JAMES CAWLEY releases the unfinished STAR TREK: PHASE II “Origins: The Protracted Man”!

It’s been five years since fans have seen anything new from STAR TREK: PHASE II (a.k.a. STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES). The most recent completed Phase II episode to debut was “The Holiest Thing” in January of 2016. But that changed last week with the unexpected release of a never-completed episode filmed way back in 2010-2011: “Origins: The Protracted Man,” directed by DAVID GERROLD and co-written by him along with Trek novelist DAVE GALANTER.

Phase II founder and show-runner JAMES CAWLEY had announced, shortly before the unveiling of the fan film guidelines by CBS in June of 2016, that Phase II would cease all fan film production. Then two weeks after the guidelines came out, James announced that his TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY would become a brand new, licensed STAR TREK Original Series SET TOUR.

Fans were certainly excited by the opportunity to walk these amazing TOS set recreations that had previously been reserved only for fan filmmakers and special guests. But what about the episodes of Phase II that had already been filmed (or partially filmed)? Would these be completed and released? There were still three unfinished Phase II projects: “Bread and Savagery” (a sequel to the TOS episode “Bread and Circuses), “Torment of Destiny” (a sequel to “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” and featuring the now-deceased RICHARD HATCH), and “Origins: The Protracted Man.”

The answer seemed to be that these three episodes would forever remain in limbo. None was in any condition to be released (or so we were told), and with Retro Studios in upstate New York now turned into a licensed set tour, James didn’t appear to be in interested in having any of these remaining Phase II projects completed. In fact, in the case of “Bread and Savagery,” the director, MARK BURCHETT, had passed away in 2014. Certain actors were also no longer available, and in some cases, the footage that had been filmed wasn’t shot properly (camera and/or sound issues), and wouldn’t be usable…and reshoots were rather problematic.

And so these three episodes remained hidden away, inaccessible to fans beyond this really exciting trailer for “Torment of Destiny” and this equally exciting trailer for “Origins: The Protracted Man” (along with a couple of scene clips, including one of Kirk’s Koybashi Maru test and another in sickbay).

Jeff Johnson as Finnegan…just as annoying as we imagined!

Fan were desperate to see more, as these two episodes looked amazing. They were also quite special for other reasons. In addition to “Torment of Destiny” featuring the late RICHARD HATCH, “Origins” featured actor COLIN CUNNINGHAM as Christopher Pike (Cunningham’s extensive Hollywood career includes recurring and regular roles in such series as Stargate SG-1, Falling Skies, and Preacher). Also, voice-over actor JEFF JOHNSON turned in such an amazing performance as Cadet Finnegan that you would’ve sworn they’d managed to kidnap original Finnegan actor BRUCE MARS by beaming him through time!

Continue reading “JAMES CAWLEY releases the unfinished STAR TREK: PHASE II “Origins: The Protracted Man”!”

With just 3 weeks left, THE ROMULAN WAR Indiegogo is less than $2K away from its $10K goal!

I’ll be honest with you guys: I didn’t think this would happen. Traditionally, the holiday season is the absolute WORST time to kick off a crowd-funding campaign for Star Trek fan films. Everyone is spending their money on Christmas and Hanukkah presents, holiday travel, and not really paying much attention to social media posts from fan filmmakers asking for money. Plus, this year, the world has been economically (and metabolically) choked by COVID-19, and I doubted there would be much extra money out there that fans would have available for donating.

So when I saw the launch of this Indiegogo campaign to complete Part 2 of THE ROMULAN WAR, I didn’t expect that show-runner MARK NACCARATO would take in more than a few thousand dollars (if that!) of the $10,000 that was his goal before New Years. I even told him that I’d help push his Indiegogo in January and that it was smart of him to set a 60-day active period for the campaign because he’d likely be way short after the first month.

Man, was I wrong!

With three weeks left, Mark has managed to cross the $8,000 threshold with 58 backers (including me). Half of this amount is from 8 donors who gave $500 each for the “Admiral Access” level, which includes an actual role in the film (either on camera or just audio) plus all of the following:

  • “Associate Producer” credit
  • T-Shirt
  • Posters (Digital Download)
  • Your Name in the Credits
  • Access to “Memory Alpha”
  • Script (Digital Download)
  • Lobby Cards (Digital Download)
  • Soundtrack (Digital Download)

Another 14 backers donated $100 each for the “Captain Access” level, which includes a bunch of digital swag but also comes with the option of recording your voice to be heard somewhere in the film (this is the level I donated at, although I was already the voice-over guy for one of Mark’s excellent WAR STORIES enhanced audio dramas). There are also support levels at $50 and $25, and all levels include access to “Memory Alpha” where you can see special features and get an advanced look at all releases.

