SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter takes in $33K before it even STARTS!

Wow, that was quick!

The latest Kickstarter for the long-awaited fan film SPACE COMMAND hadn’t even launched to the general public yet when it took in more than $33K of its $45K goal in barely 24 hours earlier this week!

How did they manage this feat?  Easy…they had an “early bird special” for existing donors to have first crack at some limited-item perks, and over 500 of those prior donors pledged even more money to this latest campaign.

Why all the excitement?  To answer that question, you need to understand the history of this not-so-little endeavor.

Imagine a major fan film project with Star Trek and sci-fi veteran actors cast in it, and a team of Hollywood professionals lined up as the production crew.  Imagine one of the earliest Kickstarter campaigns bringing in six figures in donations, and then a second crowd-funder bringing in another six figures.  Now imagine those funds going into not only set construction and filming but also the creation of an actual studio intended to be used not only for this production but also to be rented out to other fan film projects.

Now imagine years and years going by with no finished fan film delivered.  Oh, there’s been some short scenes released, some VFX, lots of updates by the show-runner assuring donors that, yes, this project is still on track.  But no actual film.  In fact, to finish the film, donors were informed that it’s going to take even more contributions from fans.

You’re imagining Axanar, aren’t you?  Well, stop it!  This is the history of Space Command, folks…

Continue reading “SPACE COMMAND Kickstarter takes in $33K before it even STARTS!”

ARIANNA’S ENTERPRISE – the “NEXT GENERATION” of Star Trek fan films! (interview with CHRISTOPHER & ARIANNA ANDREWS)

At the beginning of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Admiral Kirk quips, “Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young…”  If he only knew!

Hot off the heels of the adorable and well-crafted Cerbasi Trek (starring brothers Peter and Nicholas Cerbasi, 12 and 9 years old, respectively), the captains just keep getting younger as 8-year-old ARIANNA ANDREWS takes the center seat in ARIANNA’S ENTERPRISE…an equally-impressive 6-minute fan film.

This isn’t Arianna’s first time in front of the camera, though.  Her first fan film came out three years ago back when Arianna was only 5 years old.  And while the view totals for most of her releases are only in the hundreds, her 13-minute Coraline 2 fan film has nearly 2 million views!  You can watch her earlier work by clicking here.  But right now, let’s take a look at how Arianna handled her first visit to the 24th century…

As a dad myself, I smiled the whole time as I watched this adorable little girl put in a top-notch acting performance along with her father (a professional actor and writer) and her mom.  I reached out to Arianna’s daddy, CHRISTOPHER ANDREWS, with enthusiastic praise and some questions for him and his daughter.

Arianna went first, and yes, these are her actual answers…

Continue reading “ARIANNA’S ENTERPRISE – the “NEXT GENERATION” of Star Trek fan films! (interview with CHRISTOPHER & ARIANNA ANDREWS)”

It’s time to enter YOUR fan film into a real FILM FESTIVAL!

There are a lot of film festivals out there, but very few of them have a category specifically for FAN FILMS where you only compete against other fan films.  That “levels the playing field”—at least a little bit—as a fair amount of independent films are made by people with more experience (and often more funding) than your typical fan film.

Last year, two film festivals stepped forward to offer categories exclusively for fan films to enter.  One was the Berlin Sci-fi Filmfest (open to English-language fan films).  That one was extra special for me personally, as the fan film I co-wrote and co-produced, Prelude to Ax’d-We-Are, actually won for best fan film!  (Somehow, we even beat out Prelude to Axanar, which we were parodying, along with a South African Blade Runner fan film with some great acting, and an all-in-French Star Wars fan film with awesome visual effects).

The other film festival with a specific “fan film” category is the the IndieBOOM! Festival, where the film that gets the most views on their website and ROKU app actually wins $500 in cash!  (Last year, among many independent films, the winner was a Star Wars fan film from Mexico!)  There is also a jury-selected film that gets a prize, and all entries with the most votes/views in their category will get a one year non-exclusive streaming contract with Brooklyn On Demand for a worldwide audience!

So get your fan films entered TODAY!


HOW TO ENTER

Click here to enter the Berlin Sci-fi Filmfest by August 1st (regular deadline) for $30.  Enter by September 10 for the late deadline fee of $40.  Maximum run-time: 60 minutes.  There is no restriction for what year the fan film was released or whether or not it was on YouTube.  All are welcome.

