Time to give VANCE MAJOR a little money for CONSTAR CONTINUES (he only needs $700)!

We love VANCE MAJOR. How could we not? Whether you watch and enjoy his nearly 70 fan films, avoid them completely, or simply chuckle at the cord in the doorway and/or grumble when the sound of the blowing wind drowns out a line of dialog…you can’t deny that Vance is the beating heart of Star Trek fan films.

Sure, Vance isn’t producing snazzy, Hollywood-quality fan films with Oscar-caliber acting, cdazzling VFX, meticulously-tailored costumes, and pitch-perfect sound. But what his is doing is so much more important: he is having FUN—and he’s inviting us all to come along on his amazing…trek.

Last month, I published a blog featuring an audio interview with Vance, celebrating the release of 51(!!!) brand new fan films from THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES—ready for binge-watching over the holidays—plus another 18 special edition re-releases of fan films from Vance’s MINARD saga. And even with all of that, he’s still not done! Vance is planning to produce even more fan films!! In fact, in just a few more months, Vance will be shooting ALEC PETERS himself as Garth at Ares Studios in Georgia.

Vance has always been known as a man who can do a LOT with very, very little. I’ve joked in the past that he funds his film projects with the loose change he finds in the cushions of his sofa. And for the most part, that’s true. But costumes and props are the exception to keeping things ultra-cheap. Sure, you don’t have to buy the custom-made $500 screen-perfect versions that Anovos offers, but even an inexpensive Halloween costume can run $25-50. And keep in mind that Vance needs to have a variety of different sizes, as Star Trek fans cover a wide spectrum of body types. And Vance opens up his roles to many, many fans (even me!).

Vance has crowd-funded costumes/uniforms before, and he doesn’t ask for much. For his current GoFundMe crowd-funder, he’s only looking for $1,175…and he’s already got $475 of it (including $40 from yours truly). So if you have a few bucks left over after the holidays, please consider clicking below to donate to a very worthy and dedicated fan filmmaker…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/constar-continues

Really HUGE news for ARES STUDIOS and AXANAR!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A super-fan dreamed of making a fan film covering an era of Star Trek history previously unexplored: approximately twenty years before Kirk’s first five-year mission. This was a couple of years before Discovery was even announced, of course.

With a six-figure budget, a cast of trained Hollywood actors, a professional crew, costumes, props, make-up, and all the trimmings, the original goal was to release this 90-minute feature-length Star Trek fan film in 2016. But that didn’t happen. Although footage was shot back in 2015, it’s now 2020, and the darn thing still isn’t out yet…despite a few teasers/trailers and lots of coverage here on Fan Film Factor. Fans have been patient, of course, but we really are dying to see the finished production at some point—hopefully this year!

A number of very nice sets, including a starship bridge, were built for this fan film—and for the last few years, these sets have been kept in a facility near Atlanta, GA. But the cost of storing these sets has been a financial burden of tens of thousands of dollars. But now that expense is finally ending.

I’ve been referring, of course, to the fan film project STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, created by KENNY SMITH, that will feature the launch of the brand new USS Enterprise NCC-1701 under the command of its first captain, Robert April. The “Cage” era TOS sets were constructed in 2015 and used for filming later that year and then put into public storage in Marietta, GA (about a half hour north of Atlanta), where Kenny has been paying about $7,000/year to house them.

The FIRST FRONTIER bridge set in all its glory

But truth be told, the sets would probably never have been used again. Indeed, they weren’t even really built to last (unlike the AXANAR sets). But Kenny didn’t have the heart to toss them into the dumpster.

Enter: ALEC PETERS. The same person who built many of these First Frontier sets—SCOTT LYTTLE—is currently working as a volunteer on Axanar (and also helped out with Interlude) doing set construction. (Check out the first five minutes of this video to hear Scott discussing construction of the First Frontier set pieces.) As it turned out, Alec had wanted to shoot some footage for Axanar on the USS Enterprise bridge, and Scott suggested they use Kenny’s old sets…which were just sitting in storage anyway. Long story short, Kenny just donated the sets in their entirety yo Alec, and now their new home is Ares Studios.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Axanews today…!

