INTERLUDE Confidential #16: Shields up! Time for the reviews…

INTERLUDE is finally out, and the reviews are coming in fast and furious! On YouTube, the video has racked up 15K views in three days, with 97% thumbs up. If you haven’t seen it yet, to quote Chekov, “Now vould be a good time…”

The praise and kudos have been great and are very rewarding to everyone on the team. And of course, the criticisms are out there, too. It’s inevitable that you’re not going to please all the Trekkies all the time. The trick to surviving the bad reviews is to focus on the good ones. If you give too much weight to the critics, the negativity will drag you down like an anchor. It’s the positive, supportive comments that bring up back up for air. If you want to keep breathing, use them as a helpful floatation device.

Or you can just do what I do and respond to the negative YouTube comments with: “Look, I’m really, really sorry that so many people disagree with you.”

Some people thought that Interlude was too short (is that criticism or praise?) or that the Ares and Artemis should have been firing back. Just for the record, the Klingons knocked out both ships’ weapons systems—listen closely to some of the background bridge chatter—and as you’ll discover in the AXANAR sequels, the new D7’s were nearly invulnerable to phasers and photon torpedoes.

Some folks thought ALEC PETERS’ acting was better in the first half, and some thought he was better in the second half. Some thought he couldn’t act at all, but hey, most fans couldn’t do much better and would probably have been a lot worse. It takes a lot of confidence to place yourself in front of the camera for the main role in any fan film…let alone one that’ll likely have hundreds of thousands of views. Alec put in ten long hours of tightly-focused work the day we filmed and another few hours getting the epilogue interview done. I was never expecting Laurence Olivier or Tom Hanks, and I was very happy with Alec’s performance.

Oh, and for anyone complaining about Alec’s “bulging Gowron eyes,” you might want to take another look at the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy.” I see the Garth glare as more of a feature than a bug…

On the other hand, praise was nearly universal for fan film newcomer and fellow sci-fi geek WARREN HAWK. Everyone love-love-loved Warren as Captain Jakande—as well they should have! Warren gave an awesome and passionate performance…and I love that deep, velvet voice of his.

(And consider this: in the Avalon Universe, Captain Jakande might not have died. So start saving your crowd-funding dollars, folks, ’cause you might just be able to help bring him back to fan films in a few months!)

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #16: Shields up! Time for the reviews…”

Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!

(I know you wanna see INTERLUDE! Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this web page, then come back to read the full blog entry.)


I was a fan of AXANAR even before the launch of their first Kickstarter campaign back in early 2014. And when PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released that summer, I was ecstatic. There had never been any fan film like this one, and it FELT like the Star Trek I had grown up with…something I couldn’t say about the newest Trek movie releases from Paramount and (later) television releases from CBS.

Later that summer, I jumped at the chance to volunteer to help pack and ship perks to donors (of which I was one, of course), and I got to know ALEC PETERS, DIANA KINGSBURY, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, and a bunch of other folks involved with the production. Heck, I even joined the gang along with RICHARD HATCH (may he rest in peace) at a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach after a convention for an awesome dinner experience.

By 2015, I was writing weekly “Fan Film Friday” blogs for the Axanar website about other Trek fan films…something that led to the creation of Fan Film Factor half a year later. Fan films in general, and Axanar in particular, had quickly become a major part of my life as a Trek fan.

Interlude was born in stages, but I can trace its initial origin back to June of 2017 when I was reading Alec’s new 2-part Axanar script. The legal settlement with CBS and Paramount forced him to trim the full-length movie script down to two 15-minute segments that would be filmed in the same mock documentary style as Prelude.

By this point, the amazing half-completed bridge set was being packed up and moved cross-country from southern California to Georgia, and I was looking forward to seeing how bridge scenes would be incorporated into the “mockumentary” format. But to my shock and horror, there were NO bridge scenes in Alec’s new script…only the same “talking heads” dialog and VFX as there was in Prelude. Huh?

What I didn’t know at the time was that Alec had purposefully left out any bridge scenes because he wasn’t certain whether he’d be able to raise the funds to complete the set. However, not knowing why there weren’t any bridge scenes, I mistakenly assumed Alec just felt like he couldn’t squeeze them in and still tell the story properly. So as a way of demonstrating that it was possible to have bridge scenes, I wrote a new version of the script…what I call my “alt-Axanar” script. Alec won’t be using it (he’s fine with his own version), but someday after the two Axanar sequels are released, I’ll publish it here on the blog just for fun.

Continue reading “Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #15: After putting out fires, INTERLUDE will finally premiere on MONDAY, APRIL 5!