Click here to enter the IndieBOOM! Festival by August 10th for an early bird discount of $35.  Enter by September 10 for the normal $45 fee.  Maximum run-time: 40 minutes.  There is no restriction for what year the fan film was released or whether or not it was on YouTube.  All are welcome.

Good luck!!!

A funny thing happened to STAR TREK: DISCOVERY… (editorial)

Okay, San Diego Comic Con 2018 is now in the history books, and nearly every Trekker is now talking about Season Two of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY.

Fans now know that, in addition to Anson Mount playing Captain Christopher Pike, Rebecca Romijn (who played the shape-shifting Mystique in the early X-Men films) will play Number One, and yes, we will be seeing Spock at some point this season.  Other new characters, like Tig Notaro as Chief Engineer Reno, are also being added (not sure as regulars or guests stars), plus at least one actor whose character died during Season One will be returning in some undisclosed way.

In addition to the debut of Season Two of Discovery sometime in early 2019, four “Short Treks” (about 10-15 minutes each) will tell stories focusing on the histories of established characters like Tilly and Saru plus a new character named Craft, and a fourth featuring Harry Mudd (played by Rainn Wilson, who will also direct his mini-episode).  Reportedly, one of these four shorts will be released each month leading up to the January premiere of Season Two.  Whether these “Short Treks” will be exclusive to CBS All Access (and Netflix outside of America and Canada) or posted for free on the Internet has not been made clear yet.  Personally, I think they should be posted publicly to draw in more viewers to the subscription service…but what do I know?

(Side/snide note – for any fan filmmaker who’s been complaining, “You can’t tell a decent Star Trek story in less than 15 minutes…” well, CBS is about to either prove you right or wrong.  Stay tuned!)

But by far, the most excitement came from this intriguing Season Two trailer.  And for the 1% of you out there who haven’t seen it yet, here ’tis…

Not bad, huh?  But there was something oddly familiar about it…

Continue reading “A funny thing happened to STAR TREK: DISCOVERY… (editorial)”

Has the STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS mash-up lawsuit become a CHESS GAME? (update)

Last time, I discussed the new GoFundMe campaign implemented by ComicMix, LLC to assist in paying legal fees associated with an infringement lawsuit filed by Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) back in late 2016.  The lawsuit has been a very active one, with 13 notices, 14 motions, 7 responses, 6 replies, 28 judicial orders, and 1 amended complaint (so far)…and the date of trial isn’t until next spring!  The lawyers on both sides have been VERY busy…which is mainly why this lawsuit is costing so much.

Things are going well for both sides at the moment, and it’s far from clear how this lawsuit will turn out once it goes in front of a jury (assuming it doesn’t settle, which isn’t looking likely at present…but who knows, right?)

Most recently, Hon. Judge Janis Samartino of the Ninth Circuit Federal Court in San Diego made two very significant rulings that will likely have a major impact on this case.  One was clearly a win for the defense (“Team Mash-up” as I call them) and was actually covered by The Hollywood Reporter (and other media outlets) two months ago with the headline: “‘Star Trek’/Dr. Seuss Mashup Creator Beats Trademark Claims.”  That made it almost sound like the case was over.  Not even close!  The “victory” by Team Mash-up was only partial, albeit important.  I’ll explain that shortly.

Then last month, another ruling came down striking 11 affirmative defense claims that Team Mash-up intended to use to argue their case.  That’s the legal equivalent of taking 11 arrows away from an archer going into battle who only has 37 arrows to begin with.  So this time, it was a victory for the plaintiff…although, again, only a partial one.

This lawsuit—a very important case  that could set a significant precedent in the emerging art form of the “mash-up”—has turned into a fascinating game of chess.  And as I’ve done before on this blog, I’d like to translate all the boring legalese into enjoyable English so you folks who are interested can get a layperson’s update on this fascinating case.

Continue reading “Has the STAR TREK/DR. SEUSS mash-up lawsuit become a CHESS GAME? (update)”

Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly GoFundMe!

Mash-up mess-up!  Seuss sues!  Tricky Trekkies find fans to fund!

