Announcing TWO new FAN FILM AWARD SHOWS coming in 2022!

File this under: “Great minds think alike…” or perhaps under, “This is what you get for missing staff meetings, Doctor.” Either way, GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of THE FEDERATION FILES and I had the same idea at the same time, and now there are going to be TWO new fan film awards shows coming your way in 2022!

In my case, the idea of hosting an annual awards show for Star Trek fan films has been percolating in the back of my mind for a few years…not as a way of competing with the annual BJO AWARDS but as simply an additional opportunity for Star Trek fan filmmakers and their productions to shine.

As the new year dawned a few days ago, I was able to finally enjoy a break from the blogging “sprint” that took up much of my December. And I decided that, if I was really serious about creating some Fan Film Factor awards show, now might be a good time to do some thinkin’…

At first, I tried to come up with a name—and you know how much I like things that abbreviate to “FFF.” The Fan Film Festival Awards? Nah. Fan Film Faves? Cheesy. Fan Film Friends? Family? Flamingos? Jeez, I had nothing decent!

Okay, time to try a different approach vector…

So I shifted to thinking about judging. I mean, I suppose it could just be me deciding the winners and losers, but no one fan should possess such power! And, sheesh, what a way to completely piss off almost all of my friends, right? Nope, I needed a panel, but whom? When I finally answered that question, the name for the awards show fell easily into place: THE SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

I’ve always felt there should be a fan film awards competition where members of the community judge each other’s work…and who knows more about what it takes to make a fan film than a showrunner? But I didn’t want too many judges, so I decided to limit my invitations to showrunners who had successfully released at least four or five completed Star Trek fan films.

Of course, the next concern was making sure there weren’t too many entries. Goodness knows that VANCE MAJOR alone (one of the judges) could enter dozens—maybe hundreds!—of fan films all by himself! So I decided that, unlike the Bjo Awards, the Showrunner Awards will feature a nominal entry fee (maybe $10) plus an additional $1 for each special category like Best VFX, Best Music, Best Film Editing, etc. As I’m learning from entering my fan film INTERLUDE in various film festivals, this is how most of them work with application fees.

Speaking of Vance, or any of the judges, how do we make certain that all of them don’t simply vote for their own fan film, and we wind up with a 6-way or 10-way tie each year? Glad you asked…

Continue reading “Announcing TWO new FAN FILM AWARD SHOWS coming in 2022!”

2020 BJO AWARD winners!

Up until the world turned upside down and we started sheltering in place, the annual BJO AWARDS were awarded live at the TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, GA. Last year, however, Treklanta was virtual, and the Bjo Awards didn’t happen. This left the 2020 Bjo Awards for eligible Star Trek fan films released in 2019 in a kind of limbo.

But Treklanta Chairman ERIC L. WATTS made the decision to still have the 2020 Bjo Awards…even if they happened a year late. And so, in the latter half of this year, eleven judges watched a total of 27 qualifying Star Trek fan films with a total run-time for all the films combined of 9 hours, 54 minutes, and 19 seconds. That’s a LOT of fan film binge-watching!

Although Treklanta was virtual once again this year (back in August), the winners were still announced live, but this time it was on the evening of December 11 at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS (home to the amazing STARSHIP FARRAGUT/STAR TREK CONTINUES TOS sets) during their fan appreciation weekend.

Although I typically don’t review Star Trek fan films, I do rate them here on a scale from DECENT EFFORT to PRETTY GOOD to HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to MUST SEE. This year, of the many, many Bjo Awards finalists, five fan films from 2019 made it to my highest MUST SEE level. Of those, three pretty much swept every category in this year’s Bjos—so the judges weren’t crazy (unless I’m crazy, too…a possibility that can’t be completely ruled out, of course).

As it happened, three individual fan filmmakers—British CGI Sensei SAMUEL COCKINGS, the fan film Wonder from Down Under AARON VANDERKLEY, and Arkansas Avalon Admin JOSH IRWIN were all “in attendance” to accept awards either on behalf of themselves or members of their team who weren’t there. In the case of the latter, Josh had driven down with Team Avalon members NEAL BILBE and PIXI NEREID (the latter co-hosting the awards with Eric Watts—see photo above). Sam and Aaron joined in via Zoom from their respective continents.

