AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 3)

Here’s a summary of Day One, and here’s a summary of Day Two.

My head hit the pillow on Saturday night, I blinked, and it was suddenly 7 hours later (thank you, daylight savings!)—I was that exhausted after two days of Axacon.  But now I was recharged with only one day to go…and this day was much less hectic.  I was only scheduled to lead two panels, and nearly everyone I could think of had already been interviewed in the director’s chairs alcove.

I heard the shower running in the bathroom that I shared with STEVEN “Admiral Slater” JEPSON (we each had our own bedrooms in Alec’s house), so I started packing up my stuff.  I’d be leaving the con and taking the hotel shuttle directly to the airport a little after 4:00pm.  When Steven was done, I hopped into the shower and got myself dressed.

Steve was already downstairs, and  for a little while, it was just the two of us waiting for the others.  Over the weekend, Steve quickly became one of my favorite people in the entire Axanar brother-and-sisterhood.  A music and vocal teacher at the University of Missouri School of Music, Steve is also a singer and performer, and a really smart, well-spoken guy.  And like me, he’s incredibly funny (see what I did there?).

As we waited for the rest of the posse to get ready, Steve and I admired the new Starfleet admiral’s uniform, had-sewn for Steve by Axanar costumers CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIÈRE and ANGELA AVINO from Italy.  Steve’s original Admiral Slater uniform was the same one worn by actor TONY “Admiral Ramirez” TODD…who is a BIG guy!  When Steven tried the uniform on for his photo, it was like wearing a parka.  So it literally needed to be clipped (with binder clips) all along the back in order for Admiral Slater not to look like a toddler wearing his daddy’s Starfleet uniform.

This new uniform had been specifically tailored for Steven, and when he tried it on, it looked amazing!  And that gave me an idea…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 3)”

AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 2)

Click here for a summary of Day One of Axacon.

As for Day Two, I can sum it up in just one word: WOW!  It was unquestionably one of the craziest but most fun times I’ve ever had at any Trek convention (big or small).  As I did yesterday, this will be a “deep dive” into what Axacon was like for me…

It began with breakfast at ALEC PETERS’ house.  After Friday’s multiple skipped meals, I wasn’t gonna make the same mistake again…not with everything I was expected to do on Saturday!  And anyway, Alec provided quiche!

After fueling up our bodies, the five residents of Casa de Peters piled into three cars to drive the 45 minutes to the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Airport hotel.  Arriving about 45 minutes before Axacon and its host convention SphinxCon kicked off, we each carried boxes and posters and Garth’s original costume and loads of other stuff in from Alec’s trunk.

I found myself immediately impressed by how organized everything seemed to be.  Those Honor Harrington fan volunteers from the Royal Manticoran Navy certainly had their their act together (and looked really spiffy in those black military-style uniforms!) with folks assigned to security, check-in, set-up, etc.  The fellow handling the A/V system carried along about 15 different cables and adapters to make sure anyone could get video and sound from their laptop to the large monitors in the panel rooms.

As things were set up, the only “oops!” I could see was the following (see if you can spot it)…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 2)”

AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 1)

I love a small, intimate convention…especially one with guest celebrities.  While the huge Creation Cons and Dragon*Cons and San Diego ComiCons can be mind-blowing, the quiet, intimate setting of a small convention is a unique and treasured experience for me.  In my youth, it was at small cons where I once had breakfast with James Doohan, went jogging with George Takei (okay, I rode my bike alongside him…and could still barely keep up!), and helped a falling-down drunk Colm Meaney find his hotel room in the Marriott Hunt’s Valley Inn (“This place is a fookin’ maze…!”).  Good times.

I hadn’t been to a small con in many, many years.  And I didn’t realize how much I miss them…until this past weekend when I went to Axacon in Atlanta, GA.  Axacon was never meant to have tons of attendees.  The 30-40 people who showed up over the three days was about what ALEC PETERS had expected.  In fact, there were only about three dozen chairs in the Axacon panel room…a larger turnout wouldn’t have had a place to sit down!

This time, though, I wasn’t just an attendee; I was a guest.  And Alec made sure to put me to work earning my free room and board.  I stayed over at his home and even had my own bedroom, as did fellow house guests STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater) and LEE QUESSENBERRY (Axanar art director and webmaster).  Both of these men are now two of my favorite people.

In fact, the whole convention was filled with folks who are now my favorite people!  That’s just the kind of weekend it was.  There was love here, friendship, camaraderie, and a feeling of shared teamwork and dedication to bringing a dream to life.

It was a really FANtastic con.  Let me tell you all about it…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 1)”

As AXANAR rises, DETRACTORS hit a new low! (editorial)

I’m sure that Alanis Morissette would appreciate the irony.  After years of accusing ALEC PETERS of lying (and a host of other evil deeds), one prominent detractor actually lied about flying to Georgia and attending Axacon this past weekend.

SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN is one of the three admins for the Axamonitor Facebook group, one of the main hang-outs for Axanar detracting.  If you’re not familiar with just how negative they can go, while I’m loathe to send anyone there, take a look at how they reacted to photos of the bridge that they all said would never be completed.  Sour grapes have seldom been so sour.

But the detractors hit a new low when Shawn O’Halloran PRETENDED to go to Axacon and then lied about what he saw and did there (since he wasn’t actually there).  How do we know he wasn’t actually there, and how did he try to make us think he was?  Sit back, my friends, and watch how the hoax unfolded…

Continue reading “As AXANAR rises, DETRACTORS hit a new low! (editorial)”

CONVERGENCE winds up 134% funded, releases TEST SCENE Teaser!

At midnight Pacific Time last Friday (while I was on East Coast time in Atlanta…don’t worry, folks, Axacon coverage is coming later this week!), the 5-way crossover fan film CONVERGENCE finished up its Indiegogo campaign with $7,385 from 114 backers!  This was a third over their posted goal of $5,500, and allowed them to surpass two stretch goals.  The first (at $6,000) would cover the Indiegogo fees and perk production costs, meaning that all $5,500 could go to the production itself.  The second stretch goal ($7,000) will fund both a new late TNG/DS9 era uniform for actor Jim Von Dolteren (of a quality to match the others) as well as a special behind-the-scenes bonus video with interviews, bloopers, and “making of” features.

Even though Indiegogo offers the “In Demand” status for any campaign that exceeds its goal (meaning, you can continue raising money even after your campaign “ends”), sh0w-runner and Hobbit ring-bearer (to bring them all, get it?) SAMUEL COCKINGS has decided that he’s now got enough to make this happen.  So the campaign is now officially closed.

As you might remember, Samuel was contacted by a concerned CBS when they saw the trailer to his other upcoming Trek fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY.  And even though discussions with CBS were cordial, and Samuel reached an agreement when Temporal Anomaly could be released with some changes and is now allowed to exceed the 30-minute runtime limit, Samuel prefers not to poke the bear when it comes to the Trek copyright holders.  He set out to raise $5,500.  He did so, got a little extra to improve the finished project, and now he doesn’t need to keep taking in more money.

On the final day of the campaign, Samuel released a sneak-peek “test scene teaser” showing what Convergence will look like when finished.  Well…kinda.  Y’see, it’s a TEST scene, and it still needs quite a bit of work.  Samuel says it’s got the wrong LCARS, it’s missing a Master Systems Display, a dedication plaque, and possibly some extra crew members in the background.  The sound and music aren’t finalized yet either.  “It’s a work-in-progress (WIP),” Samuel told me with the enthusiasm of someone tackling a challenging project that he’s really excited about.  And I’m also excited!

And I think, after you watch this sneak-peek video, even though it’s still rough around the edges, you’ll be excited, too…

Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!

Hey, guys.  Not a lot of time to blog.  I flew out on a red-eye from Los Angeles with minimal sleep last night, arrived in Atlanta at 6:30 am, and got to ALEC PETERS’ house about 8am.  Thank goodness he didn’t ignore the doorbell (he’d been pulling consecutive all-nighters with the team to get the USS Ares bridge completed).  After taking a 3-hour nap in one of Alec’s guest bedrooms, I got ready for my first-ever trip to OWC studios.

Alec put me to work almost immediately, tasking me and my co-host KEITH M. SEDOR with conducting a number of video interviews with various guests.  I spoke with ALBERT MARTINEZ (the creator of Chasing the Infinite Sky), DON GAFFNEY (Star Trek prop-maker and Klingon expert), DANA WAGNER (who is supervising the completion of the bridge set), and his wife ALLISON (who works with the local school district getting high schoolers access to the the set at the studio for ultra-cool student projects).  Keith got to interview GARY GRAHAM (Soval) and J.G. HERTZLER (Sam Travis/Martok).  I’ve interviewed J.G. before, so Keith got the big celebrities.

Unfortunately, all that work prepping, doing pre-interviews, and conducting the interviews themselves didn’t give me as much time for photos and videos as I wanted, but Alec hired a 4-person professional film crew to record the entire event.  This included about 40 people wandering through the bridge and, at one point, being treated to a live read-through of two scenes from the full 90-minute Axanar script (which will, eventually, be released in both written and audio format).  The readers included Gary, J.G., Alec, and STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater himself).  It was really awesome hearing Gary and J.G. doing a dramatic script reading—they’re both incredibly gifted actors.  There were even special Axanar cookies brought in by one of the attendees!

It was a super-fun day for everyone who made the, er, trek to Lawrenceville…and there’s even more on tap for Saturday and Sunday (including a panel of upcoming fan films with some footage debuting exclusively at Axacon!).

