In Part 1, I began chatting with RAY TESI, the owner of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA, home of a complete collection of TOS sets that are used by countless fan films and series. Ray recently completed a 30-day Indiegogo campaign that took in a remarkable $19,617 from 218 donors. But it still fell well short of its $36,000 goal.
It’s possible that some of that shortfall was due to a series of scandalous rumors and attacks on social media which seemingly came out of nowhere days after the crowd-funding campaign was launched. It’ not entirely clear what set these people off or what their game plan was, other than what is colloquially known as MANUFACTURED OUTRAGE. But for nearly a month, it seemed their goal was to sabotage this Indiegogo campaign, and through depriving Neutral Zone Studios of much-needed fan donations, to potentially force the closure of this incredible fan film resource, possibly forever.
Normally, I’d include links to the comments themselves or even just a screen cap or two, but these posts were so ridiculous that I’d rather not give them any coverage at all. Instead, I’m going to let Ray speak about what can only be called baseless and unfounded attacks by total strangers agains him and his studio as we conclude our two-part interview…
There are certain people in the fan film community whom I call the NICEST people. Not only are they warm and friendly, but they are generous, willing to help others, and enthusiastically support the filmmakers who work so hard to create these Star Trek fan films that we all love so much.
Perched at the top of the “NICE” list is RAY TESI, who purchased the TOS sets in Kingsland, GA that were used for both STARSHIP FARRAGUT and later STAR TREK CONTINUES in 2018 from previous owner VIC MIGNOGNA. This was no small thing! The purchase price was reportedly well into the five-figure range, and the monthly rent for the building housing those sets is $3,000! But since Vic wasn’t able to keep paying to store unused sets for a fan series that had wrapped production, the alternative would have been seeing those incredible TOS sets tossed into the dumpster by the landlord.
Ray couldn’t bear to have that happen, and so this resident of Boca Raton, FL dipped into his retirement savings to not only buy the sets but also take on the responsibility for $36,000/year in rent…for what has been half a decade so far!
Over the years, Ray has received financial support from fans through a Patreon campaign with hundreds of monthly contributors…with Ray making up the difference out of his pocket. As a gesture of thanks, Ray hosts Fan Appreciation Weekends during the cooler months of the year (September-May) where he opens the sets up to the general public. This has been going on almost as long as Ray has owned the sets.
Last month, Ray kicked off a 30-day Indiegogo campaign with a $36,000 goal…an eyebrow-raising number! But as of last week, Ray was able to reach a total of just short of $20,000! Today in part 1 of an interview with Ray, I’m going to ask where that money will be spent and if fans should be concerned that the crowd-funder still fell 45% short of its goal.
Then in part 2, I’m going to ask him about some rather outlandish rumors that began to circulate while the campaign was going on. Spread by people on the opposite side of the spectrum from “nice,” it almost seemed like they were trying to sabotage Ray’s crowd-funder and shut down Neutral Zone Studios. I know…crazy, right? I mean, who would do something like that? It’d be like firebombing Santa’s workshop just before Christmas!
You’d think $37,745 would be enough money to make a single Star Trek fan film, right? And in most cases, you’d be 100% correct. But when it comes to FARRAGUT FORWARD, well, there’s Star Trek fan films and then there’s BLOW-YOUR-FRIGGIN’-MIND Star Trek fan films!!! And Farragut Forward certainly falls into the latter category.
With one shoot still to go scheduled for this fall, the team just wrapped filming on one of the most ambitious bridge sets ever constructed for a Star Trek fan film. This followed other major shoots in starship corridors, sickbay, and a Klingon bird-of-prey…each with equally amazing sets and costumes of the highest caliber. Beyond just impeccable monster maroons and Klingon outfits, they also recreated the most detailed cadet jumpsuits, command jackets, white medical uniforms, and even the engineering radiation suits from the 80s and 90s Star Trek feature films!
Back in February of 2022, showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON and director JOHNNY K. launched an Indiegogo campaign with a goal of $30K. They ultimately exceeded that goal, meaning the campaign shifted to “InDemand” status and could continue raising donations indefinitely. And since then, they’ve added a few thousand dollars more. But they’re currently trying to take their total up to the $50K level…the maximum allowed by the fan film guidelines.
With all of the sets built, costumes created, and 80% of the footage shot, why are they looking for even MORE money now? The short answer is that they’ve spent way more of their own money than they ever expected to…well into the many thousands of dollars. And it shows! Don’t worry, if they don’t hit their $50K stretch goal, Farragut Forward will still be completed and released. But with this kind of quality, I’m hopeful that fans can help pitch in just a little bit more to ease the burden on the Farragut Films team’s wallets.
