PROJECT: POTEMKIN returns with “THE CASTAWAY”!

Before there was ever a Fan Film Factor website, I was composing weekly fan film blogs over on the AXANAR website as a “guest writer,” just dipping my own toes into this ever-expending ocean of content. And back in August of 2015, with just three completed blogs under my belt, I tackled my first interview with a fan filmmaker (and my first-ever two-part blog) when I chatted with RANDY LANDERS of PROJECT: POTEMKIN.

It seems like such a long time ago!

I don’t say that merely because almost seven and a half years have passed since I published that blog. Heck, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old…seven years is nuthin’! Although back then, there was no Axanar lawsuit yet, no fan film guidelines, and Project: Potemkin was the ONLY fan series that Randy was producing from his home in Albany, GA.—with “only” 26 episodes released thus far (they would finish with nearly 40)! Randy had begun the fan series four years prior in 2011 and, by 2015, was knocking out new episodes nearly once a month!

Since then, Randy would move twice—once to Pelham, Alabama and then more recently to Lexington, Kentucky. And wherever he went, he would recruit more actors and production people who wanted to help make Star Trek fan films! It wasn’t long before there were way too many folks to limit to just ONE fan series. So POTEMKIN PICTURES went on to launch eleven other fan productions, some one-offs and others releasing multiple films under various “creative groups” including: STARSHIP TRISTAN, STARSHIP DEIMOS, BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR, STARSHIP TRITON, HOSPITAL SHIP MARIES CURIE, STARSHIP ALEXANDER, STARSHIP WEBSTER, STARSHIP CALIBORN, SCOUT SHIP QAB’ELTH, and FIREHAWK.

(You can watch all of their releases from their website.)

Project: Potemkin would release their final epilogue episode, “ROOM SERVICE,” in October of 2016, a little over a year after our interview and after moving to Alabama. At least, we all thought it was their final episode. At the beginning of December of 2022 (six years later), a brand NEW episode of Project: Potemkin was released titled “THE CASTAWAY,” with former series lead JEFFREY GREEN reprising his role of Captain Alec Grigory—along with a few other familiar faces from Potemkin‘s original 6-year run. Take a look…

As you can see, the fan film ends with an announcement that Project: Potemkin will be returning in 2023…which will bring the total number of active Potemkin Pictures creative groups back up to five. So expect to see a LOT more fan films!

As if to save me time, Randy Landers was kind enough to post the following behind-the-scenes write-up of the episode onto Facebook, meaning I simply have to copy-paste the following for you…

Continue reading “PROJECT: POTEMKIN returns with “THE CASTAWAY”!”

2022 FAN FILM DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS now accepting submissions (deadline to enter is JANUARY 15) with a “Best in Fest” prize of $250!!!

Earlier this year, GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS in Arkansas introduced the first new annual fan film awards show since the creation of the BJO AWARDS (originally called the Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards) back in 2015. Glen and Dan decided to call theirs THE FAN FILM DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS because the judges are all fan film directors.

Last year, the Directors Choice Award winners were presented with a digital certificate, which is still the case this year. However, this year also introduces a new prize: the fan film voted “Best In Fest” (determined by which film receives the most total votes across all categories) will also be awarded a whopping $250! (Well, “whopping” to some people, at least!)

The competition is open to fan films of any genre (not just Star Trek!) that have been released publicly onto YouTube or other social media during the 2022 calendar year. The cost to enter is $10 per film, which includes consideration in up to SIX of the following categories (chosen by the submitter at the time they fill out the entry form):

  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Director
  • Best Original Costuming
  • Best Make-up/Hairstyling
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Original Music
  • Best Audio Mixing
  • Best Lighting
  • Best FX Make-Up
  • Best CGI FX
  • Best Green Screen
  • Best Screenplay
  • Best Parody/Comedy
  • Best Portrayal of an Existing Character
  • Best Animated Fan Film
  • Best Editing
  • Most Canon Award
  • Best Ensemble
  • Most Valuable Crew Member

Up to three fan films by the same director are permitted entry. Once entered, the director of that fan film becomes a judge and will be sent a ballot. If the same person has directed more than one submitted fan film, that director will be sent a ballot for each of their submitted films (up to a total of three ballots). A director cannot vote for any film that nominated them as a director.

The call for entries began on November 15, 2022 and continues through to January 15, 2023. After that, ballots will be sent to all judges with a return deadline of February 28, 2023. Failure to vote will disqualify that director’s film(s). Hey, tough love, right?