But the star of Friday’s show was the USS Ares bridge.  Still not 100% finished, it’s now about 95% of the way there…with some fun little Easter eggs to find hidden in plain site on a few of the control panels.  I’ve included some pictures of those along with the best of the photos I got on Friday…

Continue reading “Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!”

LAST CHANCE to donate to CONVERGENCE (new “4th wall” video available)!

The Indiegogo campaign for the multi-crossover fan production CONVERGENCE ends in less than two days!  Convergence unites actors and elements from FIVE different fan films and series—Intrepid, Dark Armada, Starship Republic, Renegades, and the soon-t0-be-released Temporal Anomaly—under the direction of fan CGI wunderkind SAMUEL COCKINGS.

The campaign has already met its primary goal of $5,500 and currently sits at $6,040.  But if Samuel can reach $6,400, he’ll be able to afford an improved late-DS9/TNG movie-era uniform…or possibly even something a little more, shall we say, futuristic (since one of the characters will be traveling back from the future).  I’m pretty sure he can make that goal before things close up.

And the campaign will be closing up.  Although reaching a goal on Indiegogo allows a campaign to continue raising funds after the campaign “ends” (it’s called “In Demand” status), Samuel has no intention of doing so.  Since he’s offering a lot of really exciting perks, he doesn’t want CBS to think that he’s trying to turn this project into an online shopping site.  (Right now, Samuel has a good relationship with CBS after making the changes they requested to Temporal Anomaly before releasing it…which is why it’s been delayed.)

So once this campaign is over, it’s over—and the perks will no longer be available.  If you want any of ’em, donate NOW!

There are also currently some exciting stretch goals.  At $7,000 (certainly within reach!) fans will get to see special behind-the-scenes features: bloopers, interviews, making-of documentary, etc.  $8,000 will see the addition of a NEW SCENE in the corridor (which requires a new virtual CGI “set” be created), available as a special direct-to-donors extended cut.  $9,000 funds a second exclusive NEW SCENE, this one in Engineering.  And $10,000 will allow Samuel to create a new shuttle design rather than using the existing Type 11 shuttlecraft we’ve all seen before.

So take those credit cards out of your wallets (assuming you’re so inclined!), and let’s try to give our Trekyards buddy a donation boost as far as we can:

Click here to donate to Convergence.

And here’s a fun little video with NICK COOK and ROBIN HIERT that knocks on that fourth wall a little while showing the quality that can be expected once this ambitious cross-over fan production is completed…

Fan-filmed before a live studio audience at STAGE 9 STUDIOS…but not without a little controversy!

An estimated 1,300 fans came to STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA on October 19-21 to visit the amazing TOS sets and meet STAR TREK CONTINUES cast and crew members, including VIC MIGNOGNA, CHRIS DOOHAN, LISA HANSELL, and many others.  (Here’s a complete list.)  Dubbed “Fan Appreciation Weekend,” the event was free of charge and admitted anyone who showed up on Friday from 2-10pm, Saturday from 9am-7pm, and Sunday from 9am-6pm.  That’s 27 hours of open set visit time over a three-day period!

Not just a simple “tour” (like what is offered in Ticonderoga, NY by James Cawley), this event included the opportunity for fans to watch and even participate in the FILMING of episodes for two different fan productions.  Both DREADNOUGHT DOMINION and the upcoming  CONSTAR CHRONICLES shot scenes on the bridge on Friday night and in engineering on Saturday as fans looked on.

Visitors would be escorted in groups through the sets by none other than STC star and show-runner Vic Mignogna, who would discuss the fan filmmaking process, point out certain details of the sets, share a few “secrets” (like how they filmed a scene from a camera angle when a permanent wall was in the way—answer: they put a hidden hole in the wall to film from behind!), and answered questions.  Other groups were escorted by Stage 9 owner RAY TESI, who purchased the sets from Vic last year and decided to make them available to any fan film that wanted to shoot there.  (Listen to Ray’s interview here.)

Vance Major live in front of a studio audience

The groups traveled in cycles through all of the sets—sickbay, auxiliary control, transporter room, captain’s quarters, briefing room, etc.—finally emerging on the bridge and/or engineering to watch rehearsal, set-up, or actual filming during certain scheduled times.  Each group spent about 5-10 minutes with the film crews before moving on and letting in the next bunch.  The fan filmmakers would talk to the audience, answer questions, and in some cases, even offer a few lucky fans the chance to throw on a tunic and be filmed as extras on the bridge or in engineering!  How cool is that???

The event was not without some controversy, though.

Continue reading “Fan-filmed before a live studio audience at STAGE 9 STUDIOS…but not without a little controversy!”

