Meet this year’s JUDGES for the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS…

The submission window for the 2024 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS is now open and will remain so until midnight Pacific Time on May 31, 2024. Any Star Trek fan film released publicly between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2023 is eligible for entry regardless of the person or team producing it. (Why would anyone do it differently, right?)

The online entry form is located here…

https://www.cognitoforms.com/JonathanLane1/_2024StarTrekFanFilmSHOWRUNNERAWARDS

They say that two heads are better than one, and if so, then our judging panel is six times better than that, as we once again have a panel of twelve judges, each one a showrunner of either a Star Trek fan film or series. We have seven judges returning from last year, two returning from the year before, and three “rookies” whom we welcome to the Council of the Twelve. (That’s not the official name, but it does sound pretty cool in a Battlestar Galactica kinda way. That said, we’re still exclusively Star Trek, although we do all love a wide variety of sci-fi.)

The departing judges all left amicably for different reasons usually involving time commitments. One of them is actually writing a book! I would like to take a moment to sincerely thank all of them and remind them that their chairs at the table will be kept open for them should they ever wish to return. (There’s no rule against the Council of the Twelve becoming the Council of the Fifteen or some other number!)

Anyway, as I did last year, I’d like to dedicate a blog to introducing this year’s panel of judges and what they’ve done in the world of Star Trek fan films…

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FARRAGUT moves FORWARD into post-production while trying to reach the $50K crowd-funding limit…can they make it?? (interview with JOHNNY K.)

Back in 2016, CBS and Paramount placed a $50,000 limit on public crowd-funding in their fan film guidelines. Since then, only one Star Trek fan film (that I know of) has reached that limit. And while a handful of fan projects have made it into the tens of thousands, most top out in the four-figure range. So when a crowd-funded fan project starts realistically knocking on that $50,000 ceiling, it’s certainly newsworthy!

And that brings us to FARRAGUT FORWARD, the sequel fan film to the beloved fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT that produced five full-length episodes, three short vignettes, two animated episodes, and one comic book between 2004 and 2016. The TOS sets that Starship Farragut constructed went on to be used for the entire run of the series STAR TREK CONTINUES and live on still as NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA, providing the starship setting for such fan series as DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE, AVALON UNIVERSE, and a host of other Trek fan films and series. The proud legacy of Starship Farragut and the team behind it has benefited the entire Star Trek fan film community for two decades.

But the man behind FARRAGUT FILMS, JOHN BROUGHTON, wasn’t content to just wrap everything up back in 2016. In late August of 2021, John announced a new Farragut project (originally conceived years earlier) that would move Farragut FORWARD into the 1980s movie-era of Star Trek. Such fan films and series are a rarity in the community because of the challenges involved building both the sets from that era as well as the precision required to create those elaborate “monster maroon” uniforms that fans love so much.

But John was up for the challenge, as was his newly-chosen director for the project, JOHNNY K. of KAOTICA STUDIOS. Johnny’s Batman fan film The Oath has already won multiple film festival awards, and he was eager to tackle Farragut Forward.

Director Johnny K. (seated) and executive producer John Broughton on the set of Farragut Forward. Photo credit: Britt Dvorak.

Their Indiegogo kicked off in February of 2022 with an ambitious goal of $30,000. It was definitely a campaign done right, with frequent updates, photos, videos, interviews, and other features letting fans and donors know exactly what was being done and planned for. The Indiegogo fully funded on March 25, and by its “end” date of April 2 had taken in a staggeringly impressive $33,005 from 139 backers!

I put “end” in quotation marks because Indiegogo has a feature that allows campaigns that reach their goals before the deadline to continue fundraising with InDemand status, and that’s exactly what Farragut Forward has done in the two years since. Another $10K in donations has been raised in the last two years, bringing the campaign within just $7K of the $50K guideline limit, and the race isn’t over yet. Farragut Forward is continuing its crowd-funding efforts, having published this recent blog and released the following video after wrapping up its final major location shoot last month…

If you’d like to help Farragut Forward with a donation—or a second or third donation if you’ve already contributed—here’s the link to their Indiegogo campaign…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/farragut-forward-a-star-trek-fan-production

Continue reading “FARRAGUT moves FORWARD into post-production while trying to reach the $50K crowd-funding limit…can they make it?? (interview with JOHNNY K.)”

The Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS return for 2024…submissions are now OPEN through MAY 31!

Earlier this month, the winners of this year’s DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS were announced. Now it’s time for the other major award competition dedicated exclusively to fan films to kick off: the annual SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

Unlike the Directors Choice Awards, which are open to fan films from any genre, the Showrunner Awards focus EXCLUSIVELY on Star Trek fan films…allowing our little niche of a niche of a niche both to shine as well as providing a friendly venue for Star Trek fan filmmakers to compete directly against each other.

As the name implies, the judging panel for the Showrunner Awards is made up of a dozen fan film showrunners, and I’ll spotlight them in an upcoming blog. Another unique aspect of the Showrunner Awards is that each of our nearly two-dozen categories recognizes THREE winners, with the top film in that category earning an Admiral Award, the second-place finisher receiving a Captain Award, and the third highest judged film winning a Commander Award. Each award is personalized for that fan film and sent to the entrant as a digital printable certificate.

A final element that distinguishes the Showrunner Awards is that the eligibility window for submission is more than just a single year. In fact, it is currently 5 years (anything released between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2023), giving a fan film that may not have won in a previous year because of strong competition additional chances to earn an award (no film is allowed to win twice in the same category).

That said, it’s been recommended that we shorten the window from 5 years to a less expansive 3 years, and that will happen for next year’s awards. I was going to do it this year, but one of our judges rightly pointed out that such a major change should be announced beforehand just in case a filmmaker was waiting to enter an older fan film. So next year the window will shrink from 5 to 3 years, but we’re still at 5 years this go around.

As always, the cost is $10 per entry plus $1 for each category beyond Best Fan Film that the submitter wishes to enter—things like best director, best actor/actress, best VFX, best music, etc. This year, we’re adding a new category for Best Green Screen Compositing, bringing the total number of categories to 23.

The submission period is now open through May 31, 2023. After that, judges will have until the middle of August to view and vote for their top five fan films in each category, with the most points going to each judge’s top choices. (A showrunner judge is not allowed to vote for any of their own fan films in any of their top three slots.) Winners will be announced, as usual, on September 8, the anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek on NBC back in 1966.

Anyone can submit a nomination using the following form page:

https://www.cognitoforms.com/JonathanLane1/_2024StarTrekFanFilmSHOWRUNNERAWARDS

Good luck!

Announcing the WINNERS of the 3rd annual DIRECTORS CHOICE fan film awards for 2023!

There are currently two annual contests open to any fan filmmaker where their production(s) can be judged exclusively by a group of their peers. One of these is the SHOWRUNNER AWARDS, which is dedicated exclusively to Star Trek fan films and judged by a panel of fan film showrunners. And the other is the DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS, where the judges are the directors of the submitted films. Unlike the Showrunner Awards (which begin taking submissions later on this month), The Directors Choice Awards are open to fan films in any genre, not just Star Trek.

Created and administered by GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS in Arkansas, the showrunners behind THE FEDERATION FILES “fanthology” series, the cost to enter was $10 per film, which included consideration in up to six categories (chosen by the submitter at the time they filled out the entry form). Each director of a submitted film was required to cast a ballot in order for that director’s film(s) not to be disqualified. Also, a director was not allowed to vote for their own fan film(s).

As happened last year, this year’s winner for “Best in Fest”—determined by which fan film received the most total votes across all categories—received a $250 grand prize.

Glen Wolfe was very pleased with the depth and variety of applicants for the awards that covered fan film releases in calendar year 2023…

The idea behind contests like these, in addition to honoring the fan filmmakers and their work, is to provide more exposure for these productions. So hopefully, you’ll check out at least a few of these fan films to see something you might like a lot. I did and was pleasantly surprised by more than a few of them.

For a list of all the fan films that were entered, all of the nominees in each category, and all the winners, you can watch their presentation video. Below is a list of the winners and runners up in all the categories, along with YouTube links to those specific fan films.