Like last year, winners will be announced on First Contact Day, April 5 of 2023. Here’s a link to the entry form:

https://thefederationfiles.com/?page_id=1407

There were some really amazing fan films released this past year (Star Trek and other genres), so I can’t wait to see who enters and who wins! And if you are entering a film of your own, the best of luck to you…

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION finds a replacement director of photography for “THE REPLACEMENTS”!

Here’s the funny about our Star Trek fan film community. On the one hand, it’s really large and vast. We’ve got folks producing fan films in America from sea to the shining sea and just about everywhere in between. There are fan filmmakers in Canada, across the Atlantic in Great Britain, throughout Europe from France and Germany to Italy and the Czech Republic and even in Russia (although I’ve put that blog on hold until the invasion of Ukraine has ended). And of course, the Land Down Under is proudly represented in the Star Trek fan film community, as well.

On the other hand, ours is also a very small and close-knit community. Even scattered across different continents and hemispheres, fan filmmakers often “team-up” and pool resources.

Indeed, this happened recently for the long-running fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION. These guys have been producing and releasing Star Trek fan films since waaaaaay back in 2015, utilizing the TOS sets located in Kingsland, GA, currently known as NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS. In fact, their latest offering, THE REPLACEMENTS, represents their fifteenth completed fan film!! Add to that a couple of episodes of their spin-off series PROJECT: RUNABOUT plus another new series in production, and this is one busy group of people!

Dominion showrunners Gary Davis and Randy Wrenn

But things don’t always run 100% smoothly on a film film (or a professional film, for that matter!), and Dominion recently ran into a major snag. Showrunners GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN had scheduled a long weekend (Friday-Sunday) in Georgia to shoot their next two fan films, “MOM” and “The Replacements.” Gary drives down from Ohio, Randy from North Carolina, and numerous cast and production crew come from various locations requiring quite a lot of driving. They all clear time in their schedules for days off from work, including traveling back and forth, and make lodging reservations. In other words, these shoots are not the kind of things you can simply postpone at the last minute and reschedule…too many people are affected.

The cast and production crew of Dreadnought Dominion on the bridge set at Neutral Zone Studios

But that’s almost what had to happen barely a month before the first shoot when Dominion director of photography LARRY FLEMING informed Gary and Randy that he had to travel and wouldn’t be available on either of those two scheduled shooting dates.

Now, if you think that a director of photography is “just” a cameraman, holding an iPhone or even a more professional-style camera and, therefore, easily replaced, think again. For some productions, sure, any ol’ fan can point at an actor or a scene and hit “record.” But just as you’d rather have an experienced photographer shoot your wedding rather than someone with no specific skills or camera knowledge, so too would you want a person who knows about things like proper lighting, framing, and shot composition to shoot your fan film.

So losing Larry—a person with experience who knows such things—was a pretty big deal…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION finds a replacement director of photography for “THE REPLACEMENTS”!”

CHAOS AT THE NEUTRAL ZONE…the most ADORABLE technobabble EVER! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

First off, you’ve still got about 24 hours left to donate to the TREK SHORTS Indiegogo! While the amount raised is still well short of its original $37K goal (or the equivalent in pounds, as Lord SAMUEL of COCKINGS lives in the U.K.), the campaign has seen a surge in the last week, doubling the level it was at when I published my previous blog about the new release DUTY CALLS.

So if you haven’t had a chance to donate yet, give the link below a click and toss a few shillin’s inta the ol’ collection hat, guv’nor (’tis Christmastime, after all, Mr. Scrooge)…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

And speaking of my last Trek Shorts blog, it spotlighted the adorable newcomer to Trek fan films EMMA THORNE, who plays the even more adorable Ensign Laura Reed. And if you thought they both couldn’t get any more adorable, then you need to watch the latest Trek Shorts release, CHAOS AT THE NEUTRAL ZONE

This is the second Trek Shorts “Memory Alpha Documentary” style release, the first one being THE BATTLE OF VELSAK 2, released back in October at the beginning of the current crowd-funding campaign. That one featured a monologue by NICK COOK recounting the battle from the perspective of Daniel Hunter of the U.S.S. Intrepid. Nick’s a strong actor and a fantastic guy…but he’s not nearly as adorable as Emma!

Now, one of the LEAST adorable things in Star Trek is what is affectionately known as “technobabble” by both fans and the writers. Star Trek: Voyager was full of it, but so, too, were TNG, DS9, and most of the rest of the Trek series. Actors dreaded having to deliver those tongue-twisting lines where the ship had to generate an inverse polyphasic neutrino burst through the starboard emitter array without blowing the EPS conduits and imploding the duonetic phase inducers on the aft side of the secondary hull.

