THE ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES – new release “FINAL FLIGHT” starring…me!

Hey, guess who developed the Warp Seven engine?  Me, that’s who!

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I had help (will have help?) from my NX-Zeta project team, and from MARK NACARRATO, the show-runner of the upcoming fan production THE ROMULAN WAR.  Oh, and it wasn’t really me; it was Lieutenant Geoffrey Christopher of the United Earth Space Probe Agency.  But he looks and sounds a lot like me.

I suppose I should back up a few steps and explain what the heck I’m talking about…

For those of you unfamiliar with The Romulan War, it’s going to be an amazing Trek fan film picking up where Star Trek: Enterprise left off…at the beginning of the war between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Empire.  Filming on the production is all but completed, and now the finishing touches of post production—editing, VFX, sound, music, etc.—are being applied.  Release is planned for 2019.

Of course, with the limitations of the fan film guidelines, it would be nearly impossible to recount the entire war…despite using a “mock” documentary style similar to Prelude to Axanar.  So Mark came up with an interesting idea to push the envelope a bit—WAR STORIES.  These are short vignettes that are essentially audio dramas…just with a little something “extra” added: images with simple animations.  These “enhanced” audio dramas are presented as the logs of various Starfleet officers who served during the war, and the logs are accompanied by computer readouts and archival photos with some short video clips.  Less than a full fan film but more than a simple audio drama.

Last August, Mark released the first War Stories, the two-part “Sleep Is Hard to Find.”  If you go to that blog page, you’ll see that yours truly provided some of the Photoshop work to get the actors’ faces onto NX-era uniforms.  A month later, Mark released the second War Stories, “They Want Us Dead.”  That one didn’t require my Photoshop services, but the third release, “Final Flight,” did.

It also required my face…

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Thank YOU for two reasons…

I know that nearly everyone in America is busy saying “Thanks!” today for this and that.  Even before I woke up this morning, I received about a dozen private and public messages from folks thanking me for being their friend, for writing this blog, for reading their blog or listening to their podcast, and for just being me.  And to them I say: “Right back atcha!”

But I feel it’s very important for me to thank YOU today for reading my blog.  It truly means the world to me!  And not just because I made $5.97 over the past week in ad revenue (although, hey, nothing to complain about).

I’m thanking you for two reasons…

1) Love it or hate it, you’re coming here to read what I write, or listen to the folks I interview.  That feels amazing, especially since I put so much time and effort into this blog.  Whether it’s a multi-part blog feature about the history of a long-running fan series, a 2o00-word editorial, a short 350-word news update, or an hour-long audio interview, all of that takes time to produce.

For example, tomorrow I’ll publish a 55-minute audio interview with the show-runners for the just-released fan film GHOST SHIP.  In addition to watching the half-hour fan film (and then re-watching it), I also had to set up the interview (clear time in my schedule to match theirs), conduct the interview, go back later and remove the “um”s and long pauses and places where we accidentally talked over each other (that took about three hours to edit), listen through the finished interview once again, take screen caps for the feature image and interviewee photos, and then write a 400-word intro for the blog.  So it’s nice to know that at least a few hundred (or few thousand, if I’m lucky) people are reading and listening.

2) I love fan films.  I don’t know how it happened, but it did.  And now that I’m hooked, I want to spread the love and appreciation.  It’s why I keep doing this blog: not just for me as an ego trip, and not just for you as a fan base…but for all of the fan film creators out there who work even harder than I do.  They deserve our support, and Fan Film Factor is here to celebrate them all (or as many as I can cover before I run out of time!)

So on behalf of myself and of the FANtastic community of fan filmmakers out there, thank YOU for visiting my blog.

A different kind of fan film: I’m a fan of Elysa…

Please indulge me as I take a quick break from Star Trek to spotlight a very special little girl and her amazing parents… and an inspirational song and music video for anyone facing illness, adversity, or just being dealt a bad hand in life.

