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…
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…
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!
Get ready for an, ahem, animated discussion…and probably a whole bunch of really angry response comments!
These days, if a new Star Trek series from CBS All Access debuts to universal or near-universal acclaim, then it’s probably premiering in a different universe! In THIS universe, Trek fans are an infamously hard-to-please/easy-to-piss-off mob with social media pitchforks and YouTube podcast torches.
I know; I’ve been one of them…kinda.
Granted, I’ve probably kept more of an open mind than many, and with the exception of the last two episodes of the first season of PICARD, I actually really enjoyed that series. But you guys know how critical I was of DISCOVERY‘s first season—and season two, while significantly better, didn’t completely escape my blogs of shame!
And so, like many fans, I reacted to details about the new STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS series (debuting next month) with some serious trepidation…although still trying very hard to keep an open mind. It hasn’t been easy. The very concept of the new series scared the crap out of me!
I mean…an animated comedy???
Star Trek has survived being animated before. The 22 episodes from Filmation in 1973-74 had a few true gems (“Yesteryear” and “The Slaver Weapon”) and some major klunkers (“The Infinite Vulcan”). But it was generally a well-executed series. As for comedy Trek, episodes like “The Trouble with Tribbles,” “A Piece of the Action,” and movies like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home showed that you could certainly add a bit of comedic flair to Trek and get a pretty decent result.
But could an animated series designed purposefully for non-stop gags and punchlines still work as Star Trek? Would fans accept such a tongue-in-cheek approach to a universe that we’ve dearly cherished and believed in for all these decades?
Well, CBS (now VCBS, I guess) and ALEX KURTZMAN have decided to find out—and I suppose we will, too, on August 6…and more likely on August 7 when the fannish mob once again takes to social media to make their opinions known (probably quite loudly).
But I am going to go out on a limb and say that, in my gut, we fans might just be getting the Star Trek we’ve been demanding for so long now from both CBS and Paramount!
Before diving into my reasons for that bold prediction, however, if you haven’t seen the latest trailer yet (released on July 12), then please have a look…
Also, a short scene from the first episode was just released yesterday…
And now, let’s cry “Havoc” and let those dogs of war slip a little…
As I’ve said before ,when I first set out to make INTERLUDE, my goal wasn’t simply to make a Star Trek fan film. I wanted to EXPERIENCE making a Star Trek fan film and then share that experience with with all of you through these blogs.
But there was one fan filmmaker moment that I hadn’t experienced yet—until now, that is. Over the decades-long history of Star Trek fan films, many projects have announced their premiere dates…only to miss them. For some fan films, multiple premiere dates were missed.
Well, you can now add Interlude (and me) to that list. After announcing my premiere date in this really cool trailer that I edited together…
…I can now confirm that Interlude will NOT be coming to YouTube on July 25th after all. And I sincerely apologize. It won’t be delayed too much—and I can say that because I know what still needs to be done (more on that shortly).
To quote The Talking Heads, “You may ask yourself: ‘Well, how did I get here?'” The answer isn’t as simple as “letting the days go by.” Lots of people have been working really hard on post-production. But since these blogs are meant to assist other and future fan filmmakers by sharing my experiences (both good and bad), here’s what happened…
The more proficient one is at procrastination, the less proficient one need be at all else.
This was one of the “corollaries” to the famous Murphy’s Law of “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” I loved the above procrastination quote back in high school in the 1980’s because it so perfectly described my philosophy about doing homework.
Little did I know that it would still apply to me three and a half decades later with my blog!
It’t not that I’m procrastinating from writing blogs. I typically publish between two and five new blogs a week. (You knew that!) But working on all those blogs has allowed me a convenient excuse for not updating my LIST pages.
Did you even know I had LIST pages? Chances are, you probably didn’t notice; many people don’t. But the lists are there…right in the middle of that navigation bar at the top of each page of Fan Film Factor. “LIST OF FAN FILMS” it says.
Actually, it’s not just one list, it’s THREE! Just hover above the link at the top of the page and you’ll see that those lists are arranged in custom orders depending on how you’d like to view them…
I’m really proud of those list pages, as they remind me just how far this blog has come since I started it back in 2016. I’ve done deep dives into nearly 75 different fan films!!! And that doesn’t include all the “short” blogs where I briefly cover a new release or trailer or update with a quick quote from the show-runner.
