AXANAR launches new “tiny” fundraiser for SHOOT #3 with test footage of Chief Engineer LEONOV!

After raising more than $50,000 to cover the costs for the first two AXANAR shoots back in October and December, ALEC PETERS just reached out to donors on the Axanar mailing list with a request for $3,400 for the third shoot.

Initially, Alec had announced that “Phase 2” of the private crowd-funding would try to raise another $30,000 to cover BOTH the upcoming third shoot at Ares Studios in mid-March as well as the planned fourth shoot in Los Angeles, which would include GARY GRAHAM as Soval along with other aliens requiring a skilled make-up team.

So why separate the fundraisers for the two campaigns?

I’ve been told that there are some specific expenses for the third shoot that need to be paid immediately up front. Alec, along with director PAUL JENKINS and producer SCOTT CONLEY, have streamlined the budget for the March shoot. They’re not doing all the bells and whistles that they did during the first two shoots. But they still have to do things like feed people on set, pay for transportation and lodging for key people traveling from out of state, rent equipment, pay for production insurance, etc.

Last time, Alec paid most of those outlays personally before raising the $50K. This time, Alec doesn’t have the funds to do that again, and there are expenses that need to be covered in the next two weeks. So there is a small campaign right now to raise $3,400, and then another campaign will launch in a couple of weeks to cover the more complex shoot #4.

To generate excitement, Alec just posted the following video of actor JAMIE RENELL “getting into” his character of Chief Engineer Alexei Leonov of the USS Ares. Rather that just having Jamie recite his lines from the script, Paul Jenkins did a little off-script improv with Jamie first, chatting with him as an “old friend” and having Jamie respond in character as Leonov (Russian accent and all). None of what you’re about to see is scripted, and the majority will likely not be included in the two Axanar sequels (except in the “extras”). But it’s still a really fun video…

For those waiting (im)patiently for the eagerly anticipated full Axanar trailer, I have good news! I’m told that you’ll see it within the next two weeks, timed to coincide with the launch of the fundraiser for shoot #4.

In the meantime, the Axanar fundraiser is—as required by the settlement with CBS and Paramount—behind a firewall and accessible only through the Ares Digital portal to fans who have signed up for an account. You can get there be clicking the following link…

https://aresdigital.axanar.com

When you get to the donate page, you’ll notice the goal is listed as only $2,300 and not $3,400. That is because one supporter already generously donated $1,100 directly. Already in the first few hours, nearly $800 more has come in…meaning that shoot #3 is only about $1,500 away from being fully funded!

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS is becoming an ESCAPE ROOM???

I bet you didn’t see THIS coming! Neither did I, and my reaction quickly went from surprise to overwhelming curiosity…which I’m sure must be true for a number of you folks, as well.

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS, which houses the TOS sets originally built by STARSHIP FARRAGUT and STAR TREK CONTINUES and is now offered to any Star Trek fan film that wants to use them by current owner RAY TESI, will be moving from Kingsland, GA about 180 miles south to Orlando, FL in late April. (Man, that was a long sentence!) Once relocated, the TOS sets will be repurposed into two sci-fi themed “Escape Room” attractions with video hints recorded by sci-fi celebrities, including NICHELLE NICHOLS, WALTER KOENIG, MARINA SIRTIS, and/or TIM RUSS.

The TOS sets will be divided into two scenarios with three rooms each plus a newly-created bridge control room where players will start their adventure. Customer participants will then experience an hour-long, immersive sci-fi “mission” with puzzles and mysteries to solve. This new business venture will be called GALACTIC ADVENTURES and is set to open on July 1, 2020.

Later on, joining the TOS sets from Kingsland will be the alien bar sets originally constructed in Los Angeles for STAR TREK: RENEGADES and later used for the crowd-funded independent sci-fi comedy COZMO’S from the ATOMIC NETWORK. At some point in the near future, those sets will form a third Escape Room scenario.

(You’re going “WTF” right now, aren’t you?)

To find out some specifics, I went to the source and asked Ray Tesi himself, who told me…

We will not be using the bridge in the escape and instead will keep it in pristine condition. We will be constructing a new bridge with a different look and feel for the escape. We’ll also be re-purposing some of the other sets for the escape and introducing some new sets that are remnants of other productions. Our Escape Room isn’t the Enterprise and instead will feature missions on a new starship (we are creating original stories) because we don’t want it to look like Star Trek.