Continue reading “Really HUGE news for ARES STUDIOS and AXANAR!”

THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)

Back in 2014, the sky seemed to be the limit for Star Trek fan films! Productions like AXANAR, RENEGADES, NEW VOYAGES, STAR TREK CONTINUES, and a few others were all eagerly casting active, retired, and semi-retired veteran Star Trek actors in fan film roles…often reprising the very characters they’d become famous playing.

Into this euphoric maelstrom burst the fan project STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “THE NIGHT OF TIME.” Originally it was simply going to be an outgrowth of New Voyages, filmed on the TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY with JAMES CAWLEY as executive producer. (Here’s a video from New York Comic Con 2014 announcing that). The episode was to feature actor JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Voyager 2-parter “Equinox” and lead into a new series starring GARRETT WANG as Captain Harry Kim on new 24th century sets. (Ah, remember those carefree, optimistic days? Heck, James Cawley was still working with ALEC PETERS on Axanar back then!)

Ultimately, most of those plans for New Voyages fell through, but footage with actor John Savage and California actress BLANCA BLANCO had still been shot at Retro Studios in upstate New York, and it was usable. This is when producer ERIC NYENHUIS decided to take the story out independently on its own, calling the project Star Trek: Equinox, with the first episode being titled “The Night of Time.”

The full script had already been written by CAMREN T. BURTON based on an idea from Savage and fellow actor GARY LOCKWOOD, who had also agreed to come on board the new series to reprise his TOS role of Gary Mitchell (who became a god-thing in the second TOS pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”—but apparently survived and returned to normal).

Hopes were high for this fledgling fan project, which would also feature Lockwood’s daughter Samantha as a new character named Nurse Christine Roddenberry. Optimism was so high, in fact, that the show-runners were telling reporters in articles like this one that Equinox would be presented directly to CBS as a PILOT for a new series. (Yep, they were totally serious.)

The first order of business, though, was to get that footage they’d already shot assembled into a teaser—and that would require money. After a couple of failed crowd-funders like this one (with only one donor), they eventually managed to raise about $6.2K on Kickstarter in 2015. That allowed them to produce and release the following 6-minute vignette that summer…

Although it had some potential—along with two signed Trek veteran actors—a year later, the film project was mothballed. An announcement by writer Burton discussed the possibility of turning the project into an audio drama, but nothing else was ever heard about it.

That was all more than three and a half years ago…so why am I talking about it now?

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)”

2019 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!

In memory of ARON “Nog” EISENBERG (far right)…taken from us all way too soon

Okay, anyone who is still claiming that the CBS fan film guidelines “killed” or “destroyed” or “ruined” Star Trek fan films “forever” needs to be strapped into the Neutral Neutralizer chair and forced to read this blog!

Sure, the 6-figure crowd-funded productions were now a thing of the past, but they were always the exception and not the rule anyway. Most fan projects have traditionally had very humble budgets, and those have continued to live long and prosper. If they weren’t doing so, I doubt I’d be spending so much time writing this darned blog!

Speaking of which, did you know that I’ve published 205(!!!) individual blog entries in 2019? Yep, I just counted! Granted, some have been reviews of Star Trek: Discovery or Short Treks episodes; a good number of blogs were in support of the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE and other fan film crowd-funders; the long-awaited production of AXANAR itself got a lot coverage, as did the Star Trek/Dr. Seuss “mash-up” infringement case; and there were news stories and updates and, sadly, eulogies for ARON EISENBERG, D.C. FONTANA, and RENÉ AUBERJONOIS. And of course, I also continued my series of “The History Of…” features, most recently focusing on the Scottish fan series INTREPID.

But there were also more than TWO DOZEN brand new Star Trek fan film releases that got special coverage here on Fan Film Factor in 2019…plus another FIFTY new CONSTAR CHRONICLES fan films from VANCE MAJOR—and remember that many fan films were two-parts.

And this is by no means even a complete list!!!

There were also a number of releases I didn’t get to yet (hey, I’m just one guy!), including ones from Germany (STAR TREK: EUDERION) and the Czech Republic (STAR TREK: DIPLOMACY), humor vignette series like STAR TREK: IT GUY and the surreal STAR TREK: STUNT DOUBLES…and a whole bunch of smaller efforts from right here in the U.S.A. and around the world. So I’d say we’re well over a HUNDRED new Trek fan films in 2019…

Dead, Jim? Hardly!

