AVALON UNIVERSE reaches their $3,000 dollar match in just TWO AND A HALF DAYS!!!

I certainly didn’t see THIS coming! I mean, I was initially feeling hopeful that the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe campaign would be able to reach (and maybe even surpass) the $3,000 maximum that wonder-supporter RAY MYERS was offering as a dollar-for-dollar match to any donations that came in this week between Monday and Sunday. That would double that maximum to $6,000—and more-than-double their total from where the week had started (which was just over $5,500 raised in about two and a half months).

I figured that Team Avalon (and I) would need to pull out all the stops and really talk up the dollar-match promotion as much as possible for the entire week to even have a snowball’s chance of reaching that $3,000 maximum. Instead, it only took two and a half days to get there, and good as his word, Ray donated a whopping $3,000 to the campaign earlier this morning…

As I write this, the total shown on Avalon‘s GoFundMe page reads $11,572…about 57.8% of the way to their $20,000 goal. This is, by far, the most ambitious Star Trek fan film crowd-funder to come along in a couple of years, and it’s not nearly as easy to reach into the five-figures as it used to be!

I chatted with showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN last night, wondering whether or not to publish this blog today announcing the good news. On the one hand…YAY! On the other hand, to point out that the $3,000 maximum had been reached runs the risk of potential donors thinking, “Well, if my donation isn’t going to get doubled anymore, why bother?” Likewise, some folks might be confused and assume that the goal was only $3,000 and say, “Great, mission accomplished.” But the overall goal for the ENTIRE campaign is still about $8,400 away.

In the end, we decided share the good news. After all, this will be my fourth Avalon Universe blog in four days, so why ruin the streak, right? And if all goes well, tomorrow will be my fifth, as I just completed an awesome video interview with Josh, actor TYLER DUNIVAN, and this angel donor Ray (who also donated more than $3,000 to my fan film INTERLUDE). Fans have seen multiple interviews with Josh and Tyler, but who is this Ray Myers guy, and why is he being SO generous? Is he just super-rich, or is his wife gonna kill him for throwing their nest-egg away on a couple of silly Star Trek fan films?

And in the meantime, remember that the Avalon GoFundMe is still VERY much alive and active—and still aiming for a $20,000 goal. So if you haven’t donated yet, even though your dollars won’t be doubled, this is still a wonderful group of fan filmmakers and very deserving of our support….just ask Ray Myers!

Here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

AVALON UNIVERSE releases a new EXPANDED Blooper Reel!

Welcome to day three of “Jonathan-is-talking-about-nothing-other-than-THE-AVALON-UNIVERSE-all-week” week!

Actually, I hadn’t planned on blogging about Avalon each day, but so far, there’s been at least one newsworthy thing every 24 hours. On Monday, of course, it was the launch of a week-long promotion during which every dollar donated to the current Avalon GoFundMe campaign is being matched by super-supporter RAY MYERS (up to $3,000). Then yesterday, I was shocked and amazed that a whopping $2,135 had been donated just in the first day alone—which doubles to $4,270…all on day one!

Day two wasn’t quite as explosive, but nevertheless, a solid $675 more was raised, doubling to an impressive $1,350 to help fund the production of three (possibly four!) new Avalon Universe fan films. At this point, their grand total raised now stands at $11,132 (including matched dollars), and that’s 55.5% of their $20,000 goal. Can they reach that ambitious number this week? I suppose we’ll find out in five more days!

In the meantime, to keep things fresh and interesting, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN has listened to requests from fans and supporters both on YouTube and Facebook to provide even more fun Avalon bloopers. So he has expanded the blooper reel from Monday that announced this week’s donation-dollar-match promotion, and this new one has even MORE fun moments with the cast and crew…

(For those of you born after the awesome 80s, that background song is “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON from 1986, originally written as part of the soundtrack to the film The Color of Money, starring PAUL NEWMAN and TOM CRUISE and directed by MARTIN SCORSESE.)

