Set Cancellations, Scheduling Conflicts, Costume Conundrums, Stray Dogs, Trapped Woodpeckers, and Acts of God…what I DIDN’T expect when I decided to make a fan film!

Before we begin, quick crowd-funding update! After ten days, 88 backers have already donated $7,621 to INTERLUDE (nearly 40% of the way to $19,500!). That’s amazing! If you haven’t donated yet, or if you’d just be willing to help spread the word, here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

And now, today’s blog…


“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Man, am I learning that lesson with Interlude!

Over the years, I’ve interviewed countless fan filmmakers, and the one thing that nearly all of them have in common are stories of unexpected crises that pop up out of nowhere…demanding to be dealt with quickly lest the project get partially or completely derailed.

I never truly appreciated what these show-runners go through until I became an executive producer myself. My fan film hasn’t even started shooting yet, and already I’ve had to deal with some of the weirdest occurrences that I could have ever imagined—including emergency dog rescues, woodpeckers in chimneys, and an honest-to-goodness flood—all of which have conspired to try to delay the launch of my crowd-funder!

The dog actually DID delay it. You all probably remember how a stray canine in Alabama crossed the highway in front of ALEC PETERS and CRYSSTAL HUBBARD, and how they spent the next two hours trying to keep the dog safe (keep it from trying to cross back) until help could arrive. And those two hours ate up the window for livecasting Axanar Confidential that Monday night, forcing us to delay the roll-out of the GoFundMe campaign for INTERLUDE until the following night.

But wait till you hear about some of the other Murphy’s Law moments I’ve had over the past month and a half…

Continue reading “Set Cancellations, Scheduling Conflicts, Costume Conundrums, Stray Dogs, Trapped Woodpeckers, and Acts of God…what I DIDN’T expect when I decided to make a fan film!”

AXANAR locks in START DATE for filming: October 4-6, 2019!

Yes, my friends, AXANAR is really (finally!) happening. And before some of you say, “Ha! I’ll believe it when I see it!” ALEC PETERS has now put out a call for volunteers the weekend of October 4-6, 2019. J.G. HERTZLER is confirmed to be in Lawrenceville, GA for that weekend, the bridge set is 99% complete, costumes are being made, and actors and extras are being cast. This is for real, folks.

The last time that Axanar was scheduled to start filming with actors and crew and volunteers confirmed, it was supposed to be the first week of February, 2016. I had blocked off time to be at the Valencia, CA studio the morning of the second day of shooting. Unfortunately, a few “minor” snags came up (like a hundred and fifty million dollar lawsuit!), and no footage for Axanar beyond “The Vulcan Scene” was ever shot.

Well, it’s been a long road…getting from there to here. The studio moved across country from California to Georgia in 2017; Axacon happened last November; Ares Digital 1, 2, and 3 were all started (and version 3.0 is about to launch…finally!); and most recently, the first fan film of a fan film, my Axanar Universe project INTERLUDE, was announced and began crowd-funding (donate here…we’re nearly 38% of the way to our goal!).

But now, shooting on Axanar is officially set to begin in just 15 more weeks! Amusingly, Alec had scheduled his shoot to happen the weekend right after my shoot for Interlude. That would potentially allow us to utilize the same actors and extras on the USS Ares bridge (and also lower my costume manufacturing costs if I could use those same tunics for my production). But a scheduling conflict for one of my directors popped up unexpectedly for September, and so I rescheduled my shoot to the first weekend of November…four weeks after Alec’s shoot. With luck, his actors and extras will still be available for Interlude, as well. Fingers crossed!

On Wednesday, Alec published a blog outlining the three locations where filming and sound recording would be happening: Ares Studios, a nearby professional studio for green screen interviews, and a sound studio for the audio drama version of the full Axanar script. He also went on to list the various people who are already assigned to tasks (like PAUL JENKINS as director) as well as volunteer positions that are open for supporters (local and non-local) who wish to participate and help. These jobs include production and personal assistants; staffing, location, and transportation coordinators; drivers and security personnel.

The full text of the blog appears below…

Continue reading “AXANAR locks in START DATE for filming: October 4-6, 2019!”

INTERLUDE will be filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS instead of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS…

A slight change of plans for my fan film INTERLUDE, which will be set in the Axanar Universe and will be crowd-funding soon!

The majority of the fan film will be shot on the amazing bridge set of the USS ARES in Lawrenceville, GA. Initially, the plan was to film there for two days in late September and then drive down to Kingsland, GA for a third day of filming on the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios. There are two scenes that take place in my fan film—one in sickbay and the other in engineering—that are brief but still very important to the story.

