INTERLUDE Confidential #1: Jonathan, the Executive Producer…

It was the best of times, it was…aw, heck! IT WAS FRICKIN’ AWESOME!!!

I’m referring, of course, to the main shoot of my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE that took place about a week ago as I write this. It’s taken me this long just to process the amazing, kaleidoscopic experience I had.

With so much to tell you all about what happened, I wondered how best to do it. A single blog about the weekend would read like War and Peace and still barely scratch the surface. So instead, I’m going to break it down into smaller chunks, and each will end with a series of on-set photos. (I’m still editing through everything…and there’s gonna be at least a few hundred pictures!)

I’ve decided to call this blog series Interlude Confidential. (Not quite sure what made me think of that title…maybe ALEC PETERS can tell me.) Anyway, if you don’t want to read that much, then feel free just to look at the photos and enjoy the captions. But if you’re curious what the experience of being a first-time Executive Producer on a Star Trek fan film felt like, then these blogs will be my “Vulcan mind-meld” with you.

And speaking of executive producing, that’s a really good topic for the first blog about this fan film production. What exactly did Jonathan do?

Many months ago when I first kicked off the Interlude GoFundMe campaign (still accepting donations, by the way!), a few folks in a certain Facebook group complained that I was doing little to make my own fan film besides simply raising money for it (which is quite a chore in and of itself, y’know!). And truth to tell, I initially thought that was the extent of it.

Sure, I also wrote the script, was designing the insignia, and getting uniforms and patches made. But my Directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN are the experienced industry professionals. I’m just a guy who likes fan films and blogs about them obsessively. So I figured that, once I raised the money, I’d hand the steering wheel over to them, climb into the back seat, and take a well-deserved nap for the rest of the trip.

Yeah…that totally did NOT happen!!!

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #1: Jonathan, the Executive Producer…”

And that’s a WRAP for the first (main) shoot of INTERLUDE!

I don’t have much time to blog this morning ’cause it’s still going to be a very busy day! But I did just send the following update to the donors for my GoFundMe campaign who made all of this possible. And I wanted to share the message here, as well…


Oh, man!

I am still processing what I can only describe as a kaleidoscopic weekend of amazingness shooting the main scenes of INTERLUDE at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It’s gonna take a LOT of blogs to fully convey the experience of the past 3 days. But first, I need to record some lines on audio this morning, get to the airport, and fly back to Los Angeles.

All I have time to tell you right now is that your donations were not only well-spent, they were MASTERFULLY spent by a team whose talent and ability astounded me. I think we came pretty close to NOT going over budget, but I’ll need to crunch the numbers when I get home. I might need to beg for a few hundred dollars more. Maybe not. At one point, there was so much happening on set that I just handed my credit card over to someone (I don’t even remember who!) along with a laundry list of everything we needed locally and where to get it–from gaffer’s tape to extra snacks and Gatorade. It was a little surreal. (Thank heavens I got my credit card back!)

But let me assure you folks: this fan film will not only be awesome, it will be a visual work of art. Josh Irwin’s mastery of lighting and color gave his shots a cinematic feel reminiscent of the stunning palette of first season TOS on a bridge so similar yet uniquely different. And Victoria drew out some amazing on-screen performances from both trained actors and a few untrained fans (’cause we’re still a FAN film, folks!).

Anyway, more fun and fantastic details, videos, pictures (SO many photos!), interviews, and stories to come…as soon as I have time to go through more than 900 photos and about 10 hours of behind-the-scenes footage. Stay tuned…and THANK YOU ALL again for making this dream possible.

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

Holy temporal distortion!

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

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

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

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

Boy, was I wrong!

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

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

Continue reading “TEAM INTERLUDE expands – we film THIS SATURDAY!!! (part 1)”

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

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

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

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

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

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TEAM MASH-UP answers DR. SEUSS’s brief appealing judge’s FAIR USE ruling…

When I blog about Seuss, I start off with a rhyme. But I think I’ll try something different this time. (Darn it…I can’t!)

Appeal! Appeal! Lately, the Star Trek fan community has been seeing more than its share of appeals. Anas Abdin is appealing the recent dismissal of his lawsuit against CBS for allegedly stealing his “Tardigrades” game idea. And Nick Rekieta reports (at the 8:40 mark of this video) that he was told that Vic Mignogna will appeal all of the nearly-twenty counts of his lawsuit that were recently dismissed by a judge in Texas.