But Emma somehow manages to to take those long lines of sciency-whiency gibberish and make them oh-so endearingly cute and lovable. I asked Sam Cockings about that and other aspects of this campaign-closing fan film release in the following mini-interview…

Continue reading “CHAOS AT THE NEUTRAL ZONE…the most ADORABLE technobabble EVER! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)”

A GIANT PROBLEM brings a family into the world of Star Trek fan films! (video interview with the YISRAELs)

It’s no secret that I love Star Trek fan films (kinda hard to keep blogging about ’em for seven years if’n I didn’t!). It’s not that they’re all superb cinematic viewing experiences or that every script kicks ass or every performance is a masterpiece of dramatic presentation.

But that’s why I love these productions!

I love seeing what fans can do with the resources they have or can assemble—either alone or with the help of crowd-funding. I love to see what they can accomplish. And most of all, I love the community that assembles around them in support and camaraderie.

And that’s what happened recently with a very low-budget fan film release titled A GIANT PROBLEM. I learned about it after VANCE MAJOR, the fan behind the CONSTAR series, spotlighted the project. So I watched it, as did many others. The film didn’t have incredible sets or top-notch costumes or jaw-dropping visual effects. It was simply a bunch of fans in store-bought uniforms standing in front of green screens with composited background stills from TOS.

And I thought: “THIS is the essence of what Star Trek fans are!” Take a look…

The first thing I noticed was probably the most obvious: everyone in the cast is an African American. While there are certainly a decent number of Black fan filmmakers both in front of and behind the camera, it’s no secret that, at least when it comes to Star Trek fan films and series—for whatever reason(s)—most of the people involved are white. So an all-Black cast is a true rarity, and a most welcome one!

More than that, however, these folks had their heritage on proud display with hair, clothing accessories, and even jewelry that embraced and celebrated Black culture. If you’re a fan of IDIC, this is certainly the fan film for you!

And then, as I watched the closing credits, I saw this…

Everyone in the cast shares the same last name! In other words, this was a family project. How awesome is that?? While there are some husband/wife, parent/child, and even sibling fan filmmakers, seldom does an entire family get together to produce a film. I found myself wanting to learn more about these fine fan folks.

Heading off to Facebook, I discovered that writer/director/lead actor LUD YISRAEL is a jazz man from Chicago who owns the Neo Jazz School of New Orleans and has a doctorate in theology from Yahweh University. AND he’s a Trekkie??? Along with his family?

Well, if that wasn’t worth a video interview, I don’t know what would be! So I reached out to DR. LUD and had a wonderful discussion with him, his wife TAMAH, and his son YAH’EL YISRAEL. And what was the most fun was seeing and hearing how excited they are to learn more about and dive into this wonderful fan film community that we share…

INTREPID travels from SCOTLAND to SAN FRANCISCO to give fans a “sequel” to STAR TREK IV…THE ONE WITH THE WHALES! (interview with NICK COOK)

Okay, I totally have a new favorite Star Trek fan film! I mean, I don’t like to play favorite, but man, I loved this one!

So why is it my new favorite? Is it the sets? Nope, no sets. The costumes? Not really, most of the scenes don’t even have people in costumes. The visual effects? Well, they’re nice, but still no.

It’s the concept…and execution…and the nostalgia!

STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME—the film that most non-Trekkies (and even some Trekkies) refer to as “the one with the whales”—premiered on this date, November 26, back in 1986…36 years ago if you can believe it! And it was such a lovingly-crafted, funny, and adorable film. Like the best of Star Trek, it had a message for us in the present (a not-so-subtle one!) warning us to change our ways. Each member of the “sensational seven” crew got something to do: Kirk went after the girl, Spock got to be smart and logical and then transcend, McCoy got to practice medicine and be snarky, Scotty got to show off his engineering prowess and show everyone how to use a computer (if he’d only had Alexa or Siri!), Sulu got to be a pilot, Chekov and Uhura got to visit the nuclear aircraft carrier Enterprise (really the U.S.S. Ranger, but this is Hollywood)…and at the end, they’re all back on a brand new U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC – 1701-A. What’s not to like?

Indeed, we LOVED it! Oh, you can complain about leaving Saavik behind on Vulcan, violating the temporal prime directive by giving the world transparent aluminum, or ponder the infinite time loop of Kirk’s spectacles. But in the end, this was just a fun movie to watch, and watch it we did! Thanks to the advent of VHS tapes in the late 1980s, some of us watched this film dozens and dozens of times on our VCRs (I’m not naming names, mind you, although one of them had the initials J.L.).

