Things that go IndieBOOM! – three Trek fan filmmakers win big!

The winners of the third annual IndieBOOM! film festival awards have just been announced, and three Star Trek fan filmmakers did really well. The first, GLEN L. WOLFE (along with DAN and KELLY REYNOLDS) took the FAN FAVORITE overall grand prize of $500 for their recent fan film THE EQUINOX EFFECT, filmed at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas. You can listen to an interview with the three of them here. As a side note, Glen also won for best FAN FILM in the first IndieBOOM! film festival in 2017 with HIS NAME IS MUDD…the first of THE FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series.

The second Star Trek fan filmmaker didn’t win for a Trek fan film—even though he had one entered, as well—but he did take first place in the FAN FILM category with a 1960s BATMAN musical fan film titled THE SCHEME IS SOUND. This fellow is Emmy Award winner KEVIN CROXTON, who teaches music at Parkview Elementary School in Arkansas, and each year his 4th and 5th grade music club students produce a musical fan film in a specific genre. In 2018, it was Star Trek (THE BUNNY INCIDENT—which was also a finalist this year). Right now, Kevin and the kids are working on a JAMES BOND themed fan film for 2020.

The third Star Trek fan film to take a first place award was THE LOOKING GLASS from Neutral Zone Studios (directed by MIEK HEATH). However, even though it was entered in the FAN FILM category, The Looking Glass actually took the first place award in the SCI-FI category, in which it was also entered.

Rounding out the eight finalists in the FAN FILM category were two films from the UK (one a Dark Knight theme and the other XBox vs. Playstation), one Halloween themed fan film from Canada, and a Lost Boys sequel from the USA. The annual IndieBOOM! film festival is one of the only competitions to offer a category open specifically to fan films.

On a personal note, I couldn’t be happier with the results. While I certainly support and celebrate ALL Star Trek fan filmmakers, Glen Wolfe and Kevin Croxton are both part of the team for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. They’re also both residents of the state of Arkansas, along with my directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX…so a lot of Star Trek being made down there in Arkansas, folks!

A few people asked me why The Equinox Effect didn’t win the FAN FILM category as well as the overall prize. According to the rules, the film with the most views per category wins first place in that category, and the film with the most views overall wins the grand prize of $500. So if Equinox won overall, wouldn’t it have also won its category?

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LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 1)

As Willy Wonka’s great glass Wonkavator soared over the countryside, the candy-maker looked into the face of the boy who would be inheriting his amazing factory. “But Charlie,” he said with great seriousness, “don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted…”

“What happened?” Charlie asked.

Willy smiled, “He lived happily ever after.”

That scene played out in my mind as I read over the answers that brand new Star Trek fan filmmaker BENNY HALL sent back to me. When everything else is stripped away, fan films are the chance we adults get to live out the fantasies we had as children. We are the music makers. We are the dreamers of dreams. And Benny Hall is the very epitome of what fan films are all about. You’ll discover that as you read the heartfelt and uplifting interview below.

But first, a little about LET OLD WRINKLES COME, a 16-minute fan film shot both at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA as well as at the iconic Vasquez Rocks Park north of Los Angeles where Kirk fought the Gorn and Vulcan was destroyed by Nero. But this time, Kirk isn’t fighting a Gorn—he’s fighting a Mugato! Take a look…

The fan film has a real flavor of the 1960s TOS Star Trek, right down to Kirk putting the moves on a female crew member. I mention this because, what seemed totally normal five decades ago as Kirk regularly hit on crew women like Yeoman Rand, Dr. Helen Noel, and Lt. Marlena Moreau has been supplanted by the #MeToo movement. And while Let Old Wrinkles Comes has generally been getting very positive feedback, Kirk’s romantic overtures toward a female crew member in this fan film are stirring up a bit of controversy.

Another notable item is that Let Old Wrinkles Come marks the return of VIC MIGNOGNA to the credits of a Trek fan film for the first time since STAR TREK CONTINUES ended its 11-episode run in late 2017. And it wasn’t only Vic who returned. STC alumni LISA HANSELL and TIM VITTETOE (make-up) and Ralph Miller (sound-mixing) signed aboard, as well. So did ADRIENNE WILKINSON, who played Lexxa Singh in STAR TREK: RENEGADES as well as Edith Keeler in the fourth episode of STC, “The White Iris.”