So just in case you missed any of my features and/or interviews (both written and audio) covering these many fan releases—of if you’d just like to enjoy something to watch during your down time before heading back to work later this week—here’s what’s been published here on Fan Film Factor for new Trek releases over the past twelve months (click in the title(s) to view the blogs or else just watch the videos below them)…

Continue reading “2019 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

STARSHIP ANTYLLUS questions faith and God in “AS IT IS WRITTEN…” (interview with GEORGE KAYAIAN)

Star Trek has never shied away from discussing God and faith and the nature of the universe. Captain Kirk once asked, “What does God need with a starship?” Gene Roddenberry himself often postulated the question “What if God were just a child?” (with characters like Charlie Evans, Trelane, Gary Mitchell, and the irascible Q). TNG had episodes like “Who Watches the Watchers?” Even the animated Star Trek episode “Jihad” took on the subject of religious extremism and holy war.

Star Trek fan films haven’t avoided the subject either. Earlier this year, the TNG-era THE HOLY CORE explored questions of fractured belief and strife. Prior to that, STAR TREK CONTINUES featured the return of the god Apollo in its premiere episode “Pilgrim of Eternity.” And POTEMKIN PICTURES has released a whole bunch of fan films that have touched on spirituality and religion, including an early episode of PROJECT: POTEMKIN titled “Archway” where the crew encounters an actual portal to hell.

The said, the topic of God and religion is still somewhat of a rarity in most Trek fan films. So when a fan filmmaker takes the subject on so directly, it’s worth a closer look. And thus, after watching the 13th episode of STARSHIP ANTYLLUS—“As It Is Written…”—I decided to ask writer/director/lead actor GEORGE KAYAIAN about his decision to tackle such a delicate and often controversial subject.

Let’s take a look at the full episode first. It has a very exciting and dramatic final act…

And now, here’s George’s take on the episode’s theme…

Continue reading “STARSHIP ANTYLLUS questions faith and God in “AS IT IS WRITTEN…” (interview with GEORGE KAYAIAN)”

VOTE NOW as 3 STAR TREK FAN FILMS are selections for this year’s IndieBOOM! Awards for a $500 CASH prize…

Christmas is over, New Years is still a few days away, and you’ve got some extra time. So what do you do now?

How about helping your favorite Star Trek fan filmmaker win $500 cash?

The IndieBOOM! Film Festival was among the first to offer a category exclusively for FAN FILMS…along with many other categories (comedy, drama, documentary, animation, scifi/thriller, music video…you can view the entire list here). It’s a real film festival, now in its third year of presenting awards to both aspiring and accomplished independent filmmakers…including fan filmmakers!

In the first year of IndieBOOM!, Star Wars fan film from Mexico won in the category. And last year, a Star Trek fan film, THE FEDERATION FILES: “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” took first place as best fan film against two Star Wars, one Blade, one Superman, and one Stranger Things fan film competitor finalists.

A panel of judges choose the films that make it as finalists. Those, in turn, get posted online and to IndieBOOM!‘s ROKU channel for viewing. The film that gets the most views on their website and ROKU app in each category receives “Winning Laurels” (first prize) in that category. Also, the panel of judges will choose their favorite selection among all finalists, which will receive the Jury Prize Laurels. And finally, the overall most-viewed film of the festival will receive Fan Favorite Laurels and a cash prize of $500!

This year, THREE Star Trek fan films have been selected as finalists. In order to “vote” for them, you have to actually watch them through (no loading and reloading the page). Viewing is free and can be done at the following links. Here’s the Star Trek finalists from the Fan Film category (in the order released). Scroll down the linked page to view…

Continue reading “VOTE NOW as 3 STAR TREK FAN FILMS are selections for this year’s IndieBOOM! Awards for a $500 CASH prize…”

GREEN SCREEN crowd-funded in SIX DAYS…Paul Jenkins reimbursed!

