FAN FILM FACTOR gets 100K visits last month!

THANK YOU!!!

From the bottom of my heart, I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who comes to read this blog…whether you’re one of my “regulars” or you just visit every so often or even if you’ve never been here before.  It means more to me than you can know.

Last month, for the first time ever, the total visits to this blog site ticked up over 100,000!  Now, I realize that’s probably just a temporary blip, as the previous two months were closer to 25K (although the month before that was at 85K—it’s a crazy place this Internet!).  And I also understand that some of that traffic is likely web crawling Internet “bots” hitting my blog site for search engine purposes.  But hey, that doesn’t much matter.

I’m just excited that, after nearly two years of writing Fan Film blogs for this site, people are still coming to read them!!!  And quite a few people, at that!  My daily web traffic is between a few hundred and a few thousand.  And that translates into ad dollars that sometimes get as high as $1 or $2 a day!  Yeah, I’m not really doing it for the money, folks.

So why am I doing it?

It’s actually quite a bit of work.  I research, write up, and edit (you only see the typos I don’t catch).  I reach out to fan film producers to conduct interviews, try to keep track of the latest goings on in the Trek fan film community, hunt down little-known Trek fan productions from years ago to write about, and look for active crowd-funding campaigns….and all of this while trying to stay just a few days (or maybe a week if I’m lucky) ahead of publishing deadlines.  I don’t want this blog site to get stale if I can help it!

If you’re curious how Jonathan puts this blog together, here’s an idea of what I’m working on at any given moment…

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My son JAYDEN turns SEVEN today! (personal)

The great thing about doing my own blog is that I get to decide what I write about.  And even though my focus is usually Star Trek fan films, today I’m going to indulge with a different kind of fan project: my son JAYDEN.  He turns seven years old today, and I promised him that I’d feature him on my blog today.

Some of you have already seen me talk about him in blog comments or viewed him in videos like this one I did just before Axanar Productions moved out of Industry Studios.  I’ve been doing my part to raise Jayden as a proper Trekkie (as I hope the photo on the left demonstrates).  Jayden has already been a special guest on his first-ever Star Trek podcast interview, and he enthusiastically watches TOS episodes with me each night while I exercise.

We’re half-way through the animated series at present, and then we’ll hit Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  With proper timing, we can just finish that film by the time I take Jayden to the Los Angeles Comic Con in later October to see the series finale of Star Trek Continues live with some of the cast.  STC‘s final two-parter completes the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise under James Kirk and leads into The Motion Picture.  After that, we’ll re-watch “Space Seed,” then the next five Trek feature films, and on to TNG.  (At least, that’s the plan; we’ll see what Jayden’s tastes are like in a couple more years.)

Today, I’d like to share two special fan films with you.   In this case, it’s me being a fan of my son Jayden.  And if you think that’s too sappy or inappropriate for a Star Trek fan film site, then come back on Friday instead for SEVEN new Trek fan films!

And for anyone who’s still sticking around, here’s a video I made during spring break of 2014 (which was half a lifetime ago for Jayden!) when everyone was making their own versions of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” music video.  I took Jayden around to our favorite places in southern California and edited this together…

And finally, here’s a video that’s been seven years in the making and will probably go for at least another seven or ten years…or whenever Jayden finally decides that enough is enough (or when I finally run out of song).  And yes, that’s the theme to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, a very singable song called “Suspension” sung by Kipp Lennon and written by the awesome STU PHILLIPS (who also composed themes for the original Battlestar Galactica, Airwolf, and Knight Rider).

HAPPY 7th BIRTHDAY, JAYDEN!!!

SPOCK’S ever-growing family!

Hey, folks.  Now that we know that Spock not only had a Vulcan half-brother (that he never talked about) but also an adopted human half-sister (that he also never talked about…the lead character of Michael Burnham from the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery), I thought I’d create a fun little revised Sarek and Amanda “family portrait”…

I just had an AWESOME fan film week! (personal)

My life isn’t usually all that interesting or exciting…at least, not all in one week.  But what a week it was!

(Actually, it was only really exciting if you happen to be a Trekkie interested in fan films.  If you’re my wife, it’s more like, “That’s nice, honey.  I’m glad you had such a good time.  Did you remember to empty the dishwasher?”

And that’s why I’m writing this blog—because I have now emptied the dishwasher, and I really want to tell you guys about the fan film filled week I just had…because you care, right?  (Aw don’t answer that; it’ll just kill my buzz.)

