INTERLUDE Confidential #1: Jonathan, the Executive Producer…

It was the best of times, it was…aw, heck! IT WAS FRICKIN’ AWESOME!!!

I’m referring, of course, to the main shoot of my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE that took place about a week ago as I write this. It’s taken me this long just to process the amazing, kaleidoscopic experience I had.

With so much to tell you all about what happened, I wondered how best to do it. A single blog about the weekend would read like War and Peace and still barely scratch the surface. So instead, I’m going to break it down into smaller chunks, and each will end with a series of on-set photos. (I’m still editing through everything…and there’s gonna be at least a few hundred pictures!)

I’ve decided to call this blog series Interlude Confidential. (Not quite sure what made me think of that title…maybe ALEC PETERS can tell me.) Anyway, if you don’t want to read that much, then feel free just to look at the photos and enjoy the captions. But if you’re curious what the experience of being a first-time Executive Producer on a Star Trek fan film felt like, then these blogs will be my “Vulcan mind-meld” with you.

And speaking of executive producing, that’s a really good topic for the first blog about this fan film production. What exactly did Jonathan do?

Many months ago when I first kicked off the Interlude GoFundMe campaign (still accepting donations, by the way!), a few folks in a certain Facebook group complained that I was doing little to make my own fan film besides simply raising money for it (which is quite a chore in and of itself, y’know!). And truth to tell, I initially thought that was the extent of it.

Sure, I also wrote the script, was designing the insignia, and getting uniforms and patches made. But my Directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN are the experienced industry professionals. I’m just a guy who likes fan films and blogs about them obsessively. So I figured that, once I raised the money, I’d hand the steering wheel over to them, climb into the back seat, and take a well-deserved nap for the rest of the trip.

Yeah…that totally did NOT happen!!!

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DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s latest release: “THE HEIST”

Last week on Halloween day, two brand new Star Trek fan films debuted on YouTube. I haven’t had a chance yet to cover either because I was overseeing a Halloween carnival at my son’s school last Thursday and then flying to Georgia over the weekend to make a fan film. But during this past week, one of those two fan films, the Avalon Universe episode DEMONS (Segment One) has already attracted over 26K views on YouTube as I write this. (And Segment Two has over a thousand views in just seven hours.)

The other Halloween release last week was the latest episode of the long-running DREADNOUGHT DOMINION: “The Heist.” Since debuting, the Youtube view count for this fan film is currently a whopping…356. And that, my friends, is the main reason why I am covering Dominion first here on Fan Film Factor…well, that and the fact that I still need to interview the Demons directors—who are also MY fan film’s directors—and they are both VERY sleep deprived from an incredible weekend of fan filming along with two 12-hour one-way drives between Arkansas and Georgia!

There’s really no direct comparison between these two productions beyond the fact that some of the flashbacks in Demons were filmed at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA…which is also where Dominion films. (Avalon now shoots at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas.) But in terms of acting, lighting, sound, and a slew of other technical elements, Demons is clearly the superior production. However, if that is the only reason you’re watching Star Trek fan films, you’re missing a big part of what this community is all about!

Both of these projects have HEART. In fact, Dreadnought Dominion is one of those fan series that, I believe, epitomizes the very core of what makes fan films so special: FANS. They don’t do this necessarily to dazzle you with their acting or filmmaking prowess. They’re not looking to win awards or get millions of views on Youtube. Folks like Dreadnought Dominion, Potemkin Pictures, VANCE MAJOR’s Minard and Constar Chronicles—plus a host of others—do this because it’s an itch they have to scratch. They want to tell their Star Trek stories, and they want to have fun along the way. They’re not afraid or embarrassed to put themselves out there for all to see…nor should they be!

So I ask you all who are reading this blog today to give this latest episode of Dominion a watch. Let’s up their view count a bit. Fans with heart, who love Star Trek just as much as you do, deserve our support and encouragement. Then, after you watch, take a minute or two to read the following short interview with show-runner GARY DAVIS further down this blog page…

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The TWO missions of the INTERLUDE fan project…

We all know the primary mission of the USS Enterprise: to explore strange, new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man/one has gone before.

But if you think about it, any decent science vessel could do that job just as easily. The Enterprise was different, though. While its primary mission was one of exploration and discovery, the crew had many, many more responsibilities: peacekeeper, diplomacy, war ship, search and rescue, medical transport, resupply, and even (in a couple of cases) espionage.

