NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS is becoming an ESCAPE ROOM???

I bet you didn’t see THIS coming! Neither did I, and my reaction quickly went from surprise to overwhelming curiosity…which I’m sure must be true for a number of you folks, as well.

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS, which houses the TOS sets originally built by STARSHIP FARRAGUT and STAR TREK CONTINUES and is now offered to any Star Trek fan film that wants to use them by current owner RAY TESI, will be moving from Kingsland, GA about 180 miles south to Orlando, FL in late April. (Man, that was a long sentence!) Once relocated, the TOS sets will be repurposed into two sci-fi themed “Escape Room” attractions with video hints recorded by sci-fi celebrities, including NICHELLE NICHOLS, WALTER KOENIG, MARINA SIRTIS, and/or TIM RUSS.

The TOS sets will be divided into two scenarios with three rooms each plus a newly-created bridge control room where players will start their adventure. Customer participants will then experience an hour-long, immersive sci-fi “mission” with puzzles and mysteries to solve. This new business venture will be called GALACTIC ADVENTURES and is set to open on July 1, 2020.

Later on, joining the TOS sets from Kingsland will be the alien bar sets originally constructed in Los Angeles for STAR TREK: RENEGADES and later used for the crowd-funded independent sci-fi comedy COZMO’S from the ATOMIC NETWORK. At some point in the near future, those sets will form a third Escape Room scenario.

(You’re going “WTF” right now, aren’t you?)

To find out some specifics, I went to the source and asked Ray Tesi himself, who told me…

We will not be using the bridge in the escape and instead will keep it in pristine condition. We will be constructing a new bridge with a different look and feel for the escape. We’ll also be re-purposing some of the other sets for the escape and introducing some new sets that are remnants of other productions. Our Escape Room isn’t the Enterprise and instead will feature missions on a new starship (we are creating original stories) because we don’t want it to look like Star Trek.

I can understand why they’d want to change the look, as CBS might not appreciate an unlicensed Star Trek-themed Escape Room…even if the words “Star Trek” don’t appear anywhere.

But where does that leave Neutral Zone Studios and the many fan films that rely on it? Will fan productions still be able to film there? And even though the bridge won’t be a part of the Escape Room scenario, will the rest of the sets still look enough like TOS to be recognizable? Ray responded…

We want it to look like our own starship, but it can change back for fan films. The studio will remain available for fan film productions, and if and when that happens, we will close the Escape Room during filming. But we have a long way to go before any of that happens.

A long way indeed! But they’re off to an impressive start…

Continue reading “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS is becoming an ESCAPE ROOM???”

SQUADRON crowd-funder launches…CZECH IT OUT! (audio interview with JAKUB HOLÝ)

The Czechs are coming! The Czechs are coming! And do they have a treat for YOU!!!

SQUADRON will be the latest Star Trek fan film to come out of the Czech Republic, scheduled for release later on this year. And while you probably don’t speak Czech, if you’re willing to help fund their project, you won’t have to. Raising $15,000 will help them complete post-production on their already-filmed project, but reaching a stretch goal of $17,000 will allow them to bring on native English-speaking voice-over actors to dub the entire 2-part Squadron so you won’t have to read a single subtitle!

But why would you want to help crowd-fund a fan film being made in Eastern Europe? Let me give you a few excellent reasons…

  1. They have an amazing 360-degree, 24th-century bridge set.
  2. They have impeccably tailored uniforms and professional-quality props and make-up.
  3. They will be one of the only Star Trek fan films so far to feature a Vorta and Jem’Hadar during the Dominion War.
  4. They also have a really awesome-looking Vulcan and Andorian.
  5. Think of the conversations you could start with friends and family saying, “Yeah, I just helped fund a Star Trek fan film from the Czech Republic!” and then see who can find that country on a map (hint: southeast of Germany, southwest of Poland).

