I just interviewed NICHELLE NICHOLS…how cool is that???

As many fans know, beloved Star Trek TOS actress NICHELLE NICHOLS is embarking on a year-long farewell convention tour…culminating next May in Burbank, CA. Although Nichelle had a minor stroke back in 2015, and she’s 86 years old, she’s still going strong enough to appear in nearly a half dozen cons around the country.

The last time I saw her in person was in late 2016, when my then six-year-old son Jayden photo-bombed a picture she was taking with WALTER KOENIG on a partial TNG bridge recreation at a convention in Los Angeles. I told Jayden to get out of Riker’s seat, but Nichelle insisted that he stay for a photo—and it’s one that I’ll always treasure…

I love Nichelle. I think it’s fair to say that all fans love Nichelle! I can’t recall ever hearing a single negative thing said about this warm, gracious, talented, and elegant actress who gave women of color in the 1960s and beyond a precedent-setting character to admire and aspire to someday be like themselves. And indeed, starting in the 1970s, Nichelle was recruited by NASA to encourage promising women and ethnic minorities to become astronauts—among them was Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator until last year.

Nichelle has always loved her fans right back, and has been one of the major Star Trek actors to agree to portray her character in multiple fan films (along with GEORGE TAKEI, WALTER KOENIG, GRACE LEE WHITNEY, TIM RUSS, ROBERT PICARDO, GARY GRAHAM, and a few others). Nichelle appeared as Uhura in both STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN and later as simply “The Admiral” in the de-Trekified RENEGADES two-part episode “The Requiem.” She will also be adding her voice talents to another upcoming Star Trek fan film.

So imagine my excitement and jubilation when I discovered that SKY CONWAY, Nichelle’s long-time friend and business partner (and the producer of Renegades and Of Gods and Men), is pitching the idea for a documentary on Nichelle’s life and ground-breaking career. After the success of Adam Nimoy’s tribute to his father, FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK, a similar spotlight on Nichelle Nichols seems like a no-brainer!

Sky has set up an Indiegogo campaign seeking to raise $25,000 (in just 16 days!) to create a “sizzle reel” to help pitch the full project to investors. This sizzle reel will include a two-day shoot on the Neutral Zone Studios TOS sets in Kingsland, GA. Just imagine Uhura back on the bridge of the USS Enterprise!

The brief crowd-funder got off to an explosive start, raising $10,000 in just three days. And it’s now nearly 60% of the way to its goal with just six days left. I’ve already listed it here on Fan Film Factor, but when I reached out to Sky Conway to get a quick quote from him or Nichelle, he invited me to write up some questions and do an actual interview.

Really? That’s totally awesome!

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JONATHAN LANE’s fan film will take place in…the AXANAR UNIVERSE!

What…you didn’t see that coming?

I thought about keeping this little nugget of information secret for a few weeks longer, doing a “big reveal” just before launching my crowd-funding campaign next month. But I just can’t help myself! I want you all to know about INTERLUDE: A Star Trek Fan Film set in the AXANAR Universe.

Wait, Jonathan’s doing what now?

Okay, set your Guardian of Forever or Burnham-built Time-Suit to June of 2017 when ALEC PETERS sent me a script to review and provide him feedback. It was his first attempt to shorten the 90-minute Axanar feature film into two 15-minute episodes of “The Four Years War” (in a similar mockumentary style to PRELUDE TO AXANAR).

I was kind of a “unique” reader for Alec, as I’d purposefully avoided reading his full-length script up until that point. So I had no idea what Alec was taking out and keeping in. But when I finished reading it, I was left feeling a little confused. Despite some very exciting sequences in and around the epic Battle of Axanar, I noticed that there were no scenes that took place on that incredible USS Ares bridge! WTF???

I figured that Alec was worried that he didn’t have enough screen time available with just 30 minutes to include dramatic sequences on the bridge. But I felt that, if handled carefully, a few parts could be trimmed here and there to make room for some cool (albeit short) bridge scenes. To illustrate what I was trying to explain, I wrote out one of these scenes, taking a quick line of Garth’s dialogue that explained why Admiral Ramirez wouldn’t be in these next two movies (actor TONY TODD isn’t returning for the sequels) and turned it into a brief sequence set on the bridges of two Ares-class starships.

I ended up “catching a muse” and just kept writing…and writing…and writing. By 5 a.m., I’d created a full 15-minute Axanar script similar to Alec’s but littered with exciting bridge scenes. After a few hours of sleep, I began working on the other 15-minute script, finishing that one by 3 p.m. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I shared my new script versions with Alec…

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NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS nearly doubles its Patreon total with an unexpected $800/MONTH donor!

