CHAOS AT THE NEUTRAL ZONE…the most ADORABLE technobabble EVER! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

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)…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

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…

Continue reading “CHAOS AT THE NEUTRAL ZONE…the most ADORABLE technobabble EVER! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)”

The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 3: DUTY CALLS (interview with EMMA THORNE)

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…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

Continue reading “The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 3: DUTY CALLS (interview with EMMA THORNE)”

The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 2: THE ICARUS ENCOUNTER (interview with ALEXA BROWN)

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…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

Since the kick-off of Sam’s previous Indiegogo campaign a year and a half ago, he’s already released an impressive EIGHT Trek Shorts fan films:

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.

Continue reading “The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 2: THE ICARUS ENCOUNTER (interview with ALEXA BROWN)”

The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 1: THE THOLIAN GAMBIT (interview with NIMRAN SAUND)

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.

But perhaps even more notable than their obvious talent is the fact that Star Trek fan films don’t typically present women as the leads. There have certainly been plenty of female actors who appear in a wide range of Trek fan films, but seldom do they sit in the center seat and/or become the main/sole focus of the story. There are, of course, some notable exceptions, dating all the way back to Captain Elizabeth Shelby in STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER, Lexxa Singh in STAR TREK: RENEGADES, Captain Sian Gabriel of STARSHIP DEIMOS, Captain Castille of STAR TREK: DECEPTION II, Captain Kara Carpenter of STAR TREK: AURORA, three of the four captains of the Czech fan film SQUADRON and Captain Shelby of the Czech fan film MYSTERIOUS ODYSSEY, Ensign Williams of THE RED SHIRT DIARIES, the two PROJECT: RUNABOUT fan films, Commander Alisa Vandre of PACIFIC 201, Captain Keller in THE HOLY CORE, and Aaron Vanderkley’s main character in LINE OF DUTY plus his captain in BEYOND THE SUN and OUTBREAK.

(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…!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

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

Continue reading “The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 1: THE THOLIAN GAMBIT (interview with NIMRAN SAUND)”

TREK SHORTS releases THE BATTLE OF VELSAK 2 and launches new INDIEGOGO! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

CGI MasterChef SAMUEL COCKINGS has so much on his plate that he kinda needs an entire buffet table! If you watch Star Trek fan films, you probably see his awesome VFX work all over the place, most recently in the AVALON UNIVERSE, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION and PROJECT: RUNABOUT, TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE, the two most recent releases from AARON VANDERKLEY of Australia BEYOND THE SUN and OUTBREAK, SQUADRON from the Czech Republic, INTREPID from Scotland, and the amazing THE ROMULAN WAR, PART 1.

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 2 and 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…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

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…!

Continue reading “TREK SHORTS releases THE BATTLE OF VELSAK 2 and launches new INDIEGOGO! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)”

FARRAGUT FORWARD’s first full foray into frenetic fan filming looks PHENOMENAL (featuring a few final photos)!

If you’re anything like me, you just looked at the above image and asked, “Wait, is this a FAN film???” And yes, yes it is.

Earlier this year, the folks at FARRAGUT FORWARD, the sequel to the long-running and celebrated Star Trek fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT, held an Indiegogo crowd-funder that managed to raise $33K for their newest effort—a TOS movie-era story featuring impeccable monster maroon costumes and amazing interior sets!

Neither of the above should surprise fans familiar with the team behind this production. Led by JOHN BROUGHTON, many of these folks are the same people who designed and built most of the incredible TOS set reproductions still being used at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA. Others are brand new to the adventure of constructing Star Trek sets, but the one thing they have in common is that their work looks incredible…

And beyond those amazing sets, the costumes are uncanny in their accuracy. Not only will this production be featuring monster maroons, hand-crafted and tailored to each individual actor, but they’ve also recreated movie-era engineering radiation suits and some of the best cadet uniforms I have ever seen…and that includes the ones in Star Trek II! No, seriously. Take a look at actress DANA NORVILLE—quite possibly the first person from Barbados to ever appear in a Star Trek fan film—wearing her costume…

Dana Norville

In the case of one actor, JONATHON JAMES, only half a costume was needed, as Jonathon already had a very nice Anovos monster maroon. So John Broughton just sewed him up a pair of pants with the right striping, and another background extra was now properly dressed…

It was “take-your-daughter to the future day” for Jonathon James, who described the experience of being on set as “an absolute dream come true.”

