AXANAR schedules shoots in AUGUST and OCTOBER!

AXANAR needs only two more shooting days and the production phase will be complete. Just…two…more…days.

Seems so simple, and yet, because of COVID-19, it’s proven to be just out of reach. And it’s not just Axanar that’s been stopped dead in its tracks. Because of concerns from the various Hollywood trade unions, television and motion picture production has been brought to a standstill throughout the entertainment industry. Don’t binge-watch too much too fast because your favorite shows aren’t coming back in September…and probably not even this year!

But there is finally a ray of hope.

Actors, directors, writers, camera people, hair & make-up, grips, gaffers, and pretty much everyone in the film industry are dying to get back to work. They just don’t want to be dying BECAUSE they went back to work (man, that sounded morbid!). As such, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers recently formed a task force to put together this 21-page white paper providing guidelines for “safely” restarting production. I put “safely” in quotation marks because it’s hard to be 100% safe when actors often have to be up close to other actors and not wearing face coverings, and lighting and camera and sound people have to lean in close to each other, and hair and make-up people can’t do their jobs if they’re 6 feet away from the actors and aren’t able to powder noses and put on lipstick because of face masks and…you get the idea.

But the white paper does its best to provide a reasonable “cover-your-asses” approach to restarting film production…and both the unions and the studios are on board with it. After all, people need to get back to work! And the recommendations are pretty obvious, all things considered:

  • Crews should consist of as few people as possible.
  • Have production meetings virtually or at least with social distancing.
  • Everyone wears PPEs on set except for actors when they’re filming.
  • Wash hands frequently; clean every piece of shared equipment as often as is practical.
  • Regular, periodic testing of the cast and crew; social distance as much as possible on set.
  • Use electronic scripts and call sheets on personal handheld devices (or if you need print things out, make sure no paper is shared).

And the list goes on and on. But the idea is to minimize the risk factors on production sets as much as possible.

Because Axanar is a union project, no new filming could be done until a set of guidelines was issued that Axanar Productions could follow. But now that the white paper is available and being slowly adopted throughout the industry, the Axanar project can begin moving forward again, albeit tentatively at first.

Here’s the plan as it stands right now…

Continue reading “AXANAR schedules shoots in AUGUST and OCTOBER!”

STARSHIP FARRAGUT’s finale “HOMECOMING” is coming along… (interview with STEVE SEMMEL)

Starting in 2005, Starship Farragut began releasing a series of nearly a dozen high-quality fan productions—including full length episodes, vignettes, and even two animated projects (featuring voice-overs by TIM RUSS (not playing Tuvok from Voyager) and CHASE MASTERSON (not playing Leeta from Deep Space 9). Along the way, they constructed an extensive TOS set recreation that was eventually shared with, and later sold to, VIC MIGNOGNA of STAR TREK CONTINUES. (Read the full and fascinating history of Starship Farragut here.)

At the end of 2014, Farragut Films decided to transition themselves ino the first full-budget, set-based regular fan series to be set in the Trek movie era.  The actors had aged a decade since the earliest episodes of Starship Farragut, so jumping the series forward seemed logical. In fact, the new series was to be called Farragut Forward. But it never came to be. Instead, at the end of 2015, the group crowd-funded a series finale episode called “Homecoming,” and raised $15,787 from 207 donors on Kickstarter.

Things seemed to be going smoothly on “Homecoming.” Filming took place in early 2016 with some outdoor reshoots being completed in June of that year, according to donor updates. In early 2017, donors were treated to a two-minute teaser-trailer with an unexpected cameo by Marvel Comics legend STAN LEE (who passed away in November 2018). The trailer looked promising…

But after an October 2017 update from show-runner and lead actor JOHN BROUGTON saying that post production was about 50% completed, two and a half years went by without any further updates to donors or new trailers or news of any kind.

That changed this past April when a new update was sent to Farragut donors by STEVE SEMMEL. Steve came on board the project last September to help compose the score, and he had some good news. Steve would be taking on the title and duties of Post-Production Supervisor, and along with Special Effects Supervisor KEN THOMSON, Film Editor JAYN PENNINGTON, and Music Scorer CARL HAYES, there would now be a concerted effort to bring “Homecoming” to completion (and to YouTube) in 2021.

Naturally, I was curious to learn more—not just about the status of the project itself but about Steve, how he came to be involved with the project, how he got the “promotion” from Composer to Post-Production Supervisor, and what tasks he and others will be doing to bring “Homecoming” home…

Continue reading “STARSHIP FARRAGUT’s finale “HOMECOMING” is coming along… (interview with STEVE SEMMEL)”

USS Ares BLUEPRINTS now available in a new Kickstarter for ARES STUDIOS!

