SIR PATRICK STEWART and ALEX KURTZMAN go ALL-IN on a PICARD V.I.P. set tour sweepstakes!

How’d you like for SIR PATRICK STEWART to personally escort you and a friend through the set for STAR TREK: PICARD and introduce you to all of the cast members? And hey, as long as you’re there, why not throw in a walk-on appearance in one of the season two episodes?

Sound crazy? Unbelievable? Impossible??? Nope, this is 100% for real, folks…and by entering, you will also be helping to feed people in dire need of food during this global pandemic crisis.

Back in April, a small group of entrepreneurs from Fanatics.com launched a new initiative called the ALL IN Challenge. Leveraging their connections in the sports world (Fanatics is a licensed merchandise manufacturer for professional and college sports leagues throughout the world), the ALL IN Challenge Foundation invited famous athletes (and later music and entertainment industry celebrities) to donate their most prized possessions and be challenged to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will be both available for online auction and as giveaways.

All of the money raised (100%) will be going directly to the following charities: Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry, and America’s Food Fund, which is directly benefiting Feeding America and World Central Kitchen. More than ever before, families are struggling to provide food as tens of millions are out of work, kids are out of school, many are at risk of losing their income, and the most vulnerable elderly population is self-isolating. The ALL IN Challenge Foundation (AICF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and therefore, any money you give them to win a chance to visit the set of Picard will be completely tax deductible. (Visit this web page for more details.)

ALL IN Challenge Foundation has already raised nearly $60 million from over a million donations. More than 500 celebrities and organizations have offered prizes so far—from Jennifer Lopez to the Philadelphia Eagles to Starbucks (free Starbucks for life, anyone?). And the latest offering from ALL IN is for a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a fan to visit the set of Star Trek: Picard, meet Patrick Stewart, and even have a walk-on role in a season two episode. Here is the official description:

We will roll out the red carpet with an exclusive VIP set visit and tour of the stages for you and a guest. The star treatment will continue as you, the winner, go into hair, makeup and wardrobe before being part of the show with a walk-on role. You and your guest will also have the chance to meet Sir Patrick Stewart as one of his most iconic characters, Jean-Luc Picard.

Naturally, timing depends on the pandemic and safety concerns. And the winner is responsible for his or her travel and lodging. But aside from that, it’s just a simple sweepstakes with $10 buying ten chances to win, and $100 buying 200 chances. You can enter as many times as you like up through July 22, 2020…

Click here to enter and read the full rules and details

I met an AXANAR fan at the supermarket … and he reads my blog!

There are about 4 million people living in Los Angeles, 40 million in California, 330 million in the United States, and 7.6 billion in the world. Of those, a few hundred to a few thousand read this blog each day. (I can happily live with that.)

Over the years, I’ve met people at Star Trek-related events who have seen my blog…or at least folks who know about fan films. But yesterday I had that experience in, of all places, my local supermarket!

I was wearing my custom-designed AXANAR T-shirt (shown in the photo above) while doing grocery shopping, and a fellow standing near me in produce said, “I like the design on your shirt!”

I looked down—having forgotten what I was wearing(!!!)—and said, “Oh, thanks. Are you familiar with Axanar?”

He was, and I didn’t feel that surprised. PRELUDE TO AXANAR has nearly 4.5 million views on YouTube, and it got a lot of coverage in the press during 2015-2016. ALEC PETERS talks about how he occasionally gets recognized in public, and I’ve actually been with him once when it happened…so I’ve seen in it action.

“Do you know if that fan film is going to be finished?” the man asked me. (I get that question a lot.)

“Absolutely,” I said. “In fact, I talked to the show-runner just yesterday, and there’s a shoot tentatively scheduled for next month. Most of the two sequels have already been filmed at this point, and some post-production has started.”

“Oh?” he said, sounding impressed that I knew so much. “Are you involved with the project?”

“Kinda,” I said. “I write a blog about Star Trek fan films called Fan Film Factor.

“I read that blog!” he said. Now, before I allowed myself to feel completely shocked, I will admit to being temporarily dubious…after all, maybe he was just being polite and had never heard of my blog in his life. But then he added, “In fact, I saw it was down this past weekend. Is it back up now?”

