AVALON Indiegogo surges past its $8K goal to $11.5K and announces stretch goal!

A friend is someone who will lend you his lawnmower. But a GOOD friend is someone who will lend you his 18,000 donor e-mailing list!

Early this past Wednesday morning, ALEC PETERS sent out an e-mail request to all previous Axanar donors to please help JOSHUA IRWIN and TEAM AVALON raise the last 20% of their $8K goal to fund their ambitious multiversal crossover fan film CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS that’s scheduled to go into production early next year. Within a few hours, the Avalon Indiegogo had crossed the $8K level thanks to about ten new donors, including one $1,500 executive producer package donor (who has asked to remain anonymous). And then yesterday, another executive producer-level donation came in, bringing the total number of highest-tier supporters to FOUR and a staggering $6K donated just from them!

There’s also been a $1,000 donation for a producer level (they get to do a voice-over of background bridge chatter in the episode), as well as a $700 associate producer donation…all since Wednesday’s e-mail blast. So never underestimate the value of e-mailing potential donors, folks!

As it happens, the e-mail blast couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Avalon campaign had essentially slowed to a trickle over the previous week or so, and some of Josh’s plans to promote the campaign had failed to materialize…including a series of Avalon videos that were supposed to post on the 115K-subscriber Lore Reloaded YouTube channel, as well as an interview with Star Trek podcaster LARRY NEMECEK.

But now that the campaign has surpassed its $8K goal, it is now eligible to enter Indiegogo’s “In Demand” status, meaning this specific crowd0funder can remain active beyond its original deadline. Other fan film campaigns have also gone into “In Demand” status, including THE ROMULAN WAR, which managed to get a couple thousand dollars extra after the initial deadline of the campaign.

For this reason, Josh has announced his intention to set a stretch goal at $14,000. He hasn’t yet revealed what the perk will be—only that it will be a downloadable digital file that every backer will be able to access. He also mentioned that that last sentence contains a hidden clue to what the perk will be.

Josh explained where the extra money would be going…

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After nearly a DECADE in the making…we finally have AMBUSH! (video interview with GREG LOCK)

Way back in 2014, there was a Star Trek fan film that held a successful Kickstarter, shot a bunch of footage, and was still not completed as the calendar turned to 2022. Oh, and the title of that fan film started with the letter “A.”

You know from the title of this blog that this fan film’s title was AMBUSH, not AXANAR. But eight years is still eight years. The Kickstarter for this United Kingdom-based Star Trek fan film managed to generate £4,649 in donations, which would be about $7,200 today. Donors were treated to frequent news on the project, with 32 separate crowd-funding and production updates posted in 2014 and 2015. Things slowed down a bit in 2016 with only three additional updates posted, the last of which coming three months after CBS and Paramount announced the new (at the time) fan film guidelines in June.

Then nothing…for over a year. Many of us in the Trek fan film community assumed this was just another case of the guidelines convincing a production to shut down. There weren’t many, but it seemed likely that Ambush might be one.

But at the end of 2017, a quick update to the backers titled “We’re still not dead” assured us that Ambush had not been abandoned. Showrunner GREG LOCK and his co-producer had simply found some paid film production work that had kept them too busy to finish up the project. No other update was provided, but there was a general feeling of optimism.

A few months later (February of 2018), still no release date, but Greg shared a number of “character posters” that showed the unique uniform style and the shuttlecraft interior set that had been constructed…

Unfortunately, nearly another year would go by before the next update in January 2019 that wasn’t so much an update as an apology for taking so long and an explanation why the finished product probably wouldn’t be as ambitious as they’d hoped.

The next update didn’t come until May of 2021, more than two years later, and it was also apologetic. A still-unfilmed scene now looked like it would never be shot, as most of the team had moved on over the previous seven years, COVID was now an issue, and even the technical equipment they’d used had become outdated. But a rough cut had been assembled, and plans were to release a version of Ambush using the footage that was shot, which Greg felt was still pretty decent. Also, perks were going to FINALLY be sent out to donors!

