As I’ve said before ,when I first set out to make INTERLUDE, my goal wasn’t simply to make a Star Trek fan film. I wanted to EXPERIENCE making a Star Trek fan film and then share that experience with with all of you through these blogs.
But there was one fan filmmaker moment that I hadn’t experienced yet—until now, that is. Over the decades-long history of Star Trek fan films, many projects have announced their premiere dates…only to miss them. For some fan films, multiple premiere dates were missed.
Well, you can now add Interlude (and me) to that list. After announcing my premiere date in this really cool trailer that I edited together…
…I can now confirm that Interlude will NOT be coming to YouTube on July 25th after all. And I sincerely apologize. It won’t be delayed too much—and I can say that because I know what still needs to be done (more on that shortly).
To quote The Talking Heads, “You may ask yourself: ‘Well, how did I get here?'” The answer isn’t as simple as “letting the days go by.” Lots of people have been working really hard on post-production. But since these blogs are meant to assist other and future fan filmmakers by sharing my experiences (both good and bad), here’s what happened…
Last week, we began chatting with the über Star Trek fan JENS (pronounced “Yens”) DOMBEK, known around the world as The German Spock. He’s been booked for appearances in both the eastern and western hemispheres, and most recently, he’s appeared in two different Trek fan films as the logical Vulcan, both released within two weeks of each other.
The first, LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY, is a short film featuring Kirk, Spock, and McCoy sharing a long-distance video call during a time of frustrating separation. The vignette was written, filmed, and edited as people around the planet found themselves having to social distance and isolate at home.
The second vignette was even shorter and features Jens providing a monologue as Spock in a dark, empty room over haunting music. It’s a simple yet brilliant masterpiece of minimalism, and if you haven’t watched it yet, take a look…
In Part 1, Jens and I discussed his history as a fan and how he became such a well-known cosplayer. One of his greatest regrets, though, was missing a chance to meet LEONARD NIMOY in person when the actor’s failing health led to the cancelation of an appearance at a convention in Germany. However, Jens did have a chance to meet William Shatner at that convention—dressed as Spock! Naturally, I asked the obvious question…
Yesterday, with less than 5 hours to go in the 16-day Kickstarter for deck plans of the USS Ares-class assault cruiser, the total raised was still about a thousand dollars below the $10K needed to reach their stretch goal. The campaign had already surpassed its initial $3K goal in the first few hours, but if it passed $10K, each donor would ALSO get a free 11″ x 17″ version of the USS Ares Master Display Poster along with the blueprints.
Then, with four hours to go, an e-mail went out to the Ares Studios mailing list reminding supporters that the blueprints were still available, but not for long! An hour later, the Kickstarter total crossed $10K…and when the dust settled at 9pm Eastern Time, 217 backers had pledged $10,887 to the campaign.
The money (after the cost of printing and packing materials) will go toward funding the ongoing expenses for Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA, home to the extraordinary USS Ares bridge and captains quarters sets plus the Pike-era sets that were used on the upcoming FIRST FRONTIER fan film. Additional donations are coming in monthly to Ares Studios through an ongoing Patreon campaign.
Note that Ares Studios is a separate legal entity from Axanar Productions, which fundraises privately to finance the completion if the two AXANAR sequel fan films. That campaign is currently at $23,305 out of $35,000 needed for the final filming weekend plus the beginning of post-production. To donate to Axanar, click the link below and follow the instructions provided…
The more proficient one is at procrastination, the less proficient one need be at all else.
This was one of the “corollaries” to the famous Murphy’s Law of “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” I loved the above procrastination quote back in high school in the 1980’s because it so perfectly described my philosophy about doing homework.
Little did I know that it would still apply to me three and a half decades later with my blog!
It’t not that I’m procrastinating from writing blogs. I typically publish between two and five new blogs a week. (You knew that!) But working on all those blogs has allowed me a convenient excuse for not updating my LIST pages.
Did you even know I had LIST pages? Chances are, you probably didn’t notice; many people don’t. But the lists are there…right in the middle of that navigation bar at the top of each page of Fan Film Factor. “LIST OF FAN FILMS” it says.
