The BEST TWO Trek fan films you’ve NEVER seen! (interview with AARON VANDERKLEY, Part 1)

Fan films like Star Trek: Horizon, Prelude to Axanar, Star Trek: Renegades, Star Trek Continues, and New Voyages have been viewed millions and millions of times on YouTube….and with good reason.  All are excellent productions of professional-level quality.

But those are the “big fish” in the fan film pond.  Two much smaller fish have swum underneath the sonar and haven’t been noticed by more than a couple of thousand viewers each…which is a shame because they are two of the best, highest quality Star Trek fan films you’re likely to see!

They didn’t have mega-budgets like some fan films, nor did they use big-name Hollywood actors or Trek veteran producers.  In fact, there isn’t even a VFX space shot in either.  What’s more, neither violates any of the fan film guidelines, coming in at 6 and a half minutes and 12 minutes respectively.

The first of these two films, THE NEEDS OF THE MANY, was released in January of 2016 (five months before the guidelines were ever announced) and the second, THE DERELICT, debuted just last month on the 51st anniversary of Star Trek.

Both short films take place during the Enterprise NX-01 era and use real, practical sets instead of green screen.  The costumes look amazing, and the actors do a really spectacular job.  Add in subtle lightning, great make-up, excellent camera work, a strong script, solid directing, and even top-notch editing, and these two fan films can easily take their place among some of the best ones so far.

So who made these two masterpieces, and how did they manage to do such a FANtastic job for so little?  For the answers, we need to travel all the way to the land down under…

Continue reading “The BEST TWO Trek fan films you’ve NEVER seen! (interview with AARON VANDERKLEY, Part 1)”

VANCE MAJOR releases SEVEN TREK FAN FILMS in SEVEN DAYS!

Last month, in an interview with fan film maker VANCE MAJOR, I called him the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.”  The interview included a list of over a dozen different Trek fan films that Vance had written, directed, produced, appeared in, and/or worked on.

But now, after releasing ANOTHER seven (yes, SEVEN!) Trek fan films—one per day!—in just seven days, I think I need to rechristen Vance the “Oompa Loompa of Star Trek fan films”…perhaps even Willy Wonka himself!

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THE FEDERATION FILES releases “Walking Bear, Running Wolf”! (interview with DAN REYNOLDS)

Last year, show-runner GLEN L. WOLFE released “His Name Is Mudd,” the first fan film in a new anthology series called THE FEDERATION FILES.  Now Glen and his producer DAN REYNOLDS have released the second production in the anthology series, “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.”

Glen has actually worked in myriad capacities on more than a dozen different fan films (take a look at his IMdB page for a complete list) from actor to producer to set decorator, cameraman, even electrical operator.  But The Federation Files was Glen’s first chance to really take charge, writing and directing both episodes of the new anthology series.

Utilizing the sets of Starbase Studios, previously in Oklahoma City and now in Arkansas (some of which Glen himself helped build), the two episodes of The Federation Files focus on original series-era stories, the first featuring the USS Constitution and a certain interplanetary con-man, and the second featuring the crew of the USS Enterprise.

The character of Dawson Walking Bear was first introduced in the next-to-last animated Star Trek episode “How Sharper Than A Serpent’s Tooth.”  The script called for a Native American crewman who would be the only one to recognize the ancient Aztec/Mayan god Kukulkan.  That was Walking Bear’s only appearance on film until Star Trek: New Voyages featured him in their short vignette “Going Boldly” and then in the full-length “Mind-Sifter.”  New Voyages would also feature another animated crewman, Lt. Arex, briefly in the same “Going Boldly” vignette…

Walking Bear (top) and Arex shown in both their live-action STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES appearances and also as they first looked in the animated series.

New Voyages wasn’t the only live-action fan series to feature a character from the animated series.  Project: Potemkin showed Carter Winston (from “The Survivor”) in his human form in their episode “Beach Towel” and in his alien Vendorian form in their following episode “Shovel of Kahless” …

PROJECT: POTEMKIN featured the shape-changing Vendorian Carter Winston in two episodes.

But up until now, no fan film had ever tackled the Caitian feline communications officer Lt. M’Ress, until The Federation Files released “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.”  And not only did M’Ress appear, she actually had a fairly decent bit of screen time…

Lt. M’Ress with her paws on the controls of communications…

I reached out to “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” producer DAN REYNOLDS to ask him some questions about this ambitious fan production.

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AXANAR update…the news is actually GOOD!

Every so often, just for a shats and giggles, I head over the the Axamonitor blog site to see the latest “news” CARLOS PEDRAZA has to “report.”  It’s funny because, while some people like to see the AXANAR glass as half-full (if not more so), Carlos does his best to convince folks that the Axanar glass is 99% empty.  I noticed, in one of his latest updates, that Carlos included such catastrophic sub-headlines as…

  • Axanar Could ‘Take Years’
  • Failed California Studio
  • Indiegogo Failure
  • Hemorrhaging Money
  • Abandoning Nonprofit Plans
  • Bait and Switch?
  • No More Axanar

And that’s just ONE blog update, folks!!!

Sheesh, with “news” like that, it’s hard to imagine any reason to smile in the land of Axanar fandom.  So why am I and so many others still smiling?