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THE ICARUS MANEUVER expands the AXANAR saga of THE FOUR YEARS WAR! (video interview with MARK EDWARD LEWIS)

PRELUDE TO AXANAR debuted in 2014 and awed fans with its production quality, acting, costuming, make-up, sound, music, visual FX…the whole shebang. The 20-minute “mockumentary”-style fan film became iconic, a new level of achievement to strive for. And with a cliffhanger ending, fans eagerly awaited the continuation of the saga of the Four Years War between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.

And they awaited…and they awaited…and they awaited some more.

Now, a decade later, all of the live action footage of the 19 actors and actresses who will appear in the two 15-minute AXANAR sequels has been shot and is in the can. The project has officially moved into the post-production phase with completion and release scheduled for later on this year. Yes, 2024 will see the long-awaited conclusion to the cliffhanger from ten years ago.

However, a settled copyright lawsuit with ALEC PETERS from 2017 has unfortunately ensured that Axanar will not be the full-length feature film that it was originally intended to be. And that means that many of the jaw-dropping VFX created back in 2015 and 2016 will never see the light of day because Axanar is now limited to a total runtime of a half hour.

Enter MARK EDWARD LEWIS.

Mark is the co-director of the Axanar sequels, along with being one of the sound effects people on the original Prelude. He was also the sound designer on INTERLUDE, the fan-film-of-a-fan-film from 2021 that took place in the Axanar Universe and told a tale of the Four Years War. Interlude was written and produced by me, although it was filmed on the U.S.S. Ares bridge set in Lawrenceville, GA and featured three of the actors (plus one voice actor) who would also appear in the Axanar sequels.

Even though Alec and AXANAR PRODUCTIONS are constrained to two 15-minute sequels by the legal settlement, CBS and Paramount never had a problem with Interlude because it was produced by a different production company (two, actually): FAN FILM FEATURES and AVALON UNIVERSE.

Following that precedent, Mark Lewis has done something very similar. Utilizing the Ares bridge set, actors, and some of the production crew for Axanar, Mark is also using some of those original VFX (many of them, actually) to tell yet another story that takes place during the Four Years War: THE ICARUS MANEUVER. Although written by and featuring Alec Peters as Garth, Icarus was directed and produced by Mark using his own production company and resources.

Mark is a former Hollywood professional with extensive experience, and what he has put together is a six-minute tour de force with production quality and immersion within the action that is seldom seen in Star Trek fan films. (The film is temporarily unavailable.)

Continue reading “THE ICARUS MANEUVER expands the AXANAR saga of THE FOUR YEARS WAR! (video interview with MARK EDWARD LEWIS)”

DEFENDERS OF THE FEDERATION shows what STAR TREK might have looked like during the early 1970s… (an interview with JEFF NORD)

Two years ago, Los Angeles-based filmmaker JEFF NORD released an intriguing fan film: COMMANDERS OF STARFLEET. Although less than six minutes in runtime, the short film did a brilliant job of reinterpreting Star Trek as a black and white 1930s/40s-style sci-fi adventure. It was a truly fun viewing experience and excellently crafted to look and feel like Star Trek meets the original Flash Gordon movie-matinee serial.

When Jeff announced that he was working on yet another reimagining of Star Trek, many of use expected 1940s or 1950s-style sci-fi. Instead, DEFENDERS OF THE FEDERATION turns out to be early-1970s in look and concept. Check it out…

Of course, “reimagining” Star Trek in the 1970s isn’t really necessary. The animated series aired in 1973-74, and of course, Star Trek: The Motion Picture caught the last few weeks of the 1970s be debuting on December 6, 1979. That said, there was a tremendous difference between the kind of sci-fi you’d see in the early versus late 1970s, and Defenders of the Federation is definitely in the earlier category.

Nevertheless, I was curious to find out why Jeff decided to “fast forward” the era. And that brings us to part one of a really fascinating interview with LOTS of behind-the-scenes photos…!

