STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER releases NEW trailer…with never-before-seen footage!

Back in March of 2017, I featured a great 3-part interview (definitely worth reading or at least looking at the photos!) with KENNY SMITH, the show-runner behind the upcoming fan film STAR TEK: FIRST FRONTIER. At the time, a just-released trailer promised a debut of the hour-long film in 2017. Although the trailer disappeared for a short while, it was re-posted in September of 2017, still promising a 2017 release.

That didn’t happen.

However, it wan’t because Kenny and his team were simply resting on their laurels! The script for First Frontier was iniitally written in 2014, and after a Kickstarter in 2015 failed to reach its $130K goal, Kenny decided to simply fund it himself. He built sets (for the era of Captain Robert April, 20 years before Kirk), created costumes, and even constructed a highly detailed $30,000 eleven-foot long model of April’s Enterprise NCC-1701 in order to film visual FX the old fashioned way!

He hired professional actors and production crew (this was all pre-guidelines) and even had NICHELLE NICHOLS record a voice-over. When all was said and done, Kenny spent around $200,000 of his own money (and that was back in 2017…he’s likely now up over a quarter million!).

The majority of the work over the past two years has been on post production: lighting and color adjustments, editing, sound, music, and of course, VFX. Most recently, Kenny and his team built a miniature shuttlecraft and hangar deck “set” for a series of sequences involving a shuttlecraft. Now, when I say “miniature,” it isn’t THAT miniature. Although you can’t tell from this photo taken while everything was still being completed, this shuttlecraft is about the size of a microwave oven!

How awesome is that???

With a planned YouTube premiere only a couple of months away (fingers crossed, people!), Kenny has just released a new trailer. It has most of the same footage as the previous 2017 trailer, but a few new scenes have been added, including a brief glimpse of two-time Emmy nominee actor BARRY CORBIN. We also get to hear Nichelle at the end.

I’m really looking forward to this one…!

The FINAL FATE (?) of the Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS!

Well, this isn’t the happy ending I was hoping to write. It almost was, but then things turned disappointing in a very short amount of time.

Okay, let me first give bring everyone up to date on the story so far. The TOS sets that were formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS have been sitting in a building in Marble Falls, Arkansas since early 2017. The building is part of an abandoned and dilapidated former theme park known as Dogpatch, which is owned by Charles “Bud” Pelsor.

Ownership of the TOS sets—which included a full 360-degree bridge originally constructed in 2004 for a fan film called Starship Exeter “The Tressaurian Intersection,” a partial sickbay, a transporter room, a briefing room, and corridors—was, until recently, divided among GLEN L. WOLFE (50%), SCOTT JOHNSON (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%). Unfortunately, the three owners weren’t typically (if ever) on the same page, and frictions quickly developed and escalated.

“Bud” Pelsor had apparently offered to house the sets until the end of 2018, after which ownership of the Dogpatch property was to transfer to Heritage USA, and the sets would need to be relocated. But where would they go? Who has space for a full bridge, sickbay, transporter, and briefing room?

Earlier this past week, an answer seemed to have miraculously presented itself—with a solution worthy of King Solomon himself…

Continue reading “The FINAL FATE (?) of the Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS!”

Update on THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES (interview with VANCE MAJOR, part 1)

I’ve affectionately referred to VANCE MAJOR as the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.”  Between his appearances in episodes of  Starship ValiantMelbourneThe Lexington AdventuresDreadnought DominionThe Romulan Wars, and Outlaws…and his own Minard series of nearly three dozen fan films (check them all out here)…plus his involvement in helping to schedule fan film shoots on Ray Tesi’s TOS sets in Kingsland, GA…well, Vance is pretty much everywhere in front of and behind the fan camera these days!

Vance is a prolific, low-budget fan filmmaker who doesn’t care if his characters are a little hefty for Starfleet or wear glasses or sneakers with their uniforms.  He’s in it to have fun and tell his stories.  If you like what he makes, great.  If not, then don’t watch.

After wrapping up the Minard saga in February of 2018, Vance announced with 100% certainly that he was done producing Star Trek fan films.  He had said all he needed to say, he was worn out and exhausted, and it was time to move onto other things in his life.

Well, that New Year’s resolution lasted only a few months…!

Early last year, Vance announced that he would be producing a new fan series, loosely titled THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES.  I say “loosely” because the fan guidelines don’t allow for ongoing fan series.  But while these will all deal with the same crew on the same starship(s), each will be a self-contained tale focused on a different character.  Vance explained his decision to return to making fan films—and what would be different this time—in an audio interview in a blog back in August.