HOLY FRACK! He really does read my blog! I thought.

Continue reading “I met an AXANAR fan at the supermarket … and he reads my blog!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #11.1 – Jonathan’s favorite memories from the November shoot (part 1)

With INTERLUDE in the final month or so of post-production, my goal of making a Star Trek fan film is nearly complete. The trailer came out last month and seems to have been very well received by most people who didn’t mind the Space: 1999 music. (For those who did mind…well, the world didn’t end, did it?)

Back in November of 2018, my idea of making a fan film was just a crazy suggestion that I’d made to JOSHUA IRWIN, curious to see what a filmmaker of his abilities could do with the nearly-finished USS Ares bridge set to shoot on.

The next twelve months became a rollercoaster ride—starting off slowly and then accelerating as I began to crowd-fund and work through pre-production with Josh and VICTORIA FOX, our director. By the time we reached November of 2019, one year later, I silently prayed that we’d crossed every “t” and dotted every “i” because we had two full days of shooting planned, fifty people coming to the studio that weekend, and thousands and thousands of dollars had already been spent without the ability to afford a “do over” if we screwed anything up.

In this 2-part blog—likely the last “Interlude Confidential” until the premiere on July 25, 2020—I would like to share with all of you some of my most cherished memories of the November shoot. It was, unquestionably, the highlight of the entire filmmaking experience because that was when nearly everyone came together at one time.

During pre-production, by comparison, almost everyone worked either individually or in small groups, getting things ready for production. And after the footage was shot, things shifted to the director, editor, sound-mixer, composer, VFX person, and of course, the producer overseeing it all. But by that point, most of the time, much of the work was being done individually or, at most, in small groups holding production meetings via conference calls.

But it was at the film shoot(s) when all of the excitement happened and all hands—or most all of the hands—were on deck. So here are some of what were the biggest highlights for me personally during that magical weekend…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #11.1 – Jonathan’s favorite memories from the November shoot (part 1)”

Another PANDEMIC fan film: LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DAY… (interview with MIKE LONGO)

Stop me if you’ve heard this: two Americans and a German walk into a fan film…

No, wait, that’s not it.

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are all on a Zoom call…

Well, any way you want to introduce this blog, the fact remains that the world is just a little topsy-turvy at the moment. Social distancing is affecting nearly all aspects of life. And for us Trekkers, that includes our fan films!

Last week, I reported on a fan film from France, HORREUR POST ATOMIQUE, that was produced entirely post-pandemic during the global quarantine. Three fans dressed in grungy clothes played previously-unknown characters from the Star Trek universe during the post-atomic horror following World War III just prior to first contact with the Vulcans.

Now another short fan film has been released, also produced entirely during the weeks of shelter-in-place orders. However, this fan film, LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY, features three very familiar characters to fans: James T. Kirk, Mr. Mr. Spock, and Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy…having the future equivalent of a three-way Skype call or Zoom meeting. Our new normal, apparently, is also the new normal in the late 23rd century—at least temporarily for our three heroes.

What makes this new fan film extra fun is that the three actors portraying Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are not only cosplayers, but two of them are impersonators of these characters who appear at many conventions…

Pictured above are JENS DOMBEK, known as “The German Spock ,” photos of whom can be found all over the Internet, and FRANK JENKS, whose uncanny resemblance to the chief medical officer of the USS Enterprise got him roles in several fan films including the award-winning “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” from THE FEDERATION FILES.

Leading the cast as Kirk was MIKE LONGO, who recently played the same role (just wearing a different uniform) in the recently-released THE HUMAN ADVENTURE. Mike also wrote, produced, and directed Look Forward to the Day.

Many fans have already watched and enjoyed this little vignette. If you aren’t one of them (or even if you are), please have a look…

I reached out to Mike to find out a little more about this project and how it came together. Here’s what he told me…

Continue reading “Another PANDEMIC fan film: LOOKING FORWARD TO THE DAY… (interview with MIKE LONGO)”

Three new fan films from STARSHIP DEIMOS in seven months…and more POTEMKIN news from RANDY LANDERS!

