THE ROMULAN WARS completes its FINAL EPISODE “The Tunnel at the End of the Light”!

On May 13, 2005, Star Trek: Enterprise aired its series finale, “These Are the Voyages”–completely skipping over a half-decade of the much anticipated Romulan War with Earth and the Coalition of Planets.

Many fans were, quite understandably, disappointed. In addition to strengthening the alliances that would form the Federation and shaping the very direction of Starfleet technology from pure exploration into vessels that could also fight and defend, the very nature of the Romulan War promised action and drama that the fifth Star Trek television series (sixth if you count the animated series) had not previously been able to develop.

Two and a half years later, on November 23, 2007, Star Trek fans began to fill in that missing half-decade with a new fan series: STAR TREK: THE ROMULAN WARS. Led by show-runner LEE GARTRELL, this Arkansas-based production didn’t have the financial resources or the professional polish of a Star Trek: New Voyages or Starship Exeter, but what they did have was passion and commitment. They sewed their own costumes, built their own simplified sets, green-screen composited in backgrounds behind their actors, and created their own VFX.

It was a labor of love that didn’t always have the best lighting or sound quality (and you can tell some of the blasts and explosion noises were grabbed from the original Battlestar Galactica), but you can still see how much time and effort went into this fan series which was, at the time, the only fan production that attempted to tackle the 22nd century NX-01 era of Star Trek.  (Tommy Kraft’s fan film Star Trek: Horizon was still nearly a decade away.)

Over the course of the next eight years, The Romulan Wars would release nine full-length episodes ranging in length from 22 to 45 minutes (nearly four and a half hours of content!). Their previous offering, a prequel episode entitled “The Atlas,” was released a year before the fan film guidelines were ever announced. At the time, Lee Gartrell was planning for a full run of 16 episodes to finish up the war.

Unfortunately, Guideline #1 prohibits continuing series. So The Romulan Wars is wrapping up with their tenth episode, “The Tunnel at the End of the Light.” Part 1 was released back in May with a running time of 23 minutes (slightly over the 15-minute limit).  A few weeks ago, the full final episode was completed and released with a total run time of 37 minutes (I doubt CBS will mind).

Although this is the end of The Romulan Wars, Lee Gartrel is already planning the team’s next project: an original sci-fi series set 790 years in the future.  It should premiere next summer.

You can view all the previous episodes of The Romulan Wars here.

And here’s the series finale, “The Tunnel at the End of the Light,” made with heart and soul by more than two dozen dedicated Trek fans…

VANCE MAJOR is the “WHERE’S WALDO of Star Trek Fan Films!” (interview)

Since he first made his debut as Chief Engineer Minard on the initial episode “Legacy” of the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT back in 2014, VANCE MAJOR has been involved with no less than FIFTEEN different Star Trek fan films and series…in positions both behind and in front of the camera.  That’s why I like to call Vance the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films!”

Here’s a complete list of the films he’s either produced, written, directed, or appeared in (or any combination of the above)…in addition to “Legacy”:

Starship Valiant – “The Ties That Bind”
“Pen Pals” and “Pen Pals 2”
Melburne – “Storm Front, Part 1”
V’Ger for Women
The Hunt
Melbourne – “First Duty”

V’Ger for Men
Dark Glimmer
Resistance
Dreadnought Dominion/Starship Valiant crossovers:
“Chain of Command” and “Command and Conquer”
and he worked for a short time on
Starship Republic – “Serpent of Yesterday”

Vance’s latest release is, I think, one of his best yet: the 7-minute Minard.  The episode provides a series of scattered glimpses into the professional and personal life of Vance’s engineering character as Minard advances through Starfleet.  There’s laughter, excitement, tears, and tragedy…all in just 7 minutes.  It’s worth checking out before you listen to our audio interview with Vance…

I already did a 2-part print interview with Vance back in April, and I invite you to read it, as well.  But I’m following that up with a new AUDIO interview that was only completed just a few short weeks ago.  In the brief time since we chatted, the prolific Mr. Major has released not just one but TWO more completed Trek fan films that were still in post production when we spoke: Minard and “Command and Conquer.”  (This fella is quick!)

Vance is a great guy and really interesting to listen to, but what makes this interview really compelling is that his fan films are so cheaply done…and he doesn’t mind that!  Many in the fan film community lament the passing of the high-budget mega-projects like Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, Renegades, and Axanar.  Barely two years ago, the future of Trek fan films seemed to hold such promise…

And it still does!  That’s what this interview is all about.  Sure, we might not see the hundred-thousand and million-dollar Trek fan films any longer, but the genre is far from dead!  Guys like Vance Major are keeping the dream alive and prospering, and he’s about to tell you how and why…

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION/STARSHIP VALIANT team up again for “COMMAND AND CONQUER”!

Last November, the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION returned from a 16-month hiatus with a new episode that crossed over with sister fan series STARSHIP VALIANT…an episode entitled “Chain of Command.”  You can read more about that endeavor here in this Fan Film Factor blog.

Written by Vance Major, Gary Davis, and David R. Wrenn, and directed by Vance and Gary, the scenes for “Chain of Command” were filmed separately in the states of Ohio, North Carolina, and Oklahoma (the former location of Starbase Studios) and then edited together into a 7-minute fan film.  It focused on the new CO of the USS Dominion trying to find a first officer.

It’s rare to see the full (or nearly full) casts of two different fan series cross over into a single fan film.  What’s even rarer is to see them cross over TWICE!

And it’s interesting that I said “cross over” because the latest film film to feature these two crews crosses viewers over into the Mirror Universe with a retelling of the “Chain of Command” story with the same characters but from the Terran Empire’s ISS Dominon and ISS Valiant.

It’s fun and fascinating…all at the same time!  Written by the same team, the directors were now Gary Davis and Kent Edwards.  And the locations still included Ohio and North Carolina, but Starbase Studios has now moved to Arkansas, and some scenes were also filmed in Georgia.  I’m told the entire production was shot last month (with a few scenes filmed in May) and edited together pretty quickly to come out with such a fast turnaround.

I’m going to provide links to three different fan films here.  The first is mirror universe “Command and Conquer.”  Below that is the prime universe “Chain of Command” for you to compare it to.  And finally, there’s a short vignette written by and starring Vance Major titled Project Defiant: “Dark Glimmer.”  Although it came out in late June, it’s a sequel to the newly-released “Command and Conquer.”

And look for a really great audio interview with Vance Major on Fan Film Factor this coming Friday!

And now, the prime universe “Chain of Command”…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION/STARSHIP VALIANT team up again for “COMMAND AND CONQUER”!”

A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2016-2017 (feature, part 5)

Last time, the world of Star Trek fan films was shaken to its core by a copyright infringement lawsuit against Axanar Productions in late December of 2015 followed by a call to Tommy Kraft of Star Trek: Horizon in April of 2016 telling him to shut down his new $250,000 Kickstarter for his sequel, Star Trek: Federation Rising.

And what of STAR TREK: RENEGADES?  In November, they had raised a very impressive $375,000 for their new continuing series.  Even though CBS had rejected their offer to make Renegades into a pilot for a new Trek TV series (and by now, Star Trek: Discovery had been announced), the Renegades team hadn’t been told to stop.  So it was full steam ahead with plans to use the existing sets and CGI models and props to make an ambitious TWELVE half-hour webisodes per year (yes, per year…that was the plan), beginning with a two-parter called “The Requiem.”  It would feature both Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and Walter Koenig playing Chekov for one final swan song.

Although Trek fan filmmakers were feeling very uncertain (and downright nervous) at the moment—with the Axanar lawsuit dragging on for months and mixed messages coming from JJ Abrams and the studios themselves—the show must go on, as they say.  And so Star Trek: Renegades scheduled the first day of filming on “The Requiem” for June 22, 2016.

The initial scenes on day one were all green screen, featuring Nichelle and Walter, Tim Russ as Tuvok in full Vulcan make-up, and even Cirroc Lofton reprising his role as Jake Sisko.  The production would also feature other veteran Trek actors reprising their roles, including Terry Farrel as “Jadzia” (minus the Dax symbiont), Robert Beltran as Chakotay, Aron Eisenberg as Nog, and even Hana Hatae as a grown-up Molly O’Brien!  The sets were built, the costumes made, the studio rented…it was time to make an awesome new fan series!

And then the guidelines happened…

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2016-2017 (feature, part 5)”

PACIFIC 201 releases NEW TEASER CLIP and needs $1,000 FAST!

The long-awaited fan film PACIFIC 201 has nearly completed principle photography, but there have been some unexpected delays and challenges that have pushed things back and strained the project’ available funding.  Now on the cusp of finishing the filming of all the scripted scenes, the production is faced with the cost of moving their sets out of the warehouse that was being leased and into a new facility.  Moving will require $1,000…and the funds are needed quickly.

Pacific 201 still has an active Indiegogo page up, with $30,685 as I type this.  If you can spare anything—even just a little—it’ll make a BIG difference…

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

With physical sets and well-designed costumes, profession actors, and some awesome visual effects, Pacific 201 will be the first fan film (or any Star Trek film, for that matter) to cover the period smack dab in between the end of the Enterprise NX-01 era and the beginning of the Enterprise NCC-1701 era.

The time of Pacific 201 is the turn of the 23rd century, 40 years after the founding of the United Federation of Planets.  It’s a critical period for Earth, still reeling from the horrors of the Romulan War but just beginning to emerge from fear and paranoia with a tentative first step back into the exploring of strange new worlds.

To encourage donations, writer/director ERIC HENRY has released this new 3-minute vignette filmed on the bridge set of the Pacific NCC-201.  Enjoy…and PLEASE DONATE!

NINER FANS release an UNOFFICIAL TRAILER for imagined DS9 SEASON 4 Blu-Ray!

Back in late 2015, two hard-core Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans, DAVID FRANK and CHRISTIAN LERCH, created a unique fan film.  They imagined what a teaser/trailer for an High Definition DS9 Blu-ray collection might look like.  It had been a year since the completion of the seven-season Blu-Ray releases of Star Trek: The Next Generation in December of 2014, and like many “Niner” fans, they hoped that CBS would give the same treatment to DS9.

Talented motion designers, David and Christian used their skills to create a minute-long teaser/trailer using nothing but CGI graphics of the station consoles coming to life, with a majestic DS9 musical soundtrack.  They described the sequence:

It features the Cardassian Space Station shortly before the pilot of DS9. The Cardassians just left after over 50 years of occupation, and the Bajorans are about to take over the Station. The Station kind of senses the imminent arrival of the Bajoran military forces and “wakes up.”

It ended with the words: “BRING IT TO BLU-RAY”

A few months later in March of 2016, David and Christian released a new minute-long trailer for a hypothetical DS9 Season 2 HD Blu-Ray…again ending with the words “BRING IT TO BLU-RAY.”  But this time they added voice-over clips from the episodes “The Circle” and “In the Hands of the Prophets” to their CGI and haunting music track…resulting in a dramatic and chilling finished piece.

In July, the Season 3 teaser/trailer was released…this time with CGI space battle footage featuring Romulans, Cardassians, Jem’Hadar, and the USS Defiant (with ship models provided by the one-and-only TOBIAS RICHTER)—and voice-over clips from “Improbable Cause” and “The Die Is Cast.”  Man, if you don’t get goosebumps from seeing this one and immediately rush out to rewatch that season of DS9, you might want to turn in your geek membership card!

Those three teaser/trailers were released within about eight months of each other, but it’s now been just over a year since their last endeavor.  (Keep in mind that David and Christian do this in their spare time for no money.)

But the wait for the Season 4 teaser/trailer is over.  It was released last week and looks AMAZING!  Now nearly two and a half minutes long, the final message has changed to “BRING IT TO HIGH DEFINITION.”  Amen to that!

If you want to see the teaser/trailers for the previous three seasons, here they are…

Continue reading “NINER FANS release an UNOFFICIAL TRAILER for imagined DS9 SEASON 4 Blu-Ray!”

A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2015-2016 (feature, part 4)

Last time, it had been a long road for STAR TREK: RENEGADES… getting from there to here.  “There” was a an idea back in 2006, on the last day of filming Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, of a “Star Trek meets The Dirty Dozen” fan series concept…maybe even a pilot to pitch to CBS!  And “here” was the Crest Theater in Westwood, August 1, 2015, for the red carpet premiere of a 90-minute, $400,000 Star Trek “fan” film with veteran actors and professionals working alongside amateurs and novices…all for the love and passion of a sci-fi franchise that hadn’t seen a new television episode in more than a decade!

In between were three different crowd-funding campaigns, many months of pre-production, two weeks of studio shooting with 61 actors and a total crew of 170, nearly two years of post production, and 637 different visual effects shots.  And it all led to this moment with a movie marquis on Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles that read:

SKY CONWAY PRESENTS
STAR TREK RENEGADES

There were two showings, each with a limited number of tickets available (the theater only seats 460, and there were cast members and crew in attendance, as well).  The Renegades team made 325 tickets available to donors and the general public for the first showing at 4:30 pm for $20 each (and that’s when I made my first donation to the project).  And thanks to a friend of mine who worked on the production, I was able to get in again for the second 7:30 pm showing that was intended to be exclusively for cast, crew, and the media.

