STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!

Would you pay $1, $5, $10, or $25/month to keep the lights on for the only full TOS sets to be completely open to the fan film community?  Right now, 11 people are already doing that, giving STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA a combined $100/month (or thereabouts) in guaranteed financial assistance to pay for rent, electricity, and maintenance.

With rent estimated at about $3,000/month, a hundred bucks a month might not seem like much.  But Stage 9 Studio only just recently launched their new Patreon, and owner RAY TESI is currently paying all expenses out of his own pocket from retirement savings.  So donating even as little as a dollar a month will be a welcome help.

For those not familiar with Patreon, it’s similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo in that anyone can set up a campaign, anyone can contribute, and there can be perks.  The difference is that, while the latter two are designed for a one-time contribution, Patreon is set up so that supporters (patrons) donate monthly, a recurring contribution charged to their credit card or transferred from their bank account until the donor says otherwise.  Patreon is designed for ongoing endeavors rather than one-time projects, so it’s perfect for something like Stage 9 Studios where the expenses from rent, utilities, and maintenance are ongoing.

And what happens if the Patreon generates more per month than it costs to “keep the lights on.”  (What a great problem to have, right!?!)  Simple.  Additional funds will be used to improve the studio (like adding air conditioning, perhaps?) and maybe even to build more sets.  As the Patreon page clearly states:

STAGE 9 STUDIOS is NOT a money-making enterprise, but an opportunity to share the passion that millions of STAR TREK fans have for the series!

But that’s not all that’s happening with Stage 9 Studios.  Would YOU like to see these amazing sets in person…for FREE???

Continue reading “STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!”

“ONCE MORE WITH FEELING” is a HYBRID fan film/table reading…

What do you do if you want to make a Star Trek fan film and you can’t afford costumes, sets, make-up, lighting, and all of the other bells and whistles?  This was the challenge facing Australia’s MATT MILLER, who had previously tried on multiple attempts to create Trek fan films with limited resources.  Matt explains his frustrations and the shortcomings of those productions in this heartfelt video.

So “Once More with Feeling” works as a title on various levels.  Matt’s latest attempt at a Trek fan film is, of course, his own attempt to do it better, once more, with feeling.  The “feeling” comes from what is a hybrid, of sorts, of a traditional Star Trek fan film and what would be a dramatic table reading for an audio production.  The actors provide very passionate performances, even though they are reading directly from scripts in the visuals.

Table readings are, of course, fairly standard in the theater, which is where Once More with Feeling! was originally performed as a stage play (written by Harry Kurnitz) in 1958, starring Joseph Cotten, Arlene Francis, and Walter Matthau (who won a best actor Tony award for it).  Two years later, it would be made into a film starring Kay Kendall and Yul Brynner.  (And yes, in 2001, “Once More with Feeling” was also the title of an all-musical episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.)

For this Star Trek fan film, the title also appears to harken to the structure of the story, as a disgraced Starfleet captain describes his tragic, final battle for a young woman who has come to his home, she tells him, as part of a college research project.  However, if you watch until the very end of the film, you will discover yet another reason for the title.

This is undoubtedly a different kind of fan film, and somewhat jarring in places due to its basic structure.  The outer space starship CGI visual effects, created by Trekyards’ SAMUEL COCKINGS, are outstanding and take the viewer deep into the fan film narrative.  But cuts to the actors, standing in a virtual “lounge” of some kind, wearing normal clothes, reading from scripts, jolts the viewer out of the imaginary Star Trek universe back into reality.

Reaction online has been generally very positive (with the expected outliers, of course).  I believe that all fan films should be given respect and viewed with an open mind—this one being no exception.  So take a look at what can be produced on a low budget, with few resources, when the writer/director thinks outside the box…

AXANAR fan comic COMPLETES part one of “Arcanis IV”!

The latest comic book story based on the fan film PRELUDE TO AXANAR has just completed part one of its first chapter.

Last July, Axanar super-fan TREY McELWAIN released the first-ever Axanar comic story: the four-page (including cover) “Trial By Fire.”  It was a huge hit among Axanar fans, many of whom hoped to be seeing more similar projects from Trey and his illustrator, DANIEL FU.

The wait lasted for ten months.  In May, Trey continued what he called the “Tip of the Spear” saga, with each chapter focusing on a different battle from The Four Years War with the Klingons, as shown in Prelude.  But now the comics would expand from just a few pages to stories with chapters, each about 5-7 pages long.

The first story took a closer look at the battle that began the Four Years War at “Arcanis IV.”  Trey initially released the cover and first two pages of the story, with the intention of releasing one additional page per month for the foreseeable future.  Part one of “Arcanis IV” would be seven pages, and there would be three parts.  Then the next chapter would be “Inverness V,” also divided into multiple parts.  So releasing one new comic story page per month could keep this going for years!

