INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!

Now, THIS is a cool idea…just till you hear it!!!

But first, I need to update you on where my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE stands at the moment. As I mentioned in my previous Interlude Confidential, we’re nearly finished with principal photography (shooting the live action scenes) plus creating the VFX shots and voice-overs…and have recently started assembling the “puzzle pieces” into a rough cut.

JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX warned me not to expect too much “excitement” from the initial rough cut. It’s also known as a “wide” cut because the takes are purposefully cut to be a little longer (meaning they have a bit more at the beginning and end of the lines). Later on, the wide cut is “tightened” into shorter takes as the timing and pacing of the scenes are refined.

Also, there’s a lot missing from a rough cut. The music isn’t there, for one thing, and that will eventually add a lot of excitement and richness. But right now, it’s all just people speaking their lines on an otherwise quiet set—no red alert klaxon, no explosion sounds, not even the pressing of buttons and the beeps they make. As they said, don’t expect much yet…and I didn’t.

Instead, I used my imagination to fill in what was missing. As I watched the rough cut, I mentally added in the explosions, the red alert, the music, and the camera shake. And in my head, it was MUCH more exciting! But even in my mind’s eye (or rather, ear), it felt like something was still missing.

And almost immediately I knew exactly what it was!

When I started telling Victoria and Josh about my suggestion during our next production meeting, it turned out that Victoria had the exact same idea! And since they’re both actual industry professionals, if I think of something that they’ve thought of, too, then I know we’re in good shape.

So what’s this great idea already??? You’ve been so patient, let me tell you…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #4 – putting the post-production puzzle pieces in place!

A little more than a decade before his untimely death in 1997, John Denver trained with NASA and became a finalist for the first citizen’s trip to space in 1986. When asked why a singer/songwriter should be chosen to go to space, John Denver replied by asking who better to communicate the inspirational experience of spaceflight to the masses than someone used to putting sights, sounds, and feelings into words and music?

These “INTERLUDE Confidential” blogs I write are intended to do something similar. I realize that many of my readers will never produce or even work on a fan film. And most fan filmmakers are too busymaking fan films to blog about the experience in depth and try to communicate the nuances of all that they do.

So I want to give you folks a window into the process of creating a fan film from the point of view of someone who has never done this sort of thing before and is still blown away by the entire process. And today, I’d to talk about where Interlude stands right now.

There are three main phases to creating a film. Pre-production is planning everything: determining budgets, raising money, hiring (or in my case, begging for) actors and crew, setting up filming dates, getting costumes ready, and about a thousand other things from renting equipment to scheduling a caterer. The script is worked on and re-worked, the director(s) plan out a shot list…it’s like everything NASA does before a rocket is cleared for lift off.

Then production happens. This is when the various elements that will go into the film are actually produced. This can mean filming scenes or getting voice-overs or having your CGI friend create your visual effects. Every item that gets produced (filmed, recorded, rendered, etc.) becomes a piece of the overall puzzle that will become your final fan film.

Right now, Interlude is still in production. At the same time, we’re also in post-production. How is that possible?

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #4 – putting the post-production puzzle pieces in place!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #3: neither RAIN nor SNOW nor TORNADOES will stop these filmmakers!

VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN didn’t think it was necessary that I write this blog. “We do this sort of thing all the time,” they told me. “It’s part of our job.” Well, maybe for work where they’re being paid professionally, but this is a FLIPPIN’ FAN FILM. And what they did this weekend meant a lot to me personally, and I want to tell you folks about it.

First though, I need to ask: what is it about INTERLUDE that invites acts of God, fate, or just Murphy? Do you remember last May when the Arkansas River flooded and trapped my composer KEVIN CROXTON on one side for days? Or the stray dog that delayed my GoFundMe rollout? Or the woodpecker trapped in the chimney? If you’ve forgotten, here’s the blog that listed everything that went wrong leading up to the launch of the Interlude crowd-funder.

Knowing our track record, I had a Star Wars-like “bad feeling” in the pit of my stomach when we scheduled the Sickbay shoot at WARP 66 Studios for the second weekend in January. It wasn’t that I was worried about bad weather in Arkansas. It’s a southern state, and at most, it’ll get four or five inches of snow over an entire winter season. And as for tornadoes, while there have been some during the winter months, those mostly come in the springtime there.

No, I was worried about Cleveland.