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The stories BEHIND the stories… (personal)

Why do I do this?

I asked myself that question recently as I was preparing a multi-part blog on the history of the fan production Star Trek: Renegades (you gonna love it!).  The retrospective started out as a two-parter…then stretched itself to three…and finally finished up with four parts and more than 7,000 words!  Who in their right mind writes THAT much about a single fan film????  (Well, other than Axanar, but they had a lawsuit to write about!)

And it’s not like there’s any money in this, folks.  Maybe by the end of the year I’ll take in a few hundred dollars off of Google ads…if I’m lucky.  I pay nearly that much just for web hosting and online security!

As I did my research on the history of Star Trek: Renegades—researching dozens and dozens of different websites and articles, blogs and crowd-funding updates, and forums and Facebook pages—I finally realized the reason that I put so much time and effort into writing all these blogs and maintaining this web site…

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Becoming a PROFESSIONAL TREKKIE! (biography blog #2)

It’s been a while since I wrote a biography blog…nearly a year and a half, in fact!  I’d started out thinking I’d write these regularly, as I’ve had some interesting adventures as a fan: sneaking onto the Voyager and DS9 sets at Paramount, writing the Star Trek reference book Starship Spotter in just 18 days, directing Majel Barrett Roddenberry doing voice-over for four hours…in her living room!  The list goes on.

But then I got busy writing about fan films, and suddenly it’s 17 months later with no second entry to follow up on the “to be continued…” that ended my first biography blog.  Time to fix that!  (I’m even adding a new tab to the main menu that says “BIOGRAPHY” in the hope it’ll inspire me to write more of these entries before another 17 months go by.)

When last we left off, it was December of 1993, and I’d just turned down a job working for MICHAEL OKUDA in the Star Trek Art Department!  (Was I nuts????  Read my first biography blog to find out why.)

So instead of doing graphics and animations for DS9, Voyager, and Generations, I stayed with my brother David and grew our fledgling multimedia company, 2-Lane Media, Inc.  Over the next two and a half years, we expanded to about a dozen employees doing websites for clients like Disney, Nestlé, Transamerica, and Tenet Healthcare.

But in 1996, we added a new client that would change my Star Trek life forever…

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Anyone wanna buy a FAN FILM FACTOR T-SHIRT???

Hey, did you notice the “SHOP” button over there in the upper right corner on the main menu bar?  Betcha didn’t!  It’s right next to the “CONTACT US” option.  (“Us”?  It’s pretty much just me here.  I should change that.)

It’s okay if you didn’t notice—no one did—for months!  The button has been up there since late February, I think.  Initially, I never even intended to sell FAN FILM FACTOR T-Shirts.  But an amusing series of events led to the creation of an FFF online store.  Wanna hear a funny story?

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TOM HANKS watches STAR TREK FAN FILMS!

Sometimes people ask me why I spend so much time writing about and obsessing on Star Trek fan films.  After all, few people even know about them, and on a good day, I only get about 1,000 visits to this blog (on a bad day, it’s about 500…and on an Axanar day, it’s about 3,000!).  Some comments have even said that fan films are just wasted time with Trekkies playing “dress up,” and most fan films aren’t even watchable.  So why do I write this blog?

Well, first of all, someone’s gotta do it, right?  I mean, whether or not a fan film is good or bad (and remember my Prime Directive of Fan Film Factor), a great deal of work and dedication goes into each one.  Sometimes it might not look that way, but trust me, I’ve worked on enough of them and spoken to enough creators to know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into even the most humble, low-budget fan film.  And frankly, someone out there should be covering it all and giving them some credit.  Why not me?

Second, I find it really interesting to watch this medium developing and evolving.  And this blog is an archive, of sorts, of that evolution.  Granted, things were much more ambitious before the guidelines, but it’s still exciting—at least to me—to see what fans can come up with: the stories, characters, sets, props, costumes, VFX, sound and film editing, music, etc.

And third, it’s not as small a world of viewership as you might think!  Sure, I only get about 45K-50K visits a month, but fan films like Horizon, Renegades, and Prelude have gotten MILLIONS of views on YouTube!  People out there are taking notice of fan films…usually in a good way.  And one of the people who took notice was none other than Academy Award-winning actor TOM HANKS!

