INTERLUDE Confidential #16: Shields up! Time for the reviews…

INTERLUDE is finally out, and the reviews are coming in fast and furious! On YouTube, the video has racked up 15K views in three days, with 97% thumbs up. If you haven’t seen it yet, to quote Chekov, “Now vould be a good time…”

The praise and kudos have been great and are very rewarding to everyone on the team. And of course, the criticisms are out there, too. It’s inevitable that you’re not going to please all the Trekkies all the time. The trick to surviving the bad reviews is to focus on the good ones. If you give too much weight to the critics, the negativity will drag you down like an anchor. It’s the positive, supportive comments that bring up back up for air. If you want to keep breathing, use them as a helpful floatation device.

Or you can just do what I do and respond to the negative YouTube comments with: “Look, I’m really, really sorry that so many people disagree with you.”

Some people thought that Interlude was too short (is that criticism or praise?) or that the Ares and Artemis should have been firing back. Just for the record, the Klingons knocked out both ships’ weapons systems—listen closely to some of the background bridge chatter—and as you’ll discover in the AXANAR sequels, the new D7’s were nearly invulnerable to phasers and photon torpedoes.

Some folks thought ALEC PETERS’ acting was better in the first half, and some thought he was better in the second half. Some thought he couldn’t act at all, but hey, most fans couldn’t do much better and would probably have been a lot worse. It takes a lot of confidence to place yourself in front of the camera for the main role in any fan film…let alone one that’ll likely have hundreds of thousands of views. Alec put in ten long hours of tightly-focused work the day we filmed and another few hours getting the epilogue interview done. I was never expecting Laurence Olivier or Tom Hanks, and I was very happy with Alec’s performance.

Oh, and for anyone complaining about Alec’s “bulging Gowron eyes,” you might want to take another look at the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” I see the Garth glare as more of a feature than a bug…

On the other hand, praise was nearly universal for fan film newcomer and fellow sci-fi geek WARREN HAWK. Everyone love-love-loved Warren as Captain Jakande—as well they should have! Warren gave an awesome and passionate performance…and I love that deep, velvet voice of his.

(And consider this: in the Avalon Universe, Captain Jakande might not have died. So start saving your crowd-funding dollars, folks, ’cause you might just be able to help bring him back to fan films in a few months!)

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #16: Shields up! Time for the reviews…”

Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!

(I know you wanna see INTERLUDE! Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this web page, then come back to read the full blog entry.)


I was a fan of AXANAR even before the launch of their first Kickstarter campaign back in early 2014. And when PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released that summer, I was ecstatic. There had never been any fan film like this one, and it FELT like the Star Trek I had grown up with…something I couldn’t say about the newest Trek movie releases from Paramount and (later) television releases from CBS.

Later that summer, I jumped at the chance to volunteer to help pack and ship perks to donors (of which I was one, of course), and I got to know ALEC PETERS, DIANA KINGSBURY, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, and a bunch of other folks involved with the production. Heck, I even joined the gang along with RICHARD HATCH (may he rest in peace) at a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach after a convention for an awesome dinner experience.

By 2015, I was writing weekly “Fan Film Friday” blogs for the Axanar website about other Trek fan films…something that led to the creation of Fan Film Factor half a year later. Fan films in general, and Axanar in particular, had quickly become a major part of my life as a Trek fan.

Interlude was born in stages, but I can trace its initial origin back to June of 2017 when I was reading Alec’s new 2-part Axanar script. The legal settlement with CBS and Paramount forced him to trim the full-length movie script down to two 15-minute segments that would be filmed in the same mock documentary style as Prelude.

By this point, the amazing half-completed bridge set was being packed up and moved cross-country from southern California to Georgia, and I was looking forward to seeing how bridge scenes would be incorporated into the “mockumentary” format. But to my shock and horror, there were NO bridge scenes in Alec’s new script…only the same “talking heads” dialog and VFX as there was in Prelude. Huh?

What I didn’t know at the time was that Alec had purposefully left out any bridge scenes because he wasn’t certain whether he’d be able to raise the funds to complete the set. However, not knowing why there weren’t any bridge scenes, I mistakenly assumed Alec just felt like he couldn’t squeeze them in and still tell the story properly. So as a way of demonstrating that it was possible to have bridge scenes, I wrote a new version of the script…what I call my “alt-Axanar” script. Alec won’t be using it (he’s fine with his own version), but someday after the two Axanar sequels are released, I’ll publish it here on the blog just for fun.

