DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s latest release: “THE HEIST”

Last week on Halloween day, two brand new Star Trek fan films debuted on YouTube. I haven’t had a chance yet to cover either because I was overseeing a Halloween carnival at my son’s school last Thursday and then flying to Georgia over the weekend to make a fan film. But during this past week, one of those two fan films, the Avalon Universe episode DEMONS (Segment One) has already attracted over 26K views on YouTube as I write this. (And Segment Two has over a thousand views in just seven hours.)

The other Halloween release last week was the latest episode of the long-running DREADNOUGHT DOMINION: “The Heist.” Since debuting, the Youtube view count for this fan film is currently a whopping…356. And that, my friends, is the main reason why I am covering Dominion first here on Fan Film Factor…well, that and the fact that I still need to interview the Demons directors—who are also MY fan film’s directors—and they are both VERY sleep deprived from an incredible weekend of fan filming along with two 12-hour one-way drives between Arkansas and Georgia!

There’s really no direct comparison between these two productions beyond the fact that some of the flashbacks in Demons were filmed at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA…which is also where Dominion films. (Avalon now shoots at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas.) But in terms of acting, lighting, sound, and a slew of other technical elements, Demons is clearly the superior production. However, if that is the only reason you’re watching Star Trek fan films, you’re missing a big part of what this community is all about!

Both of these projects have HEART. In fact, Dreadnought Dominion is one of those fan series that, I believe, epitomizes the very core of what makes fan films so special: FANS. They don’t do this necessarily to dazzle you with their acting or filmmaking prowess. They’re not looking to win awards or get millions of views on Youtube. Folks like Dreadnought Dominion, Potemkin Pictures, VANCE MAJOR’s Minard and Constar Chronicles—plus a host of others—do this because it’s an itch they have to scratch. They want to tell their Star Trek stories, and they want to have fun along the way. They’re not afraid or embarrassed to put themselves out there for all to see…nor should they be!

So I ask you all who are reading this blog today to give this latest episode of Dominion a watch. Let’s up their view count a bit. Fans with heart, who love Star Trek just as much as you do, deserve our support and encouragement. Then, after you watch, take a minute or two to read the following short interview with show-runner GARY DAVIS further down this blog page…

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The TWO missions of the INTERLUDE fan project…

We all know the primary mission of the USS Enterprise: to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man/one has gone before.

But if you think about it, any decent science vessel could do that job just as easily. The Enterprise was different, though. While its primary mission was one of exploration and discovery, the crew had many, many more responsibilities: peacekeeper, diplomacy, war ship, search and rescue, medical transport, resupply, and even (in a couple of cases) espionage.

The starship Enterprise carried out many kinds of missions, and in the same way, so will my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Unquestionably, the primary mission (aside from having fun…always a must for fan productions!) is to make a slick, kick-ass fan film for you all to enjoy. But like our favorite TOS and TNG starship, Interlude had some additional tasks to accomplish…among them showing how Ares Studios is a viable resource for other fan films beyond just AXANAR (Vance Major gets his chance in a few more months) and demonstrating that it’s still possible to crowd-fund a Star Trek fan film into the five-figure range even post-guidelines…while dutifully following those guidelines.

But there’s one other mission for Interlude which, to me at least, is the most important: I did it for the blog.

More specifically, I did it for the majority of my readers who might never have an actual opportunity to walk onto a fan film set or be a show-runner. Perhaps a few of you want to be an executive producer or director yourself someday. Or maybe you just want to get a ringside seat on all the action.

Either way, I’ve done (and will continue to do) something with Interlude that I’m pretty sure has never been done before with any other fan film. I’m documenting nearly everything that’s gone into making it—from budgeting to building the team to all of the strategies I’ve used to crowd-fund to pre-production design to casting and costuming details. (No Land’s End shirts!) Thanks to these many blogs, my readers are getting to “look over my shoulder” at nearly every detail…assuming they’re interested in such things. To me, that’s actually one of the most exciting aspects of this whole process: not only do I get to watch and be a part of it all, but I can SHARE the experience with all of you!

And this past weekend’s shoot was no exception.

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‘Twas the night before INTERLUDE shoots…

So far, so good. Although my directors are still on the road as I write this, they’re within a state or two of getting here. The weather this weekend will be awesome (30-40 degrees less than it was for Axanar four weeks ago); we’ll be in the 58-60 degree range with no rain in sight.

