THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)

Back in 2014, the sky seemed to be the limit for Star Trek fan films! Productions like AXANAR, RENEGADES, NEW VOYAGES, STAR TREK CONTINUES, and a few others were all eagerly casting active, retired, and semi-retired veteran Star Trek actors in fan film roles…often reprising the very characters they’d become famous playing.

Into this euphoric maelstrom burst the fan project STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “THE NIGHT OF TIME.” Originally it was simply going to be an outgrowth of New Voyages, filmed on the TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY with JAMES CAWLEY as executive producer. (Here’s a video from New York Comic Con 2014 announcing that). The episode was to feature actor JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Voyager 2-parter “Equinox” and lead into a new series starring GARRETT WANG as Captain Harry Kim on new 24th century sets. (Ah, remember those carefree, optimistic days? Heck, James Cawley was still working with ALEC PETERS on Axanar back then!)

Ultimately, most of those plans for New Voyages fell through, but footage with actor John Savage and California actress BLANCA BLANCO had still been shot at Retro Studios in upstate New York, and it was usable. This is when producer ERIC NYENHUIS decided to take the story out independently on its own, calling the project Star Trek: Equinox, with the first episode being titled “The Night of Time.”

The full script had already been written by CAMREN T. BURTON based on an idea from Savage and fellow actor GARY LOCKWOOD, who had also agreed to come on board the new series to reprise his TOS role of Gary Mitchell (who became a god-thing in the second TOS pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”—but apparently survived and returned to normal).

Hopes were high for this fledgling fan project, which would also feature Lockwood’s daughter Samantha as a new character named Nurse Christine Roddenberry. Optimism was so high, in fact, that the show-runners were telling reporters in articles like this one that Equinox would be presented directly to CBS as a PILOT for a new series. (Yep, they were totally serious.)

The first order of business, though, was to get that footage they’d already shot assembled into a teaser—and that would require money. After a couple of failed crowd-funders like this one (with only one donor), they eventually managed to raise about $6.2K on Kickstarter in 2015. That allowed them to produce and release the following 6-minute vignette that summer…

Although it had some potential—along with two signed Trek veteran actors—a year later, the film project was mothballed. An announcement by writer Burton discussed the possibility of turning the project into an audio drama, but nothing else was ever heard about it.

That was all more than three and a half years ago…so why am I talking about it now?

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)”

Time to binge-watch THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES…all 40 episodes! (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)

This past weekend, Star Trek fan film history was made when VANCE MAJOR released nearly FORTY(!!!) brand new episodes of his CONSTAR CHRONICLES along with another almost-thirty updated versions of his previous MINARD saga of fan films.

All told, Vance just posted about 15 hours of Star Trek fan films ranging from short vignettes of only 3 minutes to full-blown epic episodes a half hour in length…and everything in between!

Vance had previously made a name for himself when he turned his character of Chief Engineer Eric Minard from the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT into an artificially long-lived Starfleet officer whose career spanned from the Christopher Pike era all the way through the Battle of Wolf 359, the re-taking of Deep Space Nine, and beyond. Along the way, Minard has encountered multiple alien races, survived space battles and starship crashes, and even squared off against his Mirror Universe doppelgänger. All the while, Vance paid for his dozens and dozens of fan films with the change he found in his sofa, and shot them all on his cell phone.

To me, Vance represents the true HEART of the Star Trek fan film community—a Trekker who does this not to get noticed or to get accolades for quality or “sizzle” (most of his episodes are, frankly, minimalistic and slow-moving) but because it’s in his blood…an itch he has to scratch. And Vance invites others to come along and play in his little corner of the sandbox simply because it’s fun!

Vance has filmed on THREE different TOS sets: the now-defunct Starbase Studios in Oklahoma; Netural Zone Studios in Georgia, and WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas…and next summer, he’ll be at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA.

After releasing the 30-plus fan films in his Minard saga over the course of years, an emotionally and physically exhausted Vance “retired” from fan filmmaking…or so we thought! Shortly thereafter, about a year and a half ago, Vance came back into the fold and announced a new series of fan films that would feature Minard but focus as well on the various members of his 24th century crew of the USS Constar.