I first met ELYSA  SHAPIRO a little over a year ago at the beginning of first grade for my son, Jayden.  His school admits a wide diversity of students, and Elysa was no exception.  She had leukemia.  She’d been diagnosed a year earlier, and her treatment and hospitalization had resulted in her missing her entire kindergarten year.  Faced with the choice between of holding Elysa back or letting her start school as a first grader with children her own age, Elysa’s parents, HOWARD and NANCY, decided on the latter.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  While the other kids in her new first grade class had all shared the lessons and social development of kindergarten together, Elysa had spent the prior year in and out of hospitals, wearing a mask to filter out any germs that could overwhelm her immune system, and undergoing chemotherapy and other agonizing and exhausting cancer treatments at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

As welcoming as Jayden’s school is to new children and those with unique challenges, it was still a sometimes-traumatic experience for Elysa.  Although most days, Elysa was just fine, with a smile and laugh and courteous demeanor that melted my heart, other days I would see her struggling, sobbing, crying to her mother not to leave her.  During those first few months of first grade, while the other kids would be picked up at the back gate in the afternoon, Elysa often wouldn’t even make it through a full day and had to be taken home early.

Her treatments were still going on, and Elysa’s mom and I would occasionally chat about how things were progressing for Elysa.  It broke my heart to hear what this sweet little girl had to go through.

Continue reading “A different kind of fan film: I’m a fan of Elysa…”

R.I.P. – HARLAN ELLISON (1934-2018)

HARLAN ELLISON was a literary force of nature.  Heck, screw “literary”!  He was just a force of nature.  Period!  He had opinions about everything…and none of them were at all subtle.  In fact, if he were here at all right now (and gave a crap), he’d probably tell me that writing a one-word sentence “Period!” followed by an exclamation point to hammer home my previous sentence was just plain stupid and amateurish.  “But keep writing,” he’d probably tell me.  “It’s the only way you’ll stop being so terrible!”

Actually, Harlan once called me a “god.”  True story.  (I’ll tell you that one in a moment.)

Most Trekkers probably know Harlan Ellison as the person credited with writing the widely-considered best episode of TOS, “The City on the Edge of Forever.”  Harlan would have told you that he did NOT write that episode.  He wrote a script for that episode that Gene Roddenberry demolished with rewrites and turned to a giant, steaming turd.  Don’t believe me?  Read Harlan’s book on the subject.  He pulled no punches.  (Me?  I still like the way the episode turned out.  But don’t tell Harlan that.)

This souring experience with Gene turned into a decades-long war that makes anything we’ve got in the world of fan films seem like tiddlywinks!  Harlan never missed a chance to eviscerate Gene Roddenberry, and I recall my first time ever seeing Harlan live on stage (at I-CON in Stony Brook, NY in 1991) and hearing him discuss Gene, who was in failing health at the time.  Not being familiar yet with the feud, I learned about it VERY quickly.  To this day, I remember what Harlan said about Star Trek‘s creator:

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A magical STAR TREK moment with my son…

One of the benefits of doing my own blog is that every so often I can share things with all of you that are personally special.  Today, it’s something that just happened with my seven-year-old son.

Longtime readers of Fan Film Factor know that I’m bringing him up with a proper appreciation of Star Trek.  Sure, if given the choice, he’ll watch Star Wars first.  But the kid loves Star Trek, too, I and love sharing it with him.

For the last few years, our Star Trek “routine” has been to watch half an episode or so while I do cardio, just before my little cadet’s bedtime.  We’re watching everything in the order it debuted.  We watched all 79 (well, 80 with “The Cage”) episodes of TOS, then all the animateds.  Then we went through TOS again ’cause I felt he’d appreciate it more now that he was older.  Then we did the first four motion pictures in order.  And just a couple of months ago, we started on Next Gen.

Keep in mind, for what I’m about to tell you, that my son has pretty much seen nothing of TNG, and certainly not Star Trek Generations.  All he knows of the Enterprise-D crew so far is what he’s seen in the first ten episodes.

And so it was that we were watching “Hide and Q” and got to the scene where Riker grants the deepest wishes of his friends.  Wesley ages up to an adult.  Geordi is given his sight.  Worf gets a horny Klingon woman.