Just before being posted to YouTube, Benny hosted a red carpet premiere of the film at a Los Angeles theater for the cast and crew and selected guests. And yes, there’s nothing in the fan film guidelines preventing that (as long as it’s a free screening). However, that’s still rare treatment for a Star Trek fan film, so I made certain to ask Benny about that later in the interview.

One last thing, Benny is currently crowd-funding his second fan film, TEARS OF J’KAH. His goal is an ambitious $50,000, but he’s already near $6,000. If you’d like to donate, please click below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/funding-for-tears-of-j-kah-a-star-trek-fan-film#/

And now, let’s chat with Benny Hall…

Continue reading “LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 1)”

LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 2)

Last time, we began chatting with BENNY HALL, who seemed to have come out of nowhere to release a $50,000 Star Trek fan film shot at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA, as well as at the iconic Vasquez Rocks in Southern California. That money was NOT crowd-funded, by the way. Benny paid it out of pocket…and thereby was he able to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise. And isn’t that what fan films are all about: living our dreams?

Benny was accompanied on his journey—his trek, if you will—by some veterans of the much-loved fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES, including VIC MIGNOGNA, LISA HANSELL, TIM VITTETOE, and ADRIENNE WILKINSON…as well as some friends, volunteers, and a few industry professionals (and one very convincing Mugato!).

The result was an impressive production made even more so by the fact that Benny had not previously been involved with the creation of any Star Trek fan film before…

When the film was completed, and before it was released onto YouTube, Benny held a private screening at a theater in Los Angeles, inviting cast and crew and special guests to view the film on a big screen. (And yes, the fan film guidelines don’t forbid that…as long as no admission fee is charged.) He is already working hard to crowd-fund his second $50,000 Star Trek project (this time he is asking for donations), but more on that later.

When last we left off, Benny was discussing filming the Mugato scenes at Vasquez Rocks. And that led to the following question from me…

Continue reading “LET OLD WRINKLES COME – a childhood dream come true! (interview with BENNY HALL, part 2)”

“LET ME HELP”…do you have any extra STAR TREK stuff that you no longer need?

I joined STARFLEET, the International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc., way back in 1983 and have been a member ever since. (Heck, it wasn’t even an “Inc.” back then! STARFLEET incorporated in 1992 and became a 501(c)(7) non-profit shortly thereafter.) STARFLEET itself has been around since 1974 and has grown into the largest, continuously active Star Trek fan organization in the world with more than 5,300 members in 225+ chapters in more than 20 countries worldwide.

But this blog isn’t about STARFLEET itself. It’s about its new president, STEVEN PARMLEY.

Every three years, the STARFLEET membership holds an election to select its next Commander and Vice-Commander. The most recent election happened last fall, and Steven Parmley was the victor with 1,014 votes (51.7%) over Denise Rush with 946 votes (48.3%). Normally a cause for celebration, Steven didn’t feel much like celebrating. Around the same time, Steven and his family lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire…

We had a fire in 2019 when we had moved in to a new rental, but due to an electrical issue, the house had caught fire, and before we had insurance. I lost 20 years of STAR TREK Memorabilia and we lost furniture, clothes, etc.  While we were able to replace the furniture and clothes, I have been unable to replace my collection. But as long as I have my daughters, then anything is possible.

Steven is a single dad of two beautiful girls: Natalie, 15 and Fiona, 8. He works as a deputy jailer in Western Kentucky. He also serves as an assistant chief of the local fire department and as a Lt. Cmdr. in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, responsible for 115 cadets and 37 instructors in his posting as the regional commander for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

I wasn’t aware of any of this until a few days ago. I simply reached out to the new Commander, STARFLEET shortly after he took office on January 1 to congratulate him and say “hi.” My own rank is Vice Admiral (the CS is a Fleet Admiral), and I’d served as Chief of Communications for the club back in 2008-2010. As Steven and I chatted, I discovered that he was a big fan of AXANAR and enjoyed reading my blog. I also learned about the fire. Steve had lost his entire collection of Star Trek memorabilia and didn’t have the money to replace anything.

I immediately went onto eBay and ordered these for Steven…

It seemed the least I could do for a fellow fan and STARFLEET member—let alone the new Fleet Admiral! But then I had an idea…

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Time to give VANCE MAJOR a little money for CONSTAR CONTINUES (he only needs $700)!

We love VANCE MAJOR. How could we not? Whether you watch and enjoy his nearly 70 fan films, avoid them completely, or simply chuckle at the cord in the doorway and/or grumble when the sound of the blowing wind drowns out a line of dialog…you can’t deny that Vance is the beating heart of Star Trek fan films.

Sure, Vance isn’t producing snazzy, Hollywood-quality fan films with Oscar-caliber acting, cdazzling VFX, meticulously-tailored costumes, and pitch-perfect sound. But what his is doing is so much more important: he is having FUN—and he’s inviting us all to come along on his amazing…trek.

Last month, I published a blog featuring an audio interview with Vance, celebrating the release of 51(!!!) brand new fan films from THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES—ready for binge-watching over the holidays—plus another 18 special edition re-releases of fan films from Vance’s MINARD saga. And even with all of that, he’s still not done! Vance is planning to produce even more fan films!! In fact, in just a few more months, Vance will be shooting ALEC PETERS himself as Garth at Ares Studios in Georgia.

Vance has always been known as a man who can do a LOT with very, very little. I’ve joked in the past that he funds his film projects with the loose change he finds in the cushions of his sofa. And for the most part, that’s true. But costumes and props are the exception to keeping things ultra-cheap. Sure, you don’t have to buy the custom-made $500 screen-perfect versions that Anovos offers, but even an inexpensive Halloween costume can run $25-50. And keep in mind that Vance needs to have a variety of different sizes, as Star Trek fans cover a wide spectrum of body types. And Vance opens up his roles to many, many fans (even me!).

Vance has crowd-funded costumes/uniforms before, and he doesn’t ask for much. For his current GoFundMe crowd-funder, he’s only looking for $1,175…and he’s already got $475 of it (including $40 from yours truly). So if you have a few bucks left over after the holidays, please consider clicking below to donate to a very worthy and dedicated fan filmmaker…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/constar-continues

Really HUGE news for ARES STUDIOS and AXANAR!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before. A super-fan dreamed of making a fan film covering an era of Star Trek history previously unexplored: approximately twenty years before Kirk’s first five-year mission. This was a couple of years before Discovery was even announced, of course.

With a six-figure budget, a cast of trained Hollywood actors, a professional crew, costumes, props, make-up, and all the trimmings, the original goal was to release this 90-minute feature-length Star Trek fan film in 2016. But that didn’t happen. Although footage was shot back in 2015, it’s now 2020, and the darn thing still isn’t out yet…despite a few teasers/trailers and lots of coverage here on Fan Film Factor. Fans have been patient, of course, but we really are dying to see the finished production at some point—hopefully this year!

A number of very nice sets, including a starship bridge, were built for this fan film—and for the last few years, these sets have been kept in a facility near Atlanta, GA. But the cost of storing these sets has been a financial burden of tens of thousands of dollars. But now that expense is finally ending.

I’ve been referring, of course, to the fan film project STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, created by KENNY SMITH, that will feature the launch of the brand new USS Enterprise NCC-1701 under the command of its first captain, Robert April. The “Cage” era TOS sets were constructed in 2015 and used for filming later that year and then put into public storage in Marietta, GA (about a half hour north of Atlanta), where Kenny has been paying about $7,000/year to house them.

The FIRST FRONTIER bridge set in all its glory

But truth be told, the sets would probably never have been used again. Indeed, they weren’t even really built to last (unlike the AXANAR sets). But Kenny didn’t have the heart to toss them into the dumpster.

Enter: ALEC PETERS. The same person who built many of these First Frontier sets—SCOTT LYTTLE—is currently working as a volunteer on Axanar (and also helped out with Interlude) doing set construction. (Check out the first five minutes of this video to hear Scott discussing construction of the First Frontier set pieces.) As it turned out, Alec had wanted to shoot some footage for Axanar on the USS Enterprise bridge, and Scott suggested they use Kenny’s old sets…which were just sitting in storage anyway. Long story short, Kenny just donated the sets in their entirety yo Alec, and now their new home is Ares Studios.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Axanews today…!

