DREADNOUGHT DOMINION premieres “REDEMPTION AT RED MEDUSA”! (audio interview with GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN)

Back in 2015, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION released its first two episodes (“Haunted” and “Anchors Aweigh“). Those two episodes set up the backstory of the main characters as the USS Dominion prepared to launch. But then the show-runner and lead actor, FRANK PAREKR, JR. (playing Commodore Samuel Grissom) left the series, leaving GARY DAVIS and RANDY WREEN to pick up the pieces and move on.

In late 2016, Dreadnought Dominion did a cross-over fan film with Starship Valiant called “Chain of Command.” With Dominion still waiting to launch, Gary’s character of Captain Jason Brousseau takes command and makes Randy’s Commander Stephen Denson his XO.

The following summer, a Mirror Universe version of the same episode, this one titled “Command and Conquer,” showed the same scenes taking place in the Terran Empire. It was a fun little project, and both fan films featured MICHAEL L. KING from Starship Valiant and VANCE MAJOR playing his fan favorite character of Erick Minard.

And Dominion still hadn’t left drydock!

Last summer Gary and Randy released two back-to-back vignettes, both filmed at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA: “Reality Check” (which purposefully broke the fourth wall in a tongue-in-cheek way) and “Silent Acknowledgement” (featuring the first deaf character and actress in a fan series). You can read a great two-part interview with Gary and Randy here.

And yet, after six complete fan films, Dominion was still in drydock!

Acknowledging the ridiculousness of the situation, Gary and Randy created one final script to get them on their way: “Technical Difficulties.” Also tongue-in-cheek, they finally got the starship launched and promised their next episode would be a serious one.

That episode was just released this past Saturday. Check it out…

Gary and Randy are great guys and truly dedicated to the essence of what a Star Trek fan film should be: fun, dedication, hard work, and a desire to share their stories with fellow fans. I’d been wanting to do an audio interview with them, and this seemed like the perfect excuse. So take a listen to a fun and funny interview with two gentlemen whom you are going to want to get to know better…

RANDY WRENN and GARY DAVIS of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION

Dreadnought Dominion‘s last crowd-funding campaign feel short of its goal. But now, with the impressive “Redemption at Red Medusa” showing what they can do, Gary and Randy have launched a new GoFundMe for their next TWO episodes with a $3,000 goal. If you’d like to help them out, click on the link below…

https://www.gofundme.com/dreadnoughtdominion

A whole new DIMENSION to my fan film INTERLUDE!

And this is why I’m not a video editor!

But before I begin publicly admitting my embarrassment, let me first say how excited and encouraged I am to see so much support for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. After just 24 hours, we’d already made it an amazing 1/8 of the way to our $19,500 goal…with new donations popping up every few hours. So THANK YOU!

If you haven’t donated yet and would like to, here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

So let me tell you a little bit about my experience as a filmmaker…

And there it was. I’m not an accomplished editor or VFX artist; I can’t compose music; I don’t know lighting; and I’m working my way up to”novice” when it comes to video cameras and the latest technology. Fortunately, I have some amazing people who DO know this stuff backwards and forwards, and I’m more than happy to find them some money to produce a film and then just get out of their way and let them work their magic.

However, when it came to creating the “ask” video for Interlude, I didn’t feel comfortable requesting or expecting too much free work just yet. Oh sure, LEWIS ANDERSON created the awesome CGI render of the opening VFX sequence, MARK EDWARD LEWIS added the sound effects, KEVIN CROXTON composed the music, and Mark did the sound mixing. Those 19 seconds were a true team effort.

But the other 12 minutes and 16 seconds of the ask video were all me, my Canon G3X camera, and my Mac. And as I said, I’m not exactly an accomplished expert, and I don’t have the high-end editing software (nor did I have time to learn it). So I just did my best to record footage and assemble the video using the “Happy Meal” of Mac film editing applications: iMovie.

