“STAR TREK IS REAL” and so is PIXI NEREID…real AWESOME, that is! (video interview with PIXI)

Finally! I get a chance to interview PIXI NEREID and share it with all of you…and it’s a really FANtastic interview.

Last week, I was supposed to interview Pixi along with AVALON UNIVERSE showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and angel-supporter RAY MYERS, who donated $3,000 to their current GoFundMe campaign as a match for $3,000 in fan donations that came in last week. The Zoom call interview was supposed to accompany the released of Pixi’s new Avalon Universe music video STAR TREK IS REAL (edited by Josh), which debuted last Friday. You can watch it below…

Catchy, ain’t it? Yeah, you’re gonna be hearing that song in your head for hours!

Pixi (whose real name is Ilia McNeil—“Pixi Nereid” is her stage name when she’s appearing at children’s birthday parties as a mermaid…and yes, that’s a thing) is a very busy woman, teaching high school, working on a Masters degree, teaching improv classes, and of course, the mermaid gig…all while starring in the next major Avalon fan film release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (coming out October 31) and serving as producer on the fan series.

Unfortunately, Pixi’s schedule unexpectedly exploded just before our Zoom call was supposed to start, and she felt so sorry that she had to bail at the last second. However, Josh was able to get Avalon actor TYLER DUNIVAN to fill in for Pixi, and we still managed to have a great interview discussion with the three of them (Josh, Ray, and Tyler). You can watch it here, if you’d like.

Speaking of Tyler, Josh released this fun “Shatneresque” interpretation of Star Trek Is Real sung by lounge lizard Tyler and his vape pen (hey, at least it wasn’t an actual cigarette like Shatner smoked on Rocket Man). Have a look…

But I was still determined to interview Pixi…mainly because she is just so darn awesome! I know this because I’ve gotten to be friendly with her since she “drafted” me onto Team Avalon to help guide their crowd-funding efforts. It’s tough to say no to Pixi—even if you’re NOT looking at that irresistible smile! Anyway, I kept hounding Pixi for that interview, and I finally got it on Saturday afternoon.

It’s hard to say why, but sometimes an interview just fires on all cylinders. This is not to disparage the interviews I’ve done with other fan filmmakers, but when you watch the recorded Zoom call below, you’ll see what I mean. Pixi herself is fascinating to learn about, full of surprises that I never even imagined! We learn about her theater, acting, and dance background, musical albums she’s released, and her oh-so-positive way to deal with her critics (not that there are many!).

Pixi also managed to draw out of me an unexpected 15-minute detour into my own background experiences with film production—which include some photos of when I stuck onto the sets of Star Trek: Voyager in 1996! Pixi and I just have a wonderful back-and-fourth, and I think you’ll find her enthusiasm to to be absolutely infectious…

And remember that you can still donate to their campaign here:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

“STAR TREK IS REAL” – the next AVALON UNIVERSE song that will get stuck in your head (video interview JOSHUA IRWIN, TYLER DUNIVAN, and RAY MYERS)

On Monday of this past week, showrunner JOSH IRWIN and the folks in the AVALON UNIVERSE got the song “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON stuck in our heads when they released this hilarious blooper-filled video announcing the kick-off of their donor-dollar-matching promotion week. However, the “week” ended up lasting only two and a half days, as that was all the time it took for fans to donate a whopping $3,000 to their GoFundMe campaign, the maximum that angel-supporter RAY MYERS had offered to match. That brought the total raised so far up over $11,500!

The campaign goes on, by the way, as it still has about $8,100 (40%) to go to reach its overall goal of $20,000. You can donate here…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

After seeing the announcement video, Avalon supporters requested a longer blooper reel, and Josh obliged on Wednesday when he posted this expanded video filled with even more bloopers and outtakes. Once again, fans got a healthy dose of Eric Clapton’s hit from 1986 (and later from Rick & Morty‘s fourth season).

On Friday, Avalon released yet another new video, but this one isn’t a blooper reel. Instead, it’s a full-fledged MUSIC VIDEO, shot on the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. However, you’re STILL going to come out of watching it humming a song for the rest of the day!

In this case, the song is “Star Trek Is Real,” written and performed by Avalon star and producer (and part-time mermaid) PIXI NEREID. Pixi wrote this song 15 years ago, but it’s still pretty fun and upbeat—just like Pixi herself! Take a look and a listen…

(It’s already echoing in your head, isn’t it? Go on, sing!)

This little firecracker has only been in the fan film community for a few months and hasn’t even appeared in her first full fan film yet (that’ll be October!). But nonetheless, she’s taken our little fiefdom by storm, spreading her unbridled energy and enthusiasm far and wide.