For me—and I think for many fans in our community—those outtakes are part of the reason why we love this sub-sub-sub genre niche of ours. It’s all about the FUN! Yeah, we like our fan films and playing in the Star Trek sandbox, but if we’re not enjoying the filmmaking process at least a little, why bother going through all the hassle?

So the Avalon Universe folks, who are such a wonderful group of people, show us all how enjoyable making fan films can be, and what a wonderful bonding experience it can be among old friends AND new friends. Granted, it can also be a lot of hard work, frustrating at times, frantic at other times, and sometimes downright exhausting, but if you can keep a smile on your face through all the long hours and have a good time, that just makes the finished product all the sweeter.

And if you want to see more of those finished products from these great people, please consider making a donation to the Avalon GoFundMe campaign at this link…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe takes in $2,135 in 24 hours!!!

I have to admit that I was pretty shocked at the unexpectedly enthusiastic fan response to yesterday’s announcement of that all donations to the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe for this week would be matched dollar-for-dollar by super-supporter RAY MYERS. Ray’s upper limit for matching donations is $3,000, but I honestly expected that the Avalon folks would need to push really hard to reach that big number in only a week.

After all, the campaign has been running for two and a half months, and during that time, donations had only reached a little over $5,500. To expect more than half that amount in new donations in just seven days was being quite optimistic.

Then yesterday happened.

I must give showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN credit for editing together an awesome new crowd-funding “ask” video making the announcement. Likewise, Avalon stars TYLER DUNIVAN and PIXI NEREID have an electric chemistry and charm that comes across not only in their performances but also in their bloopers. Take a look if you haven’t watched the video already…

Reaction to the video was wonderfully positive on both Facebook and YouTube. In fact, Josh has received multiple requests for more Avalon bloopers, and he just might be willing to oblige if Tuesday’s donations come close to Monday’s (hint, hint).

And what were Monday’s donations, you ask?

In just 24 hours, the Avalon GoFundMe campaign was able to pull in $2,135 from 40 donors!!! Adding Ray Myers’ dollar matching, and that brings the total donations raised so far up to a whopping $9,800…or 49% of the final $20,000 goal! Folks, that is friggin’ amazing!!!

So what’s their secret? Well, in addition to the fun new video and sending an update to their existing donors, Team Avalon got by with a little help from their friends. I published yesterday’s blog and shared it to a dozen different Facebook groups. ALEC PETERS blasted the AXANAR donor list with a e-mail announcing of the dollar-match week-long promotion and encouraging Axanar supporters to also become Avalon supporters…as the recent Avalon release COSMIC STREAM featured a cameo by Garth, and an upcoming Avalon production is slated to be filmed at ARES STUDIOS. And finally, $800 came in a single donation from C.W. THOMPSON, who donated a couple of months ago to this same Avalon campaign and, before that, was one of the biggest donors to my fan film INTERLUDE. C.W. is very, very generous.

Anyway, that was the first 24 hours. But this week is full of promotional events for Avalon, so who knows how far they can get? They…could…go…all…the…way! And even if they don’t make it this week, GoFundMe campaigns have no time limit. And I suspect that, once their next major release, AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, premieres on October 31, fan excitement and donor support will pick up all over again.

But fans and supporters appear to be very excited right now, too! If you’re one of them and want to help with a donation—big or small—here is the link…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Mystery revealed: AVALON UNIVERSE angel-donor announces DOLLAR-MATCHING for a week!

Last Friday, JOSHUA IRWIN, showrunner for the very impressive fan series known as the AVALON UNIVERSE, surprised and confused fans and supporters by posting a video telling viewers NOT to donate to their current GoFundMe campaign—at least, not until Monday…

This fun-yet-intriguing video was followed by a shorter one on Saturday…

And a third one on Sunday…

The videos have done their job, as commenters on Facebook have generally expressed interest in finding out what’s going on. After all, when you’re trying to crowd-fund THREE different upcoming episodes of your series by raising $20,000 in donations from fans, you kinda WANT people to donate. So…what gives?

Well, wonder no more—as earlier today the big reveal was, er, revealed. A few clever folks actually guessed correctly: Monday begins a seven-day DONATION MATCH WEEK where every dollar donated to the current Avalon Universe will be DOUBLED (up to $3,000)…thanks to the generosity of angel-supporter RAY MYERS.