I can understand why they’d want to change the look, as CBS might not appreciate an unlicensed Star Trek-themed Escape Room…even if the words “Star Trek” don’t appear anywhere.

But where does that leave Neutral Zone Studios and the many fan films that rely on it? Will fan productions still be able to film there? And even though the bridge won’t be a part of the Escape Room scenario, will the rest of the sets still look enough like TOS to be recognizable? Ray responded…

We want it to look like our own starship, but it can change back for fan films. The studio will remain available for fan film productions, and if and when that happens, we will close the Escape Room during filming. But we have a long way to go before any of that happens.

A long way indeed! But they’re off to an impressive start…

Continue reading “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS is becoming an ESCAPE ROOM???”

SQUADRON crowd-funder launches…CZECH IT OUT! (audio interview with JAKUB HOLÝ)

The Czechs are coming! The Czechs are coming! And do they have a treat for YOU!!!

SQUADRON will be the latest Star Trek fan film to come out of the Czech Republic, scheduled for release later on this year. And while you probably don’t speak Czech, if you’re willing to help fund their project, you won’t have to. Raising $15,000 will help them complete post-production on their already-filmed project, but reaching a stretch goal of $17,000 will allow them to bring on native English-speaking voice-over actors to dub the entire 2-part Squadron so you won’t have to read a single subtitle!

But why would you want to help crowd-fund a fan film being made in Eastern Europe? Let me give you a few excellent reasons…

  1. They have an amazing 360-degree, 24th-century bridge set.
  2. They have impeccably tailored uniforms and professional-quality props and make-up.
  3. They will be one of the only Star Trek fan films so far to feature a Vorta and Jem’Hadar during the Dominion War.
  4. They also have a really awesome-looking Vulcan and Andorian.
  5. Think of the conversations you could start with friends and family saying, “Yeah, I just helped fund a Star Trek fan film from the Czech Republic!” and then see who can find that country on a map (hint: southeast of Germany, southwest of Poland).

However, the best reason I can give you for donating to Squadron is the stunning quality of this “ask” video…

Now imagine a half-hour’s worth of this kind of quality! It’ll happen if YOU can help out a little…or a lot. Whatever you can spare will take these hardcore Czecher Trekkers a little bit closer to their goal. Just click on the link below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/squadron-a-star-trek-fan-production

They’re offering some intriguing perks at all levels (donate a large enough amount, and you’ll get hotel accommodations in Prague, a personal tour of their lovely city, and a visit to the studio with the bridge set…and photos, of course!). Naturally, they have their trailer online, and there’s also a whole bunch of very impressive photos showing their amazing sets, uniforms, make-up, and props…plus, they even have a really cool virtual 3D tour of their bridge. This is a top-notch crowd-funding campaign page, folks. Even if you can’t donate right now, it’s worth checking (or Czeching) out their Indiegogo campaign page just for all of the eye-catching visuals.

And if you’d like to hear some more about this exciting new production, take a listen to this FANtastic interview I did with the man behind the campaign, JAKUB “JIM” HOLÝ, and listen to his uncanny Czech/Irish accent…

INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!

Now, THIS is a cool idea…just till you hear it!!!

But first, I need to update you on where my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE stands at the moment. As I mentioned in my previous Interlude Confidential, we’re nearly finished with principal photography (shooting the live action scenes) plus creating the VFX shots and voice-overs…and have recently started assembling the “puzzle pieces” into a rough cut.

JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX warned me not to expect too much “excitement” from the initial rough cut. It’s also known as a “wide” cut because the takes are purposefully cut to be a little longer (meaning they have a bit more at the beginning and end of the lines). Later on, the wide cut is “tightened” into shorter takes as the timing and pacing of the scenes are refined.

Also, there’s a lot missing from a rough cut. The music isn’t there, for one thing, and that will eventually add a lot of excitement and richness. But right now, it’s all just people speaking their lines on an otherwise quiet set—no red alert klaxon, no explosion sounds, not even the pressing of buttons and the beeps they make. As they said, don’t expect much yet…and I didn’t.

Instead, I used my imagination to fill in what was missing. As I watched the rough cut, I mentally added in the explosions, the red alert, the music, and the camera shake. And in my head, it was MUCH more exciting! But even in my mind’s eye (or rather, ear), it felt like something was still missing.