So why was I so wrong?

Well, it’s possible that, with COVID, many travel plans were canceled and fewer Christmas presents were purchased…so more money was available to donate. It’s also possible that those higher end perks (appearing in Part 2) were just too tempting to pass up!

But frankly, I think the real credit here goes to Mark Naccarato himself for crediting such an awesome Part 1. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out (it’s a MUST SEE fan film that has already been viewed 320K times!)…

In the end, the best motivation for getting people to donate to your next project is to do a really amazing job on your previous project. And Mark did just that!

So if you have a few bucks lying around and aren’t financially precarious right now, please consider donating a little to help push this Indiegogo over the finish line (or at least spreading the following link)…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-romulan-war-part-2#/

AIR AND DARKNESS from the AVALON Universe will blow you away!

It was on Christmas day that LEGACY, the latest vignette glimpse into the parallel AVALON Star Trek Universe, debuted…generating an average of around 500 YouTube views per day and nearly 97.3% thumbs up. And it’s not surprising that there would be so many likes (in fact, one wonders what those 2.7% thumbs down were thinking!), since the two show-runners of the Avalon Universe, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN, are both experienced film industry professionals in Arkansas.

Fast forward to New Years Day, and the Legacy “appetizer” made way for the main course: a brand new 20-minute Avalon fan film titled AIR AND DARKNESS. And what a meal it was! This 20-minute fan film has seen an average of nearly 1.5K YouTube views per day and 98.5% thumbs up. This newest release not only follows the introduction from Legacy, but it also picks up on the mysterious plot points left unresolved in the excellent 2-part Avalon release DEMONS from late 2019.

Josh and Victoria weren’t available for an interview this time out (although there is an informative audio interview about their production on Demons available here). However, there are a few things that are worth paying close attention to when you watch this fan film…

Shot during COVID – while most of the recent “fandemic” films tend to have just one character on the screen at a time, that would have been impossible with this production due to the stunts requiring hand-to-hand combat. So Victoria and Josh can up with a very clever way to work masks into the outdoor fight scenes and simultaneously minimize the need for make-up. It’s also worth noting the skill with which many shots on bridge set were composed to have the minimum number of (maskless) actors in front of the camera simultaneously.

Shot at outside night – You don’t usually see Star Trek fan films with exterior evening or night scenes because it’s challenging to light them well enough for most video cameras to pick up the images. But as I said, Director of Photography (and Co-Writer/Co-Director) Josh Irwin does this professionally and knows his craft.

The stunts – Again, you don’t usually see convincing hand-to-hand fight scens in Star Trek fan films. But when your main star is also an accomplished martial artist and works in the entertainment industry, you’ve got a valuable asset. CHUCK MERÉ, who plays Captain Lance Ramirez, was the fight choreographer and did a fantastic job. He also was one of two FX make-up artists on the production.

Bridge chatter – Last year, I came up with an idea to have folks in the fan film community record “bridge chatter” for use in my fan film INTERLUDE (which Josh and Victoria have both done amazing work on). My goal was always to make those sound clips available for any fan filmmaker, and a number of them were used for Air and Darkness…and they sound AWESOME!

And now you know some of what to look and listen for. So sit back and enjoy…

PACIFIC 201, Part 2 debuts just hours before the new year!

Happy New Year, everyone! For a little while, it was looking like I was going to have to cover TWO major Star Trek fan film releases on the same day…as both PACIFIC 201, PART 2 and YORKTOWN were both scheduled for release on December 31, 2020. But at the last minute, JOHN ATKIN made the following announcement about Yorktown

It’s been 36 years, what’s another month?! Yorktown: A Time to Heal will be released in 2021. I regret posting this message, but more important to me is to get this right, and that means a bit more time on the sound design. I am expecting to release it in late January once the sound design is completed. Not the news I wanted to give you all today, but I promise the wait will be worth it. With very best wishes for the new year.

That leaves fan filmmaker ERIC HENRY in sole possession of the New Year’s release of a highly anticipated Star Trek fan film. Pacific 201 has been in production since 2015, and now Eric’s long, five-year mission is finally complete. Part 1 was released in mid-November, and you can read my blog about that premiere along with listening to an audio interview with Eric and his producer/star MARGARET HERBENER.