And of course, we know all of those adorable, whacky scenes that took place on the streets of San Francisco (or San Fran, as those who live in California know to call the City by the Bay…none of this “Frisco” dipsh!t). This magnificent city that I’ve visited so many times—I didn’t wear flowers in my hair, but I might have left my heart there once or twice—is the future home to Starfleet Headquarters, and yet, there’s never been a major Star Trek fan film shot there.

Until today!

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks to the efforts of NICK COOK, his wife LUCITA FARIA of Dundee, Scotland, and members of the INTREPID fan filmmaking crew, I am oh-so-proud to present to you my new favorite Star Trek fan film: THE ONE WITH THE WHALES (you’re gonna love it!)…

Oh, you betcha I interviewed Nick Cook about this one…!

Continue reading “INTREPID travels from SCOTLAND to SAN FRANCISCO to give fans a “sequel” to STAR TREK IV…THE ONE WITH THE WHALES! (interview with NICK COOK)”

The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 3: DUTY CALLS (interview with EMMA THORNE)

In the last of my triptych of interviews with the female actors who have been playing leading roles in recent releases of TREK SHORTS from VFX Minister SAMUEL COCKINGS, I turn the spotlight on newcomer-to-fan-films EMMA THORNE. (The previous two interviews were with NIMRAN SAUND and ALEXA BROWN.)

Now, Emma might be a newcomer to Star Trek fan films, but she is certainly NOT a newcomer to YouTube! In fact, Emma has spent the last six years building a following of more than 112K subscribers to her YouTube Channel, having posted in excess of 200 separate videos (most of them of quite decent duration)!

Sam noticed Emma on one of his many long stretches of editing his films when YouTube videos playing on the second monitor can keep him company. He liked her vibe and noticed her geeky props in the background, and he’d been wanting to expand the cast of regular actors/character in Trek Shorts. So he took a chance and messaged her on Instagram.

“She saw my rather detailed first message,” says Sam, “and because she has experience working in the VFX field, realised the quality of the shots I was sending. This wasn’t as amateur as the ‘Star Trek Fan Film’ name suggests. We had a wonderful Skype chat, and she was clearly curious but still a bit, ‘What is all of this?’ Now I’m thrilled to say we have shot on multiple days with multiple cast, and we’ve become good friends.”

The first Trek Short to feature Emma, DUTY CALLS, made its debut on YouTube at the end of September, and has already logged upwards of 42K views. Take a look…

According to Sam, “The reaction to her prologue short has been TREMENDIOUS! The You Tube algorithm rarely favours fan films, but when it does…amazing! We’ve had a ton of comments asking for her to do more, and I know Emma is pleased with this reaction because we have done more, and she didn’t know what the reaction would be—ha!”

By the way, before I forget! Sam’s crowd-funding campaign for Trek Shorts is struggling with about a week and a half left. It’s only about 15% of the way to its ambitious $35K goal, but with Indiegogo, you get to keep whatever donations you raise regardless, which is currently very close to $6K, which is still decent money!

But every little bit WILL help. So if you can afford to give even a little bit, it’ll go directly toward making some impressive Star Trek fan films…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

Continue reading “The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 3: DUTY CALLS (interview with EMMA THORNE)”

You don’t have to live like a “REFUGEE” if you’re on the STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

The fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES consistently continue to dutifully deliver a steady stream of finessed fan films mostly monthly. (Did you catch all the awesome alliteration in that previous sentence? Hey, a blogger’s gotta keep you on your toes, right?)

Anyway, their latest release comes from the long-running STARSHIP DEIMOS creative group, their 20th completed fan film in six years. “REFUGEE” is an intriguing story and worth viewing…

There’s actually a LOT going on behind the scenes in this little fan production. For more insights and info, here’s Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS…

Continue reading “You don’t have to live like a “REFUGEE” if you’re on the STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 2: THE ICARUS ENCOUNTER (interview with ALEXA BROWN)

Last week, I presented the first of what will be three consecutive interviews with the very impressive female actors who have played (and will continue to play) leading roles in the TREK SHORTS fan series. British Czar of CGI SAMUEL COCKINGS has created an ever-expanding buffet of eye-popping Star Trek fan films compositing performers acting in front of green screens with ultra-detailed and realistic-looking digital backgrounds recreating starship interiors from the 23rd through the 25th centuries of Starfleet history. Then he combines these live-action scenes with uncanny VFX shots to bring to life character-based stories in ways that few fan filmmakers can.

Before I go any further, this is a good time to remind readers that Sam is currently trying to raise $35,000 to make even more Trek Shorts. There’s less than a month left, so don’t wait to make a donation…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

Since the kick-off of Sam’s previous Indiegogo campaign a year and a half ago, he’s already released an impressive EIGHT Trek Shorts fan films:

And more will be completed and released soon, with several others waiting to be crowd-funded.