Considering my limited experience and abilities, and also the short amount of time I had to complete everything, the 13-minute ask video and the 1-minute Interlude “commercial” came out fairly decently. Lots of people agreed…even a few detractors, if you can believe it. But those same detractors were all too eager to point out how disappointed they were that Interlude would have a standard HD aspect resolution of 16:9 instead of the wider screen cinemascope aspect ratio of 2:39.1 that Prelude to Axanar was shot in.

Then, two days after I’d launched the GoFundMe with the “ask” video that I was so proud of, my CGI guy messengered me to ask why I cropped his cinemascope VFX footage down to 16:9?

To quote the great Scooby Doo: “R’uh R’oh!”

Continue reading “A whole new DIMENSION to my fan film INTERLUDE!”

Asking MARC SCOTT ZICREE the tough questions about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)

I love interviewing MARC ZICREE (“Mr. Sci-Fi”) a.k.a. Marc Zicree of SPACE COMMAND. He always has a LOT of very interesting things to say, and he says it all with such enthusiasm and excitement. In fact, I usually have to listen to Marc’s interviews a second time to fully process everything!

Today’s interview is actually the fourth I’ve done with Marc over the past three years, and the first wasn’t even about his current passion project Space Command. Along with writing more than a thousand television scripts, Marc also wrote, directed and produced the Star Trek: New Voyages episode “World Enough and Time,” which featured GEORGE TAKEI as a guest star and remains one of the finest Star Trek fan films ever made. (Here’s my interview with Marc about that production.)

More recently, Marc has been tackling the incredibly ambitious Space Command, a sprawling, original sci-fi epic with six 2-hour episodes in the first season alone. The pilot episode, “Redemption” features Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Doug Jones (Pan’s LabyrinthHellboy, and now Star Trek: Discovery’s Saru), Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5), Mira Furlan (Babylon 5), Bill Mumy (Babylon 5 and Lost In Space), and others.

Crowd-funding for Redemption began way back in 2012 with $221,000 raised from nearly 3,000 backers. Subsequent crowd-funders and sales of investment shares increased that total to over a million dollars! Last summer, after more than six years, the first half hour of the pilot was finally released. You can view it below…

In February of this year, Marc released the full first hour of the pilot, with improvements to the initial half hour included. It’s actually interesting to compare the two versions, so I’m posting both if you’re interested in watching side-by-side…

With the last hour of “Redemption” currently in post-production and scheduled for release later on this year (hopefully!), Marc just announced a new Kickstarter campaign for the second 2-hour episode, “Forgiveness,” which already has 40 minutes of live action filmed. The campaign quickly exploded past its $35K goal and is currently hovering at around $70K as I write this…with 10 days left to go.

When I first published a blog spotlighting the new campaign two weeks ago, some fans were dubious. If it’s been seven years and episode one isn’t done yet, why start funding episode two? Why not finish one full episode before starting on another?

So for this interview, and with Marc’s permission, I hit him with that tough question…along with a several others. Among the things I wanted to know were what actually happens during all of those meetings he has with executives from Netflix and Amazon and ABC? What if one of those networks wants to give him $50 million but demands he throw out everything he’s done and start over with a decent budget? And finally, with all of these projects Marc is developing and pitching right now, how do donors know he’s spending enough time on Space Command itself?

Listen to his eye-opening answers below…

And of course, there’s still time to donate:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/58936338/space-command-forgiveness

My INTERLUDE GoFundMe launches with $1,600 in just 6 hours!

Wow! I launched the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE during the rescheduled livecast of this week’s Axanar Confidential. Then I headed out to have dinner with a good friend and watch episodes of Fear the Walking Dead and The Last Kingdom. After dinner but before geeking out in front of the TV, I showed my friend the YouTube “commercial” I posted for Interlude

He was curious how much we’d raised so far. I joked that it’d only been about two and a half hours, only 70 people had watched the podcast live, and we really hadn’t started the heavy promotion yet. Nevertheless, I pulled out my cell phone and checked: $420. Not bad, I thought…even though $100 of that came from me as the first donation.