Hurry, hurry! Get ’em while they’re hot…and available! (Well, at least get them while they’re still only $30 plus shipping.)

Last month, ALEC PETERS raised nearly $10K for ARES STUDIOS in a Kickstarter that offered a special Master Systems Display cutaway poster of the USS Ares, the fan-favorite Starfleet assault cruiser depicted in PRELUDE TO AXANAR, the soon-to-be released INTERLUDE fan film, and the upcoming AXANAR sequels. The campaign ended up passing two stretch goals, adding two additional free posters to the orders for all donors: a cutaway of the Geronimo-class and a D7 tactical display.

That campaign, it turns out, was just a warm-up to the main event: a new Kickstarter offering a full set of USS ARES BLUEPRINTS! In total, it will be eight 11″ x 17″ blueprint sheets that show every deck and part of the Ares-Class Assault Cruiser.

The campaign launched at 9:30am Eastern Time with a goal of $3,000 (the same as the first campaign) and a 16-day duration. That means, according to Kickstarter rules, that Ares Studios has only half a month to reach that goal or else they get zero. No worries, though, as the campaign surpassed that goal in HALF A DAY (closer to just seven hours) and is currently at $4,906 from 100 backers as I write this. There’s actually a stretch goal of $10K that, if reached, will result in every donor being sent a free 11″ x 17″ version of the USS Ares Master System Display poster from the first campaign.

Naturally, I ordered mine as soon as got to my computer this morning. Ever since I first got ahold of the original Franz Joseph blueprints for the USS Enterprise back in 1975, I have LOVED deck-by-deck renderings of starships. There haven’t been many full sets done over the years, but the few that have been published remain some of the jewels of my collection.

When I heard that Axanar graphic designer ALEXANDER RICHARDSON was creating deck-by-deck blueprints of the USS Ares-class, I got very excited. And when I first saw some of his initial layouts, excitement quickly turned to elation. Each time he completed and shared another deck, I marveled at the careful attention to detail, thought, and quality that went into every line.

Alexander used Adobe Illustrator to create the blueprints, spending an average of 5-10 hours per deck and then another 3 hours laying them out on the individual pages (plus extra time making alterations along the way). Alexander told me, “I based the aesthetics on Rick Sternbach’s Enterprise-D blueprints, a copy of which has been hanging on my walls for reference for some time.”

Just take a look at some of these samples…

Continue reading “USS Ares BLUEPRINTS now available in a new Kickstarter for ARES STUDIOS!”

SIR PATRICK STEWART and ALEX KURTZMAN go ALL-IN on a PICARD V.I.P. set tour sweepstakes!

How’d you like for SIR PATRICK STEWART to personally escort you and a friend through the set for STAR TREK: PICARD and introduce you to all of the cast members? And hey, as long as you’re there, why not throw in a walk-on appearance in one of the season two episodes?

Sound crazy? Unbelievable? Impossible??? Nope, this is 100% for real, folks…and by entering, you will also be helping to feed people in dire need of food during this global pandemic crisis.

Back in April, a small group of entrepreneurs from Fanatics.com launched a new initiative called the ALL IN Challenge. Leveraging their connections in the sports world (Fanatics is a licensed merchandise manufacturer for professional and college sports leagues throughout the world), the ALL IN Challenge Foundation invited famous athletes (and later music and entertainment industry celebrities) to donate their most prized possessions and be challenged to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will be both available for online auction and as giveaways.

All of the money raised (100%) will be going directly to the following charities: Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, and America’s Food Fund, which is directly benefiting Feeding America and World Central Kitchen. More than ever before, families are struggling to provide food as tens of millions are out of work, kids are out of school, many are at risk of losing their income, and the most vulnerable elderly population is self-isolating. The ALL IN Challenge Foundation (AICF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and therefore, any money you give them to win a chance to visit the set of Picard will be completely tax deductible. (Visit this web page for more details.)

ALL IN Challenge Foundation has already raised nearly $60 million from over a million donations. More than 500 celebrities and organizations have offered prizes so far—from Jennifer Lopez to the Philadelphia Eagles to Starbucks (free Starbucks for life, anyone?). And the latest offering from ALL IN is for a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a fan to visit the set of Star Trek: Picard, meet Patrick Stewart, and even have a walk-on role in a season two episode. Here is the official description:

We will roll out the red carpet with an exclusive VIP set visit and tour of the stages for you and a guest. The star treatment will continue as you, the winner, go into hair, makeup and wardrobe before being part of the show with a walk-on role. You and your guest will also have the chance to meet Sir Patrick Stewart as one of his most iconic characters, Jean-Luc Picard.