Continue reading “2020 BJO AWARD winners!”

‘Tis the season for GIVING…to FAN FILMS!

When folks come to me for advice on crowd-funding their fan projects, I always tell them the same thing: DON’T LAUNCH YOUR CAMPAIGN DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON!!! Ever since 2015, I’ve noticed that fan film crowd-funders that try to raise donations in November and December often struggle to reach their goals or even fail outright. The holiday season seems to be a “donation desert” for fan films.

It makes total sense. Nearly everyone is buying Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanza or Festivus) gifts for friends and family. And before COVID, people used to take expensive vacations during the holidays to visit family or just get away—remember when that used to happen? Charities, of course, usually choose this time to appeal to that ol’ spirit of giving and approach (hopefully) generous donors to give a little sumthin’. And soon Christmas bonus checks are spent before they even get cashed, and bank account balances do their impression of the Titanic.

I get that…not the time for fan films to ask for money.

But this past Monday, I received a bunch of e-mails from various places informing me that “Giving Tuesday” was here. So now we apparently have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and…Giving Tuesday? When did that become a thing? Actually it started in 2012 at New York City’s famous 92rd Street Y (where I went to summer camp back in 1981) and has grown into an international movement to encourage a little healthy philanthropy among the manic bargain-hunting.

I wasn’t able to write a blog in time for this year’s Giving Tuesday because I just had cataract surgery early this week, and it took away my ability to see the text on my computer screen for a couple of days. Today is the first day I’ve got reliable sight back enough to compose a blog.

I’d actually been meaning to post something reminding folks about the ongoing Fan Film Factor Patreon to cover my annual expenses for keeping this blog site running. Currently, I’m taking in enough in monthly donations to cover the costs of domain registration and hosting, technical support, and security services.

But last month, I added a new annual expense: a $160/year Pro Account for Zoom. You might have noticed that I’ve been doing more video interviews with fan filmmakers lately. Zoom is an easy way to reach multiple people and record the interview calls. And Zoom is free as long as your call is less than 45 minutes or has only one other person on it. But my interviews go 60-90 minutes, and I often have multiple people on at the same time.

So with “Giving Tuesday” happening, even though we’re in the middle of the “fan film donation desert,” as I call it, I thought this might be a good time to post a little reminder about my Patreon

I’m looking for monthly contributions of $1, $2, whatever folks can spare to help cover the annual expenses of Fan Film Factor

PATREON link: https://www.patreon.com/fan_film_factor

Continue reading “‘Tis the season for GIVING…to FAN FILMS!”

BJO AWARDS announces FINALISTS for 2020…

Wait…did I say “2020”? Yep. As I explained in a blog last month, the BJO AWARDS (the annual awards presented exclusively to Star Trek fan films) was forced to skip the awards for last year due to the pandemic. Since the awards’ debut back in 2015, winners were announced live and in person at the annual TREKLANTA convention, with plaques being handed out to winners who were in attendance. But last year’s Treklanta was virtual, and the awards were skipped for 2020.

Well, perhaps “skipped” isn’t the right word. “Delayed” is more like it.

Each year’s awards are presented to qualifying Star Trek fan films that were released in the previous calendar year—meaning that this year’s Bjo Awards for 2021 should have been presented to fan films released in 2020. But that would mean those fan films from 2019 would never be recognized (a “skipped” year). Of course, one possible idea was to combine the releases from 2019 and 2020 into a single awards show, but it didn’t seem fair to double the nominees while keeping the number of winners the same.

So Treklanta Chairman ERIC L. WATTS decided to hold the 2020 Bjo Awards in 2021, and then hold the 2021 Bjo Awards early in 2022…hopefully leaving enough time left to also hold the 2022 Bjo Awards later in 2022 and get everything back on schedule.

You got all that?