As you might remember from my recent blog, NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingland, GA (where Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut) has a Patreon campaign currently trying to raise $3,500/month to cover rent, utilities, insurance, and maintenance. Right now, those expenses are being paid primarily by RAY TESI, the super-fan who purchased the iconic TOS set recreations from STC show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA. Ray has generously opened up his sets to fan filmmakers and also to the general public during periodic Fan Appreciation Weekends (the next of which is coming up on May 24-26).

The challenge for Ray is that these monthly expenses are ongoing…which is not the case for his retirement savings, which is what is funding the dream at the moment. So Ray has asked the fan community to chip in in the form of small monthly contributions made via Patreon.

The campaign kicked off last July and kinda went nowhere for seven months. By February, Ray was up to only 17 patrons donating $176/month (of which Patreon takes a small percentage), leaving Ray with annual expenses that were still topping $40,000…YIKES!!!

But then things began to look up, as a renewed outreach effort on social media saw totals nearly triple by the end of February to 41 patrons and $566/month. Ray was down to having to cover “only” $35,000/year. Sure, still a long way to go…but definitely headed in the right direction.

The following two months saw reliably steady growth, reaching 74 patrons and $872/month by the time I checked the campaign before heading to bed on April 22. Ray was now taking in about $10,000/year, covering about 25% of his expenses.

When I sat down at my computer the next morning, Ray’s Patreon page was still on the screen, so I did a refresh just out of curiosity. I didn’t expect the total to change, but ya never know. That said, it took me a few moments to fully process what I was seeing…

At some point while I slept, Ray’s Patreon total had jumped from $872/month to $1,696/month—almost DOUBLING overnight! Surely this was some kind of glitch at Patreon. No one donates $824/month…do they????

I messaged Ray.

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BIG NEWS: Jonathan Lane is going to make a STAR TREK fan film!

Did you know that I’ve now been involved with Star Trek fan films for TWENTY YEARS??? It seems amazing to me!

Although I’ve only been blogging about fan productions since 2015, I appeared in my first Star Trek fan film way back in 1999 when I made out in the turbolift with my then real-life girlfriend in VOYAGES OF THE USS ANGELES: “The Price of Duty.” That short-lived fan series that grew out of our local Star Trek fan group evolved into STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER, and I’d drop by the occasional shoot in Pasadena every now and then to help out behind-the-scenes. If you don’t blink, you can see me as an extra (an Elosian guard) in the fifth episode of the HF spin-off series STAR TREK: ODYSSEY, “Keepers of the Wind” (2008).

Since I began blogging about Trek fan films four years ago, I’ve dabbled a bit in a few more of them. In 2016, during the early days of the CBS/Paramount lawsuit against Axanar, I co-wrote and co-produced with MARK LARGENT a hilarious parody of both the AXANAR fan film and the lawsuit called STALLED TREK: PRELUDE TO AX’D-WE ARE. I also provided the voices for four of the animated puppet characters, including the fan-favorite Vulcanine Ambassador Snowball (“My ears are still bleeding…”).

I did voice-over again in the recent ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES vignette “Final Flight,” portraying the character of Lt. Geoffrey Christopher, the engineer/test pilot responsible for developing the Warp 7 engine that helped Starfleet defeat the Romulans. I was also featured in a brief cameo during Vance Major‘s Minard saga episode “Change” as one of Erick Minard’s “network” (which also included other prominent members of the real-world fan film community who were friends of Vance).

But in all of this time, the fan films I was involved with were always somebody else’s (even Ax’d-We-Are, which was part of Mark Largent’s Stalled Trek puppet parody series).

Now, however, I’m finally doing a fan film that comes from my head, where I am the show-runner (executive producer), and if it falls off a cliff, I’m the one responsible!

Hopefully, it won’t fall off a cliff…

Continue reading “BIG NEWS: Jonathan Lane is going to make a STAR TREK fan film!”

Now crowd-funding: “TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE” – a unique fan film from a unique fan! (interview with LARRY FLEMING)

Okay, now that you guys have stepped up to help fund the Avalon Universe fan film “Demons,” as well as Neutral Zone Studios and Ares Studios…guess what? Yep, another fan project needs your help!

This time, it’s a very unique production from a very unique fan. LARRY FLEMING has been working in the world of Star Trek fan films for nearly a decade, having begun back in 2010 with an early episode of the long-running fan series Star Trek: Natures Hunger. Since then, he’s produced, done set decoration for, done stunts for, and acted in numerous fan productions including Starship Farragut, Trek Isolation, Exeter Trek, Starship Republic, Minard, Dreadnought Dominion, Melbourne, and various releases from Potemkin Pictures. Now it’s time for Larry to write, direct, produce, and star in his own fan film!

