complete, and where to go to find a dozen convincing zombies in southern Georgia?  Take a listen to this really fun interview with writer/director Joshua Irwin and producer Victoria Fox…

JOSHUA IRWIN as Commodore Joseph Austin and VICTORIA FOX as Commander Amanda Beck in GHOST SHIP

CONVERGENCE launches new INDIE-GOGO campaign (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

Welcome to CONVERGENCE…a fan production uniting FIVE accomplished fan films and series from FOUR different countries into ONE amazing crossover event!

And YOU can help make it all possible.

These folks have already completed one video shoot with four of their five primary actors: NICK COOK from Star Trek: Intrepid (Scotland), ROBIN HIERT from Star Trek: Dark Armada (The Netherlands), and CHRIS BURDETT and NIMRAN SAUND from the upcoming Temporal Anomaly (Great Britain).  They also have a number of jaw-dropping VFX created by SAMUEL COCKINGS, life-long Star Trek fan and co-host/co-creator of the popular webseries “Trekyards.”  Some of this CGI will include the Archer-class starship from the original Star Trek: Renegades, as well as the villains from that fan film, the Syphon.

Their project is already well underway.  But now they need $5,500 to complete it, and they’ve just launched a new Indiegogo campaign. Fan donations will allow Samuel to fly in his full cast for a second studio green screen shoot to get the rest of their scenes filmed with proper lighting, sound, and staging.  This will include their final main actor, JIM VON DOLTEREN from Starship Republic, who will be flying to the U.K. from America, along with the others.

They’ve got some really nice perks that you can choose from, and thanks to a series of preview teaser promos released over the past month, the campaign is already off to a decent start, taking in about 9% of the goal in the first 24 hours (including $60 from me).  It also has one of the most impressive “ask” videos that I’ve seen for a crowd-funding campaign in a very long time.  Check it out…

After you watch that video, you’ll probably be excited enough to donate.  But even if you’re not, you should listen to this really awesome audio interview with Samuel.  Not only do we discuss Convergence, but we also discuss Temporal Anomaly, his interactions with CBS legal, the fan film guidelines, and a host of other topics that you’re certain to find, as Jean-Luc Picard would say, engaging…

Click here to donate.

J.G. HERTZLER suspends his campaign for Congress and talks about AXANAR! (audio interview)

In June of 2017, when I saw the headline that a former Star Trek actor was planning to run for the U.S. Congress, I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that it was J.G. HERTZER.

Even though his character of General Martok from Deep Space Nine (who eventually became Chancellor Martok, leader of the Klingon Empire) loathed politics, J.G. always seemed drawn to it.  The few times I’d seen and spoken with him at conventions, J.G. would invariably share his strongly-held progressive views on political issues and politicians in general.

So it kinda made sense that J.G. would combine his two passions—theater and politics—into his campaign to represent the 23rd Congressional District of New York State.  That said, I still scratched my head a little at J.G.’s choice to run simultaneously as himself and also as his “spokesman” Mark Twain (pen name of noted American author Samuel Clemens).  Clemens spent a portion of his adult life living and writing in J.G.’s upstate New York district, and the author’s humorous and straight-spoken approach to life seemed a perfect way to comment on the state of our union and the challenges facing it.

JG HERTZLER as 19th Century author Mark Twain

Unfortunately for the fan film AXANAR, however, J.G.’s choice to campaign as Mark Twain included a decision to also look the part, which meant letting his hair grow long and wavy (like the author).  This precluded J.G. from filming any scenes of the upcoming Axanar fan film sequels until after the U.S. midterm elections in November, as his character of Admiral Sam Travis had a distinctively short military-style haircut.

So naturally, as an Axanar supporter myself, I took notice when I learned last week that J.G. Hertzler was SUSPENDING his Congressional campaign!  Did this mean he was now free to cut his hair and do Axanar sooner?  Was he even going to do Axanar at all?  (He hadn’t been officially confirmed yet.)  And why would J.G. suddenly suspend his campaign less than three months before the midterm elections?