Actually, it’s not just one list, it’s THREE! Just hover above the link at the top of the page and you’ll see that those lists are arranged in custom orders depending on how you’d like to view them…
I’m really proud of those list pages, as they remind me just how far this blog has come since I started it back in 2016. I’ve done deep dives into nearly 75 different fan films!!! And that doesn’t include all the “short” blogs where I briefly cover a new release or trailer or update with a quick quote from the show-runner.
Instead, the list pages are for the major blogs that feature in-depth histories of individual fan films and/or series, or text or audio interviews with their creators. Those blogs are the main reason Fan Film Factor exists—to tell as many “getting from there to here” stories of fan film productions in order to honor the dedicated fans who make them.
And for a few years, I was really good about keeping those list pages up to date. But then I started slacking…
There are some amazing cosplayers and impersonators out there…folks you walk past at conventions and you do a double-take. “Was that…? Nah, couldn’t be! Could it?”
We certainly have our fair share in the world of Star Trek fandom—people who look like William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Deforest Kelley, Brent Spiner, Whoopi Goldberg, the list goes on and on.
But by far, one of the most convincing cosplay impersonators out there has to be JENS (pronounced “YENS”) DOMBEK…also known as “The German Spock.” Born in Berlin and currently a resident of Brieselang, Germany, Jens is completely committed to our favorite Vulcan/Human hybrid, portraying him in all manner of uniforms and clothing…
Recently, Jens appeared alongside MIKE LONGO and FRANK JENKS in a short vignette called LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY—a subspace “Skype” call among Kirk (played by Mike), McCoy (played by Frank Jenks), and Spock. In the short film, the three friends support each other through a difficult separation, inspired by our current pandemic quarantine. For that fan film, I interviewed writer/producer/director Mike Longo.
Mike had very complimentary things to say about Jens and suggested that I friend him on Facebook and check out the many, many awesome photos he’s posted there…some serious, some hysterically funny, and a few are really clever homages to classic photos that Leonard Nimoy took while playing Spock in the 1960s.
So I reached out to Jens with a friend request, he accepted, and we exchanged a few introductory IMs, all very warm and pleasant. A week later, the following greeting was waiting for me on Saturday morning…
What a wonderful surprise! Jens has continued to provide little sparkles like this in my IMs and has proven to be an officer and a gentleman and an all-around really sweet and awesome guy.
Then, last Friday, Jens sent me a link to his new fan film…
Like many others—including, I am told, people at SYFY (the science fiction channel) who have since reached out to Jens—I was blown away by the simple-yet-complex intensity of a monologue that lasts a total of less than 80 seconds and takes place against a stark and empty black background. One of the best things about fan films is that there are no rules—guidelines, yes, but I’m not talking about those. Fans can add in or leave out whatever they want. And in this short film, so much was left out in order to distill a haunting but loving tribute to the “emotionless,” logical first officer of the starship Enterprise.
Even though Mike Longo wrote and edited this fan film, just as he did the previous one from two weeks ago, Jens produced, directed, and stars in “I Am Spock”—and I felt he deserved a turn to be interviewed.
And when you’re the German Spock, there’s a LOT to talk about…!
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost exactly four years since CBS and Paramount (now ViacomCBS) announced the new guidelines for Star Trek fan films. And at this point, anyone still saying that the guidelines “killed Star Trek fan films” needs to take a well-deserved walk of shame off a short pier.
And nowhere is the fact that Trek fan films remain alive and well more evident than Dundee, Scotland…the home of INTREPID, the longest continuously-active Trek fan series still filming episodes (they began production back in 2003!). Their latest offering, “A Treasure for the Ages,” marks their 13th fan production overall and their fourth to be released since the guidelines were announced in late June of 2016.
Interestingly enough, though, this latest fan film, which premiered this past Sunday, is their first release to be filmed entirely AFTER the guidelines were announced. The interiors were shot aboard the RRS Discovery on June 27, 2018 and at a local monastery called The Friary on January 19, 2018. Exterior shooting took place in February and April 2019. The other three post-guidelines releases all feature footage shot months and even years prior to the guidelines. More Intrepid installments are in the pipeline with footage that still needs to be shot, and you can read about them on the bottom half of this blog entry.
Writer/Producer/Director/Lead Actor/Showrunner NICK COOK had this to say about Intrepid‘s latest release…
I really enjoy making these shorter, more character-oriented pieces. As much as some folks dislike the shorter format, there’s a lot to be said for it. Might not be everyone’s cup of earl grey, but I like it.