And almost immediately I knew exactly what it was!

When I started telling Victoria and Josh about my suggestion during our next production meeting, it turned out that Victoria had the exact same idea! And since they’re both actual industry professionals, if I think of something that they’ve thought of, too, then I know we’re in good shape.

So what’s this great idea already??? You’ve been so patient, let me tell you…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!”

Star Trek fan film TEARS OF J’KAH raises $49,183 on Indiegogo…from 13 DONORS!

When I first interviewed BENNY HALL about his first Star Trek TOS fan production, LET OLD WRINKLES COME, and discovered he had set a goal of $50K for his second fan project TEARS OF J’KAH, I was quite dubious. In fact, I figured he had a snowball’s chance on Venus of even getting close.

I realize that the fan film guidelines allow projects to publicly crowd-fund up to $50K, but since those guidelines were announced, no Trek fan film has been able to raise even half that much in a public campaign. (I don’t count AXANAR because that campaign is private, and I don’t count the Deep Space Nine documentary because that wasn’t a typical fan film following the guidelines.) Since the guidelines came out, only a small handful have successfully cracked $10,000, and the majority have set and reached only goals in the four-digit range.

And not only that, it seemed to me as though poor Benny was making a bunch of rookie mistakes with his Indiegogo campaign. He’d launched close to Christmas time when most people’s money is going into buying presents and traveling. His launch was done with little fanfare, and there were no updates or postings on Facebook groups reminding folks to please donate. Benny wasn’t doing interviews (except one with me), and most Trek fans probably had little to no idea this project was even actively crowd-funding!

I felt bad for Benny, and I tried to help him by listing him at the top of my CROWDFUNDING NOW page here on Fan Film Factor. But it turned out Benny knew something I didn’t know—or rather, someone…several someones, in fact. Benny is the CFO at a production company located in Burbank, and it seems he’s friends with some very generous people. I noted that his first donation was $5,000. Then another $5K donation came in…and another. Every week or two, after seeing the campaign stagnate for a while, I’d refresh the browser tab, and the total would suddenly be $5K higher. In the final week of the campaign, which closed on Sunday night, the last two donations were $10K each. I wanna have friends like that!

Anyway, my congratulations to Benny on bringing in nearly $50K from just 13 backers in two months. He spent $50K of his own money on his first fan project, so he’s certainly paid his dues. And I’m confident the folks who supported Benny were impressed when they saw Let Old Wrinkles Come that he would show such dedication to his dream and making it happen. And now we get to see another $50K fan film!


And as long as I have your attention, and since Benny doesn’t need any more money, there’s still two active crowd-funders that are very near their goals and could use your donations to get there (click either graphic to go to their campaign pages)…

CONSTAR CONTINUES (just $185 more gets them to their goal!)


STARSHIP INTREPID: “ECHOES” (just $802 gets them to their goal!)

8 YEARS in the making, INTREPID releases their 12th fan film: “DISSONANT MINDS”! (interview with NICK COOK)

Quick reminder: these nice folks from Scotland currently have an active Indiegogo campaign trying to raise about $2,600. With one month down and one month to go, they’re two-thirds of the way to their goal. If you’d like to help them get the last $800 of the way there, please click the link below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-fund-echoes-a-starship-intrepid-fanfilm


Scottish fan series STAR TREK: INTREPID began work on their first Trek fan film waaaaay back in 2003. Since then, they’ve completed production on a dozen fan films ranging in length from 6 to 47 minutes. (Read more about their history here.) Their latest release, “Dissonant Minds” came out last week, reconfirming their status as the longest-running, still-active Star Trek fan film group in the world!

Considering that these folks have been producing Trek fan content for 17 years, it may not be as surprising as some might think to discover that a good deal of the footage in this latest fan film was shot back in 2012! Yep, this fan film has been EIGHT YEARS in the making!!! And “Dissonant Minds” also had help from show-runners on three other major Trek fan productions (although it is not a crossover).

So let’s take a look…

If you’re curious which parts are from 2012, it’s all of the outdoor scenes plus the scenes in the governor’s office. What happened to make the production take so long? Well, unfortunately, after a full weekend of grueling filming way back when, a good portion of the outdoor shots turned out to be unusable in the final production for various reasons, and so the footage lingered on a hard drive.