If you’d like to donate (or donate again), here is the link:
Oh, man! Things are looking SO amazing for the upcoming movie-era Star Trek fan film FARRAGUT FORWARD, from showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON and director JOHNNY K. Before the launch of their Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign last year, they wowed fans with this awesome trailer for a sequel to the long-running and beloved fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT…
That campaign managed to take in more than $33K in donations as of last April, and since it exceeded its original stated goal of $30K, the campaign qualified for InDemand status, meaning that more donations could be collected. And so you can still donate a few bucks (or more) yourself by clicking here:
In the ten months since the campaign went into InDemand status, Farragut Forward pulled in an additional $2,810 dollars, bringing the total to nearly $36K! But John and Johnny want to push that number all the way up to $50K, the maximum limit set by the fan film guidelines.
Can they do it?
Well, once thing that will certainly help them is the following behind-the-scenes video that they just released showing some of the jaw-dropping progress they’ve made so far. Take a look…
Now are you ready to donate (possibly donate again)? If so, here’s that link just in case you missed it…
Oh, wait, you probably want to know what all of this extra money is going to pay for, right? After all, they already raised so much. Why do they need even more?
Conveniently for you, I asked Johnny K. that same question! And this was his answer…
All additional money raised will continue to go to things like set construction, making what’s already high-quality even better, and allowing for additional sets/rooms that we’d like to include in our story. It will also help cover travel and logistics costs for our climactic third act, which will be BIG!
In addition to the above video scenes in the corridors and sickbay of the USS Farragut, they’ve also completed filming the brig and lab scenes on board the Klingon bird-of-prey. Here are some screen grabs that were shared on social media showing the quality of those sets and costumes…
Three shoots remain in order to complete principal photography later this year, and one of them will be on the BRIDGE, which is still under construction. The available budget will determine how much of that bridge can be built. Obviously, I ‘d love to see a full 360-degree bridge—or as close to that as possible!—so I just dropped another twenty bucks into the hat.
If you want to do likewise, well, let’s bring that Indiegogo link back for another encore, shall we…?
And as always, even if you can’t afford to support a fan film crowd-funding campaign yourself, word-of-mouth is a priceless gift you can give to spread the Indiegogo hyperlink and the video(s). As you can see, even Captain Marko Ramius of the Red October is promoting this campaign…
It’s the first crowd-funder for 2023, and it comes from RANDY LANDERS and the various creative teams of POTEMKIN PICTURES, based primarily in Lexington, Kentucky with a creative team also located in Alabama (both groups are shooting fan films this weekend, by the way). But unlike most crowd-funding campaigns that utilize a service like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe, Potemkin is going a different route. They’re simply asking for PayPal donations to be sent directly to [email protected]…no middle man.
While there’s no official perks, Randy has offered the following: “Donors can request a perk of their own choice, and we will do our best to accommodate them, if reasonable.” So no asking for their full-size shuttlecraft model…
But if you’d like one of their tunics or to do a voice-over for one of their films, hey, it couldn’t hurt to ask!
There isn’t any specific goal for this campaign, nor is there a tracker available to the public to check the totals. But as of right now, they’ve collected $1,160 from 15 different donors (including me). “Last year, we had $1420.87 last year.” says Randy. “We would like to pull in between $1300 and $2600 this year to fund all 13 planned films, including new tunic sweaters for STARSHIP DEIMOS and STARSHIP WEBSTER, and a few location shoots that require usage fees.” That’s actually not too bad, all things considered, as it averages to barely $100-$200 per fan film.
But the bulk of the funds raised (more than 75% of donations) goes for lumber, paint, and hardware for the construction, maintenance, and improvements for their sets. Take a look at what they already have…
And of course, there’s also props, wigs, make-up, and other miscellany…
What makes Potemkin Pictures special—in addition to its longevity (having been producing fan films continuously for over a dozen years!)—is how many opportunities it offers fans to participate in the production of completed Star Trek fan films. Over its lifetime, Potemkin Pictures has birthed a dozen different creative groups who have released 108 individual Star Trek fan films! (You can access them all from this page on their website.) Six of those creative groups are still active, releasing on average a combined ten or more new fan films each year. That’s a staggering amount of chances for a fan to work either in front of or behind the camera and have a lot of fun.
But even at an ultra-low budget level, fan films still cost money, and your support can make a BIG difference, even if it’s just a tiny bit. This year’s campaign ends on January 31, so you’ve got less than 10 days left to donate. And once again, contributions can be made directly via PayPal using the account [email protected].
First off, you’ve still got about 24 hours left to donate to the TREK SHORTS Indiegogo! While the amount raised is still well short of its original $37K goal (or the equivalent in pounds, as Lord SAMUEL of COCKINGS lives in the U.K.), the campaign has seen a surge in the last week, doubling the level it was at when I published my previous blog about the new release DUTY CALLS.