The fellow who is playing the wounded Admiral Ramirez in Interlude, DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS (read more about him here), lives in Cleveland, OH. And when I booked his flight to Fayetteville, I had visions of a huge Noreaster or Polar Vortex hitting the northeast and upper midwest and grounding his plane. I purposefully looked for connecting flights to Fayetteville through Raleigh, NC rather than Chicago just to try to minimize the risk of winter storms screwing up our January shoot.

DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS will be playing a wounded Admiral Ramirez in INTERLUDE.

Turns out that I should have been more worried about snow and tornadoes in Arkansas…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #3: neither RAIN nor SNOW nor TORNADOES will stop these filmmakers!”

GREEN SCREEN crowd-funded in SIX DAYS…Paul Jenkins reimbursed!

By now, most of you know about the mishap during the INTERLUDE shoot at Ares Studios in November and how, when AXANAR director PAUL JENKINS arrived in December, he found his 100-foot-long custom green screen ruined. It was an accident, but the responsibility lay squarely (or rectangularly) on the shoulders of the Interlude production team.

No one individual was singled out as being “the idiot responsible” because no one on my team was an idiot. In fact, most of them are amazingly talented, competent, and dedicated craftsmen (and women) and hard-working volunteers…from directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX, who knocked it out of the park that weekend, to the good folks who vacuumed the bridge set. As far as I am concerned, everyone is to be praised and commended, and no one will be thrown under the bus!

Anyway, I asked my donors and other supporters of Interlude (and fan films in general) to please help raise enough money to reimburse Paul the $4,760 cost for replacing the ruined green screen. I kicked off the donations with $500 of my own money, and three of my biggest donors each matched my amount…leaving another $2,760 to raise from other contributors. Honestly, I thought I was going to be crowd-funding this until February or March, if not longer.

And then a fan film Christmas miracle happened. We reached our goal for reimbursing Paul in less than a week!!!

Usually, the holiday season is the worst time of year to do fan film crowd-funding (other than anytime near tax day in April). But I reached out to folks anyway, asking for only $10 per donor. Altogether, 112 donors graciously answered the call, chipping in anywhere from $10 to $100 each (one put in $300). It was, for me at least, a heartwarming reminder of what I know is so precious about this fan film community.

I sent Paul the full funds via PayPal last Friday, while we were still a few hundred dollars short of our goal. But I had faith it wouldn’t be long until we got there. And then, on Sunday evening—less than six days after I made my first appeal, we reach the goal. If fact, later that evening, two additional donations brought us $35 over that goal. I’ve let the supporters know that they no longer have to donate anything more. Interlude is covered.

I’ve said it probably a thousand times already, but you can never say THANK YOU enough in my book! So my sincere gratitude to everyone who has supported Interlude…whether you gave to replace the green screen or simply donated along the way to help me and my team make a really awesome fan film.

You are truly the best of Star Trek fandom.

Follow-up: A GREEN SCREEN Christmas miracle!

Wow…with a capital WOW!

This, my friends, is what Star Trek fandom is all about.  Yesterday, I published a blog asking for fans’ assistance in replacing PAUL JENKINS’ custom green screen (at a cost of $4,700), which had accidentally been damaged beyond repair during the INTERLUDE shoot at Ares Studios in November.

I ended the blog with a reference to the TOS episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” when Kirk tells Edith Keeler how a famous author in the future will write a classic recommending the three words “Let me help…” even over “I love you…”

“Let me help…” brings people together.  “Let me help…” can accomplish the most amazing things.  And yesterday, “Let me help…” resulted in 85 donations and a total raised so far of $3,900 (including the $2,000 from three of our biggest donors and myself plus many, many donations of just $10 or $15 or $20).  This leaves us, after only a single day, within $800 of being able to replace Paul’s ruined green screen.

I can’t thank everyone enough for coming through this quickly.  I was deeply touched by this amazing fan response, especially after the emotional punch in the gut last Friday when Paul first told me how much this accident would cost to fix. $4,700 is a lot of money!