Continue reading “Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #15: After putting out fires, INTERLUDE will finally premiere on MONDAY, APRIL 5!

I can finally and proudly announce a release date for my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE:

MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2021 (Star Trek ‘s “First Contact Day”).

Well be premiering it during a special Axanar Confidential livecast this Monday night at 10:00 pm Eastern Time when I and a bunch of members of Team Interlude will be appearing with Fleet Captain Garth himself, ALEC PETERS. You can find the livecast on the Axanar YouTube Channel.

Let me tell ya, folks, for the last week or so, I wasn’t quite sure we were gonna make that deadline! While there’s no one holding a phaser to our heads to release Interlude on April 5th, “First Contact Day” is a coveted spot among Star Trek fan filmmakers if they can hit it. But I checked around, and this year, no one I spoke to was claiming that day (and if they had, I would have let them have it and just chosen a different date a week or two later). So with the coast clear, I started mentally preparing myself for April 5th.

Although we’ve been REALLY close to completing Interlude for the past few weeks, I wasn’t feeling comfortable enough to make an announcement until today. After all, we’ve been having a series of really crazy things happen along the way that have delayed or at least impacted pre-production, production, and post-production. Among these: rivers flooding, wild tornadoes, freak polar blast ice storms, trapped woodpeckers, and stray dogs on the road. Read more about them here, here, and here.

And now we can add FIRE to the list!

This past Monday, I couldn’t reach MARK EDWARD LEWIS, our post-production sound designer, for most of the day. That in and of itself isn’t unusual; Mark has a pretty busy life, and I don’t expect the entire team to be “on call” 24/7. (You need to actually pay people—and pay them a lot!—for that kind of service.)

But Monday was an important day. With just seven days left until my still-unannounced but highly desired deadline, we’d had an e-mail glitch. Two days earlier, I’d sent Mark a compilation of final notes on the latest sound mix from myself, our director VICTORIA FOX, our editor JOSH IRWIN, and our composer KEVIN CROXTON. But it was now Monday, the clock was ticking, and no one had heard back from Mark. So I messaged him on Monday morning my time (about noon for Mark in rural Tennessee) just checking that he’d be able to get those final fixes done in the next day or two and send the final audio mix over to Josh.

“I’m still waiting for a response from my last e-mail,” he replied.

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Shhhh…can you keep a secret? STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE, that is! (Audio interview with CRAIG SHEELER)

Back during the summer of 2012, something happened at the annual Creation Entertainment Star Trek convention in Las Vegas that had never happened before and hasn’t happened since: there was a convention table dedicated solely to an unlicensed Star Trek fan film!

This was still four years prior to the publication of the fan film guidelines by CBS, and it was a time when the Star Trek rights holder really had no idea what to do about fan films other than to look the other way, pretend they didn’t exist, and hope that they and all of their legal and licensing ambiguities would someday just fade out of existence.

Creation, as a licensee, was not allowed to provide table space to anyone selling bootlegged Star Trek merchandise or connected in any way to someone promoting anything Trek-related that was unlicensed. At the time, that included fan films. At best, Trek fan films could “sneak in the side door” at licensed cons by unofficially teaming up with acceptable dealers/vendors. For example, SCOTT NAKADA had made props for STAR TREK: RENEGADES, so his prop-making dealer table could promote that fan film.

But to have a table devoted SOLELY to an unlicensed Star Trek fan film at a licensed Star Trek convention (which Creation still was at that point)—that was unheard of! And yet, in 2012, the unreleased STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE would do just that, as you can see from this photo from the con…

Secret Voyage would premiere its first episode, the 39-minute “Whose Birth These Triumphs Are,” on YouTube shortly after the convention, although that release was later taken down and replaced in October of 2012 with another version having improved sound. Two years after that, Secret Voyage continued with a new second episode, the 35-minute “Rise of the Gongdea.” But since 2014, no additional episodes have been released.

