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

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)”

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

Filming RESUMES at STARBASE STUDIOS (audio interview with KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS)

It was quiet…too quiet.  At least, that’s the way it’s seemed lately when it came to STARBASE STUDIOS in Arkansas…an amazing fan film resource of TOS sets including the Trek community’s only 360-degree USS Enterprise bridge.  Since 2011, Starbase Studios has been used to shoot scenes for literally dozens of various Star Trek fan projects.

Starbase Studios has had a rather turbulent nine months, beginning last August when a significant number of props and set pieces were removed from the warehouse where the sets were being stored.  This was followed by a lawsuit where one of the owners, GLEN WOLFE, sued the other owners, SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, for ownership and monetary compensation.  Fan filming there all but screeched to a halt for several months while both sides tried to negotiate a compromise.

With some outside assistance, a settlement agreement was signed earlier this year, and the sets are now owned by Glen Wolfe (50%), Scott Johnson (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%)…although many of the items removed have not yet been returned.  With the exception of a one-day video shoot with Parkview Elementary School students this past January (which had been reserved six months earlier), no filming has happened on the Starbase Studios sets since the new year began.

That changed this past weekend when a “who’s who” of Starbase Studios personnel got together in Marble Falls, Arkansas for a very special video shoot.  Among the participants were Glen Wolfe and Scott Johnson, seeing each other in person for only the second time since the lawsuit was settled.  Would they find a way to get along?  Would that old feeling of camaraderie from fan filming Star Trek rekindle their friendship?  Or had things been pushed too far for healing to happen?

Needless to say, I was dying to find out!  And fortunately, Kent “Words” Edwards, who organized the weekend production, was nice enough to call me from the road and do a quick audio interview.

So let’s check in on Starbase Studios and see what’s up and what went down this past weekend…

STAR TREK STUNT DOUBLES – the power of ONE! (audio interview with MrBonk85)

How many people does it take to make a Star Trek fan film?  Five?  Ten?  Fifty?  A few have listed over a hundred cast and crew members in their credits.

But what if there’s just ONE guy?  One guy doing all the camera work, costuming, make-up, writing, direction, lighting, sound, editing, compositing, visual FX…and even playing all of the roles?

Meet MrBonk85 (that’s his YouTube handle) and his STAR TREK STUNT DOUBLES fan series.  I first discovered this fellow a few months ago when he released his version of the TOS episode “Spectre of the Gun” (see below).  It compressed the classic episode down to just 5 minutes, a mix of recreations of scenes using original dialog with unexpected flourishes of humor.  And this one fan was was playing all of the roles himself!  It was very surreal.

This initial fan film effort was followed a couple of months later by a similar take on “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and about a week after that by “This Side of Paradise.”  Again, one guy appeared as every character—even female characters—green screen composited against TOS backgrounds with TOS music.

Needless to say, I just had to know more.  So I reached out to this gentleman and asked if he’d care to do an interview.  I learned from his response that Mr. Bonk’s real name is Paul (there are no credits in any of the episodes), and he was happy to chat with me.

Our conversation took place a few weeks ago.  At the time, there were only these three episodes, and—as you’ll learn in the interview—Paul/MrBonk85 wasn’t planning on doing more any time soon.  Well, guess what?  He just added a fourth Stunt Doubles episode, a quick 2-minute version of “Charlie X.”

All four of these vignette mini-episodes appear below.  But first, for your listening pleasure, please enjoy this interview with the one-of-a-kind (well, often MORE than one-of-a-kind) MrBonk85…

And now, here are the four Star Trek: Stunt Doubles episodes that have been released so far…

Is TREK crowd-funding in TROUBLE? (a lively chat with MARK NACCARATO of THE ROMULAN WAR)

Are Star Trek fan films in danger of having the donation well run dry?  It’s hard to know, but right now, things look somewhat troubling.

Last month, a Kickstarter for the proposed The Holy Core fan film (the same folks who produced the excellent Chance Encounter) didn’t even manage to get half way to their $12,000 goal and instead got nothing.  Another Kickstarter for The Roddenberries’ new album and music video set a two month goal of $9,500 and, with only 11 days to go, is only up to $3,565.