A September 2021 update promised a release soon, as they were close to locking picture on the film…leaving only a final visual grading, a sound mix, and tweaking some VFX. Then two updates in 2022 and finally, on February 15, 2022, this…

So…what took so long? I decided to ask that very question (along with a bunch of others) directly to Greg Lock in this enjoyable video interview across the Atlantic Ocean…

INTERLUDE wins the GRAND PRIZE in the 5th annual IndieBOOM! Awards!

For the third time in the last five years, a Star Trek fan film has won the Grand Prize in the annual IndieBOOM! Film+Music Festival…and this year, the winner was my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE! The previous two winners were (in 2019) “The Equinox Effect” and (in 2020) “Mask“—both from THE FEDERATION FILES anthology series.

Actually, when I say “my” fan film, I really mean OUR fan film…because this was a labor of love and dedication from more than 50 people. And the two most important individuals in that group were my directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN. Technically, Victoria was listed in the credits as “director” and Josh as “director of photography.” But as far as I’m concerned, they EACH deserve the highest accolades, which is why I submitted the film with both of their names listed—and here’s the official certificate that was just e-mailed to me yesterday…

Although entered in the Fan Film category, Interlude received more views and viewing hours than any other selection in any category. I was told by IndieBOOM! festival co-founder ANTHONY DEVITO that Interlude was viewed more than 2,600 times for a total of 488 viewed hours! As such, it was elevated to Grand Prize winner, allowing another fan film, Stegosaurus: A Jurassic Park Fan Film (directed by BARRY WILKINSON from the UK) to win the Fan Film category.

Another notable winner was the the music video STAR TREK IS REAL, written and performed by ILIA “PIXI NEREID” McNEAL, star and producer of the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series, which took the title of Winning Original Song and scored Pixi a $250 prize…yay, Pixi!

Continuing the Star Trek strength in the festival, Trek anthology series The Federation Files took the award for Best Series.

And finally, my composer for Interlude, KEVIN CROXTON, won in the category for Best Musical with his James Bond-inspired fan film starring the 4th and 5th graders whom he teaches: IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE (which is an amazing film in its own right and something you should definitely take ten minutes out of your day to watch).

You can see all of this year’s winners here.

Now, some folks on Facebook have complained that choosing winners based on views and viewing hours turns IndieBOOM! into little more than a competition to see who has the most followers on social media and who can “turn out the vote” most effectively. Maybe so, but those are the rules. Other film festivals work differently, but IndieBOOM! has decided that this is the best way to let the viewers make their choices known. And so those of us who submit our films do what we can to reach out to friends, family, donors, fans, etc. and ask them to vote for us by viewing. In that way, it’s kind of like crowd-funding: the more interest and support you can generate from people, the more successful you’ll be.

And speaking of crowd-funding, the Grand Prize Winner for the IndieBOOM! festival receives $500. As soon as it arrives, I am going to donate it directly to the Avalon Universe crowd-funder!

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INTERLUDE Confidential #22: Presenting INTERLUDE version 3.0!!!

Geez, Lane! How many times are you going to re-do your frickin’ fan film???

Back in April, we premiered a version of my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE with PAUL JENKINS playing the chief engineer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis. At the time we shot those engineering scenes, Paul was still directing the Axanar sequels and had been a great help behind-the-scenes advising my directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX along with myself on ways to work collaboratively on finishing up the production. Giving Paul a small role in Interlude seemed like a fun way to acknowledge his generous help, and Paul was happy to appear in our film.

Then things soured between Paul and Axanar producer ALEC PETERS—Paul was no longer director, lawsuits were filed, fire and brimstone came down from the skies, rivers and seas began boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. (Wait, that was Ghostbusters…who here loved Afterlife?)