But what was most uplifting to me were the literally dozens and dozens of message full of support, understanding, and inspiration that I received on Facebook and from donors themselves.  Here’s just a small sample…

I donated because all Star Trek fans should support each other.
- Judy Reed
In today's world, it is becoming increasingly rare to see someone take responsibility for their own actions let alone for the actions of their crew. That type of integrity and honor deserves acknowledgement. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
- Lawrence Wagner
Jonathan, I'm happy to help with your Christmas miracle.  Hey, accidents happen, and it is the mark of a true gentleman when you suck it up and say, 'The buck stops with me.'  You're right, no one intended to ruin the fabric.  They didn't even realize that what they were doing would mess it up.  However, I admire how you handled it.  THAT is the kind of character that people respect, and you sir, have my respect.  So Merry Christmas...and keep on Trekkin'.
- Troy Light
I wasn't able to donate during the original fundraising effort, so I'm happy to be able to help a little now.
- David Goldsberry
Everyone messes up sometimes (and I've certainly replaced school equipment that the kids have ruined in the past!).
-  Catherine McClarey
Sorry to hear this and I'm happy to help. The only people who never make mistakes are those who never actually do anything. So never mind,  that's life, we'll sort it.
- Alastair Miles

As far as I’m concerned, this is what makes the Star Trek fan film community so AWESOME.  I thank everyone who donated…from the bottom of my heart.

We’re nearly there, folks. If you’d like to help us get to the finish line, please click on the link below to donate a little something…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

INTERLUDE Confidential #2: This is really, really BAD…and I’m going to need some MAJOR HELP!

I need a Christmas miracle.

My heart sank last Friday morning when I got the call from Axanar director PAUL JENKINS. I immediately wished I could shift the blame to someone else and cover my ass in some way.

But no, that’s not what Star Trek taught me. Kirk always took responsibility for the actions of his crew, whether or not the captain himself had personally been the one at fault And as executive producer on INTERLUDE, the buck stops with me…or rather, the 4,700 bucks stop with me.

That’s what it’s going to cost to replace Paul’s 100 ft. x 20 ft. professional-quality, custom-made green screen that was accidentally ruined during the November INTERLUDE film shoot at Ares Studios.

Paul owns a production company, META Studios, and the giant portable green screen belongs to him (not to Alec Peters or Ares Studios). Paul brought the green screen to Ares Studios to use for the October AXAANR shoot and left it there to use again in December for last weekend’s shoot.

In November when we filmed the scenes for Interlude on the Ares bridge, we wanted to be able to shoot toward the view screen and composite in shots later using a green screen. It would (and probably still will) look really cool. But we needed a green screen to do it.

Fortunately, there was one on site, and we assumed it was okay to use it (Paul wasn’t there at the time; he visited the following day). And by “we,” I mean my Interlude team. And as a team, I am not singling anyone out for having screwed up. It was my team, and as such, I’m responsible for what happened next…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #2: This is really, really BAD…and I’m going to need some MAJOR HELP!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #1: Jonathan, the Executive Producer…

It was the best of times, it was…aw, heck! IT WAS FRICKIN’ AWESOME!!!

I’m referring, of course, to the main shoot of my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE that took place about a week ago as I write this. It’s taken me this long just to process the amazing, kaleidoscopic experience I had.

With so much to tell you all about what happened, I wondered how best to do it. A single blog about the weekend would read like War and Peace and still barely scratch the surface. So instead, I’m going to break it down into smaller chunks, and each will end with a series of on-set photos. (I’m still editing through everything…and there’s gonna be at least a few hundred pictures!)

I’ve decided to call this blog series Interlude Confidential. (Not quite sure what made me think of that title…maybe ALEC PETERS can tell me.) Anyway, if you don’t want to read that much, then feel free just to look at the photos and enjoy the captions. But if you’re curious what the experience of being a first-time Executive Producer on a Star Trek fan film felt like, then these blogs will be my “Vulcan mind-meld” with you.

And speaking of executive producing, that’s a really good topic for the first blog about this fan film production. What exactly did Jonathan do?

Many months ago when I first kicked off the Interlude GoFundMe campaign (still accepting donations, by the way!), a few folks in a certain Facebook group complained that I was doing little to make my own fan film besides simply raising money for it (which is quite a chore in and of itself, y’know!). And truth to tell, I initially thought that was the extent of it.

Sure, I also wrote the script, was designing the insignia, and getting uniforms and patches made. But my Directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN are the experienced industry professionals. I’m just a guy who likes fan films and blogs about them obsessively. So I figured that, once I raised the money, I’d hand the steering wheel over to them, climb into the back seat, and take a well-deserved nap for the rest of the trip.

Yeah…that totally did NOT happen!!!

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #1: Jonathan, the Executive Producer…”

The TWO missions of the INTERLUDE fan project…

We all know the primary mission of the USS Enterprise: to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man/one has gone before.