I asked Eric what elements of Part 2 that he’s been working on for the past month and a half, and how much work it’s been. “Essentially just completing VFX sequences and perfecting the edit,” he answered. “Some last-minute changes we made to part 1 affected certain elements of part 2, requiring some new VFX. Overall, we’ve got a stronger film for it, but it essentially guaranteed an all-hands-on-deck schedule for the entirety of December.”

I also asked Eric how he feels now that the full film is finally completed and posted. “I’m satisfied with the final product. In fact, it’s quite a bit higher-quality than I could have predicted back in 2015, even if the direction changed somewhat over the years. Overall, it’s really just a huge relief to be done. I’ve never undertaken a five-year project before, and it’s hard to even imagine what life after Pacific will be like. But I’m really excited to finally get to work on a huge backlog of projects.”

And of course, WE’RE really excited to see the conclusion of this meticulously crafter fan production. Just in case anyone didn’t see the first part, I’ll include both Part 1 and Part 2 for your viewing pleasure below…

2020 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!

On the one hand, 2020 pretty much sucked. Political upheaval, protests and rioting, wildfires burned, rains flooded, hurricanes and tornadoes blew…and some crazy bat virus got loose and started spreading rapidly across the world while scientists tried to find a vaccine at warp speed. Civilization as we knew it seemed to have hit “pause,” and we’re still wondering if things will ever return to the way they used to be.

On the other hand, with most of the world’s outside-of-the-home activities curtailed, we did have ample time to catch up on our binge-watching on TV and YouTube. And for those of us with a predilection for Star Trek, 2020 gave us, for the first time ever, TWO new Star Trek TV series premiering in the same year! STAR TREK: PICARD debuted in January (you remember January, right?) and STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS followed in August.

And no sooner had Lower Decks finished than a new season of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY fired back up…meaning that 2020 will have a total of 32 new episodes of Star Trek in a single year! We haven’t had that much new Star Trek on TV since back in 1999 when Deep Space Nine and Voyager were running concurrently.

And if 32 new episodes of television Star Trek weren’t enough for you, then fan films gave you even MORE to binge-watch during your quarantine! Anyone who had “The guidelines will totally destroy Star Trek fan films” in the office betting pool lost big for a fifth straight year, as not only did Trek fan films live long and prosper, they even did so despite a global pandemic with the release of new “fandemic” films shot carefully with masks and social distancing during production.

This year also saw the debut of multiple long-awaited Star Trek fan films that had been in production for three years, five years, and even 35 years! It’s been an exciting twelve months for our fan film community, and a darn BUSY one for bloggers like me (assuming there are any other bloggers like me!) who spend their time covering the people behind these productions and the seemingly endless parade of of content they bring to us. In fact, back in October, I published my one thousandth blog since starting back in January of 2016!

So let’s take a look at some of the good that came out of 2020 in the form of a wonderful supply of new Star Trek fan films…

Continue reading “2020 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

After 35 years, fans will need to wait another WEEK for YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL…

Fans had been expecting a special Christmas gift from JOHN ATKIN and STAN WOO, the show-runners behind the long-awaited YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL. A fan production that began filming way back in 1985 and featuring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu and JAMES SHIGETA as Admiral Nogura, Yorktown spent two decades on hold before being started up again in 2010 when John joined the project to help Stan complete the film.

Another ten years have passed since then, with scores of filmmakers from across our fan film community pitching in to help shoot scenes, build sets and props, lend uniforms, create visual FX, and a ton of other tasks. (You can read the entire behind-the-scenes history here.) Yorktown has continued on a steady path of progress over that time, and a trailer from July promised a release date of December 25…

Throughout the day, in addition to Christmas and holiday wishes, I’ve been texted and IM’d and e-mailed by a whole bunch of people all asking me a variant of the same question: “Has Yorktown been released yet?” I answered each one with “Not yet, as far as I know.”

Finally, after many hours of this, I received word from John that they weren’t gonna make their announced deadline because of sound issues. A few minutes later, he issued the following public statement:

Hi everyone… Unfortunately, I have a bit of bad news tonight. The final edit of Yorktown is finished and looks wonderful, but we haven’t fully completed the sound design. We want the sound to be the best it can be before we post it, so we are going to push the release date back 6 days to December 31 (New Years Eve) at 8:00pm (Pacific Time).

And then he posted this shot video snippet for a quick chuckle…

So fingers crossed for next Thursday, folks!

Check out the NEW TRAILER and Indiegogo for STALLED TREK: THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FORECLOSURE!

Come for the trailer, stay for the crowd-funder!