Secret Voyage was a unique Trek fan film, featuring the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 from TOS but with an entirely different crew on a secret mission. Shot primarily in a desert area in southern Nevada, the cast and crew featured a mix of trained professionals, semi-professionals, and just plain old Trek fans. Considering the amount of footage and variety of camera angles, it was a very ambitious production. Have a look at the two releases…

During the late summer of 2016, shortly after the released of the guidelines, I interviewed Secret Voyage show-runner CRAIG SHEELER via a recorded phone call. We spoke for nearly three full hours! Back in those early days of this blog, I hadn’t yet started featuring audio interviews (those would debut the following year), and I would usually transcribe those phone conversations into text interview blogs.

The problem with this particular interview, however, was that Craig was just so darn interesting and had so many great stories that a text interview would easily have turned into a five or six-part blog!

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Saving a fan film in post-production – STARSHIP TRISTAN’s “36 hours” (interview with RANDY LANDERS and RICK FOXX)

All told, the latest episode of STARSHIP TRISTAN, “36 Hours,” is the 90th(!!!) fan film from the fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES (and you can watch all of their releases here on their website). Their very first fan series, PROJECT: POTEMKIN, ran for 36 episodes…beginning all the way back in late 2010 and wrapping up six years later.

Tristan was their second fan series (now referred to as a “Creative Group”), beginning in late 2015 and still going today. Of all of their remaining eight groups, Tristan has the most releases, with “36 Hours” being the 21st production overall to be posted to YouTube.

But “36 Hours” almost didn’t happen!

I mean, it got filmed, but it almost didn’t get completed and might have had to be scrapped…and this would have been a true pity, as several of the actors in it won’t be able to continue to be involved now that show-runner RANDY LANDERS—along with all of the sets—have relocated 6 hours north from their former location near Birmingham, Alabama to Lexington, KY.

This blog tells the story of how this one fan film was saved from digital oblivion during post production. Some fans are aware that that are three phases of development for a film project: pre-production (planning and getting everything ready), production (actual filming), and post-production (putting the pieces of the puzzle together and making sure everything looks and sounds good). You might think that, once you’ve shot all of your footage, that editing and post-production are fairly simple and straightforward. Well, it turns out that sometimes things are quite a bit more challenging.

To help tell this “story behind the story,” I have two fellows who helped make “36 Hours” happen. Randy Landers was the director, executive producer, and co-writer; and RICK FOXX was co-executive producer and also co-writer. However, in addition to sharing writing credits, Randy and Rick also shared editing duty—although you’ll only find Rick’s name as editor in the credits. Why is that? You’ll need to read the interview below.

But first, take a look at “36 hours”…

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The stop motion fan films STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE II – “The Crossing” and “The Beginning of the End”! (feature)

Two of the most ambitious and visually stunning Star Trek fan films you will ever see don’t feature a single human actor on the screen. Instead, both fan films star action figures from the Art Asylum line for Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (plus a Terminator action figure thrown in for good measure).

One of these fan films took two and a half years to complete…the other took more than eight years! Both of them will blow you away, and you’ll be even more blown away when you go behind-the-scenes to see the meticulous work and craftsmanship that went into each one.

JÜRGEN KAISER lives in the Bavarian region of German, and he has always loved Star Trek. As a teenager, going to the annual FedCon convention in Augsburg, Germany, he dreamed of one day showing a fan film of his own up on the big screen. In 2005, when Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled, Jürgen decided that the show had ended too soon. He wanted to see more of the crew of NX-01. And if Paramount Studios wasn’t going to oblige, then this 24-year-old living in Schweinfurt was going to have to do it himself!

JÜRGEN KAISER

Interestingly enough, Jürgen wasn’t an actual Trekkie, per se. He just really liked the Enterprise series and wanted to see more of it. Of course, Paramount had had tens of millions of dollars to spend and access to actors like Scott Bakula and Jolene Blalock. All Jürgen had was a bunch of 7″ and 8″ Art Asylum action figures, some paper, cardboard, scissors, an SLR camera…and a great deal of patience and persistence.

But Jürgen also had a very specific set of skills he had learned and honed from working with his father. Jürgen knew how to make precise, meticulous models—miniatures of larger items that he would study carefully and painstakingly reproduce.