However, the best reason I can give you for donating to Squadron is the stunning quality of this “ask” video…

Now imagine a half-hour’s worth of this kind of quality! It’ll happen if YOU can help out a little…or a lot. Whatever you can spare will take these hardcore Czecher Trekkers a little bit closer to their goal. Just click on the link below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/squadron-a-star-trek-fan-production

They’re offering some intriguing perks at all levels (donate a large enough amount, and you’ll get hotel accommodations in Prague, a personal tour of their lovely city, and a visit to the studio with the bridge set…and photos, of course!). Naturally, they have their trailer online, and there’s also a whole bunch of very impressive photos showing their amazing sets, uniforms, make-up, and props…plus, they even have a really cool virtual 3D tour of their bridge. This is a top-notch crowd-funding campaign page, folks. Even if you can’t donate right now, it’s worth checking (or Czeching) out their Indiegogo campaign page just for all of the eye-catching visuals.

And if you’d like to hear some more about this exciting new production, take a listen to this FANtastic interview I did with the man behind the campaign, JAKUB “JIM” HOLÝ, and listen to his uncanny Czech/Irish accent…

Star Trek fan film TEARS OF J’KAH raises $49,183 on Indiegogo…from 13 DONORS!

When I first interviewed BENNY HALL about his first Star Trek TOS fan production, LET OLD WRINKLES COME, and discovered he had set a goal of $50K for his second fan project TEARS OF J’KAH, I was quite dubious. In fact, I figured he had a snowball’s chance on Venus of even getting close.

I realize that the fan film guidelines allow projects to publicly crowd-fund up to $50K, but since those guidelines were announced, no Trek fan film has been able to raise even half that much in a public campaign. (I don’t count AXANAR because that campaign is private, and I don’t count the Deep Space Nine documentary because that wasn’t a typical fan film following the guidelines.) Since the guidelines came out, only a small handful have successfully cracked $10,000, and the majority have set and reached only goals in the four-digit range.

And not only that, it seemed to me as though poor Benny was making a bunch of rookie mistakes with his Indiegogo campaign. He’d launched close to Christmas time when most people’s money is going into buying presents and traveling. His launch was done with little fanfare, and there were no updates or postings on Facebook groups reminding folks to please donate. Benny wasn’t doing interviews (except one with me), and most Trek fans probably had little to no idea this project was even actively crowd-funding!

I felt bad for Benny, and I tried to help him by listing him at the top of my CROWDFUNDING NOW page here on Fan Film Factor. But it turned out Benny knew something I didn’t know—or rather, someone…several someones, in fact. Benny is the CFO at a production company located in Burbank, and it seems he’s friends with some very generous people. I noted that his first donation was $5,000. Then another $5K donation came in…and another. Every week or two, after seeing the campaign stagnate for a while, I’d refresh the browser tab, and the total would suddenly be $5K higher. In the final week of the campaign, which closed on Sunday night, the last two donations were $10K each. I wanna have friends like that!

Anyway, my congratulations to Benny on bringing in nearly $50K from just 13 backers in two months. He spent $50K of his own money on his first fan project, so he’s certainly paid his dues. And I’m confident the folks who supported Benny were impressed when they saw Let Old Wrinkles Come that he would show such dedication to his dream and making it happen. And now we get to see another $50K fan film!


And as long as I have your attention, and since Benny doesn’t need any more money, there’s still two active crowd-funders that are very near their goals and could use your donations to get there (click either graphic to go to their campaign pages)…

CONSTAR CONTINUES (just $185 more gets them to their goal!)


STARSHIP INTREPID: “ECHOES” (just $802 gets them to their goal!)

AXANAR tops its $50K phase one crowd-funding goal…and announces phase two in MARCH!

For the fourth week in a row, I’ve got some AXANAR news that’s significant enough to warrant its own blog. And for anyone thinking, “Oh, you talk about Axanar all the time!”—my last Axanar blog prior to mid-January was three months earlier in mid-October.

Anyway, today’s new is actually VERY big, as it deals with Axanar‘s crowd-funding. As many of you are already aware, the legal settlement that ALEC PETERS signed with CBS and Paramount permitting him to produce and release Axanar as two 15-minute fan films does, in fact, allow him to crowd-fund them…and exceed the $50K guideline limit. But Alec isn’t permitted to use a public service like Kickstarter or Indiegogo; he must crowd-fund privately behind a firewall…which can be accessed at the following link:

https://aresdigital.axanar.com/

Alec also cannot publicly solicit donations (although others are allowed to), meaning that Axanar cannot take out advertisements or post the above link on social media, and Alec can’t ask for donations in YouTube videos or during interviews. It’s a challenging constraint, to be certain, but Alec has been diligent to abide by that requirement of the settlement agreement.