Anyway, just as we were about to release our just-completed Interlude fan production on April 5, Paul informed us that he no longer wished to appear in the film and demanded we remove his footage. There wasn’t time to replace his scenes before the big premiere (he contacted us just a couple of days prior), but thanks to some scrambling and about 22 hours of round-trip driving from Arkansas to Georgia and back by Josh and his good friend TYLER DUNIVAN, we were able to get Interlude version 2.0 out just two weeks later, with Tyler replacing Paul as the engineer. You can watch that release here…

A couple of months later, while I was making a video about the editing process of Interlude, Josh asked me if I’d be okay if he created a special version of Interlude just for himself using a different transition between the first portion of the film (the battle sequence) and the epilogue documentary. You can watch the transition that we used at the 6:37 mark in the above video.

But Josh had always wanted to do a different transition using an alternate take of Garth where the camera slowly zooms out from a close-up. Victoria, as director, wanted to go a different way, but now that Interlude had been released, Josh was curious how the other transition would have turned out.

And so was I!

Truth to tell, I was never all that crazy about the transition that we ended up with and never even knew that we had an alternate take available. Josh said the new transition would be closer to what I’d initially had in the original comic book version of Interlude…a direct cut from the younger Garth to the older Garth as though he were emerging from a recollection of a haunting memory.

“Make it so!” I told him. A few hours later, I watched the new alternate transition for the first time.

My friends, it looked amazing! Such a small change, and yet it felt so much more impactful. And then I had a thought…

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AXANAR finally has its first film shoot in 20 MONTHS! (video interview with MARK EDWARD LEWIS)

It’s been more than five months since I’ve published a blog regarding AXANAR, ARES STUDIOS, or ALEC PETERS…and that might be some kind of record for Fan Film Factor! The previous blog covered the moving of the U.S.S. Ares bridge set to a new, smaller facility (with lower rent) down the road in Lawrenceville, GA. But since then, there hasn’t been much Axanar news worth covering (I don’t bother with the non-production-related drama anymore).

That said, this past weekend finally featured some Axanar news definitely worth reporting on. For the first time since before the pandemic and lockdown, new footage for the two Axanar sequels was filmed. The shooting location was NOT Ares Studios, however. The bridge set still sits disassembled, awaiting the return of DANA WAGNER (whom I call “the miracle worker” because he’s basically Scotty when it comes to that set and studio) from medical treatment. We all wish Dana the best of outcomes and a speedy recovery…we love you, Dana!

Instead, the shoot took place in a nearby Gwinnett County high school video studio with ample green screen space available. Because Dana’s wife Allison teaches video for the school district and Alec had previously allowed students in the school video program to film on the bridge set at Ares Studios, the school was all too happy to return the favor and allow Axanar to be shot at their campus facility.

Alec reported in a blog on the Axanar website that the shoot was a “HUGE success” (I’m glad my use of ALL CAPS is catching on!). Unlike the first Axanar shoot back in October of 2019 that had 80 people (cast, crew, volunteers) present over three days, last Saturday’s activities were much smaller in scope, lasting for a single day with only about 15-20 people present. The main reason was COVID, which is still a major consideration for all SAG union shoots—so at present, only the most essential personnel are allowed on set…any set.

The scenes being shot this past weekend were of actors J.G. HERTZLER (who flew in from upstate New York), ROBERT HAYES (who recently appeared on The Walking Dead and plays helm officer Deville), and RAJ KALA (an Indian Sikh who plays Commodore Singh). All three of these actors had filmed their lines previously during the first Axanar shoot, but for various reasons, their footage wasn’t usable (which I can personally confirm, having seen it), and in one case, the original footage was completely lost to a damaged memory card.

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CANADIAN fan filmmaker announces a brand new CAPTAIN GARTH fan film! (interview with DARREN HANN)

I love Canada. I’ve been there many times—summer and winter (BRRRR!!!)—and there are two things I can assure you of: the place is absolutely gorgeous and the people are some of the nicest and most courteous I’ve ever met anywhere on the planet.