Filmmaking had always inspired Jürgen, and he’d watch countless “making of” special features while growing up, learning a lot. His day job as a measurement specialist of oil channels in automatic transmissions at an automotive supplier did not provide much opportunity for creative expression. So to bring a little balance to his life, Jürgen founded the JK Produktion Stop Motion Studio in 2005 and began what would be a decade-plus-long odyssey creating two amazing stop motion Star Trek fan films.

Continue reading “The stop motion fan films STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE II – “The Crossing” and “The Beginning of the End”! (feature)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #14: Ample post-production patience and perseverance!

“Production hell” (or “development hell”) is a real thing in Hollywood…so much so that it has its own Wikipedia page. But did you know there’s also post-production hell? Or at least, there SHOULD be!

The three phases of film creation are typically pre-production (planning, budgeting, financing, hiring, scheduling, location scouting, construction, costume and prop preparation, etc.), then production (actually shooting footage), and finally post-production (editing, picture level and color adjustment, visual effects, sound effects, music, sound-mixing, etc.). It’s understandable that the first phase would take a while, and of course, you might spend weeks or months (or more) filming everything that you need. And of course, sometimes these phases overlap a little with each other. But you’d think that, once all the raw footage is “in the can” as they say in the industry, that post-production would go pretty quickly…even on a big-budget project. In fact, especially on a big-budget project, as you can afford to pay people to focus on finishing YOUR production rather than splitting up their time.

Yeah, you’d think post-production would be nice and fast. And maybe it is for some projects…but sadly, not for me and my debut fan film INTERLUDE.

I’m actually not alone in having an unexpectedly extended period of post-production for my project. Some of the most ambitious Star Trek fan films shot the majority of their footage years or even as much as half a decade(!!!) before finally releasing their finished products: STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, PACIFIC 201, STARSHIP EXETER, THE ROMULAN WAR, STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY, many episodes of INTREPID…just to name a few. Heck, the series finale of STARSHIP FARRAGUT, “Homecoming,” was crowd-funded back in 2015, shot in 2016, and still isn’t out yet. And of course, fans have been waiting for YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL for what feels like forever. The most recently-announced release dates were this past Christmas day and then the end of January. (A major illness of one of JOHN ATKIN’s family members has delayed the release a bit longer.)

And then there’s Interlude.

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #14: Ample post-production patience and perseverance!”

Get a little TOS chuckle from TIMES ARE CHANGING (interview with THE GERMAN SPOCK)!

A couple of months ago, shortly before Christmas, JENS DOMBEK (known to the world as “The German Spock”) gave fans the gift of a fun little vignette titled TIMES ARE CHANGING. And with the exception of bookends of 15 seconds at the beginning and at the end, there is no dialogue whatsoever for the three-and-a-half minutes in between!

And that’s what makes this such a unique and enjoyable fan film.

Back in the fledgling days of filmmaking, silent movies endeavored to tell stories without the benefit of spoken words. Indeed, the early works of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton endeavored to make audiences laugh with purely physical (“slapstick”) comedy. In many ways, silent movie-making is a bit of a lost art.

But what’s so great about the fan film format is that there are no rules (only guidelines), and that freedom and flexibility allow fan filmmakers to explore all aspects of cinematic expression…including, as of now, silent slapstick comedy.

Granted, I don’t think Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy have anything to fear (yet) from the comedy hijinks of Jens and his buddy MICHAEL O’CONNOR KELLY. But who cares? It’s fun watching Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock in a whimsical series of sight gags. Take a look…

Jens (pronounced “Yens”)has been cosplaying as an uncanny Spock lookalike in Germany and elsewhere for many years, sporting a nearly infinite number of costumes and uniforms in nearly infinite combinations…

Jens made his Star Trek fan film debut last June in one of the earliest “fandemic” films, LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY, alongside fellow cosplayers MIKE LONGO as James T. Kirk and FRANK JENKS as Dr. McCoy—keeping socially distant via a subspace zoom call. A month later, Jens released a short fan film vignette of his own, I AM SPOCK—a mesmerizing 90-second soliloquy made all the more impactful by the eerie doppelgänger of our favorite Vulcan played by Jens. Jens also appeared in another “holiday” fandemic film, PEACE AND GOODWILL, with fellow cosplayers DAVID CHENG (playing admiral Nogura) and KEN HAYASHIDA (playing Sulu) just last December.