Take a look at today’s awesome video…

And here’s the link to the campaign…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

If the name Ray Myers sounds familiar, you might remember him from my own fan film INTERLUDE, where Josh Irwin was director of photography. Back in the summer of 2019, I’d launched a similarly ambitious GoFundMe with an $18K goal. A few weeks into the campaign, I woke up one morning to discover that at some point the previous night, someone had donated a whopping $3K to my project—someone I’d never even met before!

Ray and I went on to become friends, and in addition to getting listed in the Interlude credits as associate producer and getting his name on the Game of Thrones memorial coffee cup in the engineering scene, Ray also got to play the first officer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis.

Ray Myers as the first officer of the U.S.S. Artemis in Interlude

Ray has maintained a friendship with Josh as well as with me. And when he saw a few weeks ago that the Avalon GoFundMe was slowing down a bit at a level about a quarter of the way there, Ray reached out to Josh with an offer to do a dollar-matching donation promotion for a week whenever Josh was ready to do so.

With the Creation Las Vegas con and then the 55th anniversary of Star Trek sucking up most of the oxygen in fandom, it was decided that this week would be the best opportunity to build up to a big reveal and then pull out all the stops for the next seven days…so expect me to be talking up Avalon quite a lot this week! In fact, I’ve got a special Zoom video interview coming up (hopefully) on Friday to coincide with a brand new release from Avalon and also an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS Avalon fan film…the first to be funded using donations from this current campaign.

Continue reading “Mystery revealed: AVALON UNIVERSE angel-donor announces DOLLAR-MATCHING for a week!”

Why should we NOT donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE crowd-funder until MONDAY?

Back in July, I was pushing my blogging warp engines to the red line trying to help my friends over in the AVALON UNIVERSE reach their green line goal of $20,000 for their current GoFundMe campaign. The money raised will go toward production costs on THREE separate fan films, including the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, set to debut on October 31 (and it looks amazing with breathtakingly beautiful desert cinematography that includes aerial drone footage).

Anyway, when your crowd-funder is trying to reach $20K these days, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Heck, it took me more than three months to reach that amount with my fan film INTERLUDE back in 2019.) So it wasn’t surprising to find the Avalon campaign stalling out at about $5.5K…

Obviously, however, it’s critically important to get the campaign back into gear and raising more donations again. And that’s why it came as quite a surprise on Friday morning when showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN posted the following video telling fans NOT to donate to the campaign—at least not until this coming Monday…

It’s a fun little video, showing actor TLYER DUNIVAN (who plays Captain Derek Mason) struggling to get his lines right while PIXI NEREID (Commander Micaela Allenby) is just her usual perky, playful, patient, and positive self…lighting up the room with her smile. It’s candid moments like this that just make me love all these guys and their wonderful enthusiasm.

Anyway, this afternoon saw the second video in what I suspect will be a trilogy leading up to the big reveal on Monday. Video #2 was much shorter but still included some fun chuckle moments…

So what’s the big announcement? Why should fans and supporters not donate just yet and instead wait until Monday? I guess we’ll find out in just two more days, folks!

Now THAT was a STAR TREK DAY…I am SO excited now to be a fan!!!! (editorial)

What a difference five years makes!!

No, you are not accidentally reading yesterday’s blog where I compared the anemic celebration of Star Trek‘s 50th anniversary with the announced “Star Trek Day” livecast and events scheduled for the 55th anniversary. In that blog, I asked whether NO Star Trek really was “better” than BAD Star Trek? And honestly, I thought the answer was obvious…so much so that I worried that folks on Facebook would make fun of me for writing 2,210 words on a question as easy as “Is the sky green?”

Man, was I surprised!