It was quite the happening!  The first showing was mainly fans, many in costume.  But after the theater was cleared from that audience, the red carpet and “runway” background were set up, the Paparazzi began to assemble (seriously, there were more than a dozen of them…including me!), and the limousines started arriving.  Yes, there were limousines.

Nichelle Nichols (who came to support her friend Walter Koenig), Adrienne Wilkinson, and Robert Picardo arrive on the red carpet for the premiere.

Wanna see what it looked like inside?

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2015-2016 (feature, part 4)”

TRISTAN Production Crew releases new episode: “THE VOICE OF YOUR BLOOD”!

Chalk up yet another fan film release for the folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES!  This brings their total number of finished fan productions to (I think, because it’s easy to lose count) FIFTY-FIVE!  Their latest offering is from the Tristan Production Crew—which is based in Georgia (the other teams are in Alabama)—and provides fans another look at the adventures of the crew of the USS Tristan in the movie-era TOS time frame.

The 14-and-a-half-minute “The Voice of Your Blood” is the ninth completed fan film from the Tristan team.  It brings back WILLIAM C. SEARCY’s fan-favorite character of half-Vulcan Chief Medical Officer Skep Anderson.  (William also wrote this episode.)  Fans of the various Potemkin Pictures series will also enjoy an unexpected cameo by a cast member from one of their other productions.

You can watch all of the Tristan Production Crew’s episodes (along with the other four dozen or so Potemkin Picture releases) here on their website.

And here is “The Voice of Your Blood”…

STAR TREK CONTINUES releases their NINTH EPISODE: “What Ships Are For”!

Many are calling it one of STAR TREK CONTINUES’ best episodes yet!  I’m sure some will complain, as someone always does, it seems.  And admittedly, the first half of the episode does move more slowly than the second half…but oh, what a second half it is!

Without stepping into spoiler territory, this episode heartens back to the golden age of TOS when many of the episodes provided viewers with a mirror from which they could see and examine one or more of the complex issues of the day: the war in Vietnam, racism, the hippie movement, the ever-growing spectacle of television itself.

“What Ships Are For” does just that with one of the most controversial and divisive political dilemmas of today…told in a creative and ultimately poignant way.  Unlike many fan films, this episode of STC doesn’t rely on space battles or some threat to the ship but rather focuses on a society facing a crisis of change—a change that could quite literally tear them apart.  And right in the middle of it all are Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise.  Sound familiar?  If you named just about any of the original series episodes, you’d probably be right!  And for me, that’s the reason “What Ships Are For” worked so well.

The episode also worked well because of the amazingly strong performances of their guest cast for this episode.  Anne Lockhart will be familiar to sci-fi fans as the actress who played Lt. Sheba in the original Battlestar Galactica.  (She is also the daughter of Lost in Space star June Lockhart).  Elizabeth Maxwell is an accomplished voice-over actress.  But most impressive was a tour de force performance by actor John de Lancie, best known to fans for his portrayal of omnipotent intergalactic troublemaker “Q” on TNG, DS9, and Voyager.

Despite this being “only” a fan film (HA!), de Lancie gives his all to this role, delivering his lines with a poignancy that makes the plight of this alien society feel real and tangible to the viewer rather than simply being some plot contrivance intended to comment on a currently charged political issue.  De Lancie’s performance, I believe, elevated other performances in the episode, especially that of star Vic Mignogna, who delivered a magnificently powerful Kirk speech at the end.  The two performances together actually bought a tear to my eye.

See for yourself how good the episode was, and then feel free to post comments with spoilers below.  And if you don’t want spoilers, please watch first before reading the comments on this page…

A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2014-2015 (feature, part 3)

Last time, eight years after first being conceived in 2006 on the final day of shooting Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, the dream of STAR TREK: RENEGADES was nearly complete.  Two crowd-funding campaigns had provided the producers with $375,000 to spend (minus fees, perk production, and mailing costs).  All of the footage was shot (directed by Tim “Tuvok” Russ) in October of 2013, the final “locked picture” edit had been approved in April of 2014, and now it was time for music, sound, and visual effects (VFX).

Unfortunately, the money was now all used up, and the VFX were going to be significantly more expensive than they thought…like tens of thousands of dollars more!

Was Renegades ready for a THIRD crowd-funding campaign???

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2014-2015 (feature, part 3)”