But if you think about it, any decent science vessel could do that job just as easily. The Enterprise was different, though. While its primary mission was one of exploration and discovery, the crew had many, many more responsibilities: peacekeeper, diplomacy, war ship, search and rescue, medical transport, resupply, and even (in a couple of cases) espionage.

The starship Enterprise carried out many kinds of missions, and in the same way, so will my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Unquestionably, the primary mission (aside from having fun…always a must for fan productions!) is to make a slick, kick-ass fan film for you all to enjoy. But like our favorite TOS and TNG starship, Interlude had some additional tasks to accomplish…among them showing how Ares Studios is a viable resource for other fan films beyond just AXANAR (Vance Major gets his chance in a few more months) and demonstrating that it’s still possible to crowd-fund a Star Trek fan film into the five-figure range even post-guidelines…while dutifully following those guidelines.

But there’s one other mission for Interlude which, to me at least, is the most important: I did it for the blog.

More specifically, I did it for the majority of my readers who might never have an actual opportunity to walk onto a fan film set or be a show-runner. Perhaps a few of you want to be an executive producer or director yourself someday. Or maybe you just want to get a ringside seat on all the action.

Either way, I’ve done (and will continue to do) something with Interlude that I’m pretty sure has never been done before with any other fan film. I’m documenting nearly everything that’s gone into making it—from budgeting to building the team to all of the strategies I’ve used to crowd-fund to pre-production design to casting and costuming details. (No Land’s End shirts!) Thanks to these many blogs, my readers are getting to “look over my shoulder” at nearly every detail…assuming they’re interested in such things. To me, that’s actually one of the most exciting aspects of this whole process: not only do I get to watch and be a part of it all, but I can SHARE the experience with all of you!

And this past weekend’s shoot was no exception.

Continue reading “The TWO missions of the INTERLUDE fan project…”

And that’s a WRAP for the first (main) shoot of INTERLUDE!

I don’t have much time to blog this morning ’cause it’s still going to be a very busy day! But I did just send the following update to the donors for my GoFundMe campaign who made all of this possible. And I wanted to share the message here, as well…


Oh, man!

I am still processing what I can only describe as a kaleidoscopic weekend of amazingness shooting the main scenes of INTERLUDE at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It’s gonna take a LOT of blogs to fully convey the experience of the past 3 days. But first, I need to record some lines on audio this morning, get to the airport, and fly back to Los Angeles.

All I have time to tell you right now is that your donations were not only well-spent, they were MASTERFULLY spent by a team whose talent and ability astounded me. I think we came pretty close to NOT going over budget, but I’ll need to crunch the numbers when I get home. I might need to beg for a few hundred dollars more. Maybe not. At one point, there was so much happening on set that I just handed my credit card over to someone (I don’t even remember who!) along with a laundry list of everything we needed locally and where to get it–from gaffer’s tape to extra snacks and Gatorade. It was a little surreal. (Thank heavens I got my credit card back!)

But let me assure you folks: this fan film will not only be awesome, it will be a visual work of art. Josh Irwin’s mastery of lighting and color gave his shots a cinematic feel reminiscent of the stunning palette of first season TOS on a bridge so similar yet uniquely different. And Victoria drew out some amazing on-screen performances from both trained actors and a few untrained fans (’cause we’re still a FAN film, folks!).

Anyway, more fun and fantastic details, videos, pictures (SO many photos!), interviews, and stories to come…as soon as I have time to go through more than 900 photos and about 10 hours of behind-the-scenes footage. Stay tuned…and THANK YOU ALL again for making this dream possible.

‘Twas the night before INTERLUDE shoots…

So far, so good. Although my directors are still on the road as I write this, they’re within a state or two of getting here. The weather this weekend will be awesome (30-40 degrees less than it was for Axanar four weeks ago); we’ll be in the 58-60 degree range with no rain in sight.

The studio is ready, the Assistant Director has the call sheets. The costumes are ready (thanks to the amazing work of KAREN SHUEY and her son STEPHEN). Alec’s house is full, including myself, TREY McELWAIN, and his wife NICOLE as guests. Others are in nearby hotels or will be driving to Lawrenceville in the next day or two.

And tonight, we gathered at Alec’s for the weekly Axanar Confidential livecast focused on INTERLUDE. I invited anyone who wanted to be on camera to take part, and we had a BLAST! There’s not much time (or energy left in my body) right now to blog—or probably for the rest of the weekend—so have fun watching the gang (or at least six of us) talk about everything that’s been going on…