The new plan, instead of filming in Kingsland, has the sickbay scene being shot in Arkansas at WARP 66 Studios, which is run by GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS. Those TOS sets have been used for episodes of THE FEDERATION FILES as well as recent Avalon Universe productions from my Interlude directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX. In fact, Josh and Victoria live relatively close to Glen and Dan, so the change of location actually makes things quite a bit more convenient for them.

It also trims about $1,000 or so from our budget…YAY! Without the need to drive 5 hours across Georgia, I won’t have to rent a car in Atlanta for the weekend. Plus, we won’t need three or four hotel rooms in Kingsland for the night.

Glen is already coming up with ideas for altering his TOS sickbay set into looking more like the earlier sickbay from the second Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” If so, that’d be totally AWESOME(!!!), since Interlude takes place during the Four Years War, two decades before Kirk’s 5-year mission. So Glen has my undying appreciation (that’s a subtle Kharn reference for all those Axanerds out there)!

As for the engineering scene, WARP 66 doesn’t have that set as yet. However, the engineering scene in Interlude is so brief (like, maybe, 10 seconds) that we can easily “fake” it with a green screen composite. And there’s a bunch of engineering backgrounds available out there for our VFX guy to use.

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on a really fun “ask” video for the crowd-funding campaign, which will launch in just a couple of weeks! The opening VFX sequence is being scored right now, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. My team is excited, I’m REALLY excited, and I hope that soon you’ll be just as excited, too!

ALEC PETERS announces first shooting date for AXANAR sequels!

It’s the announcement fans have been waiting more than three years to hear!

Production on AXANAR (the sequel to PRELUDE TO AXANAR) had originally been scheduled to begin in early 2016. I had even cleared my schedule to drive to Valencia, CA to visit the set on the morning of February 2 and then drive a contest winner from there for a quick trip to nearby Vasquez Rocks in the afternoon. Fans were so excited to see this highly-anticipated full-length Star Trek fan film finally begin shooting.

You know what happened next.

A copyright infringement lawsuit filed by CBS and Paramount forced ALEC PETERS to suspend production, and a year-long legal battle finally ended in a settlement that allowed Axanar to be made with the same actors and professional crew…but only as two 15-minute short films rather than a full 90-minute feature, and with no public crowd-funding allowed (although private donations are permitted).

The subsequent loss of Industry Studios in mid-2017 resulted in a move from California to Lawrenceville, Georgia, and additional delays…during which time the amazing USS Ares bridge set has been nearly completed.

The delays in the start of production have confounded fans and supporters. Shooting had initially been announced (in an audio interview I did with J.G. Hertzler) to begin late last year, but Alec didn’t officially confirm the dates, and 2018 ended with no cameras rolling and the bridge still unfinished (although very close to completion).

In January of 2019, a new Patreon campaign was started to help fund the monthly rent for Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, renamed after the 18-month sponsorship of the studio by OWC Digital ended. Four months later, the Patreon is 55% of the way to its $4,000/month goal and still growing…currently at an impressive 229 backers contributing $2,184 each month.

For most of 2019 so far, Alec had been hinting at an unnamed fan production, in addition to Axanar, that would be filming on the USS Ares bridge set. Then earlier this month, I announced that the mystery project was my fan film, INTERLUDE, and would take place in the Axanar Universe…separate from Alec’s sequels and intended to fit in between them and Prelude (hence my title). But still no official word on when Axanar itself would begin filming.

This past weekend, the word was finally given. Production on the first of four shoots for Axanar will kick off during the first weekend of October, 2019…one week after I complete my two-day shoot at Ares Studios (plus one day at Neutral Zone Studios in nearby Kingsland, GA). The timing is not entirely coincidental, but I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog.

Right now, however, I turn the spotlight over to Alec Peters himself and a video update from Saturday that’s already garnered several thousand views…

I will appear LIVE TONIGHT with ALEC PETERS on a private YOUTUBE Q&A stream exclusively for ARES STUDIO Patrons!

If you haven’t signed up to be a backer of the ARES STUDIOS Patreon campaign yet, to quote Chekov: “Now vould be a good time!”

Patrons at all levels (even as low as $2/month) get access to a monthly PRIVATE livestream YouTube Question & Answer session with ALEC PETERS. The link isn’t posted publicly but rather is emailed directly to anyone who is part of the Patreon.

