BIG NEWS: Jonathan Lane is going to make a STAR TREK fan film!

Did you know that I’ve now been involved with Star Trek fan films for TWENTY YEARS??? It seems amazing to me!

Although I’ve only been blogging about fan productions since 2015, I appeared in my first Star Trek fan film way back in 1999 when I made out in the turbolift with my then real-life girlfriend in VOYAGES OF THE USS ANGELES: “The Price of Duty.” That short-lived fan series that grew out of our local Star Trek fan group evolved into STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER, and I’d drop by the occasional shoot in Pasadena every now and then to help out behind-the-scenes. If you don’t blink, you can see me as an extra (an Elosian guard) in the fifth episode of the HF spin-off series STAR TREK: ODYSSEY, “Keepers of the Wind” (2008).

Since I began blogging about Trek fan films four years ago, I’ve dabbled a bit in a few more of them. In 2016, during the early days of the CBS/Paramount lawsuit against Axanar, I co-wrote and co-produced with MARK LARGENT a hilarious parody of both the AXANAR fan film and the lawsuit called STALLED TREK: PRELUDE TO AX’D-WE ARE. I also provided the voices for four of the animated puppet characters, including the fan-favorite Vulcanine Ambassador Snowball (“My ears are still bleeding…”).

I did voice-over again in the recent ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES vignette “Final Flight,” portraying the character of Lt. Geoffrey Christopher, the engineer/test pilot responsible for developing the Warp 7 engine that helped Starfleet defeat the Romulans. I was also featured in a brief cameo during Vance Major‘s Minard saga episode “Change” as one of Erick Minard’s “network” (which also included other prominent members of the real-world fan film community who were friends of Vance).

But in all of this time, the fan films I was involved with were always somebody else’s (even Ax’d-We-Are, which was part of Mark Largent’s Stalled Trek puppet parody series).

Now, however, I’m finally doing a fan film that comes from my head, where I am the show-runner (executive producer), and if it falls off a cliff, I’m the one responsible!

Hopefully, it won’t fall off a cliff…

Continue reading “BIG NEWS: Jonathan Lane is going to make a STAR TREK fan film!”

TREKLANTA announces BJO AWARDS qualifying fan films!

While Star Trek fan films might have a small presence at certain independent conventions, and while a few film festivals now feature categories for “fan films” to enter, there remains only one annual convention dedicated to Star Trek and Star Trek fan films: TREKLANTA.

Treklanta will be taking place over Memorial Day weekend (May 24-26) at the impressive Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel. Although small in size, the convention usually gets rave reviews, and the celebrity guests are fairly impressive, including a mix of folks from TV Star Trek, written Star Trek, fan club Star Trek, and of course, Star Trek fan films. Among the guests are…

  • Aron Eisenberg – “Nog” on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,
  • Nichole McAuley – A frequent background actress on Voyager and occasional body double for Jeri Ryan’s character Seven of Nine,
  • David R. George IIIThe New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who co-wrote the first-season Star Trek: Voyager episode “Prime Factors” and the author of 18 Star Trek novels and 18 articles for Star Trek Magazine,
  • Paul Jenkins – Eisner Award winning writer of both DC and Marvel Comics characters and current director and co-writer of the upcoming Axanar fan film sequels,
  • Randall Landers – Founder and show-runner for the numerous fan series released by Potemkin Pictures,
  • Greg Teft – actor in fan films including Starship Republic, episodes of the Minard saga, and the upcoming Constar Chronicles (for which he also wrote and directed a two-part episode).
  • Dan Toole – the president of STARFLEET, the International Star Trek Fan Association (the world’s oldest continuously active Trek fan club…I’ve been a member since 1983!)

There are other guests, too, and you can view them here.


But by far, the most anticipated aspect of Treklanta is the annual BJO AWARDS, named after the legendary fan savior of Star Trek, Bjo Trimble. Each year for the past half-decade, these awards have been presented in a number of different categories to numerous Star Trek fan films. They are the closest thing our community has to the Oscars. The judges are kept anonymous to avoid “lobbying” (and no, I am not a judge), and the winners are announced during the convention—with awards presented to the winners.