I covered The Tholian Gambit last week along with an interview with lead actress NIMRAN SAUND, who has appeared in no less than five of Sam’s films (see last week’s interview for links). This week, I turn our attention to another skilled thespian, the talented ALEXA BROWN, who reprises her role of Captain Joan Keller of the U.S.S. Vigilance for the first time in a Trek Short entitled The Icarus Incident.

Wait a second! Did I just says “reprises her role for the first time”? Yes, for the first time in a Trek Short. You might recognize Alexa’s character of Captain Keller from another excellent fan film from filmmaker GARY O’BRIEN (also of Great Britain), THE HOLY CORE, originally released in mid-2019. Sam brought in Alexa to play the same role in a Trek Short that was released back in August of this year, which you can watch below…

Pretty good, huh?

Alexa’s character is actually replacing the role of Captain Alexander Richardson, played by Dutch actor and showrunner of STAR TREK: DARK ARMADA, ROBIN HIERT. Robin was supposed to appear in the mega-fan film crossover project, CONVERGENCE, which Sam had crowd-funded back in late 2018 and was delayed due to the multiple COVID lockdowns in Europe. “Robin was set to join us for our June shoot as late as January 2022,” explains Sam. “However, in February, Robin’s real life took over, and we didn’t hear from him for a long while. At that point, he left the project, but we had still set a June Convergence shoot, as we were long overdue.” And that’s when Sam reached out to Alexa Brown.

Continue reading “The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 2: THE ICARUS ENCOUNTER (interview with ALEXA BROWN)”

The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 1: THE THOLIAN GAMBIT (interview with NIMRAN SAUND)

Even though the awesome fan film THE THOLIAN GAMBIT from the British Minister of Visual Effects, SAMUEL COCKINGS, came out nearly six months ago, I’ve been saving it in my back pocket in order to combine today’s interview into a series of three interviews, each with one of what I was originally going to collectively call “Sam’s Women.” Instead, I’ve decided to use the monicker “The Women of TREK SHORTS.” Either way, the three actresses have all proven themselves to be very impressive performers, certainly some of the highest caliber among Star Trek fan films.

But perhaps even more notable than their obvious talent is the fact that Star Trek fan films don’t typically present women as the leads. There have certainly been plenty of female actors who appear in a wide range of Trek fan films, but seldom do they sit in the center seat and/or become the main/sole focus of the story. There are, of course, some notable exceptions, dating all the way back to Captain Elizabeth Shelby in STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER, Lexxa Singh in STAR TREK: RENEGADES, Captain Sian Gabriel of STARSHIP DEIMOS, Captain Castille of STAR TREK: DECEPTION II, Captain Kara Carpenter of STAR TREK: AURORA, three of the four captains of the Czech fan film SQUADRON and Captain Shelby of the Czech fan film MYSTERIOUS ODYSSEY, Ensign Williams of THE RED SHIRT DIARIES, the two PROJECT: RUNABOUT fan films, Commander Alisa Vandre of PACIFIC 201, Captain Keller in THE HOLY CORE, and Aaron Vanderkley’s main character in LINE OF DUTY plus his captain in BEYOND THE SUN and OUTBREAK.

(And yeah, I might be missing a few female fan film leads, but trust me, that list is waaaaay shorter than the list of male captains and lead actors…kinda like Star Trek itself, to be honest.)

So let’s give Sam Cockings credit for casting three very talented female actors as leads and captains in his various fan films, including his recent parade of Trek Shorts releases. Speaking of which(!), just a friendly reminder that Sam is trying to raise $35,000 for a series of even MORE awesome Trek Shorts (plus the final release of CONVERGENCE), and he’s 11% of the way there as I type this. I encourage everyone reading this to click on the link below and donate at least a little something. There’s some very nice perks, but mainly, Sam and this team just make incredible fan films, and we’d really like to see more…!

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2022-by-fans-for-fans

Today’s Part 1 blog turns the spotlight on NIMRAN SAUND, or “Nim” for short. Her first Trek fan film dates back to 2013 when she filmed scenes for Sam’s excellent TEMPORAL ANOMALY, which was eventually released in 2019. Since then, she’s reprised her character of Keeley (or rather, Keeley’s 24th century descendent) in A LONG WAY FROM HOME, ONE SMALL STEP, and a cameo in the INTREPID episode “PURSUIT OF A DREAM.” And most recently, Lt. Anna Keeley got a promotion to Captain in one of the first Picard season two fan films, The Tholian Gambit

Continue reading “The women of TREK SHORTS, Part 1: THE THOLIAN GAMBIT (interview with NIMRAN SAUND)”