The starship Enterprise carried out many kinds of missions, and in the same way, so will my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Unquestionably, the primary mission (aside from having fun…always a must for fan productions!) is to make a slick, kick-ass fan film for you all to enjoy. But like our favorite TOS and TNG starship, Interlude had some additional tasks to accomplish…among them showing how Ares Studios is a viable resource for other fan films beyond just AXANAR (Vance Major gets his chance in a few more months) and demonstrating that it’s still possible to crowd-fund a Star Trek fan film into the five-figure range even post-guidelines…while dutifully following those guidelines.

But there’s one other mission for Interlude which, to me at least, is the most important: I did it for the blog.

More specifically, I did it for the majority of my readers who might never have an actual opportunity to walk onto a fan film set or be a show-runner. Perhaps a few of you want to be an executive producer or director yourself someday. Or maybe you just want to get a ringside seat on all the action.

Either way, I’ve done (and will continue to do) something with Interlude that I’m pretty sure has never been done before with any other fan film. I’m documenting nearly everything that’s gone into making it—from budgeting to building the team to all of the strategies I’ve used to crowd-fund to pre-production design to casting and costuming details. (No Land’s End shirts!) Thanks to these many blogs, my readers are getting to “look over my shoulder” at nearly every detail…assuming they’re interested in such things. To me, that’s actually one of the most exciting aspects of this whole process: not only do I get to watch and be a part of it all, but I can SHARE the experience with all of you!

And this past weekend’s shoot was no exception.

Continue reading “The TWO missions of the INTERLUDE fan project…”

And that’s a WRAP for the first (main) shoot of INTERLUDE!

I don’t have much time to blog this morning ’cause it’s still going to be a very busy day! But I did just send the following update to the donors for my GoFundMe campaign who made all of this possible. And I wanted to share the message here, as well…


Oh, man!

I am still processing what I can only describe as a kaleidoscopic weekend of amazingness shooting the main scenes of INTERLUDE at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, Georgia. It’s gonna take a LOT of blogs to fully convey the experience of the past 3 days. But first, I need to record some lines on audio this morning, get to the airport, and fly back to Los Angeles.

All I have time to tell you right now is that your donations were not only well-spent, they were MASTERFULLY spent by a team whose talent and ability astounded me. I think we came pretty close to NOT going over budget, but I’ll need to crunch the numbers when I get home. I might need to beg for a few hundred dollars more. Maybe not. At one point, there was so much happening on set that I just handed my credit card over to someone (I don’t even remember who!) along with a laundry list of everything we needed locally and where to get it–from gaffer’s tape to extra snacks and Gatorade. It was a little surreal. (Thank heavens I got my credit card back!)

But let me assure you folks: this fan film will not only be awesome, it will be a visual work of art. Josh Irwin’s mastery of lighting and color gave his shots a cinematic feel reminiscent of the stunning palette of first season TOS on a bridge so similar yet uniquely different. And Victoria drew out some amazing on-screen performances from both trained actors and a few untrained fans (’cause we’re still a FAN film, folks!).

Anyway, more fun and fantastic details, videos, pictures (SO many photos!), interviews, and stories to come…as soon as I have time to go through more than 900 photos and about 10 hours of behind-the-scenes footage. Stay tuned…and THANK YOU ALL again for making this dream possible.

‘Twas the night before INTERLUDE shoots…

So far, so good. Although my directors are still on the road as I write this, they’re within a state or two of getting here. The weather this weekend will be awesome (30-40 degrees less than it was for Axanar four weeks ago); we’ll be in the 58-60 degree range with no rain in sight.

The studio is ready, the Assistant Director has the call sheets. The costumes are ready (thanks to the amazing work of KAREN SHUEY and her son STEPHEN). Alec’s house is full, including myself, TREY McELWAIN, and his wife NICOLE as guests. Others are in nearby hotels or will be driving to Lawrenceville in the next day or two.

And tonight, we gathered at Alec’s for the weekly Axanar Confidential livecast focused on INTERLUDE. I invited anyone who wanted to be on camera to take part, and we had a BLAST! There’s not much time (or energy left in my body) right now to blog—or probably for the rest of the weekend—so have fun watching the gang (or at least six of us) talk about everything that’s been going on…

TEAM INTERLUDE expands – we film THIS SATURDAY!!! (part 1)

Holy temporal distortion!

