Secure from battlestations…

I really hate when things go nuclear.  It happens all too often these days…especially online.  Neither party wants to give an inch, each believing he or she is in the right and the other is a total git and knee-biting jerk.  People start taking sides, arguments get heated, “evidence” is collected, and folks generally begin gettin’ real pissy.

That was yesterday.

JAMES HAMS and I went toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano for much of the day over what amounted to three words in a recent blog he wrote.  Granted, they weren’t just any three words, but the point is that the world wasn’t ending.  And yet, you’d never know from all the urgent text messages and e-mails I had to read and write throughout the day.  I’m sure James had a similar experience on his end.

Vance Major Owen – peacemaker, diplomat, good friend

Enter VANCE MAJOR OWEN.  Vance is a friend of both James and myself, and he’s also one of Trek fandom’s calmest and coolest heads.  Think of Vance as Switzerland…only with a beard.  Not liking the escalation of tempers he was witnessing between his two friends, Vance stepped in, spoke to us both separately, and negotiated a “cease fire.”

In short, James will be removing those three words from his blog (along with half a sentence that will no longer make sense with the three words gone).  I’ll be telling the folks on SMALL ACCESS (and here on FAN FILM FACTOR) to stand down, secure from general quarters, cancel battlestations…whatever you want to call it.  We’ve both agreed not to mention the other—or their blog(s) or Facebook group(s)—on our own blogs in any negative way on a go-forward basis.

We’re both in agreement on this, and there’s no hard feelings.  There were definitely hard feelings yesterday, but it’s nice to know that things can, with a little give and take, be worked out without going to DefCon 1.

I’d like to thank James for being part of the solution…and also Vance for making that solution possible in the first place.  I much prefer writing a short blog entry like this one over writing a long entry like yesterday’s!

Setting the record straight on SMALL ACCESS!

Man, I so hate dealing with misinformation!  Really, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

When I screw up, as I did on this blog a few months ago, I am quick to correct the mistake.  I usually hope that others will do the same. Alas, it doesn’t always happen that way…

And that leaves me facing a choice: let the misinformation remain uncorrected (potentially confusing people and spreading the false claim even further) or try to correct it myself, potentially coming off as petty and vindictive.

It’s really a no-win scenario for me…which is why I hate having to decide what do do when confronted with blatant misinformation.  In this case, I’m choosing to shine a light on the situation and try to correct it.  And I apologize in advance if I seem petty or vindictive, as that’s not my intention.  And hey, feel free to skip this blog entry if you prefer to come here just for the fan film stuff.  I’ll get back to that after this blog.

So here’s what happened…

Continue reading “Setting the record straight on SMALL ACCESS!”

Could you do me a favor? It’ll only take you three clicks!

I NEED YOUR HELP!  Yes, you!

Two weeks ago, I discussed how Project: SMALL ACCESS needed to grow in order to give the group any reasonable leverage in trying to convince CBS and Paramount to revise the “no ongoing fan series” portion of fan film Guideline #1.  Since then, we’ve added about 40 new members (3% growth)…which is certainly a nice start.  But we need to grow a LOT more than that, my friends!

Needing advice from people more experienced in guerilla marketing on the social media front, I sought the assistance of Lee Quessenberry, who had helped with the online marketing efforts for Axanar during their Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns.  One of the first things Lee did was to set up a HEADTALKER campaign for SMALL ACCESS.

What’s a HEADTALKER?

It’s pretty simple.  People sign up to allow HeadTalker to send out a single post from one (or more) of their social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr—on a certain day at a certain time.  With enough simultaneous posts, the message will “trend” and get a boost.

For example, here’s the message you would be agreeing to share (it would be posted automatically for you) on June 13, 2017 at 12:00pm Eastern Time:

“We want to change the Star Trek #Fanfilm Guidelines. Follow Small Access Trek to find out how you can. https://hdtk.co/VSsvF

 

There’s only one catch: we need 500 people to sign up to share this message or it won’t get sent out.  Right now, we’ve got 67 (which, according to the Headtalker page, gives us a social media reach of 941,141…assuming everyone’s contacts read the message).