Each year, selections are made from the Star Trek fan films that were released the previous calendar that meet certain eligibility requirements. This year’s requirements are the following…

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Why the finale of ST: DISCOVERY left me feeling ANGRY and BETRAYED (editorial review)

SPOILERS MAKE YOU A BETTER PERSON!

Before I begin blasting away at the season two finale of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, I will give credit where credit is due. The entire production team obviously worked VERY hard to make “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2” a fast-paced, well-acted, and visually stunning hour of television. It wrapped up a very complex season-long story arc without leaving any loose ends (that I noticed), and it was certainly an ambitious undertaking.

But as a Trekkie and, more basically, as a viewer, I finished the episode feeling angry and, to be honest, betrayed. And I’d like to tell you why.

Writers and their audiences make an “agreement” going in, a pact of trust, if you will. The writers ask that we viewers buy into what the writers are setting up in the narrative, and in exchange, the writers will create a compelling, suspenseful, emotionally engaging story to entertain us.

But in this episode, I felt that the tail (or the tale) was wagging the dog. The writers had to include certain scenes in order to cover the necessary tropes of an exciting, explosive season finale: death of a major character, cavalry to the rescue scene, hand-to-hand fight with the bad guy, etc. Nothing wrong with that in theory. But in order to hit those beats, the writers way too often had to violate the trust of the viewer. And it’s NOT simply that some scenes are inconsistent with “established” Star Trek canon. I’ve learned to expect that from this show, and I’ve mostly made my peace with it.

No, I am talking about violating the canon that the writers have already set up for themselves. And when I see these kinds of “sloppy” scenes (and there were a LOT of them this episode), I can only assume the writers simply don’t care that they’re writing something that makes no sense within their own narrative…either that or they think that their viewers don’t care.

Well, I care. And that’s why I’m sharing this longer-than-normal blog with you today…

Continue reading “Why the finale of ST: DISCOVERY left me feeling ANGRY and BETRAYED (editorial review)”

Now crowd-funding: “TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE” – a unique fan film from a unique fan! (interview with LARRY FLEMING)

Okay, now that you guys have stepped up to help fund the Avalon Universe fan film “Demons,” as well as Neutral Zone Studios and Ares Studios…guess what? Yep, another fan project needs your help!

This time, it’s a very unique production from a very unique fan. LARRY FLEMING has been working in the world of Star Trek fan films for nearly a decade, having begun back in 2010 with an early episode of the long-running fan series Star Trek: Natures Hunger. Since then, he’s produced, done set decoration for, done stunts for, and acted in numerous fan productions including Starship Farragut, Trek Isolation, Exeter Trek, Starship Republic, Minard, Dreadnought Dominion, Melbourne, and various releases from Potemkin Pictures. Now it’s time for Larry to write, direct, produce, and star in his own fan film!

What’s so unique about his latest project, TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE? Glad you asked. While many details remain unknown, the general plot-line appears to merge our own Trekker/Trekkie fan reality with the universe of Star Trek in a new and creative way. The following is from his current Indiegogo campaign page:

Prepare to go where no fan production has gone before!

Fan films are dreams come true, wish-fulfillment fantasies realized through the miracle of video production.  But what if it all happened for REAL? What if you were suddenly on board the USS Enterprise and Captain Kirk and his crew needed YOUR help?  Would you know what to do? After all, you’re the ultimate Trekkie, right? But this isn’t just a show anymore, and those Klingons are really shooting at you!

Meet Peter Warren, a “get-a-life” Star Trek fanatic who wakes up on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in his Captain Kirk pajamas…only to discover the ship is empty, the crew displaced in time, and an unstoppable foe from the future has a plan that is futile to resist.  Can a Trekkie in his pajamas possibly save the Federation all by himself?

Cross the threshold between reality and fantasy as the two become one in the upcoming fan film “To Have Boldly Gone.”  With your generous donations, you can help turn this fantasy into a wonderful reality for fans everywhere to watch and enjoy!

