What REALLY happened with STARBASE STUDIOS! (Part 2)

Yesterday, we looked at the history of STARBASE STUDIOS from its founding in 2010 to its move from Oklahoma to Arkansas at the beginning of 2017.  Things started to get tense and messy by early summer, with DAN REYNOLDS stepping aside, leaving GLEN L. WOLFE wanting to charge fan producers $500/day (plus extra fees) to use the studios TOS sets and resources…while SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS wanted to keep the sets free for use by fans (only requesting a donation to cover the cost of electricity for the day).  And as long as CHARLES “BUD” PELSOR, the landlord of the warehouse where the STARBASE STUDIOS sets were being housed in Dogpatch, AR, was providing free rent until the end of 2018, offering use of the sets essentially for free was certainly doable.

Then, in early August, as recounted in this recent blog a large number props and items both freestanding and attached to the sets were removed and taken from the warehouse.  It was not a break-in, as there was no indication of forced entry.  Later on, when the police were brought in,they spoke with Glen’s attorney who explained that the items taken were the personal property of Glen Wolfe, and if Scott and “Words”  wanted to prove otherwise, they would need to do so in civil court.  The police then told everyone that they would stay out of the matter until ownership was clearly and legally established.

Quite a sticky wicket!  Here’s what happened next…

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What REALLY happened with STARBASE STUDIOS! (Part 1)

As you might recall from this recent blog, SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, with the help of VANCE MAJOR, posted a video showing many critical pieces of the TOS sets that were removed, 90 days earlier, along with damage done to the remaining set pieces during the removal process.  But the question must be asked: was this “theft” and “vandalism” or simply someone reclaiming his personal property?  And it is now looking as though that question will end up being answered in an Arkansas courtroom.

There’s a LOT of ground to cover right now, folks, and I’m going to share as much as I’m allowed to while trying to break this whole situation down for you.  Ready?

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A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 5)

Last time, as 2015 came to a close, STAR TREK CONTINUES was well on its way to a royal fizzbin.  They purchased the entirety of the sets in Kingsland, GA, and released their sixth episode, “Divided We Stand.” STC‘s second “Kirkstarter” at the beginning of 2015 had brought in nearly $215,000 to fund their next two episodes and build two new sets: Engineering and a planet set similar to what existed for TOS back in the 1960s on the Paramount lot.  And then 2016 brought the release of those next two episodes, “Come Not Between the Dragons“and “Embracing the Winds.”

With eight episodes completed and released, STC was now way past the mid-point of what was originally intended to be a 13-episode run.  Show-runner Vic Mignogna never envisioned STC going past that number of episodes, and joked that he, now well into his fifties, couldn’t play a 35-year-old James T. Kirk forever.  Indeed, episodes 7 and 8 already began introducing plot elements that would form into an ongoing story arc that would culminate in the series finale that would end Kirk’s five-year mission and lead into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

But as 2015 drew to a close, no one suspected that 2016 would turn out to be an uncertain and controversial year, not just for STC, but for all Star Trek fan films.  And it all began just before New Years with the filing of a copyright infringement lawsuit by CBS and Paramount against another fan production…Axanar.

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STAR TREK CONTINUES releases its SERIES FINALE! (includes special video intro by VIC MIGNOGNA)

Now listen to me very carefully:

  • Go into your kitchen.
  • Make some popcorn.
  • Go back to your computer (or TV if you watch YouTube there).
  • Close the door.
  • Turn down the lights.
  • Turn off your phone(s).
  • And watch the series finale of STAR TREK CONTINUES before anyone can spoil it for you.
  • Do it NOW…that’s an order!

There’s no need to say anything more, unless you missed “To Boldly Go, Part I” (in which case, watch that first and then follow my previous orders).

Comments with spoilers are welcome below, but if you haven’t watched the episode yet, for heaven’s sake, DON’T SCROLL DOWN THIS PAGE!!!  Just…don’t.  Watch the finale first.  It’s 58 minutes and 10 seconds of absolute Star Trek bliss.

Also, don’t miss the final two installments of my “History of Star Trek Continues blog series this Friday and next.  Out of respect for those who don’t follow orders, I will be waiting until next Friday to get into any details about the finale.  I will also be including video segments from the STC panel discussion after the live screening).

Speaking of which, here is a SPECIAL INTRODUCTION by show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA that was given in Los Angeles before the screening…

And now, after fifty years, it’s time to finally witness the end of that historic five-year mission and celebrate this groundbreaking fan series…a precious gift to all of Star Trek fandom.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is why I’m here…

 

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 4)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last time: we took a look at the first three episodes of STAR TREK CONTINUES to be filmed with $126,000 in funds donated from their first “Kirkstarter” campaign in late 2013: “Lolani,” “Fairest of Them All,” and The White Iris.

The last of these three episodes was filmed in January of 2015, just as STC was launching its second Kickstarter campaign (Kirkstarter 2.0, as they called it) to fund their next episode….and possibly more.  But before we get to the crowd-funding campaign, something even more significant was about to happen in the Georgia Studio where STC shared space with Farragut Films.

Farragut Films wanted out, and was ready to let STC take over the studio completely (along with the $4,000/month rent!).  The only problem: Farragut Films wanted to take their bridge with them.  After all, they built it!  But how was STC going to make more episodes without the most important TOS set of them all???

Later on at the end of 2015, STC would file for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, and their submitted paperwork became public record.  As such, we now know all of the details of what happened behind-the-scenes when Farragut Films moved out of the studio…

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STARSHIP ANTYLLUS releases 55-MINUTE two-part 10th episode!

When CBS and Paramount announced the new fan film guidelines in June of 2016, the first guideline was among the most controversial:

The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.

Since then, nearly a hundred Star Trek fan films have been released (possibly more, I haven’t counted them all!), and most have followed those guidelines as best they can.  A few have gone slightly over the time limit or tried to get around the “no series” rule by changing the series title with each new “episode” of a fan series despite featuring the same cast and characters.

Of course, Star Trek Continues has been the most notable for not hewing to the guidelines in each of their final four episode releases…all produced after the announcement of the guidelines (the last episode coming next Monday…you’ll LOVE it!).  But STC is shutting down production.

Another fan series, however, is NOT planning to shut down, and they’ve just released the 55-minute long tenth episode of their first season.  That series is STARSHIP ANTYLLUS, which began back in 2013.  They released their ninth episode just over a year ago, months after the guidelines were announced.

Show-runner GEORGE KAYAIAN has actually been making Star Trek fan films since way back in the 1990s when he produced three full-length amateur features ranging from one to one-and-a-half hours in length.  These low-budget productions starred his mother as the captain and his father as chief engineer.  (Yeah, my parents would never have agreed to that!  Then again, they can’t really act.)

Two decades later, Starship Antyllus still features George’s friends and family members, but now George is a parent himself with one of the most adorable daughters you’ve even seen.  Anya has actually appeared in a 2-part episode, and she helps behind the scenes, as well.

Episode 10, “Consequences,” completes season one of the long-running fan series, and George is already working on the first few of episodes of season two, with the whole season-long story arc mapped out.  Many scenes have already been filmed, with more being added soon.  Obviously, this is going to be an ongoing fan series, something the guidelines say is a no-no.

So what does George have to say about this situation?

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A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 3)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last time: Having released a very impressive debut episode, Pilgrim of Eternity,” in May of 2013, STAR TREK CONTINUES was ready to bring fans even more episodes from what they imagined would have been the never-produced 4th and 5th seasons of TOS Star Trek.  They just needed one thing: money.

Vic Mignogna had funded their first episode himself as a way of telling fans, “Hey, this is what we can do.  Please donate so we can make more episodes like this.”  Some of the sets had already been built by the team at Starship Farragut, which agreed to share their studio with STC.  Other set pieces, like the briefing room and captain’s quarters, had been partially constructed in Oklahoma City for the never-made fan film Starship Ajax, and Vic purchased them from Ajax show-runner John Hughes to take to Georgia.

In 2012, Farragut Films moved to a larger studio in Kingsland, GA, with 10,000 square feet to expand into.  With their combined resources, the two productions were now able to have a TOS bridge, transporter, crew quarters, briefing room/mess hall, sickbay, and corridors.  New set construction—including improvements for the existing bridge—were overseen by local contractor William Smith, who became the de facto “custodian” of the entire set, as he lived close to the studio.

But a fan film needs more than just sets.  There was also rent for the sound stage, rent for the equipment, utilities, prop creation, costume production and rental, make-up supplies and equipment, and post-production costs for things like hard-drive storage.  Add to this costs for travel and lodging for out-of-town cast and crew plus food for everyone during the week and a half of filming.  And while most of the team were volunteers, some professionals were working at a discounted rate (about 10% of their normal fee).  It all added up!

STC-15Vic determined that if STC could raise $100,000 in a crowd-funder, they could afford to make three additional episodes.  The campaign was held in late 2013, and on November 6, the Kickstarter (or KIRKstarter, as they called it) finished with $126,028 from 2,981 backers.  That was more than enough for three new episodes!

Let’s take a closer look at each of them…

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ROBERT MEYER BURNETT resigns as director on AXANAR!

