CONVERGENCE launches new INDIE-GOGO campaign (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

Welcome to CONVERGENCE…a fan production uniting FIVE accomplished fan films and series from FOUR different countries into ONE amazing crossover event!

And YOU can help make it all possible.

These folks have already completed one video shoot with four of their five primary actors: NICK COOK from Star Trek: Intrepid (Scotland), ROBIN HIERT from Star Trek: Dark Armada (The Netherlands), and CHRIS BURDETT and NIMRAN SAUND from the upcoming Temporal Anomaly (Great Britain).  They also have a number of jaw-dropping VFX created by SAMUEL COCKINGS, life-long Star Trek fan and co-host/co-creator of the popular webseries “Trekyards.”  Some of this CGI will include the Archer-class starship from the original Star Trek: Renegades, as well as the villains from that fan film, the Syphon.

Their project is already well underway.  But now they need $5,500 to complete it, and they’ve just launched a new Indiegogo campaign. Fan donations will allow Samuel to fly in his full cast for a second studio green screen shoot to get the rest of their scenes filmed with proper lighting, sound, and staging.  This will include their final main actor, JIM VON DOLTEREN from Starship Republic, who will be flying to the U.K. from America, along with the others.

They’ve got some really nice perks that you can choose from, and thanks to a series of preview teaser promos released over the past month, the campaign is already off to a decent start, taking in about 9% of the goal in the first 24 hours (including $60 from me).  It also has one of the most impressive “ask” videos that I’ve seen for a crowd-funding campaign in a very long time.  Check it out…

After you watch that video, you’ll probably be excited enough to donate.  But even if you’re not, you should listen to this really awesome audio interview with Samuel.  Not only do we discuss Convergence, but we also discuss Temporal Anomaly, his interactions with CBS legal, the fan film guidelines, and a host of other topics that you’re certain to find, as Jean-Luc Picard would say, engaging…

Click here to donate.

J.G. HERTZLER suspends his campaign for Congress and talks about AXANAR! (audio interview)

In June of 2017, when I saw the headline that a former Star Trek actor was planning to run for the U.S. Congress, I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that it was J.G. HERTZER.

Even though his character of General Martok from Deep Space Nine (who eventually became Chancellor Martok, leader of the Klingon Empire) loathed politics, J.G. always seemed drawn to it.  The few times I’d seen and spoken with him at conventions, J.G. would invariably share his strongly-held progressive views on political issues and politicians in general.

So it kinda made sense that J.G. would combine his two passions—theater and politics—into his campaign to represent the 23rd Congressional District of New York State.  That said, I still scratched my head a little at J.G.’s choice to run simultaneously as himself and also as his “spokesman” Mark Twain (pen name of noted American author Samuel Clemens).  Clemens spent a portion of his adult life living and writing in J.G.’s upstate New York district, and the author’s humorous and straight-spoken approach to life seemed a perfect way to comment on the state of our union and the challenges facing it.

JG HERTZLER as 19th Century author Mark Twain

Unfortunately for the fan film AXANAR, however, J.G.’s choice to campaign as Mark Twain included a decision to also look the part, which meant letting his hair grow long and wavy (like the author).  This precluded J.G. from filming any scenes of the upcoming Axanar fan film sequels until after the U.S. midterm elections in November, as his character of Admiral Sam Travis had a distinctively short military-style haircut.

So naturally, as an Axanar supporter myself, I took notice when I learned last week that J.G. Hertzler was SUSPENDING his Congressional campaign!  Did this mean he was now free to cut his hair and do Axanar sooner?  Was he even going to do Axanar at all?  (He hadn’t been officially confirmed yet.)  And why would J.G. suddenly suspend his campaign less than three months before the midterm elections?

Continue reading “J.G. HERTZLER suspends his campaign for Congress and talks about AXANAR! (audio interview)”

MARC ZICREE talks about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)

Yesterday I promised you all a really awesome interview with MARC SCOTT ZICREE.  And now it’s time to deliver!

Marc has written hundreds of hours of television for dozens of different shows, including episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5, M.A.N.T.I.S. and Sliders.  He also wrote, directed, and produced the excellent Star Trek: New Voyages fan film “World Enough and Time” with George Takei.

And now Marc’s passion project is the independently crowd-funded epic fan series SPACE COMMAND.  The initial Kickstarter raised over $220K back in 2012.  Since then, it’s been a long journey, with two additional Kickstarters, the latest going on right now!  As I type this it’s up over $66K (far past the original goal of $45K), with 12 days still to go.  Already, post-production has been funded for the first 90 minutes of the two-hour pilot, “Redemption.”  But if this current campaign can reach $100K, there will be enough to complete all 1,900 visual FX and the rest of post production on the entire two hours of the pilot.