What’s so unique about his latest project, TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE? Glad you asked. While many details remain unknown, the general plot-line appears to merge our own Trekker/Trekkie fan reality with the universe of Star Trek in a new and creative way. The following is from his current Indiegogo campaign page:

Prepare to go where no fan production has gone before!

Fan films are dreams come true, wish-fulfillment fantasies realized through the miracle of video production.  But what if it all happened for REAL? What if you were suddenly on board the USS Enterprise and Captain Kirk and his crew needed YOUR help?  Would you know what to do? After all, you’re the ultimate Trekkie, right? But this isn’t just a show anymore, and those Klingons are really shooting at you!

Meet Peter Warren, a “get-a-life” Star Trek fanatic who wakes up on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in his Captain Kirk pajamas…only to discover the ship is empty, the crew displaced in time, and an unstoppable foe from the future has a plan that is futile to resist.  Can a Trekkie in his pajamas possibly save the Federation all by himself?

Cross the threshold between reality and fantasy as the two become one in the upcoming fan film “To Have Boldly Gone.”  With your generous donations, you can help turn this fantasy into a wonderful reality for fans everywhere to watch and enjoy!

Sounds pretty cool, huh? Well, that’s only half the story. Y’see, the fan behind this film have been a Savior on The Walking Dead and will appear in Avengers: Endgame (if they don’t cut his scene). In fact, he’s been in numerous movies and TV shows, but his true love is fan films.

Let’s meet him…

Continue reading “Now crowd-funding: “TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE” – a unique fan film from a unique fan! (interview with LARRY FLEMING)”

WARP 66 STUDIOS expands its TOS sets…with the help of JOSH IRWIN from Avalon!

Before we get to WARP 66 STUDIOS, a quick update on the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film “Demons.” With less than 15 hours left(!!!!), they are at $6,290 from 97 backers…plus another $500 directly from a special backer. That means that the campaign has reached nearly 80% of its $8500 goal. Can they get the rest of the way before tonight’s deadline at midnight? If you haven’t donated yet and want to, here’s the link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Okay, on to WARP 66 Studios. Named after its founders GLEN WOLF and DAN REYNOLDS (Wolf And Reynolds Productions) followed by the year of the premiere of Star Trek (1966), their TOS sets are located in northern Arkansas on property owned by Dan and other property owned by Glen. Already, they and their team have constructed a partial Constitution-class bridge and the cockpit of a shuttlecraft, both of which were used in the recent fan films THE FEDERATION FILES: “Galaxy Hopper” and and AVALON LOST.

Unlike the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA, WARP 66 Studios is not necessarily open to any fan film, nor is it exclusive only to Glen and Dan’s Federation Files projects. Glen explained:

Currently, the sets are for The Federation Files and friends of the production group. Basically, if a member of our crew whats to make his/her own film, they may use our sets. We are in no way “competition” for The Neutral Zone or James Cawley’s Fan Film Academy. We are building sets for specific shoots, all of them can be considered temporary aside from the bridge.People may contact me, but due to the fluid nature of the sets, I can not promise any particular piece would be available.

This past weekend, Avalon Universe co-showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN (who also lives in Arkansas) spent a full day helping with the construction of a partial sickbay set, a briefing room, and an extended corridor that will be used as part of the USS Excalibur in the upcoming Avalon fan film “Demons.” Josh had this to say about the experience of working to help create the new sets…

It’s honestly a dream come true to spend the day building a space ship to film on. 14-year-old me would be very jealous of what 38-year-old me did today.

Remember to make a donation to Avalon’s Indiegogo before the end of today (if you haven’t already and are so included) or at least spread the link via social media. And in the meantime, enjoy these photos that Josh took over the weekend at WARP 66 Studios…

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Can the Klingons help AVALON get $500 in donations in 4 days???

Currently, the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film, “Demons,” stands at $5,500 from 86 backers (64% of the way to their $8,500 goal). Actually, there’s an additional $500 donation that came in that didn’t get recorded (read more about that glitch here), so they’re really 70% of the way there!

Last week, show-runners JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX extended their campaign for 8 more days, trying to attract a few extra dollars, if possible. So far, it’s worked to get them to where they are, but there’s still a way to go. It’d be great to reach their goal, but if that’s not possible by Monday, Josh and Victoria are hoping for at least another $500, which will make a really big difference for the production.

