Directors’ commentary for CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS from the AVALON Universe… (video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and TYLER DUNIVAN)

The AVALON UNIVERSE fan series got its start back in 2018 with the production and release of GHOST SHIP. While driving back to northwest Arkansas after a shoot at the TOS sets in Kingsland, Georgia, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN got an idea for a fan film that would be a crossover of multiple Star Trek realities. And thus was born the fan film that would ultimately become CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALBURS, which was finally released in December of 2023 after more than two years of production. (You can view all Avalon Universe fan films on this playlist.)

The project required over half a dozen different film shoots that were combined with shoots for two other Avalon productions: the already-released KNIGHTS OF THE VOID and the still-t0-be-completed series finale THE ONCE AND FUTURE CAPTAIN. Indeed, Crisis has turned into one of the most ambitious Star Trek fan film projects to date, with nearly 75 fans involved in its creation, including more than THREE DOZEN actors and extras, many of the actors playing multiple roles (doppelgängers from different realities), and a few of them even appearing alongside themselves in the same shots!

In this way, Crisis is unquestionably one of the most technically challenging Trek fan films to date, tackling not only multiple Star Trek realities like the Mirror Universe and Kevin-verse but also other sci-fi franchises like The Orville, Stargate, Babylon 5, Galaxy Quest, Back to the Future, Battlestar Galactica (both versions!), Star Blazers, Battle of the Planets, Andromeda, Red Dwarf, and even Spaceballs! Heck, it’s even got Elvis!!! Crisis also contains clips from more than two dozen other fan films both past, present, AND future. There literally has never been another fan film quite like Crisis…and very well might never be.

With so many hands of deck, Crisis also holds the distinction of being one of the most cross-collaborative Star Trek fan films since YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, which combined the efforts of fan filmmakers from dozens of different series in multiple countries. Crisis likewise brought together multiple people from numerous fan projects including CONSTAR, THE FEDERATION FILES, TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE, STARSHIP ANTYLLUS, PROJECT GEMINI: CROSSROADS, TREK SHORTS, INTREPID, and STARSHIP ARMITAGE.

The finished fan film is, to say the least, stunning. Some fans have called it a game-changer. I just call it a heck of a lot of fun to watch and enjoy, which you can do right now…

Such a complex production of this kind of quality requires a great deal of skill and experience in filmmaking to successfully complete. Fortunately, both Josh and Tyler work professionally in the entertainment industry. But a fan film like this also deserves some special attention when doing an interview.

As such, this time I’m going to do something different than usually do. I’ve noticed a growing trend among fan film podcasters lately of watching the release with the creator(s) and having them comment as it plays. And that’s exactly what I’ve done with Josh and Tyler.

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JOSHUA IRWIN sings (well, writes) the praises of TEAM AVALON!

Did you ever wonder why we use the term “PAYING a compliment”? After all, compliments have no monetary value. You can’t use a compliment to put gas in you tank or cover your rent. And it certainly doesn’t cost anything to “pay” someone a compliment. Compliments are 100% free! And yet, compliments do have value, especially in today’s world when so many of us often feel unacknowledged and taken for granted.

The Star Trek fan film guidelines state that the people working on fan productions can’t be professional. Since many professionals in the entertainment industry do work on fan films—including JOSHUA IRWIN, the force behind the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series—most showrunners interpret that rule as meaning you can’t pay people to work on your fan film (other than covering gas, lodging, meals, and/or traveling costs). So if you can’t pay your cast and crew in money, how about at least paying them in compliments?

Many showrunners do praise their teams in interviews that I feature here on Fan Film Factor, often calling out individuals by name for their contributions. But recently, Josh Irwin took the concept one step further. After a series of grueling shoots for multiple fan films, including one during the cold-snap in January where the mercury dropped to 25 degrees inside the WARP 66 studio facility(!!!), Josh decided to thank each member of his team one-by-one in personalized Facebook posts accompanied with some very cool images.

Josh wrote a number of very nice things about each one of them, and as I read those posts, I thought that they were special enough to deserve a little “extra” coverage here on the blog. Credit where it’s due, right? Actually, Josh said it best in this quote he asked me to include with the blog: “No one wants to work really hard on a project and feel like what they did wasn’t noticed or appreciated. Films are made by the efforts of A LOT of people, and everyone has an important part to play. To me, it’s personal—they’re helping me make a dream come true, and I’m never not going to express my gratitude.”