Nearly a thousand views of yesterday’s blog, and every few seconds another “DING!” from Facebook where someone added a comment in one of the dozen or so groups where I posted a link. While many folks agreed with me that even low-quality Star Trek provides room for improvement (and CBS Trek HAS been improving)., others passionately disagreed. They felt angry and betrayed, insisting that the sacrifice in quality isn’t worth it. Star Trek needed to remain pure and true to GENE RODDENBERRY’s vision. And if it didn’t, if Star Trek simply became “bad TV” (which they felt the new shows were) then better to have no Star Trek at all…if forced to make that binary choice.

I almost couldn’t believe how many fan still felt so thoroughly negative about the newer Star Treks. Frankly, it kinda brought me down as the day went on knowing how many fans would really choose to have no new Star Trek at all over at least something…no matter the quality. By the time the Star Trek Day livestream started, I was almost too bummed to watch it.

In fact, I started out NOT watching it because I had to pick up my son and drive him home from Robotics. By the time we returned, the first half of the online event was already over, but I noticed folks posting all over Facebook, excited about the characters joining the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise under commad of ANSON MOUNT’S Captain Christopher Pike on in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Perhaps you saw the following…

Now, I did shudder a little at the Andorian/Aenar make-up—assuming that’s what he is. But despite being somewhat different than established canon, it still looked pretty cool (WAY better than first-season Star Trek: Discovery Klingons). And I’m not sure yet about those uniforms. On the other hand, being able to see a younger Nurse Chapel and Cadet Uhura is intriguing to me. It’s a bold move, and not entirely outside of the realm of canonic possibility. We’re at a time now when Kirk is likely already serving aboard the Farragut (in his early 20s), so if Uhura is a few years younger than that, it works. As for Dr. M’Benga, he could totally have been on the Enterprise at that point. And there’s a crew member named La’an Noonien Singh? KHANNNNNNN!!!!!!

But wait! What was this emotion I was suddenly feeling? Oh, yes…excitement!

Continue reading “Now THAT was a STAR TREK DAY…I am SO excited now to be a fan!!!! (editorial)”

STAR TREK at 55…is NO Star Trek really “better” than BAD Star Trek? (editorial)

Today is “Star Trek Day“…marking 55 years since the first-ever episode of Star Trek was aired on NBC Television back on September 8, 1966.

In celebration of this special day (at least for us Trekkers), ViacomCBS announced a series of panels that will stream live today at 5:30 PM Pacific Time/8:30 PM Eastern Time from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. These panels and a number of related special events will be free to watch on StarTrek.com/Day. The panels will also be available to stream for free in the U.S. on Paramount+ and Paramount+’s Twitch page. After their initial airing, the panels will be available on-demand on Paramount+’s YouTube Channel and on Paramount+.

To go along with this announcement, the studio released this wonderful montage video…

Seriously, how cool was that? I mean, even if you aren’t a fan of the newer CBS Star Trek series, this whole event is pretty impressive. Indeed, that same Skirball Cultural Center will be running an exclusive Star Trek: Exploring Strange New Worlds exhibit for four months beginning in October. During that time, a new animated Star Trek series titled Star Trek: Prodigy will be debuting not only on the subscription-based Paramount+ streaming service but also on the children’s broadcast channel Nickelodeon. This will be the first Star Trek series in 48 years to be targeted specifically at kids (the next generation of Trekkers).

But that’s not all! Next year will see the debut of ANSON MOUNT as Captain Christopher Pike in the brand new series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds…a return to episodic Star Trek where storylines won’t stretch over entire seasons featuring ever-escalating risks, challenges, and dangers. Instead (we’re desperately hoping!), it’ll be good old-fashioned Star Trek the way we’ve loved it in the past.

And of course, we’ve got Q, Guinan, and the Borg Queen coming to Star Trek: Picard, and whatever the U.S.S. Discovery is gonna do now that her nacelles detach. (Okay, maybe not EVERYTHING is coming up roses.) Oh, and we’ve still got two-thirds of a season of Star Trek: Lower Decks coming out each week.

But hey, let’s stop for a moment and take a look back—way, way, waaaaaaaay back in time (with the help of a Guardian named “Carl”) to a year you all might barely remember because it was soooooooo long ago. That year, of course, was…

Continue reading “STAR TREK at 55…is NO Star Trek really “better” than BAD Star Trek? (editorial)”

STARSHIP FARRAGUT is coming BACK…or is it FORWARD??? (interview with JOHNNY K.)

