INTREPID’s “Pursuit of a Dream” brings DE-AGING tech to Star Trek fan films! (video interview with NICK COOK and SAMUEL COCKINGS)

PURSUIT OF A DREAM is a really great fan film! I almost said “surprisingly” great, but it really wasn’t a surprise because of the two blokes behind it. I call them blokes because NICK COOK and SAMUEL COCKINGS both live on the quaint little isle of Britannia.

Just in case you’re new to Star Trek fan films, here’s a quick primer. Nick Cook of Dundee, Scotland has been the showrunner on the Scottish Star Trek fan series INTREPID since they began work shooting their first fan film waaaaay back in 2003 (and released four years later). You can read the complete history of Intrepid starting with this blog.

Meanwhile, 422 miles south of Dundee, in the city of Bedford, England, SAMUEL COCKINGS has made a name for himself as the prestidigitator of all things animational when it comes to CGI for Star Trek fan films. I often joke that it takes less time to list the Star Trek fan projects that Sam HASN’T done the VFX for than the ones he has…but I’m not entirely convinced it’s actually a joke.

Among the fan series that Sam has worked on is—you guessed it!—Intrepid. Nick has also appeared in a number of Sam’s TREK SHORTS videos, including the first one (released last year), A LONG WAY FROM HOME. Nick will also be one of the primary stars of Sam’s upcoming mega-crossover fan film event CONVERGENCE.

So these two fan filmmakers are frequent collaborators. However, Sam usually runs his fan films and Nick just appears in them. Meanwhile, Nick runs Intrepid fan films and typically uses Sam on the back end for post production CGI effects. But Pursuit of a Dream is the first time Sam has come aboard Intrepid as a director!

In a story co-written by the two of them, Sam brings his eye for camera composition along with his amazing skills in both CGI animation as well as his ever-improving expertise with compositing green screen footage against jaw-dropping virtual 3D backgrounds to create a visually stunning fan film. Nick, meanwhile, brilliantly portrays his popular Intrepid character of Daniel Hunter at different times in his career. And because this film spans so many years, Sam sneaked in a little de-aging sorcery to make Nick look subtly younger in certain scenes. You really need to see it to believe it…

There’s also a bevy of guest star appearances by actors who have appeared in previous fan films from both Sam and Nick—including NIMRAN SAUND as Anna Keeley, MARCUS CHURCHILL as Sam Harriman, and a surprising cameo by RISHA DENNEY playing the character of Elizabeth Shelby for the first time since STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER!


There is SOOOO much to talk about! So I’m glad I was able to schedule two of my favorite Brits together at the same time during what was lunch for me in Los Angeles and just after dinner for them in the U.K. Are you ready for the British invasion of Fan Film Factor…???

After nearly a DECADE in the making…we finally have AMBUSH! (video interview with GREG LOCK)

Way back in 2014, there was a Star Trek fan film that held a successful Kickstarter, shot a bunch of footage, and was still not completed as the calendar turned to 2022. Oh, and the title of that fan film started with the letter “A.”

You know from the title of this blog that this fan film’s title was AMBUSH, not AXANAR. But eight years is still eight years. The Kickstarter for this United Kingdom-based Star Trek fan film managed to generate £4,649 in donations, which would be about $7,200 today. Donors were treated to frequent news on the project, with 32 separate crowd-funding and production updates posted in 2014 and 2015. Things slowed down a bit in 2016 with only three additional updates posted, the last of which coming three months after CBS and Paramount announced the new (at the time) fan film guidelines in June.

Then nothing…for over a year. Many of us in the Trek fan film community assumed this was just another case of the guidelines convincing a production to shut down. There weren’t many, but it seemed likely that Ambush might be one.

But at the end of 2017, a quick update to the backers titled “We’re still not dead” assured us that Ambush had not been abandoned. Showrunner GREG LOCK and his co-producer had simply found some paid film production work that had kept them too busy to finish up the project. No other update was provided, but there was a general feeling of optimism.

