AVALON UNIVERSE Indiegogo gets a $1,000 DONATION from a SINGLE donor!

Right now, I’m actively watching four different Trek-related crowd-funding campaigns. I have tabs open for each one, and I check them every day or so to see how they’re doing:

There’s also a few other crowd-funders that I check in on from time to time. You can find them all listed here on Fan Film Factor under the CROWDFUNDING NOW tab at the top.

Usually, there isn’t much movement on a daily basis for these campaigns…just little increases here and there. For the Avalon Universe Indiegogo, the donation total had been hovering in the low $2K range for the last few days…not unusual for a crowd-funding campaign to slow a bit in its second or third week.

And so I literally did a double-take when I checked the Avalon campaign late yesterday to discover their total at $3.4K (bringing them to over 40% of the way to their $8,500 goal). Huh? I’d checked it earlier in theday, and it was still in the low twos. What the heck happened???

I scrolled down through the perks. One of the perks is a $1,000 “Executive Producer Package” where the donor gets their name listed in both the opening and closing credits as—you guessed it!—Executive Producer. Two of these perks were initially available, and one had just been snatched up!

I checked with Avalon showrunners JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX, and they confirmed this is a legitimate donor and someone who has supported fan films in the past (although we won’t find out who until the fan film is released and we check the credits).

I don’t usually report on single donations to crowd-funders, and $1K donations certainly aren’t unheard of. But they are indeed rare…and almost non-existent for “smaller” campaigns with goals under $10K. So for me, this is news worth sharing—and a good reminder for folks to consider donating, if they haven’t already (even if it’s just $10 and not $1,000).

I also allows me to address a recent semi-controversy that has cropped up involving me supporting this and other crowd-funding campaigns…

Continue reading “AVALON UNIVERSE Indiegogo gets a $1,000 DONATION from a SINGLE donor!”

THE HOLY CORE releases its first TRAILER!

In any list of the top 10 Star Trek fan films of all time, I will always include CHANCE ENCOUNTER, from British writer/director GARY O’BRIEN and co-writer PAUL LAIGHT. It doesn’t have dazzling VFX or edge-of-your seat action. In fact, it’s a “quiet” story that treats viewers to some top-level acting, emotionally engaging characters, and lovely music…all wrapped in a skillfully directed and edited package that I consider to be a MUST-SEE fan film.

So naturally, I and others have been most eager to see what Gary and Paul do for an encore! A year ago, Gary launched a Kickstarter for what was, at the time, about $12,000 (American). But it failed to get even half-way to its goal, and so Gary received nothing…since Kickstarter requires a project to fully fund before awarding pledged donations.

However, a single “angel donor” came forward in May with an offer to fund the entire production, and Gary was now set up to create THE HOLY CORE, a TNG-era fan film with more action and VFX than his previous release…but the promise of the same great level of acting, directing, engaging characters, and quality of presentation.

This project also called for the construction of some ambitious TNG-era sets for a Nebula-class starship…including the captain’s ready room, deflector control room, and even the engineering station on the bridge! Could Gary and his team pull it off? A series of production updates teased us with quick glimpses into how good these sets were looking. I posted a blog back in December collecting all of these updates in one place. It’s worth checking out.

In the meantime, Gary has just released his first official trailer for The Holy Core, and it looks really impressive (especially all of those amazing sets)…!

Deep Space 9 documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND gets picked up by SHOUT!

Sometimes it pays off to get backlogged on blogging! On March 1st, I received a donor update from IRA STEVEN BEHR on the current status of the crowd-funded Star Trek: Deep Space Nine documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND. Although they held three theatrical screenings late last year in New York, Los Angeles, and London—where select donors and supporters got to see an early “final” cut of the film—things weren’t quite finished yet. In fact, they weren’t even close!