And now, THE ROMULAN WAR, an exciting new Star Trek fan project, is struggling to reach its $10,000 goal on Indiegogo.  Although they burst out of the starting gate with $4,200 in less than two weeks, last week was a veritable desert of donations with only a few hundred dollars coming in over the span of six days.  And this despite the fact that last Monday saw a new video posted to social media spotlighting the cast and showing some never-before-seen footage, and on Wednesday there was a cool TrekYards feature on the Romulan “Strombird” class.  Fortunately, yesterday saw nearly a thousand dollars come in (not sure why, since nothing notable happened on Sunday), but they’re still only 55% of the way to their goal with just 12 days left!

What the heck is going on??? Continue reading “Is TREK crowd-funding in TROUBLE? (a lively chat with MARK NACCARATO of THE ROMULAN WAR)”

4th and 5th GRADERS meet the EASTER BUNNY at STARBASE STUDIOS! (audio interview with KEVIN CROXTON)

Easter came early to STARBASE STUDIOS on a cold day in January.  That’s when Emmy-winning musician and Parkview Elementary School teacher KEVIN CROXTON brought 33 students from his Music Club to shoot a Star Trek fan film.

The previous summer, Kevin had agreed to compose and record music for GLEN WOLFE’s and DAN REYNOLD’s fan production “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” (part of their FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series).  In exchange, Kevin was invited to bring his 4th and 5th grade students to the Starbase Studios TOS sets in Marble Falls, Arkansas (about three hours from Parkview Elementary) to spend a day there filming.

The finished product was released a couple of weeks ago and is already up to an impressive 3,200 views.  I consider this a MUST SEE Trek fan film not simply because the kids are adorable but because it really is a remarkably well-produced fan film!  It’s well-lit with lots of interesting camera angles, the sound levels are perfect, the music is great (the kids even get to sing!), there’s amazing make-up on Spock and the Klingons (plus really nice TOS Klingon uniforms), and all of the children do a spectacular job.

But don’t just take my word for it, have a look…

I reached out to Kevin for an interview, and we had a wonderful chat.  Toward the end, he told me that a photographer named BRENDA YELVINGTON had taken hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos, and offered to let me use them for the interview.

Normally, I just do my audio interviews as MP3 files with no visual elements.  But this time, I was able to do something a little extra special and turn the interview into a full YouTube video.  But before anyone says, “That looked really great, Jonathan, you should do it more often…” it only works when you’ve got hundreds of photos and I have a lot of extra time!

Anyway, now that you’ve watched this wonderful little fan film, please enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at group of kids and adults who made it possible…

The story BEHIND THE PURCHASE of the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets! (audio interview with RAY TESI)

Fans gave a sigh of relief in early February when it was announced that the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets in Kingsland, Georgia had been purchased by a fan filmmaker who intended to make the sets available to other fan filmmakers to create their Trek fan productions.  The new owner is a fellow by the name of RAY TESI, and his own fan project was STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which had released the 9-minute Serpent of Yesterday vignette in February of last year.

But I was curious about something: how was Ray affording all this?

Y’see, after releasing his fan film vignette, Ray launched an Indiegogo campaign to try to raise $16,000 to continue the production of his fan series.  That campaign only made it to $2,351, and the project was shelved indefinitely.

Now, I didn’t know whether Ray had purchased the sets from VIC MIGNOGNA of Star Trek Continues or had gotten them for free (turns out Ray bought them).  But I did know that the rent for the warehouse where the sets reside is tens of thousands of dollars per year!

So how is a guy who needed $16,000 in crowd-funding a year ago suddenly able to afford thousands of dollars a month in rent?  Did he win the lottery?  Rob a bank?  Blackmail a rich politician?

It turns out, fortunately(!), that it was none of the above.  In fact, when you hear the actual story behind Ray’s purchase of the STC sets, I think that you—like me—will gain a new respect for Ray Tesi and feel truly inspired and positive about the future of this wonderful fan resource.