By now, most of you know about the mishap during the INTERLUDE shoot at Ares Studios in November and how, when AXANAR director PAUL JENKINS arrived in December, he found his 100-foot-long custom green screen ruined. It was an accident, but the responsibility lay squarely (or rectangularly) on the shoulders of the Interlude production team.

No one individual was singled out as being “the idiot responsible” because no one on my team was an idiot. In fact, most of them are amazingly talented, competent, and dedicated craftsmen (and women) and hard-working volunteers…from directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX, who knocked it out of the park that weekend, to the good folks who vacuumed the bridge set. As far as I am concerned, everyone is to be praised and commended, and no one will be thrown under the bus!

Anyway, I asked my donors and other supporters of Interlude (and fan films in general) to please help raise enough money to reimburse Paul the $4,760 cost for replacing the ruined green screen. I kicked off the donations with $500 of my own money, and three of my biggest donors each matched my amount…leaving another $2,760 to raise from other contributors. Honestly, I thought I was going to be crowd-funding this until February or March, if not longer.

And then a fan film Christmas miracle happened. We reached our goal for reimbursing Paul in less than a week!!!

Usually, the holiday season is the worst time of year to do fan film crowd-funding (other than anytime near tax day in April). But I reached out to folks anyway, asking for only $10 per donor. Altogether, 112 donors graciously answered the call, chipping in anywhere from $10 to $100 each (one put in $300). It was, for me at least, a heartwarming reminder of what I know is so precious about this fan film community.

I sent Paul the full funds via PayPal last Friday, while we were still a few hundred dollars short of our goal. But I had faith it wouldn’t be long until we got there. And then, on Sunday evening—less than six days after I made my first appeal, we reach the goal. If fact, later that evening, two additional donations brought us $35 over that goal. I’ve let the supporters know that they no longer have to donate anything more. Interlude is covered.

I’ve said it probably a thousand times already, but you can never say THANK YOU enough in my book! So my sincere gratitude to everyone who has supported Interlude…whether you gave to replace the green screen or simply donated along the way to help me and my team make a really awesome fan film.

You are truly the best of Star Trek fandom.

Two new ANIMATED SHORT TREKS and what my 9-YEAR-OLD SON thought of them… (editorial review)

SP-SP-SP-SPOILERS…TURN AWAY OR FACE THE STRAIN!

This past Thursday, CBS All Access released (at least for viewers in the United States) the final two SHORT TREKS for 2019. You can read my reviews of the previous three episodes—“Q&A”, “The Trouble with Edward”, and “Ask Not”—to see that they’ve been a little uneven in quality (at least in my opinion) but generally worth the 8 to 15 minutes of time invested to watch them. Also, there’s one more Short Treks episode scheduled for release on January 9: a STAR TREK: PICARD prequel titled “Children of Mars.”

The final two Short Treks of this year marked Star Trek‘s first return to animation since the animated series aired its final episode 45 years ago on October 12, 1974. (Of course, I’m not counting animated Star Trek fan films, although if you’d like to see some really good ones, might I suggest Star Trek: Aurora, Stalled Trek, and Stone Trek.)

The two new Short Treks—“Ephraim and Dot” and “The Girl Who Made the Stars” were REALLY short—-just under nine minutes and just under eighth minutes respectively. This isn’t surprising, though, as animation is costly to produce both in terms of budget and time. Unlike live action, an extra four minutes for either episode could literally have increased the production budget by nearly 50%.

So what did I think?

Before I answer this question, let me tell you what my nine-year-old son Jayden—a lover of TOS and a current watcher of TNG—thought. This is actually a rather profound question. I have and continue to refuse to show STAR TREK: DISCOVERY to Jayden (with the F-bombs, the Klingon rape scenes, and generally not-for-a-9-year-old content) until he’s much older. In comparison, we LOVED watching the new Lost In Space together on Netflix (season two is just 10 days away!) and are currently enjoying The Mandalorian. As a Trekkie, it was frustrating not to be able to share the new series with my son.

But these two new Short Treks were 100% child-friendly. So having the opportunity to say to Jayden, “Hey, come over here and watch this and tell me what you think…” about the new Star Trek is a new and exciting experience for me.

So what did Jayden think…?