But when I returned home three hours later (just a few minutes ago as I write this), I was shocked to see the total had jumped to $1,620! And this included an anonymous $1,000 donation (whoever you are, I love you—thank you so much!). Actually, I want to thank everyone who has donated so far, from a $5 donation from my dear friends ALEX & SARAH ROSENZWEIG to a $100 donation from CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIERE in Italy (who will be the costume consultant for Axanar) to a $250 donation from a fellow named JT KLAMER, whom I’m not sure I know yet, but I’d sure like to. To you five and the other half dozen donors so far, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

But there’s still a long road to get from here to there…which is my ultimate goal of $19,500. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to be publishing a LOT of blogs about Interlude to keep up interest and excitement in the project. These will include features, interviews, a couple of videos, some editorials, and the seven pages of the short comic book story I wrote that Interlude is based on.

I am also planning to continue to cover the larger world of fan films. After all, that’s what this blog is all about! Already, I have an audio interview with MARC ZICREE of SPACE COMMAND coming on Thursday, another audio interview with the show-runners of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION the following week, a sneak peek at VANCE MAJOR’s upcoming series THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES, and the first new STALLED TREK animated puppet parody in more the three years.

So no, it’s not going to be “all Interlude all the time,” and yes, it is going to be a VERY busy summer for Jonathan!

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Please consider making a donation to my crowd-funder for Interlude, or at least please share the link below…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

The DOG ate my LIVECAST – INTERLUDE launch rescheduled for TONIGHT at 9PM Eastern Time!

Some of you might be aware that last night I was planning to launch my GoFundMe crowd-funding campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. We had it all planned: ALEC PETERS would host me and my directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN, on his Axanar Confidential YouTube Livecast. The start time was supposed to be 9:00 pm Eastern. I posted all over Facebook and to a number of mailing lists.

And then the dog happened…

To be honest, I’d been a feeling little uneasy about the livecast the entire day. Alec was traveling back to Georgia all the way from Oklahoma (where he had been for the weekend)—a 13-hour drive! Could he make it back in time for the livecast?

As the day went on, I checked in with Alec periodically. By lunchtime, he and his girlfriend CRYSSTAL HUBBARD were in Memphis…half-way there. Later in the afternoon, while passing through Birmingham, Alabama, Alec’s GPS showed an arrival time of 8:30 pm. Cutting it close, to be sure…but we should still make it. Whew!

But then Alec texted me that he had to cancel the livecast. The reason: an emergency dog rescue…

Continue reading “The DOG ate my LIVECAST – INTERLUDE launch rescheduled for TONIGHT at 9PM Eastern Time!”

The REVISED BUDGET for my fan film INTERLUDE!

The crowd-funder for my fan film INTERLUDE goes live next week, and this is my last chance to share the details of the budget, explaining the goal of…

$19,500

…(a slight increase over the estimate in my previous blog from three weeks ago because a few things have changed).

Before I begin, let me state for the record that this budget was compiled by me based on input from a number of sources, including my directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSH IRWIN along with several other people whom I trust. But the final numbers and estimates were mine because, as executive producer, I am the guy responsible for raising the money, explaining to you how we are going to utilize it, and ultimately writing the checks from the money we raise.

So is this budget 100% perfect? Probably not. Some things might end up costing less, some will cost more, and probably a bunch of things we haven’t even thought of will suddenly pop up out of nowhere. If we come up short, we’ll need to figure out ways to trim things. For that reason, I’ve “erred on the side of caution” and created my budget to assume costs on the high side. That way, if we don’t make our goal, we’ll hopefully still have enough to make a decent fan film by streamlining and trimming things from the budget.

And what if we go over our goal?  Well, if there’s enough left over, perhaps we take the surplus and mail out some extra patches to our donors as a thank you gift. Maybe we can afford something even nicer than a patch. Maybe we can afford something even nicer than a patch. We’ll see. If there’s a lot left over, it goes into a bank account to be reserved for a future Axanar Universe fan film from me or another Axanar fan.