I try to cover each new fan film from POTEMKIN PICTURES soon after it’s released. But with seven different creative groups all working simultaneously, occasionally I’ll miss one or two.

I had this somewhat embarrassing realization a couple of weeks ago when I went to watch the latest offering from the STARSHIP DEIMOS creative team, “Butterfly Effect.” It was quite good (as are nearly all of the releases from the Deimos team). And I noticed that this particular episode was written by VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Captain Gabriel of the USS Deimos. Victoria had written all but two of the first eight episodes of Deimos, but I hadn’t seen her name as writer for a while (I checked, and it’d been about two years). Victoria—who also helped write the STARSHIP FARRAGUT episode “Conspiracy of Innocence” back in 2014—writes some very strong scripts, and “Butterfly Effect” was no exception.

But when the episode ended, YouTube (as it usually does) automatically loaded up another video, and it was another episode of Starship Deimos: “Blood Crystals.” I let it play, and remembered that I’d started watching it back in February, but I’d never finished it…and I totally forgot to blog about it! Oy vey. It was also a very good episode.

Then YouTube loaded another Deimos episode for me, “The Solomon Gamble” from last October. I’d never watched that one at all! Then I went to check my blogs and discovered, much to my horror, that my last Deimos blog was last June(!!!) about their episode “Children of Eberus.” I’d missed covering THREE new episode releases. Oh, the shame!

So here they all are, in the order they were released over the past seven months…

I noted that, in the past seven months, while Deimos had just released their THIRD completed fan film, the other Potemkin creative teams were trailing:

  • MARIE CURIE – 2 episodes (November and March)
  • TRISTAN – 2 episodes (December and April)
  • BATTLECRUISER KUPOK – 1 episode (November)
  • ALEXANDER – 1 episode (February, but that was the series premiere)
  • TRITON – 0 episodes (most recent was May 2019)
  • ENDEAVOUR – 0 episodes (most recent was December 2018)

I remembered asking Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS at one point about this inconsistency, but many of my current readers might not have read his original answer. So I decided to ask Randy again, this time wondering if his and his wife’s recent move from Alabama to Kentucky might have affected the schedule and perhaps have spelled the end for one or more of the above-listed fan teams (and remember, we DON’T call them fan series!).

Here was Randy’s response…

Continue reading “Three new fan films from STARSHIP DEIMOS in seven months…and more POTEMKIN news from RANDY LANDERS!”

The French fan film connection: HORREUR POST ATOMIQUE made entirely during QUARANTINE! (interview)

When the global pandemic hit and the world began sheltering in place (at least in many countries), I wondered what effect the quarantining would have on Star Trek fan films. After all, most fan films involve multiple people interacting closely together. Even the distance between an actor and a camera person can’t always be six feet…and who wants to film a bridge crew who are all wearing masks? I mean, I suppose you could do a fan film that takes place entirely on board a Breen or Gorn vessel, but most races in Star Trek show their mouths and noses.

When I finally saw how one group of Trekkers from France solved that problem, their answer seemed so elegant (leave it to the French!) and so obvious that I just had to stand up and clap for their ingenuity and inspiration. At first, you don’t even realize it’s a Star Trek story, but then—well, rather than spoil it, just watch the short film first, and then read on. It’s only 7 minutes and entirely subtitled if you click on the “cc” button on the lower right corner…

The four fans were eager to talk about their efforts, and I was eager to interview my first fan filmmakers from the future homeland of Jean-Luc Picard! They’ve requested to use only their first names rather than their full names (is that a French thing, too?), and I’m fine with that. An interview’s an interview, I always say!

So e-mailed a bunch of questions to their show-runner, known as “THIERRY,” and he invited the other three friends—PAULINE, LÉONIE, and RÉMI—to respond to each question, as well, in a sort of round-robin. The result is a very fun and informative conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

Allons-y…!

Continue reading “The French fan film connection: HORREUR POST ATOMIQUE made entirely during QUARANTINE! (interview)”

My son JAYDEN is really the ghost of STAN LEE!