The cast is a veritable who’s who of Star Trek and sci-fi veteran actors, including:

  • Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • Doug Jones (Pan’s LabyrinthThe Shape of Water, and Star Trek: Discovery)
  • Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
  • Mira Furlan (Babylon 5)
  • Bill Mumy (Babylon 5 and Lost In Space)
  • Faran Tahir (Star Trek 2009…he was the captain of the USS Kelvin)
  • James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China)

And new actors are being added for later episodes, including the most recent announcements: Ethan Philips (Voyager) and Armin Shimerman (Deep Space Nine).

Marc is a fascinating person to talk to with loads of stories and unique perspectives—and he always gives a really great interview.  Today is no exception…

Marc Zicree…on Mars!

Continue reading “MARC ZICREE talks about SPACE COMMAND! (audio interview)”

Some troubling news from STARBASE STUDIOS (audio interview with KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS and VANCE MAJOR)

Starting in 2010, when Trek fans heard the words STARBASE STUDIOS, they thought of the 360-degree TOS bridge set (originally used for the second Starship Exeter fan film), rescued from a barn in Texas, brought to Oklahoma City, and restored for fans to use essentially for free.  Over the years, countless fan films were shot on that bridge and, later, on the transporter, sickbay, briefing room, and other sets added into that small Oklahoma warehouse.

In 2017, however, everything changed…and not necessarily for the better.  Forced to relocated when their free-rent warehouse was sold to a new owner, the sets were moved to Arkansas.  An ownership struggle ensued that eventually gave way to a lawsuit and many months of discussions.  When the dust settled, an agreement was signed between GLEN WOLFE (50% ownership) and SCOTT JOHNSON and GLENN MILLER (25% ownership each).

A previous owner, KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, divested himself of any ownership of the sets but continued to operate a business entity known as Starbase Studios, LLC.  Kent brought on VANCE MAJOR to help run the company, which was (and is) now acting to help fan filmmakers find resources to produce their projects…including sources of props, costumes, equipment, production team members, and sets to shoot on.

No longer limiting themselves simply to the TOS sets in Arkansas, Starbase Studios, LLC now works with a number of different set owners, including RAY TESI who owns the Stage 9 Studios TOS sets (formerly used by Star Trek Continues) in Georgia and RANDY LANDERS who built modified movie-era sets for Potemkin Pictures in Alabama.

Starbase Studios, LLC had fully intended to keep working with the owners of the Arkansas TOS sets…even shooting a commercial for their services there a back in May.  However, last month, “Words” and Vance announced that they would no longer be referring fan filmmakers to the Arkansas sets.

Naturally, with such a major (and troubling) development, I reached out to “Words” and Vance and asked if they would care to go on the record to explain what had happened to trigger this significant decision on their part.  You can listen to our 3-way discussion below…

Vance Major and Kent “Words” Edwards of Starbase Studios, LLC

Filming RESUMES at STARBASE STUDIOS (audio interview with KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS)

It was quiet…too quiet.  At least, that’s the way it’s seemed lately when it came to STARBASE STUDIOS in Arkansas…an amazing fan film resource of TOS sets including the Trek community’s only 360-degree USS Enterprise bridge.  Since 2011, Starbase Studios has been used to shoot scenes for literally dozens of various Star Trek fan projects.

Starbase Studios has had a rather turbulent nine months, beginning last August when a significant number of props and set pieces were removed from the warehouse where the sets were being stored.  This was followed by a lawsuit where one of the owners, GLEN WOLFE, sued the other owners, SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, for ownership and monetary compensation.  Fan filming there all but screeched to a halt for several months while both sides tried to negotiate a compromise.

With some outside assistance, a settlement agreement was signed earlier this year, and the sets are now owned by Glen Wolfe (50%), Scott Johnson (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%)…although many of the items removed have not yet been returned.  With the exception of a one-day video shoot with Parkview Elementary School students this past January (which had been reserved six months earlier), no filming has happened on the Starbase Studios sets since the new year began.

That changed this past weekend when a “who’s who” of Starbase Studios personnel got together in Marble Falls, Arkansas for a very special video shoot.  Among the participants were Glen Wolfe and Scott Johnson, seeing each other in person for only the second time since the lawsuit was settled.  Would they find a way to get along?  Would that old feeling of camaraderie from fan filming Star Trek rekindle their friendship?  Or had things been pushed too far for healing to happen?

Needless to say, I was dying to find out!  And fortunately, Kent “Words” Edwards, who organized the weekend production, was nice enough to call me from the road and do a quick audio interview.