One place the funds do NOT go is to Axanar Productions to help ALEC PETERS in any way to make his Axanar sequels. That would, according to Alec himself, violate his settlement agreement with CBS and Paramount. This includes giving him any of our uniforms to use for his shoot. (Amusingly, he can loan some of his uniforms to us, but not vice-versa. Even though that sounds odd, it’s the legally prudent thing to do.)

And now, let’s take a deep-dive into our budget…

Continue reading “The REVISED BUDGET for my fan film INTERLUDE!”

To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!

Among the more annoying and often-ignored fan film guidelines is number 6e: “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.”

Boo. Hiss. Expletive.

And as I’ve said elsewhere, a number of post-guidelines fan film crowd-funding campaigns have ignored that one…offering posters, patches, and a bunch of other perks. Thus far, CBS hasn’t seemed to mind. In one case, the production even got permission from CBS to offer perks!

However, I’d be naive to believe that CBS won’t have me and my production under a microscope. So I’m taking great pains to keep INTERLUDE completely separate from Alec Perets’ Axanar sequels (other than having Alec play Garth) and to establish very clearly and publicly my intention to follow ALL of the guidelines.

And that means…no perks!

Man, it’s a huge risk. Perks are exciting! Perks are cool! Perks make people think they’re getting something tangible for their donation (which, if you think about, isn’t that different from simply buying that perk…which is probably why CBS doesn’t want fan productions to do it).

But perks also cost money to make and to mail. In addition to the patches or posters or T-shirts or mugs, you’ve got to buy shipping materials and pay for postage. And heaven help you if you’ve got backers from places like Asia or Australia. That $10 donation is likely gonna cost you $25 just to mail them a frickin’ patch!

So I’ve obviously got a pretty good reason NOT to offer perks. I’m already trying to raise about $20K. Add in perks and packaging and postage, and you can increase that number easily to $22K or $23K!

So instead, all I am going to be offering as a “perk” is getting your name in the credits. But are people going to want to donate simply to see their name at the end of my fan film??? Granted I do have some fun categories for listing the names:

  • Ensign – donate up to $10
  • Lieutenant – $11-$50
  • Lieutenant Commander – $51-$100
  • Commander – $101-$250
  • Captain – $251-$500
  • Commodore – $501-$1000
  • Admiral – $1001-$2500
  • Associate Producer – $2501 and up
    (no Fleet Captain…that rank’s reserved for Garth!)

The idea is that, the larger your donation, the higher your rank and the larger your name in the credits. And for the Associate Producers (assuming I get any), they will also be invited to join us at ARES STUDIOS for filming. They’ll have to pay for their own transportation and lodging—but I figure if they can afford thousands of dollars to donate to a fan film, they shouldn’t have a problem with a plane ticket and a Holiday Inn Express.

And there’s one more fun thing I wanna do…!

Continue reading “To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!”

Newest SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter is off to the races…AGAIN!

So what do you call a fan film that’s already raised over a million dollars, turned a warehouse into a studio with those donations, then closed the studio, isn’t finished with the film yet (even many years later), and is now asking supporters for even more money…and getting it?

Yep, it’s MARC SCOTT ZICREE’s SPACE COMMAND…back again for yet another Kickstarter!

And the fans are still showing their support. With a stated goal of $35K, their newest campaign was already well past $45K before it even launched! How did they manage that? Easy…just open it early to previous donors for 36 hours when they can be the first to claim special limited-time perks. It’s now about a week later, and the Kickstarter is well over $60K and climbing steadily. (I should be so lucky with my crowd-funder next month!)

So if Space Command has already taken in over a million dollars and hasn’t even finished their first 2-hour pilot yet, then what are they doing asking for even MORE money? Glad you asked!

Space Command got its start waaaaaaay back in 2012 with an early Kickstarter that brought in a staggering $212,000 from more than 2,000 donors. It then took five years for the project to reach post-production, where a second Kickstarter raised an additional $108,000 that would help complete the first hour of the 2-hour pilot episode “Redemption.”

The first half-hour segment of the pilot premiered last summer at San Diego Comic cons and debuted on YouTube for fans in August. Then a third Kickstarter raised $102,000 more for post-production on the second hour of the pilot. Marc is also selling individual $7,500 shares in the venture for supporters looking for a return on investment if/when the series sells. Those shares have brought in an additional half million dollars.