Naturally, timing depends on the pandemic and safety concerns. And the winner is responsible for his or her travel and lodging. But aside from that, it’s just a simple sweepstakes with $10 buying ten chances to win, and $100 buying 200 chances. You can enter as many times as you like up through July 22, 2020…

Click here to enter and read the full rules and details

Another PANDEMIC fan film: LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DAY… (interview with MIKE LONGO)

Stop me if you’ve heard this: two Americans and a German walk into a fan film…

No, wait, that’s not it.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are all on a Zoom call…

Well, any way you want to introduce this blog, the fact remains that the world is just a little topsy-turvy at the moment. Social distancing is affecting nearly all aspects of life. And for us Trekkers, that includes our fan films!

Last week, I reported on a fan film from France, HORREUR POST ATOMIQUE, that was produced entirely post-pandemic during the global quarantine. Three fans dressed in grungy clothes played previously-unknown characters from the Star Trek universe during the post-atomic horror following World War III just prior to first contact with the Vulcans.

Now another short fan film has been released, also produced entirely during the weeks of shelter-in-place orders. However, this fan film, LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY, features three very familiar characters to fans: James T. Kirk, Mr. Mr. Spock, and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy…having the future equivalent of a three-way Skype call or Zoom meeting. Our new normal, apparently, is also the new normal in the late 23rd century—at least temporarily for our three heroes.

What makes this new fan film extra fun is that the three actors portraying Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are not only cosplayers, but two of them are impersonators of these characters who appear at many conventions…

Pictured above are JENS DOMBEK, known as “The German Spock ,” photos of whom can be found all over the Internet, and FRANK JENKS, whose uncanny resemblance to the chief medical officer of the USS Enterprise got him roles in several fan films including the award-winning “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” from THE FEDERATION FILES.

Leading the cast as Kirk was MIKE LONGO, who recently played the same role (just wearing a different uniform) in the recently-released THE HUMAN ADVENTURE. Mike also wrote, produced, and directed Look Forward to the Day.

Many fans have already watched and enjoyed this little vignette. If you aren’t one of them (or even if you are), please have a look…

I reached out to Mike to find out a little more about this project and how it came together. Here’s what he told me…

Continue reading “Another PANDEMIC fan film: LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DAY… (interview with MIKE LONGO)”

Three new fan films from STARSHIP DEIMOS in seven months…and more POTEMKIN news from RANDY LANDERS!

I try to cover each new fan film from POTEMKIN PICTURES soon after it’s released. But with seven different creative groups all working simultaneously, occasionally I’ll miss one or two.

I had this somewhat embarrassing realization a couple of weeks ago when I went to watch the latest offering from the STARSHIP DEIMOS creative team, “Butterfly Effect.” It was quite good (as are nearly all of the releases from the Deimos team). And I noticed that this particular episode was written by VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Captain Gabriel of the USS Deimos. Victoria had written all but two of the first eight episodes of Deimos, but I hadn’t seen her name as writer for a while (I checked, and it’d been about two years). Victoria—who also helped write the STARSHIP FARRAGUT episode “Conspiracy of Innocence” back in 2014—writes some very strong scripts, and “Butterfly Effect” was no exception.

But when the episode ended, YouTube (as it usually does) automatically loaded up another video, and it was another episode of Starship Deimos: “Blood Crystals.” I let it play, and remembered that I’d started watching it back in February, but I’d never finished it…and I totally forgot to blog about it! Oy vey. It was also a very good episode.

Then YouTube loaded another Deimos episode for me, “The Solomon Gamble” from last October. I’d never watched that one at all! Then I went to check my blogs and discovered, much to my horror, that my last Deimos blog was last June(!!!) about their episode “Children of Eberus.” I’d missed covering THREE new episode releases. Oh, the shame!