When last we left STARSHIP FARRAGUT, showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON and his gallant crew had crowd-funded about $15K at the end of 2015 for what was to be their series finale, “Homecoming.” Footage for that fan film was shot in 2015 and 2016, and there were sporadic updates to donors (like me) but nothing major until about 14 months ago, when it was announced that musical composer STEVE SEMMEL had taken over as Post-Production Supervisor (you can check out the interview I did with Steve here).

According to the most recent update, “Homecoming” will, at long last, be released on October 1 of this year. Here’s a trailer for that fan film, which features an eye-catching cameo by the deeply missed, legendary Marvel Comics creator STAN LEE…

While “Homecoming” was to mark the end of the U.S.S. Farragut‘s five-year mission under Captain Jack Carter (played by John Broughton), the end was just the beginning. Also back in 2015, John announced that the team would soon be launching a new sequel series to be titled FARRAGUT FORWARD. At the time, Farragut Films had officially ended their relationship with “sister” series STAR TREK CONTINUES, leaving their TOS sets in Kingsland, GA—nearly all of which Farragut folks had either built or helped to build. Many members of the Farragut team lived in the Washington, D.C. area anyway, not particularly close to southeastern Georgia.

The new Farragut series would jump forward (hence, the name) in time about 20 years, just as Star Trek itself had done with the feature films, into the Wrath of Khan/”monster-maroon” uniform era. However, with the guidelines emerging within just a few months of John’s announcement, many wondered if the group would still launch a brand new Star Trek fan series when the very first guideline said that you can’t have an ongoing Star Trek fan series. And indeed, any news about Farragut Forward pretty much stopped after the guidelines were announced.

Until two weeks ago.

Fans were ecstatic to find a Facebook post from John Broughton linking to this website announcement that Farragut Forward had finally entered pre-production! John has joined forces with independent film studio KAOTICA STUDIOS in Washington, DC, and the studio’s founder, JOHNNY KARZAI, will be directing the initial episode.

The announcement said that fans “…can expect a more ‘sophisticated’ version of Farragut…  a darker, more serious side.” And indeed, after doing a lighting test with John Broughton in a meticulously-crafted captain’s uniform, Johnny K. commented, “This isn’t your Daddy’s Farragut!”

As you can see from the above photo, John B.’s character of Captain Jack Carter has aged VERY gracefully and looks as awesome as his uniform. “I think shelving this project for 5 years has helped us greatly in many ways, including the older self!” John said in a Facebook post.

Fans already know a good deal about John Broughton (if not, then read this 3-part History of Starship Farragut). But what about director Johnny Karzai? I reached out to Johnny K. for the inside scoop on all things Farragut Forward

Continue reading “STARSHIP FARRAGUT is coming BACK…or is it FORWARD??? (interview with JOHNNY K.)”

Fan remasters STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN to HD quality! (interview with DAN ARMITAGE)

Last month, I released a compilation of what I determined were the very best scenes and sequences from the world of Star Trek fan films. (You can watch it here.) I grabbed about three dozen clips from fan productions spanning the last two decades, using an application that downloads videos from YouTube.

Unfortunately, the quality of the videos was all over the place. The most recent fan films like the ones from AVALON UNIVERSE, SQUADRON from the Czech Republic, and A LONG WAY FROM HOME from SAMUEL COCKINGS looked spectacular with High Definition (HD) quality. And even going back five years, stuff still looked awesome.

But when I got to fan films released prior to 2010, video quality dropped significantly because those productions were shot before HD quality digital video was available to the masses…both due to camera equipment and the size of video files and the cost of hard drive storage.