Continue reading “Time to binge-watch THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES…all 40 episodes! (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)”

DEMONS – The latest AVALON UNIVERSE fan film triumph! (audio interview with VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN)

The AVALON UNIVERSE made its unexpected debut in our universe on Halloween of 2018…which was somewhat appropriate, considering the storyline of the debut episode (the 2-part GHOST SHIP) was kinda a “Star-Trek-meets-The Walking Dead” mash-up. Exactly one year later, on Halloween 2019, the latest Avalon Universe fan film, DEMONS (the third story so far), premiered the first of its two segments, with part 2 coming out a week later. In between was the one-part AVALON LOST, which came out in February of 2019.

All three stories were something quite different than most other fan films…and I don’t mean just the unusual meshing of Kelvin-verse uniforms with TOS-style sets…along with nacelles and shuttlecraft which looked slightly different than the familiar Prime Universe technology. No, what fans noticed almost immediately was a quality level—of acting, directing, lighting, camera angles and lens selection, sound mixing, film editing, pacing—that was a step or three above the vast majority of other Star Trek fan films.

This is by no means meant to diminish the achievements of those other fan filmmakers…some of whom have used the same TOS sets (initially the former Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues sets in Kingsland, GA and—later—the TOS sets at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas). But when it came to the Avalon Universe, fans just knew this was something extra special.

That quality came primarily from the two show-runners: VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN, two die-hard Trekkers who work professionally in the film industry in Arkansas. With training in acting and film production, Victoria and Josh brought a level of craft not typically seen in most fan films…and fans watched these releases on YouTube in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

Demons was the first of the three Avalon Universe fan films to be crowd-funded, raising just over $6,500 from 102 backers (including $45 from me!) on Indiegogo back in March of this year. And even though that was 25% short of their $8,500 goal, the completed fan film still looks mighty impressive.

I present below the two parts of Demons (there are links in the first paragraph of this blog to features on the earlier Avalon releases—along with additional audio interviews with Victoria and Josh). When you watch Demons, look for cameo appearances from two well-known Trek fan filmmakers: VANCE MAJOR and GLEN WOLFE. After that, I invite you all to share my latest fascinating interview with Victoria and Josh. But first, take a look at this

and this

Pretty impressive, huh? Wanna learn more about how a project like this came together? Have a listen as I interview director/co-writer/lead actor/producer Victoria Fox and co-writer/DP/production designer/executive producer/lots-of-other-things Joshua Irwin about their latest fan film masterpiece…

The latest AXANAR news! (audio interview with ALEC PETERS)

Despite all of the major AXANAR-related events lately—including the exciting October film shoot at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA and the launch of the Ares Digital fundraiser—I haven’t actually sat down for an ALEC PETERS interview for more than two months. This week, I decided to remedy that…and fortunately, this time, no dogs needed to be rescued, so the call happened right on time.

Before we jump into the interview itself, just a quick reminder that Axanar IS currently crowd-funding…it’s just not doing so publicly using Kickstarter or Indiegogo. But if you want to donate, you can! Just click here, sign into your Ares Digital account (or create one if you don’t already have one), and then click “Donate Now!” to log in again.

Wait a second…you have to log in AGAIN???

Yeah, it’s kind of a feature, not a bug. Ares Digital is behind a firewall, but the donation widget requires logging into WordPress, as well. But in this way, donors’ payment information is processed without anyone at Axanar ever seeing it…an extra layer of identity protection. And it’s a pretty easy extra strep, as you can log in the second time with one click using your Facebook or Google account…or your e-mail you you’d prefer.

And then, once you’re in, you’ll see this…

Axanar is currently knocking on the door of $40,000—two-thirds of the way to the $60,000 goal to fund the first two film shoots.

But hasn’t the first shoot already happened? And isn’t the second shoot coming up in a couple of weeks? What if Alec doesn’t make the $60K goal in time? Does the second shoot have to be canceled or postponed? And what about the third shoot and beyond (aren’t there supposed to be five total)? When is that shoot getting funded…and what happens if Alec can’t raise enough in time? Will Axanar itself have to be delayed and the summer 2020 deadline missed?

So many questions!

