With well over A HUNDRED Star Trek fan film releases (you can access them all from here), the one thing you can count on from POTEMKIN PICTURES is variety. Over nearly a decade and a half(!), their offerings have run the gamut from action and adventure to comedy, tragedy, romance, space battle, mystery, intense drama, and even a few dabs of horror. The latest production to come from the STARSHIP WEBSTERCreative Group, based in Lexington Kentucky, certainly falls into that latter category with one of the creepiest fan films I have seen in a very long time!
That eeriness of the episode came across to the viewer thanks, in part, to the excellent direction by CHELSEY L. BOSTON and showrunner RANDY LANDERS, as well as a complex and disorienting script written by BOBBY NASH. But the lion’s share of the work conveying the intensity of an invasive mindscape that this film depicts came from the two leading actors, YLONDA SCROGGINS PERKINS as Science Officer Katz and JORDAN CONSALVI as Vos. Take a look for yourself…
As these actors are relative newcomers to the fan film community, I thought it might be fun to get to know the two Kentuckians together in a single interview. So I asked them both the same set of questions…
Last time in Part 1, we began taking a look at the second spinoff series from the folks who make the long-running DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN. Their first spinoff series, PROJECT: RUNABOUT, premiered in July of 2021 and has released two episodes so far. Their newest series, WARBIRD VALDORE, just launched this past July, and focusses on a crew of Romulans rather than the typical Starfleet-based fan series.
Before I discuss anything else, however, I’d like to note that the Dominion folks have just kicked off a brand new crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo trying to raise $5,000 for their three fan series. I encourage those who can afford it to please consider tossing a few bucks into the virtual hat to help these fine fan filmmakers continue to create a fun and entertaining series of stories in the TOS-era of Star Trek. In my opinion, they’ve definitely earned our support.
They’ve already reached the 15% point in the first few days of their campaign. Here’s the link to donate…
Back to Valdore, their first episode was titled “THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE FEDERATION” and was a lot of fun. You can check it out here…
The new fan series stars JOAN SAVAGE as Romulan Commander Jhu D’Varo, reprising a role she previously played in episodes of Dreadnought Dominion. This first episode also features a prominent cameo appearance by MICHAEL BEDNAR, reprising his role of Captain Robert Tacket from the much-loved fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT and the upcoming FARRAGUT FORWARD.
I assembled these four fine folks (Gary, Randy, Joan, and Michael) for a group interview. And when we last left off, I was asking Michael a question…
DREADNOUGHT DOMINION got its start back in 2015 when the first two episodes “Haunted” and “Anchors Aweigh” were released. Afterward, the showrunner and lead actor, FRANK PARKER, JR. (playing Commodore Samuel Grissom) departed the series, leaving GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN to take Dominion where no fan series had gone before…onto the bridge (and corridors) of a Federation-class dreadnought starship.
And so they did, producing and releasing an additional FIFTEEN fan films, including a few crossovers with other fan series, over the course of seven years. (You can watch all the episodes of Dreadnough Dominionon this playlist.) But they didn’t stop there. In July of 2021, using a TOS-era runabout set that Gary constructed in his basement, they filmed and premiered the pilot episode of a new Dominion spinoff series called PROJECT: RUNABOUT. And a little over a year later, they released the second episode of that new fan series, “YORKTOWN,” shot both on the runabout set as well as at the U.S.S. Yorktown Naval and Maritime Museum in the Charlestown Harbor in South Carolina.
You might think that simultaneously producing two ongoing fan series would be enough to keep these two guys busy, and you’d be correct! But when has being busy ever stopped them before???
And so, in July of this year, Dominion Media launched its SECOND spinoff fan series: WARBIRD VALDORE. As you might be able to guess from the title, its stories are told from the perspective of a Romulan warbird commander and her crew. This isn’t the first time a fan series has spotlighted the adventures of another spacefaring alien race. POTEMKIN PICTURES’ BATTLECRUISER KUPOK and SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTHare both set on Klingon vessels. But this is the first time, to my knowledge, that a Romulan warbird has been been the primary focus of a series.
The new series is filmed in part on sets located at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA and stars JOAN SAVAGE as Romulan Commander Jhu D’Varo, reprising a role she previously played in Dreadnought Dominion. Check out their first episode…
Assuming you just watched it (SPOILER ALERT if you didn’t!), you’ll notice an appearance by MICHAEL BEDNAR, reprising his role of Robert Tacket from STARSHIP FARRAGUT and the upcoming FARRAGUT FORWARD. Now a full captain, Tacket is now in command of the U.S.S. Constitution. His appearance was quite a happy surprise for longtime fans familiar with Farragut (like me!).