Despite naming his blog site “Axamonitor,” Carlos seems to be very—what’s the word?—selective in what he actually “monitors” and chooses to include.  So if there are any positive things to say or good news or report about Axanar, you’re unlikely to find it there.

Fortunately, there’s other places on the Internet to get the rest of the story…including here.  And so that’s the subject of today’s blog: all the GOOD news that’s happening right now in the world of Axanar….

Continue reading “AXANAR update…the news is actually GOOD!”

A Tale of II Trailers!

To mark this 51st anniversary of Star Trek and the theatrical re-release of the Director’s Cut of STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (in theaters September 10 and 13), I’ve decided to feature a somewhat different kind of Trek fan film today.

Most fan films feature fan-written scripts with fan actors, fan-generated visual and sound effects, etc…some with small budgets and others with big budgets.  But as far as I’m concerned, fan films don’t stop there!

Sometimes fans can show their innovation and cleverness by taking existing Star Trek footage from the five decades of countless episodes and 13 feature films, editing and manipulating it in new and creative ways.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of this recently is a fan-edited version of the trailer for Star Trek II: The Wrath of KhanJONATHAN WORMAN is a talented video editor based in Toronto, Canada who has worked on commercials, music videos, shorts, and documentaries over the past eight years.  Last summer, he released a brilliant “modern” version of a trailer for this beloved fan favorite feature film.  Imagine if you had seen THIS trailer back in 1982…wouldn’t it have blown you away???


And as a fun comparison, here is the actual trailer that Paramount Studios released for the second Star Trek feature film…

Happy 51st anniversary, Star Trek!  And happy 35th anniversary, Wrath of Khhhaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnn!!!!


UPDATE: In November, Jonathan Worman released a new modern trailer, this time for Star Trek: The Motion PictureTake a look at the finished product on this blog page…

BATTLECRUISER KUPOK production crew releases its fourth fan film: “The Soul of Honor”!

A bright and happy Q’Plah to everyone in fan film land!  The BATTLECRUISER KUPOK production crew from POTEMKIN PICTURES has just released the fourth fan film to feature the warrior crew from that honorable warship (pronounced “kuh-POOK”).

This time, there’s a wedding happening, and you’re invited.  But don’t start drinking the bloodwine just yet.  This wedding has some surprises in store.

Potemkin Pictures has multiple production teams all producing fan films featuring the crews of different starships, and “Team Kupok” is the only one to focus on a Klingon crew.  You can watch all the various fan films that Potemkin Pictures has released over the past seven years on their website.

And now, you are cordially invited to view their latest offering, “The Soul of Honor”…

STAR TREK CONTINUES releases BLOOPERS for “What Ships Are For”!

It’s a bittersweet time for fans of STAR TREK CONTINUES.  After five years and what will soon be eleven episodes, the celebrated fan series is finally coming to an end this November.  That’s certainly the bitter part.  The sweet part is that we are being treated to four new episodes in a single year.  The first two, “Still Treads the Shadow” and “What Ships Are For” have already been released, and the final two-parter, “To Boldly Go” will debut publicly with Part 1 on October 18 and Part 2 on November 13.

What’s also sweet is that STC typically releases blooper reels for most of its episodes.  These short glimpses behind the scenes show how much fun the cast and crew had in creating these wonderful productions.

You can see all of their blooper/gag reels—along with all of their episodes and other special features—by clicking here.  Scroll down for the bloopers and features.

And here’s their most recent blooper reel release for “What Ships Are For”…

TRISTAN Production Crew releases new episode: “Seeing Red”!

And then there were ten…ten episodes of the don’t-call-it-a-fan-series from “Team Tristan” of POTEMKIN PICTURES.  One of now-seven different production crews producing original Star Trek fan films for Potemkin Pictures, the Pelham, Alabama-based Tristan Production Crew presents stories dealing exclusively with the missions of the U.S.S. Tristan, a Constellation-class starship in the late 23rd/early 24th century period of Star Trek.

All of Potemkin Pictures’ productions are ultra low-budget, using actors from the surrounding areas–a combination of drama students at local colleges, community theater folks, and others who just want to be a part of a fun Star Trek fan film project.

Their latest offering, the 8-minute “Seeing Red,” was shot entirely on location (not on pre-constructed sets, although they have a few of those, as well) using what’s available in the local Pelham area.  It’s a fun little look into an away mission with two crew members, one of whom is a gung-ho “red shirt.”  (You kinda have to forget that, during movie-era Trek, security personnel on starships wore dark hunter green and not red tunics.  Obviously, a title like “Seeing Dark Hunter Green” doesn’t work as well as “Seeing Red,” so just go with it.)

This short film is more action-packed than many of Team Tristan’s other releases of late, and it takes a few unexpected plot turns.  Not bad for ultra-low budget and (when you subtract opening and closing credits) just five minutes of actual story!

Take a look for yourself…

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!” (audio 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…


UPDATE: A month after this interview was posted, Vance Major set a new record by releasing SEVEN Star Trek fan films in just SEVEN DAYS!  All of them continues the Minard saga.  Read more about it by clicking here