Continue reading “DEFENDERS OF THE FEDERATION shows what STAR TREK might have looked like during the early 1970s… (an interview with JEFF NORD)”

THE FEDERATION FILES: “MOTHER” is based on STAR TREK screenwriter LARRY BRODY’s unsold story idea for VOYAGER! (video interview with DAN and KELLY REYNOLDS)

This is pretty cool! Back in 1968, with a newly-sold novel under his belt, LARRY BRODY (and his wife) moved to Los Angeles to see if he could break into Hollywood as a writer. A science fiction fan, Larry was soon pitching stories for the third season of Star Trek. Although none of his ideas was optioned, in 1972, legendary story editor DOROTHY “D.C.” FONTANA bought Larry in to pitch directly to GENE RODDENBERRY for the upcoming Star Trek animated series.

One of Larry’s stories—which ultimately became “The Magicks of Megas-Tu,” the eighth episode of the animated series that aired in 1973—intrigued Gene, who had wanted to do an episode about the Enterprise encountering God. Ultimately, the network wasn’t comfortable with featuring God in a children’s cartoon, and so the main omnipotent alien became the devil instead.

By that point, Larry’s notoriety as a Hollywood screenwriter was flourishing, and by the end of the 1970s, he was also a producer on the TV series Police Story. Over a multi-decade career, Larry would produce for eight other television series as well as writing dozens of scripts for shows like The Six Million Dollar Man, The Streets of San Francisco, Police Woman, The Fall Guy, The New Mike Hammer, Automan, Walker: Texas Ranger, Diagnosis Murder, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Silver Surfer, and Spawn (to name a small few!). And in 1995, Star Trek: Voyager was added to that list with a second season episode about Chakotay titled “Tatoo.”

Larry Brody isn’t the first Star Trek scriptwriter to also work on a Star Trek fan film. That list also includes the aforementioned Ms. Fontana along with tribbles-creator DAVID GERROLD and TNG and DS9 episode writer MARC ZICREE. But since the fan film guidelines came out in 2016, no Trek writer has been associated with a Star Trek fan film…until now, that is.

THE FEDERATION FILES is a “fanthology” Star Trek fan series created by DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN L. WOLFE, co-owners of the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. Since 2016, they have released fourteen fan films spanning the long history of Trek‘s prime universe from the 20th-24th centuries:

Their fourteenth release, the first since December of 2022, was an adaptation of a story that Larry Brody pitched for Voyager titled “MOTHER.” Set during the TOS-era, their latest production has a very Star Trek “flavor”…

While Larry himself was not available for an interview, I did have a chance to sit down with Dan Reynolds and his wife Kelly to discuss how “Mother” went from Voyager story idea to fleshed-out script to full TOS fan film. The following video also includes a fun rarity in our community: a fan film blooper reel. You can watch that segment starting at the 19-minute mark of this interview…

It’s TIME for two new TREK SHORTS: DESTINY CALLS and BACK TO YESTERDAY (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, Part 2)

In Part 1, I began talking to “Time & CGI Master” SAMUEL COCKINGS about his latest two TREK SHORTS releases DESTINY CALLS (which premiered on November 30 of last year), and BACK TO YESTERDAY (which was posted this past February 10).

They join a looooooong and ever-growing list of Trek Shorts that Sam has written, produced, often directed, and provided jaw-dropping VFX for (along with his team). Indeed, last year alone, in addition to Destiny Calls, Sam released no less than EIGHT other Trek Shorts—almost one per month…!

You can watch all 20 of Sam’s Trek Shorts releases, dating back to 2021, on this YouTube playlist. Meanwhile, here are Sam’s latest two productions, both dealing with time travel in some way, if you haven’t seen them yet…

Sam and I have already discussed Destiny Calls in Part 1 of our interview. So now we shift our focus over to Back to Yesterday

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It’s TIME for two new TREK SHORTS: DESTINY CALLS and BACK TO YESTERDAY (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, Part 1)

Give your time to SAMUEL COCKINGS, and he will give you his time, and we will all have a great time watching fan films about…time!

Time to cover another couple of TREK SHORTSDESTINY CALLS and BACK TO YESTERDAY, the latest two releases from the time lord of Trek CGI in the UK, everyone’s good buddy, Sam Cockings.

Last year, Sam managed to release nearly one fan film per month…!

