After five years, PACIFIC 201—Part I finally premieres! (audio interview with ERIC HENRY and MARGARET HERBENER)

It’s been an awesome three months for long-awaited Star Trek fan films! Back in September, the hour-long STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER premiered after being in production and post-production for five years. In October, it was time for THE ROMULAN WAR, which started production back in 2017, to finally release the first of its two-part documentary-style fan film.

And now, on November 13, one of the most eagerly-awaited of all Trek fan films (right up there with AXANAR and YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL…the latter of which is scheduled to debut next month), PACIFIC 201 launched the first half of its two-part fan film. Originally crowd-funded with a $26K Kickstarter way back in September of 2015 and a$32K Indiegogo campaign the following year, Pacific 201 was the brainchild of Harrisburg, PA-based showrunner ERIC HENRY.

What makes Pacific 201 so unique and exciting is the time period it covers in Federation history. The year is 2200. It’s four decades after the end of the Romulan War and the founding of the United Federation of Planets, and still more than six decades before the time of Kirk’s five-year-mission. Earth and the Federation are at a crossroads. Those who remember the horrors of the Romulan attacks fear a return to deep space exploration and the risk of provoking new enemies. But a new generation born after the war dreams of returning to a renaissance of exploration and discovery.

This push/pull of paranoia vs. positivity was put on display in one of my all-time favorite fan vignettes, DOWN TO EARTH, which Eric released back in late 2016. In this short film, the first officer of the USS Pacific is grilled by a talk show host who is anything but fair and balanced when it comes to restarting the exploration of space. The following summer, another Pacific 201 short vignette was released, featuring the new captain. (You can watch that here.)

Over the years, Pacific 201 seemed always on the cusp of debuting. Back in 2018, a series of images were released along with a promised premiere date of spring 2019. That didn’t happen. But then earlier this year, a new trailer with some amazing footage promised a release date of August 2020.

Missed it by that much!

But who cares? Part one of Pacific 201 is finally out, and it was totally worth the wait. Take a look…

Pretty awesome, huh?

I set up a phone interview with Eric Henry for a couple of days before the premiere (after getting just a sneak peek of a short 2-minute scene). But when I called, producer and star MARGARET HERBENER was there, as well, finishing up some last minute editing with Eric. She was just about to head out, but I invited her to stay for the interview if she and Eric wanted—and they were both up for it. So two for the price of one, folks!

Take a listen to a FANtastic interview with the writer/director and also with the producer/star of Pacific 201


UPDATE: Pacific 201—Part 2 debuted six weeks later. Click to read more about it and watch the video.

THE ROMULAN WAR premieres at last! (audio interview with MARK NACCARATO)

Back in September, fans were treated to the premiere of the long-awaited STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, in production for five years with a 5-figure (possibly 6-figure) budget. Now, barely seven weeks later, we get our SECOND long-awaited, “top tier” fan film, this one more than three years in production (although the script dates back nearly a decade) and also with a solid 5-figure budget.

The first hints of THE ROMULAN WAR fan film appeared back in 2017. Not to be confused with the fan series THE ROMULAN WARS (plural) from show-runner LEE GARTRELL in Arkansas, this work-in-progress fan film from show-runner MARK NACCARATO in Tennessee is a straight-up two-parter—presented in the same “mockumentary” style as PRELUDE TO AXANAR. Many fans assumed that Mark had been inspired by Prelude to make a fan film in a similar format, but in fact, he’d had the idea and written the first draft of the script three years before Prelude ever premiered. Great minds think alike!

By the time 2018 hit, The Romulan War had most of its scenes filmed and was crowd-funding for mainly post-production costs with a $10K Indiegogo (which ultimately took in more than $13K). With visual FX by the sensei of CGI, Great Britain’s SAMUEL COCKINGS, the trailers and stills from this dynamic fan film created a palpable excitement throughout the community. Frustratingly—but unavoidably—post-production would stretch out another two-plus years. However, unlike other fan films, The Romulan War served fans an almost constant stream of “hors d’oeuvre” vignettes and trailer/prequels and even a couple of short comic book stories.

The two trailer/prequels—PREAMBLE TO WAR and the just-released SHIPS OF THE LINE—serve not only to tease the full fan film but also to expand upon it with footage and story points not included in the final release due to time limitations. So consider the above two vignettes required pre-viewing if you haven’t watched them yet.

Likewise, Mark released six different “enhanced” audio dramas (voice-over performances of actors reading the logs of people who were part of the war, augmented by graphic imagery and short animations, including CGI). These short films, called WAR STORIES, can all be viewed on this playlist. (One of them stars yours truly!) And finally, there are the two short comic book stories INTRUDERS and HOLOCAUST, each of which also ties into the main fan film.