Knowing that this was as far as the wish fulfillment went, I paused the Blu-ray and asked my little guy what he thought Picard wanted the most.  I was going to suggest that the captain wanted his hair back, but what I heard next stopped me in my tracks:

“I think he wants a family, Daddy.  I think he wants kids.”

Wow.  As I said, my son has never seen Generations.  But somehow he knew that this was Picard’s deepest wish.  Lucky guess?  Perhaps.  But either way, I’m writing this blog today to show to him in a couple more years when he gets older and we finally watch the seventh Trek film and see Jean-Luc Picard get his deepest wish—a family with kids—inside the Nexus.

Thanks for letting me share this moment with you.  And I thank my little guy for fulfilling my deepest wish.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

A very disturbing series of e-mail exchanges between GABE KOERNER and me…

Some of you know GABRIEL KOERNER from his work on fan films like Star Trek Continues and BSG: Second Coming.  Some know him as “That kid from the Trekkies documentary.”  And of course, he currently does CGI for the Fox TV series The Orville along with an impressive list of other Hollywood projects on his IMDb page.

Of course, he’s also a well-known AXANAR detractor, posting frequent comments to social media and even to this blog disparaging ALEC PETERS and the Axanar production.  In fact, just this past Monday, Gabe referenced Alec (without naming him directly) in this comment to Fan Film Factor.  The blog title read “Is TREK crowd-funding in TROUBLE?”  Gabe answered: “Yes. Thanks to the actions of ONE careless, unethical, reckless irresponsible individual’s actions.”

Ironic that Gabe would use the words “unethical,” “reckless,” and “irresponsible” as, just a few hours later, a video would be posted that included recordings of nearly a dozen harassing voicemail messages left by Gabe on the answering machine of BARNEY CORNETT of West Virginia.  In the video, Barney says that these are just a small sample of nearly 100 harassing calls that he and his family have received over the course of the past five months.

Here is that video…

There’s no need to ask whether I’ve confirmed the veracity of this video.  Gabe has since admitted to making these calls in this public post to the Axamonitor group on Facebook:

An now, my own apology for the length of the rest of this blog, but I want to share a series of increasingly disturbing e-mail exchanges I’ve had with Gabe since Monday night.  (Since none of this was off the record, I feel I can share the exchange here.)  I’ll explain my reasons for deciding to do this after we get through all of the e-mails, keeping my comments minimal until the end.

Continue reading “A very disturbing series of e-mail exchanges between GABE KOERNER and me…”

My 500TH published blog!!!!!

When I started FAN FILM FACTOR on January 10, 2016, it was suggested that I try to write at least one or two new blogs per week so I’d stay relevant and keep readers coming back.  Instead, I’ve written and published, on average, between four and five blogs per week for over two years.  Some were short—just a few hundred words—while other blogs went 1,000 or 2,000 words (occasionally even longer).   I calculated recently that I’ve written way more than HALF A MILLION WORDS about fan films…sheesh!!!

I wondered how I might mark this 500th blog milestone, and then I had an idea.  Have you ever wondered how I manage to keep all of these blogs coming week after week, month after month, year after year?  If you haven’t, then feel free to stop reading now.

But if you’re curious the learn how the Fan Film Factor sausage is made, this’ll be a fun read for you…

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R.I.P. – STEPHEN HAWKING (1942 -2018)

I suppose I could cite the Star Trek connection: PROFESSOR STEPHEN WILLIAM HAWKING was the only person to ever play himself on an episode of any Star Trek series when he appeared in a Holodeck simulation at the beginning of TNG‘s “Descent, Part 1” in 1993.

But I would have dimmed the lights of Fan Film Factor regardless of Hawking’s appearance on Trek because…well…because we was Stephen Frickin’ Hawking, dammit!  He was cool.  He was a rock star.  He was almost impossible.

What I mean by that is Stephen Hawking should never have happened.  His disease—amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—is a cruel killer.  It takes away your body while it leaves your mind trapped inside.  By all predictions of his doctors back in 1963 when he was first diagnosed, Hawking’s expected lifespan was optimistically two years.  By all rights, Stephen Hawking should have been long dead before the first episode of Star Trek ever aired in 1966.  But as we all know, that never happened.

Instead, this hyper-brilliant man found a way to live on for more than FIVE decades beyond his original death sentence.  But he didn’t just live—that would have certainly been miracle enough—but he thrived.  He taught, researched, wrote books, toured and lectured, and became quite the media celebrity.  Hawking opened up the wonders of the universe and science to so many who—like me—had absolutely no idea whatsoever what the heck he was taking about!  (Yeah, I tried to read a Brief History of Time.  I even began my time at Cornell University in 1985 as a physics major.  That didn’t last.  But my love and respect for science lived on.)

Hawking made science and nerdiness seem somehow cool…which was really odd, if you think about it.  Even without the wheelchair and the debilitating motor neurone disease, Hawking still looked like a complete Poindexter…the kind of guy who would have his lunch money taken on a regular basis by bullies who would leave his underwear stretched up to his shoulders.  Add in the monotone computer-synthesized voice, and this guy was sure to be picked on relentlessly by the knuckle-draggers of the world.

Except he wasn’t.

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Reviewing the AXANAR reviewer!!! (editorial with three exclamation points!)

Last summer, shortly after an early version of the 90-minute AXANAR script was leaked, a detractor going by the name of Kate Stark (pretty sure that’s a pseudonym) wrote a 19-part, 30,000-word blog series essentially ripping the poor draft version of that script into tiny literary pieces…trampled under the feet of a very self-important and erudite reviewer.

Yep, 19 parts, 30,000 words.  Don’t believe me?  Just click here and then scroll down to the bottom and click “Older Posts.”  Also, that’s just July.  Remember to also scroll to the bottom right for the blogs from June!

So yeah, that happened.  And the detractors, of course, were ecstatic.  Not only was someone reviewing the Axanar script, but the reviewer seemed to be REALLY smart and really HATED it (like 30,000 words worth of utter disdain written so intelligently!).  The high-fives and posted photos of pies were flowing like water over Niagara Falls on the detractor Facebook groups for quite a while.

But then…frustration.  There was no new Axanar anything left to review and eviscerate.  The 19-part blog series was all but forgotten.

Until last week, that is.  I rescued blogger Kate Stark from endless months of boredom and obscurity by releasing the first-ever Axanar illustrated short story: Why We fight.  Finally, the reviewer’s poison pen—er, keyboard—could come out of hibernation once again!

This time the blog series was much shorter: only 7 parts and 6,000 words.  (Just FYI, my short story itself was a total of 1,900 words.  So, yeah…three times as long.  FUN!)

Actually, it’s a very intelligent review (read part 1 here).  You know it’s intelligent because the reviewer almost immediately compares my short story to one of Ernest Hemingway’s works (and of course, finds my story lacking).  By the time you get to part 7, I’m being criticized for everything from bad character development to using too many question marks and exclamation points.  Hey, that’s my thing!!!  Isn’t it???

I wasn’t going to say anything, but then Kate Stark did something that changed my mind…

Continue reading “Reviewing the AXANAR reviewer!!! (editorial with three exclamation points!)”

Continuing drama for STARBASE STUDIOS…and my departure

Sometimes no good deed goes unpunished.  When last I reported on STARBASE STUDIOS, things looked like they would finally work out.  An agreement that had been in negotiation for three arduous months had finally been agreed to and signed by all parties. The Starbase Studios lawsuit filed by Glen Wolfe was dropped, and it seemed like things could return to normal.

The new owners of the sets would be GLEN WOLFE (50%), SCOTT JOHNSON (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%).  KENT EDWARDS would no longer own any part of the sets but would continue to be involved with Starbase Studios, LLC, and working with fan filmmakers.

Although the sets would remain in their current location in Marble Falls, Arkansas until the end of this year, after that, plans were that they would be moved into a fantastic new building with heat, A/C, electrical, and best of all, bathrooms!  Free rent would be provided by the building’s owners, Glen Wolfe and his wife, and fan productions going through Starbase Studios would be able to continue using the sets essentially for free.  It was looking like Starbase Studios had gotten through the rough waters and emerged safely on the other side of the river.

Yeah, well, don’t get out of the boat just yet, folks…

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