In Part 1, I introduced you to DAVE ELLIS, a video game writer and director for more than two decades. A couple of visits to watch STAR TREK CONTINUES and Dave was bitten by the fan film bug. He wrote a Star Trek fan film script to shoot at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA, but before he could assemble a cast a film crew, the Covid pandemic hit, and Dave had to shelve the idea.
But then he had the idea to create a “Starfleet Zoom call” fan film (what I like to call a fandemic film) where all of the actors could be on screen one at a time, shooting their lines separately at their homes. Titled simply “359,” the story would deal with survivors from the devastating battle with the Borg from TNG‘s “The Best of Both Worlds,” each person in a separate escape pod. But in the time it took to write and finalize the script, the lockdown had begun to lift. So instead, Dave set up a green screen “studio” inside of his garage . Roles were cast, and two shooting weekends were held in September 2021 and again in May 2022, with over a hundred takes recorded for the four actors combined.
Dave has created a full “359” websitewith behind-the-scenes background info, blog entries, and even outtakes and and bonus features. Indeed, most of the information in both parts of this blog feature is sourced from the blogs and photos on Dave’s website, which I strongly recommend that you check out for a much fuller story. I will be covering just the highlights here. Pre-production and shooting were the subject of Part 1. Now we move onto post-production and how something that seems like it was so simple and straightforward to create was actually very, VERY challenging.
First, take a look at the completed fan film…
Now let’s find out all of the steps that went into turning that raw footage into what you just saw above. As they say on Star Trek: “And now, the conclusion…”
What I like to call “fandemic” films—fan films where characters are speaking to each other via subspace communications, alternating with one person on the screen at a time—actually predate the global COVID lockdown of 2020. Years earlier, VANCE MAJOR would feature these interstellar “Zoom calls” in his MINARD and CONSTAR saga fan films. In Vance’s case, this was an easy way to have friends and fellow fans (including me!) be able to record segments in our homes and still appear in one of his fan films. It was a lot of fun and relatively easy to do.
But one newbie fan filmmaker, DAVE ELLIS, has taken the fandemic film to a whole other level with “359,” the story of four survivors of the Borg attack from TNG‘s “The Best of Both Worlds,” trapped in escape pods, trying to find other survivors and also just trying to stay alive. Two years in the making, this fan film is very impressive, surprisingly engaging for a story limited simply to “talking heads,” and includes a full websitewith behind-the-scenes background info, blog entries, and even outtakes and and bonus features. Indeed, most of the information in this blog feature is sourced from the blogs and photos on Dave’s website, which I strongly recommend that you check out for a much fuller story.
But before I go into the background of “359,” take a few minutes to give it a viewing. You’ll be glad you did…
Writer/director Dave Ellis spent over 20 years as a video game writer and director. And indeed, his first assignment was as a lead writer, co-writing the story and writing the script for the 1998 CD-ROM game Star Trek: The Next Generation Klingon Honor Guard from MicroProse. (An an amusing coincidence, my brother’s and my Internet marketing company at the time, 2-Lane Media, had MicroProse as a client and created the marketing website for Klingon Honor Guard—although I’ve never met Dave.
Along with fellow designer ADAM COGAN, Dave actually won the very first Writer’s Guild of America award for video game writing in 2008 for their work on Dead Head Fred. Dave continued working in the video game industry until 2015, writing scripts and directing voice-over sessions. Nowadays, Dave works as a marketing writer, but he also remains a huge Star Trek fan, and therein begins the origin tale of 359…