CONVERGENCE releases one of the BEST crowd-funding videos I’ve ever seen!

With less than seven days to go, and within striking distance of his goal, Trekyards co-host and treknology trexpert SAMUEL COCKINGS is filling his final week of his Indiegogo campaign for CONVERGENCE with new videos.  Currently at $4,755 as I type this, they’re just $845 (14%) away from their goal of $5,500…although Samuel would love to reach $6,000 to cover Indiegogo fees and perk costs.  And if he reaches $7,000, he’ll release bonus behind-the-scenes content.  (There’s also other stretch goals beyond that.)

Samuel has saved the best videos for last.  Already, there was a fun interview on Wednesday with NICK COOK, who will be reprising his role of Captain Daniel Hunter of the fan series Star Trek: Intrepid.  And on Friday, Samuel posted another interview with actor CHRIS BURDETT from the upcoming fan film Temporal Anomaly.  Both of these gentlemen will be starring in Convergence.

While both of those interviews were very well-produced (good lighting, good sound, interesting questions and answers) and are certainly worth viewing if you’re a fan of fan films, it was the video Samuel released this morning that blew me away.

This 3-minute vignette is now my second favorite crowd-funding “ask” video ever.  Why is it my second favorite?  Well, nothing will likely ever surpass this video (and the four that came after it) from Star Trek Continues‘ “Kirkstarter 2.0.”  But the reason this Convergence video gets the secondprise (get it?), is because it has so much fun while asking folks to donate.

Begging for money is never easy, and fan films who go the crowd-funding route have taken various approaches from serious to whacky.  Sometimes it’s easy because they have big celebrities or they’ve already filmed or released other work to show what they can do.  But sometimes, you’ve just gotta work with what you have.

And that’s what Samuel did, combining a script for the video with ad-libs and outtakes to produce a very real, creative, sincere, and funny video that just makes me want to throw my money at them!  Take a look, and see if you agree…

For anyone planning a crowd-funder, bookmark this video and the others in Samuel’s series.  And speaking of which, our Mr. Cockings promises another two interviews over the next two days, followed by what he calls a “4th wall-breaking viral video” on Tuesday and the first full teaser with actual footage on Wednesday.  The campaign ends Friday.

To donate, click here.

 

COZMO’S Kickstarter blasts through its $16K goal…BEFORE it even launches???

If only every Kickstarter could be this way!  The 4-week crowd-funding campaign for COZMO’S from the team that produced RENEGADES went live to the general public Tuesday at 11:00 am Pacific Time with a goal of $16,000.  But it had already blasted through that goal and was above $22,00 when the world found out about it.  (Now it’s up even higher at nearly $25,000!)

How the heck did this happen???

Well, it helps when you have an existing database of thousands of fans who contributed to your previous successful crowd-funders for Renegades )to the tune of more than a million dollars!).  And it helps when you open your Kickstarter with a special 48-hour “pre-launch” with exclusive access to certain perks.

It also helps when you have a cast that includes actors from Star Trek and Babylon 5 in your pilot episode:

  • Ethan (“Neelix”) Phillips
  • Robert (“The EMH Doctor”) Picardo
  • Aron (“Nog”) Eisenberg
  • Claudia (“Susan Ivanova”) Christian
  • Plus many other professional actions from sci-fi and related genres

Also, the footage (which was all shot back in early 2017 using sets originally constructed for Renegades‘ “The Requiem”) was directed by Stephen Furst (Vir from Babylon 5…who tragically passed away during June of last year).

The project is billed as “Cheers in Space”…

Cozmo’s Thirsty Tentacle Bar and Grill is a local hotspot—well, local to anyone visiting an asteroid—where an enormous variety of lifeforms visit to party, do business dealings, find work, meet their true love…or just to get drunk and alien-watch. 

The owner of this esteemed establishment is, of course, Cozmo, a four-tentacled alien (played by Ethan Phillips), who has a knack for mixing stellar martinis and giving good advice.  His serving staff includes two humans, Kallie, played by Renee Olstead(13 Going on 30), and Ken, played by Drake Bell (Drake and Josh, Ultimate Spiderman). They’d love their jobs if it weren’t for one tiny detail—humans are the butt of the joke of the entire galaxy.

The hilarity never stops as zany characters like a hermaphrodite with blue hair (Robert Picardo), a crustacean-like madam (Claudia Christian), an alien who’s head is shaped like a….well, like a butt (Aron Eisenberg), and so many others swarm, bump, argue, laugh, and scheme at Cozmo’s!

It looks hilarious (and very well-produced!)…

 

Heck, I threw in $35 myself before lunchtime on Monday!

You can donate by clicking here.

I asked show-runner SKY CONWAY a few questions about the project…

Continue reading “COZMO’S Kickstarter blasts through its $16K goal…BEFORE it even launches???”