Of course, none of those sets or costumes would have been possible without the money to pay for them, much of which was supplied by enthusiastic and supportive fans (like me!) through their Indiegogo. And although the campaign officially “ended” back in April of this year, because it reached and surpassed its goal, Farragut Forward gets to continue on as an “In Demand” status crowd-funder. And that means that fans can STILL donate, even now! Indeed, since April, an additional $1,500 has come in with even more possible. In fact, you can donate right now at the link below…

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

The biggest news so far happened over the weekend of October 8-9 when, after years of anticipation and months of pre-production, filming actually began! With all of these unbelievable movie-era sets fully assembled and actors wearing these intricate movie-era uniforms, the cameras began rolling in Frederick, Maryland, with results that looked like this…

Continue reading “FARRAGUT FORWARD’s first full foray into frenetic fan filming looks PHENOMENAL (featuring a few final photos)!”

Now there are TWO crowd-funding campaigns in “IN DEMAND” status: AVALON and FARRAGUT FORWARD!

For anyone who’s curious, the 2-month long crowd-funding campaign for the AVALON UNIVERSE’s ambitious new multiversal crossover fan film, CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS, finished up with $11,605. Since it surpassed its initial $8K goal (by 45%, in fact!), Indiegogo allows the the campaign to shift into “In Demand” status, meaning showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN can continue to crowd-fund beyond this past Monday’s deadline.

Oh course, if you’re talking AMBITIOUS fan films that are still crowd-funding using “In Demand” Indiegogos, you have to enthusiastically include FARRAGUT FORWARD from showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON and director JOHNNY K. They already released a short teaser trailer back in February that blew people’s socks off with the quality of the monster maroon uniforms, Klingon armor and make-up, and overall production quality. Take a look…

At the same time, they launched an Indiegogo to raise $30K intended to complete the full film, a sequel to their long-running STARSHIP FARRAGUT fan series. At the start of their campaign, I interviewed John and Johnny about the new project, which you can watch here…

Like Avalon, the Farragut Forward Indiegogo managed to surpass their goal, finishing at $33K on April 2 and shifting into “In Demand” status. And since then, they’ve managed to add 11 more backers and an extra $1.5K on top of their previous total. Johnny K. confirmed to me that the campaign is still very much active…

Our crowd-funder on Indiegogo is still open, and additional funds will give us even more options for Klingon sets, and maybe even a few surprises. So please keep the donations coming, and help spread the word that we’re still funding. Now is a perfect time to jump on board and help be a part of this project.

Here’s the link to donate:

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

Johnny continued…

There’s so much passion and genuine love for Star Trek, and we all know that we’re creating something special. You can just feel it. Dozens of very talented people are taking time away from their personal lives and families to bring this vision to life, and we’re incredibly grateful for that.

In the meantime, John Broughton continues to supervise the creation of the costumes, the construction of the sets and props, and a whole bunch of other pre-production tasks. And he’s been chronicling these efforts in a series of updates posted to their Indiegogo page. Speaking of sets, take a look at this…!

Impressed? Johnny K. sure is…

I was blown away when I saw the mocked-up sets for the first time. It just reinforces how massive this undertaking really is. From the sets, to the top-tier costumes, props, SFX and VFX, the time and energy poured into this production is unbelievable.

Filming kicks off on October 8, and we’ll be shooting off and on in several stages for many months and into next year. It’s a huge story to tell and we’re taking our time with it to make the best film we can possibly make.

AVALON Indiegogo surges past its $8K goal to $11.5K and announces stretch goal!

A friend is someone who will lend you his lawnmower. But a GOOD friend is someone who will lend you his 18,000 donor e-mailing list!

Early this past Wednesday morning, ALEC PETERS sent out an e-mail request to all previous Axanar donors to please help JOSHUA IRWIN and TEAM AVALON raise the last 20% of their $8K goal to fund their ambitious multiversal crossover fan film CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS that’s scheduled to go into production early next year. Within a few hours, the Avalon Indiegogo had crossed the $8K level thanks to about ten new donors, including one $1,500 executive producer package donor (who has asked to remain anonymous). And then yesterday, another executive producer-level donation came in, bringing the total number of highest-tier supporters to FOUR and a staggering $6K donated just from them!

There’s also been a $1,000 donation for a producer level (they get to do a voice-over of background bridge chatter in the episode), as well as a $700 associate producer donation…all since Wednesday’s e-mail blast. So never underestimate the value of e-mailing potential donors, folks!

As it happens, the e-mail blast couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Avalon campaign had essentially slowed to a trickle over the previous week or so, and some of Josh’s plans to promote the campaign had failed to materialize…including a series of Avalon videos that were supposed to post on the 115K-subscriber Lore Reloaded YouTube channel, as well as an interview with Star Trek podcaster LARRY NEMECEK.

But now that the campaign has surpassed its $8K goal, it is now eligible to enter Indiegogo’s “In Demand” status, meaning this specific crowd0funder can remain active beyond its original deadline. Other fan film campaigns have also gone into “In Demand” status, including THE ROMULAN WAR, which managed to get a couple thousand dollars extra after the initial deadline of the campaign.

