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).

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INTREPID crowd-funder proves Jonathan absolutely WRONG!

January is a bad month for crowd-funding…or so I thought.

I usually advise people who ask (and advise them strongly) to avoid scheduling their fan film crowd-funding campaigns in December and January. Both months compete with the holidays. In December, people aren’t really paying much attention to requests to donate to fan projects. And by the time you reach January, many people’s wallets and bank accounts are recovering from holiday expenses like gifts and vacations. So if you can, wait until mid-February to launch your crowd-funder.

A good example of this was VANCE MAJOR, who kicked off his latest GoFundMe for CONSTAR CONTINUES in December. With previous Constar campaigns trying for a $500 goal, Vance had been able to cross the finish line within days. But that was in March. This time, with a goal of $1,175 for costumes and props, Vance took in just a few hundred dollars over the first few weeks, and even now, more than a month later, is only up to $675 from 17 backers (including me). He’s getting there, but it’s definitely slower this time out. Was I right about December and January?

I thought I was…which is why I scratched my head when I saw NICK COOK launch an Indiegogo campaign for STARSHIP INTREPID‘s next fan film, “Echoes.” The long-running fan series out of Dundee, Scotland is trying to raise $2,600 for:

  • Travel expenses
  • Room hire (location rental)
  • Food for the actors
  • Props and costumes
  • Make up
  • Associated consumables (such as batteries)
  • Post-production expenses

With a goal more than double what Vance was asking for, I contacted Nick Cook and suggested we hold off doing a crowd-funding feature/interview here on Fan Film Factor until February—expecting that he (like Vance) wouldn’t get too far over the next few weeks.

It’s only three days later, and Intrepid‘s campaign is already nearly 40% of the say to their goal with $1,036 from 28 backers (including me). Boy, was I wrong! But why was I wrong?

Continue reading “INTREPID crowd-funder proves Jonathan absolutely WRONG!”

Surprising NEW CAST MEMBER added to CONVERGENCE! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

If you think of fan films without visual effects as being like plain chocolate bars, then there’s one person in our community who is definitely nuts!

Yes, folks, it’s time to check in once again with the elf who cobbles the CGI shoes, the beaver that builds the digital dam, Great Britain’s own SAMUEL COCKINGS. I like to joke that it’s quicker to list the fan films and series that Sam hasn’t worked on than those he has. And while that’s certainly a bit of an exaggeration, the fact is that in 2019 alone, Sam did the VFX for two episodes of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, two episodes from the AVALON UNIVERSE, LINE OF DUTY from Aaron Vanderkley in Australia, THE FEDERATION FILES: “THE EQUINOX EFFECT”, WAR STORIES from the upcoming THE ROMULAN WAR fan film (which he’s also working on), plus his own mega fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY. In addition to all of this, Sam releases regular weekly episodes of TREKYARDS (click here for the YouTube playlist) with STUART FOLEY plus reviews, interviews, and other special Trek and scifi features.

Considering how busy he is, it’s a wonder Sam has the time to make yet ANOTHER Star Trek fan film, but back in 2018, he crowd-funded through an Indiegogo campaign $7,385 from 114 backers for CONVERGENCE (surpassing two stretch goals)! The fan film itself is a crossover of characters, aliens, ships, and/or actors from five different fan films: INTREPID, DARK ARMADA, RENEGADES, STARSHIP REPUBLIC, and Sam’s own TEMPORAL ANOMALY.

Although one green screen shooting weekend had already brought together four of the cast members (the European ones), the Indiegogo would fund a second green screen shoot, this time also flying in actor JIM VON DOLTEREN from America to Britain. The idea was to schedule the shoot for mid-2019 and release the completed film before the end of the year.

But that didn’t happen.

So what did happen? Well, why don’t I just let Sam tell you that himself…?

Hmmmm…a lot to unpack there. With so much news about the project, Sam and I had an informative one-on-one chat to go a little deeper into the significant casting change, the last year of production, progress on the visual effects, and the timing for production in 2020 and release in early 2021. Take a look…

“LET ME HELP”…do you have any extra STAR TREK stuff that you no longer need?

I joined STARFLEET, the International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc., way back in 1983 and have been a member ever since. (Heck, it wasn’t even an “Inc.” back then! STARFLEET incorporated in 1992 and became a 501(c)(7) non-profit shortly thereafter.) STARFLEET itself has been around since 1974 and has grown into the largest, continuously active Star Trek fan organization in the world with more than 5,300 members in 225+ chapters in more than 20 countries worldwide.

But this blog isn’t about STARFLEET itself. It’s about its new president, STEVEN PARMLEY.