The delays in completion stemmed from a noble cause, however. Additional crowd-funding (over and above their initial $650K from fans) was generated to pay for remastering all of the 20 minutes of footage from the seven seasons of DS9 into digital HD quality to be shown in the documentary. Since CBS has no plans to remaster DS9 or Voyager or Enterprise (as they did TOS and TNG), this could be fans’ only opportunity to see any of DS9 in high definition. Here’s an example of the difference in quality…

The digital transfer process began with massive amounts of time in the CBS vault sorting through seemingly endless rolls of 35mm film reels looking for the footage they needed. Then a request was sent out to deliver 400 of those reels to CBS Digital, who would then digitally scan in the film into high definition for Ira and his team to color adjust, enhance, and edit into the final cut. At the time Ira posted the following video on March 1, about three-quarters of the requested film reels had been sent to CBS Digital for logging in and scanning…

I’d planned to share that update here, but in the last 13 days, I’ve published 9 other blogs (and two of those days were spent at Disneyland). So the DS9 news was pushed to the bottom of my “to do” list until this week. No big deal—updates about the DS9 documentary are not very frequent anyway. The news could certainly wait a week or two, right?

But then the BIG news broke…

Continue reading “Deep Space 9 documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND gets picked up by SHOUT!”

Take that, DR. SEUSS; TREK MASH-UP is legally FAIR USE!

I’ve been watching this case closely for nearly two years, fascinated by the question of whether a”mash-up” of two separate intellectual properties (in this case STAR TREK and DR. SEUSS) could be successfully defended against a copyright infringement lawsuit using a defense of FAIR USE.

And yesterday, we discovered that the answer is officially “YES.”

For a more complete history of this case, check out any of my previous 15 blogs on the subject (I told you I was watching it closely!). In short, DAVID GERROLD (the creator of the tribbles) and TY TEMPLETON (award-winning comic book artist) set out to create a Seuss/Trek mash-up book called Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!

Together with their publisher ComicMix, they set up a Kickstarter in late 2016 to fund a run of 5,000 printed copies of the book to sell through ThinkGeek. They raised about $30,000 when Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) contacted Kickstarter with a DMCA takedown notice. The money was never collected.

Six weeks later, DSE sued the mash-up team for both copyright and trademark infringement. The case was an emotional rollercoaster ride for both sides, with the judge at one point dismissing the trademark claims and then later (after a re-refiling by DSE) reinstating the trademark claims.

On the copyright complaint side of things (different than trademark), the judge was ready to dismiss the case outright on grounds of Fair Use, but she gave DSE one chance to prove market harm by Team Mash-up. DSE was able to make a strong enough argument for financial damages that the judge allowed the case to move forward. That was 14 months ago.

The case has been complex, to say the least! And it had the potential, according to Ninth Circuit Federal Judge Hon. JANIS SAMMARTINO, to quite literally determine the fate of nearly all mash-ups well into the future. Would this new art form die in its infancy? Was it even a true art form? All of her rulings were carefully considered, and nothing was rushed.

After more than two years of legal wrangling, filings, responses, discovery and evidence and testimony, and motions for summary judgement, it all came down to pre-trial oral arguments made in Judge Sammartino’s San Diego Courtroom five weeks ago on February 7.

So what exactly happened, and is this case finally over…?

Continue reading “Take that, DR. SEUSS; TREK MASH-UP is legally FAIR USE!”

THE ROMULAN WAR releases newest WAR STORIES: “THE FIGHTING FOURTH”!

A week and a half ago, I reported that MARK NACCARATO, who is completing the fan film THE ROMULAN WAR (due out in the next few months), was about to release the fourth of his WAR STORIES vignettes: “The Fighting Fourth.” That happened for the general public this past weekend, and I have to say that this was my favorite War Story so far! (And since I starred in the third one, you know I’m being sincere.)

Before continuing, I just want to remind everyone to please donate a few bucks to their Indiegogo campaign. Although they surpassed their original goal, additional footage for the main film was shot by AARON VANDERKLEY in Australia, and Mark needs to reach $14,000 to cover Aaron’s additional expenses. He’s $980 short…can you help him out?