That was five months ago.  But last month, Vance released the first trailer for Constar

…and I figured now might be a good time to check in with him on how things are going.

Continue reading “Update on THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES (interview with VANCE MAJOR, part 1)”

SAMUEL COCKINGS 2013 and SAMUEL COCKINGS 2018 take a look forward and back at TEMPORAL ANOMALY!

For SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Harry Potter of CGI, it has truly been a long road getting from there to here. “There” was 2013 when he launched a Kickstarter to fund his fan film project, STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY. A month later, he’d raised £1,741 (about $2,700) with 27 backers. Compared to some of the Trek fan films at the time, this was a “humble” amount, but it was enough to assemble half a dozen actors, get them into Stafleet uniforms, and film them in front of green screens for a nearly hour-long fan video movie.

And then five years happened.

To be fair to Samuel, he was doing anything BUT procrastinating during that time. His skills and resources were constantly expanding, and his abilities to create a better and better looking fan film around that green screen footage were growing by the day!

Early last year, however, just as he was finally planning to debut his long-awaited fan film, Samuel released a trailer that included footage of Picard, Riker, Worf, Troi, etc.—who would be in a short 90-second “prologue” to the film—and got the attention of CBS (and not in a good way). But rather than shut him down completely, CBS worked with Samuel to find a way that he could release his fan film and not have to toss all of his hard work. So…kudos to CBS for finally taking a chill pill.

Those CBS changes have required nearly ten months to complete, but now Temporal Anomaly is nearly ready to premiere later this month. And when it does, I’ve got a great audio interview with His Royal Trekness that you’re all gonna enjoy listening to.

But right now, in anticipation of the impending release of five and a half years of work and dedication, Samuel has posted a special video which takes a look back at the journey…including footage of himself from 2013 and his initial Kickstarter campaign plus comparisons of shots and CGI from back then with what we’ll see in just a couple more weeks.

Take a look…

New multi-franchise crossover fan film GALACTIC BATTLES quickly goes viral!

Back in early 2015, a group of young fan filmmakers out of Vancouver, Canada launched an Indiegogo campaign trying to raise $15,000 (Canadian) to complete their production. It would be a crossover fan film featuring the ships and characters from Star Trek, Star Wars, Mass Effect, and Halo. They had already been working for nearly two years, starting out pretty slow with just a few artists, all of them new to the pipeline process of working together on an open, collaborative, community-driven movie project.

By 2015, they had managed to build a team of 20 digital artists, two sound designers, several actors (including Mark Meer from Mass Effect), one dedicated screenwriter, two social media coordinators, and many more. Along the way, they picked up sponsors that donated some pretty amazing free hardware, software, plus meeting and studio space. Having now developed an industry-grade pipeline process, they just needed $15,000 to finish this incredibly ambitious project.

Their Indiegogo failed…badly. Only $2,574 (Canadian) was raised from just 68 donors.

But they weren’t giving up! Even though everyone was working for free in their spare time, the team still managed to complete filming over the next 12 months. Now they needed to finish post-production. The script called for a staggering 200-plus CGI shots, and that would require the team to pay for server fees, Google Drive fees, and additional software licenses.

They launched a second Indiegogo in 2016, with a much lower goal of only $2,000 (Canadian). This time, the failure wasn’t as awful…mainly because the goal was so much lower. Nonetheless, the team only came out with $850 from 15 backers. That didn’t mean they couldn’t finish—they were determined to!—only that it would take a little longer

Two and a half years later, on December 21, 2018, GALACTIC BATTLES 2018 – The Ultimate Crossover Fan Film finally debuted on YouTube. In the two weeks since, they have generated over 67K views with a 30-to-1 ratio of likes to dislikes. Nearly everyone who’s contacted me about this fan film has said it’s a MUST-SEE…and I think they’re right!

I’ve contacted director CALVIN ROMEYN (who plays Han Solo in the film), and he’s agreed to an interview, which I’ll publish here in a few weeks when he releases a behind-the-scenes video. But I don’t want folks to have to wait to see this ground-breaking new fan film, so go watch it now…and be sure to stick around till the very end!