Every three years, the STARFLEET membership holds an election to select its next Commander and Vice-Commander. The most recent election happened last fall, and Steven Parmley was the victor with 1,014 votes (51.7%) over Denise Rush with 946 votes (48.3%). Normally a cause for celebration, Steven didn’t feel much like celebrating. Around the same time, Steven and his family lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire…

We had a fire in 2019 when we had moved in to a new rental, but due to an electrical issue, the house had caught fire, and before we had insurance. I lost 20 years of STAR TREK Memorabilia and we lost furniture, clothes, etc.  While we were able to replace the furniture and clothes, I have been unable to replace my collection. But as long as I have my daughters, then anything is possible.

Steven is a single dad of two beautiful girls: Natalie, 15 and Fiona, 8. He works as a deputy jailer in Western Kentucky. He also serves as an assistant chief of the local fire department and as a Lt. Cmdr. in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, responsible for 115 cadets and 37 instructors in his posting as the regional commander for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

I wasn’t aware of any of this until a few days ago. I simply reached out to the new Commander, STARFLEET shortly after he took office on January 1 to congratulate him and say “hi.” My own rank is Vice Admiral (the CS is a Fleet Admiral), and I’d served as Chief of Communications for the club back in 2008-2010. As Steven and I chatted, I discovered that he was a big fan of AXANAR and enjoyed reading my blog. I also learned about the fire. Steve had lost his entire collection of Star Trek memorabilia and didn’t have the money to replace anything.

I immediately went onto eBay and ordered these for Steven…

It seemed the least I could do for a fellow fan and STARFLEET member—let alone the new Fleet Admiral! But then I had an idea…

Continue reading ““LET ME HELP”…do you have any extra STAR TREK stuff that you no longer need?”

Time to give VANCE MAJOR a little money for CONSTAR CONTINUES (he only needs $700)!

We love VANCE MAJOR. How could we not? Whether you watch and enjoy his nearly 70 fan films, avoid them completely, or simply chuckle at the cord in the doorway and/or grumble when the sound of the blowing wind drowns out a line of dialog…you can’t deny that Vance is the beating heart of Star Trek fan films.

Sure, Vance isn’t producing snazzy, Hollywood-quality fan films with Oscar-caliber acting, cdazzling VFX, meticulously-tailored costumes, and pitch-perfect sound. But what his is doing is so much more important: he is having FUN—and he’s inviting us all to come along on his amazing…trek.

Last month, I published a blog featuring an audio interview with Vance, celebrating the release of 51(!!!) brand new fan films from THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES—ready for binge-watching over the holidays—plus another 18 special edition re-releases of fan films from Vance’s MINARD saga. And even with all of that, he’s still not done! Vance is planning to produce even more fan films!! In fact, in just a few more months, Vance will be shooting ALEC PETERS himself as Garth at Ares Studios in Georgia.

Vance has always been known as a man who can do a LOT with very, very little. I’ve joked in the past that he funds his film projects with the loose change he finds in the cushions of his sofa. And for the most part, that’s true. But costumes and props are the exception to keeping things ultra-cheap. Sure, you don’t have to buy the custom-made $500 screen-perfect versions that Anovos offers, but even an inexpensive Halloween costume can run $25-50. And keep in mind that Vance needs to have a variety of different sizes, as Star Trek fans cover a wide spectrum of body types. And Vance opens up his roles to many, many fans (even me!).

Vance has crowd-funded costumes/uniforms before, and he doesn’t ask for much. For his current GoFundMe crowd-funder, he’s only looking for $1,175…and he’s already got $475 of it (including $40 from yours truly). So if you have a few bucks left over after the holidays, please consider clicking below to donate to a very worthy and dedicated fan filmmaker…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/constar-continues

Really HUGE news for ARES STUDIOS and AXANAR!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A super-fan dreamed of making a fan film covering an era of Star Trek history previously unexplored: approximately twenty years before Kirk’s first five-year mission. This was a couple of years before Discovery was even announced, of course.

With a six-figure budget, a cast of trained Hollywood actors, a professional crew, costumes, props, make-up, and all the trimmings, the original goal was to release this 90-minute feature-length Star Trek fan film in 2016. But that didn’t happen. Although footage was shot back in 2015, it’s now 2020, and the darn thing still isn’t out yet…despite a few teasers/trailers and lots of coverage here on Fan Film Factor. Fans have been patient, of course, but we really are dying to see the finished production at some point—hopefully this year!

A number of very nice sets, including a starship bridge, were built for this fan film—and for the last few years, these sets have been kept in a facility near Atlanta, GA. But the cost of storing these sets has been a financial burden of tens of thousands of dollars. But now that expense is finally ending.