Anyway, this latest release is another “enhanced” audio drama, although I think I’d call this a full-on fan film! The difference is that “The Fighting Fourth” actually features a video recording of the main character, not simply the audio recording of log entries “enhanced” with display readouts and various animations. The footage features actor CHEWE NKOLE playing crewman Evander Littlejohn, and the African actor (now living in western Australia) turns in a very strong performance.

Also worth mentioning is sensational CGI effects done by everyone’s favorite British invader, SAMUEL COCKINGS of Trekyards. So we’ve got what I believe is the first-ever Star Trek fan film produced on three different continents (North America, Australia, and Europe), and a really fun and well-crafted 5-minute look at yet another intriguing aspect of The Romulan War

You can watch the other War Stories vignettes here.

The AVALON UNIVERSE launches a new INDIEGOGO! (audio interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX)

It’s here! The first new 2019 Indiegogo campaign for a Star Trek fan film is now live and taking donations. Why should YOU donate? Lemme tellya…

THE AVALON UNIVERSE kicked off its debut last Halloween with a complete surprise for most fans: the 2-part GHOST SHIP, a sort of “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” hybrid fan film that quickly went viral and now has a combined 280K views on YouTube!

Filmed both in Kingsland, GA on the old Star Trek Continues TOS sets and also in the new WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas, Ghost Ship looked amazing. Lighting, make-up, directing, editing, music, VFX, acting…everything came together flawlessly to present fans with one of the most polished-looking set-based fan films in a long time.

The only thing fans found a little odd were the uniforms worn by the Starfleet crew: a mix of the first two Kelvin-verse styles with Star Trek Beyond and TOS uniforms, all in a classic TOS setting. Even the USS Excalibur looked somewhat strange with a blue glow on the nacelles.

But then fans discovered that this was yet another alternate universe, the Avalon Universe, where things are a little different. (Avalon was the island on which King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged.) Fair enough; Trekkers are used to alternate universes by now.

Then, on February 2, the second Avalon Universe fan film, AVALON LOST, premiered., and it’s already up to nearly 35K views! This time, it was a one-parter with a very unexpected ending. Before you listen to my audio interview with the two Avalon show-runners at the end of this blog, I invite you to watch their most recent offering because there WILL BE SPOILERS in there interview…

Pretty awesome, right? I love that shuttlecraft! Anyway, I chatted with Josh and Victoria about their latest fan film, their new Indiegogo campaign, and their plans for future episodes from the Avalon Universe.  Enjoy…

Click here to donate to their Indiegogo Campaign.

Latest AXANAR Production Update video gets 4K views in fifteen hours!

Some folks ask why I give so much coverage to ALEC PETERS and AXANAR. The answer is simple: because there’s so much to cover! And trust me, if there were any news out of other major “in development” fan projects like Pacific 201 or Starship Farragut, I’d be covering them, too! In fact, last week I had a FANtastic interview with the production designers helping to put the finishing touches on the soon-to-be-released First Frontier.

Anyway, even though full production on the two remaining Axanar fan films hasn’t begun yet, Alec and the team are doing anything BUT resting resting on their laurels. Those who claim Axanar will never be made obviously haven’t been paying attention to how much time and effort are going into getting everything ready to launch this project. If the fan film is never going to be made, someone needs to tell all those hard-working folks in Lawrenceville, GA!

And Alec himself continues to be one of the hardest workers, now doing two regular livecasts on YouTube each week to generate donations to Ares Studios. Along with the Patreon (which is currently up to 198 donors giving $1,811/month…or nearly $22,000/year) the YouTube channel, with over 77K subscribers, is upping the total to more than $3,000 a month in contributions and revenue to help pay rent and utilities on the studio.