At least, that was the plan…

Daniel finished drawing the next three pages more quickly than anticipated, so rather then holding them back, all three were released last month.  And then Daniel was fast again, so this month has the final two pages being released (see below), completing part one of “Arcanis IV.”

That’s the good news.  Unfortunately, it could be a while before fans see part two.

Continue reading “AXANAR fan comic COMPLETES part one of “Arcanis IV”!”

STARSHIP TRISTAN gets a NEW CAPTAIN in their 13th fan film: “A Look in the Mirror”!

After a seven-month hiatus due to heart bypass surgery for POTEMKIN PICTURES‘ show-runner RANDY LANDERS, their parade of fan films came flooding back in March with the release of the eleventh and twelfth fan films from their Starship Tristan Creative Group…only one week apart!  This was followed by the release of two fan films from the Deimos Creative Group in May…only five days apart.  And last month, there was yet another fan film release for Deimos, their eighth total.

Well, it’s July, and that means it’s Tristan‘s turn again!  (Actually, Potemkin Pictures has SEVEN different active fan series at present, each in varying states of pre-production, production, and post production.  You can view all of their offerings at the Potemkin website.)

With this latest release , the titular Constellation-class starship now has a new captain, the former first officer, Lt. Commander Privette (played by Kimberly White).  I’d noticed that, over on Starship Deimos, that fan series had just gotten a new captain, as well (this one being Captain Mark Stone, played by actor Tony Anderson).

I asked Randy about this new game of “musical captains” that his main fan series seem to be playing lately…and also noted that, while a promotion from first officer to commanding officer isn’t unheard of, a rank jump from Lt. Commander directly to Captain is pretty significant.  Randy replied…

Tristan’s former Captain Walker (played by Keith Harris) has disappeared while on a mission, and the circumstances are quite mysterious.  Privette’s promotion came as quite a shock to both Lieutenant Commander T’Noshi and Lieutenant Commander Mycroft, and expect this to rear its head from time to time.

In real life, Keith stepped down, as the demands of the role of a ship’s captain are very challenging (Tristan films 4-6 times per year). Keith and I spoke about his return as Captain Walker in a much more limited capacity again only last week, and we look forward to his continued involvement with Potemkin Pictures once he recovers from a work-related injury.

Expect more cast and crew changes as our productions continue. Filming 12-15 times per year is very challenging to both our actors and our behind-the-scenes personnel.

We also expect to begin construction on our small shuttlecraft…I’m calling it a shuttle-coupe (LOL). It will be for two or three persons, and we’re hoping to begin its construction in September.

Here’s the latest adventure of the Tristan crew, “A Look in the Mirror”…

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION launches new GOFUNDME with two vignettes! (interview, part 2)

Last week, we took a look at the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, which debuted in early 2015 and returned in late 2016 and 2017 with two additional episodes that crossed over with STARSHIP VALIANT and Vance Major’s MINARD saga.  Now Dominion is set for yet another return, and has launched a brand new GoFundMe campaign attempting to raise $1,500 for a full-length (two 15-minute episodes) fan film.

In the first part of my interview with show-runners GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN, we discussed the crowd-funder, the guidelines, and the two recent vignettes that were released.  But were very outside-of-the box fan films.  The first, “Reality Check,” debuted last month and features jumps between the Star Trek fan film universe and the “real” world where their production is actually being filmed.  You can watch it here…

The second vignette, “Silent Acknowledgement,” focused on an intriguing concept: a communications officer who is deaf.  Played by Gary’s wife TRACEY DAVIS, who is actually deaf and has cochlear implants, Lt. Paula Tomkins’ “disability” is no more a hindrance in the 23rd century than Geordi LsForge’s blindness was in the 24th century.  For hearing impaired watchers of fan films, this is (I believe) the first totally deaf character to be featured in any fan production or series.  You can watch the vignette below…

One of the most distinctive things about Dreadnought Dominion (in addition to the deaf communications officer and the use of a tri-nacelled Federation-class dreadnought design from the Franz Joseph Starfleet Technical Manual from the 1970s) is where the series has been filmed.  The first two episodes and the most recent two vignettes were each filmed on the TOS sets in Kingsland, GA, previously used exclusively for the fan series Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues.  No other fan production was ever allowed to film there.  But Dominion filmed there years earlier and was also the first fan production to film on those sets just as the new owner, RAY TESI of STARSHIP REPUBLIC, was opening them up to other fan productions.  How did they manage that…?