BUT WE NEED TO MAKE IT TO 500…AND WE HAVE ONLY 7 DAYS LEFT!

If we don’t make it, we can always try it again with a smaller goal like 100 or even 75 or 50.  But it would be so awesome if we could get to that 500 goal.

A note on your privacy

When you log into HeadTalker using your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or LinkedIn account, you’re allowing their platform to share a single message on your behalf. That’s all. They use the absolute minimum permissions possible to post a message on your behalf. The social media platforms they integrate with sometimes include additional permissions that we do not use.

It’s really as simple as three clicks (well, possibly four if you’ve never used HeadTalker before):

1. Click here to go to the campaign page.

2. Then click on the social media platform you want to use (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

3. On the pop-up window, click the “Add Support” button.

And you’re done!  Simple as that.

Can you please help us?

 

STAR TREK CONTINUES announces RELEASE DATES and TITLES for their FINAL THREE EPISODES!

It’s a bittersweet time for followers of the groundbreaking fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES.  The “sweet” part is that we will be served with FOUR new full-length episodes from this production team in the matter of just SEVEN months!  We’ve already seen the first of these four episodes, the ambitious and poetic “Still Treads the Shadow,” released at the beginning of April.

The “bitter” lies in the fact that this is it for STC…the end of this amazing fan series.  Although they were originally planning to make 13 episodes—and instead they will now only be doing 11—the fact is that they always intended for the series to have a completion point.  Some fans have been asking them to continue (no pun intended) and not shut down, but the end story has been written and filmed and soon will be released.  The Georgia studio sits quiet and unused (or so I’ve been told).

Show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA himself said in interviews that, at his current age (he turns 55 in August), he wouldn’t be able to play a 35-year-old Jim Kirk for much longer.  So yes, folks, this is the inevitable end of the line for STC…with a return of the U.S.S. Enterprise from its historic 5-year mission.

And here’s the schedule for release dates.  The episodes will premiere at three different cons during three weekends and then be posted online a day or so later:

Episode IX, “What Ships are For” will premiere at Florida Supercon in Ft. Lauderdale the weekend of July 27-30.

Episode X, “To Boldly Go (Part One)” will premiere at Salt Lake City Comic Con the weekend of September 21-23.

Episode XI, “To Boldly Go (Part Two)” will premiere at New York City Comicon the weekend of October 5-8.

So the gap between episodes VIII and XI will end up being about three and a half months.  Then the gap between XI and X will be less than two months.  And finally, fans won’t have to wait more than two weeks for the second half of the final two-parter.  That’s quite a feast!

Although few details of the series finale have been released, we do know that the ninth episode, “What Ships are For,” was written by Kipleigh Brown, who plays Lt. Smith on the fan series.  There will also be at least three professional actor guest stars in that episode: Elizabeth Maxwell, Lex Lang, and Sandy Fox.

For a closer look at this fan series from its beginnings in 2012, check out this three-part history of Star Trek Continues.

 

Lightning strikes AGAIN as WARNER BROTHERS allows another high-quality HARRY POTTER FAN FILM to be produced!

The news has been spreading through the fan film community faster than a snitch through a quidditch match!  According to a rapidly-expanding plethora of online sources, Warner Brothers studios, which owns the movie rights to the HARRY POTTER franchise, have given approval to the producers of a high-quality fan film titled VOLDEMORT: ORIGINS OF THE HEIR to be made.  The only conditions: the producers must make no profit, and the completed project can only be shown for free via YouTube.

This didn’t seem to be the case last July when Warner Brothers shut down the Kickstarter page for this project.  The production had already successfully funded a $30,000 campaign, but faster than you can say “Expelliarmus!” all trace of the campaign was gone, replaced by a pretty harsh sounding notice:

Description of infringing material: It recently came to our attention that users on your site, at the link(s) below, were contemplating a project that violates Warner Bros.’ rights. We have discussed it with the users who have agreed to remove the project from the site and have requested that we send this notice so that the project is removed. I have a good faith belief that the project is not authorized by Warner Bros., its agent, or the law. Accordingly, please act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the URL listed below.

In fact, some fans actually thought there was some sort of litigation (apparently, there wasn’t), and even Wikipedia erroneously reports that in their entry.  (Look quick, before they fix it!)