The studio is ready, the Assistant Director has the call sheets. The costumes are ready (thanks to the amazing work of KAREN SHUEY and her son STEPHEN). Alec’s house is full, including myself, TREY McELWAIN, and his wife NICOLE as guests. Others are in nearby hotels or will be driving to Lawrenceville in the next day or two.

And tonight, we gathered at Alec’s for the weekly Axanar Confidential livecast focused on INTERLUDE. I invited anyone who wanted to be on camera to take part, and we had a BLAST! There’s not much time (or energy left in my body) right now to blog—or probably for the rest of the weekend—so have fun watching the gang (or at least six of us) talk about everything that’s been going on…

TEAM INTERLUDE expands – we film THIS SATURDAY!!! (part 1)

Holy temporal distortion!

Back when I started the GoFundMe for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE back in early June, it felt like November 2-3 was a million months away. Now I’ll be getting on a plane for Atlanta this Friday, and I’m feeling a dozen different emotions all at once: excitement, anticipation, dread, abject terror…it runs the gamut, folks!

Y’see, I watched all of those livecasts from the first AXANAR shoot four weeks ago, saw all of those moving parts—the 80-plus volunteers, the costumes, the sound and computer-monitoring equipment, the lights, the cameras, the action, the caterers—and I got totally overwhelmed. That’s a tough act to follow!

Granted, Interlude isn’t nearly that big of a shoot—we’re expecting about 30 people a day, not 80-plus. But make no mistake: there are still a LOT of moving parts to my project, too…and I’m smack in the middle of most of them!

I naively thought that, after the crowd-funder reached its $19.5K goal, that I’d just be able to slide into the proverbial back seat and let my Directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN do the driving the rest of the way. Oh, sure, as Executive Producer, I’d pay the bills for things like patches, plaques, equipment rental, wardrobe, travel expenses, catering, etc. And I’d be supervising my friend LEWIS ANDERSON on the CGI effects. But aside from that and showing up at the shoot, running a few errands, and taking lots of photos and videos for the blog, I figured that I was essentially done.

Boy, was I wrong!

You might have noticed a slowdown in my blog coverage of fan films over the past several weeks. This is mainly because I’ve been doing a boatload of work on Interlude! This doesn’t mean that Victoria and Josh have’t been working their butts off, too. But they haven’t let me sneak into the back seat yet. I am still VERY much in the thick of things!

If you’re a fan filmmaker or, more precisely, are thinking of becoming one, then this blog is for you. I’d like to share my journey, my “trek,” with folks who might be curious to see all of the things a complete novice like me is doing and learning along the way…

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TEAM INTERLUDE expands – we film THIS SATURDAY!!! (part 2)

As I mentioned in Part 1, these two blogs are intended primarily for those folks interested in fan filmmaking, whether they’re already making fan films or if they’re thinking of taking the plunge for the first time…as I’m doing right now.

Granted, fan films range from super-cheap where there’s only a handful of people (or even as few as two or one) to the super-large productions like STAR TREK CONTINUES and AXANAR where 50 to 100 people might end up being a part of the production. If I had to place our INTERLUDE project on this sliding scale from, let’s call it, one to ten, I’d say we’re a solid seven.

So this blog might not apply directly to every fan project. But if you’re smaller, it might help with a step up to a more ambitious level. And if you’re bigger, then you’d probably just be amused at all the stuff the “newbie” is going through. I’ll simply say that I wish I’d been able to read a blog like this before I started tackling Interlude!

Okay, let’s get back to discussing our rapidly-expanding team who will all be descending on Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA this coming weekend. (EEEEP!)

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AXANAR debuts its first TEASER-TRAILER!

It’s been less than two weeks since the first shoot for AXANAR wrapped, and ALEC PETERS just released the first teaser-trailer for what will be called THE GATHERING STORM. PRELUDE TO AXANAR was episode III of “The “Four Year War” multi-part documentary series from the 23rd century. The first two episodes will need to remain left up to fans’ imagination. But the two Axanar sequels will be episodes IV and V, completing the series. It has not yet been revealed what the title of the final episode will be.

The 1-minute YouTube video quickly went viral, with thousands of views in the first hour alone. You can check it out below…

Prior to the release of the above video, nearly 1,400 Axanar supporters gathered for a live premiere party at 9:00pm Eastern time. Then they waited about 5 minutes while Alec dealt with a technical glitch. But once the clip debuted, the reactions were very positive…judging by the 841 likes and only a handful of dislikes (less than 10 while it was still live). The only complaint was that fan wanted more-more-MORE!