I can finally and proudly announce a release date for my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE:

MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2021 (Star Trek ‘s “First Contact Day”).

Well be premiering it during a special Axanar Confidential livecast this Monday night at 10:00 pm Eastern Time when I and a bunch of members of Team Interlude will be appearing with Fleet Captain Garth himself, ALEC PETERS. You can find the livecast on the Axanar YouTube Channel.

Let me tell ya, folks, for the last week or so, I wasn’t quite sure we were gonna make that deadline! While there’s no one holding a phaser to our heads to release Interlude on April 5th, “First Contact Day” is a coveted spot among Star Trek fan filmmakers if they can hit it. But I checked around, and this year, no one I spoke to was claiming that day (and if they had, I would have let them have it and just chosen a different date a week or two later). So with the coast clear, I started mentally preparing myself for April 5th.

Although we’ve been REALLY close to completing Interlude for the past few weeks, I wasn’t feeling comfortable enough to make an announcement until today. After all, we’ve been having a series of really crazy things happen along the way that have delayed or at least impacted pre-production, production, and post-production. Among these: rivers flooding, wild tornadoes, freak polar blast ice storms, trapped woodpeckers, and stray dogs on the road. Read more about them here, here, and here.

And now we can add FIRE to the list!

This past Monday, I couldn’t reach MARK EDWARD LEWIS, our post-production sound designer, for most of the day. That in and of itself isn’t unusual; Mark has a pretty busy life, and I don’t expect the entire team to be “on call” 24/7. (You need to actually pay people—and pay them a lot!—for that kind of service.)

But Monday was an important day. With just seven days left until my still-unannounced but highly desired deadline, we’d had an e-mail glitch. Two days earlier, I’d sent Mark a compilation of final notes on the latest sound mix from myself, our director VICTORIA FOX, our editor JOSH IRWIN, and our composer KEVIN CROXTON. But it was now Monday, the clock was ticking, and no one had heard back from Mark. So I messaged him on Monday morning my time (about noon for Mark in rural Tennessee) just checking that he’d be able to get those final fixes done in the next day or two and send the final audio mix over to Josh.

“I’m still waiting for a response from my last e-mail,” he replied.

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #15: After putting out fires, INTERLUDE will finally premiere on MONDAY, APRIL 5!”

Star Trek fan filmmakers pay tribute to BARBARA READER following her passing…

Yesterday, fans found out that BARBARA READER finally lost her years-long battle with cancer. May her soul soar over the undiscovered country and across the final frontier.

If you’re not familiar with Barbara but you’re a fan of Star Trek fan films, she gave our community a precious gift: The STAR TREK REVIEWED blog site. Launched back in 2009, Barbara’s humble website quick grew to mind-blowing proportions, containing resources and information about nearly EVERY Star Trek fan film ever released!  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever found a Trek film that wasn’t already listed somewhere on Barbara’s site.  If you think I’ve covered a lot of Trek fan films here on Fan Film Factor, I’m just peanuts compared to an outfit like Star Trek Reviewed!

I never thought of Barbara and her blog site as a “competitor.” Like firefighters and police officers, there’s similarities but also a lot of significant differences in what we do.  STR covers EVERYTHING, but mostly as a “jumping-off” point to outside articles, interviews, and of course, the YouTube links to the fan films themselves. Barbara once told me she thought of herself mainly as the “librarian” of fan films.

I’m more of a “roving reporter,” and although Fan Film Factor doesn’t cover nearly as much, those fan films I do spotlight receive a deep-dive into the production process for each project along with getting to know the people who make them.

Together, Barb and I (or rather, our blogs) made a great team!

Speaking of teams, Barbara ultimately had to find a team of her own to help keep STR going. In 2016, with cancer starting to get the better of her (although she never complained or asked for pity), Barbara reached out to the fan film community and asked for some help. Up until that point, she had somehow managed to keep track of pretty much every old and new Star Trek fan film—and maintain what seemed like an infinite number of individual web pages (one for each production)…for SEVEN years all by herself!

Now she needed some help, and a number of volunteers stepped forward. These included KIROK L’STOK (real name Alan Anderton) from Australia along with SVEN MATTHES from Germany, and JAMES HEANEY (from Minnesota). Barbara and Sven would find all the fan film content, Kirok would write it up and enter it on the website (and post to Facebook), and James was the IT guy. Even now, they’re working on moving all the material over to a new website and should have it set up as a searchable database soon. They were hoping to have it running before Barbara passed away, but it wasn’t to be.