But then this happened…

Continue reading “Lightning strikes AGAIN as WARNER BROTHERS allows another high-quality HARRY POTTER FAN FILM to be produced!”

DEIMOS Production Crew releases their fifth episode: “No Greater Love”!

Anyone who says that Star Trek fan films are “dead” needs to get that message out to the fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES!  These guys continue to churn out new releases with the constancy of the north star and the inevitability of death and taxes!

Currently, two Potemkin Pictures production teams are working on a series of fan films featuring two different Starfleet crews.  Over in Georgia, the Starship Tristan production crew is currently in pre-production on their NINTH fan film.  And in Pelham, Alabama, the STARSHIP DEIMOS production crew has just released its FIFTH episode, the 14-minute “No Greater Love.”

Both productions use actors enrolled in drama programs at nearby academic institutions, along with other actors from local community theater.  As such, the performances of many who appear on camera in these two series tend to be slightly more elevated than your typical Trek fan film that uses only fans who are usually untrained in the performing arts.

“No Greater Love” is no exception.  Constrained by budgets, Potemkin Pictures concentrates primarily on character and st0ry-driven scripts.  The result is a fan film without the glitz and sizzle of the sleeker, higher-budget fan productions, but with a lot of heart and soulful performances.

So no, my friends, Star Trek fan films are not dead…not if Potemkin Pictures and show-runner RANDY LANDERS have anything to say about it!  You can read a 2-part interview that I did with Randy last year by clicking here.

And you can watch “No Greater Love” below…

THE ROMULAN WARS releases PART 1 of their FINAL EPISODE!

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, but you could 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.

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, a two-parter entitled “The Tunnel at the End of the Light.”  Part 1 has just been released, with Part 2 planned for posting within the next week or so.  Part One runs 23 minutes (longer than the 15 minutes permitted by the guidelines), but the first four minutes doesn’t really count.  And if Star Trek Continues can release 45-minute episodes post-guidelines, I doubt 19 minutes for a non-crowd-funded fan film will wake the sleeping giant.

You can view all the previous episodes here.

And below, Part One of the series finale, “The Tunnel at the End of the Light”…

“BOLDLY GO!” – the Star Trek MUSICAL moves from STAGE to Youtube VIDEO! (feature)

You don’t have to be a theoretical physicist to write a Star Trek musical…but it sure helps!

BOLDLY GO! – Where No Musical Has Gone Before didn’t start off as a fan film.  In fact, it was only performed six times in front of audiences in late February and early March of 2016 in Pasadena, CA at the Ramo Auditorium at Caltech.  But last month, a year after its too-short theatrical run, the full two-and-a-half hour live performance was posted to Youtube…and now I consider it officially a “fan film.”  And not only that, but it’s one to which I am giving a rating of “Highly Recommended +” because it’s REALLY good!  (And if you don’t want to commit that much time, at the end of this blog, I’m including time codes to skip to the four best musical numbers that are MUST SEE/HEAR.)

The musical is set in the prime TOS timeline with Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the original crew.  There’s Klingons, Andorians, and all the wink-wink references to that Star Trek trivia you know and love—from Khan Noonian Singh and Sulu’s love of botany to Elaan of Troyius and the Space Hippies…and even a poke at the Kelvin-verse timelime!  There’s also satirical chuckles to many of the tropes of musical theater, with 19 different song and dance numbers ranging in style from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Gilbert & Sullivan to doo-wop, gospel, tango, and even Motley Crüe (and don’t blink or you’ll miss a quick nod to West Side Story).

Now, if you’re expecting to see something on par with the likes of Hamilton or Les Miserables, I need to mention that this cast is made up of students, faculty, and alumni from the California Institute of Technology plus scientists and engineers who usually build interplanetary space probes for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory!  In other words, set your phaser expectations to “This is musical theater, not rocket science—and these are rocket scientists.”  But really, when you think about it, who better to put on the world’s first-ever full-length live Star Trek musical?!

