Back in September of 2010, author KEVIN DAVID ANDERSON saw his novel NIGHT OF THE LIVING TREKKIES (still available in hardcover, paperback, kindle, and audio format) published by Quirk Books. A brilliant mash-up of a Star Trek convention and zombie movies, the book was filled with hilarious and clever jokes and references that Trek fans would get in a nanosecond (including giving all of the chapters TOS episode titles). And to help market the book, a 3-minute trailer was created that, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the top MUST SEE funny fan film shorts ever! See if you agree…
I realize it’s unusual to re-eulogize the same person two days in a row, but STAN LEE was special. Also, since this is Fan Film Factor, I wanted to take a moment to highlight his appearances in two fan films (and his love for Star Trek) before <sniff, sniff> letting him go.
Three years ago, the folks at STARSHIP FARRAGUT raised $15,787 from 202 backers in a Kickstarter intended to fund their series finale “Homecoming.” You can read about the full history of this cutting-edge fan series in this 3-part blog.
Although “Homecoming” is still unreleased (all of the scenes and reshoots were completed by summer of 2016, so the finale remains in a state of post-production), a brief segment was released in August of 2017 featuring none other than STAN LEE! I captured a still image of Stan from that video and used it yesterday for my eulogy blog. Here is the full minute-long clip that includes Stan’s full cameo…
Stan had previously appeared in an early pilot vignette for the fan series TREK: ISOLATION, which was set to spin off from Starship Farragut back in 2015. The vignette, “A Great Responsibility,” viewers with stunned looks on their faces as they saw the legendary Marvel Comics godfather sitting at a desk, wearing a gold TOS Starfleet admiral’s tunic! Here is that video in its entirety…
The fact that someone as famous as Stan Lee, a man who was already well into his 90s(!!!) when these two productions were shot, would even agree to appear in a “silly” Star Trek fan film says so much about this amazing man whom we lost yesterday. Stan was so easy-going, so humble, and loved to have fun. He truly appreciated the fans and would often bend over backward for them.
And Stan loved Star Trek. He discussed the original series with ROD RODDENBERRY (son of Star Trek‘s creator GENE RODDENBERRY) for the documentary TrekNation…
I leave you with this wonderful illustration that I saw yesterday on Facebook…
No one lives forever.
But for a brief flicker of precious time on this planet, it seemed like STAN LEE just might. He was only seven weeks short of his 96th birthday when he passed away on Monday. But almost until the last moment, Stan would make cameo appearances in nearly all of the MARVEL Cinematic Universe movies. While flying back from Atlanta last week, I watched Avengers: Infinity War once again, and there was Stan, driving Peter Parker and his high school classmates to a field trip on Coney Island. It was a fun and amusing reminder of the guy we all have to thank from these blockbuster films and the wondrous characters they feature.
I bought my first five comic books back in 1979, three of them with the words “STAN LEE PRESENTS…” written just above the title. To a young Jonathan growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, Stan Lee WAS comic books. Oh, sure, names like John Byrne and Chris Clamemont, Roger Stern, Roy Thomas, Jim Shooter, George Perez, Frank Miller, Alan Moore…they were super-exciting, too. But “STAN LEE PRESENTS…” was right up there above all their names on every Marvel comic book that I’d pay my 35 cents to buy. (Yep, that’s what they cost when I started!)
The list of characters that Stan Lee created or co-created is massive. You can see them all here. (Seriously, go check out that link. You’ll be amazed.)
But what’s uncanny to me is how many of these characters were created day after day, week after week, month after month…all while Stan was just doing his job at Marvel Comics.
Think about that for second.
Last week, we met Ensign Williams, the youngest security red shirt on the starship Enterprise…and perhaps the only sane person in the entire crew. Ensign Williams is the protagonist of the brilliant and hilarious fan parody series The Red Shirt Diaries, which adapts the classic episodes of TOS in order from the point-of-view of someone who has absolutely nothing important to do…or does she?
I dug out this 2016 interview from the virtual closet because of the announcement by CBS of the new animated comedy Star Trek: Lower Decks, focusing on the “little guys” (and gals) who keep the starship running. While the response to the announcement have been mixed, having a comedy with the perspective from the bottom up during a mission has actually been done before with Trek—by fans!—and done really well. Take a look…
All of the episodes have been collected in the order they debuted here on this YouTube playlist. And with each episode only 3-to-6 minutes in length, you can actually binge-watch the entire series in less than three hours! The series ran from September of 2014 through January of 2016, and it’s fun, creative, inspired, and absolutely hilarious!
The Red Shirt Diaries was the brainchild of Los Angeles-based ASHLEY VICTORIA ROBINSON and JASON INMAN. Like William Shatner and James Doohan before her, Ashley hails from the great white north of Canada. And like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Superman before him, Jason is from the sunflower state of Kansas.