Dominion has just launched a new crowd-funder trying to raise $5,000 for their three fan series. If you’d like to donate, click on the link below (I just tossed in $50 myself)…
Fans build perfectly nice TOS sets to use to make Star Trek fan films.
Egg roll manufacturer moves in next door.
A few years later, egg roll manufacturer moves out…leaving mold behind.
Mold starts creeping into Engineering.
Set owner has to spend his own money fixing the problem.
Yeah, I know; you’ve heard this one a million times at least! But it just happened again at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA.
As many of you know, the building housing the TOS sets is only partially rented by set owner RAY TESI. The other half of the building was, until recently, utilized by a company that manufactures egg rolls…because, well, somebody has to make those yummy, greasy things, right? It was kinda nice, actually, as the smells from the egg roll factory would permeate the entire building, and they smelled amazing.
“Oh, I still remember that amazing smell,” says director JOSHUA IRWIN. “It was like filming in the middle of the most incredible Chinese restaurant. Sometimes, weeks or months later, I would be sitting at home in Arkansas, editing a fan film I’d shot at Neutral Zone, and just seeing that footage on my screen was enough to make me start smelling phantom egg rolls in my brain.”
But alas, all good things must end. And so it came to pass that this egg roll manufacturer grew to be so successful that they needed to move to a larger facility in Jacksonville, FL, leaving the space next to the studio vacant.
Despite the loss of the intoxicating aroma, this actually wasn’t the worst news ever. For a while, Ray actually considered renting the other half of the building to expand the studio, but the price was not feasible. However, while in consideration, Ray walked through the adjacent space after the egg roll equipment had been removed. The space looked like a war zone, and there was grease everywhere.
During the time the factory occupied the building, Ray saw that water would occasionally seep through the walls and into the studio side. Turns out the egg roll people would hose down and pressure clean the floors at the end of the day and push some water into the studio. At Ray’s request, new plastic floor boards were installed by the egg roll folks to restrain the water, but the damage was done.
During his walkthrough of the non-vacant space, Ray noticed the mold.
Happy 57th Star Trek Anniversary, everyone! And just as I did exactly one year ago today, I am announcing the winners of this year’s SHOWRUNNER AWARDS!!
But first, I would like to thank the judges (each a showrunner himself) for once again doing an amazing job, watching five hours and 42 minutes of Star Trek fan films, and getting all of their ballots in before the August 15 deadline. We did have one judge reluctantly bow out due to time commitments—MARK LARGENT is working hard to finish the next (and last? I hope not!) STALLED TREK animated puppet parody THE DUMBSDAY MACHINE by later this year. And he wasn’t certain he’d have the time to watch and judge all 21 entries.
The remaining ten judges (in addition to yours truly) were…
JOHN ATKIN – YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL
SAMUEL COCKINGS – TREK SHORTS and TEMPORAL ANOMALY
GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN – DREADNOUGHT DOMINION (and more!)
JOSHUA IRWIN – THE AVALON UNIVERSE
PAUL JACQUES – RAINCROSS
GREG LOCK – AMBUSH
JEFF NORD – COMMANDERS OF STARFLEET
IAN RAMSEY – STAR REKT parody music videos
DAN REYNOLDS – THE FEDERATION FILES and WARP 66 STUDIOS
As we did last year, the scoring worked in the following way. For each of the 22 categories (four of them brand new this year), every judge would vote for his top five choices in descending order (his own fan film(s) could NOT be in the top three slots). In the final tally, each top choice would get 10 points. The second choice would get 7 points. The third would get 5 points, then 3, and finally 1 for the last choice. Then I would add up the total number of points in each category, determining a first place (Admiral Award), second place (Captain Award), and third place (Commander Award) winner.
This year’s voting produced some unexpected results. In some categories, the three winners were far, far ahead of the rest of the pack, having banked many of the top two or three spots from a majority of judges. (Those 10 and 7 scores stack up quickly!) In some other categories, things were a bit closer, with only a few points keeping nominees out of the top-level award tiers. And for Best Fan Film, there was only a ONE POINT difference separating the first and second place winners. Exciting!!!