Tonight (Thursday, May 16) at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, I will be joining Alec to discuss BOTH of our upcoming fan films…and there’s a lot of news about each! You can be among the first to learn what the budget will be for my fan film Interlude, who will be working on it, and when we expect to film. As for Axanar, well, I’ll let Alec share his big news himself…and trust me, it’s BIG news!

There’s another perk to being part of the Ares Studios Patreon—which is already over halfway to its $4,000/month goal, having now reached an all-time high of $2,164 from 225 patrons. In addition to the private YouTube chats with Alec, each month backers at the $5 level and above get early access to exclusive videos from last November’s AXACON.

Although only 30-40 people were in attendance at the 3-day event, Alec hired a professional camera crew to record pretty much every panel and guest. So far, seven interviews have been released exclusively to patrons. The general public has only gotten to see two of these videos so far. The first, an interview with ALBERT MARTINEZ—a fan filmmaker guest at the con who created Chasing the Infinite Sky and will be part of the upcoming Axanar VFX team—was released publicly three months ago. It included a special HD remastered version of Albert’s breathtakingly beautiful fan film.

And earlier this week, the second Axacon video was released. It’s a lively discussion I had with STEVE JEPSON, one of my favorite people on the planet and the man who became of the face of Prelude to Axanar‘s ill-fated commander: Admiral Conrad Slater. But was Slater really ineffectual, or was he just a Starfleet scapegoat? And what happened to Slater after he was replaced by Admiral Ramirez? It’s a fascinating conversation that you’re now able to check out for yourself…

And remember that there’s still five other exclusive Axacon videos that the public hasn’t seen yet…with more being added each month. So if you haven’t yet signed up to help fund Ares Studios, now you’ve got two great reasons to do so: exclusive videos plus a chance to ask Alec and me questions LIVE about our two upcoming projects (and get inside info before anyone else in the fan community).

Click below to sign up…

https://www.patreon.com/aresstudios

Meet some of the Georgia high school students who’ve come to ARES STUDIOS!

In my previous two blogs, I featured an interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, the Video Pathway Lead Teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools and a teacher at Phoenix High School in Lawrenceville, GA. Over the past 18 months, his video students have filmed multiple productions on the amazing 36-degree bridge set at ARES STUDIOS.

Initially constructed to be used in filming the sequel(s) to PRELUDE TO AXANAR—and still planned for that project—the bridge set and (recently added) captain’s quarters have been made available to the entire Gwinnett school district free of charge by ALEC PETERS. Now that we’ve heard from a video teacher, it’s now time to hear from some of the students.

I met two of them last November at Axacon. ALLISON FALCH (who is married to DANA WAGNER, the man in charge of completing the finishing touches on the USS Ares bridge set) teaches video at South Gwinnett Public High School, and she brought along these two charming young students on Friday afternoon when Ares Studios was opened up to Axacon attendees. As we were shooting various video interviews with the con guests and the bridge itself, we devoted a few minutes to a chat with Allison and her students…

And then last week, as I was assembling my two-part blog interview with Pasha Souvorin and was complimenting his students’ films, Pasha asked if I’d like to interview two of his student directors. Sure! So I wrote up some questions for EMILIA HOPE and VENESSA CHELLO. Both provided wonderful and articulate answers that showed how significant an impact being able to film on the Ares Studios bridge set has had for them.

Before I get to these two interviews, I’d like to point out that all four of the student directors featured in this blog entry are WOMEN! And in a male-dominated industry, I am both proud and encouraged to see that the female filmmakers of tomorrow are getting a head start, too. Also, of these four women, one is African American and two are Latina…so let’s hear it for ethnic diversity!

All right, let’s meet Emilia and Venessa…

Continue reading “Meet some of the Georgia high school students who’ve come to ARES STUDIOS!”

Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 2)

Last time, I began chatting with PASHA SOUVORIN, the Video Pathway Lead Teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools. Pasha is one of the teachers whose students have been coming to ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA to film on the amazing bridge set that was built using funds raised from fan donations. The bridge is now nearly complete, and soon the two Axanar sequel fan films will begin shooting. But in the meantime, this impressive bridge set has been giving local students the opportunity to create scenes and short videos, the likes of which they would never get to do anywhere else.

And these aren’t simply kids with camera phones filming each other playing around. This short time-lapse video posted by the students on their Facebook page shows the amount of care and effort that goes into setting up even a single scene…

In part one, Pasha shared four videos that students had completed so far, each of them impressive considering that these are high schoolers learning the basics of the craft:

And more are planned in the future.