And speaking of which, I bet you’re dying to finally see it. So without further ado, I am proud to present to you The Romulan War, Part 1…

And now that you’ve watched that amazing fan film, let’s get to know the person behind it, Mark Naccarato, and all about his journey getting from there to here…

What does a 10-YEAR-OLD think of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS? (audio interview)

Special thanks to MARK PAYTON for the above drawing of me and Jayden.

I love watching Star Trek with my son Jayden. We’ve been enjoying the Trekkie experience together since he was four when we started with the animated episodes. Then we moved onto TOS and watched them all though twice. Then we watched the movies (going chronologically, of course) followed by NEXT GENERATION. Jayden is now ten, and we’re nearly at the end of TNG season five—in a few more months, he’ll get his first taste of Deep Space Nine!

It’s so much fun sharing these wonderful episodes and movies with Jayden, and I plan to do it as long as Jayden is enjoying it, too (and maybe just a weeeee bit longer if he doesn’t turn into too much of a grouchy teenager!).

When CBS All Access first began airing new Star Trek, I suspected that DISCOVERY would not be appropriate for my son…and $#!& was I right!!! Even three years later, I still wouldn’t let Jayden watch that series yet. As for PICARD, same f*cking problem.

I was actually a little uncertain when LOWER DECKS was announced. As an animated show, it would be something that Jayden might like to watch with me. But would the content be appropriate for a kid Jayden’s age? I screened the first episode without him and felt relief to see that they were bleeping the swear words. And while some of the content might be a little mature for Jayden (some people die), it was nothing worse that what he’s already seen on TOS and TNG.

So Jayden and I started watching (and loving!) Lower Decks every Thursday for the past ten weeks. It was so cool that neither of us knew what to expect next!

As the first season came to an end last week, I began wondering whether I should write a final review of the entire season. I seemed like everyone had already commented—good or bad—on what they thought of it. In fact, so did I! I joined in a group podcast for Axanar Confidential last week with a number of movers and shakers in the fan film community asking “Is Lower Decks Canon?” (the podcast is really worth checking out). So what else was left to say? Every kind of fan had chimed in.

Or had they?

I suddenly realized that the one kind of Star Trek fan that hadn’t shared their opinion yet was a KID…and I had one of those easily available! And not just any kid—Jayden is all personality, all the time. If you’re wondering what Jonathan Lane’s offspring would be like (even though Jayden is adopted), this is your chance to see where the acorn is relative to the tree.

That said, Jayden did a really awesome job with this interview, and I’m very proud of him. Trust me, you’re gonna laugh…a lot (often at ME!). So please give a round of applause to one of the two best things in my life, JAYDEN LANE…

Continue reading “What does a 10-YEAR-OLD think of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS? (audio interview)”

After 5 years, FIRST FRONTIER premieres on the 54th ANNIVERSARY of Star Trek! (audio interview with KENNY SMITH and ZEKE FLATTEN)

September 8, 2020 is the 54th anniversary of the first airing of STAR TREK back in 1966. It is also the five-year anniversary of the beginning of production on STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, the long-awaited fan film from show-runner KENNY SMITH.

Kenny had a dream to create a fan film focussing on the very first captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, Robert April, and his first mission commanding that legendary starship. Kenny’s dream was BIG! He wanted real sets and real professional actors and even visual effects with a real, custom-built 11-foot model of the U.S.S. Enterprise…none of this CGI nonsense. Go real or go home!

With a goal of $130K, Kenny launched a Kickstarter in early 2015…and it failed. He closed it down after six weeks with only $30K pledged (which meant he got nothing). But rather than giving up, Kenny simply financed the entire project himself!

The result has literally been a five-year mission in and of itself. Although all of the footage was shot—with Kenny directing—before the fan film guidelines were ever announced in June of 2016, the film has still taken years more to finish. In fact, I first interviewed Kenny back in early 2017 (it’s a FANtastic 3-part interview that you can start reading here), and he planned to have the project completed before the end of the year. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Then in January of 2019, a new trailer promised a release later that year. Kenny actually showed me the nearly-completed fan film, and I suggested that he aim for an April 1st release (because Robert APRIL was the 1st captain of the Enterprise…clever, right?) Kenny loved the idea, and the premiere date was unofficially set.

In preparation for that debut of this major fan production, I did a special audio interview with SCOTT LYTTLE and MATT GREEN, who built both the 11-foot Enterprise, a giant hangar bay, and all of the sets. The interview includes a photo montage with more than 200 pictures of the sets and starship model being constructed, and is itself a must-see. Check it out here.