So if you haven’t had a chance to donate yet, give the link below a click and toss a few shillin’s inta the ol’ collection hat, guv’nor (’tis Christmastime, after all, Mr. Scrooge)…
And speaking of my last Trek Shorts blog, it spotlighted the adorable newcomer to Trek fan films EMMA THORNE, who plays the even more adorable Ensign Laura Reed. And if you thought they both couldn’t get any more adorable, then you need to watch the latest Trek Shorts release, CHAOS AT THE NEUTRAL ZONE…
This is the second Trek Shorts “Memory Alpha Documentary” style release, the first one being THE BATTLE OF VELSAK 2, released back in October at the beginning of the current crowd-funding campaign. That one featured a monologue by NICK COOK recounting the battle from the perspective of Daniel Hunter of the U.S.S. Intrepid. Nick’s a strong actor and a fantastic guy…but he’s not nearly as adorable as Emma!
Now, one of the LEAST adorable things in Star Trek is what is affectionately known as “technobabble” by both fans and the writers. Star Trek: Voyager was full of it, but so, too, were TNG, DS9, and most of the rest of the Trek series. Actors dreaded having to deliver those tongue-twisting lines where the ship had to generate an inverse polyphasic neutrino burst through the starboard emitter array without blowing the EPS conduits and imploding the duonetic phase inducers on the aft side of the secondary hull.
But Emma somehow manages to to take those long lines of sciency-whiency gibberish and make them oh-so endearingly cute and lovable. I asked Sam Cockings about that and other aspects of this campaign-closing fan film release in the following mini-interview…
In the last of my triptych of interviews with the female actors who have been playing leading roles in recent releases of TREK SHORTS from VFX Minister SAMUEL COCKINGS, I turn the spotlight on newcomer-to-fan-films EMMA THORNE. (The previous two interviews were with NIMRAN SAUND and ALEXA BROWN.)
Now, Emma might be a newcomer to Star Trek fan films, but she is certainly NOT a newcomer to YouTube! In fact, Emma has spent the last six years building a following of more than 112K subscribers to her YouTube Channel, having posted in excess of 200 separate videos (most of them of quite decent duration)!
Sam noticed Emma on one of his many long stretches of editing his films when YouTube videos playing on the second monitor can keep him company. He liked her vibe and noticed her geeky props in the background, and he’d been wanting to expand the cast of regular actors/character in Trek Shorts. So he took a chance and messaged her on Instagram.
“She saw my rather detailed first message,” says Sam, “and because she has experience working in the VFX field, realised the quality of the shots I was sending. This wasn’t as amateur as the ‘Star Trek Fan Film’ name suggests. We had a wonderful Skype chat, and she was clearly curious but still a bit, ‘What is all of this?’ Now I’m thrilled to say we have shot on multiple days with multiple cast, and we’ve become good friends.”
The first Trek Short to feature Emma, DUTY CALLS, made its debut on YouTube at the end of September, and has already logged upwards of 42K views. Take a look…
According to Sam, “The reaction to her prologue short has been TREMENDIOUS! The You Tube algorithm rarely favours fan films, but when it does…amazing! We’ve had a ton of comments asking for her to do more, and I know Emma is pleased with this reaction because we have done more, and she didn’t know what the reaction would be—ha!”
By the way, before I forget! Sam’s crowd-funding campaign for Trek Shorts is struggling with about a week and a half left. It’s only about 15% of the way to its ambitious $35K goal, but with Indiegogo, you get to keep whatever donations you raise regardless, which is currently very close to $6K, which is still decent money!
But every little bit WILL help. So if you can afford to give even a little bit, it’ll go directly toward making some impressive Star Trek fan films…
Last week, I presented the first of what will be three consecutive interviews with the very impressive female actors who have played (and will continue to play) leading roles in the TREK SHORTS fan series. British Czar of CGI SAMUEL COCKINGS has created an ever-expanding buffet of eye-popping Star Trek fan films compositing performers acting in front of green screens with ultra-detailed and realistic-looking digital backgrounds recreating starship interiors from the 23rd through the 25th centuries of Starfleet history. Then he combines these live-action scenes with uncanny VFX shots to bring to life character-based stories in ways that few fan filmmakers can.
Before I go any further, this is a good time to remind readers that Sam is currently trying to raise $35,000 to make even more Trek Shorts. There’s less than a month left, so don’t wait to make a donation…
And more will be completed and released soon, with several others waiting to be crowd-funded.
I covered The Tholian Gambit last week along with an interview with lead actress NIMRAN SAUND, who has appeared in no less than five of Sam’s films (see last week’s interview for links). This week, I turn our attention to another skilled thespian, the talented ALEXA BROWN, who reprises her role of Captain Joan Keller of the U.S.S. Vigilance for the first time in a Trek Short entitled The Icarus Incident.