Instead, the list pages are for the major blogs that feature in-depth histories of individual fan films and/or series, or text or audio interviews with their creators. Those blogs are the main reason Fan Film Factor exists—to tell as many “getting from there to here” stories of fan film productions in order to honor the dedicated fans who make them.
And for a few years, I was really good about keeping those list pages up to date. But then I started slacking…
INTERLUDE is nearly complete, and this is likely my final “Interlude Confidential” before the release. Last week, I began reminiscing about the big two-day shoot last November at ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA. For me, it was truly the culmination of the filmmaking experience…even though there would still be another eight months of intense work. But the shoot itself—that was pure magic.
Nearly 50 people came together that weekend with a single goal in mind: to produce a top-quality Star Trek fan film. They weren’t making gobs of money; they simply wanted to be a part of something fun, creative, exciting and dynamic.
A lot of things had the potential to go wrong. The most effective teams work and train together for weeks, months, or even years to maximize their effectiveness. Our team, with a few exceptions, was mostly strangers who had only met for the first time that weekend. Would they mesh together like a well-oiled machine, or would there be friction? Would one or more people with egos grate against the others, show an attitude, or be uncooperative? I’ve been told it can (and often does) happen, and even one bad apple can cripple a production.
And last but not least—in addition to the thousand other things that could could go wrong—there was me. I’d never been a producer before! It was my job to take care of a seemingly endless list of items to ensure the set would be ready for VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN to film on: everything from making sure all the actors, extras, and production team knew where and when to show up to getting measurements for uniforms to the seamstress to ordering the rental camera equipment to finding the caterer and making sure there were tables and chairs for the food plus a hundred other little details. I needed to make sure everything was prepared so my directors and production crew could focus on making an awesome fan film.
There are about 4 million people living in Los Angeles, 40 million in California, 330 million in the United States, and 7.6 billion in the world. Of those, a few hundred to a few thousand read this blog each day. (I can happily live with that.)
Over the years, I’ve met people at Star Trek-related events who have seen my blog…or at least folks who know about fan films. But yesterday I had that experience in, of all places, my local supermarket!
I was wearing my custom-designed AXANAR T-shirt (shown in the photo above) while doing grocery shopping, and a fellow standing near me in produce said, “I like the design on your shirt!”
I looked down—having forgotten what I was wearing(!!!)—and said, “Oh, thanks. Are you familiar with Axanar?”
He was, and I didn’t feel that surprised. PRELUDE TO AXANAR has nearly 4.5 million views on YouTube, and it got a lot of coverage in the press during 2015-2016. ALEC PETERS talks about how he occasionally gets recognized in public, and I’ve actually been with him once when it happened…so I’ve seen in it action.
“Do you know if that fan film is going to be finished?” the man asked me. (I get that question a lot.)
“Absolutely,” I said. “In fact, I talked to the show-runner just yesterday, and there’s a shoot tentatively scheduled for next month. Most of the two sequels have already been filmed at this point, and some post-production has started.”
“Oh?” he said, sounding impressed that I knew so much. “Are you involved with the project?”
“Kinda,” I said. “I write a blog about Star Trek fan films called Fan Film Factor.“
“I read that blog!” he said. Now, before I allowed myself to feel completely shocked, I will admit to being temporarily dubious…after all, maybe he was just being polite and had never heard of my blog in his life. But then he added, “In fact, I saw it was down this past weekend. Is it back up now?”
HOLY FRACK! He really does read my blog! I thought.
With INTERLUDE in the final month or so of post-production, my goal of making a Star Trek fan film is nearly complete. The trailer came out last month and seems to have been very well received by most people who didn’t mind the Space: 1999 music. (For those who did mind…well, the world didn’t end, did it?)
Back in November of 2018, my idea of making a fan film was just a crazy suggestion that I’d made to JOSHUA IRWIN, curious to see what a filmmaker of his abilities could do with the nearly-finished USS Ares bridge set to shoot on.
The next twelve months became a rollercoaster ride—starting off slowly and then accelerating as I began to crowd-fund and work through pre-production with Josh and VICTORIA FOX, our director. By the time we reached November of 2019, one year later, I silently prayed that we’d crossed every “t” and dotted every “i” because we had two full days of shooting planned, fifty people coming to the studio that weekend, and thousands and thousands of dollars had already been spent without the ability to afford a “do over” if we screwed anything up.