But unfortunately, the film did not premiere on April 1, 2019. The visual effects were not yet complete. But that’s when “the miracle worker” of CGI, British animator SAMUEL COCKINGS, beamed in like Mary Poppins with a phaser and managed to produce an insane amount of VFX shots at warp speed (still took him months!) and help bring the project to completion. Yes, there are still physical model effects shots in the film, but Sam’s CGI completes the package in a most delightful way!

Continue reading “After 5 years, FIRST FRONTIER premieres on the 54th ANNIVERSARY of Star Trek! (audio interview with KENNY SMITH and ZEKE FLATTEN)”

More FANdemic films: CONSTAR’s “MUCH AFRAID” and “SINKING” (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)!

At least temporarily, most fan film production has entered a new phase following social distancing. New releases have not been quite so prolific, and most that have been produced since the beginning of the global pandemic have reflected the need to keep actors mainly isolated from each and from camera crews. For fan films, the show must go on…even if the show must be produced in careful and creative ways.

I’ve coined the phrase “FANdemic” film to categorize these releases. Some recent examples include:

  • HORREUR POST ATOMIQUE from France, told the story of three survivors of World War III living in bunkers, just before first contact with the Vulcans.
  • LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY showed a socially distancing Kirk, Spock, and McCoy having a futuristic Zoom call.
  • I AM SPOCK featured JENS DOMBEK, “The German Spock,” doing a somber and introspective one-man (well, one-Vulcan) short fan film.
  • “THE GREEN MANIFESTO” from THE FEDERATION FILES showed the nefarious Colonel Green from the TOS episode “The Savage Curtain” (still with the rank of major) engineering a global super-virus that threatened to wipe out millions worldwide.

And then there’s CONSTAR CONTINUES…from that fan filmmaking machine VANCE MAJOR! Vance’s many, many, many fan films—which cover the Minard Saga, Constar Chronicles, and the latest Constar Continues series—are actually tailor-made for the pandemic…at least some of them. Although the scores of episodes that he’s done have included scenes with multiple characters on the screen at the same time, Vance has also made a good number of episodes featuring two-person “calls” via subspace. These are easy enough to shoot and edit together during a global quarantine, and so, as one might expect, a fandemic Constar production was bound to show up sooner or later.

Continue reading “More FANdemic films: CONSTAR’s “MUCH AFRAID” and “SINKING” (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)!”

STARSHIP ANTYLLUS introduces the NEXT GENERATION of fan filmmaker! (audio interview with GEORGE and ANYA KAYAIAN)

It’s not unheard of to see children in Star Trek fan films. VANCE MAJOR’s toddler son ROYCE has appeared in multiple episodes of the MINARD and CONSTAR CHRONICLES fan films. Dozens of KEVIN CROXTON’s 4th and 5th grade Music Club students appeared in his 2018 fan film THE BUNNY INCIDENT. Parents occasionally shoot “home movie” fan films with their kids dressed in Starfleet uniforms or wearing alien masks…so there’s certainly a decent representation of children appearing in Star Trek fan films.

What’s more unusual, though, is finding a youngster who is actively helping to MAKE Star Trek fan films. And when I say “helping,” I don’t mean little things like keeping the costumes sorted or getting the props when needed. I’m talking about being an essential member of the production team, wearing any number of different hats, and really being a critical part of the entire filmmaking process from pre-production through production and into post production, as well.

ANYA SHIELA KAYAIAN appeared in her first episode of her father’s long-running STARSHIP ANTYLLUS fan series in 2015 when she was five years old. More recently, she began playing a recurring crew member named Sharb, wearing an alien mask to hide her age. But just this past April, I had a chance to see Anya act without a mask, and I was so impressed! It was the fifteenth episode of Antyllus, a surrealistic inner mind exploration story titled “The House on the Water.” You can check it out here (Anya comes in at the 7-minute mark)…

I’ve interviewed Antyllus show-runner and lead actor GEORGE KAYAIAN before, but I was so intrigued by the very mature and convincing performance of his daughter, that I asked George if Anya might be interested in participating in an audio interview with her dad.

Anya was thrilled at the opportunity, and so was I. While I enjoy interviewing a wide variety of fan filmmakers, I almost never get a chance to interview kids. And as a father of a 9-year-old myself, I looked forward to chatting with 10-year-old Anya, as that is a really great age (they’re not quite teenagers yet!).

Of course, when you’re dealing with younglings, you never know what to expect. Some kids are comfortable talking to adults while others can be quite nervous and shy. But what I got from Anya simply blew me away! Until my own son Jayden has his next birthday in September, Anya is absolutely, positively my favorite 10-year-old. She’s smart, upbeat, fun, precocious, well-spoken, and throughly impressive on all levels. I’d say she’ll make a great filmmaker someday, but as far as I’m concerned, she’s already there!