In addition to writing all these complimentary posts, Josh also included a selection of still frames from the three upcoming Avalon Universe films plus some behind-the-scenes photos. So while I certainly hope you folks will take the time to read what Josh wrote (as his team really does deserve to have others know more about them and their efforts), at the very least, you’ll have a chance to scan through these amazing images to get a good idea of how awesome these new three episodes will look!

So as not to play favorites, I’ll present Josh’s posts (both text and images) in alphabetical order…

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AVALON UNIVERSE releases a trailer for THE NEEDS OF THE ONE…just THREE DAYS before the premiere!

The AVALON UNIVERSE is a very unique Star Trek fan series. Some viewers see the uniforms and mistakenly think these stories take place in the Kelvin timeline. They don’t. But they don’t take place in the Prime timeline either. The Avalon Universe has its own continuity and mythos. Yes, many (not all) of the uniforms are from JJ Trek, but the sets are all straight TOS (shot at both WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas and NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA). And the U.S.S. Excalibur looks mostly like TOS but with some intriguing upgrades and refinements.

Having your own alternate universe to play around in has given showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN intriguing opportunities to tell stories that retain the heart of Star Trek without being “trapped” by 56 years of canon. It’s led to the release of nine superb fan films since 2018 (you can view them all here) with a tenth, THE NEEDS OF THE ONE, debuting this Thursday at 7pm Central Time.

In anticipation of that premiere, earlier today Josh posted a 60-second trailer for the new episode…

I asked Josh what fans can expect from this latest film (beyond what’s shown in the trailer)…

“We’re going to get to know more characters on the Excalibur, all while following Commander Allenby’s journey. She’s just become first officer, and Commodore Jakande is giving her a chance to prove herself under really difficult circumstances. But that’s what commanding a starship is all about, right? How she handles the challenges in this film will take her out of her comfort zone. ALEXANDRA REXFORD, who just joined our cast, has added so many incredible layers to this wonderful character. Fans are definitely going to want to see more of Alex in future films.”

Josh also discussed another new addition to the cast, CORA WILSON…

“Speaking of characters fans are going to want to see again, Cora just knocks it out of the park as Nurse T’Prin! She was originally going to be just a one-off character for this specific story of a Vulcan female going through pon farr and watching what it does to her both physically and emotionally. Playing a Vulcan is challenging enough, but playing one trying to maintain control and failing is really hard. LEONARD NIMOY did it the best, of course, but Cora’s performance is amazing. I can’t wait for people to see it!

“Anyway, now that this episode is completed, I can’t imagine not revisiting this character in a future story or two, and I suspect the fans will want to see her again, as well.”

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Two MAJOR fan film shoots on TWO CONTINENTS in one weekend!

I’m not sure what MOST of you did this past weekend, but I do know what a FEW of you were doing…and believe me, it was exciting!

In the mythical land of northwestern Arkansas, JOSHUA IRWIN was making movie magic with the cast and crew from the AVALON UNIVERSE. But this time, he was not shooting on the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS. No, instead, Josh and the team were inside of a martial arts gym filming what looks to be an amazing fight scene. Despite many such fights in TOS (Kirk punched almost as often as he kissed!), fan films usually shy away from dangerous stunt fighting because, well…it’s dangerous! But this fight scene is using real black belts and trained martial arts fighters.

Meanwhile, in the equally mythical land of England, across the pond known as the Atlantic Ocean, the Great CGI Wizard of Star Trek SAMUEL COCKINGS finally had all of the actors necessary—after nearly 4-years!—to shoot the raw green screen footage for the mega-crossover fan film extravaganza CONVERGENCE. Crowd-funded in late 2018, Convergence seemed to be cursed by delays in getting actors to England all at the same time and then by COVID. Indeed, in the meantime, Sam has shot the footage for and released many of the TREK SHORTS fan films that he crowd-funded in 2021! But Sam finally assembled the Convergence “Avengers” for a grueling and ambitious—but still fun!—four-day shoot near his home in Bedfordshire, U.K.

The two fan film shoots that took place over this past weekend couldn’t have been more different…and I don’t just mean the actors’ accents! One was shot in a practical location with physical stunts. The other was limited to the front of a green screen, constraining most exaggerated movement by the characters. One was set in the 23rd century the other in the 24th. And one was filled mainly with actors who have previous experience in fan films. The other featured mostly cast members for whom this will be their first fan film!

As a change of pace, I’m going to do a two-for-one blog, spotlighting both of these shoots on different continents by letting each of their showrunners say a few words…

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