When last we left off, Pasha and I were discussing how the state of Georgia is encouraging its students to take elective classes in video production. After three years of classes, state enrolled students can earn a special seal on their diploma indicating that they specialized in video production. Georgia will also pay for those students who complete the technical video path to take the Adobe Certified Associate test in Premiere Pro.

Things certainly have changed a lot since I was going to high school! And that’s where we pick up our enlightening conversation, already in progress…

Continue reading “Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 2)”

Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 1)

Although no Star Trek fan films have shot on the ARES STUDIOS sets yet, that doesn’t mean the USS Ares bridge hasn’t been getting some serious screen time! It’s simply that the filmmakers are mainly teenagers, students in the local Gwinnett County Public Schools District located just northeast of Atlanta, GA.

The primary force behind most of the student films that have been filmed there is PASHA SOUVORIN, the Video Pathway Lead Teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools and a video production teacher at Phoenix High School, which is near the Ares Studio facility. Pasha met ALEC PETERS through a mutual friend, Sherry Fowler, who works with Alec and is also a teacher at Pasha’s school.

These students are getting an amazing opportunity as they write, direct, light, score, edit, and produce their own films using a full 360-degree custom sci-fi set. They don’t necessarily see it as Star Trek (most of them were born AFTER Enterprise premiered!—don’t you feel old now???) but rather as whatever their young minds imagine this bridge to be.

Here’s a short snippet of what a student film shoot looks like…

Pretty professional-looking, right? Granted, these aren’t Academy Award level productions, but remember that these students are only just getting started, learning about the craft of filmmaking. These early efforts are invaluable educations experiences for what may very well be the cutting-edge filmmakers of the future!

Currently, Ares Studios is being funded through monthly Patreon donations from fans like you and me (click here to sign up as a backer). The crowd-funding campaign is just over half-way to covering the $4,000/month rent and utilities. The remainder is being paid out-of-pocket by Alec Peters himself. At present, there is no money coming in from the school district, and the schools are not being charged anything to use the facility or the sets.

Recently, I had a very lively and enlightening discussion with Pasha Souvorin about his teaching background, his students, the history of the school district’s video program, and what Ares Studios has meant to him and the kids who get to film there…

Continue reading “Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 1)”

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)”

Latest AXANAR Production Update video gets 4K views in fifteen hours!

Some folks ask why I give so much coverage to ALEC PETERS and AXANAR. The answer is simple: because there’s so much to cover! And trust me, if there were any news out of other major “in development” fan projects like Pacific 201 or Starship Farragut, I’d be covering them, too! In fact, last week I had a FANtastic interview with the production designers helping to put the finishing touches on the soon-to-be-released First Frontier.

Anyway, even though full production on the two remaining Axanar fan films hasn’t begun yet, Alec and the team are doing anything BUT resting resting on their laurels. Those who claim Axanar will never be made obviously haven’t been paying attention to how much time and effort are going into getting everything ready to launch this project. If the fan film is never going to be made, someone needs to tell all those hard-working folks in Lawrenceville, GA!

And Alec himself continues to be one of the hardest workers, now doing two regular livecasts on YouTube each week to generate donations to Ares Studios. Along with the Patreon (which is currently up to 198 donors giving $1,811/month…or nearly $22,000/year) the YouTube channel, with over 77K subscribers, is upping the total to more than $3,000 a month in contributions and revenue to help pay rent and utilities on the studio.

Alec posted his latest Production Update late Tuesday night, and it’s already been watched by more than 4,000 people. Among the items covered are how the Ares bridge is nearing completion and now will DEFINITELY appear in the Axanar films, how Ares Digital 3.0 is nearly complete (I’m one of the beta testers) and patch perks will ship soon, and plans now call for shooting to begin this summer. Alec’s and his team’s enthusiasm are clearly evident on the update video. Check it out…

Also, if you haven’t visited the Axanar YouTube Channel, now vould be a good time (as Chekov would say)! It’s up to more than 40 videos in categories including trailers, VFX sequences, donor updates, studio updates, production updates, convention appearances, and of course the weekly REEL TREK and AXANAR CONFIDENTIAL podcasts which usually have really interesting guests (including me at one point!).

There’s also a new playlist called “Fan Film Focus” which includes some exclusive behind-the-scenes content about other Trek fan productions. Like the rest of the channel, content for that section will expand over time.