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.
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…
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???
Last time, we took a look at the origins of the “mega” Trek fan film STAR TREK: RENEGADES, created by the same people who produced the first “mega” Trek fan film, STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN back in 2006-2008. (You can read more about that earlier project in this blog entry.)
I say “mega” for a few reasons. First, each production would wind up with a run-time of about 90-minutes, way longer than the vast majority of other Trek fan films. Second, these were a professionally-produced “fan” films with industry veterans and a slew of Hollywood actors, some of whom were reprising their roles from various Paramount-produced Star Trek series and movies. And finally, each had a budget in the six-figures. At the time, most Trek fan films were low-budget or, at most, made it into the four-or-five-figure range. But when you were spending more than a hundred thousand dollars (potentially a LOT more), well, that spells “mega” to me!
Of course, if you want to spend six figures, you need to first generate six figures…and back in 2012, no Star Trek crowd-funding campaign had managed to break above the low four-figure range.
But Star Trek: Renegades set out to change that reality in a BIG way. In late September of that year, they launched a Kickstarter with a seemingly impossible goal: $200,000. And if they didn’t reach it, they would get nothing…
RENEGADES: THE SERIES just hosted a movie theater premiere in North Hollywood, California for their first full one-hour episode, “The Requiem.” But before there was Renegades: The Series, there was STAR TREK: RENEGADES, one of the largest, most ambitious fan film projects ever attempted.
Nearly four hundred thousand dollars in crowd-funding, multiple Star Trek veteran actors reprising their roles from the various TV series, paid industry professionals on both sides of the camera, two years in the making, enthusiastic plans to present this to CBS as a potential pilot for a new Star Trek TV series, and even a gala Los Angeles red carpet premiere at the historic Crest Theater in Westwood.
Looked at through the hindsight lens of the constraining limitations of the post-guidelines reality we now live in, it’s hard to imagine that something like STAR TREK: RENEGADES could even have been attempted, let alone successfully completed and released with such fanfare. How on earth (or in space) did they manage it?
Over a half million dollars. Multiple crowd-funding campaigns. Walter Koenig. Nichelle Nichols. Tim Russ. Elaborately constructed sets. Props. Art design. Lighting. Make-up. Broken air-conditioning in the studios. Countless aliens in hot rubber masks. A year in post-production. Amazing visual FX. Incredible music. And those damn guidelines from CBS and Paramount that forced Star Trek: Renegades to evolve into RENEGADES: THE SERIES.
And then last night, at 7:30 in the Laemlee Theater in North Hollywood, CA, the moment we’d all been waiting for. “The Requiem” was shown for the first time as a full-hour fan film on the big screen in front of an audience of hundreds of fans, actors, production crew, family, friends, and donors…and at least one blogger who crawled through L.A. rush hour traffic for 75 minutes to get there!
The inside of the theater looked like this…
Before the screening, actors posed for photos with fans who’d donated a little extra…
And then it was time to start the film. Things were running a little late, so producer SKY CONWAY’s opening introduction was simply, “Let’s start this thing!”
Last month, I presented an interview with uber-AXANAR fan TREY McELWAIN, who was planning to release a 4-page (including cover) Axanar comic book. The cover itself was already completed, and Trey told me that his artist (and personal friend) DANIEL FU was working feverishly on the artwork.
Apparently, “feverishly” was indeed the adverb to use, as it is less than a month later and the comic book is now finished! It debuted earlier today in various places on the Internet (it’s a free comic, after all), and I’ve been allowed to feature it here on Fan Film Factor, as well.
Trey greatly enjoyed the creative process, and he told me that he’d really like to produce more comic stories and adaptations of Axanar:
I am not sure what the future holds for “Trey’s AxaComics.” My hope, my dream, is to continue on, and get the Parts 1 and 2 out.
“Trial By Fire,” which I’ve just released, would actually be Part 3, with the Ares going up against the D6. Parts 1 and 2 are going to cover the Klingon Invasion, and the construction of the Ares.
And then when we all get to see Episodes 4 and 5 from Alec, I’d like to follow suit and continue on with the adaptation process! One thing is for sure though, this entire experience has been a blast, and I am thrilled to share it with everyone!
I’ve included lower-resolution images of the pages below. But if you’d like to see the artwork in beautiful higher resolution, feel free to download and view this Axanar Comic PDFfile.
How many people does it take to make a Star Trek fan film?