Anyway, my previous blog from October listed all of the qualifying fan films from 2019—32 in all, although 10 of them were two-parters that were combined on the ballot into single entries, leaving a total of 27 qualifying Star Trek fan films. According to Eric Watts, the total runtime for all the films combined was 9 hours, 54 minutes, and 19 seconds (gotta love Eric’s Vulcan precision!)…ranging from just under 3 minutes (STAR TREK: UNITY‘s “Tabula Rasa”) to just over 51 minutes (TEMPORAL ANOMALY “Part 1” and “Part 2” combined). The average run time was 22 minutes.

Eric is particularly appreciative of the eleven judges who watched through every entry and took their job very seriously. In order to qualify to be a judge, a person had to have “…an established professional credit in the Star Trek franchise (actor, author, artist, writer, director, designer, producer, makeup artist, stunt double… pretty much anything)” or be “…a Star Trek fan currently working in the television/motion picture industry [without] any known association with any previous or current fan film.” With criteria like that, finding a panel of willing judges was NOT going to be easy!

“Yes, recruiting this year’s panel was a huge challenge,” says Eric, “and I’m proud of the calibre of judges that made this commitment. The Bjos are NOT a popularity contest, but rather, a juried competition of professionals who are impartial and know what Star Trek is… and should be. I want to give them all the recognition I possibly can.”

Continue reading “BJO AWARDS announces FINALISTS for 2020…”

The BJOs are BACK, baby!

Beginning in 2015, the world of Star Trek fan films has had its own, exclusive annual awards show…thanks entirely to the exhaustive efforts of ERIC L. WATTS and the panels of judges whom he has assembled each year. It’s a daunting task: keeping track of, viewing, and scoring so many Star Trek fan films. A typical judge might have to devote as many as 10 or 20 hours to what is essentially a volunteer task. And of course, that effort increases exponentially when you get to Eric Watts himself!

The name of this annual competition was changed to the BJO AWARDS in 2018, in honor of BJO TRIMBLE, credited with saving Star Trek from early cancellation in the 1960s by organizing the “great letter-writing campaign.” Bjo was a guest of honor that year and graciously agreed to the name change. And they have been the Bjo Awards each year since.

Well, ALMOST each year since…

Last year, 2020, was—if you can remember that far back—just a little f’d up. (Yeah, I said “f’d”!) The world transformed into an alternate reality of shutting down and shutting in, and like nearly all social gatherings, the annual TREKLANTA convention, where the Bjo Awards are announced, could not safely take place in person. The event went virtual, but without a physical venue to present at and hand out plaques, Eric elected not to hold the Bjo Awards last year.

Bjo Award plaques are always presented in person.

This year, however, even though Treklanta is still not taking place, Eric has decided to once again resume the Bjos. But what to do about the “missed” year? Traditionally, each year’s Bjo Award nominees are Star Trek fan films released during the previous calendar year. Fan filmmakers don’t actively “enter” the competition. Instead they automatically qualify if they meet the following requirements…

1) Be a live-action dramatic presentation set in the Star Trek universe, not animated or CGI, or a satire or parody of Star Trek.
2) Have “Based upon Star Trek, Created by Gene Roddenberry” (or similar) in the title sequence, opening credits or closing credits. (This requirement may be waived under certain circumstances and at the sole discretion of Treklanta.)
3) Have been released to the Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) during the previous calendar year.
4) Have an entry on IMDb.com with full cast and crew credits listed.

It’s #3 in the above list that’s the problematic one…

Continue reading “The BJOs are BACK, baby!”

Just $535 away from saving ERIC WATTS’ house!

Eight days ago when I first covered this story, ERIC L. WATTS had just launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $11,000…of which, the first $6,000 would go toward getting his house out of foreclosure and the other $5,000 would pay off the credit card debt accrued from Eric personally covering the shortfalls from the TREKLANTA convention (held each year since 2011). For the past five years, that convention has hosted what is now known as the BJO AWARDS, the only annual contest focused exclusively on honoring Star Trek fan films.

While I don’t usually cover campaigns for personal crowd-funding help, in Eric’s case, I made an exception because Treklanta and the Bjo Awards are a special resource for our fan film community, and I’d rather not lose either of them. And of course, Eric is a friend, and I don’t want the guy to be homeless.