Alec posted his latest Production Update late Tuesday night, and it’s already been watched by more than 4,000 people. Among the items covered are how the Ares bridge is nearing completion and now will DEFINITELY appear in the Axanar films, how Ares Digital 3.0 is nearly complete (I’m one of the beta testers) and patch perks will ship soon, and plans now call for shooting to begin this summer. Alec’s and his team’s enthusiasm are clearly evident on the update video. Check it out…

Also, if you haven’t visited the Axanar YouTube Channel, now vould be a good time (as Chekov would say)! It’s up to more than 40 videos in categories including trailers, VFX sequences, donor updates, studio updates, production updates, convention appearances, and of course the weekly REEL TREK and AXANAR CONFIDENTIAL podcasts which usually have really interesting guests (including me at one point!).

There’s also a new playlist called “Fan Film Focus” which includes some exclusive behind-the-scenes content about other Trek fan productions. Like the rest of the channel, content for that section will expand over time.

NETFLIX now actively considering buying SPACE COMMAND fan series!

Late last year, writer/director MARC SCOTT ZICREE traveled to London where he met with NETFLIX to see if he could interest them in buying his independent, fan-funded sci-fi series SPACE COMMAND. Of course, there’s no guarantee of anything yet, but according to Marc in a recent mailing to donors:

Netflix is now actively considering Space  Command!  And if they buy it, they minimally would order an entire  season – twelve hour-long episodes!

But we’re not resting on our laurels.  We’re now actively working to set meetings with Amazon, Apple and many other networks and VOD platforms that might give Space Command a good home.

This news came right on the heels of the public release of the second half hour of the two hour pilot episode, “Redemption,” starring (among others) DOUG JONES (yep, that Doug Jones); ROBERT PICARDO (from Voyager) ; and MIRA FURLAN, BRUCE BOXLEITNER, and BILL MUMY (from Babylon 5). Each turns in amazing performances. And in upcoming episodes, we will see even more famous faces.

Space Command got its start waaaaaaay back in 2012 with an early Kickstarter that brought in a staggering $212,000 from more than 2,000 donors. It then took five years for the project to reach post-production, where a second Kickstarter raised an additional $108,000 that would help complete the first hour of the 2-hour pilot episode “Redemption.”

The first half-hour segment of the pilot premiered last summer at San Diego Comic cons and debuted on YouTube for fans in August. Then a third Kickstarter raised $102,000 more for post-production on the second hour of the pilot. Marc is also selling individual $7,500 shares in the venture for supporters looking for a return on investment if/when the series sells.

A fourth Kickstarter is on its way soon, funding production on the second hour-long episode, “Forgiveness” (40 minutes of which has already been filmed). There is also now a VERY impressive first issue of the Space Command Comic Magazineposted online…check it out!

In the meantime, Marc released the completed first hour in January. It’s REALLY worth watching—especially for the captivating performances of Doug Jones, Robert Picardo, and Mira Furlan…truly some of their best work! It includes bookend commentary updates from Marc along with scenes (at the end) from upcoming episodes. Take a look…

And as an added bonus, below is the first half-hour that was released last August. I’m including it here for comparison/contrast. Y’see, Space Command is a work-in-progress, and VFX and color correction are an ongoing process. For example, after the release of the first half-hour, some folks noticed that in the scene where two characters are driving in a convertible (originally shot against a green screen), neither actor’s hair is moving in the wind! So that was fixed in the second release…along with many other little and not-so-little tweaks. So if you want to test your “eagle eye,” here’s your chance…

THE ROMULAN WAR fan film is now being made on THREE CONTINENTS!

One of the fan productions I’m most looking forward to at the moment is MARK NACCARATO’s project focusing on the battles and strategies of THE ROMULAN WAR with Earth. Presented as a war documentary (similar to Prelude to Axanar), Mark’s stories will pick up where Star Trek: Enterprise frustratingly left off: just BEFORE the ware between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire began.