…or at least that’s the short form of the story so far.  As I’ve covered in a series of blogs over the past year, copyright and trademark precedent is being made right under our very noses, and Star Trek is right smack dab in the middle of it!  But this time, it’s not a fan film in the thick of things but an unpublished attempt to mash-up Star Trek and Dr. Seuss into a fun (but allegedly not entirely allowable) illustrated book intended to be titled Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!

Written by Star Trek‘s own DAVID GERROLD (creator of the tribbles) and illustrated by TY TEMPLETON (Eisner award-winning mainstream comic book artist), this project was going to be crowd-funded through Kickstarter and managed to raise $30,000 in September of 2016.  But Dr. Seuss Enterprises (DSE) asserted their intellectual property rights, and Kickstarter elected to shut down the campaign.  On November 10, DSE sued Gerrold, Templeton, and ComicMix (the company running the campaign) for both copyright and trademark infringement.

It’s now nearly two years later, and this case is nowhere near done.  In fact, the trial isn’t scheduled to begin until next spring, and the lawyers on both sides have been VERY busy (more on that tomorrow)!  But in the meantime, the legal bills are piling up.  This isn’t as much of a problem for DSE, which makes money every time someone buys Green Eggs and Ham or The Lorax, not to mention royalties on all the movie remakes of classic Seuss stories.  ComicMix, on the other hand, is a much smaller company…and apparently, their cash bucket isn’t nearly as deep.  And unfortunately, unlike a certain fan production we all remember, ComicMix didn’t find attorneys willing to work for free.

And so ComicMix has launched a GoFundMe campaign with a $25,000 goal.  So far, they’ve managed to get about 9% of the way there.

“Why is this worth donating to?” you ask.  I’ll tell you…

Continue reading “Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly GoFundMe!”

STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!

Would you pay $1, $5, $10, or $25/month to keep the lights on for the only full TOS sets to be completely open to the fan film community?  Right now, 11 people are already doing that, giving STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA a combined $100/month (or thereabouts) in guaranteed financial assistance to pay for rent, electricity, and maintenance.

With rent estimated at about $3,000/month, a hundred bucks a month might not seem like much.  But Stage 9 Studio only just recently launched their new Patreon, and owner RAY TESI is currently paying all expenses out of his own pocket from retirement savings.  So donating even as little as a dollar a month will be a welcome help.

For those not familiar with Patreon, it’s similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo in that anyone can set up a campaign, anyone can contribute, and there can be perks.  The difference is that, while the latter two are designed for a one-time contribution, Patreon is set up so that supporters (patrons) donate monthly, a recurring contribution charged to their credit card or transferred from their bank account until the donor says otherwise.  Patreon is designed for ongoing endeavors rather than one-time projects, so it’s perfect for something like Stage 9 Studios where the expenses from rent, utilities, and maintenance are ongoing.

And what happens if the Patreon generates more per month than it costs to “keep the lights on.”  (What a great problem to have, right!?!)  Simple.  Additional funds will be used to improve the studio (like adding air conditioning, perhaps?) and maybe even to build more sets.  As the Patreon page clearly states:

STAGE 9 STUDIOS is NOT a money-making enterprise, but an opportunity to share the passion that millions of STAR TREK fans have for the series!

But that’s not all that’s happening with Stage 9 Studios.  Would YOU like to see these amazing sets in person…for FREE???

Continue reading “STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!”

“ONCE MORE WITH FEELING” is a HYBRID fan film/table reading…

What do you do if you want to make a Star Trek fan film and you can’t afford costumes, sets, make-up, lighting, and all of the other bells and whistles?  This was the challenge facing Australia’s MATT MILLER, who had previously tried on multiple attempts to create Trek fan films with limited resources.  Matt explains his frustrations and the shortcomings of those productions in this heartfelt video.

So “Once More with Feeling” works as a title on various levels.  Matt’s latest attempt at a Trek fan film is, of course, his own attempt to do it better, once more, with feeling.  The “feeling” comes from what is a hybrid, of sorts, of a traditional Star Trek fan film and what would be a dramatic table reading for an audio production.  The actors provide very passionate performances, even though they are reading directly from scripts in the visuals.

Table readings are, of course, fairly standard in the theater, which is where Once More with Feeling! was originally performed as a stage play (written by Harry Kurnitz) in 1958, starring Joseph Cotten, Arlene Francis, and Walter Matthau (who won a best actor Tony award for it).  Two years later, it would be made into a film starring Kay Kendall and Yul Brynner.  (And yes, in 2001, “Once More with Feeling” was also the title of an all-musical episode of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.)