And indeed, even being limited to requesting donations only via e-mails to Axanar‘s existing donor list, it’s even more impressive that Alec and his team have been able to raise more than double what even the most successful post-guidelines Star Trek fan films have been able to generate even using public crowd-funding sites and being allowed to solicit donations on social media and elsewhere.

Last Thursday, the Axanar Phase One crowd-funding campaign finally crossed its $50K goal threshold, effectively paying for the first two of the four scheduled shoots—which happened in October and December of last year. The remaining two shoots, currently scheduled for March (previously February) at Ares Studios and April in Los Angeles, will complete all of the live-action scenes necessary to finish the two Axanar sequels. (A potential fifth shoot at a special Los Angeles location is still up in the air at the moment.)

The Ares Studio shoot is fairly minor, just some green screen interviews of Garth and his first officer Tanaka. But the April shoot is major, involving GARY GRAHAM as Soval plus a few other aliens and some humans (KATE VERNON?—no public confirmation on that yet). There will be some significant costs associated with that shoot, including green screen studio rental in L.A. plus prosthetics and make-up.

The estimated budget for these two shoots is around $30K (not yet finalized), and Alec will be launching a Phase Two campaign for that in March, along with debuting the first full Axanar trailer!

Continue reading “AXANAR tops its $50K phase one crowd-funding goal…and announces phase two in MARCH!”

Check out what the CZECHS are doing with SQUADRON!

Holy Eastern European Star Trek fan film blockbusters! Have you seen all of the early hype about SQUADRON yet??? If you haven’t, you will…I can assure you! And the main reason is a fellow named JAKUB HOLÝ from the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. Bordering Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia, the Czech Republic is about as big as the U.S. state of Louisiana. But what the country lacks in size, it more than makes up for in Star Trek fanaticism and ingenuity!

Jakub contacted me recently to see if I’d be willing to interview him prior to the launch of their new Indiegogo campaign later in February with a goal of about $15K (not sure what that is in Euros at the moment) to fund post-production on Squadron. Jakub had photos, videos, and even a press kit! So I took a look…

WOW!

Even though I don’t speak Czech, there were versions of everything in English, as well…

What I quickly discovered is that these guys have what could very well be one of the coolest-looking 24th century-era Star Trek fan films that we’ve seen yet. I’ll include some photos at the end of this blog, but a few things in particular stood out for me.

Continue reading “Check out what the CZECHS are doing with SQUADRON!”

PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)

I love PAUL JENKINS. I just do. Over the past few months, he has become one of my favorite people on the planet…and when you listen to my interview with him, I think you’ll understand why (or at least, I hope you will).

When it comes to AXANAR, it always seems to be ALEC PETERS this and ALEC PETERS that—here an Alec, there an Alec, everywhere an Alec, Alec. But as Alec himself would be the first to tell you, Axanar is a TEAM effort, and the team is made up of some very talented and dedicated individuals…and few more so than Axanar co-writer and director, Paul Jenkins.

When Alec first announced that Paul was joining the project back in 2017, replacing ROBERT MEYER BURNETT as director as well as helping to co-write the two-part, 30-minute fan film allowed by the settlement with CBS and Paramount, a number of fans were initially scratching their heads. And I’ll admit, I was one of them.

After all, I really only knew Paul from the days when I was reading twenty comic books a month, and his name was on many of them. Paul is widely considered as the person who helped save Marvel Comics from chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 1990s with the development of the Marvel Knights imprint. Later, he went on to write the ground-breaking Wolverine: Origin (which was later turned into a motion picture). In fact, Paul has worked for various comic book publishers—including DC, Mirage, and Tundra. He developed video games, too. So yeah, Paul can obviously write.

But could he direct?

It turns out, the answer is yes. In fact, Paul co-founded META Studios in Atlanta, has been directing for about 20 years, and was even asked in 2015 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to assemble and chair an advisory committee to educate the Georgia General Assembly on the evolution of digital and interactive technologies. So yep, Paul’s a pretty big deal…but you’d never know it by speaking with him. The man is as humble and soft-spoken as they come.

I learned this firsthand during the shoot for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Paul popped by Ares Studios on that Sunday to say hi and see how things were going. He stayed off to the side, just happily watching, and even volunteered to stand behind the turbolift and flick the console lights on and off during a torpedo “hit.” The guy who saved Marvel Comics was flicking lights on my fan film??? You bet!

Later, during a break, Paul chatted with me for a good 45 minutes, sharing some stories, some insights, and just shooting the breeze. He even hung out with Interlude directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN during some quiet moments when they weren’t both doing a thousand things. He was a true gentleman and a lot of fun to talk to.

So when I had the opportunity to chat with him some more and record the call, I jumped at the chance! Take a listen…

Continue reading “PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #4 – putting the post-production puzzle pieces in place!

A little more than a decade before his untimely death in 1997, John Denver trained with NASA and became a finalist for the first citizen’s trip to space in 1986. When asked why a singer/songwriter should be chosen to go to space, John Denver replied by asking who better to communicate the inspirational experience of spaceflight to the masses than someone used to putting sights, sounds, and feelings into words and music?

These “INTERLUDE Confidential” blogs I write are intended to do something similar. I realize that many of my readers will never produce or even work on a fan film. And most fan filmmakers are too busymaking fan films to blog about the experience in depth and try to communicate the nuances of all that they do.

So I want to give you folks a window into the process of creating a fan film from the point of view of someone who has never done this sort of thing before and is still blown away by the entire process. And today, I’d to talk about where Interlude stands right now.

There are three main phases to creating a film. Pre-production is planning everything: determining budgets, raising money, hiring (or in my case, begging for) actors and crew, setting up filming dates, getting costumes ready, and about a thousand other things from renting equipment to scheduling a caterer. The script is worked on and re-worked, the director(s) plan out a shot list…it’s like everything NASA does before a rocket is cleared for lift off.

Then production happens. This is when the various elements that will go into the film are actually produced. This can mean filming scenes or getting voice-overs or having your CGI friend create your visual effects. Every item that gets produced (filmed, recorded, rendered, etc.) becomes a piece of the overall puzzle that will become your final fan film.

Right now, Interlude is still in production. At the same time, we’re also in post-production. How is that possible?

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #4 – putting the post-production puzzle pieces in place!”

New PANELS and new CHANNELS for AXANAR!

The final two AXACON 2019 panels are now available on the AXANAR YouTube channel. One of the panels—“The Crew of the USS Ares” (the third of the four from December’s event)—actually went live last week along with the Producers panel, and I completely missed announcing it. D’oh!

The other is the fourth and final panel which features an interview with SALLY IHNAT (the widow of the late actor STEVE IHNAT who played Garth of Izar in “Whom Gods Destroy”) and LINDA ALEXANDER (who wrote a wonderful biography of Steve).

It’s hard to know which is the better panel. They’re both really worth watching. The “Crew” panel features five of the actors who play key roles in the Axanar sequels, all being interviewed by ALEC PETERS. We’ve heard from the “big” names many times, but now we get to heard from actors who haven’t been regulars or semi-regulars on major television series. And their perspective on discovering Axanar and its fans, putting on uniforms, and performing on the USS Ares bridge set are really interesting to listen to. They’re now part of the Axanar family, and soon our community will know their names (characters and actors)…

As for the second video, Steve Ihnat was an incredible actor. And if you’d like to learn more about his tragically too-short life, this is a very special panel to watch…

But wait, there’s even more Axa-news!