Indeed, the actual amount of Axanar footage was only 25 seconds, but it was enough to give a tantalizing first taste of the quality of the video production, lighting, camera tracking, make-up, costumes, VFX, and look and feel of the sets and actors. Alec assured everyone that more and longer trailers would be coming soon.

Believe it or not, this was actually a lot of footage considering that editor BING BAILEY has a day job that exploded with a crisis this past week and took up most of his time. Remember, folks, that the Axanar team is made up of volunteers with real-life commitments along with their love of Star Trek and fan films (one fan film in particular!).

A question that came up was whether the superchat donations that came in during the livestream could be considered public crowd-funding (a no-no under the legal settlement with CBS and Paramount). Alec assured all viewers that any money collected through YouTube would be applied to Ares Studios (a separate legal entity) and NOT to Axanar Productions in any way.

Speaking of crowd-funding, Alec and his girlfriend CRYSSTAL HUBBARD were very careful during the 75-minute discussion following the premiere NOT to discuss Axanar crowd-funding in any way. The closest they got was suggesting that people sign up for the Axanar newsletter or go to Ares Digital…which is not the same as soliciting donations. Alec and Crysstal made certain not to say, “If you want to help crowd-fund, then go to Ares Digital where you can make a donation.”

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AXANAR raises $15.7K in first ten days of private crowd-funding!

The big news in the fan film world a week and a half ago was, of course, the wildly successful first shooting weekend for AXANAR. If you haven’t already, you can take a look at the many, MANY online streamed videos of the exciting shoot here, here, and here.

A week later, the biggest news is how much ALEC PETERS has managed to raise in just ten days of private crowd-funding for the production of the two Axanar sequel fan films. As of the publication of this blog, that number stands at nearly $15,800!

And what’s most amazing about that total is that those donations are almost exclusively from existing donors…with no public marketing or advertising of the campaign thus far. (In contrast, my GoFundMe for INTERLUDE took six times that long to raise that amount.)

You might be wondering why Alec is trying to raise money AFTER the shoot rather than before it. The answer is simple. Alec paid for the first shoot entirely out of his own pocket…about $75,000, according to him. This brings the total money that Alec has personally put into funding Axanar over the last five years well over a quarter of a million dollars.

“While I don’t mind fronting money for the remaining production,” Alec told me, “and I’ve certainly been doing quite a lot of that, Axanar was never intended to be funded by just one person. And honestly, I no longer have anything left to put into this project…much as I’d love to.

“So now we have to go back to our existing donors as we return to our roots of being a crowd-funded fan film. And that means we need $70,000 right now to fund the costs for our first two shoots. That’ll cover some of the expenses I already paid, although not all. Considering that our second shoot is going to cost another $20,000, even when we reach the full goal amount, I’ll probably still be left having put about $25,000 of my own money into these first two shoots. I don’t mind that, but I simply can’t afford $70,000 or more.

“So that’s where our existing donors need to step up. And they’re already starting to—which is fantastic!”

The next question I had for Alec is one that many people are asking right now: is Alec actually allowed to crowd-fund Axanar anymore? What does his legal settlement with CBS and Paramount let him do and not do when it comes to fundraising? Does he have to abide by the $50,000 limit imposed by the guidelines, or does he get a special waiver to exceed that limit (just as Alec has a special exemption allowing him to use professional Star Trek veteran actors like J.G. HERTZELR and GARY GRAHAM)?

Alec answered my questions for this blog with a blog of his own that he just posted on the Axanar website. You can read it below…

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INTERLUDE update: How do you solve a problem like Ramirez?

The whole reason INTERLUDE exists (will exist) is because ALEC PETERS wanted to explain why Admiral Ramirez won’t be appearing in the Axanar sequels. In reality, actor TONY TODD left the production and declined to play Ramirez again. Actors J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and the late RICHARD HATCH, on the other hand, decided to stick with Alec and see it through.

And while the loss of Richard hit us all very hard, it turned out that losing Tony Todd, even though he is an amazing actor, wasn’t as devastating a set-back for the Axanar script as was the loss of Kharn. In other words, it was fairly easy to write out Ramirez and replace him with a different Starfleet commanding admiral. In Alec’s original draft, Ramirez gets wounded while being escorted back on a convoy from a secret meeting. His injuries are serious enough that he has to sit out the rest of the war, turning over his duties to Admiral Threl of Androria.