I’d forgotten about the 2013 interview with Tom Hanks that took place on actor/comedian Kevin Pollak’s online chat show.  In it, he briefly discussed Star Trek fan films and STAR TREK CONTINUES in particular.  Although he mistakenly said they were based in South Carolina (it was actually southern Georgia), it was clear that he was talking about STC.

At the time, they had only released their first episode “The Pilgrim of Eternity,” but that was clearly enough to make an impression upon Mr. Hanks.  I thank STC actor MICHELE SPECHT for posting this little gem a week ago and reminding me of yet another reason I work on this blog site: BECAUSE TOM HANKS WATCHES STAR TREK FAN FILMS!  YAY!!!  Take a look at this 79-second clip…

 

“ENTERPRISE – LADY” tribute music video

For over a year, this music video has been sitting in a menu area of Fan Film Factor called “THE CARGO BAY.”  When I began this blog site, I imagined that section would be a good place to drop miscellaneous content that didn’t fit in anywhere else.  But in the upcoming weeks, I’ll be doing a bit of top menu reorganization, and “THE CARGO WAY” will be jettisoned.  So I’m pulling out this video from its previous blog and creating a new blog for it so it can live elsewhere on the site.

So what the heck is Jonathan’s ENTERPRISE – LADY” tribute music video?  Well, back in 2002, I edited together my own Star Trek music video montage, a “love letter” to all the wonderful starships called Enterprise.

This music video was inspired by a similarly-themed montage that I saw at a convention in Cleveland, OH back in 1988.  That video also used The Little River Band’s “Lady” as a musical score (and I do love that song!).  But back then, there were only the TOS and TAS episodes, four movies, and one season of TNG.  Footage of the USS Enterprise in 1988 was  limited to the original, the refit, and the 1701-D…no bloody A, B, C, E or NX-01.  (Well, technically there was a bit of the 1701-A at the end of Trek IV.)

By 2002, I now had nine feature films, seven seasons of TNG (plus DS9 and Voyager), and the first two seasons of Enterprise.  There weren’t remastered VFX back then, and I didn’t have own DVD collections yet, so I worked off the VHS tapes I’d recorded from TV broadcasts of episodes (and that’s why you can see the UPN logo on all the NX-01 shots!).

I added a lot of little touches—the cuts match up to the beats of the music and, in many cases, the images match to the words of the song.  It was a labor of love that took me a few months to complete (and it eventually won a fan Star Trek music video contest at a Los Angeles Creation convention).

I invite you all to enjoy my little effort below…

My 6-year-old son JAYDEN does his first-ever STAR TREK PODCAST interview…and it’s ADORABLE!

I’d always hoped to one day have a child who would enjoy Star Trek as much as I do (or at least not hate it completely).  And I’ll freely admit that I’m a totally biased daddy who is super-proud of his Trekkie son.  But Jayden recently did his first-ever Star Trek podcast, discussing the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.”  And he just blew me away with one of the most priceless and hysterical interviews I could have ever imagined.

The podcast that Jayden (and I) appear on is called ENTERPRISING INDIVIDUALS, and it’s an interesting concept.  Each week, the show features a different guest from the world of Star Trek—authors, screenwriters, experts, and superfans—and they discuss their favorite episode (from any of the series) along with providing information and insight about themselves and their experiences with Star Trek.

It’s a fun way to do an interview, with just enough banter about the featured Star Trek episode to keep the interview from getting too monotonous…and just enough interview that it doesn’t feel like yet another “discuss-an-episode-for-an-hour” podcast.

When the Minnesota-based host, who goes by the handle of Ka1iban of Just Enough Trope Studios, first reached out and asked me which episode was my favorite, I’d actually said “The Doomsday Machine.”  But that one had already been taken by a previous guest.  So I suggested “Mirror, Mirror,” which Jayden and I had just finished watching as we make our way through TOS episodes each night while I exercise.  And then I suggested that it might be fun to include Jayden for part of the interview, as he’s a real fan…and the host agreed.

And Jayden didn’t let me down.  His 17-minute segment is PRICELESS!  The rest of the podcast with me is also a lot of fun, but yeah, Jayden’s segment is a MUST-HEAR and leaves my interview in the dust!

The full interview can be linked to here, and Jayden’s segment begins at about the 39:35 minute mark.  But to save you from having to scroll to the good part, I’ve created a version with just Jayden’s portion below…

(Oh, and that beard is water-soluble magic marker.  It washed off completely in 20 seconds.)