Leading up to the planned May 2019 premiere of the full fan film, Mark has released a series of short “enhanced” audio dramas called WAR STORIES. They typically present personal logs or subspace correspondence made by someone involved in the war, usually recorded by a trained voice actor reading the script. (I say “usually” because I am definitely not a trained actor, but I recorded one myself!) The releases, while available in audio format for listening only, are ALSO available on YouTube with added VFX and other graphics to look like Starfleet archival footage. They’re REALLY cool.

For anyone who hasn’t seen and heard these War Stories releases yet, you can view them all on this YouTube playlist. They are only 17 and a half minutes total, so it’s not even that much of a time investment. In fact, anyone who says you can’t tell a decent fan film story in 15 minutes or less NEEDS to watch these four productions, as they each do it in under five minutes! (Well, one is a two-parter.)

This is one of the few fan projects set in the NX-era. Another is the series of amazing and powerful short films produced by AARON VANDERKLEY in Australia. If you haven’t watched them yet, you should check them out.

Now Mark Naccarato and Aaron Vanderkley have joined forces for the latest War Stories production, “The Fighting Fourth.” So that’s America and Australia teaming up for the first time. BUT! Let’s also add in a third continent—Europe—as Britain’s own SAMUEL COCKINGS, the hardest-working Trekpert in geek fandom, has lent his talents with some amazing CGI animation. Just take a look at this trailer…

“The Fighting Fourth” will be released first to donors very soon. So if you’d like to see it early, contribute a buck or three to the still-active Indiegogo campaign (now funding post-production costs).

Continue reading “THE ROMULAN WAR fan film is now being made on THREE CONTINENTS!”

Behind-the-scenes on STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER! (a MUST-SEE interview with MATT GREEN and SCOTT LYTTLE)

The era of the “big” professional-looking Star Trek fan films is NOT yet over, folks! In fact, fans are still awaiting four major productions that predate the guidelines of nearly three years ago: Axanar (of course), Pacific 201, the series finale of Starship Farragut (with a cameo by the late-great Stan Lee), and Star Trek: First Frontier. And one of those four fan films is about to cross over from post-production to release…and it’s just weeks away!

I’m sure you’ve already guessed from the title of this blog that it’s STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, a professional-quality fan production that was first conceived back in 2013 by writer/show-runner KENNY SMITH. The story features the first captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701, Robert April, and his crew on their maiden voyage. The actors are trained professionals, the uniforms and sets constructed to look pre-Pike era (TOS, not Discovery), and the production crew were mostly industry folks with experience. I know the guidelines preclude most of the above now, but all of the production footage was “in the can” nearly a year BEFORE the guidelines were ever announced.

After an aborted 2015 Kickstarter that only raised $30K of a $130K goal, Kenny decided to fund the production himself, filming scenes using a mix of practical sets and green screen shots later that year. Originally planned for a September 2016 release to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, and even though all the live action scenes were filmed, post-production would end up taking three times longer than anticipated!

But they had a very good excuse! The production decided NOT to use traditional CGI animation and instead built a physical 11-foot model of April’s Enterprise (estimated materials and labor cost $30,000) and filmed the VFX the old fashioned way…in a studio in front of a giant green screen!

But they didn’t stop there…

After shooting that gorgeous starship model in early 2017, they next went on to construct an equally-amazing 1/24th scale hangar deck and shuttlecraft for a number of VFX scenes that take place in that area of the ship. Photos of their incredible miniature shuttle bay have only just begun to circulate, and fans’ jaws are dropping left and right!

Fortunately, the two gentlemen in charge of the construction of these incredible models took pictures and videos along the way…hundreds in fact! And I’ve got most of them to show you in this exclusive Fan Film Factoraudio interview with a special video montage “bonus.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you MATT GREEN and SCOTT LYTTLE, the men behind Captain Robert April’s Enterprise and hangar bay…