Looks like Alec and I have a LOT to talk about this time out. Take a listen…

Major AXANAR update! (audio interview with ALEC PETERS)

Believe it or not, it’s been nearly three months since my last blog update on the status of the AXANAR sequels. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a TON of stuff going on!

For those folks who have been watching the regular updates by ALEC PETERS on the (usually) weekly “Axanar Confidential” YouTube podcast, you know a lot of the exciting things that have been happening lately…including the fact that the first official shoot for the two Axanar sequels is scheduled for October 4-6! This will include J.G. HERTZLER flying down to Georgia to appear as Sam Travis. Scenes will be filmed on the USS Ares bridge set along with green screen scenes and recording the audio drama version of the full Axanar script.

But for all of those recent updates, I still had a few unanswered questions for Alec—things like…

  • If this production is going to cost $150K-$200K (as Alec has estimated previously), then when is he planning to start raising private donations from backers…and who has been paying for things up till now?
  • Is KATE VERNON going to appear in the Axanar sequels?
  • Who else has been brought onto the project and in what roles (both actors and production crew)?
  • How close is the bridge to being finished—and will it be ready in time for October’s shoot?
  • How many other shoots are planned, and where and when will they be happening?

So with these and other questions floating around in my head, I decided this might be a good time to interview Alec. We set up a phone call for last Friday evening, but naturally, he was late because he had to rescue a dog. And so we had to reschedule. (Yes, I’m serious.) So we chatted a couple days later, and I’ve just finished editing the sound file…which—I am certain will not surprise anyone—includes the sound of dog barks in the background.

So please enjoy the latest Axanar update with Alec Peters (woof!)…

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…

Asking MARC SCOTT ZICREE the tough questions about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)

I love interviewing MARC ZICREE (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) a.k.a. Marc Zicree of SPACE COMMAND. He always has a LOT of very interesting things to say, and he says it all with such enthusiasm and excitement. In fact, I usually have to listen to Marc’s interviews a second time to fully process everything!

Today’s interview is actually the fourth I’ve done with Marc over the past three years, and the first wasn’t even about his current passion project Space Command. Along with writing more than a thousand television scripts, Marc also wrote, directed and produced the Star Trek: New Voyages episode “World Enough and Time,” which featured GEORGE TAKEI as a guest star and remains one of the finest Star Trek fan films ever made. (Here’s my interview with Marc about that production.)

More recently, Marc has been tackling the incredibly ambitious Space Command, a sprawling, original sci-fi epic with six 2-hour episodes in the first season alone. The pilot episode, “Redemption” features Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Doug Jones (Pan’s LabyrinthHellboy, and now Star Trek: Discovery’s Saru), Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5), Mira Furlan (Babylon 5), Bill Mumy (Babylon 5 and Lost In Space), and others.

Crowd-funding for Redemption began way back in 2012 with $221,000 raised from nearly 3,000 backers. Subsequent crowd-funders and sales of investment shares increased that total to over a million dollars! Last summer, after more than six years, the first half hour of the pilot was finally released. You can view it below…

In February of this year, Marc released the full first hour of the pilot, with improvements to the initial half hour included. It’s actually interesting to compare the two versions, so I’m posting both if you’re interested in watching side-by-side…

With the last hour of “Redemption” currently in post-production and scheduled for release later on this year (hopefully!), Marc just announced a new Kickstarter campaign for the second 2-hour episode, “Forgiveness,” which already has 40 minutes of live action filmed. The campaign quickly exploded past its $35K goal and is currently hovering at around $70K as I write this…with 10 days left to go.

When I first published a blog spotlighting the new campaign two weeks ago, some fans were dubious. If it’s been seven years and episode one isn’t done yet, why start funding episode two? Why not finish one full episode before starting on another?

So for this interview, and with Marc’s permission, I hit him with that tough question…along with a several others. Among the things I wanted to know were what actually happens during all of those meetings he has with executives from Netflix and Amazon and ABC? What if one of those networks wants to give him $50 million but demands he throw out everything he’s done and start over with a decent budget? And finally, with all of these projects Marc is developing and pitching right now, how do donors know he’s spending enough time on Space Command itself?

Listen to his eye-opening answers below…

And of course, there’s still time to donate:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/58936338/space-command-forgiveness

AVALON LOST is released as a new INDIEGOGO is launched! (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…