Back when I started the GoFundMe for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE back in early June, it felt like November 2-3 was a million months away. Now I’ll be getting on a plane for Atlanta this Friday, and I’m feeling a dozen different emotions all at once: excitement, anticipation, dread, abject terror…it runs the gamut, folks!

Y’see, I watched all of those livecasts from the first AXANAR shoot four weeks ago, saw all of those moving parts—the 80-plus volunteers, the costumes, the sound and computer-monitoring equipment, the lights, the cameras, the action, the caterers—and I got totally overwhelmed. That’s a tough act to follow!

Granted, Interlude isn’t nearly that big of a shoot—we’re expecting about 30 people a day, not 80-plus. But make no mistake: there are still a LOT of moving parts to my project, too…and I’m smack in the middle of most of them!

I naively thought that, after the crowd-funder reached its $19.5K goal, that I’d just be able to slide into the proverbial back seat and let my Directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN do the driving the rest of the way. Oh, sure, as Executive Producer, I’d pay the bills for things like patches, plaques, equipment rental, wardrobe, travel expenses, catering, etc. And I’d be supervising my friend LEWIS ANDERSON on the CGI effects. But aside from that and showing up at the shoot, running a few errands, and taking lots of photos and videos for the blog, I figured that I was essentially done.

Boy, was I wrong!

You might have noticed a slowdown in my blog coverage of fan films over the past several weeks. This is mainly because I’ve been doing a boatload of work on Interlude! This doesn’t mean that Victoria and Josh have’t been working their butts off, too. But they haven’t let me sneak into the back seat yet. I am still VERY much in the thick of things!

If you’re a fan filmmaker or, more precisely, are thinking of becoming one, then this blog is for you. I’d like to share my journey, my “trek,” with folks who might be curious to see all of the things a complete novice like me is doing and learning along the way…

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TEAM INTERLUDE expands – we film THIS SATURDAY!!! (part 2)

As I mentioned in Part 1, these two blogs are intended primarily for those folks interested in fan filmmaking, whether they’re already making fan films or if they’re thinking of taking the plunge for the first time…as I’m doing right now.

Granted, fan films range from super-cheap where there’s only a handful of people (or even as few as two or one) to the super-large productions like STAR TREK CONTINUES and AXANAR where 50 to 100 people might end up being a part of the production. If I had to place our INTERLUDE project on this sliding scale from, let’s call it, one to ten, I’d say we’re a solid seven.

So this blog might not apply directly to every fan project. But if you’re smaller, it might help with a step up to a more ambitious level. And if you’re bigger, then you’d probably just be amused at all the stuff the “newbie” is going through. I’ll simply say that I wish I’d been able to read a blog like this before I started tackling Interlude!

Okay, let’s get back to discussing our rapidly-expanding team who will all be descending on Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA this coming weekend. (EEEEP!)

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The YOUNGEST cameraman…er, camera BOY in fan films?

The instant message came in about 7:00 pm a week ago Sunday night. VANCE MAJOR, currently planning an early December release of about FORTY fan films running over ten hours total(!!!), needed a favor from me.

He first asked if I had an early DS9/Voyager-era Starfleet uniform. Of course I do! What kind of a nerdy Trekkie does he think I am??? Then he asked if I had a black turtleneck that I could wear under it instead of the usual blue-gray shirt. A little trickier, of course, but it turns out I also own a TNG 5th season Picard jacket with the shirt he wears under it…and that shirt has a high black turtleneck collar. So yes, I had exactly what Vance wanted.

But why?

Turns out Vance needed a quick scene for one of his upcoming CONSTAR CHRONICLES episodes. A friend of his had offered to film himself for the scene and send it to Vance a few weeks ago, but the friend didn’t come through, and Vance was running out of time. In fact, he asked if I could record the scene in the next day or two.

There wasn’t much dialog. Vance IM’d me the full scene…

(Camera is very shakey cam and in your face)

Captain! Hiding all the quadlithium in the Romulan star had the exact effect you said it would. Multiple spacial rifts opening everywhere.... the chain reaction....This will be a Galactic extinction level event. The shockwaves are destroying everything in their path. Nothing will survive.

(Puts his free hand over heart like mirror universe does)

For the Phantom.

The idea was to have me dressed as a Mirror Universe commander, sending my final message to the evil Erick Minard (in the Mirror Universe, they pronounce it “MY-nard”) about his evil plan. In Vance’s films, the low-budget way to do 24th century Mirror Universe is to wear black turtlenecks under Voyager-era uniforms.