So I’m doing my part in sharing the following three videos they’ve released showing the quality of the visual effects being done by the wizard of speed and time, SAMUEL COCKINGS. These are only pre-visualizations (rough animations to establish motion), but they show what some of the Klingon ships will look like in the Avalon Universe, which is similar to the prime universe but also slightly different in fun and fascinating ways. It gives the producers a bit more creative freedom than fan films that hew more closely to Trek canon usually get with ship and costume design.

Anyway, take a look at these three short videos, because they’re really cool…

Excited? Well, the live action scenes are just as well-produced, as Joshua and Victoria are both industry professionals in their “real” lives. You can listen to a great interview I recently did with them here…

$500 in 4 days…and you can help make it happen! Or if you can’t, maybe a fan friend of yours can. So please share the link and, if you’re feeling generous, help these fan producers make more Star Trek for the rest of us to enjoy…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Major CONTROVERSY for NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA – the bad, ugly, and the good…

Over this past weekend, two fan films that were scheduled to shoot on the TOS sets at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA (formerly used by Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut), made major announcements based on some unexpected new pricing policies implemented by the studio at the last minute. It wasn’t pretty.

Previously, Neutral Zone Studios, purchased last year by RAY TESI, had followed the lead of the now-defunct Starbase Studios in Oklahoma and (later) Arkansas of charging fans only for the cost of electricity and utilities but otherwise allowing the use the sets for free for any fan production to film on. Of course, nothing is really “free,” and the costs for rent and upkeep had to be paid by someone…and in this case, it’s been Ray Tesi.

Just this past month alone, Ray had to write $6,000 in checks for rent, utilities and his annual insurance on the facility and sets. In a typical year, Ray’s out-of-pocket costs—just to keep the sets from winding up in the dumpster—is about $42,000!

To try to help with expenses, Ray launched a Patreon campaign almost a year ago seeking small monthly donations from fans. While it’s doing modestly well—currently taking in about $800 a month from 64 backers—that still leaves Ray with nearly $33,000 in annual expenses. For a guy who is paying for this venture out of his retirement fund , this is a significant commitment. And frankly, I personally think more fans need to step forward and help Ray cover his costs…because if Ray runs out of money, these sets really will wind up in a dumpster.

But more on that in a moment. First, let me tell you about what happened this past weekend—both the bad, the ugly, and the good…

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Mysterious INDIEGOGO glitch almost cost the AVALON fan filmmakers a $500 donation!

If you donated to the AVALON Indiegogo, please read this blog

First of all, you’ve got until THIS SUNDAY to donate to the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film: “Demons”…so hurry up and click on the link below (or at least share it with friends):

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Currently, the total shows the campaign at $4,615 from 70 backers, about 54% of the way to their $8,500 goal. But as it turns out, there’s a $500 donation MISSING (more on that in a moment), meaning the total is really up to $5,115, or about 60% of the goal.

So how did a $500 get lost? No one knows exactly—not even Indiegogo. But here’s what we do know…

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NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS once again opens their TOS sets to the public for FAN APPRECIATION WEEKEND 2!

When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, watching Star Trek each weeknight at 6:00pm, I used to dream of one day building my own Enterprise bridge. I’d have it on the second floor of my house, in a circular area, with a turbolift elevator that would go up to it, doors whooshing open to shock and impress my friends.

Sadly (at least for me, not sad for my wife), that didn’t happen.

But miraculously, I can still walk onto the bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701. I can sit in the captain’s chair, stand in the transporter, walk through the corridors, visit sickbay and engineering, wander into the briefing room and Captain Kirk’s quarters. And I can even do it in two different locations!

The first place I can go is the officially licensed Star Trek Original Series Set Tour in Ticonderoga, NY. For $22.50/person (less for seniors, military, and kids), I can walk around meticulous, museum-quality recreations of the original 1960s sets that were used to film Star Trek. The sets in upstate New York were used to make the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase 2, and now are available throughout the year for personal and group tours.

Further south in Kingsland, GA are the sets that were originally used for the fan series Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues. A little over a year ago, those sets were sold by VIC MIGNOGNA to RAY TESI, who has opened them up for free filming (just pay the electricity costs) to any fan production that follows the CBS guidelines. Originally called Stage 9 Studios, the sets were recently renamed NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS to avoid confusion with the Virtual 3D walkthrough of the Enterprise-D that was shut down by CBS.

Last October, Ray Tesi opened his Georgia sets to the general public for a FAN APPRECIATION WEEKEND. It featured tours, photo opportunities, some fan film celebrity guests, and even two different fan productions shooting scenes in front of a live, studio audience.

However, there was also some controversy

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