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to one of my most favorite audio interviews that I’ve done so far…

Click here to view all episodes of Starship Antyllus.

PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)

I love PAUL JENKINS. I just do. Over the past few months, he has become one of my favorite people on the planet…and when you listen to my interview with him, I think you’ll understand why (or at least, I hope you will).

When it comes to AXANAR, it always seems to be ALEC PETERS this and ALEC PETERS that—here an Alec, there an Alec, everywhere an Alec, Alec. But as Alec himself would be the first to tell you, Axanar is a TEAM effort, and the team is made up of some very talented and dedicated individuals…and few more so than Axanar co-writer and director, Paul Jenkins.

When Alec first announced that Paul was joining the project back in 2017, replacing ROBERT MEYER BURNETT as director as well as helping to co-write the two-part, 30-minute fan film allowed by the settlement with CBS and Paramount, a number of fans were initially scratching their heads. And I’ll admit, I was one of them.

After all, I really only knew Paul from the days when I was reading twenty comic books a month, and his name was on many of them. Paul is widely considered as the person who helped save Marvel Comics from chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 1990s with the development of the Marvel Knights imprint. Later, he went on to write the ground-breaking Wolverine: Origin (which was later turned into a motion picture). In fact, Paul has worked for various comic book publishers—including DC, Mirage, and Tundra. He developed video games, too. So yeah, Paul can obviously write.

But could he direct?

It turns out, the answer is yes. In fact, Paul co-founded META Studios in Atlanta, has been directing for about 20 years, and was even asked in 2015 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to assemble and chair an advisory committee to educate the Georgia General Assembly on the evolution of digital and interactive technologies. So yep, Paul’s a pretty big deal…but you’d never know it by speaking with him. The man is as humble and soft-spoken as they come.

I learned this firsthand during the shoot for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Paul popped by Ares Studios on that Sunday to say hi and see how things were going. He stayed off to the side, just happily watching, and even volunteered to stand behind the turbolift and flick the console lights on and off during a torpedo “hit.” The guy who saved Marvel Comics was flicking lights on my fan film??? You bet!

Later, during a break, Paul chatted with me for a good 45 minutes, sharing some stories, some insights, and just shooting the breeze. He even hung out with Interlude directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN during some quiet moments when they weren’t both doing a thousand things. He was a true gentleman and a lot of fun to talk to.

So when I had the opportunity to chat with him some more and record the call, I jumped at the chance! Take a listen…

Continue reading “PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)”

THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)

Back in 2014, the sky seemed to be the limit for Star Trek fan films! Productions like AXANAR, RENEGADES, NEW VOYAGES, STAR TREK CONTINUES, and a few others were all eagerly casting active, retired, and semi-retired veteran Star Trek actors in fan film roles…often reprising the very characters they’d become famous playing.

Into this euphoric maelstrom burst the fan project STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “THE NIGHT OF TIME.” Originally it was simply going to be an outgrowth of New Voyages, filmed on the TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY with JAMES CAWLEY as executive producer. (Here’s a video from New York Comic Con 2014 announcing that). The episode was to feature actor JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Voyager 2-parter “Equinox” and lead into a new series starring GARRETT WANG as Captain Harry Kim on new 24th century sets. (Ah, remember those carefree, optimistic days? Heck, James Cawley was still working with ALEC PETERS on Axanar back then!)

Ultimately, most of those plans for New Voyages fell through, but footage with actor John Savage and California actress BLANCA BLANCO had still been shot at Retro Studios in upstate New York, and it was usable. This is when producer ERIC NYENHUIS decided to take the story out independently on its own, calling the project Star Trek: Equinox, with the first episode being titled “The Night of Time.”

The full script had already been written by CAMREN T. BURTON based on an idea from Savage and fellow actor GARY LOCKWOOD, who had also agreed to come on board the new series to reprise his TOS role of Gary Mitchell (who became a god-thing in the second TOS pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”—but apparently survived and returned to normal).

Hopes were high for this fledgling fan project, which would also feature Lockwood’s daughter Samantha as a new character named Nurse Christine Roddenberry. Optimism was so high, in fact, that the show-runners were telling reporters in articles like this one that Equinox would be presented directly to CBS as a PILOT for a new series. (Yep, they were totally serious.)

The first order of business, though, was to get that footage they’d already shot assembled into a teaser—and that would require money. After a couple of failed crowd-funders like this one (with only one donor), they eventually managed to raise about $6.2K on Kickstarter in 2015. That allowed them to produce and release the following 6-minute vignette that summer…

Although it had some potential—along with two signed Trek veteran actors—a year later, the film project was mothballed. An announcement by writer Burton discussed the possibility of turning the project into an audio drama, but nothing else was ever heard about it.

That was all more than three and a half years ago…so why am I talking about it now?

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)”

Time to binge-watch THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES…all 40 episodes! (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)

This past weekend, Star Trek fan film history was made when VANCE MAJOR released nearly FORTY(!!!) brand new episodes of his CONSTAR CHRONICLES along with another almost-thirty updated versions of his previous MINARD saga of fan films.

All told, Vance just posted about 15 hours of Star Trek fan films ranging from short vignettes of only 3 minutes to full-blown epic episodes a half hour in length…and everything in between!

Vance had previously made a name for himself when he turned his character of Chief Engineer Eric Minard from the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT into an artificially long-lived Starfleet officer whose career spanned from the Christopher Pike era all the way through the Battle of Wolf 359, the re-taking of Deep Space Nine, and beyond. Along the way, Minard has encountered multiple alien races, survived space battles and starship crashes, and even squared off against his Mirror Universe doppelgänger. All the while, Vance paid for his dozens and dozens of fan films with the change he found in his sofa, and shot them all on his cell phone.

To me, Vance represents the true HEART of the Star Trek fan film community—a Trekker who does this not to get noticed or to get accolades for quality or “sizzle” (most of his episodes are, frankly, minimalistic and slow-moving) but because it’s in his blood…an itch he has to scratch. And Vance invites others to come along and play in his little corner of the sandbox simply because it’s fun!

Vance has filmed on THREE different TOS sets: the now-defunct Starbase Studios in Oklahoma; Netural Zone Studios in Georgia, and WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas…and next summer, he’ll be at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA.

After releasing the 30-plus fan films in his Minard saga over the course of years, an emotionally and physically exhausted Vance “retired” from fan filmmaking…or so we thought! Shortly thereafter, about a year and a half ago, Vance came back into the fold and announced a new series of fan films that would feature Minard but focus as well on the various members of his 24th century crew of the USS Constar.

Continue reading “Time to binge-watch THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES…all 40 episodes! (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)”

DEMONS – The latest AVALON UNIVERSE fan film triumph! (audio interview with VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN)

The AVALON UNIVERSE made its unexpected debut in our universe on Halloween of 2018…which was somewhat appropriate, considering the storyline of the debut episode (the 2-part GHOST SHIP) was kinda a “Star-Trek-meets-The Walking Dead” mash-up. Exactly one year later, on Halloween 2019, the latest Avalon Universe fan film, DEMONS (the third story so far), premiered the first of its two segments, with part 2 coming out a week later. In between was the one-part AVALON LOST, which came out in February of 2019.

All three stories were something quite different than most other fan films…and I don’t mean just the unusual meshing of Kelvin-verse uniforms with TOS-style sets…along with nacelles and shuttlecraft which looked slightly different than the familiar Prime Universe technology. No, what fans noticed almost immediately was a quality level—of acting, directing, lighting, camera angles and lens selection, sound mixing, film editing, pacing—that was a step or three above the vast majority of other Star Trek fan films.

This is by no means meant to diminish the achievements of those other fan filmmakers…some of whom have used the same TOS sets (initially the former Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues sets in Kingsland, GA and—later—the TOS sets at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas). But when it came to the Avalon Universe, fans just knew this was something extra special.

That quality came primarily from the two show-runners: VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN, two die-hard Trekkers who work professionally in the film industry in Arkansas. With training in acting and film production, Victoria and Josh brought a level of craft not typically seen in most fan films…and fans watched these releases on YouTube in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

Demons was the first of the three Avalon Universe fan films to be crowd-funded, raising just over $6,500 from 102 backers (including $45 from me!) on Indiegogo back in March of this year. And even though that was 25% short of their $8,500 goal, the completed fan film still looks mighty impressive.

I present below the two parts of Demons (there are links in the first paragraph of this blog to features on the earlier Avalon releases—along with additional audio interviews with Victoria and Josh). When you watch Demons, look for cameo appearances from two well-known Trek fan filmmakers: VANCE MAJOR and GLEN WOLFE. After that, I invite you all to share my latest fascinating interview with Victoria and Josh. But first, take a look at this

and this

Pretty impressive, huh? Wanna learn more about how a project like this came together? Have a listen as I interview director/co-writer/lead actor/producer Victoria Fox and co-writer/DP/production designer/executive producer/lots-of-other-things Joshua Irwin about their latest fan film masterpiece…