And who better to direct it that a guest star from an actual episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?  But more on that later.  First, let’s travel back in time (with the help of the Guardian of Forever or a slingshot maneuver or Q or whatever) to see how this ambitious production came to be…

Continue reading ““BOLDLY GO!” – the Star Trek MUSICAL moves from STAGE to Youtube VIDEO! (feature)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 2)

Last time, I discussed the recent release by two of the major networks of official trailers for their new sci-fi shows debuting for the upcoming 2017 season.  CBS, of course, unveiled STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, while FOX surprised (many) genre fans with a new Star Trek-ish series from Seth MacFarlane titled THE ORVILLE.  Both trailers were viewed millions of times with thousands of comments.  But what was very intriguing came from the thumbs-up/thumbs-down ratios.

The trailer for Star Trek: Discovery has about two and a half times more thumbs-down reactions than the trailer for The Orville.  Some misunderstood my previous blog and thought I was calling this a competition—as though fans were going to choose EITHER Discovery OR Orville.  Not quite.  Many fans (like me) might choose to watch both series.

But what makes this interesting is that we have a pretty close comparison of trailers and their reactions from viewers.  The two shows are coveting essentially the same audience (Trekkies and sci-fi fans), so the trailers and series themselves are unmistakably in the same “marketing category.”  The two trailers have almost the same run-length (2.5 minutes) and were released at nearly the same time using the same platform (Youtube).  But beyond that, the two networks are going in very different directions.

CBS is making Discovery available only through paid subscription streaming services (after a free preview of the pilot on CBS).  FOX is putting Orville on their regular network.  CBS went for a very unfamiliar (to Trekkers) production design with dark sets and mostly monochromatic uniforms.  FOX is using a very familiar-looking Star Trek visual approach of brightly-lit sets and and colorful uniforms.

So these two series are coveting the same kinds of fans with very different approaches.  One is very derivative of Star Trek but based within a different universe, and the other is very different but based within the Star Trek universe.  So the word “versus” in the title of this blog entry doesn’t imply that fans must make a choice but rather simply refers to putting the two series side-by-side for comparison, analyzing the very noticeable differences in fan reaction.

So with fans appearing to show a measurable preference for Orville over Discovery—admittedly using only online reaction through thumbs-up/down plus a general trend in posted comments—should CBS be worried?

Continue reading “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 2)”

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 1)

Before I begin, please note that the title of this blog is the question “Should CBS be worried?” and not the statement  “CBS should be worried.”  I’m pondering, not preaching.

Also, I want to mention up front that I personally enjoyed the new trailer for Star: Trek Discovery and am looking forward to at least checking out the new series.  People seem to think I’m just another Discovery hater/detractor.  Not so!  I am very much keeping an open mind.  But I’m not blind to the reality of the situation either, and that’s what this blog is about.

(And yes, I know that this is a site about fan films.  But it’s also a site about Star Trek…and it’s my blog, so I can editorialize whatever I want to.)


Last week, all of the major networks unveiled trailers for shows that will premiere during their upcoming 2017 season.  Naturally, Star Trek fans were eagerly expecting to see their first extended glimpse of the new STAR TREK: DISCOVERY series…coming to the subscription-based CBS All Access.

What fans weren’t expecting, however, was a new Star Trek-ish series from FOX starring and produced by Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy, Ted) and directed by Iron Man‘s John Favreau.  Titled THE ORVILLE, this new hour-long series looked more like the Star Trek of yore: bright sets, colorful uniforms, chest emblems with division insignia, sleek and over-lit starships (some filmed from actual physical models!), and a token alien species or two with big bumpy foreheads.  The Orville is obviously meant to be a campy tongue-in-cheek comedy, but the production values, sets, costuming, make-up, and visual FX looked like…well…WOW!

For two days, fans were aflutter with comments about this surprise new sci-fi series.  And the comments were nearly all positive, with many Trekkers suggesting that THIS was the Star Trek we’d wanted all along (minus the implied parody, of course), and wondering why CBS just didn’t get it.

Then, last Wednesday, CBS had their turn to say, “Hey, we DO get it…and here’s what OUR new Star Trek will look like.”  But did they really get it?

Continue reading “STAR TREK: DISCOVERY vs. THE ORVILLE – Should CBS be worried? (Part 1)”