Sounds pretty cool, huh? Well, that’s only half the story. Y’see, the fan behind this film have been a Savior on The Walking Dead and will appear in Avengers: Endgame (if they don’t cut his scene). In fact, he’s been in numerous movies and TV shows, but his true love is fan films.

Let’s meet him…

Continue reading “Now crowd-funding: “TO HAVE BOLDLY GONE” – a unique fan film from a unique fan! (interview with LARRY FLEMING)”

ARES ASSEMBLE! – AXANAR volunteers put together GARTH’S QUARTERS in Ares Studios! (interview with ALEC PETERS)

When ALEC PETERS reluctantly shut down Industry Studios in Valencia, CA and moved to the current ARES STUDIOS location in Lawrenceville, GA, he took with him as much as he could fit into the trucks. This included the various pieces of the amazing USS Ares bridge set, costumes, props, equipment, patches, and a second set designed and constructed by DEAN NEWBURY: Captain Garth’s Quarters. Initially intended to be used for certain scenes in the full 90-minute AXANAR fan film (which will, sadly, never be completed and released), the Captain’s Quarters was disassembled for transport, and the “flats” (pieces of the set) were stored in the new facility.

While the Ares Bridge set has taken center stage (rather literally) over the past almost-year as it neared completion, the pieces of the Captain’s Quarters sat humbly off in the corner, waiting for someone to come along and put them back together.

That finally happened this past weekend when Alec and a small number of volunteers got together to reassemble the pieces for the first time since they sat in Industry Studios in California. The initiative was led by and JOHN “Stoggy” STREKIS , who has been producing the many, many videos that have been posted to the Axanar YouTube Channel (if you haven’t been watching those videos, you really should check out a few). John was visiting Georgia from new Jersey, saw the bridge pieces sitting there unused, and suggested (rather strongly) that they finally be reassembled so Ares Studios would have more sets to offer filmmakers wanting to shoot at the facility.

Joining Alec and John were volunteers DAN WAGNER and DALE SIMPSON, who are local and have already been taking point on completing the Ares Bridge, plus CHRIS WEUVE, a guest who was also down in Georgia visiting the sets. Together they worked for a couple of hours trying to figure out how to arrange the various flats (they weren’t marked, and they weren’t necessarily laid out in a four-wall square…more of an angled “W”) before Dana took a screwdriver and locked the pieces together.

I thought this might be a good time to interview Alec and get an update on all things Axanar (well, most things)…

Continue reading “ARES ASSEMBLE! – AXANAR volunteers put together GARTH’S QUARTERS in Ares Studios! (interview with ALEC PETERS)”

WARP 66 STUDIOS expands its TOS sets…with the help of JOSH IRWIN from Avalon!

Before we get to WARP 66 STUDIOS, a quick update on the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film “Demons.” With less than 15 hours left(!!!!), they are at $6,290 from 97 backers…plus another $500 directly from a special backer. That means that the campaign has reached nearly 80% of its $8500 goal. Can they get the rest of the way before tonight’s deadline at midnight? If you haven’t donated yet and want to, here’s the link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Okay, on to WARP 66 Studios. Named after its founders GLEN WOLF and DAN REYNOLDS (Wolf And Reynolds Productions) followed by the year of the premiere of Star Trek (1966), their TOS sets are located in northern Arkansas on property owned by Dan and other property owned by Glen. Already, they and their team have constructed a partial Constitution-class bridge and the cockpit of a shuttlecraft, both of which were used in the recent fan films THE FEDERATION FILES: “Galaxy Hopper” and and AVALON LOST.

Unlike the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA, WARP 66 Studios is not necessarily open to any fan film, nor is it exclusive only to Glen and Dan’s Federation Files projects. Glen explained:

Currently, the sets are for The Federation Files and friends of the production group. Basically, if a member of our crew whats to make his/her own film, they may use our sets. We are in no way “competition” for The Neutral Zone or James Cawley’s Fan Film Academy. We are building sets for specific shoots, all of them can be considered temporary aside from the bridge.People may contact me, but due to the fluid nature of the sets, I can not promise any particular piece would be available.