So here they all are, in the order they were released over the past seven months…

I noted that, in the past seven months, while Deimos had just released their THIRD completed fan film, the other Potemkin creative teams were trailing:

  • MARIE CURIE – 2 episodes (November and March)
  • TRISTAN – 2 episodes (December and April)
  • BATTLECRUISER KUPOK – 1 episode (November)
  • ALEXANDER – 1 episode (February, but that was the series premiere)
  • TRITON – 0 episodes (most recent was May 2019)
  • ENDEAVOUR – 0 episodes (most recent was December 2018)

I remembered asking Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS at one point about this inconsistency, but many of my current readers might not have read his original answer. So I decided to ask Randy again, this time wondering if his and his wife’s recent move from Alabama to Kentucky might have affected the schedule and perhaps have spelled the end for one or more of the above-listed fan teams (and remember, we DON’T call them fan series!).

Here was Randy’s response…

Continue reading “Three new fan films from STARSHIP DEIMOS in seven months…and more POTEMKIN news from RANDY LANDERS!”

ARES STUDIOS poster Kickstarter winds up with nearly $10K! (interview with ALEC PETERS)

It took just two weeks, but 258 AXANAR fans and supporters just donated $9,690 to fund a series of Master Display Posters and also, of course, ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA. The monthly expenses run about $4,200 ($3,750 of that is rent, the rest utilities). A Patreon brings in about $2,600 a month from an average of 260-270 donors…so the remaining $1,600 is coming out of the pocket of ALEC PETERS himself.

To help make up at least some of the shortfall, Alec launched a new Kickstarter on May 16, offering fans a snazzy full color poster of the USS ARES—a side-view cutaway designed by Axanar graphic designer extraordinaire ALEXANDER RICHARDSON. The original goal was a pretty humble $1,200…with a stretch goal of $3,000 that would unlock a second full-color cutaway poster of the USS Geronimo class and a mystery poster stretch goal at $5,000.

Donations began pouring in almost immediately. The $1,200 goal was passed in less than one hour, the first stretch goal a few hours later, and the second stretch goal within the first week! When the campaign closed yesterday evening, the final total was nearly $10,000! Even I wasn’t expecting such a large amount.

A few folks wondered if this Kickstarter campaign was a violation of the agreement that Alec Peters and Axanar Productions signed with CBS and Paramount to settle their infringement lawsuit and allow Alec to finish Axanar as two 15-minute fan film segments. As I wrote in this blog from a couple of weeks ago, the answer is no. The agreement not to publicly crowd-fund using services like Kickstarter applies only to Axanar Productions and the completion of the Axanar fan film, not to the studio that houses the bridge and captain’s quarters set. In fact, Ares Studios did not even exist at the time the agreement was signed in January of 2017, and so Ares Studios (a not-for-profit corporation in Georgia) cannot legally be considered a signatory to the settlement agreement (barring the existence of time-travel).

I texted Alec last night to congratulate him on his surprising achievement of nearly $10,000 in just two weeks, and our back-and-forth turned into a mini-interview of sorts…

Continue reading “ARES STUDIOS poster Kickstarter winds up with nearly $10K! (interview with ALEC PETERS)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #10 – I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling…

You can’t please all the Trekkies all the time.

I wrote that sentence at the beginning of yesterday’s blog featuring the new YouTube music video from GARY DAVIS of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION. In it, Gary featured a compilation of many of the viewer comments that have come in through social media over the past five years both praising and scorching their fan film efforts.

The video—set to the popular song “I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again” (the actual title is “Tubthumping” by the band Chumbawamba)—reflects Gary and his team’s positive and “bring it on” attitude about their hobby. They know they aren’t the giants of fan films, but they’re having FUN…and that’s really all that matters.

After writing that blog yesterday, I began thinking about the fan reaction to the trailer I released last Wednesday for my own fan film INTERLUDE. Man, did that one light a match! And it all came from a fun and silly little idea I had to do an homage to the opening credits of one of my favorite sci-fi series from the mid-1970s, Space: 1999. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, or you’d like to check it out again, here it is…

Actually, lots of people liked it. It’s had about 2.1K views so far on YouTube, with 85% of the reactions being thumbs up. Of the 15% that were thumbs down, the main complaint seemed to be my choice of music—likened by some to 70’s porn, and called by one Facebook poster “ear-raping” (whatever that means…although I’m guessing it’s not a good thing).

Others didn’t like the quick cuts, the over-use of the CGI shots, and one fellow thought I had too many clips of people spinning around in their chairs! ALEC PETERS said he liked the trailer but added that it’s not what he would have done. One of my oldest friends, ADAM “MOJO” LEBOWITZ, took time from his busy schedule to write on my Facebook post: “That’s the kind of trailer a fan makes after the movie came out. A mash up. It was cute and cool but I know nothing about your movie other than battle CGI.” Heck, even one of the members of my Interlude production team told me didn’t like the trailer. (Hey, at least he was honest.)