And now we’ve got an awesome interview to finish…
My head hit the pillow on Saturday night, I blinked, and it was suddenly 7 hours later (thank you, daylight savings!)—I was that exhausted after two days of Axacon. But now I was recharged with only one day to go…and this day was much less hectic. I was only scheduled to lead two panels, and nearly everyone I could think of had already been interviewed in the director’s chairs alcove.
I heard the shower running in the bathroom that I shared with STEVEN “Admiral Slater” JEPSON (we each had our own bedrooms in Alec’s house), so I started packing up my stuff. I’d be leaving the con and taking the hotel shuttle directly to the airport a little after 4:00pm. When Steven was done, I hopped into the shower and got myself dressed.
Steve was already downstairs, and for a little while, it was just the two of us waiting for the others. Over the weekend, Steve quickly became one of my favorite people in the entire Axanar brother-and-sisterhood. A music and vocal teacher at the University of Missouri School of Music, Steve is also a singer and performer, and a really smart, well-spoken guy. And like me, he’s incredibly funny (see what I did there?).
As we waited for the rest of the posse to get ready, Steve and I admired the new Starfleet admiral’s uniform, had-sewn for Steve by Axanar costumers CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIÈRE and ANGELA AVINO from Italy. Steve’s original Admiral Slater uniform was the same one worn by actor TONY “Admiral Ramirez” TODD…who is a BIG guy! When Steven tried the uniform on for his photo, it was like wearing a parka. So it literally needed to be clipped (with binder clips) all along the back in order for Admiral Slater not to look like a toddler wearing his daddy’s Starfleet uniform.
This new uniform had been specifically tailored for Steven, and when he tried it on, it looked amazing! And that gave me an idea…
Click here for a summary of Day One of Axacon.
As for Day Two, I can sum it up in just one word: WOW! It was unquestionably one of the craziest but most fun times I’ve ever had at any Trek convention (big or small). As I did yesterday, this will be a “deep dive” into what Axacon was like for me…
It began with breakfast at ALEC PETERS’ house. After Friday’s multiple skipped meals, I wasn’t gonna make the same mistake again…not with everything I was expected to do on Saturday! And anyway, Alec provided quiche!
After fueling up our bodies, the five residents of Casa de Peters piled into three cars to drive the 45 minutes to the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Airport hotel. Arriving about 45 minutes before Axacon and its host convention SphinxCon kicked off, we each carried boxes and posters and Garth’s original costume and loads of other stuff in from Alec’s trunk.
I found myself immediately impressed by how organized everything seemed to be. Those Honor Harrington fan volunteers from the Royal Manticoran Navy certainly had their their act together (and looked really spiffy in those black military-style uniforms!) with folks assigned to security, check-in, set-up, etc. The fellow handling the A/V system carried along about 15 different cables and adapters to make sure anyone could get video and sound from their laptop to the large monitors in the panel rooms.
As things were set up, the only “oops!” I could see was the following (see if you can spot it)…
I love a small, intimate convention…especially one with guest celebrities. While the huge Creation Cons and Dragon*Cons and San Diego ComiCons can be mind-blowing, the quiet, intimate setting of a small convention is a unique and treasured experience for me. In my youth, it was at small cons where I once had breakfast with James Doohan, went jogging with George Takei (okay, I rode my bike alongside him…and could still barely keep up!), and helped a falling-down drunk Colm Meaney find his hotel room in the Marriott Hunt’s Valley Inn (“This place is a fookin’ maze…!”). Good times.
I hadn’t been to a small con in many, many years. And I didn’t realize how much I miss them…until this past weekend when I went to Axacon in Atlanta, GA. Axacon was never meant to have tons of attendees. The 30-40 people who showed up over the three days was about what ALEC PETERS had expected. In fact, there were only about three dozen chairs in the Axacon panel room…a larger turnout wouldn’t have had a place to sit down!
This time, though, I wasn’t just an attendee; I was a guest. And Alec made sure to put me to work earning my free room and board. I stayed over at his home and even had my own bedroom, as did fellow house guests STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater) and LEE QUESSENBERRY (Axanar art director and webmaster). Both of these men are now two of my favorite people.
In fact, the whole convention was filled with folks who are now my favorite people! That’s just the kind of weekend it was. There was love here, friendship, camaraderie, and a feeling of shared teamwork and dedication to bringing a dream to life.
It was a really FANtastic con. Let me tell you all about it…
I’m sure that Alanis Morissette would appreciate the irony. After years of accusing ALEC PETERS of lying (and a host of other evil deeds), one prominent detractor actually lied about flying to Georgia and attending Axacon this past weekend.
SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN is one of the three admins for the Axamonitor Facebook group, one of the main hang-outs for Axanar detracting. If you’re not familiar with just how negative they can go, while I’m loathe to send anyone there, take a look at how they reacted to photos of the bridge that they all said would never be completed. Sour grapes have seldom been so sour.
But the detractors hit a new low when Shawn O’Halloran PRETENDED to go to Axacon and then lied about what he saw and did there (since he wasn’t actually there). How do we know he wasn’t actually there, and how did he try to make us think he was? Sit back, my friends, and watch how the hoax unfolded…
At midnight Pacific Time last Friday (while I was on East Coast time in Atlanta…don’t worry, folks, Axacon coverage is coming later this week!), the 5-way crossover fan film CONVERGENCE finished up its Indiegogo campaign with $7,385 from 114 backers! This was a third over their posted goal of $5,500, and allowed them to surpass two stretch goals. The first (at $6,000) would cover the Indiegogo fees and perk production costs, meaning that all $5,500 could go to the production itself. The second stretch goal ($7,000) will fund both a new late TNG/DS9 era uniform for actor Jim Von Dolteren (of a quality to match the others) as well as a special behind-the-scenes bonus video with interviews, bloopers, and “making of” features.
Even though Indiegogo offers the “In Demand” status for any campaign that exceeds its goal (meaning, you can continue raising money even after your campaign “ends”), sh0w-runner and Hobbit ring-bearer (to bring them all, get it?) SAMUEL COCKINGS has decided that he’s now got enough to make this happen. So the campaign is now officially closed.
As you might remember, Samuel was contacted by a concerned CBS when they saw the trailer to his other upcoming Trek fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY. And even though discussions with CBS were cordial, and Samuel reached an agreement when Temporal Anomaly could be released with some changes and is now allowed to exceed the 30-minute runtime limit, Samuel prefers not to poke the bear when it comes to the Trek copyright holders. He set out to raise $5,500. He did so, got a little extra to improve the finished project, and now he doesn’t need to keep taking in more money.
On the final day of the campaign, Samuel released a sneak-peek “test scene teaser” showing what Convergence will look like when finished. Well…kinda. Y’see, it’s a TEST scene, and it still needs quite a bit of work. Samuel says it’s got the wrong LCARS, it’s missing a Master Systems Display, a dedication plaque, and possibly some extra crew members in the background. The sound and music aren’t finalized yet either. “It’s a work-in-progress (WIP),” Samuel told me with the enthusiasm of someone tackling a challenging project that he’s really excited about. And I’m also excited!
And I think, after you watch this sneak-peek video, even though it’s still rough around the edges, you’ll be excited, too…
Hey, guys. Not a lot of time to blog. I flew out on a red-eye from Los Angeles with minimal sleep last night, arrived in Atlanta at 6:30 am, and got to ALEC PETERS’ house about 8am. Thank goodness he didn’t ignore the doorbell (he’d been pulling consecutive all-nighters with the team to get the USS Ares bridge completed). After taking a 3-hour nap in one of Alec’s guest bedrooms, I got ready for my first-ever trip to OWC studios.
Alec put me to work almost immediately, tasking me and my co-host KEITH M. SEDOR with conducting a number of video interviews with various guests. I spoke with ALBERT MARTINEZ (the creator of Chasing the Infinite Sky), DON GAFFNEY (Star Trek prop-maker and Klingon expert), DANA WAGNER (who is supervising the completion of the bridge set), and his wife ALLISON (who works with the local school district getting high schoolers access to the the set at the studio for ultra-cool student projects). Keith got to interview GARY GRAHAM (Soval) and J.G. HERTZLER (Sam Travis/Martok). I’ve interviewed J.G. before, so Keith got the big celebrities.
Unfortunately, all that work prepping, doing pre-interviews, and conducting the interviews themselves didn’t give me as much time for photos and videos as I wanted, but Alec hired a 4-person professional film crew to record the entire event. This included about 40 people wandering through the bridge and, at one point, being treated to a live read-through of two scenes from the full 90-minute Axanar script (which will, eventually, be released in both written and audio format). The readers included Gary, J.G., Alec, and STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater himself). It was really awesome hearing Gary and J.G. doing a dramatic script reading—they’re both incredibly gifted actors. There were even special Axanar cookies brought in by one of the attendees!
It was a super-fun day for everyone who made the, er, trek to Lawrenceville…and there’s even more on tap for Saturday and Sunday (including a panel of upcoming fan films with some footage debuting exclusively at Axacon!).
But the star of Friday’s show was the USS Ares bridge. Still not 100% finished, it’s now about 95% of the way there…with some fun little Easter eggs to find hidden in plain site on a few of the control panels. I’ve included some pictures of those along with the best of the photos I got on Friday…