This past weekend, Avalon Universe co-showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN (who also lives in Arkansas) spent a full day helping with the construction of a partial sickbay set, a briefing room, and an extended corridor that will be used as part of the USS Excalibur in the upcoming Avalon fan film “Demons.” Josh had this to say about the experience of working to help create the new sets…

It’s honestly a dream come true to spend the day building a space ship to film on. 14-year-old me would be very jealous of what 38-year-old me did today.

Remember to make a donation to Avalon’s Indiegogo before the end of today (if you haven’t already and are so included) or at least spread the link via social media. And in the meantime, enjoy these photos that Josh took over the weekend at WARP 66 Studios…

Continue reading “WARP 66 STUDIOS expands its TOS sets…with the help of JOSH IRWIN from Avalon!”

The SHIPS hit the FANS on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)

SPOILERS ARE JUST MY WAY OF SHOWING LOVE!

At first, I was thinking of titling this blog “The Big Good-bye” or “The Long Good-bye” or “We Get It Already—Everybody Is Saying Good-bye!” I also considered, “That’s Not Orange, Dammit; It’s Red!” But in the end, I didn’t want to sound harsh because it implies that I didn’t think this was a good episode.

The penultimate 13th episode of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY‘s second season, “Sweet Sorrow,” wasn’t a bad episode…far and away not! It finally showed us a redesigned bridge of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 that didn’t feel like an Apple Store. In fact, I wanted to grab a Klingon time crystal, take this bridge back to 2007, kidnap J.J. Abrams, and shout: “THIS!!!!” In fact—looking at the uniforms, the handles in the Enterprise turbolift, the sounds of the bridge and the photon torpedoes, etc.—it might not be a bad idea to take a time detour to 2016, kidnap Bryan Fuller and whoever was the original production designer on Discovery, and shout, “THIS!!!!” even louder.

So yes, I liked the Enterprise and the people in it. And I just signed the Change.org petition to CBS trying to convince them to do a new CAPTAIN PIKE series on the Enterprise in pre-TOS. Serious no-brainer, CBS: don’t let Anson Mount get away!!!

But this episode also suffered from a number of weaknesses…many of them stemming from the fact that the season was originally set to be 13 episodes and, early on, a decision was made to stretch the finale into two parts. And there’s no doubt that the last episode will be an amazing, budget-blowing WOW!-fest. And about half of this episode was equally stunning. But there was also a lot—a LOT!—of filler. And ultimately, this episode felt (to me, at least), like being the passenger with a student driver who is constantly accelerating and then hitting the brakes hard and then repeating the process.

So for the next-to-last time this season, let’s dive into my thoughts on an episode of Discovery

Continue reading “The SHIPS hit the FANS on STAR TREK: DISCOVERY! (editorial review)”

Can the Klingons help AVALON get $500 in donations in 4 days???

Currently, the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film, “Demons,” stands at $5,500 from 86 backers (64% of the way to their $8,500 goal). Actually, there’s an additional $500 donation that came in that didn’t get recorded (read more about that glitch here), so they’re really 70% of the way there!

Last week, show-runners JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX extended their campaign for 8 more days, trying to attract a few extra dollars, if possible. So far, it’s worked to get them to where they are, but there’s still a way to go. It’d be great to reach their goal, but if that’s not possible by Monday, Josh and Victoria are hoping for at least another $500, which will make a really big difference for the production.

So I’m doing my part in sharing the following three videos they’ve released showing the quality of the visual effects being done by the wizard of speed and time, SAMUEL COCKINGS. These are only pre-visualizations (rough animations to establish motion), but they show what some of the Klingon ships will look like in the Avalon Universe, which is similar to the prime universe but also slightly different in fun and fascinating ways. It gives the producers a bit more creative freedom than fan films that hew more closely to Trek canon usually get with ship and costume design.