So let’s check in on Starbase Studios and see what’s up and what went down this past weekend…

STAR TREK STUNT DOUBLES – the power of ONE! (audio interview with MrBonk85)

How many people does it take to make a Star Trek fan film?  Five?  Ten?  Fifty?  A few have listed over a hundred cast and crew members in their credits.

But what if there’s just ONE guy?  One guy doing all the camera work, costuming, make-up, writing, direction, lighting, sound, editing, compositing, visual FX…and even playing all of the roles?

Meet MrBonk85 (that’s his YouTube handle) and his STAR TREK STUNT DOUBLES fan series.  I first discovered this fellow a few months ago when he released his version of the TOS episode “Spectre of the Gun” (see below).  It compressed the classic episode down to just 5 minutes, a mix of recreations of scenes using original dialog with unexpected flourishes of humor.  And this one fan was was playing all of the roles himself!  It was very surreal.

This initial fan film effort was followed a couple of months later by a similar take on “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and about a week after that by “This Side of Paradise.”  Again, one guy appeared as every character—even female characters—green screen composited against TOS backgrounds with TOS music.

Needless to say, I just had to know more.  So I reached out to this gentleman and asked if he’d care to do an interview.  I learned from his response that Mr. Bonk’s real name is Paul (there are no credits in any of the episodes), and he was happy to chat with me.

Our conversation took place a few weeks ago.  At the time, there were only these three episodes, and—as you’ll learn in the interview—Paul/MrBonk85 wasn’t planning on doing more any time soon.  Well, guess what?  He just added a fourth Stunt Doubles episode, a quick 2-minute version of “Charlie X.”

All four of these vignette mini-episodes appear below.  But first, for your listening pleasure, please enjoy this interview with the one-of-a-kind (well, often MORE than one-of-a-kind) MrBonk85…

And now, here are the four Star Trek: Stunt Doubles episodes that have been released so far…


UPDATE: Over the next five months, six additional vignettes were released.  You can watch them here.

Plus, MrBonk85 has created a special  Youtube playlist to hold all of the Stunt Doubles episodes, including ones that might be produced after this update.

Is TREK crowd-funding in TROUBLE? (a lively chat with MARK NACCARATO of THE ROMULAN WAR)

Are Star Trek fan films in danger of having the donation well run dry?  It’s hard to know, but right now, things look somewhat troubling.

Last month, a Kickstarter for the proposed The Holy Core fan film (the same folks who produced the excellent Chance Encounter) didn’t even manage to get half way to their $12,000 goal and instead got nothing.  Another Kickstarter for The Roddenberries’ new album and music video set a two month goal of $9,500 and, with only 11 days to go, is only up to $3,565.

And now, THE ROMULAN WAR, an exciting new Star Trek fan project, is struggling to reach its $10,000 goal on Indiegogo.  Although they burst out of the starting gate with $4,200 in less than two weeks, last week was a veritable desert of donations with only a few hundred dollars coming in over the span of six days.  And this despite the fact that last Monday saw a new video posted to social media spotlighting the cast and showing some never-before-seen footage, and on Wednesday there was a cool TrekYards feature on the Romulan “Strombird” class.  Fortunately, yesterday saw nearly a thousand dollars come in (not sure why, since nothing notable happened on Sunday), but they’re still only 55% of the way to their goal with just 12 days left!

What the heck is going on??? Continue reading “Is TREK crowd-funding in TROUBLE? (a lively chat with MARK NACCARATO of THE ROMULAN WAR)”

ATROPA – what REALLY happens when you try to sell your sci-fi fan film to the “BIG GUYS”! (audio interview with ELI SASICH)

ATROPA is not a Star Trek fan film, nor was it ever intended to be one.  In fact, it’s closer to an independent sci-fi film than a fan film.  So why am I talking about it here?

Ever since the Star Trek fan film guidelines came out two years ago, armchair quarterbacking fans have suggested than Trek fan filmmakers simply create original sci-fi stories and then go sell them directly to Netflix or some other streaming or on-demand service.  They offer this advice with the same casual confidence of telling someone to remember to use brown sugar to make chocolate chip cookies…as though what they’re suggesting is the easiest thing in the world.

It’s not.

And that’s why I’m focusing today’s blog on Atropa, a film by ELI SASICH.  In a really fascinating and enlightening audio interview, he taught me a LOT about how things work in the real world of Hollywood for an independent filmmaker trying to break into the industry.  If you’re one of those people who thinks it’s a simple thing to make a good film and sell it to Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime…this interview is going to open your eyes.  (So if you want to keep your eyes closed, don’t listen!)