I did a full text interview with Jens when he released I Am Spock, but Times Are Changing was so unusual that I wanted to chat with Jens specifically about his latest effort…

Continue reading “Get a little TOS chuckle from TIMES ARE CHANGING (interview with THE GERMAN SPOCK)!”

My MUSIC VIDEO tribute to the SQUADRON fan film…

Sometimes you get a crazy idea in your head and you just have to do it. This was one of those times…

On February 1, a bunch of talented and enthusiastic Trekkers from the Czech Republic (with the help of one CGI bloke from the U.K.) released Part 1 of their amazing Dominion War-era fan film, SQUADRON. Six days later, they released Part 2. In the 2-3 weeks since, the two parts (both separately and combined into one) have garnered more than 100K Youtube views—an amazing feat, considering that the entire film is spoken in Czech and requires those not familiar with the language to watch with subtitles turned on in order to follow the plot. But even without a translation, the film looks completely amazing.

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look…

I’ve been closely following the efforts of these Czechie Trekkies since they started planning to launch their Indiegogo campaign about a year ago. And so I was really excited to record an international interview with them for Fan Film Factor. And to make this even more of an event, I had a whopping SIX Czech fan filmmakers on one Zoom call! Indeed, it was my first-ever Zoom interview for this blog (I mainly do audio or text-based interviews). So I wanted to make it extra awesome!

The creators of Squadron gave me a great 90 minutes, but I wanted to spice it up even more. Since it would be a true video interview, I wanted it to be more visually interesting than watching seven “Brady Bunch”-style talking heads for an hour and a half. So I began to look for clips of footage from the stunning 2-part fan film to include as cutaways from the Zoom screen. You can watch the full interview here to see how it turned out…

Anyway, because the “search for scenes” doesn’t require actually listening to the fan film (and I don’t speak Czech anyway), I had some music playing in the background while I was looking through the footage for clips. More specifically, I was perusing the iTunes catalog (as I often do) looking for lesser-known songs from hit recording artists to purchase. In fact, I was up to the R’s, having just had an awesome (and somewhat expensive!) retrospective of the decades-long career of the late Ray Charles, and was now sampling the greatest hits of Ray Parker, Jr. (yep, the guy who recorded the famous Ghostbusters them song). Ray actually had a few other chart-topping hits like “You Can’t Change That” and “A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do).”

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STARSHIP WEBSTER’s 3rd episode “THE TOMBSTONE” (interview with JERRY WILLIAMS)

Even though POTEMKIN PICTURES has been around for over a decade now, the folks in their STARSHIP WEBSTER Creative Group are definitely the new kids on the fan film block. Their predecessors include PROJECT: POTEMKIN, STARSHIP DEIMOSSTARSHIP ALEXANDERSTARSHIP TRISTANHOSPITAL SHIP MARIE CURIEBATTLECRUISER KUPOKSTARSHIP TRITON, and STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR.

When show-runner RANDY LANDERS and his wife moved from Alabama to Lexington, Kentucky in 2019, it provided an opportunity to find and invite a whole new collective of local Trekkers in the fan film family. And even though the pandemic made things a little more challenging, the new Webster group still managed to release their debut fan film, “LAUNCH,” on October 9, followed quickly by their second offering, “A VOICE IN THE DARK,” just two weeks later. The latter allowed one of their actors, BILLY SWANSON, to take the lead and both write and direct—as well as star in—what was essentially a “one-man show.”

Two months later, released on Christmas day, another member of the team, JERRY WILLIAMS, got to write and appear in an episode…although this time, Randy Landers was the one directing, and the cast consisted of more than one actor (seven, in fact—three in major roles).

I’ve been making it a point to give these fine fan film folks a spotlight here on the blog as both a welcome to the community and also in acknowledgment of their quick embrace of this sub-sub-genre and dedication to getting their first few fan films produced and released.

As such, I asked Randy whom he thought would be the best person to interview for this third release, and he quickly said it should be Jerry Williams himself. “Jerry is quite a local legend,” Randy told me.

So let’s take a look at Jerry’s first Star Trek fan film, “THE TOMBSTONE,” and then we can chat…

And now, heeeeeeerrrrrrrreeeeeee’s Jerry (do my younger readers even get that reference?)…

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