A few months later (February of 2018), still no release date, but Greg shared a number of “character posters” that showed the unique uniform style and the shuttlecraft interior set that had been constructed…

Unfortunately, nearly another year would go by before the next update in January 2019 that wasn’t so much an update as an apology for taking so long and an explanation why the finished product probably wouldn’t be as ambitious as they’d hoped.

The next update didn’t come until May of 2021, more than two years later, and it was also apologetic. A still-unfilmed scene now looked like it would never be shot, as most of the team had moved on over the previous seven years, COVID was now an issue, and even the technical equipment they’d used had become outdated. But a rough cut had been assembled, and plans were to release a version of Ambush using the footage that was shot, which Greg felt was still pretty decent. Also, perks were going to FINALLY be sent out to donors!

A September 2021 update promised a release soon, as they were close to locking picture on the film…leaving only a final visual grading, a sound mix, and tweaking some VFX. Then two updates in 2022 and finally, on February 15, 2022, this…

So…what took so long? I decided to ask that very question (along with a bunch of others) directly to Greg Lock in this enjoyable video interview across the Atlantic Ocean…

THE FEDERATION FILES shows fans the S.S. BOTANY BAY in “No Good Deed” (video interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)

THE FEDERATION FILES fanthology series is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. That’s because GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas have decided that no era of Star Trek history is out of bounds for them to explore. This has included everything from the 1950s through today into the 23rd century and beyond to the 24th century. It’s a really fun fan series to follow.

Most recently, in what is their overall eleventh completed fan film since their first release (“His Name Is Mudd” back in 2016), The Federation Files takes us both into the Trek movie era and also back to 1996 when the SS Botany Bay was launched following the Eugenics Wars. (You remember that, right? It was only a quarter century ago.)

But for those two eras, Glen managed to construct two unbelievably believable sets for a fan-produced film (plus a Vulcan moon base command center set). The first unbelievably believable set was was a recreation of Kirk’s San Francisco apartment from Star Trek II and III. The other was the interior of the aforementioned Botany Bay in a sequence that looked like it could have been built at Paramount Studios back in 1967!

Granted, as I said, these were fan-produced sets, so they’re not precisely identical. But they’re close enough that a viewer can squint a little and accept that, yes, Saavik has walked into Kirk’s apartment and a Vulcan wearing a space suit has entered the sleeper ship containing Khan Noonien Singh and the genetically-engineered supermen.

Take a look at “NO GOOD DEED”…

This fan film was released way back in early November, and I had wanted to interview Glen months earlier than this. But in December, Glen became seriously ill—as in “had-to-be-hospitalized-and-nearly-died” kinda ill. Rumors flew that he had caught the more deadly delta variant of COVID. Others said he had pneumonia…or both! Either way, it took Glen months to recover, but I am pleased to report that he is now on the mend.

In the following video, we discuss what happened to put Glen into the hospital, along with discussing these impressive set recreations, production of this latest episode, Glen’s experiences being involved with other fan films and series, and all sorts of other things that come up when two Star Trek fan film-o-philes get together and geek out. Oh, and at the 42 second mark, you even get to hear me sing (oy vey!)…

FARRAGUT FORWARD finally funding ferociously formidable fan film! (video interview with JOHN BROUGHTON and JOHNNY K.)

Back in 2016, after a decade of producing an impressive parade of both live-action and animated Star Trek fan films, the team at STARSHIP FARRAGUT began production on the series finale “Homecoming.” But the bittersweet ending to this celebrated fan series was much more sweet than bitter because, at the same time, they announced plans to begin production on a new project that would take the crew forward into the Star Trek movie era…complete with monster maroon uniforms and brand new sets! (You can read the full history of Starship Farragut starting here.)

Farragut Films had already distinguished itself as capable of building jaw-dropping TOS set recreations, having constructed most of the Constitution-class heavy cruiser sets that are currently housed in Kingsland, GA, sets that have also been used for the fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, AVALON UNIVERSE, TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE, CONSTAR CHRONICLES, and many others. Imagine what these guys could do with movie-era sets!

But then, shortly after the announcement of the fan film guidelines in June of 2016, Farragut showrunner and lead actor JOHN BROUGHTON all but disappeared from the fan film community, and the series finale remained uncompleted and unreleased. As for Farragut Forward, an announcement was made that the planned series was being tabled.

Then everything changed on a dime. In the span of just two months last year, an announcement came in August that Farragut Forward was now officially in pre-production, and in October “Homecoming” was finally released! Fans were really excited at both developments but especially that the new movie-era fan film would be produced…and not just by any ol’ director. John Broughton had teamed with KAOTICA STUDIOS in the Washington, DC area, and specifically with director JOHNNY K. (he likes to use just his last initial professionally), whose camera and lighting skills are truly impressive. In fact, his debut independent film, The Killer of Grassy Ridge, has since earned a dozen different awards in film festivals around the world.

Johnny K. has brought that same finesse to the new Farragut Forward project, and John B. has brought along props, a couple of new Klingon bird-of-prey sets, and the spiffiest monster maroon uniform you will ever see in a fan film (and probably even in studio-produced Star Trek!). Don’t believe me? Well, you can see for yourself, as they have already released the opening three minutes of the project in a vignette titled PROLOGUE

Of course, there’s a LOT more sets to build and costumes to craft (by hand!)—plus all of the other costs of production like equipment, studio space, food, make-up supplies, etc. And all that stuff doesn’t exactly come free. So Farragut Forward has launched a brand new, 60-day Indiegogo campaign trying to reach an ambitious goal of $30K!

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AVALON UNIVERSE (re)releases AGENT OF NEW WORLDS…version 2.0! (video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN)

On Halloween, JOSHUA IRWIN, showrunner of the the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series, released the team’s latest full-length fan film, AGENTT OF NEW WORLDS. It marked the beginning of a new era for their fan series, introducing multiple new characters and jumping the story forward in time to the next captain and crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur, following the departure of former stars VICTORIA FOX and CHUCK MERÉ from the series earlier this past year.

The new release was a labor of love for all involved…in more ways than one. For some on Team Avalon, it meant dozens of hours of round-trip driving to remote outdoor filling locations…along with trips to the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in Avalon‘s home state of Arkansas. For Josh himself, the total distance driven surpassed 5,500 miles!!! For an explanation of how that happened, along with a description of one of their most dangerous shoots, take a read through this blog from back in August.

Fast forward to Christmas Day (because, apparently, Josh really likes holiday releases), and Josh surprised the fan film community with a NEW cut of Agent of New Worlds. Apparently, “really good” wasn’t good enough for Josh, as he made about a dozen tweaks and improvements to the film. Take a look at version 2.0…

Amusingly, this wasn’t Josh’s only update of a previously-released fan film. A couple of weeks earlier, after working with me and composer KEVIN CROXTON for about four months, Josh released a third version of INTERLUDE. You can read all about that new edit, what was changed and why, and watch the new version on this blog page.

After watching the new version of Interlude, one of my readers commented that it might be fun to post the previous version and the newest version side-by-side so that fans could compare the two. Perhaps someday. But when it comes to Agent of New Worlds, I can do you one better right now!

Josh and I just finished a special interview that’s a bit different than my usual fare. This video chat focuses on each of the changes that Josh made—showing the “before” and “after” of each shot—followed by Josh explaining how and why he made the adjustment(s).

It’s a really fun and informative interview, especially if you’re interested in film editing. Josh is great at explaining both the philosophical side as well as the technical side without making your eyes glaze over. Also, there’s just a lot of enjoyable banter back and forth between us. I think you’ll really like watching this one…

Oh, and remember that the Avalon GoFundMe campaign is still active, and donations go directly into making really awesome fan films…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Psychedelic Trek: LOST & FOUND is a total star trip! (video interview with MATTHEW BLACKBURN)

MATTHEW BLACKBURN isn’t as well known as many fan filmmakers. He doesn’t hang out on the various fan film Facebook groups, he doesn’t release dozens of fan films each year, he doesn’t do crowd-funders or shoot his films on elaborate sets or feature jaw-dropping VFX. He doesn’t cross over with other productions or do a lot of interviews (except with me). And he only ever posts something to Facebook when he’s completed a new fan film.

That said, Matthew has just released his fourth full-length (15-minute) Star Trek fan film in five years and his fifth overall. Matthews’s first fan film, STAR TREK: SURVIVOR, came out back in 2010 and featured the story of a marooned Starfleet officer (played by Matthew) who is nearly dead before being found by a marooned Vulcan agent on a secret mission for the Vulcan High Command. The film was produced by a total of four people, one of them being Matthew’s wife.

Matthew’s second fan film, SURVIVORS, came out seven years later (after the guidelines) and again featured a human and a Vulcan—played by the same actors—but this time they were the captain and his first officer. The production team had grown to six people for this 15-minute film, and I did a 2-part audio interview with Matthew, which you can listen to here if you’d like.

At the very end of 2018, Matthew released a third fan film titled LAST SURVIVOR, again made by just six people but this time featuring an initial landing party of four. The villain in this film was truly terrifying, and this final installment of the Survivor “trilogy” was unquestionably Matthew’s strongest effort yet. I did a two-part text interview with him that you can read here.

Late last year, Matthew released the first of his fan films NOT to have the word “Survivor” in the title. LEFT BEHIND was an action-packed fan film with fights and stunts amid an almost tongue-in-cheek plotline—a very unique offering! That one got a two-part text interview, too.

Although each film stands alone, they can also be watched as a longer storyline. Interestingly, each release is a different TYPE of film: pscho-thriller, buddy adventure, terrifying physical and mental struggle against a more powerful being, and comedic action/adventure survival story.

Matthew’s latest offering once again stands out—both alone and together with the others—as a truly unique genre film. This time, the theme is “mind trip” in a big way, as you never really know which way is up or down, who is who, and what exactly is going on until the very end. Although some fans weren’t crazy about such an odd format, it’s actually a very challenging story structure to edit together and make work. Personally, I think it’s a very strong effort, very ambitious, and definitely worth checking out…

Like Matthew, I decided to switch things up a bit, since we’ve already done text and audio interviews. So this time, we went for a video interview…

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s “The More Things Change” is their best fan film yet! (video interview with GARY DAVIS, RANDY WRENN, and VICTORIA AVALON)

The folks at DREADNOUGHT DOMINION are still going strong after more than eight years making fan films. They’ve given us long episodes, short vignettes, whimsical stories, serious plots, action, adventure, emotional drama…all delivered with that most important of ingredients: a deep love of Star Trek.

Although I didn’t have a chance to cover the May 1, 2021 release of “The Passenger with Baggage,” their tenth fan film (not counting the three crossover/alternate universe episodes: CHAIN OF COMMAND, COMMAND AND CONQUER, and the more recent CALM, COOL, AND COLLECTED), I did discuss “Passenger” briefly in a November video interview with FRANK PARKER, JR., the original show-runner of Dreadnought Dominion.

The last time I covered this fan series was over the summer when they were successfully crowd-funding an Indiegogo campaign that raised $6,250 by offering—among other exciting perks—personalized Star Trek action figures in the likenesses of donors. Seriously, you can read about it here!

That campaign funded a number of things, including the CGI for their next release, which came out on November 6 and was titled “The More Things Change.” I always get excited when a new Dominion episode comes out, not just because I love that starship design and they use the gorgeous TOS sets at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA, but because they have fun, interesting characters, great stories, and honestly, you never know what you’re going to get with these guys!

That was particularly true with their eleventh episode, which gave us a really engaging story with good acting along with great VFX and a solid selection of TOS background music that made it feel very much like a classic Star Trek episode. Yeah, Dominion is still noticeably a fan production, but at its heart, it’s Star Trek to me. And honestly, I thought this was their best episode yet! Take a look and see if you agree…

One of the things that I find to be most enjoyable about this series is that actors who aren’t the captain or first officer get their chances to shine in episodes that feature their character. This was one such episode, as VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Dr. Farrell, was given many dramatic scenes with generous amounts of dialog allowing her to really perform and stand out.

And speaking of Victoria, I’ve long admired her efforts in a number of different Star Trek fan series, including STARSHIP FARRAGUT (where she started her fan film career) and STARSHIP DEIMOS from POTEMKIN PICTURES (where she writes many of the episodes and stars as Captain Gabriel). Indeed, I’d been wanting to interview her for quite a while…and with this release from Dominion featuring Dr. Farrell is such a prominent role, I had the perfect opportunity.

I also invited sh0w-runners GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN to join in on the Zoom chat, as they are both also essential to the series. So sit back and enjoy as we get to know these three prominent fan filmmakers a bit better…

AXANAR finally has its first film shoot in 20 MONTHS! (video interview with MARK EDWARD LEWIS)

It’s been more than five months since I’ve published a blog regarding AXANAR, ARES STUDIOS, or ALEC PETERS…and that might be some kind of record for Fan Film Factor! The previous blog covered the moving of the U.S.S. Ares bridge set to a new, smaller facility (with lower rent) down the road in Lawrenceville, GA. But since then, there hasn’t been much Axanar news worth covering (I don’t bother with the non-production-related drama anymore).

That said, this past weekend finally featured some Axanar news definitely worth reporting on. For the first time since before the pandemic and lockdown, new footage for the two Axanar sequels was filmed. The shooting location was NOT Ares Studios, however. The bridge set still sits disassembled, awaiting the return of DANA WAGNER (whom I call “the miracle worker” because he’s basically Scotty when it comes to that set and studio) from medical treatment. We all wish Dana the best of outcomes and a speedy recovery…we love you, Dana!

Instead, the shoot took place in a nearby Gwinnett County high school video studio with ample green screen space available. Because Dana’s wife Allison teaches video for the school district and Alec had previously allowed students in the school video program to film on the bridge set at Ares Studios, the school was all too happy to return the favor and allow Axanar to be shot at their campus facility.

Alec reported in a blog on the Axanar website that the shoot was a “HUGE success” (I’m glad my use of ALL CAPS is catching on!). Unlike the first Axanar shoot back in October of 2019 that had 80 people (cast, crew, volunteers) present over three days, last Saturday’s activities were much smaller in scope, lasting for a single day with only about 15-20 people present. The main reason was COVID, which is still a major consideration for all SAG union shoots—so at present, only the most essential personnel are allowed on set…any set.

The scenes being shot this past weekend were of actors J.G. HERTZLER (who flew in from upstate New York), ROBERT HAYES (who recently appeared on The Walking Dead and plays helm officer Deville), and RAJ KALA (an Indian Sikh who plays Commodore Singh). All three of these actors had filmed their lines previously during the first Axanar shoot, but for various reasons, their footage wasn’t usable (which I can personally confirm, having seen it), and in one case, the original footage was completely lost to a damaged memory card.

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Four years in the making, THE FEDERATION FILES’ tenth episode is “DOPPELGANGER” (video interview with DAN REYNOLDS)

I first heard about “Doppelganger” back in early 2017 when I watched this short trailer, released at the same time as this short trailer for “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.” Both didn’t show any filmed footage, but they promised new releases coming from the fan anthology (fanthology?) series THE FEDERATION FILES, which had launched a few months earlier in late 2016 with their debut episode, “His Name Is Mudd.”

Following that initial premiere and those two trailers, The Federation Files released another eight episodes…

And while “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” was completed and released pretty quickly later in 2017, “Doppelganger” was nowhere to be seen…until this past summer, that is. On July 9th, 2021, The Federation Files debuted its TENTH full episode, and fans finally got to see “Doppelganger.”

It also marked the first time in five releases that an episode of The Federation Files featured any of the amazing Star Trek TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. After using the sets in their first four releases, the next five episodes were either filmed on location (both indoors and outdoors) or else on non-TOS sets custom-built for the needs of a particular story.

Of course, that’s the advantage of a fanthology format, as the time period can jump around and not be limited to only 23rd century Star Trek history. But the trend was enough for me to notice and ask co-showrunner GLEN L. WOLFE about the lack of use of the TOS sets in my previous blog about “Mask.” Amusingly, though, before I had a chance to publish that interview, these busy beavers in Arkansas released their newest fan production, “Doppelganger,” which most assuredly makes copious use of the many TOS sets, as you can see here…

That said, Federation Files has once again “lapped” me by already posting an ELEVENTH fan film, “No Good Deed,” before I could cover this tenth release. And I’ll certainly get to that one (hopefully before they release their twelfth episode!).

But “Doppelganger” gives me a chance to interview the “R” in WARP 66 Studios: Mr. DAN REYNOLDS of Wolf/Reynolds Productions. In fact, Glen has sorta been hogging the last four interviews, and I haven’t had Dan in the hot seat since January of 2020!

So let’s remedy that absence with a brand new video interview (lately, I’ve kinda graduated from audio interviews to recorded Zoom calls—let me know what you think)…

Welcome back, Parker! Prodigal fan filmmaker returns with CROSSROADS: THE GEMINI PROJECT (video interview with FRANK PARKER, JR.)

Report two casualties: Commodore Sam Grissom, Actor FRANK PARKER, JR.

Correction: they’re not casualties. They are…list them as “missing.”

That’s the way it seemed back in 2016. Frank Parker, Jr. had become a prominent name in the fan film community. Appearing in THE ROMULAN WARS fan series in 2012, he had gone on to help build sets that were used for both STARSHIP FARRAGUT and STAR TREK CONTINUES. In fact, Frank briefly appeared in the penultimate episode of Farragut, “The Crossing.”

But what Frank was really becoming known for was the debut of a new fan series filmed on the Farragut/STC sets in Kingsland, GA: DREADNOUGHT DOMINION. Frank played Commodore Sam Grissom of the titular starship, as bald as Jean-Luc Picard and plagued by a troubled past. Two episodes, “Haunted” and “Anchors Aweigh,” promised another fine addition to the world of Star Trek fan films with Frank as showrunner. But then, seemingly without any warning, Frank completely disappeared from the fan film community without a trace! POOF!!!

Fortunately, Dreadnought Dominion found a way to carry on without their lead actor and creator. GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN took over the series, releasing nearly a dozen follow-up episodes, including a crossover with STARSHIP VALIANT titled “Chain of Command,” which dealt with the aftermath of Commodore Grissom’s sudden departure.

Fast forward five years to early 2021.

As quickly as he disappeared, Frank reappeared in the Star Trek fan film world, almost as if he’d simply beamed down somewhere and beamed back half a decade later. And although Dreadnought Dominion had moved on, Frank appeared in an episode titled “The Passenger with Baggage” to tie up many loose ends and bring closure for most of the characters, including his.

But Frank’s return didn’t stop there. Frank has since formed an alliance, of sorts, with VANCE MAJOR of the MINARD and CONSTAR saga of fan films, partnering Frank’s FILK FERRET PRODUCTIONS with Vance’s NO BUDGET PRODUCTIONS to create multiple fan films. These have included the following for CONSTAR COMPLETED episodes released between March and June of this year:

Sam Grissom also appeared in a flashback during the alternate 24th century timeline fan film WASTELAND, released this past March. Plus, a Kelvin timeline version of Sam Grissom appeared in the 47-minute long MINARD 2: HEMORRHAGE released in June and the recent Dominion/Constar crossover fan film CALM, COOL, & COLLECTED released in July.

Whew!

If you don’t want to watch all of the above, Frank and Vance compiled a “highlight reel” titled THE STORY SO FAR GRISSOM ADVENTURES. It serves as a user primer…

A primer for what, you ask?

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