VANCE MAJOR concludes CONSTAR! (some final thoughts from me)

It’s the end of an era.

Granted, that “era” has only been going on since 2016 or thereabouts, but it seems like so much longer! And maybe that’s because, over the past seven years, VANCE MAJOR (Owen is his middle name) has produced and released a total of 146(!!!) Star Trek fan films featuring his character of Erick Minard (in all its many iterations!) as well as a bevy of recurring characters, cameos by a who’s who of other fan filmmakers (including myself), and even his own 5-year-old son Royce…who has been appearing in Vance’s films literally since infancy.

And that doesn’t include Vance’s appearances in other fan series like STARSHIP VALIANT and THE AVALON UNIVERSE. Vance has been a staple of our fan film community this entire time, and his parade of new releases—sometimes coming almost weekly!—provided a recurring reminder that Star Trek fan films come as much from the heart as from the camera.

Of course, Vance’s stuff isn’t to everyone’s taste, and I totally get that. His production budgets are ridiculously humble (like, “Buddy, can ya spare some change?” humble), the quality modest at best, and the acting as likely to be hit as miss. More often than not, there’s limited if any “action,” and the more recent films (especially since COVID) have been little more than a series of interstellar Skype calls as two people have a conversation. “The Best of Both Worlds” or “Sacrifice of Angels” these fan films are most assuredly not!

But what they are, in my opinion, is a form of poetry. Vance presents his thoughts, feelings, observations, perspectives, concerns, triumphs, frustrations, dreams, and passions through his films. Most poets don’t need much more than a pen and paper (or keyboard). For Vance, it also means a camera phone, Starfleet uniform, and video editing software. But the idea and the goal is the same: to share a part of himself with others.

Some of us enjoy that sharing and don’t mind seeing the cord in the doorway or not being able to hear bits of the dialog because of the wind. We don’t mind seeing 20th and 21st century cars and trucks, or clothes and baseball caps that look like they were bought at Target, appearing in a story set centuries in the future. That’s never been what Vance’s poetry has been about. Instead, it was always about using Star Trek to speak his truth…for those interested in listening.

And even though it was never Vance’s primary intention, his fan films also served as inspiration for others for make fan films of their own. If Vance didn’t care about top-tier production quality or jaw-dropping sizzle, then how important was it really? If you have a story you want to tell, then hey, just do do it.

Continue reading “VANCE MAJOR concludes CONSTAR! (some final thoughts from me)”

A ONE-OF-KIND documentary celebrates VANCE MAJOR and his 9-YEAR mission in FAN FILMMAKING!

My first reaction was, “FOUR HOURS???? Vance, are you kidding me?” He wasn’t kidding.

And as I began watching a courtesy viewing copy of the documentary CONSTAR: BOLDLY GOING, I began to understand why. I’d sat through over an hour before taking my first break and finished it off in its entirety over the next few days. The behind-the-scenes film is surprisingly watchable, but more importantly, it represents the very heart of what makes our “little” fan film community so unique and special.

And the reason for that is that VANCE MAJOR also represents the heart of our fan film community. At a time when Star Trek fan films were getting bigger, bolder, and much more expensive—so much so that CBS and Paramount instituted a set of guidelines to curtail the “space race,” as they called it—Vance came out just as boldly and went both small and cheap! He wasn’t trying to compete with the big guys or even to send some kind of message to them to spend less on their productions.

No, instead Vance was simply saying, “Hey, I’d like to show you my stories, too, but I don’t have any money. So I’m just going to do my best, and if you like what I make, great. And if you don’t, that’s fine, too. I’m doing it for me.”

And that was about 150 fan films ago!

In the years since Vance first portrayed the character of Erick Minard, Chief Engineer of the STARSHIP VALIANT, he’s worked with nearly every fan filmmaker in the community, having inspired many of them to “just go for it.” If Vance didn’t care if there was a cord visible in the doorway in the background of a shot, or if half the lights on the bridge were out, or the sound was bad or the uniforms didn’t quite fit the actors, why should anyone else be bothered by it? These are FAN films, and they’re made for FUN.

Now, as Vance prepares to pull the U.S.S. Constar into space dock one final time and complete his career creating Star Trek fan films, he’s decided to once again go where no fan has gone before and produce a documentary about not just one or two fan films but an entire MAGNUM OPUS of work…viewed not solely through Vance’s own eyes but through the thoughts, memories, and experiences of those he has worked with over the years…including me and dozens of others.

I thought about interviewing Vance as he brings this epoch of his life in for a landing. But anything we discuss would only pall in comparison to the release of his 4-hour documentary, which will premiere on Sunday, July 3rd at noon central time. Here is the link…

Continue reading “A ONE-OF-KIND documentary celebrates VANCE MAJOR and his 9-YEAR mission in FAN FILMMAKING!”

MINARD joins the AVALON UNIVERSE in “NEW ORDERS” (interview with VANCE MAJOR and JOSH IRWIN)

There’s a lot of love and camaraderie in the fan film community. That’s one of the reasons that I enjoy creating and maintaining this blog. Oh, sure, there’s also some trolls and drama and silly “feuds,” but honestly, I don’t really pay much attention to all of that anymore because it’s pretty meaningless.

What is meaningful—with the emphasis on the FULL part—is all the positivity that Star Trek fan films bring…because when it comes right down to it, we’re FANS. It’s what got me involved in the world of Star Trek to begin with, knowing there was this group of people who loved something that I loved, too, that we could share and bond over…no matter our backgrounds or location or anything else that might separate us. Star Trek brought us TOGETHER!