Wait a second! Did I just says “reprises her role for the first time”? Yes, for the first time in a Trek Short. You might recognize Alexa’s character of Captain Keller from another excellent fan film from filmmaker GARY O’BRIEN (also of Great Britain), THE HOLY CORE, originally released in mid-2019. Sam brought in Alexa to play the same role in a Trek Short that was released back in August of this year, which you can watch below…
Pretty good, huh?
Alexa’s character is actually replacing the role of Captain Alexander Richardson, played by Dutch actor and showrunner of STAR TREK: DARK ARMADA, ROBIN HIERT. Robin was supposed to appear in the mega-fan film crossover project, CONVERGENCE, which Sam had crowd-funded back in late 2018 and was delayed due to the multiple COVID lockdowns in Europe. “Robin was set to join us for our June shoot as late as January 2022,” explains Sam. “However, in February, Robin’s real life took over, and we didn’t hear from him for a long while. At that point, he left the project, but we had still set a June Convergence shoot, as we were long overdue.” And that’s when Sam reached out to Alexa Brown.
Even though the awesome fan film THE THOLIAN GAMBIT from the British Minister of Visual Effects, SAMUEL COCKINGS, came out nearly six months ago, I’ve been saving it in my back pocket in order to combine today’s interview into a series of three interviews, each with one of what I was originally going to collectively call “Sam’s Women.” Instead, I’ve decided to use the monicker “The Women of TREK SHORTS.” Either way, the three actresses have all proven themselves to be very impressive performers, certainly some of the highest caliber among Star Trek fan films.
(And yeah, I might be missing a few female fan film leads, but trust me, that list is waaaaay shorter than the list of male captains and lead actors…kinda like Star Trek itself, to be honest.)
So let’s give Sam Cockings credit for casting three very talented female actors as leads and captains in his various fan films, including his recent parade of Trek Shorts releases. Speaking of which(!), just a friendly reminder that Sam is trying to raise $35,000 for a series of even MORE awesome Trek Shorts (plus the final release of CONVERGENCE), and he’s 11% of the way there as I type this. I encourage everyone reading this to click on the link below and donate at least a little something. There’s some very nice perks, but mainly, Sam and this team just make incredible fan films, and we’d really like to see more…!
Today’s Part 1 blog turns the spotlight on NIMRAN SAUND, or “Nim” for short. Her first Trek fan film dates back to 2013 when she filmed scenes for Sam’s excellent TEMPORAL ANOMALY, which was eventually released in 2019. Since then, she’s reprised her character of Keeley (or rather, Keeley’s 24th century descendent) in A LONG WAY FROM HOME, ONE SMALL STEP, and a cameo in the INTREPID episode “PURSUIT OF A DREAM.” And most recently, Lt. Anna Keeley got a promotion to Captain in one of the first Picard season two fan films, The Tholian Gambit…
Even now, Sam is busy in the U.K. working on or preparing to work on VFX for the upcoming FARRAGUT FORWARD plus new releases from the Avalon Universe, Tales from the Neural Zone, Dreadnought Dominion and Project: Runabout, Aaron Vanderkley’s next Voyager-era fan film RESISTANCE, plus The Romulan War Part 2and an under-the-radar TNG-era fandemic film from the U.S.
Tell me that isn’t a LOT of work!
Oh, I completely forgot to mention: Sam ALSO has a fan series of his own called TREK SHORTS!
Talk about WORK! Sam has released SEVEN films in the Trek Shorts series so far:
The final one has just premiered, starring NICK COOK (of Intrepid), who does an amazing acting job! It’s Trek Shorts first exploration of the mock documentary format—along with being a VFX feast for the eyes, as you can see below…
Just FYI, The Tholian Gambit, The Icarus Incident, and Duty Calls will be featured in a three-part blog series over the coming weeks as I interview the stars of those fan films one at a time.
Another Trek Shorts film (possibly two) will be released soon in support of Sam’s new Indiegogo crowd-funder, trying to reach an VERY ambitious goal of $35K. You can donate something yourself by clicking the following link…
Interestingly, Sam did another campaign for Trek Shorts a year and a half ago, raising $11K to fund five fan films—and yet, none of those were among the seven that were already released! I’ll be asking Sam about that shortly. Note that a sixth Trek Shorts film debuted during the campaign, the aforementioned A Long Way from Home, but it was billed as a “bonus” release, as were the other films listed above.
Also interestingly, Sam is still working on his five-way crossover fan film CONVERGENCE, which raised more than $7K in an Indiegogo waaaaay back in late 2018…before COVID interrupted the production. I’ll also be asking Sam about that shortly.
Actually, why wait? Let’s bring in Señor Cockings and fire a bunch of questions directly at him…!