Anyway, take a look at these three short videos, because they’re really cool…

Excited? Well, the live action scenes are just as well-produced, as Joshua and Victoria are both industry professionals in their “real” lives. You can listen to a great interview I recently did with them here…

$500 in 4 days…and you can help make it happen! Or if you can’t, maybe a fan friend of yours can. So please share the link and, if you’re feeling generous, help these fan producers make more Star Trek for the rest of us to enjoy…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Major CONTROVERSY for NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA – the bad, ugly, and the good…

Over this past weekend, two fan films that were scheduled to shoot on the TOS sets at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA (formerly used by Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut), made major announcements based on some unexpected new pricing policies implemented by the studio at the last minute. It wasn’t pretty.

Previously, Neutral Zone Studios, purchased last year by RAY TESI, had followed the lead of the now-defunct Starbase Studios in Oklahoma and (later) Arkansas of charging fans only for the cost of electricity and utilities but otherwise allowing the use the sets for free for any fan production to film on. Of course, nothing is really “free,” and the costs for rent and upkeep had to be paid by someone…and in this case, it’s been Ray Tesi.

Just this past month alone, Ray had to write $6,000 in checks for rent, utilities and his annual insurance on the facility and sets. In a typical year, Ray’s out-of-pocket costs—just to keep the sets from winding up in the dumpster—is about $42,000!

To try to help with expenses, Ray launched a Patreon campaign almost a year ago seeking small monthly donations from fans. While it’s doing modestly well—currently taking in about $800 a month from 64 backers—that still leaves Ray with nearly $33,000 in annual expenses. For a guy who is paying for this venture out of his retirement fund , this is a significant commitment. And frankly, I personally think more fans need to step forward and help Ray cover his costs…because if Ray runs out of money, these sets really will wind up in a dumpster.

But more on that in a moment. First, let me tell you about what happened this past weekend—both the bad, the ugly, and the good…

Continue reading “Major CONTROVERSY for NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA – the bad, ugly, and the good…”

DS9’s WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND is finally COMPLETE – will debut exclusively to backers in April and in theaters for one day in May!

It wasn’t even four weeks ago that I posted the HUGE news that the crowd-funded Deep Space Nine documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND had been acquired by distributor SHOUT! STUDIOS. But now the news is even huger (yes, that’s a word!).

Shout! Studios opened up a whole new realm of resources and opportunities for both completing the production as well as exposing more of the fan community (and general public) to this high-quality look back at the history of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and into the minds and hearts of the people who made it all happen.

With Shout! on board, it was announced this week that the documentary has finally been completed and delivered. The recent delays had been mainly due to a decision made by show-runner IRA STEVEN BEHR and director ADAM NIMOY to digitally remaster into high definition all 20 minutes of footage from various episodes rather than only about 25% of the footage, leaving the rest in lower quality standard definition. Additional crowd-funding beyond the $650K raised from Indiegogo backers was necessary to acquire and remaster the footage, but Ira has assured everyone that the difference in quality is worth it. You can check out the comparison below…

The other major announcement(s) concerned when the completed documentary would be shown both to backers and to the general public. With Shout!‘s connections in theater distribution, in partnership with Fathom Events, What We Left Behind will be showing in over 800 theaters across the US for one screening on Monday, May 13th at 7:00pm. Fathom will be providing giveaway 11×17 posters at the door while supplies last, and this one-night event will include exclusive content with a new roundtable discussion following the film. You can order tickets here.

Of course, backers at levels of $15 or more were promised an early sneak peek, and so they shall get it! On Thursday, April 25th at 9:09pm EST, eligible backers will be able to stream the full documentary from home or on a mobile device for the following 99 hours. (Hmmm, there’s an awful lotta 9’s…oh, I get it!)

Backers will still have many more chances to watch the documentary when they receive their DVD/Blu-ray combo sets. More details for backers (instructions for how to stream, planned shipping dates, etc.) will be coming soon.

For now, the documentary team has just released this FANtastic new trailer. I challenge you not to tear up while you watch it (I got goosebumps)…!