Why not just re-shoot it? Show-runner NICK COOK explained that one of the cast, BODO HARTWIG, lives in Germany, so accommodating his schedule was an issue. “I didn’t feel comfortable asking him to make a second trip to reshoot it,” Nick told me. “The other issue was that this was sort of the start of a period of slow down for us, largely due to me being busy with work and family—and probably a degree of burn out. These films are hard work and can be pretty draining.”

Eventually, the script was reworked to incorporate a number of new scenes to make up for the loss of footage planetside. The bridge, sickbay, and space station scenes were shot separately s few years later on green screen using the revised script. “The original script is quite different and involved a lot more time with Merik and the civilians,” Nick explained. “I really struggled finding the right direction for that revised plot. I had a few dead end ideas over time, but I kept coming back to it.”

And yet, even with more footage filmed, the film didn’t make much more progress in post-production until a fellow fan filmmaker stepped in to help…

Continue reading “8 YEARS in the making, INTREPID releases their 12th fan film: “DISSONANT MINDS”! (interview with NICK COOK)”

STARSHIP ALEXANDER launches from Potemkin Pictures with “CRYSTAL EYES”! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

POTEMKIN PICTURES started up a decade ago with PROJECT: POTEMKIN…which ran for 36 episodes. Since then, another 45(!!!) additional fan films have been released from six different creative teams: BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, STARSHIP DEIMOS, STARSHIP TRITON, HOSPITAL SHIP MARIE CURIE, STARSHIP TRISTAN, and STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR.

Well, there’s a new kid, er, creative team on the block now: STARSHIP ALEXANDER. And Potemkin Pictures has just kicked off their eighth fan “series” (although please do NOT call them fan series…as the films are all independent productions, each with its own unique story and title) with the brand new fan film “CRYSTAL EYES.” The USS Alexander is an Excelsior-class variant with the “water wings” of the Enterprise-B (and later, the USS Lakota). And I must say that the CGI visual effects from ROSS TROWBRIDGE using an Excelsior model from DAVID METLESITS all look exquisite.

The 16-minute fan film was shot on the same bridge set as the majority of other Potemkin projects and also at the Moss Rock Preserve in Hoover, Alabama. It is a joint production between Potemkin Pictures in association with Black Ops Productions, featuring an entirely new crew of actors…and a couple of familiar aliens. See for yourself…

Naturally, I had some questions about this newest Potemkin creative group. So I once again went to the man at the top, RANDY LANDERS, for answers…

Continue reading “STARSHIP ALEXANDER launches from Potemkin Pictures with “CRYSTAL EYES”! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

AXANAR tops its $50K phase one crowd-funding goal…and announces phase two in MARCH!

For the fourth week in a row, I’ve got some AXANAR news that’s significant enough to warrant its own blog. And for anyone thinking, “Oh, you talk about Axanar all the time!”—my last Axanar blog prior to mid-January was three months earlier in mid-October.

Anyway, today’s new is actually VERY big, as it deals with Axanar‘s crowd-funding. As many of you are already aware, the legal settlement that ALEC PETERS signed with CBS and Paramount permitting him to produce and release Axanar as two 15-minute fan films does, in fact, allow him to crowd-fund them…and exceed the $50K guideline limit. But Alec isn’t permitted to use a public service like Kickstarter or Indiegogo; he must crowd-fund privately behind a firewall…which can be accessed at the following link:

https://aresdigital.axanar.com/

Alec also cannot publicly solicit donations (although others are allowed to), meaning that Axanar cannot take out advertisements or post the above link on social media, and Alec can’t ask for donations in YouTube videos or during interviews. It’s a challenging constraint, to be certain, but Alec has been diligent to abide by that requirement of the settlement agreement.

And indeed, even being limited to requesting donations only via e-mails to Axanar‘s existing donor list, it’s even more impressive that Alec and his team have been able to raise more than double what even the most successful post-guidelines Star Trek fan films have been able to generate even using public crowd-funding sites and being allowed to solicit donations on social media and elsewhere.