When it comes to Star Trek puppet parodies, MARK LARGENT is a veritable genius. His first release from 2012, STALLED TREK: AMUTT TIME was a hysterical send-up of the TOS fan-favorite episode “Amok Time.” If you haven’t seen if yet, do yourself a solid and click that link I just provided and watch it. You won’t be sorry.

Four years later in the middle of the AXANAR infringement lawsuit, Mark and I teamed up to write and produce PRELUDE TO AX’D-WE-ARE, an uproarious puppet parody of both PRELUDE TO AXANAR as well as of the lawsuit from CBS and Paramount. And most recently, while trying to test out a new 3D rendering application for his next puppet parody, Mark released yet another hilarious vignette titled ALL AHEAD FULL.

The last of the bunch was intended to help guide Mark learning a new 3D application as he worked on his latest Stalled Trek creation, a parody of the beloved TOS episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” to be titled THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FORECLOSURE. Mark held a crowd-funding campaign for the project back in 2018, and now he’s asking for a wee bit more. And this new Indiegogo is offering a very unique perk: a full-color, flip-cover COMIC BOOK (just like they used to sell in the 1970s for Star Trek) at the $25 level…

This is in addition to a Blu-ray at the $50 level and a limited number of “Super Backer” perks at $100 containing the comic book, Blu-ray plus three Stalled Trek trading cards. (I grabbed one of those!) There are also stretch goal posters if Mark raises $2500, $5000, and $7500 (he just passed the first stretch goal). And if he reaches $10K, he’ll add a third story to the comic: “Balance of Terrier”!

Now, before anyone says anything about the fan film guidelines not allowing for crowd-funders to offer unlicensed physical perks, remember that this is an obvious parody. And while most fan films can’t be considered parodies, ones that are parodies are protected under the Fair Use doctrine. So the guidelines don’t really apply here.

The reason for the new Indiegogo campaign is that Mark managed to find an actual Hollywood composer to do the music: MAX McGUIRE. Along with composing music for a wide variety of projects including shows airing on FOX, ABC, NBC, E!, CBS and TBS and the hit Syfy/Netflix series 12 Monkeys, Max also wrote the score for RENEGADES: THE REQUIEM. So this campaign is raising money for professional sound quality to go with the professional music. The more money that gets raised, the better the sound will be.

Right now, Mark has taken in $2,525 with 46 days to go. If you’d like to donate (or know someone who might like to donate), here is the link…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/stalled-trek-the-city-on-the-edge-of-foreclosure

And here is the first full trailer for Stalled Trek: The City on the Edge of Foreclosure (it looks AWESOME)…

Happy Holidays from KIRK, SPOCK, SULU, NOGURA, et. al. in PEACE AND GOODWILL (interview with DAVID CHENG)

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? This is an interesting question when it comes to Star Trek. The earliest mention of the annual winter holiday was waaaay back in November of 1966 when the ninth episode of TOS, “Dagger of the Mind,” mentioned that Captain Kirk had met Dr. Helen Noel at a Christmas party in the science lab. (Noel / Christmas…get it?) Later on, Picard enters the Nexus in Generations and emerges inside of a Christmas holiday with his “family.”

Throughout the 54-year history of the franchise, Christmas has been sporadically referred to here and there (Memory Alpha has a full list), but as often as not, those were just short, offhand references. Never did we see any starship crew deck the decks with buffers of holos …fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…or put presents under trees in the mess hall or sing Christmas Carols (or Marcuses) over the intercoms. And so fans might indeed wonder if, in the Star Trek universe, do they know it’s Christmas time at all?

Now, in a brand new release from STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTIONS INTERNATIONAL, we get to see what happens at Starfleet HQ and on a couple of familiar starships on Christmas eve. PEACE AND GOODWILL is the fifth fan film that this group has released, and the fourth this year alone! (You can watch all of their releases here.) The latter four were all produced remotely with the actors recording their lines in separate locations and editing the footage together later—what I have taken to calling “fandemic” films.

This latest production has their largest cast yet, six in total, all of them noted cosplayers with impeccable uniforms/costumes. Led by show-runner and director/editor/co-writer DAVID CHENG as Nogura, the cast also includes MIKE LONGO reprising his role of Jim Kirk, the “German Spock” JENS DOMBEK, KEN HAYASHIDA back for a second appearance as Captain Sulu, BILL VICTOR ARUCAN as Admiral Phil Curry, and LAURA SIRKIL as Ensign Mitsuko Nogura.