Technically, this isn’t a blog about Star Trek or fan films. So if you’re only here for that, feel free to skip this entry because I’m indulging in the “it’s-my-blog-site-so-I-can-cover-what-I-want” option. And today, it’s a special blog about my son JAYDEN.

The quarantine has been a huge adjustment for kids—going from spending seven hours at school five days week with their teachers and friends to spending all day at home with only two hours a day of virtual classroom time in a Zoom meeting…and the rest of the day doing work independently from home. Many parents have become home-schooling “partners” to their children’s teachers…and that includes yours truly.

One of the highlights of the third grade at Jayden’s school is the annual “Living Museum” project. Many schools do this same assignment in third or fourth grade. Each student reads a biography of a famous person—from King Tut to Steve Jobs, Alexander Hamilton to Elton John, Sacajawea to Sally Ride, Roald Dahl to George Lucas. At the end of the school year, the students prepare a five-paragraph monologue about the life of their famous person. They memorize this monologue over a number of weeks, and during a special assembly at the end of the school year, they each dress up as their famous person and recite their monologue.

Sadly, the Coronavirus put the kibosh on any kind of assembly this year.

But the show must go on, so the third graders still read their biographies and prepared their monologues. However, the culmination of the process morphed from an assembly into a recorded video in costume uploaded by parents to the teachers and then compiled into a presentation to be shown to the entire class via Zoom meeting…parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins invited to attend, as well.

Jayden’s famous person was the legendary Marvel Comics publisher STAN LEE, creator of some of the most well-known superhero and villain characters in history…including Jayden’s favorite: Spider-Man.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Stan’s biography with Jayden and helping with chapter summaries. I shared some of my old comic books with Jayden (I’ve got 44,000 of them in the garage!), and I even have a poster signed by Stan “The Man” himself…along with a personalized note from Stan (shown to the right) when my brother’s and my company almost worked with Stan’s company in late 1998 . (Jayden’s jaw dropped when he saw that!)

Stan’s life and the many, many, many characters that he’d created sparked Jayden’s imagination and enthusiasm in a way that most of the other day-to-day assignments during virtual learning didn’t manage to. And so I saw a unique opportunity with the monologue video.

Finding a Stan Lee “costume” is not that hard. Turns out that all you need is a white polo, V-neck sweater, khaki pants, Keds sneakers, sunglasses, and a fake mustache. Take a look…

Continue reading “My son JAYDEN is really the ghost of STAN LEE!”

STARSHIP ANTYLLUS introduces the NEXT GENERATION of fan filmmaker! (audio interview with GEORGE and ANYA KAYAIAN)

It’s not unheard of to see children in Star Trek fan films. VANCE MAJOR’s toddler son ROYCE has appeared in multiple episodes of the MINARD and CONSTAR CHRONICLES fan films. Dozens of KEVIN CROXTON’s 4th and 5th grade Music Club students appeared in his 2018 fan film THE BUNNY INCIDENT. Parents occasionally shoot “home movie” fan films with their kids dressed in Starfleet uniforms or wearing alien masks…so there’s certainly a decent representation of children appearing in Star Trek fan films.

What’s more unusual, though, is finding a youngster who is actively helping to MAKE Star Trek fan films. And when I say “helping,” I don’t mean little things like keeping the costumes sorted or getting the props when needed. I’m talking about being an essential member of the production team, wearing any number of different hats, and really being a critical part of the entire filmmaking process from pre-production through production and into post production, as well.

ANYA SHIELA KAYAIAN appeared in her first episode of her father’s long-running STARSHIP ANTYLLUS fan series in 2015 when she was five years old. More recently, she began playing a recurring crew member named Sharb, wearing an alien mask to hide her age. But just this past April, I had a chance to see Anya act without a mask, and I was so impressed! It was the fifteenth episode of Antyllus, a surrealistic inner mind exploration story titled “The House on the Water.” You can check it out here (Anya comes in at the 7-minute mark)…

I’ve interviewed Antyllus show-runner and lead actor GEORGE KAYAIAN before, but I was so intrigued by the very mature and convincing performance of his daughter, that I asked George if Anya might be interested in participating in an audio interview with her dad.