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about Barb’s personal history. But fortunately, James Heaney provided some enlightening background…

Continue reading “Star Trek fan filmmakers pay tribute to BARBARA READER following her passing…”

STAR TREK: VOYAGER documentary “TO THE JOURNEY” crowd-funder crosses $1 MILLION!

With just three days left to crowd-fund, the Indiegogo for the new Star Trek: Voyager documentary—now officially titled TO THE JOURNEY—crossed the ONE MILLION DOLLAR mark!

Is this a record? It’s really close!!!

The folks at 455 Films had previously crowd-funded the Trek-related documentaries FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK on Kickstarter in 2015 with a total of $662,640 and DEEP SPACE NINE: WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND on Indiegogo in 2017 with $647,891…both with just under 10K backers.

Back in April of 2016, the Frank Zappa documentary and restoration project WHO THE F*@% IS FRANK ZAPPA? raised a mind-blowing $1,126,036 on Kickstarter. And that, my friends, is the record for crowd-funding a film documentary project.

When 455 Films started this campaign for Voyager, they were probably not even imagining coming close to that record. Likely, based on their previous two campaigns, they might have thought they’d crack seven or eight hundred thousand. But as the weeks passed, and stretch goals repeatedly toppled at 75K and 100K intervals, suddenly the idea of reaching or breaching that record became a real possibility…especially now with three days left and only $100K still to go.

As you can see from the stretch goals at the bottom of this page, To The Journey will have ALL of its Voyager clips mastered into HD…and there will be some kind of never-before-seen “Voyager surprise.” Will they add even more stretch goals? I guess we’ll know soon!

In the meantime, there’s still time to donate. They’ve also put tickets up for sale for red carpet premieres in Los Angeles, New York, and London on the campaign page…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-star-trek-voyager-documentary

Shhhh…can you keep a secret? STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE, that is! (Audio interview with CRAIG SHEELER)

Back during the summer of 2012, something happened at the annual Creation Entertainment Star Trek convention in Las Vegas that had never happened before and hasn’t happened since: there was a convention table dedicated solely to an unlicensed Star Trek fan film!

This was still four years prior to the publication of the fan film guidelines by CBS, and it was a time when the Star Trek rights holder really had no idea what to do about fan films other than to look the other way, pretend they didn’t exist, and hope that they and all of their legal and licensing ambiguities would someday just fade out of existence.

Creation, as a licensee, was not allowed to provide table space to anyone selling bootlegged Star Trek merchandise or connected in any way to someone promoting anything Trek-related that was unlicensed. At the time, that included fan films. At best, Trek fan films could “sneak in the side door” at licensed cons by unofficially teaming up with acceptable dealers/vendors. For example, SCOTT NAKADA had made props for STAR TREK: RENEGADES, so his prop-making dealer table could promote that fan film.

But to have a table devoted SOLELY to an unlicensed Star Trek fan film at a licensed Star Trek convention (which Creation still was at that point)—that was unheard of! And yet, in 2012, the unreleased STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE would do just that, as you can see from this photo from the con…

Secret Voyage would premiere its first episode, the 39-minute “Whose Birth These Triumphs Are,” on YouTube shortly after the convention, although that release was later taken down and replaced in October of 2012 with another version having improved sound. Two years after that, Secret Voyage continued with a new second episode, the 35-minute “Rise of the Gongdea.” But since 2014, no additional episodes have been released.

Secret Voyage was a unique Trek fan film, featuring the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 from TOS but with an entirely different crew on a secret mission. Shot primarily in a desert area in southern Nevada, the cast and crew featured a mix of trained professionals, semi-professionals, and just plain old Trek fans. Considering the amount of footage and variety of camera angles, it was a very ambitious production. Have a look at the two releases…

During the late summer of 2016, shortly after the released of the guidelines, I interviewed Secret Voyage show-runner CRAIG SHEELER via a recorded phone call. We spoke for nearly three full hours! Back in those early days of this blog, I hadn’t yet started featuring audio interviews (those would debut the following year), and I would usually transcribe those phone conversations into text interview blogs.

The problem with this particular interview, however, was that Craig was just so darn interesting and had so many great stories that a text interview would easily have turned into a five or six-part blog!

Continue reading “Shhhh…can you keep a secret? STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE, that is! (Audio interview with CRAIG SHEELER)”

STAR TREK: VOYAGER documentary will include HD REMASTERING!

It’s been a dream of fans ever since Paramount and later CBS Studios decided to remaster TOS and TNG using original film negatives and redone CGI effects to create HIGH DEFINITION version of all of those treasured episodes. These special editions looked glorious…unbelievably better than when they first aired on television in standard definition.