Continue reading “Two new ANIMATED SHORT TREKS and what my 9-YEAR-OLD SON thought of them… (editorial review)”

BATTLECRUISER KUPOK meets the MARIE CURIE crew in “A MATTER OF TRUST”!

The latest fan film release from POTEMKIN PICTURES is the sixth episode from the BATTLECRUISER KUPOK (pronounced kah-POOK’) creative team. Altogether, Potemkin Pictures currently has six different fan series—er, creative teams—in active production…resulting in an average of about a dozen fan film releases each year for the past few years. You can watch each of their nearly-80 completed fan films here on their website.

Although there is some occasional cross-referencing of events, characters, and plot elements between and among the various Potemkin Pictures series, full crossover episodes are a rarity. However, for last month’s “A MATTER OF TRUST,” the crew of the Klingon battlecruiser Kupok must seek out the help of the crew of the Federation hospital ship Marie Curie. The two casts and their respective sets are both featured prominently in this ambitious 10-minute episode. You can view it below…

With the frequency of releases from Potemkin Pictures, I’ve begun to ask show-runner RANDY LANDERS a few questions each time. Here’s our latest exchange…

JONATHAN – In a sentence or two, why should fans take the time to watch “A Matter of Trust”?

RANDY – It’s full of the optimism of the original Star Trek series, and I believe it’s a beautiful story. Plus it gave me a chance to work with my old friend, RICK ENDRES (an award winning fan fiction writer) again.

JONATHAN – Were there any unique challenges in filming a full crossover of two of your series?

Continue reading “BATTLECRUISER KUPOK meets the MARIE CURIE crew in “A MATTER OF TRUST”!”

Follow-up: A GREEN SCREEN Christmas miracle!

Wow…with a capital WOW!

This, my friends, is what Star Trek fandom is all about.  Yesterday, I published a blog asking for fans’ assistance in replacing PAUL JENKINS’ custom green screen (at a cost of $4,700), which had accidentally been damaged beyond repair during the INTERLUDE shoot at Ares Studios in November.

I ended the blog with a reference to the TOS episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” when Kirk tells Edith Keeler how a famous author in the future will write a classic recommending the three words “Let me help…” even over “I love you…”

“Let me help…” brings people together.  “Let me help…” can accomplish the most amazing things.  And yesterday, “Let me help…” resulted in 85 donations and a total raised so far of $3,900 (including the $2,000 from three of our biggest donors and myself plus many, many donations of just $10 or $15 or $20).  This leaves us, after only a single day, within $800 of being able to replace Paul’s ruined green screen.

I can’t thank everyone enough for coming through this quickly.  I was deeply touched by this amazing fan response, especially after the emotional punch in the gut last Friday when Paul first told me how much this accident would cost to fix. $4,700 is a lot of money!

But what was most uplifting to me were the literally dozens and dozens of message full of support, understanding, and inspiration that I received on Facebook and from donors themselves.  Here’s just a small sample…

I donated because all Star Trek fans should support each other.
- Judy Reed
In today's world, it is becoming increasingly rare to see someone take responsibility for their own actions let alone for the actions of their crew. That type of integrity and honor deserves acknowledgement. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
- Lawrence Wagner
Jonathan, I'm happy to help with your Christmas miracle.  Hey, accidents happen, and it is the mark of a true gentleman when you suck it up and say, 'The buck stops with me.'  You're right, no one intended to ruin the fabric.  They didn't even realize that what they were doing would mess it up.  However, I admire how you handled it.  THAT is the kind of character that people respect, and you sir, have my respect.  So Merry Christmas...and keep on Trekkin'.
- Troy Light
I wasn't able to donate during the original fundraising effort, so I'm happy to be able to help a little now.
- David Goldsberry
Everyone messes up sometimes (and I've certainly replaced school equipment that the kids have ruined in the past!).
-  Catherine McClarey
Sorry to hear this and I'm happy to help. The only people who never make mistakes are those who never actually do anything. So never mind,  that's life, we'll sort it.
- Alastair Miles

As far as I’m concerned, this is what makes the Star Trek fan film community so AWESOME.  I thank everyone who donated…from the bottom of my heart.

We’re nearly there, folks. If you’d like to help us get to the finish line, please click on the link below to donate a little something…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude