INTERLUDE Confidential #19: Watching ARES STUDIOS come alive…

INTERLUDE is knocking on the door of a combined 75,000 views for “version 2.0.” You can watch it on the AXANAR YouTube channel or the AVALON UNIVERSE YouTube channel…or both!

A few weeks ago, I published a blog looking at three scenes from Interlude that wound up on the digital “cutting room floor.” But one of the most talked about aspects of that blog was a clip that I included showing 18 minutes of the actual shoot itself…filming the stunning opening scene looking down from above onto the bridge with all sorts of activity going on. Fans of Axanar and ARES STUDIOS loved getting a glimpse into all of the action happening on that set.

Well, folks, there’s a LOT more where that came from…and I’m going to share it with you starting today!

As producer on Interlude, most of my job was done by the time we got to the weekend of our two-day shoot at Ares Studios on November 2-3, 2019. In addition to writing the script, I was in charge of budgeting, crowd-funding, paying for things that needed to be paid for (everything from chest emblem patches to camera and lens and light rental to hair and make-up supplies to renting chairs and tables to the caterer himself…plus about a hundred other little and not-so-little things!).

Another part of my job was to make sure we had the right people at the studio on the right days—actors, extras, production crew, even an on-site medic—that they knew where to be and when and that their gas, travel, food and lodging was paid for if/when necessary. My efforts were designed to make it possible for VICTORIA FOX, JOSHUA IRWIN, and the entire amazing Interlude production team to shoot the scenes of our fan film over two 10-hour days with everything they needed ready and waiting for them.

In short, I was the guy setting up the buffet table so all of the guests could have a good time at the party. So once the party got started, what was left for me to do?

Well, there were still some minor fires that needed putting our during those two days—figuring out where to put the hair and make-up people, handing my credit card to people I hardly knew to go make emergency runs to Home Depot or Target or wherever. But for the most part, the producer wasn’t really needed on set.

But that provided me with a very unique and special opportunity…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #19: Watching ARES STUDIOS come alive…”

(Re) Presenting: INTERLUDE…the big premiere, TAKE TWO!

I’ve been writing a series of blogs about all of the typical things that happen with fan films, things that I’ve been encountering during the development of INTERLUDE. But now it’s time for something that I don’t think has ever happened on any Star Trek fan film!

Someone in our cast has asked (demanded, actually) for his shots to be completely REMOVED from the Interlude fan film…forcing us to re-shoot specific scenes using a different actor and to re-edit those scenes back into a new version.

The actor in question is PAUL JENKINS. I won’t go into details on this other than to say what is already known publicly: that Paul and ALEC PETERS are involved in litigation following Paul’s parting of ways from the AXANAR sequels in the early summer of last year. As I understand it, Paul is concerned that his appearance in a fan film that features Alec Peters in a leading role within the Axanar continuity could imply some kind of endorsement by Paul of Alec, Axanar, Ares Studios, and/or Axanar Productions.

Paul’s request/demand for all footage of him be removed from Interlude came first via a Facebook message sent to me barely 24 hours before the big premiere on April 5. Obviously, that was not enough time for us to make such significant changes, and we weren’t about to delay the release on such short notice. I’d already told the entire fan film community plus my friends and family about it. Heck, my parents had told all of their friends about it!

So as planned, we premiered the version of Interlude (with Paul in it) that we’d worked so hard to complete, but on the request/demand of Paul and his CEO at META Studios, a disclaimer was pinned as the top comment of the YouTube video page making clear that “META Studios and its employees, including Founder and Chief Creative Officer Paul Jenkins, DO NOT endorse the use of the Axanar logo and the solicitation of funds for the purpose of creating fan films associated with CBS intellectual property. “

So yeah, that happened.

We also agreed to their imposed constraint that Interlude could only be posted to the AVALON UNIVERSE YouTube channel and not to the Axanar YouTube channel, probably costing us a few hundred thousand views during our opening week. The video still crossed 50K views in 12 days with more than a 97% thumbs-up/thumbs-down ratio, so I didn’t really lose any sleep over it.

Meanwhile, our director of photography/editor JOSHUA IRWIN jumped into action to act on to Paul’s main request.demand to be removed entirely from Interlude, and two weeks later, Josh has come through with flying colors.

This was no small feat, folks…!

Continue reading “(Re) Presenting: INTERLUDE…the big premiere, TAKE TWO!”

It’s FEAST OR FAMINE here at FAN FILM FACTOR…and it’s about to be FEAST! (editorial/news)

Have you noticed that these past couple of months have been relatively quiet in the Star Trek fan film world? There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. There’s an “ebb and flow” with news and releases from time to time…feast or famine, as they say.

And it’s not like there’s been no new Trek fan films whatsoever. The folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES never let us down, and there was a new release from STARSHIP ANTYLLUS a couple months ago that I haven’t gotten around to covering yet. Oh, and we can’t forget the steady stream of new content from that fan filmmaking machine known as VANCE MAJOR, who has been releasing one new episode per week of CONSTAR COMPLETED this past month. Vance says that he’s only going to release another five Trek fan films and then he’s hanging up his cell phone. Of course, he’s “retired” before.

Okay, so maybe things haven’t been nearly as quiet as all that. But they have been pretty quiet, all things considered. Since January’s release of the AVALON UNIVERSE’s AIR AND DARKNESS and STARSHIP VALIANT’sANIMALS,” and then February’s release of the blockbuster Czech fan film SQUADRON, there haven’t been many totally new releases other than those I mentioned above.

This was actually somewhat serendipitous for me, as it opened a convenient four-week window for me to release my four-part History of STARSHIP VALIANT blog series. Then I filled up some “thin” weeks by covering (two months late) the December release of the German Spock JENS DOMBEK’s TIMES ARE CHANGING, the launch and staggeringly successful conclusion of the Star Trek: Voyager documentary Indiegogo campaign, along with some features about older fan films that I’ve had on the back-burner, like STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE and the amazing stop-motion fan films ENTERPRISE II from German wunderkind JÜRGEN KAISER.

Oh, and let’s not forget the release of my AXANAR-universe fan film INTERLUDE and some of the the subsequent Interlude Confidential behind-the-scenes blogs that I’ve published since. And of course, the Star Trek/Dr. Seuss mash-up lawsuit is still going on and is as interesting as ever!

And sadly, we lost that beloved cheerleader of Trek fan films, BARBARA READER, last month.

So even when the Star Trek fan film world is a little slow with new releases, I’m still doing my best to supply you fine folks with new content. Indeed, between the “back-burner” features I’ve been working on and an impending uptick in new fan film news and releases, Fan Film Factor is about to be getting VERY busy VERY soon!

Here’s what’s coming down the, er, pike…

Continue reading “It’s FEAST OR FAMINE here at FAN FILM FACTOR…and it’s about to be FEAST! (editorial/news)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #17: On the cutting room floor…

Christy Price Pagano deserves the top image because she wound up on the cutting room floor!

INTERLUDE is finally released, and it’s already up to 42K views on YouTube! Did you see it? (If not, click here.) Did you like it? Is it everything you hoped it would be? Personally, I’m extremely happy with the way Interlude turned out. So many people put SO much work into making an awesome fan film.

But I feel really bad about CHRISTY PRICE PAGANO (pictured above) because her ONE shot in Interlude wound up on the cutting room floor.

Christy showed up on our second day of filming Interlude at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA (on Sunday, November 3, 2019) along with her good friend LISA BURGESS (pictured below). The two moms live nearby in the suburbs north of Atlanta, and they were told about the shoot and our need for extras by one of our actors, JAY PLYBURN, who played the U.S.S. Ares science officer with the cool 70’s-era mustache.

Lisa Burgess

If you watched Interlude, you might have noticed that there’s really only one very brief shot of the U.S.S. Ares where we see most of the extras on the bridge…

There are some other close-ups and medium shots, but this was the only shot that featured nearly all of our Ares crew members at once. Only two officers aren’t in the shot: the aforementioned Jay Plyburn and Christy Pagano, who was actually about to come out of the turbolift. But we cut away before the turbolift doors ever have a chance to open.

This is what the full sequence would have looked like had the decision to cut away not been made (note that there are no sound effects or music in following clip)…

That’s Christy coming out of the turbolift. And though we barely get to see them, the wounded engineer is JOSE CEPEDA from the fan series STAR TREK: NATURES HUNGER, and the person carrying him off is CRYSTAL RAMOS, who was so excited to be a part of this production. And now, we don’t even get to see their faces! But I’m going to fix that right now (at least on this blog page, since we can’t reshoot the scene without it costing a lot of time and money)…

Crystal Ramos and Jose Cepeda

Anyway, back to the wide shot. As you can see from the full 11-second clip, there was a lot going on! The ship was shaking, panels were flickering, Garth was giving an order, people were moving across the bridge with some getting up from seats and others sitting down, the turbolift doors had to open AND close, and not only did Crystal have to make it look like she was carrying Jose into the lift, but Christy had to rush out of the turbolift without bumping into either Crystal or Jose and then squeeze past the communications chair without looking as though she was squeezing (’cause it is a very tight fit!).

And that’s just what was happening ON camera!

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #17: On the cutting room floor…”

INTERLUDE Confidential #16: Shields up! Time for the reviews…

INTERLUDE is finally out, and the reviews are coming in fast and furious! On YouTube, the video has racked up 15K views in three days, with 97% thumbs up. If you haven’t seen it yet, to quote Chekov, “Now vould be a good time…”

The praise and kudos have been great and are very rewarding to everyone on the team. And of course, the criticisms are out there, too. It’s inevitable that you’re not going to please all the Trekkies all the time. The trick to surviving the bad reviews is to focus on the good ones. If you give too much weight to the critics, the negativity will drag you down like an anchor. It’s the positive, supportive comments that bring up back up for air. If you want to keep breathing, use them as a helpful floatation device.

Or you can just do what I do and respond to the negative YouTube comments with: “Look, I’m really, really sorry that so many people disagree with you.”

Some people thought that Interlude was too short (is that criticism or praise?) or that the Ares and Artemis should have been firing back. Just for the record, the Klingons knocked out both ships’ weapons systems—listen closely to some of the background bridge chatter—and as you’ll discover in the AXANAR sequels, the new D7’s were nearly invulnerable to phasers and photon torpedoes.

Some folks thought ALEC PETERS’ acting was better in the first half, and some thought he was better in the second half. Some thought he couldn’t act at all, but hey, most fans couldn’t do much better and would probably have been a lot worse. It takes a lot of confidence to place yourself in front of the camera for the main role in any fan film…let alone one that’ll likely have hundreds of thousands of views. Alec put in ten long hours of tightly-focused work the day we filmed and another few hours getting the epilogue interview done. I was never expecting Laurence Olivier or Tom Hanks, and I was very happy with Alec’s performance.

Oh, and for anyone complaining about Alec’s “bulging Gowron eyes,” you might want to take another look at the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” I see the Garth glare as more of a feature than a bug…

On the other hand, praise was nearly universal for fan film newcomer and fellow sci-fi geek WARREN HAWK. Everyone love-love-loved Warren as Captain Jakande—as well they should have! Warren gave an awesome and passionate performance…and I love that deep, velvet voice of his.

(And consider this: in the Avalon Universe, Captain Jakande might not have died. So start saving your crowd-funding dollars, folks, ’cause you might just be able to help bring him back to fan films in a few months!)

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #16: Shields up! Time for the reviews…”

Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!

(I know you wanna see INTERLUDE! Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this web page, then come back to read the full blog entry.)


I was a fan of AXANAR even before the launch of their first Kickstarter campaign back in early 2014. And when PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released that summer, I was ecstatic. There had never been any fan film like this one, and it FELT like the Star Trek I had grown up with…something I couldn’t say about the newest Trek movie releases from Paramount and (later) television releases from CBS.

Later that summer, I jumped at the chance to volunteer to help pack and ship perks to donors (of which I was one, of course), and I got to know ALEC PETERS, DIANA KINGSBURY, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, and a bunch of other folks involved with the production. Heck, I even joined the gang along with RICHARD HATCH (may he rest in peace) at a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach after a convention for an awesome dinner experience.

By 2015, I was writing weekly “Fan Film Friday” blogs for the Axanar website about other Trek fan films…something that led to the creation of Fan Film Factor half a year later. Fan films in general, and Axanar in particular, had quickly become a major part of my life as a Trek fan.

Interlude was born in stages, but I can trace its initial origin back to June of 2017 when I was reading Alec’s new 2-part Axanar script. The legal settlement with CBS and Paramount forced him to trim the full-length movie script down to two 15-minute segments that would be filmed in the same mock documentary style as Prelude.

By this point, the amazing half-completed bridge set was being packed up and moved cross-country from southern California to Georgia, and I was looking forward to seeing how bridge scenes would be incorporated into the “mockumentary” format. But to my shock and horror, there were NO bridge scenes in Alec’s new script…only the same “talking heads” dialog and VFX as there was in Prelude. Huh?

What I didn’t know at the time was that Alec had purposefully left out any bridge scenes because he wasn’t certain whether he’d be able to raise the funds to complete the set. However, not knowing why there weren’t any bridge scenes, I mistakenly assumed Alec just felt like he couldn’t squeeze them in and still tell the story properly. So as a way of demonstrating that it was possible to have bridge scenes, I wrote a new version of the script…what I call my “alt-Axanar” script. Alec won’t be using it (he’s fine with his own version), but someday after the two Axanar sequels are released, I’ll publish it here on the blog just for fun.

Continue reading “Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!”

Star Trek fan filmmakers pay tribute to BARBARA READER following her passing…

Yesterday, fans found out that BARBARA READER finally lost her years-long battle with cancer. May her soul soar over the undiscovered country and across the final frontier.

If you’re not familiar with Barbara but you’re a fan of Star Trek fan films, she gave our community a precious gift: The STAR TREK REVIEWED blog site. Launched back in 2009, Barbara’s humble website quick grew to mind-blowing proportions, containing resources and information about nearly EVERY Star Trek fan film ever released!  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever found a Trek film that wasn’t already listed somewhere on Barbara’s site.  If you think I’ve covered a lot of Trek fan films here on Fan Film Factor, I’m just peanuts compared to an outfit like Star Trek Reviewed!

I never thought of Barbara and her blog site as a “competitor.” Like firefighters and police officers, there’s similarities but also a lot of significant differences in what we do.  STR covers EVERYTHING, but mostly as a “jumping-off” point to outside articles, interviews, and of course, the YouTube links to the fan films themselves. Barbara once told me she thought of herself mainly as the “librarian” of fan films.

I’m more of a “roving reporter,” and although Fan Film Factor doesn’t cover nearly as much, those fan films I do spotlight receive a deep-dive into the production process for each project along with getting to know the people who make them.

Together, Barb and I (or rather, our blogs) made a great team!

Speaking of teams, Barbara ultimately had to find a team of her own to help keep STR going. In 2016, with cancer starting to get the better of her (although she never complained or asked for pity), Barbara reached out to the fan film community and asked for some help. Up until that point, she had somehow managed to keep track of pretty much every old and new Star Trek fan film—and maintain what seemed like an infinite number of individual web pages (one for each production)…for SEVEN years all by herself!

Now she needed some help, and a number of volunteers stepped forward. These included KIROK L’STOK (real name Alan Anderton) from Australia along with SVEN MATTHES from Germany, and JAMES HEANEY (from Minnesota). Barbara and Sven would find all the fan film content, Kirok would write it up and enter it on the website (and post to Facebook), and James was the IT guy. Even now, they’re working on moving all the material over to a new website and should have it set up as a searchable database soon. They were hoping to have it running before Barbara passed away, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about Barb’s personal history. But fortunately, James Heaney provided some enlightening background…

Continue reading “Star Trek fan filmmakers pay tribute to BARBARA READER following her passing…”

The COVID vaccination is a shot in the arm for fan filmmakers…but only if they get it! (editorial)

Most of my readers, I am hopeful, are either planning to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines or have already gotten one or both (if necessary) shots. And if you are one of those people, I applaud you!

In fact, as of this week, I have joined the partially-vaccinated group, having received my first dosage of the Moderna vaccine. (California just opened up vaccinations to people with obesity…the only good thing to ever come from my chronic weight problem!)

I am pleased to report that, with the exception of a ridiculously sore left upper arm for 36 hours—which is now mercifully back to normal—I am feeling just fine. I didn’t die or go into anaphylaxis; I didn’t pass out or grow a second head.

In fact, now that I’ve gotten my first vaccination shot, there’s only unusual thing that I’m feeling:

AN AMAZING SENSE OF RELIEF!

Honestly, folks, I hadn’t realized how much I’d been living with this almost constant pounding of fear and dread these past 14 months. Like some crazy end-of-times sci-fi horror movie, there was literally a super-virus out there that could kill me! And sure, COVID-19 isn’t necessarily fatal to everyone, but when you’re 5′ 9″, 255 pounds, and have hypertension, this unpredictable virus was more likely than not to do a serious number on me…and possibly even end my life at 54. When you feel as though you’re taking a potentially fatal risk just by going to Costco…that’s stress!

Now, I realize that, with the Moderna vaccine, one dosage isn’t enough yet. Full immunization doesn’t come for me until my second shot in the middle of April. But for the next four weeks, the odds of my surviving an infection if I get one just shot up considerably!

It’s troubling to me that a number of people in our fan film community are not planning to get the vaccine (I won’t name names). In fact, I was texting one of my own INTERLUDE team members that I was at Rite Aid awaiting my shot, and this person sent me back the following IM…

You’re really going to take vaccine that hasn’t been through more than 4 months of clinical trials? You really are a gambler. Also, do note, that you’ll be 3 times more contagious for 2 weeks after you take the vaccine, so you’ll want to have st. john’s wort on hand for your family. There’s a high likelihood they’ll get it from you.

Nothing like getting a little emotional shot in the arm just before you get an actual shot in the arm! So I showed the message to Helen, my Rite Aid pharmacist. I’ve known this woman more than a decade, and I’ve literally trusted her with my life as well as the lives of my wife and son.

Helen explained something to me about the vaccine that I was unaware of…

Continue reading “The COVID vaccination is a shot in the arm for fan filmmakers…but only if they get it! (editorial)”

I am THANKFUL for YOU – my friends in the fan film community!

Early last month, I published my one-thousandth blog and announced a new Patreon campaign to help pay the bills for Fan Film Factor and (potentially) provide a little extra support for me personally. (I typically spend between 10 and 30 hours each week covering Star Trek fan films.) Twelve generous fans have since signed up to donate a combined $60/month to help me out, and I can’t thank them enough for that!

But my gratitude extends far beyond those dozen people to the hundreds (possibly thousands?) of regular readers of my blog posts and to the Star Trek fan filmmakers who make this blog site possible in the first place. Many of these wonderful folks have become friends (some of them very close friends), and I would like to take a few moments to thank certain of these fan filmmakers by name…

Continue reading “I am THANKFUL for YOU – my friends in the fan film community!”

This is my ONE THOUSANDTH blog – time for a Fan Film Factor PATREON!

That’s right, folks! I’m finally taking the plunge and launching a PATREON campaign to help fund the expenses of the Fan Film Factor blog. Here’s the link to donate…

https://www.patreon.com/fan_film_factor

I don’t need much. Each year, my expenses to keep this blog site operational run about $400. This includes domain registration for FanFilmFactor.com, web hosting at GoDaddy for a WordPress site (along with hi-end tech support, which is an extra premium but VERY helpful!), my SSL certificate (so that your browser trusts my blog site), and an additional layer of site security to guard against Russian hackers, random bad actors, and angry detractors.

When I first started including Google Ads on the right column of my blog pages, I was getting a bit more traffic because of the Axanar lawsuit, and the ad revenue pretty much covered the cost for the site upkeep. But in the last two years, ad revenue has settled in at a solid $200 annually, which is about half of what I pay to keep the blog’s lights on.

With the pandemic, money is tight, and so I decided to do what a few others in our community have done before—like RAY TESI from Neutral Zone Studios, ALEC PETERS from Ares Studios, and TREY McELWAIN from Mac’s World Creations Studio. (Hmmm, maybe I need to become a “studio”!) If just 18 or 20 folks sign up to give $1/month, then all is good. If I get even more donors, then I’ll be covered if ad revenue goes down…or maybe even be able to stop doing all of this completely for free.

That said, I’ve never been interested in turning blogging into a lucrative career. I do this for LOVE—love of Star Trek and of fan films, as well as respect and admiration for the fine folks who produce these great projects. The stories behind their stories deserve to be told. And between researching, writing, editing, interviewing, sound-editing, and graphics preparation, I average between 10 and 25 hours per week working on this blog site that I love so much. I’ve been doing all this for free for nearly five years now, and sure, it’d be nice to make a few bucks from it. But that’ll never be a deal-breaker for me.

In fact, this blog that you’re reading marks my ONE THOUSANDTH published blog on Fan Film Factor since January of 2016! Just take a look at my WordPress dashboard…

Click to enlarge

Earlier this year, I’d been curious how many blog entries I’d published and saw the total at 928. So I kept in the back of my mind that I should do something special for blog number 1,000. Then, a couple of months ago when I decided to launch a Patreon, it seemed like the perfect time to announce it.

I’ll post reminders from time to time (unless I get tons of patrons all at once, which I don’t expect). But for now, once again, please click below to sign up:

Thanks in advance if you decide to become one of my Patreon supporters!