Space Command will ultimately span six 2-hour episodes for its first season, featuring such notable sci-fi actors as DOUG JONES (yep, that Doug Jones); ROBERT PICARDO (from Voyager) ; MIRA FURLAN, BRUCE BOXLEITNER, and BILL MUMY (from Babylon 5); FARAN TAHIR (the captain of the USS Kelvin from Star Trek 2009); JAMES HONG (from Big Trouble in Little China and Kung Fu Panda); and host of others. This is a true professional sci-fi endeavor, created through public funding for a fraction of the cost the networks are paying for their shows (although hopefully they’ll be buying it).

The first 2-hour (pilot) episode “Redemption” has already been fully funded, completely filmed, and half-completed with 900 visual FX shots, sounds, music, color adjustment, etc. And the first hour has been available for free on YouTube since January 1. Check it out…!

But now it’s time to crowd-fund the second episode, “Forgiveness.” Let’s talk about that one for a little bit…

Continue reading “Newest SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter is off to the races…AGAIN!”

INTERLUDE will be filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS instead of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS…

A slight change of plans for my fan film INTERLUDE, which will be set in the Axanar Universe and will be crowd-funding soon!

The majority of the fan film will be shot on the amazing bridge set of the USS ARES in Lawrenceville, GA. Initially, the plan was to film there for two days in late September and then drive down to Kingsland, GA for a third day of filming on the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios. There are two scenes that take place in my fan film—one in sickbay and the other in engineering—that are brief but still very important to the story.

The new plan, instead of filming in Kingsland, has the sickbay scene being shot in Arkansas at WARP 66 Studios, which is run by GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS. Those TOS sets have been used for episodes of THE FEDERATION FILES as well as recent Avalon Universe productions from my Interlude directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX. In fact, Josh and Victoria live relatively close to Glen and Dan, so the change of location actually makes things quite a bit more convenient for them.

It also trims about $1,000 or so from our budget…YAY! Without the need to drive 5 hours across Georgia, I won’t have to rent a car in Atlanta for the weekend. Plus, we won’t need three or four hotel rooms in Kingsland for the night.

Glen is already coming up with ideas for altering his TOS sickbay set into looking more like the earlier sickbay from the second Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” If so, that’d be totally AWESOME(!!!), since Interlude takes place during the Four Years War, two decades before Kirk’s 5-year mission. So Glen has my undying appreciation (that’s a subtle Kharn reference for all those Axanerds out there)!

As for the engineering scene, WARP 66 doesn’t have that set as yet. However, the engineering scene in Interlude is so brief (like, maybe, 10 seconds) that we can easily “fake” it with a green screen composite. And there’s a bunch of engineering backgrounds available out there for our VFX guy to use.

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on a really fun “ask” video for the crowd-funding campaign, which will launch in just a couple of weeks! The opening VFX sequence is being scored right now, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. My team is excited, I’m REALLY excited, and I hope that soon you’ll be just as excited, too!

How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)

Last week, I revealed that I’m going to need to raise $18,800 (possibly more if I end up getting production insurance) in order to make my fan film INTERLUDE, which takes place in what I’ve decided to call the “Axanar Universe.” Now, $18.8K is pretty ambitious in the post-guidelines fan film world. So how am I going to get there?

Over the years that I’ve published the Fan Film Factor blog, I’ve seen a LOT of crowd-funding campaigns—some more successful than others—and I’ve noticed some things that work and some that don’t. I’ve shared this “acquired wisdom” with many folks along the way, but now it’s time to see if I can practice what I’ve been preaching!

They say that a magician should never reveal how they do their tricks, but today I am going to do just that. I’m gonna tell you all exactly what I’m planning to try to make this a successful crowd-funding campaign. And hey, if you’ve got any additional ideas that I haven’t thought of (and don’t require me to “break bad”), please feel free to share them in the comments.

Okay, let’s pull back the magician’s curtain…

Continue reading “How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)”