For this reason, Josh has announced his intention to set a stretch goal at $14,000. He hasn’t yet revealed what the perk will be—only that it will be a downloadable digital file that every backer will be able to access. He also mentioned that that last sentence contains a hidden clue to what the perk will be.

Josh explained where the extra money would be going…

Continue reading “AVALON Indiegogo surges past its $8K goal to $11.5K and announces stretch goal!”

Big donations take the AVALON UNIVERSE Indiegogo from STALLED to STELLAR!

For the past two weeks, the Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS from THE AVALON UNIVERSE was going nowhere fast. Prior to that, there’s had been doing well for the first four weeks, with donations nearing the halfway point to their $8,000 goal. But then Star Trek Last Vegas and DragonCon began to suck up all the oxygen in the fan community for two consecutive weeks, and it was hard to generate enough attention in all of the excitement to promote a fan film crowd-funding campaign.

But the timing worked out well in the end, as the middle weeks of any crowd-funder are typically the slowest, and over the past several days, a healthy influx of new donations has brought Team Avalon up to $6,430—only 20% short of their goal—with two weeks left.

Most of that recent jump came from two mega-donors, one of them choosing a $1,000 Producer-level package (which includes an optional voice-over as background “bridge chatter” in the final film), and the other selecting a $1,500 Executive Producer donation, qualifying that supporter for a walk-on role. Since showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN already made the announcement on Facebook, I can likewise reveal that Executive Producer to be none other than RAY MYERS, who was also my top donor on INTERLUDE and appeared on camera as the first officer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis. In Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs, Ray will be playing the character of Captain Jennings of the Excalibur. The only question is: WHICH Excalibur?

Soon-to-be Executive Producer for AVALON, this is RAY MYERS on the set of INTERLUDE.

While online promotion for the campaign slowed for a couple of weeks, it will kick back into high gear for the duration of the Indiegogo, which will continue through September 26. Josh is preparing for a special partnership with the Star Trek-themed Lore Reloaded YouTube channel, which has 115K subscribers and will be posting some new Avalon content over the coming weeks.

Josh is also working to set up a podcast interview with a widely-viewed prominent member of the professional Star Trek fan community. (Is there such a thing as a “professional Star Trek fan”? Yes, as a matter of fact, there is! Assuming it happens, I’ll share the name in an upcoming blog.)

And finally, Josh informs me that he is planning to purchase a YouTube boost for his “ask” video, which has been very effective in generating donations (including his first Executive Producer $1,500 package from a first-time contributor). The boost is supposed to provide an additional 7,500 views of the video. Even if only a tiny fraction of those people decide to donate, it should easily cost of the cost of the boost. Here’s the “ask” video if you’d like to see it…

And of course, if you’re able to donate, that’s just peachy-keen, too! The Indiegogo link is below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/crisis-on-infinite-excaliburs-a-star-trek-fan-film#

As always, I’ll keep you all posted on how the campaign is doing as it reaches its finale.

Coming up with PERK IDEAS for the AVALON UNIVERSE crowd-funder…

To perk or not to perk?

Crowd-funder perks are a great motivator for donations, but they come with a few drawbacks. First of all, physical perks that cost money to produce and ship can nibble away (or even gobble away) significant chunks of what you raise. And of course, keeping track of who ordered what, tracking down correct mailing addresses, boxing and shipping, and dealing with undelivered merchandise can be a royal pain in the butt.

Going perkless isn’t necessarily a donation-killer. INTERLUDE‘s GoFundMe offered no perks and took in $25K. And last year, AVALON UNIVERSE‘s GoFundMe likewise offered no perks and raised more than $13K. That money has gone into producing four new fan films: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, the just-released THE NEEDS OF THE ONE, and the upcoming KNIGHTS OF THE VOID and THE TRUTH WITHIN.

And so, when Avalon showrunner JOSH IRWIN asked me for advice about his new crowd-funding campaign for next year’s ambitious CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS multiverse crossover fan film, the first question we needed to answer was “To perk or not to perk?”

After weighing the pros and cons, Josh decided to perk…which meant switching over from GoFundMe to Indiegogo, since the former doesn’t allow for perks. You can watch the ask video below (it’s quite good!)…

With just about 5 weeks left, the Indiegogo is doing pretty well at $$3,620, or about 45% of the $8K goal. And of course, I encourage anyone who can afford a few bucks to support this project by clicking the link below because Team Avalon produces some really top quality Star Trek fan productions, and there’s some very nice perks…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/crisis-on-infinite-excaliburs-a-star-trek-fan-film

Today’s blog is going to discuss those perks and how Josh and I came up with them—as some of them might inspire other fan filmmakers with ideas for their own perks. Let’s dive in…

Continue reading “Coming up with PERK IDEAS for the AVALON UNIVERSE crowd-funder…”