Over the years, I’ve covered many “international” (as in not-made-in-the-United-States) Star Trek fan films—from England and Scotlnd, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Australia, and I’ll soon be covering ones from Italy and Russia. And I always found it somewhat odd that I hadn’t yet happened upon a current fan group in Canada…the birthplace of WILLIAM SHATNER and JAMES DOOHAN and the current filming location of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. The closest I got was JOHN ATKIN, who is the co-showrunner of YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (due out soon) and lives in Toronto. But most of the production on Yorktown happened in the U.S.

And so it was that I took great interest in an announcement that was posted to Fan Film Forum this past Friday by DARREN HANN…

DHann Productions is pleased to announce its exciting new film project- CAPTAIN GARTH: A STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTION. Based on the character from the original Star Trek series, CAPTAIN GARTH will follow the highs and lows of Garth’s starfleet career post the Four Years War and prior to the original series episode “Whom Gods Destroy” and aims to give an insightful look at one of the most fascinating and tragic characters within the Star Trek iconography.

CAPTAIN GARTH is being produced in the province of Newfoundland, Canada, and is produced by Darren Hann. The production team includes various members who have brought the geek fandom favourites like STAR TREK: RELIANT (web series) 11 Episodes, STAR WARS: Inner Demons (short film), STARGATE: REPLICATION (short film), and PLAN 9.5 FROM OUTER SPACE (short film) all of which can currently be found on youtube and Vimeo.

As per the Fan Film Guidelines set by Paramount and CBS, CAPTAIN GARTH will consist of two 15 minute episodes, shot with a cast and crew of amateurs, and is self-funded.

Of course, the announcement attracted my attention for another reason beyond the location being Canada’s easternmost province—and that was the use of the “G”-word: Garth. Up until now, in the fan film world, Garth has meant AXANAR—more specifically PRELUDE TO AXANAR, INTERLUDE, and the upcoming Axanar sequels. And Garth has also meant ALEC PETERS. So many folks in the fan film community (including I) were wondering if this new production might be somehow linked to Alec or the Axanar project, or if it was going to be a completely separate story with no tie-ins to the Axanar fan films that have come before.

To get the answers to these and other questions, I reached out to Captain Garth showrunner Darren Hann, who lives in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, just a few short kilometers from the colorful coastal capital city of St. John’s…

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COSMIC STREAM is the first-ever fan film to be shot at THREE different TOS set studios! (video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and TYLER DUNIVAN)

The AVALON UNIVERSE isn’t the Prime Star Trek universe, and it’s not the Kelvin timeline either. It’s not the Mirror universe or the Axanar universe or any other Star Trek or Marvel or DC or sci-fi universe you’ve ever seen before…unless, of course, you’ve watched the previous six Avalon fan films releases.

Instead, the Avalon Universe is simply a place where show-runner JOSHUA IRWIN (from Fayetteville, Arkansas) can play around with Star Trek stories without worrying about tripping over existing canon or angering this or that Trekkie because such-and-such never happened or this-or-that did happen so what you’ve just shown us doesn’t work. It works in the Avalon Universe, and that’s all you need to know.

The Avalon fan series got its start on Halloween 2018 with the release of the creepily comedic (or was that comedically creepy?) GHOST SHIP, which can best be described as “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead.” It was fun and surprisingly professional-looking. The reason for the latter is because Josh and many members of his team do actually work in the film industry and know how to shoot a proper film…fan or otherwise.

Ghost Ship introduced the new crew of the recently-repaired U.S.S. Excalibur, including VICTORIA FOX as First Officer Amanda Beck, VICTORIA ARCHER as Engineer Jamie Archer (yep, same last name as the character), and TYLER DUNIVAN as Captain Derek Mason. But no sooner had Mason been introduced than we saw the character die a noble death in the second Avalon episode AVALON LOST.

The third Avalon episode, DEMONS, released a year after Ghost Ship and eight months after Avalon Lost, showed fans how Commander Beck and new commanding officer, Captain Lance Ramirez (played by  CHUCK MERÉ) dealt with the loss of their close friend and colleague. LEGACY and NEW ORDERS were both short vignettes, while AIR AND DARKNESS was an ambitious full-length episode with night shots, stunts, great VFX, and lots of Klingons!