For this Star Trek fan film, the title also appears to harken to the structure of the story, as a disgraced Starfleet captain describes his tragic, final battle for a young woman who has come to his home, she tells him, as part of a college research project.  However, if you watch until the very end of the film, you will discover yet another reason for the title.

This is undoubtedly a different kind of fan film, and somewhat jarring in places due to its basic structure.  The outer space starship CGI visual effects, created by Trekyards’ SAMUEL COCKINGS, are outstanding and take the viewer deep into the fan film narrative.  But cuts to the actors, standing in a virtual “lounge” of some kind, wearing normal clothes, reading from scripts, jolts the viewer out of the imaginary Star Trek universe back into reality.

Reaction online has been generally very positive (with the expected outliers, of course).  I believe that all fan films should be given respect and viewed with an open mind—this one being no exception.  So take a look at what can be produced on a low budget, with few resources, when the writer/director thinks outside the box…

AXANAR fan comic COMPLETES part one of “Arcanis IV”!

The latest comic book story based on the fan film PRELUDE TO AXANAR has just completed part one of its first chapter.

Last July, Axanar super-fan TREY McELWAIN released the first-ever Axanar comic story: the four-page (including cover) “Trial By Fire.”  It was a huge hit among Axanar fans, many of whom hoped to be seeing more similar projects from Trey and his illustrator, DANIEL FU.

The wait lasted for ten months.  In May, Trey continued what he called the “Tip of the Spear” saga, with each chapter focusing on a different battle from The Four Years War with the Klingons, as shown in Prelude.  But now the comics would expand from just a few pages to stories with chapters, each about 5-7 pages long.

The first story took a closer look at the battle that began the Four Years War at “Arcanis IV.”  Trey initially released the cover and first two pages of the story, with the intention of releasing one additional page per month for the foreseeable future.  Part one of “Arcanis IV” would be seven pages, and there would be three parts.  Then the next chapter would be “Inverness V,” also divided into multiple parts.  So releasing one new comic story page per month could keep this going for years!

At least, that was the plan…

Daniel finished drawing the next three pages more quickly than anticipated, so rather then holding them back, all three were released last month.  And then Daniel was fast again, so this month has the final two pages being released (see below), completing part one of “Arcanis IV.”

That’s the good news.  Unfortunately, it could be a while before fans see part two.

Continue reading “AXANAR fan comic COMPLETES part one of “Arcanis IV”!”

YOU could appear in GARY GRAHAM’S new MUSIC VIDEO!

GARY GRAHAM is no stranger to Star Trek and sci-fi…and he’s also been a friend to Trek fan films for over a decade.  Known as Ambassador Soval from Star Trek: Enterprise (he was in an episode of Voyager, too) and Detective Matt Sikes from the TV series Alien Nation, Gary also appeared in the Trek fan films Of Gods and Men, Renegades, and Prelude to Axanar.

But did you know that Gary also has a rock band that plays original songs with Star Trek-themed lyrics?  It’s true!  Heck, he’ll even perform at your wedding or birthday party with his group, THE SONS OF KIRK.  (Seriously, how cool would it be to have a Star Trek veteran actor come to your house and sing Star Trek songs???)

According Gary, “All of [my] insider experiences are infused into the songs and lyrics!  Every single song is Star Trek-themed, with hilarious, cool, and sexy lyrics to make even the most casual fan crack a Vulcan Smile. No filler, No additives; just #NerdCool.

Gary and his band have just launched a KICKSTARTER campaign with a $5,000 goal.  Their hope is raise enough to record their first studio album and then create a music video for one of the songs.  If they surpass their goal (which is looking likely, as nearly a third of that $5K has been raised in the first 12 hours!), they will have stretch goals for additional songs and potentially more music videos.

Perks include the expected—copies of the finished album, autographed photos, merchandise, listings in the credits at various producer levels—plus a a couple of unique options.  With as little as a $15 donation, your name will be mentioned in a special “Thank You” song (not on the album, but released to the public).  And all contributors of $200 or more get to be in the music video (travel and lodging not included).

You can follow The Sons of Kirk on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

To donate, visit their Kickstarter page.