THE FEDERATION FILES releases its 4th fan film: “GALAXY HOPPER” (interview with DAN REYNOLDS)

THE FEDERATION FILES is an anthology Star Trek fan series from show-runners GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS, both currently based in Arkansas. In fact, Glen is 50% owner of what remains of the TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS. But more recently, Glen and Dan constructed a new TOS bridge set for use in their latest Federation Files fan film, “Galaxy Hopper.”

The Federation Files first launched in October of 2016 with the 47-minute “His Name Is Mudd” featuring the crew of the USS Constitution.  Ten months later, their second anthology episode, the 28-minute “Walking Bear, Running Wolf,” featured two live-action characters who had previously been seen only in the Star Trek animated series: Ensign Dawson Walking Bear and Lt. M’Ress of the USS Enterprise.  Most recently, in January of 2018, The Federation Files‘ third production,  the 13-minute “Extraction,” featured Romulans, a Starfleet shuttlecraft interior, and the dreadnought-class USS Nikita.

Through it all, the one constant (aside the use of the Arkansas sets for filming) has been the “Wolf/Reynolds Production” logo at the end.  With the release of their latest Federation Files episode, the Star Trek/Star Wars crossover “Galaxy Hopper,” Glen and Dan come together once again for a very exciting and good-looking fan effort on board the USS Lexington. What stands out this time—in addition to a really awesome astromech droid!—is a brand new TOS bridge set constructed specially for this production…along with the director: KELLY REYNOLDS.

You probably haven’t seen the name “Kelly Reynolds” in any other Star Trek fan film before…and that’s because, up until November 24, 2018, that wasn’t her name! Kelly and Dan just got married!

I decided to interview Dan Reynolds about “Galaxy Hopper,” the new bridge set, and finding the love of his life and having her direct his latest fan project. But first, take a look at what they just released…

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES releases its 4th fan film: “GALAXY HOPPER” (interview with DAN REYNOLDS)”

2018-in-review: The return of the Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDER!

Remember the good, old days? Back in 2015 and before, Star Trek fan film crowd-funders were as common as lens flares on a JJ Abrams movie set! They’d easily take in thousands, tens of thousands, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of enthusiastically-donated fan contributions.

We all know what happened. Axanar was sued. Six weeks later, Tommy Kraft was told by CBS to take down his $250K Kickstarter for Federation Rising. And then in June 2016, the fan film guidelines came out. And while they didn’t forbid crowd-funding, they did put a $50K cap on it and severely curtailed what kinds of perks could be offered.

Fans (including me) predicted the complete demise of Star Trek fan films. It turned out that we were wrong. Fan films found a way to not only live on but also to prosper, working within the guidelines (mostly) while still being pretty decent—in some cases even quite excellent.

Ah, but crowd-funding…therein lied the rub! While the days of the six-figure Kickstarters and Indiegogos for Trek fan films were obviously gone, maybe fans would still donate five-figures or even just four-figures. Maybe? For a while, it wasn’t looking good.

For the remainder of 2016, only Renegades (with Star Trek surgically removed) attempted a crowd-funding campaign for “The Requiem” (reaching $146K). And Starbase Studios raised $3,500 for a move from Oklahoma to Arkansas for their TOS sets. But beyond that, the only crowd-funding even peripherally connected to Star Trek fan films was a $19K successful Kickstarter by Star Trek: Horizon creator Tommy Kraft to fund his NON-Star Trek fan film Runaway.

Would 2017 fare any better for Trek crowd funders? Well, not so much…

Continue reading “2018-in-review: The return of the Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDER!”

So where’s that darn DEEP SPACE NINE documentary??? (update revisited)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. So there’s this fan film project that’s going to feature veteran Star Trek actors and production crew, and it’s going to be presented in documentary format. Although people are excited about the project even before the crowd-funding campaign begins, the show-runners are nevertheless blown away when donations blast through the initial goal and reach nearly $650,000.

Emboldened by this unexpected abundance of production funding, the show-runners decide to expand the scope of the project far beyond what was initially planned, and a year later, they go back to the donors and fans to ask for even more money.

But then stuff happens, and the release date gets delayed…and then delayed again.

Nope, not Axanar. This same sequence of events happened with the ambitious Star Trek: Deep Space Nine documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, directed by ADAM NIMOY. Crowd-funded in early 2017 with more than $647,000, the original release date was estimated as February 2018. But by April, with no documentary in sight, show-runner IRA BEHR updated fans with a written message that I featured in a blog titled “So where’s that darn DEEP SPACE NINE documentary???