Anya was thrilled at the opportunity, and so was I. While I enjoy interviewing a wide variety of fan filmmakers, I almost never get a chance to interview kids. And as a father of a 9-year-old myself, I looked forward to chatting with 10-year-old Anya, as that is a really great age (they’re not quite teenagers yet!).

Of course, when you’re dealing with younglings, you never know what to expect. Some kids are comfortable talking to adults while others can be quite nervous and shy. But what I got from Anya simply blew me away! Until my own son Jayden has his next birthday in September, Anya is absolutely, positively my favorite 10-year-old. She’s smart, upbeat, fun, precocious, well-spoken, and throughly impressive on all levels. I’d say she’ll make a great filmmaker someday, but as far as I’m concerned, she’s already there!

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to one of my most favorite audio interviews that I’ve done so far…

Click here to view all episodes of Starship Antyllus.

ARES STUDIOS poster Kickstarter winds up with nearly $10K! (interview with ALEC PETERS)

It took just two weeks, but 258 AXANAR fans and supporters just donated $9,690 to fund a series of Master Display Posters and also, of course, ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA. The monthly expenses run about $4,200 ($3,750 of that is rent, the rest utilities). A Patreon brings in about $2,600 a month from an average of 260-270 donors…so the remaining $1,600 is coming out of the pocket of ALEC PETERS himself.

To help make up at least some of the shortfall, Alec launched a new Kickstarter on May 16, offering fans a snazzy full color poster of the USS ARES—a side-view cutaway designed by Axanar graphic designer extraordinaire ALEXANDER RICHARDSON. The original goal was a pretty humble $1,200…with a stretch goal of $3,000 that would unlock a second full-color cutaway poster of the USS Geronimo class and a mystery poster stretch goal at $5,000.

Donations began pouring in almost immediately. The $1,200 goal was passed in less than one hour, the first stretch goal a few hours later, and the second stretch goal within the first week! When the campaign closed yesterday evening, the final total was nearly $10,000! Even I wasn’t expecting such a large amount.

A few folks wondered if this Kickstarter campaign was a violation of the agreement that Alec Peters and Axanar Productions signed with CBS and Paramount to settle their infringement lawsuit and allow Alec to finish Axanar as two 15-minute fan film segments. As I wrote in this blog from a couple of weeks ago, the answer is no. The agreement not to publicly crowd-fund using services like Kickstarter applies only to Axanar Productions and the completion of the Axanar fan film, not to the studio that houses the bridge and captain’s quarters set. In fact, Ares Studios did not even exist at the time the agreement was signed in January of 2017, and so Ares Studios (a not-for-profit corporation in Georgia) cannot legally be considered a signatory to the settlement agreement (barring the existence of time-travel).

I texted Alec last night to congratulate him on his surprising achievement of nearly $10,000 in just two weeks, and our back-and-forth turned into a mini-interview of sorts…

Continue reading “ARES STUDIOS poster Kickstarter winds up with nearly $10K! (interview with ALEC PETERS)”

First-time fan film writer/director/editor GREG OGLES discusses STARSHIP TRISTAN’s “RECLAMATION” (interview, part 2)

Last time, we met GREG OGLES of Birmingham, Alabama, who wrote, directed, starred in, and produced the two-part 17th and 18th episodes of STARSHIP TRISTAN from POTEMKIN PICTURES. You can watch the other 16 episodes of Tristan, plus nearly 70 other episodes from a total of eight different creative teams on the Potemkin Pictures website.

Greg’s two-parter is titled “Reclamation” and includes a storyline based on his own personal family history, a family that includes Native American blood and ancestors who managed to escape from the infamous “Trail of Tears” and had to claim their race as “black dutch” to keep from being rounded up and sent to Oklahoma.

Written in 2017, the script to “Reclamation” was submitted to Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS in 2018 and filmed primarily in 2019. Chapter 1 was released last December and chapter 2 this past April. You can view both films below:

And now the conclusion of our interview with Greg…

Continue reading “First-time fan film writer/director/editor GREG OGLES discusses STARSHIP TRISTAN’s “RECLAMATION” (interview, part 2)”