Wait a sec…did Vance say “shakey cam”?

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STALLED TREK is anything BUT stalled! (update from MARK LARGENT)

Last month, I published a blog updating folks on the status of more than a dozen eagerly-anticipated Star Trek fan films currently in production or post-production. While I’m certainly looking forward to all of them, I have to admit that one of the fan films highest on my “excitement” list is the latest episode of STALLED TREK: “The City on the Edge of Foreclosure.”

If you haven’t heard of Stalled Trek before, stop whatever you’re doing RIGHT NOW and watch the first episode: “Amutt Time.” As you’ll see, it’s a brilliant and hilarious Star Trek puppet parody of the TOS episode “Amok Time,” created back in 2012 by MARK LARGENT. Four years later, Mark teamed up with a certain blogger named JONATHAN LANE to co-produce another Stalled Trek episode…this one a parody of PRELUDE TO AXANAR and the subsequent infringement lawsuit called PRELUDE TO AX’D-WE-ARE. Both Stalled Treks are 100% must-see fan film fun!

Then last year, Mark decided to return the the TOS Trek parody puppets by adapting the fan favorite episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” into a comedy romp. Sounds impossible? Sounds intriguing? Well, 114 Kickstarter backers were inspired to help fund the project to the tune of $4,181…and it was off to the races for Mark.

Except something bad happened.

A few months later, Mark learned that the 3D software he’d been using for years (and had planned to use for the next Stalled Trek) would no longer be supported on the Macintosh platform. And Mark has a Mac. He didn’t want to have to transition his computer life from Mac to Windows (I know how he feels).

Fortunately, there is a free, open-source 3D application out there called Blender…and free is always a good price! And so Mark downloaded and installed the program on his Mac, and for the past several months, Mark has been teaching himself the application while creating the GCI models he will need for the animated parody production.

Back in June, to show fans and donors how things were coming along with the modeling and rendering in Blender, Mark released this comical short vignette…

But aside from that, most of the details of Mark’s progress have remained secret—until now, that is. Mark just released an update to donors that included 11 renders of modeled environments and characters he’s created so far to be used in the parody. Those images appear at the end of this blog. But first, I asked Mark to tell us a little bit about how things are progressing. Instead, I got a lecture about a truck. But it’s a very special truck, as you’ll discover below…

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TEAM MASH-UP answers DR. SEUSS’s brief appealing judge’s FAIR USE ruling…

When I blog about Seuss, I start off with a rhyme. But I think I’ll try something different this time. (Darn it…I can’t!)

Appeal! Appeal! Lately, the Star Trek fan community has been seeing more than its share of appeals. Anas Abdin is appealing the recent dismissal of his lawsuit against CBS for allegedly stealing his “Tardigrades” game idea. And Nick Rekieta reports (at the 8:40 mark of this video) that he was told that Vic Mignogna will appeal all of the nearly-twenty counts of his lawsuit that were recently dismissed by a judge in Texas.

And of course, back in August, DR. SEUSS ENTERPRISES (DSE) filed an opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Appellate Court in California appealing the dismissal of their their copyright and trademark infringement complaints against COMICMIX, DAVID GERROLD, and TY TEMPLETON.

The latter three had attempted to raise $30,000 via Kickstarter to publish a “mash-up” of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek titled Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! DSE sued in federal court, and after a roller-coaster nearly-two year legal battle, the judge in the case ruled (prior to trial) that the mash-up book did, in fact, qualify for Fair Use protections under the First Amendment and dismissed all causes of action.

DSE was not happy.

After requesting an extension to give them more time to prepare their opening brief (which clocked in at an impressive 81 pages and was very well written), they filed in early August…along with four amicus curiae briefs, which are opinions submitted to the court by non-litigants who, even though they aren’t part of the lawsuit, still have a vested interest in the outcome of the case.

In this instance, DSE got help from two professors from the Berkeley School of Lawthree members of The Copyright Alliancethe Motion Picture Association of America, and The Sesame Workshop (yep, Big Bird is buddies with The Cat in the Hat!). That’s another 140 pages to add to your reading list. They all mostly say the same thing…essentially that the judge got it wrong and here’s why they think so (and why the law backs up their belief).

Fast forward two months, and now its Team Mash-up’s turn to have their say. Let’s take a look at the latest goings-on…

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