Such a fuss over a 1-minute trailer that I threw together in iMovie on a lark! Honestly, folks, I didn’t make the trailer for Alec or Mojo or for ear-raping guy. I made it for me…as a way to provide a sneak peek to supporters and friends and family members of what this fan film that they’ve been hearing about for a year was going to look like. It was fun to edit together, and I like the way it came out. Sure some people didn’t like it. So what? The world didn’t end (at least, not because of one Star Trek fan trailer).

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #10 – I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling…”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION honors viewer comments (good and bad!) in “I Get Knocked Down”…

You can’t please all the Trekkies all the time.

Whether you’re talking about Star Trek on television, in the movie theaters, or fan made projects on YouTube, you’re ultimately gonna see somebody complain about sumthin’…often a LOT of somebodies!

That’s one of the main reasons why I refuse to ever criticize any Star Trek fan film. It’s way too easy to do so because no fan film is perfect, and many of them fall far short. But at least they TRY.

Creating anything from nothing takes effort, determination, persistence, and—to be honest—a fair amount of courage. Whether you create just for yourself, for friends and loved ones, or for total strangers, you put a part of yourself out there for judgment.

And as hard as it is to create something from nothing just by yourself, doing it with an entire team of people is even more difficult. In a recent interview, actor J.G. HERTZLER said that there’s nothing harder than making a movie. Now that I’ve produced one—even a short 10-minute one—I know exactly what J.G. means…and he’s not that far off.

Hopefully, people will like what you’ve created and will shower you with praise. But there’s no guarantee of that (except maybe making a clay ash-tray at summer camp for your mom even though she doesn’t smoke…moms tend to be very generous art critics).

But Trekkies, man, some of them will cut you down to the quick if you let them…and even if you don’t let them! I never want to be that guy. So I praise all fan efforts because I feel that their determination and bravery should be respected and acknowledged. You made a frickin’ fan film…good for you!!!

And that’s why I cheered when I saw the latest offering from GARY DAVIS, show-runner of the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION. Over the past half-decade of releasing fan films, Dominion has produced everything from the serious (like the recent  “Redemption at Red Medusa”) to light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek romps (like “Reality Check”—which broke the 4th wall—“Technical Difficulties” and the just-released “A Barrel Full of Qunicys.”

Through it all, Dominion has always kept a positive and healthy attitude, acknowledging what they are and aren’t. Gary’s latest upload to YouTube sums up that outlook perfectly…

A fun look at some of the comments Dreadnought Dominion has had over the years… Scenes from our shows set against the song “I Get Knocked Down.” This song has always been a favorite of mine. It meant no matter who hard you get knocked down, GET BACK UP and move forward. I love the comments we get on our shows…even the bad ones! It just makes us strive to do better. WE KNOW we aren’t up to the same level as “giants” of fan films, but we don’t pretend to be, and don’t aspire to be. We are just a group of folks—some older and some of us “not slim”—having fun telling a story.

Bravo, Dominion…!

INTERLUDE Confidential #9 – We have a RELEASE DATE…and a TRAILER!

Hmmmm, let’s see…should I show you the new INTERLUDE trailer first and then talk about it—or talk about it first and then show it? Aw heck, I know you all really wanna see the new trailer…!

Pretty cool, huh? For those of you unfamiliar with the 1970s sci-fi TV series Space 1999, that trailer is an homage to the way they used to start their episodes (take a look at this video to see an example). The opening credits for that series would include rapid-fire quick cuts from various scenes of “this episode” followed by a slower musical bridge where they would show some of the names behind the production. Then the date would flash: September 13th, 1999—the day the moon supposedly would have been blasted out of earth’s orbit to begin its odyssey through deep space.

Cheesy? Yeah…it was 1975, for gosh sakes! But back then, with Star Trek and Lost in Space in reruns, Doctor Who hidden on weird channels at weird times, and Star Wars still two years away, Space 1999 was one of the only first-run sci-fi games in town. And let’s face it, those eagle transport spacecraft were friggin’ cool! I loved that show, and I loved the opening credits sequences.

So what does any of this have to do with my Axanar Universe fan film Interlude, you ask? Well, technically nothing. That’s not even the actual music I’ll be using (composer KEVIN CROXTON is creating an original score for Interlude).

But I did have this dream a few weeks ago…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #9 – We have a RELEASE DATE…and a TRAILER!”