Continue reading “J.G. HERTZLER suspends his campaign for Congress and talks about AXANAR! (audio interview)”

MARC ZICREE talks about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)

Yesterday I promised you all a really awesome interview with MARC SCOTT ZICREE.  And now it’s time to deliver!

Marc has written hundreds of hours of television for dozens of different shows, including episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, M.A.N.T.I.S. and Sliders.  He also wrote, directed, and produced the excellent Star Trek: New Voyages fan film “World Enough and Time” with George Takei.

And now Marc’s passion project is the independently crowd-funded epic fan series SPACE COMMAND.  The initial Kickstarter raised over $220K back in 2012.  Since then, it’s been a long journey, with two additional Kickstarters, the latest going on right now!  As I type this it’s up over $66K (far past the original goal of $45K), with 12 days still to go.  Already, post-production has been funded for the first 90 minutes of the two-hour pilot, “Redemption.”  But if this current campaign can reach $100K, there will be enough to complete all 1,900 visual FX and the rest of post production on the entire two hours of the pilot.

The cast is a veritable who’s who of Star Trek and sci-fi veteran actors, including:

  • Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • Doug Jones (Pan’s LabyrinthThe Shape of Water, and Star Trek: Discovery)
  • Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
  • Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)
  • Bill Mumy (Babylon 5 and Lost In Space)
  • Faran Tahir (Star Trek 2009…he was the captain of the USS Kelvin)
  • James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China)

And new actors are being added for later episodes, including the most recent announcements: Ethan Philips (Voyager) and Armin Shimerman (Deep Space Nine).

Marc is a fascinating person to talk to with loads of stories and unique perspectives—and he always gives a really great interview.  Today is no exception…

Marc Zicree…on Mars!

Continue reading “MARC ZICREE talks about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)”

Some troubling news from STARBASE STUDIOS (audio interview with KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS and VANCE MAJOR)

Starting in 2010, when Trek fans heard the words STARBASE STUDIOS, they thought of the 360-degree TOS bridge set (originally used for the second Starship Exeter fan film), rescued from a barn in Texas, brought to Oklahoma City, and restored for fans to use essentially for free.  Over the years, countless fan films were shot on that bridge and, later, on the transporter, sickbay, briefing room, and other sets added into that small Oklahoma warehouse.

In 2017, however, everything changed…and not necessarily for the better.  Forced to relocated when their free-rent warehouse was sold to a new owner, the sets were moved to Arkansas.  An ownership struggle ensued that eventually gave way to a lawsuit and many months of discussions.  When the dust settled, an agreement was signed between GLEN WOLFE (50% ownership) and SCOTT JOHNSON and GLENN MILLER (25% ownership each).

A previous owner, KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, divested himself of any ownership of the sets but continued to operate a business entity known as Starbase Studios, LLC.  Kent brought on VANCE MAJOR to help run the company, which was (and is) now acting to help fan filmmakers find resources to produce their projects…including sources of props, costumes, equipment, production team members, and sets to shoot on.

No longer limiting themselves simply to the TOS sets in Arkansas, Starbase Studios, LLC now works with a number of different set owners, including RAY TESI who owns the Stage 9 Studios TOS sets (formerly used by Star Trek Continues) in Georgia and RANDY LANDERS who built modified movie-era sets for Potemkin Pictures in Alabama.

Starbase Studios, LLC had fully intended to keep working with the owners of the Arkansas TOS sets…even shooting a commercial for their services there a back in May.  However, last month, “Words” and Vance announced that they would no longer be referring fan filmmakers to the Arkansas sets.

Naturally, with such a major (and troubling) development, I reached out to “Words” and Vance and asked if they would care to go on the record to explain what had happened to trigger this significant decision on their part.  You can listen to our 3-way discussion below…

Vance Major and Kent “Words” Edwards of Starbase Studios, LLC