But hey, the show must go on, right? So I used what I had to work with, and the feedback to the video has been generally positive. Nobody seems to have an issue with the image quality of older fan films. But, man, if only…

“If only…” happened last week, about a month after I released my video. Without fanfare, a fellow named DAN ARMITAGE from a town near Liverpool, England released an upscaled version of STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN onto his YouTube channel! Originally shot back in 2006 and directed by TIM “Tuvok” RUSS, ST:OGAM was shot primarily on JAMES CAWLEY’s TOS sets at Retro Studios in Ticonderoga, New York and at Vasquez Rocks north of Los Angeles. The fan film was professional quality, starring a wealth of actors from the (at the time) rich 40-year history of Star Trek, including NICHELLE NICHOLS as Uhura and WALTER KOENIG as Chekov. All of the performances were amazing. (You can read more about the production here.)

The groundbreaking fan film was originally released in three parts between December 2007 and June 2008. Those segments were combined into one YouTube video a few years later in 2012, and here’s the way the film has looked to most fans for more than a decade…

Now take a look at the remastered version that Dan Armitage just released…

Pretty amazing, huh? Granted, it’s still not as pristine as the 80 episodes of TOS or the seven seasons of TNG that Paramount and CBS Home Video spent millions of dollars remastering. However, in fairness, those folks went back to the original film negatives, digitally scanned and color-corrected them, re-edited each episode from scratch, and had CGI artists spend thousands of hours creating brand new VFX sequences.

What did Dan have to work with? Let’s ask him…

Continue reading “Fan remasters STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN to HD quality! (interview with DAN ARMITAGE)”

COVID takes the life of a fan filmmaker, sends another to intensive care…if you’re coming back from Las Vegas, PLEASE get tested ASAP!

Y’know how sometimes in movies and TV shows (even Star Trek), they give you a “fake out” ending where you think the good guys have won, but suddenly the villain escapes or comes back to life or something and there’s an even bigger challenge to the hero leading up to the exciting climax?

Welcome to the summer of 2021.

A year ago, operation “Warp Speed” seemed to be our only hope to overcome this incomprehensible global pandemic. Infections, hospitalizations, and deaths were reaching terrifyingly historic levels, and those of us who weren’t calling the whole thing a hoax were praying daily that a vaccine could be developed in the nick of time the way Dr. McCoy used to do on Star Trek.

Then we got the vaccine—four of them, in fact!—Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca, and many people took their shot(s). But almost inconceivably, many did not. Actually, it’s not so inconceivable when you consider that the name “Warp Speed” carries with it the implication that the vaccines were rushed out rather than what really happened…which was actually building on a vaccination technology that had been decades in the making and testing and just needed a push over the finish line.

Remember how everything seemed to be so honky-dory this past July 4 when infections and hospitalizations (and deaths!) finally started to drop to encouraging levels? Many cities with mask mandates had already dropped them for outdoor activities and were starting to lift them for indoor areas, as well.

But then, the Delta Variant arrived. It sounds so sci-fi, doesn’t it? Trekkies know “delta” as the quadrant of the galaxy that Voyager was stuck in for seven seasons. And “variants” are a big thing in the Marvel Universe thanks to the events of Loki. But don’t let the familiar-sounding terms lull you into a false sense of security because the Delta Variant of COVID-19 is deadly serious.

Michael Sylvester (right) with Vance Major in 2016

Just how deadly serious hit home to the fan film community this past week with the announcement of the passing of MICHAEL SYLVESTER from Coronavirus. Michael lived in Huntsville, Alabama, and before anyone says, “Oh, he must have been one of those anti-vaxxers/COVID-is-a-hoax idiots,” Michael took the virus VERY seriously. He always wore a mask in public (even in a state where such a thing is sometimes mocked), washed his hands constantly, and according to his close friend ERIC L. WATTS, Michael was indeed vaccinated.

A man celebrated and loved for having a big heart and wonderful sense of humor, Michael has been involved in the fan film community for a long time, working on the crew of STAR TREK: RENEGADES back in 2014-2015. Later on, he appeared in seven of VANCE MAJOR’s early MINARD saga fan films and then starred in the two-part MELBORNE fan film “Storm Front” in 2017 and 2018…

Continue reading “COVID takes the life of a fan filmmaker, sends another to intensive care…if you’re coming back from Las Vegas, PLEASE get tested ASAP!”