Continue reading “Really HUGE news for ARES STUDIOS and AXANAR!”

THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)

Back in 2014, the sky seemed to be the limit for Star Trek fan films! Productions like AXANAR, RENEGADES, NEW VOYAGES, STAR TREK CONTINUES, and a few others were all eagerly casting active, retired, and semi-retired veteran Star Trek actors in fan film roles…often reprising the very characters they’d become famous playing.

Into this euphoric maelstrom burst the fan project STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “THE NIGHT OF TIME.” Originally it was simply going to be an outgrowth of New Voyages, filmed on the TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY with JAMES CAWLEY as executive producer. (Here’s a video from New York Comic Con 2014 announcing that). The episode was to feature actor JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Voyager 2-parter “Equinox” and lead into a new series starring GARRETT WANG as Captain Harry Kim on new 24th century sets. (Ah, remember those carefree, optimistic days? Heck, James Cawley was still working with ALEC PETERS on Axanar back then!)

Ultimately, most of those plans for New Voyages fell through, but footage with actor John Savage and California actress BLANCA BLANCO had still been shot at Retro Studios in upstate New York, and it was usable. This is when producer ERIC NYENHUIS decided to take the story out independently on its own, calling the project Star Trek: Equinox, with the first episode being titled “The Night of Time.”

The full script had already been written by CAMREN T. BURTON based on an idea from Savage and fellow actor GARY LOCKWOOD, who had also agreed to come on board the new series to reprise his TOS role of Gary Mitchell (who became a god-thing in the second TOS pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”—but apparently survived and returned to normal).

Hopes were high for this fledgling fan project, which would also feature Lockwood’s daughter Samantha as a new character named Nurse Christine Roddenberry. Optimism was so high, in fact, that the show-runners were telling reporters in articles like this one that Equinox would be presented directly to CBS as a PILOT for a new series. (Yep, they were totally serious.)

The first order of business, though, was to get that footage they’d already shot assembled into a teaser—and that would require money. After a couple of failed crowd-funders like this one (with only one donor), they eventually managed to raise about $6.2K on Kickstarter in 2015. That allowed them to produce and release the following 6-minute vignette that summer…

Although it had some potential—along with two signed Trek veteran actors—a year later, the film project was mothballed. An announcement by writer Burton discussed the possibility of turning the project into an audio drama, but nothing else was ever heard about it.

That was all more than three and a half years ago…so why am I talking about it now?

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)”

2019 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!

In memory of ARON “Nog” EISENBERG (far right)…taken from us all way too soon

Okay, anyone who is still claiming that the CBS fan film guidelines “killed” or “destroyed” or “ruined” Star Trek fan films “forever” needs to be strapped into the Neutral Neutralizer chair and forced to read this blog!

Sure, the 6-figure crowd-funded productions were now a thing of the past, but they were always the exception and not the rule anyway. Most fan projects have traditionally had very humble budgets, and those have continued to live long and prosper. If they weren’t doing so, I doubt I’d be spending so much time writing this darned blog!

Speaking of which, did you know that I’ve published 205(!!!) individual blog entries in 2019? Yep, I just counted! Granted, some have been reviews of Star Trek: Discovery or Short Treks episodes; a good number of blogs were in support of the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE and other fan film crowd-funders; the long-awaited production of AXANAR itself got a lot coverage, as did the Star Trek/Dr. Seuss “mash-up” infringement case; and there were news stories and updates and, sadly, eulogies for ARON EISENBERG, D.C. FONTANA, and RENÉ AUBERJONOIS. And of course, I also continued my series of “The History Of…” features, most recently focusing on the Scottish fan series INTREPID.

But there were also more than TWO DOZEN brand new Star Trek fan film releases that got special coverage here on Fan Film Factor in 2019…plus another FIFTY new CONSTAR CHRONICLES fan films from VANCE MAJOR—and remember that many fan films were two-parts.