I’ll be honest with you—I doubted that Eric would be able to pull this off…even just making it to $6,000 to save his house. It wasn’t that I doubted the generosity of our community. Heck, my own recent crowd-funding for Interlude has been surprisingly successful. But this isn’t a campaign for a fan film. Donors won’t get anything in return for supporting Eric’s campaign…other than the satisfaction of helping a fellow human being in need.

But it turns out that our community has quite a big heart after all! And in just a little over a week, Eric is within $535 from being able to save his house…and just in time, as his past-due mortgage payments must be received by early September (I don’t have the specific date) or else his home goes into foreclosure. This is always a risk when people have a mortgage on them, and why many choose to check here and go to refinance to give them more leeway.

Part of the reason for the success of Eric’s campaign is certainly Eric’s reputation as an important part of our fan film and Star Trek community, along with his work in organizing the Bjo Awards each year. Another is that Eric wisely made use of a relatively new crowd-funding feature on Facebook where donations can be made through their site, as well.

So instead of having one campaign trying to reach $11,000 to cover mortgage and credit card debt, Eric now has two campaigns, each trying to reach only $6,000 combined to cover just the past-due mortgage itself. (Paying off the credit card will potentially be a separate endeavor. Right now, the priority for Eric is to keep his home.) Here are links to the two campaigns…

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-eric039s-house-treklanta-amp-the-bjo-awards

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donate/2457823331114420/

By splitting the campaign in two, a new avenue for donations was opened, and now the GoFundMe is up to $3,145 from 52 donors (including me), and the Facebook total is at $2,320 from 53 backers. That combines to $5,465…just $535 away from the $6,000 Eric needs to (after fees) save his house. I think he might just be able to pull this off after all!

Eric provided me with the following statement of gratitude…

Continue reading “Just $535 away from saving ERIC WATTS’ house!”

RED ALERT! The BJO AWARDS are in jeopardy…along with TREKLANTA and ERIC WATTS’ house!

For the past nine years, ERIC L. WATTS has been chairman of the annual TREKLANTA convention, a small con in the Atlanta area that has always been very supportive of Star Trek fan films. In fact, for the last half-decade, Eric and Treklanta have hosted the annual BJO AWARDS—originally called the Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards, and rechristened the “Bjo’s” after the woman credited with saving Star Trek from an early cancelation in 1968, BJO TRIMBLE.

Those awards, and the Treklanta convention, have been a special boon to the Star Trek fan film world, letting us celebrate—year after year—the best our community has to offer. Eric has never charged fan filmmakers a fee to register for the Bjo’s. Trek fan productions were simply included in the contest if they met the qualifications…and most did.

Eric has done so much for the fan film community. Now he needs us to do something for him…and it’s pretty much an emergency!

Treklanta has never drawn huge crowds, and that has resulted in years finishing in the red. Rather than default on commitments and risk businesses no longer willing to do business with Treklanta, Eric would pay off the shortfalls out of his own pocket, using credit cards when there was too much to cover with available funds.

As the years went on, the credit card debt piled up with Eric only able to pay the minimums and interest mounting. Eventually, just making those minimum payments delayed Eric’s ability to submit his own mortgage payments on time.

Now Eric is about to lose his home, still buried in credit card debt, all because he wanted to keep a convention going that celebrated Star Trek and its fan films.

It’s tempting to do a whole bunch of woulda/shoulda/coulda to Eric. But advice on handling things differently over the last nine years isn’t going to fix the immediate problem. Eric needs $6,000 to pay his past-due mortgage, and another $5,000 pays off the convention’s credit card.

Eric has just set up a GoFundMe campaign, and in the first 7 hours, 13 fans donated $635 (including $50 from me)…or about 6% of what he needs. There’s still a long way to go, but the news is only just beginning to make its way around fandom. Please help spread the word and, if possible, make a donation…even if it’s just a small one.

Click here to save Treklanta, the Bjos, and Eric’s House.