Ira didn’t make excuses so much as provide reasons why things were taking so long…including the fact that there were over 100 hours of new interviews with cast and crew to go through, plus fan submissions, archival materials, animations, audition tapes, convention footage and more than 170 broadcast episodes…all of which needed to fit into a final documentary that was no longer than a few hours! Plus, they were remastering some of the original standard definition footage into beautiful high definition footage.

By September, there was still no completed documentary, and Ira posted yet another update…this time as a video and asking for even MORE money! Why would he “tap the well” again so late in the game?

Continue reading “So where’s that darn DEEP SPACE NINE documentary??? (update revisited)”

The four days of Christmas…POTEMKIN PICTURES style!

POTEMKIN PICTURES, run by RANDY LANDERS out of Pelham, Alabama, is a juggernaut of low-budget, from-the-heart Star Trek fan films. With six different fan “series” (actually, they don’t like to call them “series” since the guidelines don’t allow that) currently in production and another about to debut soon, Randy’s goal is to release an average of one new fan film a month. And so far this year, they’ve been on par to hit that mark, having released a total of 11 completed fan films prior to December. At one point, they even posted five fan films in five consecutive weeks!

But would they be able to, before the end of the year, make it an even DOZEN within twelve months? Well, kinda.

Yes, Potemkin Pictures did manage to release their 12th fan film before the end of the year…and their 13th…and their 14th…and their 15th!!!

Four fan films from three different series were posted to Youtube in just FOUR DAYS! (You can watch them all at the bottom of this blog entry.) The new productions included a two-part fan film from the STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR creative team (since its total runtime of 19 minutes was over the 15-minute guideline limit), a pivotal addition to the STARSHIP DEIMOS storyline, and the first new release from the BATTLECRUISER KUPOK creative team since August of 2017.

I asked Randy why the rush to release four fan films in just four days? I understand releasing the two-parter on consecutive days, but why not hold the other two and spread things out a little? Randy replied…

We don’t sit on any production. When it’s done, it’s released. Not everyone loves every creative group. There are Deimos fans, Endeavour fans, Kupok fans. Each of them got a Christmas present…so to speak.

Speaking of Kupok, “Spirit in the Star” features an absolutely gorgeous CGI model of a K’t’inga-class Klingon battlecruiser, created and supplied by ROB BONCHIUNE (who used to do the VFX for DS9 and Voyager). The honourable warrior of Trekyards, SAMUEL COCKINGS, rendered some gorgeous VFX shots featuring this digital model that are truly stunning (or maybe I should say “disrupting”).

You can access the nearly-70 previous Potemkin Pictures fan films from their website. And here are the latest four releases…

Continue reading “The four days of Christmas…POTEMKIN PICTURES style!”

THE ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES – new release “FINAL FLIGHT” starring…me!

Hey, guess who developed the Warp Seven engine?  Me, that’s who!

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I had help (will have help?) from my NX-Zeta project team, and from MARK NACARRATO, the show-runner of the upcoming fan production THE ROMULAN WAR.  Oh, and it wasn’t really me; it was Lieutenant Geoffrey Christopher of the United Earth Space Probe Agency.  But he looks and sounds a lot like me.

I suppose I should back up a few steps and explain what the heck I’m talking about…

For those of you unfamiliar with The Romulan War, it’s going to be an amazing Trek fan film picking up where Star Trek: Enterprise left off…at the beginning of the war between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Empire.  Filming on the production is all but completed, and now the finishing touches of post production—editing, VFX, sound, music, etc.—are being applied.  Release is planned for 2019.

Of course, with the limitations of the fan film guidelines, it would be nearly impossible to recount the entire war…despite using a “mock” documentary style similar to Prelude to Axanar.  So Mark came up with an interesting idea to push the envelope a bit—WAR STORIES.  These are short vignettes that are essentially audio dramas…just with a little something “extra” added: images with simple animations.  These “enhanced” audio dramas are presented as the logs of various Starfleet officers who served during the war, and the logs are accompanied by computer readouts and archival photos with some short video clips.  Less than a full fan film but more than a simple audio drama.

Last August, Mark released the first War Stories, the two-part “Sleep Is Hard to Find.”  If you go to that blog page, you’ll see that yours truly provided some of the Photoshop work to get the actors’ faces onto NX-era uniforms.  A month later, Mark released the second War Stories, “They Want Us Dead.”  That one didn’t require my Photoshop services, but the third release, “Final Flight,” did.

It also required my face…

Continue reading “THE ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES – new release “FINAL FLIGHT” starring…me!”