And this is by no means even a complete list!!!

There were also a number of releases I didn’t get to yet (hey, I’m just one guy!), including ones from Germany (STAR TREK: EUDERION) and the Czech Republic (STAR TREK: DIPLOMACY), humor vignette series like STAR TREK: IT GUY and the surreal STAR TREK: STUNT DOUBLES…and a whole bunch of smaller efforts from right here in the U.S.A. and around the world. So I’d say we’re well over a HUNDRED new Trek fan films in 2019…

Dead, Jim? Hardly!

So just in case you missed any of my features and/or interviews (both written and audio) covering these many fan releases—of if you’d just like to enjoy something to watch during your down time before heading back to work later this week—here’s what’s been published here on Fan Film Factor for new Trek releases over the past twelve months (click in the title(s) to view the blogs or else just watch the videos below them)…

Continue reading “2019 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

STARSHIP ANTYLLUS questions faith and God in “AS IT IS WRITTEN…” (interview with GEORGE KAYAIAN)

Star Trek has never shied away from discussing God and faith and the nature of the universe. Captain Kirk once asked, “What does God need with a starship?” Gene Roddenberry himself often postulated the question “What if God were just a child?” (with characters like Charlie Evans, Trelane, Gary Mitchell, and the irascible Q). TNG had episodes like “Who Watches the Watchers?” Even the animated Star Trek episode “Jihad” took on the subject of religious extremism and holy war.

Star Trek fan films haven’t avoided the subject either. Earlier this year, the TNG-era THE HOLY CORE explored questions of fractured belief and strife. Prior to that, STAR TREK CONTINUES featured the return of the god Apollo in its premiere episode “Pilgrim of Eternity.” And POTEMKIN PICTURES has released a whole bunch of fan films that have touched on spirituality and religion, including an early episode of PROJECT: POTEMKIN titled “Archway” where the crew encounters an actual portal to hell.

The said, the topic of God and religion is still somewhat of a rarity in most Trek fan films. So when a fan filmmaker takes the subject on so directly, it’s worth a closer look. And thus, after watching the 13th episode of STARSHIP ANTYLLUS—“As It Is Written…”—I decided to ask writer/director/lead actor GEORGE KAYAIAN about his decision to tackle such a delicate and often controversial subject.

Let’s take a look at the full episode first. It has a very exciting and dramatic final act…

And now, here’s George’s take on the episode’s theme…

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VOTE NOW as 3 STAR TREK FAN FILMS are selections for this year’s IndieBOOM! Awards for a $500 CASH prize…

Christmas is over, New Years is still a few days away, and you’ve got some extra time. So what do you do now?

How about helping your favorite Star Trek fan filmmaker win $500 cash?

The IndieBOOM! Film Festival was among the first to offer a category exclusively for FAN FILMS…along with many other categories (comedy, drama, documentary, animation, scifi/thriller, music video…you can view the entire list here). It’s a real film festival, now in its third year of presenting awards to both aspiring and accomplished independent filmmakers…including fan filmmakers!

In the first year of IndieBOOM!, Star Wars fan film from Mexico won in the category. And last year, a Star Trek fan film, THE FEDERATION FILES: “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” took first place as best fan film against two Star Wars, one Blade, one Superman, and one Stranger Things fan film competitor finalists.

A panel of judges choose the films that make it as finalists. Those, in turn, get posted online and to IndieBOOM!‘s ROKU channel for viewing. The film that gets the most views on their website and ROKU app in each category receives “Winning Laurels” (first prize) in that category. Also, the panel of judges will choose their favorite selection among all finalists, which will receive the Jury Prize Laurels. And finally, the overall most-viewed film of the festival will receive Fan Favorite Laurels and a cash prize of $500!

This year, THREE Star Trek fan films have been selected as finalists. In order to “vote” for them, you have to actually watch them through (no loading and reloading the page). Viewing is free and can be done at the following links. Here’s the Star Trek finalists from the Fan Film category (in the order released). Scroll down the linked page to view…

Continue reading “VOTE NOW as 3 STAR TREK FAN FILMS are selections for this year’s IndieBOOM! Awards for a $500 CASH prize…”