I’m particularly proud of this film. It’s not perfect, but for all its flaws, I think it’s a nice little character piece. And the credit for that has to go to everyone who gave their time and energy to make it. These films are always a collaboration, and that’s a lot of the fun of it. So if you enjoyed it, please sit back, listen to Dylan Feeney-Brown’s beautiful end credits, and read all those names…because this film literally wouldn’t exist without them, and every single one of them deserves that recognition.
This fan film is one of the rare times that I have one of the storyboards available to show you folks. So as you watch “A Treasure for the Ages” (and after you marvel at SAMUEL COCKINGS’ breathtaking opening CGI sequence), keep the following storyboard in your mind as you watch the later sequences on the planet…
And now, please take some time to enjoy the latest release from those Intrepid fans in Scotland: “A Treasure for the Ages”…
AXANAR needs only two more shooting days and the production phase will be complete. Just…two…more…days.
Seems so simple, and yet, because of COVID-19, it’s proven to be just out of reach. And it’s not just Axanar that’s been stopped dead in its tracks. Because of concerns from the various Hollywood trade unions, television and motion picture production has been brought to a standstill throughout the entertainment industry. Don’t binge-watch too much too fast because your favorite shows aren’t coming back in September…and probably not even this year!
But there is finally a ray of hope.
Actors, directors, writers, camera people, hair & make-up, grips, gaffers, and pretty much everyone in the film industry are dying to get back to work. They just don’t want to be dying BECAUSE they went back to work (man, that sounded morbid!). As such, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers recently formed a task force to put together this 21-page white paper providing guidelines for “safely” restarting production. I put “safely” in quotation marks because it’s hard to be 100% safe when actors often have to be up close to other actors and not wearing face coverings, and lighting and camera and sound people have to lean in close to each other, and hair and make-up people can’t do their jobs if they’re 6 feet away from the actors and aren’t able to powder noses and put on lipstick because of face masks and…you get the idea.
But the white paper does its best to provide a reasonable “cover-your-asses” approach to restarting film production…and both the unions and the studios are on board with it. After all, people need to get back to work! And the recommendations are pretty obvious, all things considered:
Crews should consist of as few people as possible.
Have production meetings virtually or at least with social distancing.
Everyone wears PPEs on set except for actors when they’re filming.
Wash hands frequently; clean every piece of shared equipment as often as is practical.
Regular, periodic testing of the cast and crew; social distance as much as possible on set.
Use electronic scripts and call sheets on personal handheld devices (or if you need print things out, make sure no paper is shared).
And the list goes on and on. But the idea is to minimize the risk factors on production sets as much as possible.
Because Axanar is a union project, no new filming could be done until a set of guidelines was issued that Axanar Productions could follow. But now that the white paper is available and being slowly adopted throughout the industry, the Axanar project can begin moving forward again, albeit tentatively at first.
INTERLUDE is nearly complete, and this is likely my final “Interlude Confidential” before the release. Last week, I began reminiscing about the big two-day shoot last November at ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA. For me, it was truly the culmination of the filmmaking experience…even though there would still be another eight months of intense work. But the shoot itself—that was pure magic.
Nearly 50 people came together that weekend with a single goal in mind: to produce a top-quality Star Trek fan film. They weren’t making gobs of money; they simply wanted to be a part of something fun, creative, exciting and dynamic.
A lot of things had the potential to go wrong. The most effective teams work and train together for weeks, months, or even years to maximize their effectiveness. Our team, with a few exceptions, was mostly strangers who had only met for the first time that weekend. Would they mesh together like a well-oiled machine, or would there be friction? Would one or more people with egos grate against the others, show an attitude, or be uncooperative? I’ve been told it can (and often does) happen, and even one bad apple can cripple a production.
And last but not least—in addition to the thousand other things that could could go wrong—there was me. I’d never been a producer before! It was my job to take care of a seemingly endless list of items to ensure the set would be ready for VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN to film on: everything from making sure all the actors, extras, and production team knew where and when to show up to getting measurements for uniforms to the seamstress to ordering the rental camera equipment to finding the caterer and making sure there were tables and chairs for the food plus a hundred other little details. I needed to make sure everything was prepared so my directors and production crew could focus on making an awesome fan film.