In this 2-part blog—likely the last “InterludeConfidential” until the premiere on July 25, 2020—I would like to share with all of you some of my most cherished memories of the November shoot. It was, unquestionably, the highlight of the entire filmmaking experience because that was when nearly everyone came together at one time.
During pre-production, by comparison, almost everyone worked either individually or in small groups, getting things ready for production. And after the footage was shot, things shifted to the director, editor, sound-mixer, composer, VFX person, and of course, the producer overseeing it all. But by that point, most of the time, much of the work was being done individually or, at most, in small groups holding production meetings via conference calls.
But it was at the film shoot(s) when all of the excitement happened and all hands—or most all of the hands—were on deck. So here are some of what were the biggest highlights for me personally during that magical weekend…
Technically, this isn’t a blog about Star Trek or fan films. So if you’re only here for that, feel free to skip this entry because I’m indulging in the “it’s-my-blog-site-so-I-can-cover-what-I-want” option. And today, it’s a special blog about my son JAYDEN.
The quarantine has been a huge adjustment for kids—going from spending seven hours at school five days week with their teachers and friends to spending all day at home with only two hours a day of virtual classroom time in a Zoom meeting…and the rest of the day doing work independently from home. Many parents have become home-schooling “partners” to their children’s teachers…and that includes yours truly.
One of the highlights of the third grade at Jayden’s school is the annual “Living Museum” project. Many schools do this same assignment in third or fourth grade. Each student reads a biography of a famous person—from King Tut to Steve Jobs, Alexander Hamilton to Elton John, Sacajawea to Sally Ride, Roald Dahl to George Lucas. At the end of the school year, the students prepare a five-paragraph monologue about the life of their famous person. They memorize this monologue over a number of weeks, and during a special assembly at the end of the school year, they each dress up as their famous person and recite their monologue.
Sadly, the Coronavirus put the kibosh on any kind of assembly this year.
But the show must go on, so the third graders still read their biographies and prepared their monologues. However, the culmination of the process morphed from an assembly into a recorded video in costume uploaded by parents to the teachers and then compiled into a presentation to be shown to the entire class via Zoom meeting…parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins invited to attend, as well.
Jayden’s famous person was the legendary Marvel Comics publisher STAN LEE, creator of some of the most well-known superhero and villain characters in history…including Jayden’s favorite: Spider-Man.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Stan’s biography with Jayden and helping with chapter summaries. I shared some of my old comic books with Jayden (I’ve got 44,000 of them in the garage!), and I even have a poster signed by Stan “The Man” himself…along with a personalized note from Stan (shown to the right) when my brother’s and my company almost worked with Stan’s company in late 1998 . (Jayden’s jaw dropped when he saw that!)
Stan’s life and the many, many, many characters that he’d created sparked Jayden’s imagination and enthusiasm in a way that most of the other day-to-day assignments during virtual learning didn’t manage to. And so I saw a unique opportunity with the monologue video.
Finding a Stan Lee “costume” is not that hard. Turns out that all you need is a white polo, V-neck sweater, khaki pants, Keds sneakers, sunglasses, and a fake mustache. Take a look…
Hmmmm, let’s see…should I show you the new INTERLUDE trailer first and then talk about it—or talk about it first and then show it? Aw heck, I know you all really wanna see the new trailer…!
Pretty cool, huh? For those of you unfamiliar with the 1970s sci-fi TV series Space 1999, that trailer is an homage to the way they used to start their episodes (take a look at this video to see an example). The opening credits for that series would include rapid-fire quick cuts from various scenes of “this episode” followed by a slower musical bridge where they would show some of the names behind the production. Then the date would flash: September 13th, 1999—the day the moon supposedly would have been blasted out of earth’s orbit to begin its odyssey through deep space.
Cheesy? Yeah…it was 1975, for gosh sakes! But back then, with Star Trek and Lost in Space in reruns, Doctor Who hidden on weird channels at weird times, and Star Wars still two years away, Space 1999 was one of the only first-run sci-fi games in town. And let’s face it, those eagle transport spacecraft were friggin’ cool! I loved that show, and I loved the opening credits sequences.
So what does any of this have to do with my Axanar Universe fan film Interlude, you ask? Well, technically nothing. That’s not even the actual music I’ll be using (composer KEVIN CROXTON is creating an original score for Interlude).