And of course, back in August, DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE) filed an opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Appellate Court in California appealing the dismissal of their their copyright and trademark infringement complaints against COMICMIX, DAVID GERROLD, and TY TEMPLETON.

The latter three had attempted to raise $30,000 via Kickstarter to publish a “mash-up” of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek titled Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! DSE sued in federal court, and after a roller-coaster nearly-two year legal battle, the judge in the case ruled (prior to trial) that the mash-up book did, in fact, qualify for Fair Use protections under the First Amendment and dismissed all causes of action.

DSE was not happy.

After requesting an extension to give them more time to prepare their opening brief (which clocked in at an impressive 81 pages and was very well written), they filed in early August…along with four amicus curiae briefs, which are opinions submitted to the court by non-litigants who, even though they aren’t part of the lawsuit, still have a vested interest in the outcome of the case.

In this instance, DSE got help from two professors from the Berkeley School of Lawthree members of The Copyright Alliancethe Motion Picture Association of America, and The Sesame Workshop (yep, Big Bird is buddies with The Cat in the Hat!). That’s another 140 pages to add to your reading list. They all mostly say the same thing…essentially that the judge got it wrong and here’s why they think so (and why the law backs up their belief).

Fast forward two months, and now its Team Mash-up’s turn to have their say. Let’s take a look at the latest goings-on…

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AXANAR completes its first shoot – WHY IT MATTERS…!

It's nothing to do with what we got today.  That's great.  It's the next piece...and the piece after that...until we finish the work.  And at that point, we can be judged on our finished piece of work.  That's how it works.  So we had a great time; we did some really great stuff.  The trick is to finish it, not to start it.

- PAUL JENKINS, Axanar Director

For the past almost-four years, I’ve been asked the same question over and over again: “Why do you stick with ALEC PETERS?” The reasons they give for me turning my back on him are numerous: he’s a con-man, he’s incompetent, he’s not a nice person, no one will work with him, he’ll stab you in the back, he’ll never make AXANAR, you’re wasting your time on this loser…the list goes on and on.

Earlier this summer, someone even offered me actual money to walk away from Alec (and pretty decent money at that!) in the form of an “investment” to help take Fan Film Factor to the next level. All I had to do was stop defending Alec Peters, make Interlude without him, and stop providing coverage of Axanar on my blog. It was a serious offer from someone with the funds to make good on it, and sincerely proffered. I refused. (And no, I won’t tell you who made the offer, so don’t ask.)

When you believe in something—a person, a thing, a dream—and someone else doesn’t, it’s hard to connect with them to convey just how important it is to you…how deeply you love it and are committed to it. It happens all the time with religion and politics…and with me, it happened with Star Trek, with fan films, and most deeply with Axanar.

I fell in love with Axanar, with the pocket universe within Star Trek that it created. It didn’t matter whether or not it was “canon”; it was canon to me. And I wanted to see more. CBS and Paramount almost took that away from me and from other Axanar supporters, but we never lost hope. We believed—we KNEW—this weekend would someday arrive. And now that it did, everything has changed.

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

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

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

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

But you ain’t seen nuthin‘ yet!

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

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

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R.I.P. ARON (“Nog”) EISENBERG – 1969 to 2019

ARON EISENBERG, the actor who played Quark’s Ferengi nephew and Rom’s son Nog on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, passed away suddenly on Saturday having been taken to the hospital in critical condition. He was only 50 years old…survived by his two sons, Nicholas Lawrence Eisenberg and Christopher Eisenberg, and his recently-married wife Malíssa Longo (the hyperlink is to her announcement of Aron’s passing).

At times like these, people tend to talk about how the recently deceased touched their life or recall a personal encounter with them or simply say what a great person they were.

Although Aron didn’t touch my life in any way other than portraying a wonderful character for seven seasons of my favorite Star Trek series, that character was still an inspiration to me and many others. At first, I never really cared much for Nog. He seemed troublesome and headed nowhere, bringing his friend Jake Sisko down and potentially screwing up what was obviously a brilliant Starfleet career awaiting the son of the station’s Commander.

But then, slowly but ever-so-surely, Nog began to turn his life around. While Jake became less certain about his future following in his father’s footsteps, Nog became determined NOT to follow in his father’s footsteps and instead worked hard and earned his way into Starfleet Academy. The young Ferengi officer who emerged bore no more resemblance to how Nog started out than a tribble does to a targ. And yet, he was always Nog.