It’s a fun little slice of holiday happiness and camaraderie among Starfleet’s top brass, a feel-good “Christmas special” for fan film fans to enjoy during this festive season as 2020 comes to a merciful and (with luck) hopeful end. So please enjoy a little Peace and Goodwill

I reached out to David Cheng with a few short questions…

Continue reading “Happy Holidays from KIRK, SPOCK, SULU, NOGURA, et. al. in PEACE AND GOODWILL (interview with DAVID CHENG)”

THE ROMULAN WAR Indiegogo for PART II is 33% of the way to its $10K goal!

It’s been just about two months since the first part of the long-awaited THE ROMULAN WAR debuted on YouTube. Stunning to watch with blow-your-mind visual effects, this mockumentary-style fan film tells the story of Earth’s war with the Romulan Empire that resulted in the founding of the United Federation of Planets a hundred years before Kirk’s first five-year mission. It is a MUST-SEE fan film, and if you haven’t watched it yet, then for the love of Grogu, click here to view it!!!

That 24-minute fan film was completed with the help of a $10K Indiegogo campaign (which actually took in more than $13K). Now it’s time to crowd-fund the post-production on Part II, and that will require another $10K for mostly the same sort of things: the remaining principal photography, editing, visual effects modeling & animation, film score, ADR, and other post-production expenses.

The new Indiegogo campaign kicked off two weeks ago and has already taken in $3,330 from 24 backers (including me, of course!). The campaign is set for a 60-day active period, meaning that Mark has taken in a third of what he needs in just a quarter of the time he needs to. That’s actually very impressive, considering how hard the pandemic has hit the global economy AND the fact that it’s currently holiday season…traditionally the most challenging time of the year to crowd-fund fan films.

One of the reasons for Mark’s fundraising success, I believe, is the quality of Part I. But also, the perks are unique and rather compelling. Following the fan film guidelines, Mark is offering no physical perks (which also save him the cost of shipping!). Instead, at the lower levels, in addition to getting your name in the credits, there’s exclusive access to the “Memory Alpha” section of their website—which means a first look at all their content before the public sees it—as well as 8 different custom poster designs (check them out here) by CGI miracle worker SAMUEL COCKINGS, each of which can be printed out as an 11″ x 17″ poster.

But wait, there’s more!

At the fairly reasonable $100 donation level, you can actually be a part of the Part II fan film…or rather, your voice can. You’ll be offered the option to record your voice to have it used in the production. And at the $500 level, you actually get to appear in the film! Or you can just do a voice-over if you don’t want to be on camera. And in addition to all the other perks, donors at this level will be listed as “Associate Producer” in the Part II credits (and on the film’s IMDB entry and their website).

This is a really exciting project, currently scheduled for completion next year…assuming it’s funded. And that’s where you come in. If you can afford to make a donation (even a small one), please do. If not, you can still help by sharing the following link to the Indiegogo campaign with your Star Trek fan friends….

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-romulan-war-part-2#/

For YORKTOWN, it’s time for a brand new MUSIC VIDEO!

It’s just two and a half weeks until Christmas, and therefore two and a half weeks until YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL is released (click here to read more about the 35-year history of this exciting fan project).

And as we eagerly wait for Santa Claus (or Hanukkah Harry or Kwanza Q) to bring us our gifts and our newest Star Trek fan film, Yorktown show-runner JOHN AKTIN has a little “early present” for fans: a brand new music video featuring clips (some never-before seen) from this long-awaited fan film featuring GEORGE TAKEI and JAMES SHIGETA.

This isn’t just some random music video, though. The song, Into The Unnkown, will appear in Yorktown: A Time to Heal over the closing credits. It was written and performed by a singer/songwriter from Toronto, Canada named RAYNA (and yes, her name comes from the TOS android from the episode “Requiem for Methuselah”), part of an album she released back in 2013 titled SPACE STORIES.

John Atkin, also a resident of Toronto, heard the song a few years ago and wanted to use it in the fan film that he and STAN WOO were working to complete. John reached out to Rayna asking permission to use the song, and she happily agreed.

Three years later, with just over a month until the fan film’s release, John filmed Rayna singing the song to use in the creation of a special music video featuring her haunting ballad along with clips from Yorktown.

In case you’re wondering if this is the first time a Star Trek fan film has teased its release with a music video, the answer is no. That distinction goes to STAR TREK: RENEGADES and its music video Captain of My Soul by CELA SCOTT. That video has had over 125K views on YouTube since its release in 2015.

But that was then. Now, it’s Yorktown‘s turn in the spotlight. And so, without further ado, let’s travel Into The Unknown