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION launches new GOFUNDME with two vignettes! (interview, part 2)”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION launches new GOFUNDME with two vignettes! (interview, part 1)

One of those “hidden gems” of Star Trek fan films is the series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION.  Not as fancy or polished as the “big guns” like Star Trek Continues or New Voyages, Dominion is one of those mid-tier productions that has benefited from using  TOS sets from other productions (or faked it when they weren’t able to) and put a lot of heart and dedication into producing labors of love.

I also fancy this particular fan series because it’s the only one to feature the Federation-class dreadnought starship design from the Franz Joseph Starfleet Technical Manual from the 1970s.  I always loved that 3-nacelled design with the hangar bay on the front!

Dreadnought Dominion release two episodes in 2015, each filmed on the sets used at the time by Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues (the only other fan production to ever use those sets).  Their third episode wouldn’t come out until the end of 2016 and was actually a crossover with Starship Valiant.  You can read more about all of that in this blog.  Ten months later, Dominion crossed over again withStarship Valiant but in the Mirror Universe as part of the MINARD saga from Vance Major.  That’s covered in this blog.

Then last month, Dominon returned yet again…this time all on its own, once again using the STC sets in Georgia( now owned by Ray Tesi).  They promptly released an amusing 10-minute vignette titled “Reality Check” that broke the “fourth wall”…

Then last week they released another new vignette, “Silent Acknowledgement” that focuses on a hearing-impaired communications officer (the first Trek fan series that I’m aware of to feature a deaf character)…

They also just launched a new GoFundMe campaign trying to raise $1,500 for their next production:

https://www.gofundme.com/dreadnought-dominion

By the way, “they” are show-runners GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN, who also play the new captain and first officer of the USS Dominion.  And of course, I interviewed them (’cause that’s what I do)…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION launches new GOFUNDME with two vignettes! (interview, part 1)”

THE FALL OF STARBASE ONE – the latest Trek Fan Film from AUSTRALIA!

AARON VANDERKLEY is a wonder from down under!  When some fans began complaining that the guidelines‘ limit of 15 minutes for a fan film wasn’t long enough to tell a compelling story, Aaron proved them wrong by doing it in less than HALF that time!

Aaron’s first Trek fan film Needs of the Many, (only six and a half minutes long) actually came out six months before the guidelines were announced.  And the following year, it won two “BJO” awards at Treklanta (including best short-form fan film).

His second short film, the 12-minute The Derelict, came out in late 2017 and was even more intense that its predecessor.  Both films take place in the NX-era and feature amazingly accurate Starfleet uniforms and physical (practical) sets that look like something directly out of Star Trek: Enterprise.  The acting, lighting, sound, editing, music…everything has a professional quality level that makes both films MUST-SEE.  I interviewed Aaron about these two projects shortly after his second production debuted.

Aaron’s third fan film, Good Men, came out this past January with a length of nine minutes, again within the time limit and again telling a very engaging story…another MUST SEE effort.  I decided to interview Aaron a second time about that one.  Both interviews are worth a read.

Aaron has just released his fourth fan film in two years, THE FALL OF STARBASE ONE, his longest and ambitious yet…and another MUST SEE.  After this, Aaron plans to do only one more “big finale”—likely sometime later this year.  As of now, the final script isn’t written or even titled.

I asked Aaron about his decision wrap things up with his next fan film…

As I spoke about in our interviews, it was always my intention to do five – five was the golden number, and I think that’s enough from me.

There’s absolutely every temptation to keep making them (I really would have liked to adapt one of my original short films into a Star Trek story), but I don’t really want to be just known for (or stuck) making fan films. From a career perspective, that’s not very attractive.

I’ll admit I’m a little sad, but I truly appreciate all the care and effort that Aaron has put into all of his FANtastic films.  And I certainly wish him all the best in his film career.

So please enjoy this fourth absolutely awesome Australian adventure from Aaron: The Fall of Starbase One

SPACE COMMAND to debut first 30 minutes of their pilot at SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON!

Fan film supporters are no strangers to waiting—sometimes for years!—to see their donations finally reach fruition in the form of a finished release.

Take a look at this list of fan films (both Star Trek and sci-fi genre featuring Trek actors) that were successfully funded (either publicly or privately) and still have not been released…in order from earliest to most recent campaign:

Axanar (funded in 2014 and 2015)
Star Trek: First Frontier (unfunded in 2015 then privately financed)
Star Trek: New Voyages “Torment of Destiny” (funded in 2015)
Pacific 201 (funded in 2015 and 2016)
Captain Pike (funded in 2015 and 2016)
Starship Farragut “Homecoming” (funded in late 2015)
Blade of Honor (funded in 2016 and 2017)
The Circuit: Urbiessa (funded in 2017)

All of these fan projects have taken in at least five-figures in crowd-funding and often six-figures or more.  And fans have been waiting for some of these films to be released for over three years!