I’ve been referring, of course, to the fan film project STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, created by KENNY SMITH, that will feature the launch of the brand new USS Enterprise NCC-1701 under the command of its first captain, Robert April. The “Cage” era TOS sets were constructed in 2015 and used for filming later that year and then put into public storage in Marietta, GA (about a half hour north of Atlanta), where Kenny has been paying about $7,000/year to house them.

The FIRST FRONTIER bridge set in all its glory

But truth be told, the sets would probably never have been used again. Indeed, they weren’t even really built to last (unlike the AXANAR sets). But Kenny didn’t have the heart to toss them into the dumpster.

Enter: ALEC PETERS. The same person who built many of these First Frontier sets—SCOTT LYTTLE—is currently working as a volunteer on Axanar (and also helped out with Interlude) doing set construction. (Check out the first five minutes of this video to hear Scott discussing construction of the First Frontier set pieces.) As it turned out, Alec had wanted to shoot some footage for Axanar on the USS Enterprise bridge, and Scott suggested they use Kenny’s old sets…which were just sitting in storage anyway. Long story short, Kenny just donated the sets in their entirety yo Alec, and now their new home is Ares Studios.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Axanews today…!

Continue reading “Really HUGE news for ARES STUDIOS and AXANAR!”

GREEN SCREEN crowd-funded in SIX DAYS…Paul Jenkins reimbursed!

By now, most of you know about the mishap during the INTERLUDE shoot at Ares Studios in November and how, when AXANAR director PAUL JENKINS arrived in December, he found his 100-foot-long custom green screen ruined. It was an accident, but the responsibility lay squarely (or rectangularly) on the shoulders of the Interlude production team.

No one individual was singled out as being “the idiot responsible” because no one on my team was an idiot. In fact, most of them are amazingly talented, competent, and dedicated craftsmen (and women) and hard-working volunteers…from directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX, who knocked it out of the park that weekend, to the good folks who vacuumed the bridge set. As far as I am concerned, everyone is to be praised and commended, and no one will be thrown under the bus!

Anyway, I asked my donors and other supporters of Interlude (and fan films in general) to please help raise enough money to reimburse Paul the $4,760 cost for replacing the ruined green screen. I kicked off the donations with $500 of my own money, and three of my biggest donors each matched my amount…leaving another $2,760 to raise from other contributors. Honestly, I thought I was going to be crowd-funding this until February or March, if not longer.

And then a fan film Christmas miracle happened. We reached our goal for reimbursing Paul in less than a week!!!

Usually, the holiday season is the worst time of year to do fan film crowd-funding (other than anytime near tax day in April). But I reached out to folks anyway, asking for only $10 per donor. Altogether, 112 donors graciously answered the call, chipping in anywhere from $10 to $100 each (one put in $300). It was, for me at least, a heartwarming reminder of what I know is so precious about this fan film community.

I sent Paul the full funds via PayPal last Friday, while we were still a few hundred dollars short of our goal. But I had faith it wouldn’t be long until we got there. And then, on Sunday evening—less than six days after I made my first appeal, we reach the goal. If fact, later that evening, two additional donations brought us $35 over that goal. I’ve let the supporters know that they no longer have to donate anything more. Interlude is covered.

I’ve said it probably a thousand times already, but you can never say THANK YOU enough in my book! So my sincere gratitude to everyone who has supported Interlude…whether you gave to replace the green screen or simply donated along the way to help me and my team make a really awesome fan film.

You are truly the best of Star Trek fandom.

INTERLUDE Confidential #2: This is really, really BAD…and I’m going to need some MAJOR HELP!

I need a Christmas miracle.

My heart sank last Friday morning when I got the call from Axanar director PAUL JENKINS. I immediately wished I could shift the blame to someone else and cover my ass in some way.

But no, that’s not what Star Trek taught me. Kirk always took responsibility for the actions of his crew, whether or not the captain himself had personally been the one at fault And as executive producer on INTERLUDE, the buck stops with me…or rather, the 4,700 bucks stop with me.

That’s what it’s going to cost to replace Paul’s 100 ft. x 20 ft. professional-quality, custom-made green screen that was accidentally ruined during the November INTERLUDE film shoot at Ares Studios.

Paul owns a production company, META Studios, and the giant portable green screen belongs to him (not to Alec Peters or Ares Studios). Paul brought the green screen to Ares Studios to use for the October AXAANR shoot and left it there to use again in December for last weekend’s shoot.

In November when we filmed the scenes for Interlude on the Ares bridge, we wanted to be able to shoot toward the view screen and composite in shots later using a green screen. It would (and probably still will) look really cool. But we needed a green screen to do it.

Fortunately, there was one on site, and we assumed it was okay to use it (Paul wasn’t there at the time; he visited the following day). And by “we,” I mean my Interlude team. And as a team, I am not singling anyone out for having screwed up. It was my team, and as such, I’m responsible for what happened next…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #2: This is really, really BAD…and I’m going to need some MAJOR HELP!”

AXACON 2019 happens THIS SUNDAY at NOON eastern time…online!

The first AXACON took place during at the beginning of November in 2018 and “piggybacked” an existing mini-convention in Atlanta called SphinxCon. Fans got to walk around the newly-unveiled USS Ares bridge set on Friday and then attend a series of live convention panels on Saturday and Sunday with folks like GARY GRAHAM, J.G. HERTZLER, DAVID GERROLD, PAUL JENKINS, and of course, ALEC PETERS. Most of those panels are now available for viewing online.

The Axacon 2018 weekend of events and panels ended up costing Alec about $5,000 out of his own pocket. But the goal was always to launch a new wave of crowd-funding…first to cover the monthly rent and expenses to house the bridge set in Ares Studios (through a Patreon campaign), and later to generate excitement and enthusiasm to encourage private donations to help fund the two AXANAR sequels (click here and then follow the instructions if you’d like to contribute…they’ve raised more than $41,000 so far!).

This year, Alec has already fronted the $75,000 cost of the first Axanar shoot at the beginning of October and the second shoot going on this weekend. So funds are tight, all monies are going into production, and holding another Axacon this year would be out of the question, right?

Well, as it turns out…

Axacon 2019 won’t be the same as Axacon 2018. There won’t be a public tour of the studio or a physical convention. But there will be live panels with guests…AND it’ll be free to attend! How is Alec Peters managing this? Simple: it’ll all be live-streaming on YouTube!

Axacon 2019 will take place beginning at noon Eastern Time on Sunday, December 8, lasting for four hours. All of the panels will be hosted live on the Ares Studios bridge set and available for viewing on the Axanar Youtube Channel.

The four-hour online event is capping off a weekend that will also feature the second Axanar film shoot. Significantly smaller in scope than the first 3-day shoot in October, this one will feature two Garth scenes: one a short clip of Garth on the bridge and one in his quarters looking at casualty reports. Sunday will include multiple behind-the-scenes interviews in the morning, leaving ample time for the panels during the afternoon.

The following is a schedule of the panels, their topics, and the guests…

Continue reading “AXACON 2019 happens THIS SUNDAY at NOON eastern time…online!”

Why do PATREON donations always “DIP” at the beginning of each month?

Every…single…month…

It’s like clockwork! I call it “PMS”—the Patreon Monthly Slide—although others simply call it “the Dip.” And yeah, it’s a thing. At the beginning of every month, most Patreon campaigns with a decent number of backers suddenly and inexplicably drop by 2%, 3%, or even 5%…only to recover some or most of the loss over the next few days.

It’s happened to both the Ares Studios Patreon as well as the Neutral Zone Studios Patreon (two of the largest current Trek fan film-related campaigns)…over and over again. And when “the dip” hits Ares Studios, you’ll usually see something like this posted over on Axamonitor…

Of course, looking at only a short snapshot of a single month misses the big picture entirely. And if you were to zoom out, you’d see the long-term trend is actually pretty solid (with a noticeable uptick in the weeks since AXANAR successfully completed its first film shoot at the beginning of October)…

So yeah, if you cherry pick a specific short downtick from the nearly year-long graph, you can try to sell the argument that four months of progress have essentially been “erased.” But overall, long-term, Ares Studio is a very strong and steady campaign, consistently taking in more than $2,000/month from over 200 donors, not dropping significantly from that level, and even showing a slight (and later, more pronounced) up-slope. And it’s been providing ALEC PETERS upwards of $25,000 per year to help with the rent and utilities for the studio.

But what’s also obvious from that long-term graph is that, yes, at the start of every month, there’s a mysterious “dip.” It’s there every time. The total number of donors and amount of monthly contributions drops like a brick…only to recover within a few days as though nothing ever happened!

And it got me to wondering…why?

Now, the tempting answer from some out there is to claim that people forgot they were still being charged regularly and, when reminded with a monthly receipt from Patreon showing the charge to their credit card, suddenly “came to their senses” and canceled the automatic renewal.

But that doesn’t explain the rapid recovery that nearly always follows the “dip.” Are all of these disillusioned donors just as quickly and inexplicably replaced in the days immediately following? Do they all suddenly change their minds back? And why do only a tiny few donors go through this “epiphany” each month—and then always seem to quickly get over it?

But something happened to me last month that solved the mystery…

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