Up until this week, Axanar had one YouTube channel. Now it has two. The main Axanar Channel has more than 87K subscribers and features a mix of various Axanar-related content including clips, interviews, VFX, livestreams and the weekly Axanar Confidential and Axanar After Dark podcasts. But that was a LOT of content…and not all Axa-fans wanted to watch the hour-long podcasts to get all the Axanar news (and dog rescue updates) and just wanted their content more directly and succinctly. Other fans and supporters, however, love those longer chats and think of them like weekly gatherings of the whole extended family.

So Axanar just launched a second YouTube channel called Axanar Live! It’s brand new and only has about 200 subscribers as I write this, but it will soon be the home of Axanar Confidential, Axanar After Dark, and all the live-stream videos they create from places like the shoots at Ares Studios. Already, the first 11 episodes of Axanar After Dark have been transferred over.

This will leave the Axanar Channel for all the official Axanar updates and any created and edited video content. With an increasing amount of new footage scheduled to come out over the next few months, each channel should have a steady stream of fresh content.


And remember that the Axanar private crowd-funder is currently featuring a special dollar-for-dollar match of all donations. So donate $10 and it’s worth $20. Donate $50 and it’s worth $100.

If you haven’t donated yet (or recently), please consider logging in or setting up an account on Ares Digital and giving a little something…

https://aresdigital.axanar.com/

AXANAR donor offers DOLLAR-for-DOLLAR match of any donation to help reach the Phase One goal!

I know that ALEC PETERS cannot post anything publicly about AXANAR crowd-funding, but I can!

So here’s the BIG NEWS for today…

Axanar is now just $4,133 away from reaching its first crowd-funding goal (which was just lowered from $60K to $50K because $10K was actually bridge set construction, and that’s an Ares Studios asset and therefore can be crowd-funded separately and publicly).

BUT!!!

A top donor has promised a dollar-for-dollar match of any Axanar donations for a limited time. That means that Axanar is actually just $2,067 away from reaching the Phase One goal to cover the cost of the first two shoots.

So if you haven’t donated yet (or recently), NOW is the time to go to Ares Digital because every dollar you give is worth TWO dollars for a short time! Click on the link below to register/log-in to donate…

https://aresdigital.axanar.com/

The second panel from AXACON 2019 is now available for viewing!

Watch the opening act credits for any Next Gen, Ds9, Voyager, Enterprise, or Discovery episode…and what do you see? There’s a seemingly endless parade of producers: executive producers, co-producers, associate producers, line producers, supervising producers, consulting producers, co-executive producers, and just plain producers.

What’s the difference?

Most of us can probably guess that the executive producer is likely the one in charge. Gene Roddenberry was executive producer on TOS. Rick Berman was the executive producer on the later Paramount Trek series. But what about all of the rest of those titles? What do they mean? What do these various people do? And why do most television shows and movies need so many producers? Does your fan film need all of these different producers, too (assuming you have a fan film)?

As I mentioned last week when the first of the four panels from AXACON 2019 was released—the director’s panel—AXANAR offers fans, supporters, and fan filmmakers a unique perspective into the creation of a top-tier fan film. Sure, not every fan film is going to have the production value and scope of an Axanar, but there’s still much to be learned from this project…and ALEC PETERS and the folks on the Axanar production team are happy to explain.

Today’s “lesson” is from the second panel—the producers’ panel—and it features Director PAUL JENKINS interviewing four different producers on the project, each with a different title: Line Producer SCOTT CONLEY, Co-Producer CRYSSTAL HUBBARD, Associate Producer DALE SIMPSON, and Executive Producer Alec himself. What did all of these people do for the production? Why does Axanar even need four different producers? (Actually, there were more, but Producer CHRIS MILLS and a few other producers weren’t able to make it for the panel.)

Just like last week, I think that this is a MUST-SEE panel…whether or not you are an Axa-fan. This isn’t a self-congratulatory “why we all love Axanar so much” panel (none of them are, to be honest). Instead, it’s a very informative panel for the lay-person to understand the producer’s role…and why there are so gosh-darn many of them!

But before I present the producers’ panel video, and since I’ve spent my last couple of blogs talking about crowd-funding campaigns, let me include brief updates on both the Ares Studios and Axanar campaigns (two separate crowd-funders).

Continue reading “The second panel from AXACON 2019 is now available for viewing!”