Sadly, the owners of Star Trek lost their enthusiasm for this expensive process of remastering after the completion of the seven season of TNG in late 2014. No announcements were ever made regarding similar projects for Deep Space Nine or Voyager, and as it’s now been nearly a decade since work began on the TNG remaster. With CBS putting all of its considerable financial resources into producing (currently) FIVE different first-run Star Trek series, it’s unlikely any other pre-CBS Trek series will be getting the remastering treatment.

But all hope is not completely lost…!

When IRA STEVEN BEHR and the folks at 455 Films were making the DS9 documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND—which was initially crowd-funded back in 2017 and released the following year—they were disappointed with the low SD quality of the footage. They had hoped to spend some of the nearly 650K that they had raised in their Indiegogo remastering a few of the clips that they’d be including. But seeing the quality of those crisp and vibrant HD scenes only bummed them out whenever they saw a lower quality clip.

Unfortunately, the process for remastering is quite costly, both in terms of time and especially money. You have to look through seeming endless reels of raw film, find the takes you need, digitize those segments, and spend painstaking hours adjusting light levels, color balance, and a ton of other details. The results are amazing—they just cost a ton of money…

SD to the left versus HD on the right…what a difference!

With nearly all of the money raised from their Indiegogo already accounted for, the folks behind the DS9 documentary held additional fundraisers to cover the costs of digitizing the rest of the more than 20 minutes of footage they were using, at one point even offering “sponsorships” of specific clips. In the end, the addition crowd-funding was successful, including live action scenes and some amazing remastered VFX sequences.

Now, it looks like Star Trek: Voyager might get the same HD treatment!

With ten days left, the Indiegogo for the new Voyager documentary by the same folks at 455 Films is already hundreds of thousands of dollars above their DS9 predecessor’s campaign. In fact, they’re nearing a MILLION DOLLARS (which will set a new record for crowd-funding a documentary film on Indiegogo).

There have been ample stretch goals—revealed one-at-a-time as previous stretch goals were unlocked—but when they crossed $750K, they revealed three more stretch goals, and two of them are for remastering footage…

Already, they’ve passed the first of these goals, with the next one in sight. It’s very possible that this documentary will indeed take in over $1 million in donations from nearly 10K backers. Click below if you’d like to be one of them…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-star-trek-voyager-documentary

Saving a fan film in post-production – STARSHIP TRISTAN’s “36 hours” (interview with RANDY LANDERS and RICK FOXX)

All told, the latest episode of STARSHIP TRISTAN, “36 Hours,” is the 90th(!!!) fan film from the fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES (and you can watch all of their releases here on their website). Their very first fan series, PROJECT: POTEMKIN, ran for 36 episodes…beginning all the way back in late 2010 and wrapping up six years later.

Tristan was their second fan series (now referred to as a “Creative Group”), beginning in late 2015 and still going today. Of all of their remaining eight groups, Tristan has the most releases, with “36 Hours” being the 21st production overall to be posted to YouTube.

But “36 Hours” almost didn’t happen!

I mean, it got filmed, but it almost didn’t get completed and might have had to be scrapped…and this would have been a true pity, as several of the actors in it won’t be able to continue to be involved now that show-runner RANDY LANDERS—along with all of the sets—have relocated 6 hours north from their former location near Birmingham, Alabama to Lexington, KY.

This blog tells the story of how this one fan film was saved from digital oblivion during post production. Some fans are aware that that are three phases of development for a film project: pre-production (planning and getting everything ready), production (actual filming), and post-production (putting the pieces of the puzzle together and making sure everything looks and sounds good). You might think that, once you’ve shot all of your footage, that editing and post-production are fairly simple and straightforward. Well, it turns out that sometimes things are quite a bit more challenging.

To help tell this “story behind the story,” I have two fellows who helped make “36 Hours” happen. Randy Landers was the director, executive producer, and co-writer; and RICK FOXX was co-executive producer and also co-writer. However, in addition to sharing writing credits, Randy and Rick also shared editing duty—although you’ll only find Rick’s name as editor in the credits. Why is that? You’ll need to read the interview below.

But first, take a look at “36 hours”…

Continue reading “Saving a fan film in post-production – STARSHIP TRISTAN’s “36 hours” (interview with RANDY LANDERS and RICK FOXX)”

The COVID vaccination is a shot in the arm for fan filmmakers…but only if they get it! (editorial)

Most of my readers, I am hopeful, are either planning to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines or have already gotten one or both (if necessary) shots. And if you are one of those people, I applaud you!