These guys again??? Well, yeah. AVALON UNIVERSE produces a LOT of high-quality fan films! In fact, they’ve just released their 12th completed production in less than five years…with another major release just a couple of months away. That’s more than two-and-a-half fan films per year, folks! (You can watch them all here on this playlist.) So it’s no wonder I’ve published a ton of blogs focusing on showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and, more recently, his co-director and one of the stars of Avalon, TYLER DUNIVAN.
Tyler appeared in the first two Avalon releases, GHOST SHIP and AVALON LOST, but then he left the series for a period of time—with his character of Captain Derek Mason being killed off. Mason’s love interest, Engineer Jamie Archer (played by actress VICTORIA ARCHER), was then killed off in the following episode, DEMONS, as that actress also asked to leave the series.
Of course, no death is necessarily permanent in Star Trek (paging Captain Spock!), especially when the actors want to come back to their roles, and so both Tyler and Victoria returned to play resurrected versions of their characters a few episodes later in COSMIC STREAM. Since then, both characters have also appeared in a post-credit sequence in the episode AGENT OF NEW WORLDS.
Now, once again, Mason and Archer get an episode all to themselves…well, themselves, a Starfleet crew, and an unexpected visitor. KNIGHTS OF THE VOID is the latest release from the Avalon Universe…
Sadly, there will only be two more Avalon Universe fan films before the series reaches its always-planned conclusion. The first of the two releases will be CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS, due out in just a couple of months with an incredible multiverse crossover that is, I predict, going to be talked about throughout many genres of fan films for a LONG time! And then the series will conclude with THE ONCE AND FUTURE CAPTAIN, coming at some point in 2024.
What is particularly interesting (and impressive!) about these final three fan films is that they were shot simultaneously! I don’t mean back-to-back over a single long weekend. There were actually five separate shoots during which scenes for multiple productions were filmed during the same set of shooting days. In fact, according to Josh, there are still two or three shooting days left for the remaining two films in order to get some pick-up shots.
With such a demanding production schedule, Josh determined that there was simply too much for him to coordinate during the shoots all by himself. So Tyler stepped up and offered to direct the actors and their performances while Josh focused more on the technical aspects of the scenes, although Josh still did some directing of the actors, as well.
How did this tag-teaming work and work out? Discover the answer to this question and many others as Tyler and Josh return to their Zoom screens for a lively discussion of Knights of the Void, the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs, and other enlightening stuff…
In Part 1, I began chatting with RAY TESI, the owner of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA, home of a complete collection of TOS sets that are used by countless fan films and series. Ray recently completed a 30-day Indiegogo campaign that took in a remarkable $19,617 from 218 donors. But it still fell well short of its $36,000 goal.
It’s possible that some of that shortfall was due to a series of scandalous rumors and attacks on social media which seemingly came out of nowhere days after the crowd-funding campaign was launched. It’ not entirely clear what set these people off or what their game plan was, other than what is colloquially known as MANUFACTURED OUTRAGE. But for nearly a month, it seemed their goal was to sabotage this Indiegogo campaign, and through depriving Neutral Zone Studios of much-needed fan donations, to potentially force the closure of this incredible fan film resource, possibly forever.
Normally, I’d include links to the comments themselves or even just a screen cap or two, but these posts were so ridiculous that I’d rather not give them any coverage at all. Instead, I’m going to let Ray speak about what can only be called baseless and unfounded attacks by total strangers agains him and his studio as we conclude our two-part interview…
There are certain people in the fan film community whom I call the NICEST people. Not only are they warm and friendly, but they are generous, willing to help others, and enthusiastically support the filmmakers who work so hard to create these Star Trek fan films that we all love so much.
Perched at the top of the “NICE” list is RAY TESI, who purchased the TOS sets in Kingsland, GA that were used for both STARSHIP FARRAGUT and later STAR TREK CONTINUES in 2018 from previous owner VIC MIGNOGNA. This was no small thing! The purchase price was reportedly well into the five-figure range, and the monthly rent for the building housing those sets is $3,000! But since Vic wasn’t able to keep paying to store unused sets for a fan series that had wrapped production, the alternative would have been seeing those incredible TOS sets tossed into the dumpster by the landlord.
Ray couldn’t bear to have that happen, and so this resident of Boca Raton, FL dipped into his retirement savings to not only buy the sets but also take on the responsibility for $36,000/year in rent…for what has been half a decade so far!