That’s a whole lotta blogs, let me tellya—so many, in fact, that I had serious trouble keeping up with them all! In fact, just two weeks after my most recent blog about his September and October releases, Sam premiered yet another new fan film on November 30, the aforementioned Destiny Calls, which turned out to be one of my favorites so far. Take a look…

While I loved the CGI renders of all of the ships and shuttles, as I always do, this time what I enjoyed even more was seeing different versions of the same character from various times interacting with each other. This was certainly not the first time Star Trek has ever done this (most recently, Captain Pike encountered his future self—granted, from an alternate reality—in the season one finale of STRANGE NEW WORLDS , and of course, Admiral Kathryn Janeway went back in time to have a little encounter with her past self in the Voyager series finale “Endgame”).

But Sam’s offering was fun in that there were actually FIVE separate versions of his character, William Davis, each plucked from different points of his Starfleet career, each wearing a different uniform but also with different memories of this same event. It was a “small” story (as Trek fan films are limited in run-time by the guidelines), but it didn’t really need to be any bigger. Indeed, as a piece of a much larger tapestry of fan films with many ongoing plotlines, Destiny Calls was just long enough to be enticingly intriguing.

Sam took a well-deserved break in December and January, not releasing any new Trek Shorts. But on February 10, 2024, Back to Yesterday premiered, starring NICK COOK from the long-running Scottish fan series INTREPID playing his character of Captain Daniel Hunter. But this Captain Hunter was from a later time in his career, commanding a different starship. And like William Davis in Destiny Calls, Hunter travels through time himself—backwards about a century or so—to meet an ancestor of Davis who, as it happens, is again played by Sam. It’s less complicated than it sounds, but you can watch it here…

Sam’s father, STEVEN COCKINGS, also appears in yet another Trek Shorts, reprising his role of Lee Galloway from last February’s This Side of Morality.

Anyway, with so much time travel, the time had come to once again chat with Sam. The first part of this interview deals primarily with Destiny Calls

Continue reading “It’s TIME for two new TREK SHORTS: DESTINY CALLS and BACK TO YESTERDAY (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, Part 1)”

The curious case of Jonathan’s YouTube channel “SURGE”…

It was recently brought to my attention that a false rumor has begun circulating that I purchased views for my YouTube channel last summer to boost my numbers for some strange reason. (See the above screen cap.)

Of course, this doesn’t address the most obvious question of I why would do this and then never even mention it. I mean, you buy 300,000+ views to…what? Brag? I completely forgot to brag, folks…d’oh!

In fact, I never even noticed it, let alone talked about it. And apparently, it boosted my subscribers by a couple of thousand, as well, and I never mentioned that either until earlier this past week—and even then it was buried deep inside this response (paragraph 3) in the comments under a blog. I mean, if you’re gonna buy that many views, then shout it from the rafters, right?

The other thing I wondered after hearing about this crazy, stupid rumor was: how much exactly do 300,000+ YouTube views cost to buy? I mean, haven’t YOU ever wondered that? Well, you probably haven’t—but I bet you’re curious now, aren’t you? And that’s why I looked it up

Wait…what??

Buying 300K would have cost me more than FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS?!?!?!? Holy second mortgage, Batman! I would be kicked out of the house at warp speed if I did that!

Anyway, I was still kinda curious where this surge came from. I mean, SOMETHING happened last summer! A bump like that doesn’t materialize out of nowhere, and I doubted that anyone else out there liked me enough to drop over a grand and a half buying views for my channel. So where did those views come from?

Turns out the answer was: STONE TREK!

Huh?

Back in 2016, one of my first-year’s blogs was about the hilarious fan series Stone Trek, a brilliant mash-up of Star Trek and The Flintstones. At the time, their episodes appeared on this Angelfire web page using the Adobe Flash player to animate (which is how the episodes were created in the first place).

A couple of years later, a convention organizer from San Diego where I’d be a guest wanted to show Stone Trek along with other shorter fan films as part of a continuous program in one of the smaller panel rooms. So I did a video capture from the Flash player of the five completed Stone Trek episodes and provided them as mp4 files for the convention.

And thank goodness I did!!!

Continue reading “The curious case of Jonathan’s YouTube channel “SURGE”…”