In fact, as of this week, I have joined the partially-vaccinated group, having received my first dosage of the Moderna vaccine. (California just opened up vaccinations to people with obesity…the only good thing to ever come from my chronic weight problem!)

I am pleased to report that, with the exception of a ridiculously sore left upper arm for 36 hours—which is now mercifully back to normal—I am feeling just fine. I didn’t die or go into anaphylaxis; I didn’t pass out or grow a second head.

In fact, now that I’ve gotten my first vaccination shot, there’s only unusual thing that I’m feeling:

AN AMAZING SENSE OF RELIEF!

Honestly, folks, I hadn’t realized how much I’d been living with this almost constant pounding of fear and dread these past 14 months. Like some crazy end-of-times sci-fi horror movie, there was literally a super-virus out there that could kill me! And sure, COVID-19 isn’t necessarily fatal to everyone, but when you’re 5′ 9″, 255 pounds, and have hypertension, this unpredictable virus was more likely than not to do a serious number on me…and possibly even end my life at 54. When you feel as though you’re taking a potentially fatal risk just by going to Costco…that’s stress!

Now, I realize that, with the Moderna vaccine, one dosage isn’t enough yet. Full immunization doesn’t come for me until my second shot in the middle of April. But for the next four weeks, the odds of my surviving an infection if I get one just shot up considerably!

It’s troubling to me that a number of people in our fan film community are not planning to get the vaccine (I won’t name names). In fact, I was texting one of my own INTERLUDE team members that I was at Rite Aid awaiting my shot, and this person sent me back the following IM…

You’re really going to take vaccine that hasn’t been through more than 4 months of clinical trials? You really are a gambler. Also, do note, that you’ll be 3 times more contagious for 2 weeks after you take the vaccine, so you’ll want to have st. john’s wort on hand for your family. There’s a high likelihood they’ll get it from you.

Nothing like getting a little emotional shot in the arm just before you get an actual shot in the arm! So I showed the message to Helen, my Rite Aid pharmacist. I’ve known this woman more than a decade, and I’ve literally trusted her with my life as well as the lives of my wife and son.

Helen explained something to me about the vaccine that I was unaware of…

Continue reading “The COVID vaccination is a shot in the arm for fan filmmakers…but only if they get it! (editorial)”

The stop motion fan films STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE II – “The Crossing” and “The Beginning of the End”! (feature)

Two of the most ambitious and visually stunning Star Trek fan films you will ever see don’t feature a single human actor on the screen. Instead, both fan films star action figures from the Art Asylum line for Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (plus a Terminator action figure thrown in for good measure).

One of these fan films took two and a half years to complete…the other took more than eight years! Both of them will blow you away, and you’ll be even more blown away when you go behind-the-scenes to see the meticulous work and craftsmanship that went into each one.

JÜRGEN KAISER lives in the Bavarian region of German, and he has always loved Star Trek. As a teenager, going to the annual FedCon convention in Augsburg, Germany, he dreamed of one day showing a fan film of his own up on the big screen. In 2005, when Star Trek: Enterprise was canceled, Jürgen decided that the show had ended too soon. He wanted to see more of the crew of NX-01. And if Paramount Studios wasn’t going to oblige, then this 24-year-old living in Schweinfurt was going to have to do it himself!

JÜRGEN KAISER

Interestingly enough, Jürgen wasn’t an actual Trekkie, per se. He just really liked the Enterprise series and wanted to see more of it. Of course, Paramount had had tens of millions of dollars to spend and access to actors like Scott Bakula and Jolene Blalock. All Jürgen had was a bunch of 7″ and 8″ Art Asylum action figures, some paper, cardboard, scissors, an SLR camera…and a great deal of patience and persistence.

But Jürgen also had a very specific set of skills he had learned and honed from working with his father. Jürgen knew how to make precise, meticulous models—miniatures of larger items that he would study carefully and painstakingly reproduce.

Filmmaking had always inspired Jürgen, and he’d watch countless “making of” special features while growing up, learning a lot. His day job as a measurement specialist of oil channels in automatic transmissions at an automotive supplier did not provide much opportunity for creative expression. So to bring a little balance to his life, Jürgen founded the JK Produktion Stop Motion Studio in 2005 and began what would be a decade-plus-long odyssey creating two amazing stop motion Star Trek fan films.

Continue reading “The stop motion fan films STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE II – “The Crossing” and “The Beginning of the End”! (feature)”