That said, I need to apologize to all of you reading this blog today expecting to see a video interview with this effervescent little elf. I was supposed to interview Pixi, but she got buried in work and had to bail on our Wednesday night Zoom call. That left Josh Irwin and Ray Myers as my 2-out-of-3, and Josh quickly reached out to TYLER DUNIVAN, another star of Avalon, and asked if he could fill in for Pixi, and Tyler joined us.

It seemed strange to talk about Pixi’s new music video without Pixi, so we ended up talking about the campaign, finding out more about Ray Myers and why he’s been so generous to fan filmmakers, and discussing how Josh has ended up having driven his car over 5,500 MILES TOTAL just for one fan film! We also have an exclusive sneak peek at a never-before-scene from the upcoming Avalon release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (at 38:10) plus more info on what’s coming after.

Enjoy…

AVALON UNIVERSE reaches their $3,000 dollar match in just TWO AND A HALF DAYS!!!

I certainly didn’t see THIS coming! I mean, I was initially feeling hopeful that the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe campaign would be able to reach (and maybe even surpass) the $3,000 maximum that wonder-supporter RAY MYERS was offering as a dollar-for-dollar match to any donations that came in this week between Monday and Sunday. That would double that maximum to $6,000—and more-than-double their total from where the week had started (which was just over $5,500 raised in about two and a half months).

I figured that Team Avalon (and I) would need to pull out all the stops and really talk up the dollar-match promotion as much as possible for the entire week to even have a snowball’s chance of reaching that $3,000 maximum. Instead, it only took two and a half days to get there, and good as his word, Ray donated a whopping $3,000 to the campaign earlier this morning…

As I write this, the total shown on Avalon‘s GoFundMe page reads $11,572…about 57.8% of the way to their $20,000 goal. This is, by far, the most ambitious Star Trek fan film crowd-funder to come along in a couple of years, and it’s not nearly as easy to reach into the five-figures as it used to be!

I chatted with showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN last night, wondering whether or not to publish this blog today announcing the good news. On the one hand…YAY! On the other hand, to point out that the $3,000 maximum had been reached runs the risk of potential donors thinking, “Well, if my donation isn’t going to get doubled anymore, why bother?” Likewise, some folks might be confused and assume that the goal was only $3,000 and say, “Great, mission accomplished.” But the overall goal for the ENTIRE campaign is still about $8,400 away.

In the end, we decided share the good news. After all, this will be my fourth Avalon Universe blog in four days, so why ruin the streak, right? And if all goes well, tomorrow will be my fifth, as I just completed an awesome video interview with Josh, actor TYLER DUNIVAN, and this angel donor Ray (who also donated more than $3,000 to my fan film INTERLUDE). Fans have seen multiple interviews with Josh and Tyler, but who is this Ray Myers guy, and why is he being SO generous? Is he just super-rich, or is his wife gonna kill him for throwing their nest-egg away on a couple of silly Star Trek fan films?

And in the meantime, remember that the Avalon GoFundMe is still VERY much alive and active—and still aiming for a $20,000 goal. So if you haven’t donated yet, even though your dollars won’t be doubled, this is still a wonderful group of fan filmmakers and very deserving of our support….just ask Ray Myers!

Here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

AVALON UNIVERSE releases a new EXPANDED Blooper Reel!

Welcome to day three of “Jonathan-is-talking-about-nothing-other-than-THE-AVALON-UNIVERSE-all-week” week!

Actually, I hadn’t planned on blogging about Avalon each day, but so far, there’s been at least one newsworthy thing every 24 hours. On Monday, of course, it was the launch of a week-long promotion during which every dollar donated to the current Avalon GoFundMe campaign is being matched by super-supporter RAY MYERS (up to $3,000). Then yesterday, I was shocked and amazed that a whopping $2,135 had been donated just in the first day alone—which doubles to $4,270…all on day one!

Day two wasn’t quite as explosive, but nevertheless, a solid $675 more was raised, doubling to an impressive $1,350 to help fund the production of three (possibly four!) new Avalon Universe fan films. At this point, their grand total raised now stands at $11,132 (including matched dollars), and that’s 55.5% of their $20,000 goal. Can they reach that ambitious number this week? I suppose we’ll find out in five more days!

In the meantime, to keep things fresh and interesting, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN has listened to requests from fans and supporters both on YouTube and Facebook to provide even more fun Avalon bloopers. So he has expanded the blooper reel from Monday that announced this week’s donation-dollar-match promotion, and this new one has even MORE fun moments with the cast and crew…

(For those of you born after the awesome 80s, that background song is “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON from 1986, originally written as part of the soundtrack to the film The Color of Money, starring PAUL NEWMAN and TOM CRUISE and directed by MARTIN SCORSESE.)

For me—and I think for many fans in our community—those outtakes are part of the reason why we love this sub-sub-sub genre niche of ours. It’s all about the FUN! Yeah, we like our fan films and playing in the Star Trek sandbox, but if we’re not enjoying the filmmaking process at least a little, why bother going through all the hassle?

So the Avalon Universe folks, who are such a wonderful group of people, show us all how enjoyable making fan films can be, and what a wonderful bonding experience it can be among old friends AND new friends. Granted, it can also be a lot of hard work, frustrating at times, frantic at other times, and sometimes downright exhausting, but if you can keep a smile on your face through all the long hours and have a good time, that just makes the finished product all the sweeter.

And if you want to see more of those finished products from these great people, please consider making a donation to the Avalon GoFundMe campaign at this link…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe takes in $2,135 in 24 hours!!!

I have to admit that I was pretty shocked at the unexpectedly enthusiastic fan response to yesterday’s announcement of that all donations to the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe for this week would be matched dollar-for-dollar by super-supporter RAY MYERS. Ray’s upper limit for matching donations is $3,000, but I honestly expected that the Avalon folks would need to push really hard to reach that big number in only a week.

After all, the campaign has been running for two and a half months, and during that time, donations had only reached a little over $5,500. To expect more than half that amount in new donations in just seven days was being quite optimistic.

Then yesterday happened.

I must give showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN credit for editing together an awesome new crowd-funding “ask” video making the announcement. Likewise, Avalon stars TYLER DUNIVAN and PIXI NEREID have an electric chemistry and charm that comes across not only in their performances but also in their bloopers. Take a look if you haven’t watched the video already…

Reaction to the video was wonderfully positive on both Facebook and YouTube. In fact, Josh has received multiple requests for more Avalon bloopers, and he just might be willing to oblige if Tuesday’s donations come close to Monday’s (hint, hint).

And what were Monday’s donations, you ask?

In just 24 hours, the Avalon GoFundMe campaign was able to pull in $2,135 from 40 donors!!! Adding Ray Myers’ dollar matching, and that brings the total donations raised so far up to a whopping $9,800…or 49% of the final $20,000 goal! Folks, that is friggin’ amazing!!!

So what’s their secret? Well, in addition to the fun new video and sending an update to their existing donors, Team Avalon got by with a little help from their friends. I published yesterday’s blog and shared it to a dozen different Facebook groups. ALEC PETERS blasted the AXANAR donor list with a e-mail announcing of the dollar-match week-long promotion and encouraging Axanar supporters to also become Avalon supporters…as the recent Avalon release COSMIC STREAM featured a cameo by Garth, and an upcoming Avalon production is slated to be filmed at ARES STUDIOS. And finally, $800 came in a single donation from C.W. THOMPSON, who donated a couple of months ago to this same Avalon campaign and, before that, was one of the biggest donors to my fan film INTERLUDE. C.W. is very, very generous.

Anyway, that was the first 24 hours. But this week is full of promotional events for Avalon, so who knows how far they can get? They…could…go…all…the…way! And even if they don’t make it this week, GoFundMe campaigns have no time limit. And I suspect that, once their next major release, AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, premieres on October 31, fan excitement and donor support will pick up all over again.

But fans and supporters appear to be very excited right now, too! If you’re one of them and want to help with a donation—big or small—here is the link…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Mystery revealed: AVALON UNIVERSE angel-donor announces DOLLAR-MATCHING for a week!

Last Friday, JOSHUA IRWIN, showrunner for the very impressive fan series known as the AVALON UNIVERSE, surprised and confused fans and supporters by posting a video telling viewers NOT to donate to their current GoFundMe campaign—at least, not until Monday…

This fun-yet-intriguing video was followed by a shorter one on Saturday…

And a third one on Sunday…

The videos have done their job, as commenters on Facebook have generally expressed interest in finding out what’s going on. After all, when you’re trying to crowd-fund THREE different upcoming episodes of your series by raising $20,000 in donations from fans, you kinda WANT people to donate. So…what gives?

Well, wonder no more—as earlier today the big reveal was, er, revealed. A few clever folks actually guessed correctly: Monday begins a seven-day DONATION MATCH WEEK where every dollar donated to the current Avalon Universe will be DOUBLED (up to $3,000)…thanks to the generosity of angel-supporter RAY MYERS.

Take a look at today’s awesome video…

And here’s the link to the campaign…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

If the name Ray Myers sounds familiar, you might remember him from my own fan film INTERLUDE, where Josh Irwin was director of photography. Back in the summer of 2019, I’d launched a similarly ambitious GoFundMe with an $18K goal. A few weeks into the campaign, I woke up one morning to discover that at some point the previous night, someone had donated a whopping $3K to my project—someone I’d never even met before!

Ray and I went on to become friends, and in addition to getting listed in the Interlude credits as associate producer and getting his name on the Game of Thrones memorial coffee cup in the engineering scene, Ray also got to play the first officer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis.

Ray Myers as the first officer of the U.S.S. Artemis in Interlude

Ray has maintained a friendship with Josh as well as with me. And when he saw a few weeks ago that the Avalon GoFundMe was slowing down a bit at a level about a quarter of the way there, Ray reached out to Josh with an offer to do a dollar-matching donation promotion for a week whenever Josh was ready to do so.

With the Creation Las Vegas con and then the 55th anniversary of Star Trek sucking up most of the oxygen in fandom, it was decided that this week would be the best opportunity to build up to a big reveal and then pull out all the stops for the next seven days…so expect me to be talking up Avalon quite a lot this week! In fact, I’ve got a special Zoom video interview coming up (hopefully) on Friday to coincide with a brand new release from Avalon and also an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS Avalon fan film…the first to be funded using donations from this current campaign.

Continue reading “Mystery revealed: AVALON UNIVERSE angel-donor announces DOLLAR-MATCHING for a week!”

Why should we NOT donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE crowd-funder until MONDAY?

Back in July, I was pushing my blogging warp engines to the red line trying to help my friends over in the AVALON UNIVERSE reach their green line goal of $20,000 for their current GoFundMe campaign. The money raised will go toward production costs on THREE separate fan films, including the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, set to debut on October 31 (and it looks amazing with breathtakingly beautiful desert cinematography that includes aerial drone footage).

Anyway, when your crowd-funder is trying to reach $20K these days, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Heck, it took me more than three months to reach that amount with my fan film INTERLUDE back in 2019.) So it wasn’t surprising to find the Avalon campaign stalling out at about $5.5K…

Obviously, however, it’s critically important to get the campaign back into gear and raising more donations again. And that’s why it came as quite a surprise on Friday morning when showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN posted the following video telling fans NOT to donate to the campaign—at least not until this coming Monday…

It’s a fun little video, showing actor TLYER DUNIVAN (who plays Captain Derek Mason) struggling to get his lines right while PIXI NEREID (Commander Micaela Allenby) is just her usual perky, playful, patient, and positive self…lighting up the room with her smile. It’s candid moments like this that just make me love all these guys and their wonderful enthusiasm.

Anyway, this afternoon saw the second video in what I suspect will be a trilogy leading up to the big reveal on Monday. Video #2 was much shorter but still included some fun chuckle moments…

So what’s the big announcement? Why should fans and supporters not donate just yet and instead wait until Monday? I guess we’ll find out in just two more days, folks!

AVALON UNIVERSE’s crazy and dangerous cave adventure…WHY THE HECK did they do it??? (interview with Joshua Irwin and Pixi Nereid)

You might say that fan filmmakers need to be at least a little crazy at times to do what we do. But this…this was a LOT crazy!

On Monday, August 1, at 5:30 a.m., JOSHUA IRWIN, PIXI NEREID, and NEAL BILBE got into Josh’s SUV at Neal’s home in Farmington, Arkansas, and drove for five hours straight to the middle of nowhere in southwestern Oklahoma.

Then they hiked a mile and a half, gaining more than 200 feet in elevation (the height of a 25-story building) and free-climbing the final portion over sheer boulders with steep drops—all in order to get to this cave…

They spent about 30 minutes filming there, shooting footage that will last LESS THAN 15 SECONDS(!!!) in the final fan film. Then they hiked 1.5 miles back to their car, and drove 350 miles back to Farmington, arriving at Neal’s house about 11:00 p.m. Josh lives close by in Fayetteville, but Pixi lives 3 hours away in Little Rock. She got home around 3 a.m.

WHO DOES THIS??? And for a FAN film???

This was from the PREVIOUS trip to the middle of nowhere!

Now, you might remember how I already wrote about Josh’s 1,800-mile drive (each way) from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Phoenix, Arizona in May for a professional shoot. In that blog, I also described the subsequent 270-mile drive (each way) done by a production crew of a dozen people to shoot two actresses at Gloss Mountain State Park in western Oklahoma on July 23.

This blog isn’t either of those trips. This was a THIRD trip!

I realize that I’ve been blogging quite a bit lately about the folks over in the AVALON UNIVERSE as they try reach their goal of $20K in their current GoFundMe campaign (currently just over 1/4 of the way there). And if you’d like to donate, please-please-please click the link below…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

But even if I weren’t trying to help with their crowd-funding, I would still write about this adventure because it just astounds me how committed these folks are making to a “little” Star Trek fan film. Of course, when it comes to filmmaking, Josh Irwin doesn’t know the meaning of the word “little”!

But seriously, who does this???

It’s not like there aren’t caves in Arkansas. There are some very nice caves, thank you very much. But their entrances are lush and forest-like. Josh’s other footage was shot in desolate desert terrain, so anything filmed in Arkansas would yield footage that wouldn’t match what had already been shot.

A typical cave entrances in Arkansas

So why not just film Pixi against a green screen and composite her against a photo of some desert cave that Josh could grab off the Internet? Why the 10-hour round-trip drive, 3-mile round-trip hike, and 200-foot dangerous climb?

Obviously, it’s time to talk to Josh and Pixi! (Neal wasn’t available.)

Continue reading “AVALON UNIVERSE’s crazy and dangerous cave adventure…WHY THE HECK did they do it??? (interview with Joshua Irwin and Pixi Nereid)”

Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!

Your mission: find an actress—young, positive attitude, who lives in Oklahoma—willing to appear in a volunteer Star Trek fan film. Oh, and she needs to be of Native American ethnicity.

You have two days.

When you donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE Star Trek fan production, you’re paying for a get-it-done attitude and a proven track record. Over the past few weeks, I’ve provided three solid reasons to lend your financial support to this hard-working fan production crew: Jakande Lives, Do It for Pixi, and The Team. This week, I’ve saved the best for last—the most compelling reason to donate to their GoFundMe campaign, which just happens to be located at this link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

These folks never give up…ever! No matter what obstacles God, the gods, fate, the Universe, and/or or the Flying Spaghetti Monster throw their way, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and his team will always find a way to get their fan film(s) finished.

Avalon Universe has already released SEVEN high-quality fan films (two of which were two-parters of 30-plus minute length) in less than three years. And even as they try to crowd-fund another three productions, they’re already hard at work on a fourth fan film: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS.

And therein lies a tale…

Continue reading “Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!”

Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!

Fan films are like weddings. (Ha, got your attention!)

Think about it. Weddings can be as cheap and simple as a trip to City Hall or a few friends in the backyard. Or they can be expensive galas with hundreds of guests and all the trimmings. Or they can be anywhere in between.

And so it is with fan films. We get everything from cardboard sets and scenes shot with cell phones to professional-looking productions with trained actors, meticulous sets and costumes, top-quality recording equipment, and budgets into the five-figure range and sometimes even beyond that.

In general, the larger and more ambitious the wedding, the more critical it is that a team of planners and managers be involved to make sure everything goes smoothly. You get one chance at the actual ceremony, and it’s all that the behind-the-scenes planning that can determine if the wedding is a triumph or a disaster.

The AVALON UNIVERSE fan films aren’t exactly Kardashian weddings (thank goodness!), but they are still pretty impressive, with production quality a few steps above the majority of Star Trek fan films out there. This is not meant to diminish those other fan films. All fan filmmakers deserve support and encouragement. But when you donate to an Avalon Universe crowd-funding campaign, you know your money will be well-spent, and the finished product will look and sound and be amazing.

Oh, and speaking of donating, Avalon has a crowd-funding campaign going on right now, if you’d like to back it…

https://www.gofundme.com/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Like a successful wedding, a well-run fan production requires careful planning and preparation, and that means having the right people in the right jobs…not just during the shoots but in the months and weeks leading up to the director yelling “Action!” for the first time.

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t initially planning to be part of “Team Avalon,” even though I consider Avalon Universe director/showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN to be a close friend. (Josh was my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE.) What I did offer to do was to advise Josh and his producer, PIXI NEREID, on strategies for crowd-funding…advice I’ve also offered to other fan filmmakers over the years.

But before I knew it, Pixi had jumped into action, adding me to the production crew’s Facebook chat, giving me access to their Slack productivity app account where the cast and crew keep all of their online resources, and inviting me onto the kick-off production meeting Zoom call. So that’s how I became a part of “Team Avalon,” and it’s given me a fascinating look into who these fine folks are and all that they’re doing to make the wedding…er, fan film extra spectacular and go off without a hitch.

Let me tell you about the team…

Continue reading “Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!”