Here’s the interview…

Ray Tesi in the center seat surrounded by the cast of Starship Republic

And for anyone wanting to see how awesome these sets are, here’s a walkthrough from a few years ago (before they added Engineering, which makes it all even MORE awesome!)…

At last – a NEW TRAILER for STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

What?  You’ve never heard of the fan film project STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY???  Where have you been for the past five years?

Just kidding.  Most members of the fan film community have never heard of this production…even though it goes all the way back to 2013.  In fact, along with Star Trek: Renegades and Star Trek: Deception, Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly was one of the first three Trek fan films to ever fund successfully on Kickstarter.

But while the other two projects were ultimately completed (Deception later in 2013 and Renegades in 2015), Temporal Anomaly seemed to be stuck in a time loop of always appearing to be “coming soon.”  Seven months after their Kickstarter took in £1,741 (about $2,000 at the time), fans saw this pretty simple teaser:

Not much to write home about by today’s fan film standards, but back in 2013, that looked like a pretty cool green screen-based fan project.

A year later in late 2014, a new teaser promised a 60-minute long fan film (up from the original 20 minutes originally announced) coming in 2015…and the visual effects were looking much more exciting:

But 2015 did not bring the completed fan film.  However, that year brought the following newer, even more impressive 2-minute trailer that showed an increasingly impressive compositing of green screen actors against a wide range of starship interior backgrounds.  We also got to see even better VFX and brief clips of Picard and Riker on the bridge of the Enterprise-E:

That was nearly three years ago.  Since then, nothing…

…until now!

Earlier today, writer/director SAMUEL COCKINGS released a brand new trailer for Temporal Anomaly along with a promise to release the finished film NEXT MONTH!

This new trailer is the best-looking one yet and really blew me away:


So why did this project take so long to finish?  And why do so few fans even know about it?   I posed these questions and many others to Mr. Samuel Cockings during an eye-opening audio interview, which I proudly present to you below…


Look for a follow-up interview next month when Star Trek: Temporal Anomaly is released onto the Internet in its entirety!

Why one AXANAR detractor is now a FORMER Axanar detractor! (audio interview)

Some call them “haters.”  I call them “detractors.”  Any way you slice it, though, they are the Captain Ahabs and Khans of the fan film community.  They will chase ALEC PETERS ’round the moons of Nibia and ’round the Antares Maelstrom and ’round perdition’s flames before they ever let go of their anger and resentment for him and his fan project AXANAR.

And their wrath and indignation aren’t simply reserved for Alec himself but also for anyone who supports him and his production, anyone who stands up to defend him, and in fact anyone who has any connection to him and Axanar whatsoever…real or perceived.

Sometimes, the detractors just insult people, call them names, and/or create a few snarky memes.  Sometimes it’s angry tweets and posts on Facebook.  But occasionally it goes beyond that to attempts to sabotage people in social media through reports to Facebook and the like, online threats, or even interfering with people’s livelihoods.  Such a thing happened the week before last…and I wouldn’t have even known about it had not a member of Carlos Pedraza’ AXAMONITOR Facebook group contacted me privately to share his newfound concerns and disgust for the group.

I personally stopped visiting the Axamonitor Facebook group (and any other lingering detractor echo-chambers) many, many months ago.  It was a waste of my time, as the petty nastiness and cruel vulgarity in those groups was frankly nauseating.  And it wasn’t just the insults against Alec (or me).  These guys often turned venomously on each other, and the moderators had to frequently warn members to be respectful of other members (just not respectful of any Axanar supporters).

So when JOES DIAZ sent me an IM request on Facebook on Superbowl Sunday morning, I had no idea who he was or what had happened in the Axamonitor group.  When I found out, I was pretty disgusted myself…although not entirely surprised.

As we messaged back and forth, I asked Joe if he felt strongly enough about this incident, and about his fellow detractors, that he might want to do an interview to share his story.  He said yes, and the next day, we had the following very eye-opening discussion…

I can imagine how the detractors will react to this interview.  But maybe, just maybe, a few of them might hear Joe’s words and begin to realize that hating on Axanar and Alec Peters won’t solve anything…and perhaps it’s finally time to just settle down and move on.