Over the years, Ray has received financial support from fans through a Patreon campaign with hundreds of monthly contributors…with Ray making up the difference out of his pocket. As a gesture of thanks, Ray hosts Fan Appreciation Weekends during the cooler months of the year (September-May) where he opens the sets up to the general public. This has been going on almost as long as Ray has owned the sets.
Last month, Ray kicked off a 30-day Indiegogo campaign with a $36,000 goal…an eyebrow-raising number! But as of last week, Ray was able to reach a total of just short of $20,000! Today in part 1 of an interview with Ray, I’m going to ask where that money will be spent and if fans should be concerned that the crowd-funder still fell 45% short of its goal.
Then in part 2, I’m going to ask him about some rather outlandish rumors that began to circulate while the campaign was going on. Spread by people on the opposite side of the spectrum from “nice,” it almost seemed like they were trying to sabotage Ray’s crowd-funder and shut down Neutral Zone Studios. I know…crazy, right? I mean, who would do something like that? It’d be like firebombing Santa’s workshop just before Christmas!
Back in 2015 when I first began covering Star Trek fan films, there were quite a few fan series that had already been churning out new releases for over a half a decade. Now, only a handful of those productions are still around, although new ones have sprung up to take their place, and the world of Star Trek fan films is currently thriving.
One of those fan series that was around back in 2015 actually got its start way back in 2010, and it’s STILL churning out new fan films thirteen years later! I am referring, of course, to NATURE’S HUNGER, which was originally STAR TREK: NATURES HUNGER (and no, the lack of apostrophe in the original title is not a typo on my part). Showrunner JOSE “JOE” CEPEDA lives just south of Atlanta, GA and writes, directs, edits, does many of the VFX, supplies costumes and props, and stars as Captain Ramses of the U.S.S. Crusader.
When I launched Fan Film Factor in 2016, Nature’s Hunger remained on my list of fan series to cover. But as I do with all the fan productions that I feature, I wanted to first watch every film that they had released. This was easier said than done, however!
As you can see from their YouTube video page, even as early as 2016, they had already posted nearly a HUNDRED separate fan films and videos. Many were quite short and experimental—sometimes only a minute to a few minutes in length. But a small number were 15 and even 20 minutes long, and their most recent offerings are 45 minutes and over an hour long!
I began watching through each one, noticing the this series was the purest form of fan film where the love of the genre and desire to create their own Star Trek far surpassed their budget and resources. In other words, these weren’t slick and polished “top tier” fan films but rather very grass-roots, guerrilla-level green screen productions with lots of heart and whimsy.
Oh, and speaking of gorillas, Nature’s Hunger often threw caution and canon to the wind as they crossed over with such other “realities” as Planet of the Apes, The Silence of the Lambs, and even The Wizard of Oz. Indeed, young Dorothy Gale, after being rescued from Oz by the crew, decides to join Starfleet! So, yeah, this is a very unique fan series and perhaps not for everyone. But if you can appreciate sincere effort and respect the obvious adoration they have for Star Trek, there is a LOT to enjoy about this fan series.
Granted, it took me quite a while to make it through everything that they had released. Along the way, I saw multiple versions of the crew finding and rescuing Dorothy, along with seeing the starship shift (without explanation) from everyone serving on board the U.S.S. Enterprise to being on the U.S.S. Crusader. (Hey, it’s a fan series, folks!) I also learned what the title Nature’s Hunger refers to…
Usually, I write the blog entries ’round these parts. But every so often, a fan filmmaker writes something up that essentially does my work for me! This time, it was POTEMKIN PICTURES showrunner RANDY LANDERS, who just posted the latest release from the STARSHIP TRISTAN creative group: “Seeing in the Dark.”
Although this was the 22nd Tristan fan film (you can view them all here on the Potemkin website), I’d begun to wonder if they were still active. It had been more than two years since their previous release, “36 Hours,” and a full year since the one before that, “Reclamation.” And unlike their sister production team, STARSHIP DEIMOS, the Tristan folks didn’t seem willing to make the long drive from Birmingham, Alabama up to Lexington, Kentucky to use the Potemkin sets that Randy took with him (and expended) when he and his wife relocated to the bluegrass state in late 2019.
Three new creative groups sprang up in Lexington—STARSHIPS WEBSTER and CALIBORN and SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH—and as I said, Deimos cast members were making the drive up to shoot there. But what of Tristan?
In a comment posted on the new video release on YouTube, Randy explained everything that was going on with Tristan both then and now. So with his permission, I’m just going to let Randy tell his own tale this time. But first, let’s watch the latest Starship Tristan release…