My Interlude script took that quick “oh, by the way…” bit of exposition and expanded it into a 10-12 minute fan film (or so I hope!). The only problem is: now I need to show Ramirez!

Granted, he only needs to be wounded, so he won’t have any spoken lines. In the comic book version, it was easy to show him—as the artwork in the panel above illustrates him lying in the Ares sickbay covered in blood. But what about the fan film?

Of course, I could simply take the easy way out and just not show Ramirez in Sickbay at all…and instead have the doctor call up to the bridge, “Captain, Admiral Ramirez is in critical condition down here!” But that would have been such a cop out.

Also, I was kinda looking forward to filming a scene somewhere other than on the Ares Studios bridge set. Granted, it’s a AWESOME set, but I really wanted one or two other locations for the action, as well. Initially, that Sickbay scene was going to be filmed at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA on the TOS sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut. But that offer was rescinded. Fortunately, GLEN WOLFE stepped up and volunteered his WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas for the Sickbay scene.

Now we just needed to find someone to play Admiral Ramirez…!

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INTERLUDE update: logos and patches and plaques, oh my!

It’s time for another look behind the INTERLUDE curtain, my friends! Last week, I showed you the secret origin of the photo of the Golden Gate Bridge that will appear behind Admiral Slater for about 20 seconds at the end of the fan film. This week, I’m going to shine the spotlight on how we came up with the ship’s logo for the USS Artemis. The process was much more involved than I thought it would be!

Our story begins over a year ago before Interlude was ever going to be a fan FILM and was simply going to be a fan COMIC BOOK. It was time for my illustrator, the amazingly talented DANIEL FU, to draw Captain Imari Jakande of the USS Artemis for the first time, and he needed to know what kind of insignia to put on his chest.

Hmmm…

By this point, three of the Ares-class starships had logos designed for them: Ajax, Ares, and Hercules:

They each featured some kind of weapon (I consider a lightning bolt thrown by a super-strong demi-god to be a weapon). So what kind of weapon was Artemis known for? Well, as goddess of the hunt, she was often depicted with a bow and arrow. The problem was, bows and arrows are very thin and don’t typically have enough room to fit a command star symbol in the center…let alone a sciences planet or an engineering comet.

But Daniel did a little research to discover that Artemis was also the goddess of the moon. Sure, the moon isn’t a weapon (usually), but it’s still a nice celestial outer space thingie. So I gave Daniel a green light to do a moonish insignia. Here’s what he came up with:

As I said, this was long before Interlude the fan film became a possibility. But once it did, I realized that we were going to need an insignia for the USS Artemis tunics in the film…and suddenly there was a problem again. (Isn’t there always in these blogs?)

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Star Trek FAN FILMS are most certainly NOT DEAD…here’s what’s coming down the pike!

No, not THAT Pike! But if you know one of those crazy people who keeps saying that Star Trek fan films are “dead” or that the guidelines or the Axanar lawsuit “destroyed” Trek fan films forever…well, it’s time for a little reality check!

Not only are Star Trek fan films alive and thriving, but we’re about to be inundated with new major productions at all levels of funding ranging from pocket-change to six-figure budgets.

The past year has already been loaded with a plethora of new fan film releases: Galaxy Hopper, Galactic Battles, Temporal Anomaly, Avalon Lost, The Fighting Fourth, Last Survivor, Diplomatic Relations, Desperate Gambit, The Holy Core, Dreadnought Dominion, All Ahead Full, Children of Eberus, The Looking Glass, Confrontations, To Have Boldly Gone, Repercussions, Stunt Doubles, and the just-released Line of Duty. And those are just the ones I’ve covered here on Fan Film Factor! Check out the Star Trek Reviewed blog for a ridiculously more detailed list including all of the smaller fan productions that I don’t usually have a chance to get to.

But you ain’t seen nuthin‘ yet!

Within the next six months, a host of exciting NEW Star Trek fan films are scheduled for release onto YouTube—some of them eagerly anticipated. Last week, I reached out to some prominent fan filmmakers to get updates on their productions and when fans will get a chance to finally see them.

Here’s just some of what you can look forward to in the very near future…

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