But that’s nothing compared to SPACE COMMAND!

One of the earliest sci-fi Kickstarters to crack into six-figures, Space Command took in $221,267 way back in July of 2012!  Then, five years later, Space Command pulled in another $108,671 in December of 2017!

Written and directed by MARK SCOTT ZICREE (who wrote episodes for ST:TNG and DS9 and wrote and directed the acclaimed Star Trek: New Voyages fan film “World Enough and Time” with George Takei) the Space Command pilot episode would feature an impressive cast of sci-fi notables—DOUG JONES, ROBERT PICARDO, BILL MUMY, and MIRA FURLAN—high production values, and what looked to be breathtaking VFX.  It’s no wonder that fans contributed nearly a third of a million dollars to turn that homage to classic 1950s sci-fi into a fan film reality.

But, dude…it’s been six frickin’ years!!!

However, the wait looks like it is finally over for Space Command fans and donors.  Marc Zicree has just announced that the first half hour of the 2-hour pilot episode will debut in just a few weeks at Comic-Con International in San Diego!

But that’s not all he announced!  Let’s turn the microphone over to Marc…

Continue reading “SPACE COMMAND to debut first 30 minutes of their pilot at SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON!”

TREKYARDS and VIC MIGNOGNA go behind-the-scenes of STAR TREK CONTINUES!

TREKYARDS is a force of nature in Star Trek fandom.  So is STAR TREK CONTINUES.  Put the two of them together, and there’s something really special in store for Trekkers!

Trekyards, for those who don’t know, is the brainchild of STUART FOLEY and SAMUEL COCKINGS.  Together, these two uber-fans have produced more than 500 webshow videos spotlighting ships from Trek and other sci-fi franchises, interviewing actors and production people from Star Trek, doing video podcasts, and filling the Internet with enough smart, funny, and fascinating content to eat up as much of your free time as you desire!

Star Trek Continues, as you undoubtedly know, was a cutting edge fan series that presented the final two years of the USS Enterprise‘s 5-year mission under James T. Kirk.  Using professional actors and technical crew, featuring noted sci-fi celebrities as guest stars, and displaying industry-level production quality on exact recreations of the TOS sets, STC set a standard of excellence seldom if ever matched in the realm of Trek fan films.

Although STC has completed its 11-episode run, fans still cherish this labor of love and the careful attention to detail that went into it.  And while STC has released a few special features here and there focussing on things like the music scoring, editing, and VFX—and Fan Film Factor published this exhaustively-researched complete history of STC—there hasn’t been a real “deep dive” into all of the  behind-the-scenes production secrets of this amazing series.

Until now, that is!

Trekyards is introducing a new webshow series spotlighting Star Trek Continues, hoping to cover EVERY fascinating detail of this beloved fan project with insight from those who produced it.  Up first, in a 20-minute interview about their first episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity,” Captain Kirk himself, VIC MIGNOGANA, talks about finding and convincing retired actor Michael Forest to reprise his role of Apollo, Vic’s feelings about other Trek fan series, and what gravity has to do with the color of the walls on the set!

Here’s the first installment of this new MUST-SEE Trekyards series…

I spoke to Trekyards co-host and editor Samuel Cockings about this new offering and learned some very interesting things—including why fans really need to tune in and support it…

Continue reading “TREKYARDS and VIC MIGNOGNA go behind-the-scenes of STAR TREK CONTINUES!”

Major AXANAR news! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 2)

Click here to read Part 1.

ALEC PETERS is pretty much a man who needs no introduction…at least in the fan community.  But if you’ve only just landed on this planet, here’s a quick run-down.  Alec has been the driving force behind the fan production AXANAR for half a decade, writing, producing, and appearing in the widely popular Prelude to Axanar fan film.  He worked ceaselessly over three crowd-funding campaigns to raise more than $1.3 million in fan donations to build out a studio and sets and begin filming a 90-minute Star Trek fan film detailing the final battle of the Four Years War with the Klingons at the planet Axanar.

And then Alec got sued by CBS and Paramount for copyright infringement.  He fought back, and after a year of legal proceedings, the lawsuit was settled just days before a trial was set to begin.  While the specifics of Alec’s settlement with the studios aren’t public, we do know that Alec is now allowed to make two 15-minute Axanar fan films with his original cast (if they choose to return) as well as other entertainment industry professionals.

That settlement came nearly a year and a half ago, and still there is no completed follow-up Axanar fan film or films.  With that in mind, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday as I ask Alec a question that both Axanar supporters AND detractors have certainly been wondering about… Continue reading “Major AXANAR news! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 2)”