Last Thursday, the Axanar Phase One crowd-funding campaign finally crossed its $50K goal threshold, effectively paying for the first two of the four scheduled shoots—which happened in October and December of last year. The remaining two shoots, currently scheduled for March (previously February) at Ares Studios and April in Los Angeles, will complete all of the live-action scenes necessary to finish the two Axanar sequels. (A potential fifth shoot at a special Los Angeles location is still up in the air at the moment.)

The Ares Studio shoot is fairly minor, just some green screen interviews of Garth and his first officer Tanaka. But the April shoot is major, involving GARY GRAHAM as Soval plus a few other aliens and some humans (KATE VERNON?—no public confirmation on that yet). There will be some significant costs associated with that shoot, including green screen studio rental in L.A. plus prosthetics and make-up.

The estimated budget for these two shoots is around $30K (not yet finalized), and Alec will be launching a Phase Two campaign for that in March, along with debuting the first full Axanar trailer!

Continue reading “AXANAR tops its $50K phase one crowd-funding goal…and announces phase two in MARCH!”

Check out what the CZECHS are doing with SQUADRON!

Holy Eastern European Star Trek fan film blockbusters! Have you seen all of the early hype about SQUADRON yet??? If you haven’t, you will…I can assure you! And the main reason is a fellow named JAKUB HOLÝ from the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. Bordering Germany, Austria, Poland, and Slovakia, the Czech Republic is about as big as the U.S. state of Louisiana. But what the country lacks in size, it more than makes up for in Star Trek fanaticism and ingenuity!

Jakub contacted me recently to see if I’d be willing to interview him prior to the launch of their new Indiegogo campaign later in February with a goal of about $15K (not sure what that is in Euros at the moment) to fund post-production on Squadron. Jakub had photos, videos, and even a press kit! So I took a look…

WOW!

Even though I don’t speak Czech, there were versions of everything in English, as well…

What I quickly discovered is that these guys have what could very well be one of the coolest-looking 24th century-era Star Trek fan films that we’ve seen yet. I’ll include some photos at the end of this blog, but a few things in particular stood out for me.

Continue reading “Check out what the CZECHS are doing with SQUADRON!”

PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)

I love PAUL JENKINS. I just do. Over the past few months, he has become one of my favorite people on the planet…and when you listen to my interview with him, I think you’ll understand why (or at least, I hope you will).

When it comes to AXANAR, it always seems to be ALEC PETERS this and ALEC PETERS that—here an Alec, there an Alec, everywhere an Alec, Alec. But as Alec himself would be the first to tell you, Axanar is a TEAM effort, and the team is made up of some very talented and dedicated individuals…and few more so than Axanar co-writer and director, Paul Jenkins.

When Alec first announced that Paul was joining the project back in 2017, replacing ROBERT MEYER BURNETT as director as well as helping to co-write the two-part, 30-minute fan film allowed by the settlement with CBS and Paramount, a number of fans were initially scratching their heads. And I’ll admit, I was one of them.

After all, I really only knew Paul from the days when I was reading twenty comic books a month, and his name was on many of them. Paul is widely considered as the person who helped save Marvel Comics from chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 1990s with the development of the Marvel Knights imprint. Later, he went on to write the ground-breaking Wolverine: Origin (which was later turned into a motion picture). In fact, Paul has worked for various comic book publishers—including DC, Mirage, and Tundra. He developed video games, too. So yeah, Paul can obviously write.

But could he direct?

It turns out, the answer is yes. In fact, Paul co-founded META Studios in Atlanta, has been directing for about 20 years, and was even asked in 2015 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to assemble and chair an advisory committee to educate the Georgia General Assembly on the evolution of digital and interactive technologies. So yep, Paul’s a pretty big deal…but you’d never know it by speaking with him. The man is as humble and soft-spoken as they come.

I learned this firsthand during the shoot for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Paul popped by Ares Studios on that Sunday to say hi and see how things were going. He stayed off to the side, just happily watching, and even volunteered to stand behind the turbolift and flick the console lights on and off during a torpedo “hit.” The guy who saved Marvel Comics was flicking lights on my fan film??? You bet!

Later, during a break, Paul chatted with me for a good 45 minutes, sharing some stories, some insights, and just shooting the breeze. He even hung out with Interlude directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN during some quiet moments when they weren’t both doing a thousand things. He was a true gentleman and a lot of fun to talk to.

So when I had the opportunity to chat with him some more and record the call, I jumped at the chance! Take a listen…

Continue reading “PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)”