Now, if you absolutely, positively MUST have a Star Trek fan film connection to care about this film, then I’ve actually got one for you!  The visual effects for Atropa (and they are STUNNING!) were created by TOBIAS RICHTER of the The Light Works in Cologne, Germany.  Tobias has done equally stunning VFX for Star Trek: New Voyages, Renegades, and Axanar.

Here’s a trailer for the 7-episode Atropa miniseries (totaling about 80 minutes):

You can watch Atropa via the special STUDIO+ app from Vivendi.  Here is information about how to create an account.  There is a monthly subscription of $3.99, but the first month is free.  So watch Atropa (and maybe a couple of other series) and then cancel…no big deal.  Apparently, you can also sign up for 7-day free trial followed by $2.99/month to access Studio+ content if you are an Amazon Prime member via Prime Video (although I haven’t tried it that way myself).

By the way, Atropa was one of ten finalists in the inaugural edition of Canneseries Digital at the Cannes Film Festival.  Although Atropa did not win (that award went to a digital series called Dominos out of Canada), making to the finals is nothing to sneeze at!

And now, here’s an interview with Eli Sasich that I’m certain you’ll enjoy…

4th and 5th GRADERS meet the EASTER BUNNY at STARBASE STUDIOS! (audio interview with KEVIN CROXTON)

Easter came early to STARBASE STUDIOS on a cold day in January.  That’s when Emmy-winning musician and Parkview Elementary School teacher KEVIN CROXTON brought 33 students from his Music Club to shoot a Star Trek fan film.

The previous summer, Kevin had agreed to compose and record music for GLEN WOLFE’s and DAN REYNOLD’s fan production “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” (part of their FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series).  In exchange, Kevin was invited to bring his 4th and 5th grade students to the Starbase Studios TOS sets in Marble Falls, Arkansas (about three hours from Parkview Elementary) to spend a day there filming.

The finished product was released a couple of weeks ago and is already up to an impressive 3,200 views.  I consider this a MUST SEE Trek fan film not simply because the kids are adorable but because it really is a remarkably well-produced fan film!  It’s well-lit with lots of interesting camera angles, the sound levels are perfect, the music is great (the kids even get to sing!), there’s amazing make-up on Spock and the Klingons (plus really nice TOS Klingon uniforms), and all of the children do a spectacular job.

But don’t just take my word for it, have a look…

I reached out to Kevin for an interview, and we had a wonderful chat.  Toward the end, he told me that a photographer named BRENDA YELVINGTON had taken hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos, and offered to let me use them for the interview.

Normally, I just do my audio interviews as MP3 files with no visual elements.  But this time, I was able to do something a little extra special and turn the interview into a full YouTube video.  But before anyone says, “That looked really great, Jonathan, you should do it more often…” it only works when you’ve got hundreds of photos and I have a lot of extra time!

Anyway, now that you’ve watched this wonderful little fan film, please enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at group of kids and adults who made it possible…

The story BEHIND THE PURCHASE of the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets! (audio interview with RAY TESI)

Fans gave a sigh of relief in early February when it was announced that the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets in Kingsland, Georgia had been purchased by a fan filmmaker who intended to make the sets available to other fan filmmakers to create their Trek fan productions.  The new owner is a fellow by the name of RAY TESI, and his own fan project was STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which had released the 9-minute Serpent of Yesterday vignette in February of last year.

But I was curious about something: how was Ray affording all this?

Y’see, after releasing his fan film vignette, Ray launched an Indiegogo campaign to try to raise $16,000 to continue the production of his fan series.  That campaign only made it to $2,351, and the project was shelved indefinitely.

Now, I didn’t know whether Ray had purchased the sets from VIC MIGNOGNA of Star Trek Continues or had gotten them for free (turns out Ray bought them).  But I did know that the rent for the warehouse where the sets reside is tens of thousands of dollars per year!

So how is a guy who needed $16,000 in crowd-funding a year ago suddenly able to afford thousands of dollars a month in rent?  Did he win the lottery?  Rob a bank?  Blackmail a rich politician?

It turns out, fortunately(!), that it was none of the above.  In fact, when you hear the actual story behind Ray’s purchase of the STC sets, I think that you—like me—will gain a new respect for Ray Tesi and feel truly inspired and positive about the future of this wonderful fan resource.

Here’s the interview…

Ray Tesi in the center seat surrounded by the cast of Starship Republic

And for anyone wanting to see how awesome these sets are, here’s a walkthrough from a few years ago (before they added Engineering, which makes it all even MORE awesome!)…