Now, I realize that Nog’s character arc was mostly due to the words written for him by the producers and writers, but Aron brought those words to life and made them (and Nog) real and believable to Trekkers and fans around the world. Who knows how many people, feeling aimless and trapped in their own lives, were inspired by Nog’s journey from bar-worker to Starfleet cadet to the first Ferengi Starfleet officer. In that way, I’m certain Aron touched many fans’ lives through his portrayal of Nog.

But fans also touched Aron’s life. In fact, we helped save it…

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The very FIRST Star Trek fan film ever to be SHUT DOWN by the studio lawyers was in…1968???

As we celebrate the 53rd anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek on September 8, 1966, let’s take a trip back in time five decades to what was very likely the first-ever Star Trek fan film to be shut down by the studio that owns the franchise.

It’s generally accepted in our community that the first major Star Trek fan film produced with a decent degree of quality by American fans was the 1974 project PARAGON’S PARAGON. But thanks to the folks at RODDENBERRY ENTERTAINMENT and some recently-discovered letters from the archives of the late GENE RODDENBERRY (Star Trek‘s creator), we’ve just learned that there might well have been a significant Star Trek fan film half a decade sooner—while Star Trek was still on the air!—if only a lawyer at Paramount hadn’t killed the fan project in its infancy.

Sure, we all know about the Axanar lawsuit. And some fans mistakenly believe that CBS (and before them, Paramount) hate Star Trek fan films and want to shut them all down. But if you look at the numbers, that claim doesn’t hold up. Over the decades, there have been thousands of Star Trek fan films created and released onto the Internet and, prior to that, copied from VHS tape to VHS tape and even shot on Super 8. In all of that time, the studio lawyers have only stepped in a small handful of times.

In other words, this blog isn’t a hit-piece bashing CBS or Paramount for being “evil” corporations dedicated to trying to screw over their loyal fans. Instead, it’s what Spock would consider a fascinating look back at a time when the concept of a fan film was likely as alien to a studio lawyer as an Andorian or Tellarite.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not so), Star Trek‘s very own creator—a man often considered ahead of his time—was all for the idea of a Star Trek fan film and tried to talk Paramount’s lawyer into it. But there’s an old saying that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.

This is a story of what happened when a Trekkie tried to get permission…

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Just $535 away from saving ERIC WATTS’ house!

Eight days ago when I first covered this story, ERIC L. WATTS had just launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $11,000…of which, the first $6,000 would go toward getting his house out of foreclosure and the other $5,000 would pay off the credit card debt accrued from Eric personally covering the shortfalls from the TREKLANTA convention (held each year since 2011). For the past five years, that convention has hosted what is now known as the BJO AWARDS, the only annual contest focused exclusively on honoring Star Trek fan films.

While I don’t usually cover campaigns for personal crowd-funding help, in Eric’s case, I made an exception because Treklanta and the Bjo Awards are a special resource for our fan film community, and I’d rather not lose either of them. And of course, Eric is a friend, and I don’t want the guy to be homeless.

I’ll be honest with you—I doubted that Eric would be able to pull this off…even just making it to $6,000 to save his house. It wasn’t that I doubted the generosity of our community. Heck, my own recent crowd-funding for Interlude has been surprisingly successful. But this isn’t a campaign for a fan film. Donors won’t get anything in return for supporting Eric’s campaign…other than the satisfaction of helping a fellow human being in need.

But it turns out that our community has quite a big heart after all! And in just a little over a week, Eric is within $535 from being able to save his house…and just in time, as his past-due mortgage payments must be received by early September (I don’t have the specific date) or else his home goes into foreclosure.

Part of the reason for the success of Eric’s campaign is certainly Eric’s reputation as an important part of our fan film and Star Trek community, along with his work in organizing the Bjo Awards each year. Another is that Eric wisely made use of a relatively new crowd-funding feature on Facebook where donations can be made through their site, as well.

So instead of having one campaign trying to reach $11,000 to cover mortgage and credit card debt, Eric now has two campaigns, each trying to reach only $6,000 combined to cover just the past-due mortgage itself. (Paying off the credit card will potentially be a separate endeavor. Right now, the priority for Eric is to keep his home.) Here are links to the two campaigns…

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-eric039s-house-treklanta-amp-the-bjo-awards

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donate/2457823331114420/

By splitting the campaign in two, a new avenue for donations was opened, and now the GoFundMe is up to $3,145 from 52 donors (including me), and the Facebook total is at $2,320 from 53 backers. That combines to $5,465…just $535 away from the $6,000 Eric needs to (after fees) save his house. I think he might just be able to pull this off after all!

Eric provided me with the following statement of gratitude…

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