Once we help put out this fire, we fans can step up with some ideas to help make sure that Eric doesn’t fall down this slippery slope again (like maybe charging fan filmmakers a small $10 or $20 registration fee to enter the Bjo Awards contest). But right now, it’s all hands on deck to help someone in need.

Below is Eric’s public plea for assistance. You can tell this was not an easy video for him to make, and all the more reason to try to offer him some desperately needed assistance…

2019 BJO AWARD winners from TREKLANTA!

Who says Star Trek fan films are dead? Certainly not I! And certainly not the 2019 BJO AWARD winners, which included a number of first-time Star Trek fan filmmakers and their projects…along with winners who are veterans in the community.

The annual Bjo Awards show takes place each each at the TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, which celebrates Star Trek in general and Star Trek fan films specifically. A total of 28 new Trek fan films, all released during calendar year 2018, qualified for consideration by the panel of judges (view the entire list here).

The finalists were announced last week in 11 different categories. And interestingly enough, over half of the winners (six) were for fan films produced in Northwest Arkansas! Specifically, the fan film GHOST SHIP from Arkansas writer/director JOSHUA IRWIN took four Bjo Awards, and the fan film ADVENTURES OF THE USS PARKVIEW: “THE BUNNY INCIDENT” from Arkansas writer/director/composer KEVIN CROXTON took two Bjos.

Another three awards were claimed by the wonder from Down Under, Australian fan filmmaker AARON VANDERKELY and his team for their NX-era fan films GOOD MEN and THE FALL OF STARBASE ONE.

Of the other two awards, one went to MATTHEW BLACKBURN of California for the final installment of the “Survivor Trilogy,” LAST SURVIVOR, and the other to SHELTON E. WALKER for a guest actor appearance as Commodore Alwine in the two-part STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR: “THE MONOLITH, PART ONE” and “THE MONOLITH, PART TWO” from Potemkin Pictures in Alabama.

The judges this year were Diana Dru BotsfordAndrew GreenbergJason P. HuntDeborah StevensonWilliam Schlichter, and Andrew Wallace. The presenters included Star Trek: DS9 veteran actor Aron “NogEisenbergBill Blair, and Nichole McAuley.

And now, let’s find out who won what…!

Continue reading “2019 BJO AWARD winners from TREKLANTA!”

FINALISTS announced for the 2019 BJO AWARDS!

Each year at the annual TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, GA, the Star Trek fan film community holds its version of the Academy Awards. But instead of Oscars, ours are called Bjos, named after legendary fan BJO TRIMBLE, who is credited with having saved Star Trek from cancellation back in 1968.

This will be the fifth consecutive year that Treklanta has honored Star Trek fan films and their creators with awards. Originally named the Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards, the name was changed to honor Bjo Trimble after the 2016 awards were presented by Mrs. Trimble herself. For a full listing of previous winners and the complete history of these awards, click here to visit their website.

Treklanta will be held this coming weekend at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel, and tickets are still available. The guest list includes Star Trek cast members and background players, authors, artists, fan filmmakers, fan club representatives, and a host of others. While not a large convention, those who attend Treklanta always have VERY positive things to say about the experience there.

Fan film selections are made by Treklanta Chairman ERIC L. WATTS based on Star Trek fan films released during the previous calendar year and which meet certain requirements for eligibility. (For a complete list of all 28 selections for this year’s competition, click here.) Then finalists are chosen for various categories (this year, there are 11) based on points determined by a panel of judges. Typically, there are four finalists per category, but occasionally, an unbreakable tie for fourth place ups the number of finalists in a specific category.

The judges this year are Diana Dru Botsford, Andrew Greenberg, Jason P. Hunt, Deborah Stevenson, William Schlichter, and Andrew Wallace. Winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony to be held Sunday afternoon, May 26, at Treklanta. Presenters will include Aron Eisenberg, Bill Blair, and Nichole McAuley.

Below is a list of finalists with links to the films…

Continue reading “FINALISTS announced for the 2019 BJO AWARDS!”

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…

Continue reading “TREKLANTA announces BJO AWARDS qualifying fan films!”