Think about the actors, writer(s), director, camera people, sound people, lighting people, costumers, make-up, props people, set designers and builders, special effects, visual FX, music composers, editor…and don’t forget all the production assistants and even the folks who bring the snacks, do the catering, or just run our for pizza.
For the “big” productions, like Star Trek Continues or Axanar, the number can be 50 or even 100 people! For some of the smaller productions, maybe one or two dozen.
But for a little fan film released in 2010, the answer was just…FOUR. Titled STAR TREK: SURVIVOR, the 10-minute production featured just four names in the credits, including one name who was the writer / director / producer / star / director of photography / camera operator / editor / music composer / special effects / miniatures / make-up / visual effects / and additional voices guy: MATTHEW BLACKBURN.
Considering the small size of the production team, the fan film itself was quite ambitious…with on-location shooting at multiple locations, a lot of physical acting, diverse and dynamic camera angles, and original music. And while a super-low budget necessitated the use of a few toys and collectibles in place of expensive animatronic monsters or familiar Star Trek actors, the story was darkly engaging, and the acting was surprisingly strong for an amateur production.
Seven years went by, and Star Trek: Survivor seemed content to hold its place in fan film history as a simple one-off project. I’d written a blog about it early on for my FAN FILM FRIDAY feature on the Axanar website, and I was planning on bringing it over here to FAN FILM FACTOR eventually. But before I could, Matthew Blackburn surprised me with a SEQUEL!!!
Back in August of 2015, STAR TREK: RENEGADES held a red-carpet premiere screening of its 90-minute feature film at the Crest Theater in Westwood in Los Angeles. It was a star-studded event with Star Trek celebrities galore, paparazzi, perks for sale, and even free popcorn (although tickets were a $20 donation for the fan film’s production costs).
Now on July 12th, 2017, RENEGADES: THE SERIES (now minus the “Star Trek“) will premiere in its entirety for the first time the full debut episode of its fan series: “The Requiem.” (Part 1 debuted online back in February, but only for donors. Two months later, Part 1 was made available for free to everyone.)
The big premiere will take place at 7:30 at the Leammle Theater (5240 Lankershim Blvd) in North Hollywood, CA. Many of the cast and crew will be there, including Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Tim Russ, Robert Beltran, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, and Justin McQueede. After the screening of the full episode (Parts 1 & 2), there will be a question and answer session with the stars the creators.
Although they set out to raise an additional $80K for their final post production efforts in a recent crowd-funding campaign (here’s a link to that), they only got as far as $30K. So to help raise additional money, for a little extra, fans attending the event can get special VIP seating with the stars along with appearing in autographed photos with certain cast members.Here’s a breakdown on prices for each photo option:
If you’re looking for Klingons in a Star Trek fan film, you can certainly find them…but it’ll take some work! And usually the Klingons are just there to be the bad guys (at least in TOS and movie-era Trek fan productions).
But there is one production which guarantees a Klingon in every episode…and they’re not there just to be the bad guys. Well, yeah, they are the bad guys, but not to their way of thinking!
BATTLECRUISER KUPOK (pronounced “kuh-POOK”) debuted in September of 2015 as the eighth episode (“The Battle Of Alawanir“) of the third season of the long-running fan series PROJECT: POTEMKIN. It was a unique episode, self-contained and presented with its own opening monologue:
Space…it is ours for the taking. These are the missions of the Imperial Klingon Cruiser Kupok. Its never-ending quest: to seize unclaimed worlds, to seek new cultures and species to serve us, and to further expand the Klingon Empire!
The idea was to create a fan series completely from the point of view of the Klingons, to show them in their “natural element” without any influence from or even interaction with Starfleet.
Their low-budget fan series was later given an independent run of its own the following March with the release of their second episode, “Sanctuary.” A few months later, the fan film guidelines were released, and all of the Potemkin Pictures projects were forced to drop their series titles (like Starship Deimos, Starship Tristan, and of course, Battlecruiser Kupok) and instead treat every subsequent release as a new fan film with a completely new title.
Since then, the Deimos and Tristan production teams have released a combined total of nine new fan films (plus two that completed the run of Project: Potemkin), but nothing from the Kupok team…until now!
Based in Pelham, Alabama, Kupok‘s latest episode “A Gathering Storm” was written and directed by Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS. It asks the question: what happens when the Klingons try to conquer a planet full of Renaissance Faire attendees? No, I’m just kidding! Well, I’m KINDA kidding.