Earlier this month, “Team Avalon” launched a brand new GoFundMe campaign trying to raise $20K to continue their saga, hoping to finance as much of their next multi-episode chapter “Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs” as possible. Barely a week and a half in, the campaign is doing strongly with 55 backers and nearly $3K in donations so far—about 15% of the way to their goal. But more support is sorely needed to generate the remaining 85%, so please consider making a donation, even if it’s a small one, by clicking here…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

While the team waits for more backers, they have been doing anything BUT resting on their laurels! In fact, Josh has already released a number of interviews with the team and other special features, and today they’ve just premiered their seventh fan film, COSMIS STREAM. Take a look…

Is that Tyler Dunivan’s character of Derek Mason, back from the dead??? Or is he in heaven, purgatory, another universe, another dimension, or is it just a dream? Fortunately, I was able to interview both Tyler and Josh and discover the answer.

Continue reading “COSMIC STREAM is the first-ever fan film to be shot at THREE different TOS set studios! (video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and TYLER DUNIVAN)”

Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!

If you’ve never been part of the making of a fan film, it’s kinda hard to explain. But there’s a bug that bites ya, and then there’s an itch that you just need to scratch. It’s difficult to say when exactly that fan film bug bites—I guess it’s different for everyone; like the moment someone realizes they’re a Trekkie/Trekker—but when it does, everything can change in a heartbeat.

Or not. Some people make a fan film or participate in a production or two and they’re done. And that’s fine. But for many others, fan films get into your blood—sometimes into your very DNA—and then there’s just no stoppin’ it!

Which brings us to PIXI NEREID.

That’s actually her stage name. Pixi’s real name is ILIA McNEIL…and yes, the “Ilia” is actually inspired by the bald Deltan navigation officer from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as her parents were TOS fans. And Ilia is a hardcore fan herself. But all of her friends call her Pixi, and so do I because Pixi has (almost overnight!) become a friend.

And honestly, it’s hard not to absorb all of the positivity, fun, and optimism that radiates from her—so much so that you almost need to call her Pixi. And if you’re wondering where that name comes from, Pixi has a side gig (along with a small number of other women in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area) performing as a mermaid at children’s parties. So I suppose that Pixi Nereid isn’t her “stage” name so much as her “pool” name, but whatever you call it, she’s totally a Pixi!

We got no troubles…life is the bubbles…under the sea!

JOSHUA IRWIN, who will be directing the new AVALON UNIVERSE fan films that are crowd-funding now (click here to donate), first met Pixi on the set of the soon-to-be-released COSMIC STREAM while filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas. Pixi was told about the shoot by one of her fellow mermaids, who had a role in the fan film. But Pixi didn’t come to appear on camera, she just wanted to help out. In fact, she arrived and immediately told Josh that she’d be happy to be a grip for the day (a grip is someone someone who moves the lights around…not very glamorous but super-important).

It’s a 108-mile drive each way from Fayetteville to the studio, so the people who volunteer for these fan film shoots at WARP 66 have to be pretty committed. After the shoot in mid-March, Josh posted the following photo and comment to Facebook…

Continue reading “Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!”

Reason #1 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: JAKANDE LIVES!!!

Over the next 21 days, I’m planning to provide one excellent reason each week to donate to the just-launched GoFundMe for the AVALON UNIVERSE‘s new series of Star Trek fan films, a multi-episode saga that will be titled “Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs.” The campaign had a soft launch last week and has already taken in over $1,200 in donations before most fans even knew it was happening! But today marks the official kick-off, and with it, my series of blogs.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait for me to convince you, feel free to click on over and donate something right now (and watch the “ask” video; it’s awesome!)…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

I know, I know. It seems like lately there’s been a new Star Trek fan film crowd-funding campaign every month. And yep, there has! Back in May, CGI sensei SAMUEL COCKINGS raised more than $13K for his series of six (or is it seven?) anthology fan films under the canopy title of TREK SHORTS. Then in June, it was DREADNOUGHT DOMINION‘s turn, as GARY DAVIS successfully topped their $5K goal for two Dominion episodes plus the debut episode of their new PROJECT RUNABOUT fan series.