Almost from the very beginning, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, who directed and co-wrote the film Free Enterprise with William Shatner and Eric McCormack, has been almost as synonymous with the AXANAR project as Alec Peters himself.  He edited Prelude to Axanar and is credited by many as being a major reason that this mockumentary-style fan film came out as well as it did.

For the past three years, Rob has been listed as the director of the upcoming Axanar fan film, originally intended as a 90-minute feature film.  In fact, Rob directed the impressive 3-minute “Vulcan scene” vignette, planned to be a part of that final feature.  After a legal settlement with CBS and Paramount, the Axanar production has now been shortened to two 15-minute mockumentary-style sequels to Prelude.

Rob has been one of the staunchest supporters and cheerleaders for the project (probably even more than me!) and has been involved in pre-production efforts, podcasts, convention appearances, and social media outreach for Axanar over the past two and a half years.  But with the move of Alec Peters and the Axanar sets across the country from Los Angeles to Atlanta, GA, the logistics of a bi-coastal collaboration became more of a challenge.

Yesterday, Rob announced that he was moving on from the production…

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STAR TREK CONTINUES gives fans a SNEAK PEEK at their FINAL EPISODE!

It was truly one of the most extraordinary moments I’ve ever experienced at a convention.  And for the rest of my life, whenever someone uses the word “bittersweet,” my mind will remember seeing the finale of STAR TREK CONTINUES at L.A. Comic Con with the entire cast, some guest stars, writers, directors, VFX and make-up people, crew, about 200 fans…and my son Jayden.

But in addition to “bittersweet,” I would use words like amazing, inspiring, suspenseful, intimate, dazzling, heartfelt, loving, and incredibly satisfying to describe both this final episode and the nearly 90-minute discussion that followed.

THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS!

In fact, when this episode is finally released onto the Internet on Monday, November 13, I recommend you rush to watch it as soon as you can and allow yourself NO advanced knowledge of anything.  There are truly unexpected surprises in this episode, and you don’t want them ruined.  “To Boldly Go, Part II,” as promised, will end Kirk’s five-year mission with drama, emotion, and an intensity seldom seen in fan films.

It’s a MUST SEE-PLUS-PLUS-PLUS!

As director JAMES KERWIN commented to the audience, he loved hearing everyone applauding at just the right moments, some sniffles at others, all the reactions he was hoping for.  This one hits on all cylinders, folks, and is a beautiful way to wrap up eleven top-notch episodes and five unforgettable years of this beloved fan production.

Anyone wanting to put down show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA or trivialize the accomplishments of these dedicated and talented individuals…well, you’re going to need to do it elsewhere.  As a proud donor and follower of this celebrated fan series, I will stand up for Star Trek Continues every single time!

And speaking of Vic, he respectfully asked for anyone who was recording Sunday evening’s live panel discussion to please not share the video until after the episode had a chance to circulate…as many details were mentioned that could spoil the viewing experience for others.

So I have some wonderful footage from the Q&A session that I will share in a few weeks.  But for now—and I hope Vic will indulge a proud father—I would like to share this one SPOILER-FREE response to a question from my son Jayden, as Vic Mignogna explains his production in a way that any seven-year-old can understand…

Thank you, Vic, for that answer.  And thank to everyone on the STC team for sharing Vic’s dream with appreciative Trekkers who have waited five decades to see Kirk’s historic five-year mission finally reach its conclusion.

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 2)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Cover 2Last time, we looked at an overview of what made STAR TREK CONTINUES unique among fan films.  This week, we’ll take a closer look at how this fan series got its start and some of its earliest fan film releases.

Months before producing and releasing its first full episode in 2013, STC filmed three short vignettes in May of 2012 to “introduce themselves” and get their space legs.

THE VINGETTES

The first vignette, about four minutes long, recreated the ending of “Turnabout Intruder,” the final first-run episode of TOS to air on television. But instead of ending on the depressingly somber line from Kirk, “If only…” the vignette CONTINUED the scene (get it?), following Kirk, Spock, and Scott into the turbolift and onto the bridge. Joined a few seconds later by McCoy, the somber mood is lightened by a good-natured poke at Spock by the doctor, and then Kirk orders the Enterprise to rendezvous with the Potemkin. The music shifts to an uplifting, optimistic melody, portending new and exciting adventures into the future. The camera pans out to reveal the entire bridge crew as the credits roll.

You can watch the vignette here…

And if you’re curious, here’s a couple of still-frame comparisons to the original version of that same scene from TOS…

STC-8
A comparison of the original “Turnabout Intruder” (left) and the recreation of the scenes by STAR TREK CONTINUES.

This first vignette was released onto the Internet on July 31, 2012 and served to do more than simply say, “Hey, we’re here! Look what we can do!” It also introduced four of the main actors who would be starring in the new series.

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