Starting in 2005, Starship Farragut began releasing a series of nearly a dozen high-quality fan productions—including full length episodes, vignettes, and even two animated projects (featuring voice-overs by TIM RUSS (not playing Tuvok from Voyager) and CHASE MASTERSON (not playing Leeta from Deep Space 9). Along the way, they constructed an extensive TOS set recreation that was eventually shared with, and later sold to, VIC MIGNOGNA of STAR TREK CONTINUES. (Read the full and fascinating history of Starship Farragut here.)
At the end of 2014, Farragut Films decided to transition themselves ino the first full-budget, set-based regular fan series to be set in the Trek movie era. The actors had aged a decade since the earliest episodes of Starship Farragut, so jumping the series forward seemed logical. In fact, the new series was to be called Farragut Forward. But it never came to be. Instead, at the end of 2015, the group crowd-funded a series finale episode called “Homecoming,” and raised $15,787 from 207 donors on Kickstarter.
Things seemed to be going smoothly on “Homecoming.” Filming took place in early 2016 with some outdoor reshoots being completed in June of that year, according to donor updates. In early 2017, donors were treated to a two-minute teaser-trailer with an unexpected cameo by Marvel Comics legend STAN LEE (who passed away in November 2018). The trailer looked promising…
But after an October 2017 update from show-runner and lead actor JOHN BROUGTON saying that post production was about 50% completed, two and a half years went by without any further updates to donors or new trailers or news of any kind.
That changed this past April when a new update was sent to Farragut donors by STEVE SEMMEL. Steve came on board the project last September to help compose the score, and he had some good news. Steve would be taking on the title and duties of Post-Production Supervisor, and along with Special Effects Supervisor KEN THOMSON, Film Editor JAYN PENNINGTON, and Music Scorer CARL HAYES, there would now be a concerted effort to bring “Homecoming” to completion (and to YouTube) in 2021.
Naturally, I was curious to learn more—not just about the status of the project itself but about Steve, how he came to be involved with the project, how he got the “promotion” from Composer to Post-Production Supervisor, and what tasks he and others will be doing to bring “Homecoming” home…
Hurry, hurry! Get ’em while they’re hot…and available! (Well, at least get them while they’re still only $30 plus shipping.)
Last month, ALEC PETERS raised nearly $10K for ARES STUDIOS in a Kickstarter that offered a special Master Systems Display cutaway poster of the USS Ares, the fan-favorite Starfleet assault cruiser depicted in PRELUDE TO AXANAR, the soon-to-be released INTERLUDE fan film, and the upcoming AXANAR sequels. The campaign ended up passing two stretch goals, adding two additional free posters to the orders for all donors: a cutaway of the Geronimo-class and a D7 tactical display.
That campaign, it turns out, was just a warm-up to the main event: a new Kickstarter offering a full set of USS ARES BLUEPRINTS! In total, it will be eight 11″ x 17″ blueprint sheets that show every deck and part of the Ares-Class Assault Cruiser.
The campaign launched at 9:30am Eastern Time with a goal of $3,000 (the same as the first campaign) and a 16-day duration. That means, according to Kickstarter rules, that Ares Studios has only half a month to reach that goal or else they get zero. No worries, though, as the campaign surpassed that goal in HALF A DAY (closer to just seven hours) and is currently at $4,906 from 100 backers as I write this. There’s actually a stretch goal of $10K that, if reached, will result in every donor being sent a free 11″ x 17″ version of the USS Ares Master System Display poster from the first campaign.
Naturally, I ordered mine as soon as got to my computer this morning. Ever since I first got ahold of the original Franz Joseph blueprints for the USS Enterpriseback in 1975, I have LOVED deck-by-deck renderings of starships. There haven’t been many full sets done over the years, but the few that have been published remain some of the jewels of my collection.
When I heard that Axanar graphic designer ALEXANDER RICHARDSON was creating deck-by-deck blueprints of the USS Ares-class, I got very excited. And when I first saw some of his initial layouts, excitement quickly turned to elation. Each time he completed and shared another deck, I marveled at the careful attention to detail, thought, and quality that went into every line.
Alexander used Adobe Illustrator to create the blueprints, spending an average of 5-10 hours per deck and then another 3 hours laying them out on the individual pages (plus extra time making alterations along the way). Alexander told me, “I based the aesthetics on Rick Sternbach’s Enterprise-D blueprints, a copy of which has been hanging on my walls for reference for some time.”