And as July begins, we go for the “hat trick” as JOSHUA IRWIN has just launched the most ambitious of these back-to-back-to-back campaigns, endeavoring to raise $20K for a new series of fan films set in the Avalon Universe.

There have already been six Avalon Universe fan films: GHOST SHIP, AVALON LOST, DEMONS, LEGACY, AIR AND DARKNESS, and NEW ORDERS…nearly two hours of super-high quality Star Trek fan films with a combined hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. And a seventh film, COSMIC STREAM, is set to premiere later this month…with an eighth film, AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, already in production!

Believe it or not, Josh has only ever held ONE Avalon crowd-funding campaign before now…back in early 2019, he raised $6,500. All the rest of the production costs for Avalon—literally tens of thousands of dollars—have been paid for out of Josh’s pocket…and this guy ain’t exactly living the lifestyle of the rich and famous!

Joshua Irwin…spent his last pennies in the Avalon Universe!

Understandably, most fan filmmakers can only self-fund for so long before they need to ask for a little help from their friends…which is why many Star Trek fan productions seek support through crowd-funding. And indeed, that’s why I’m writing this blog (and the three weekly blogs that will follow): because Josh is my friend—along with being my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE. I’m also writing these blogs because I love the quality of Josh’s work, I love the Avalon Universe, and oh…

…BECAUSE JOSH IS BRINGING BACK CAPTAIN JAKANDE!!!

Yep, that’s the big Reason #1 to donate to this campaign!

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ARES STUDIOS moves “down the street” into a new facility!

Back in 2017, ALEC PETERS closed down the massive INDUSTRY STUDIOS in Valencia, CA and moved all of the AXANAR assets—including the massive and still unfinished Ares bridge set—2,500 miles across the country to Lawrenceville, GA. The new and much smaller facility was dubbed ARES STUDIOS, and the bridge set was effectively completed and debuted to the public by AXACON in November of 2018.

Since then, Ares Studios has hosted film shoots for the two upcoming Axanar sequels, my own Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE, a smattering of other fan film projects, a couple of sci-fi parody projects, and a number of student films for high schoolers in the Gwinnett County School District.

Located in a small industrial area nestled behind a strip mall featuring (among other businesses) a donut shop situated NEXT TO a weight loss center(!!!), the 6,000 square foot space was perfect for housing the bridge set, the captain’s quarters set, other set pieces, props, costumes, and a seemingly endless supply of patches and other perks. The facility also had a front office, reception area, a second office that was often used for a changing room, a small kitchenette, and of course, a restroom. You can see Ares Studios in this video I posted for Interlude Confidential

As great as the space and location was, the main drawback was the rent+utilities, which came to about $4,000/month. And even with a Patreon providing monthly donations from hundreds of donors covering about half of that cost, it’s been a huge drain on Alec’s personal financial resources to the tune of about $20K a year!

Alec was (and still is) looking for property to purchase and construct a small metal building to hold the sets, lowering his monthly expenses. But that in and of itself is a time-consuming process, maybe 2-3 years out. In the meantime, the lease on his current space was about to run out, and his landlord had another tenant looking to take over (meaning there was no real pressure on Alec to renew). So a few months ago, Alec and DANA WAGNER began looking around for a new location, preferably less expensive but still large enough to fit the sets, props, costumes, and perks; provide space for an office and make-up/dressing room; and still be practical and functional for filming.

Many facilities were visited, but one was perfect. Located only about 2 miles down the road, and approximately a 1,000 square feet smaller than the previous space, the overall layout was actually much better. The new space would allow for the sets to all be in the back and the office space and make-up/dressing room to be out in front. It was a bit of a fixer-upper—the restroom was a disaster, and the place needed some walls moved, painting, carpeting, etc. But all of these things were relatively easy to deal with. And best of all, the monthly rent was $1,000 less!

Now, the biggest challenge was moving that incredible bridge set…!

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