And that’s why I cheered when I saw this new vignette from the AVALON UNIVERSE

NEW ORDERS might not seem like much. There’s minimal VFX, and only two characters are talking to each other via subspace for most of it, with a third popping up at the very end. But for me, it was so much more—it was a chance for me to watch two dear friends come together to make a fan film.

JOSHUA IRWIN and VANCE MAJOR have worked together before this. Josh (as well as his Avalon Universe collaborator VICTORIA FOX) has appeared in some of Vance’s CONSTAR productions, like “SHAKEDOWN.” And Vance made a very brief cameo in the Avalon Universe episode DEMONS. But this time felt different. New Orders wasn’t simply one of them appearing briefly in the other’s film. It was two fan filmmakers who have become “legends” in our small-but-close-knit community, coming together as equals, and teasing the arrival of an awesome fan-favorite character into a fresh, new universe.

The fun thing about the Avalon Universe is that it’s Star Trekish but without five decades of canon weighing it down…kinda like what Star Trek: Discovery coulda/shoulda been had they just told us from the beginning that it was a parallel Trek universe (then most of us would have forgiven the different-looking Klingons and shiny uniforms and super-advanced tech). So characters from “standard” Star Trek fan films can pop up in the Avalon Universe in completely new ways. In fact, Captain Jakande, who died in my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE, will be making an appearance in an upcoming Avalon fan film, alive and healthy and played by actor WARREN HAWK.

As most of you probably know, Josh and Victoria were my directors on Interlude, and I consider both to be good friends. We often spend hours on the phone. The same is true for Vance, for whom a “short” call between the two of us is defined as anything under an hour!

So when I saw Josh and Vance having their own subspace “call” in New Orders, I decided to ask them both to say a few words about this new project…

Continue reading “MINARD joins the AVALON UNIVERSE in “NEW ORDERS” (interview with VANCE MAJOR and JOSH IRWIN)”

A tale of two CONSTAR Gregs, Part 2: GREG MITCHELL (audio interview)

Last week, I shined the Fan Film Factor on one of the two Gregs who went from being an actor in VANCE MAJOR’s CONSTAR CHRONICLES to being a writer/director/editor of a full episode. This week, we shift over to the other Constar Greg, GREG MITCHELL.

Greg Mitchell, as you’ll see from the audio interview below, had a slightly different journey. He was an editor on various Constar fan films throughout 2019, and like GREG TEFT (the “other” Greg), Vance offered him the opportunity to move beyond editor and “take the con” on Constar.

Greg Mitchell actually wrote and directed two Constar episodes, but one wasn’t really a Constar production. “Splashdown” was a fan film produced by Greg back in 2014, which he directed and co-wrote featuring the crew of the U.S.S. Splashdown journeying to a backwater planet that looks mostly like a house and backyard. But hey, that’s the fun of do-it-yourself fan films! A Constar Chronicles framing sequence was added around the original fan film and unveiled as part of Vance’s 40-episode release last December.

Take a look…

Also included in the mass-release was a brand new Constar Chronicles episode, again directed by Greg Mitchell and co-written by Greg and Vance together. Greg edited it, of course. The fan film is a classic “stranger in the house” scenario with an unexpected twist. Greg stars in this 17-minute production along with MARY JANE BLYSTONE, who does a fabulous job and makes the film very enjoyable to watch…

Again, I had a very nice chat with Greg, discussing his filmmaking history, editing in particular, and his experiences working with both Vance and members of the Constar cast. Have a listen…

And if you listened to the entire interview and are curious to see my cameo at the end of the Constar Chronicles episode “The Phantom,” click here to view it.

A tale of two CONSTAR Gregs, Part 1: GREG TEFT (audio interview)

When you hear the word “Constar”—at least if you’re a member of the Star Trek fan film community—you’ll probably think of VANCE MAJOR. Between his MINARD saga fan films, his CONSTAR CHRONICLES and CONSTAR CONTINUES fan series, and his brand new CONSTAR COMPLETED fan productions, Vance is responsible for rouglyh a hundred different Star Trek fan films!

But Vance isn’t SOLELY responsible for them, and he’ll be the first to tell you that. In fact, shortly after his Constar Chronicles fan series dropped forty new fan films at the end of 2019 and his Constar Continues was about to kick off in early 2020, I asked Vance if he wanted to do a Fan Film Factor interview to discuss his newest series. And that was when Vance suggested, rather than yet another interview where he was the center of attention, why not shift the focus to some of the other important people who help make the U.S.S. Constar fly…both literally and figuratively.

Specifically, he suggested two fellows named Greg: GREG TEFT and GREG MITCHELL. Both of these fellows acted in some of Vance’s productions, but recently, each of them got the opportunity to write, direct, and edit his own episode of Constar Chronicles. The two episodes were very different, as were the circumstances that led to each of these two fans getting to “take the helm,” as it were. So I decided to interview each Greg individually.

First up is Greg Teft, who has appeared, thus far, in a dozen different Vance Major Star Trek fan films—mostly as the character of Timoteo Russo—between 2017 and 2019. And while you can watch all of Vance’s many, many Constar Chronicles fan films here in this playlist and his Constar Continues here in this playlist, we’re going to focus on one Constar Continues in particular: “Shakedown,” the episode that Greg Teft wrote, directed, edited, and starred in. Take a look…

And now, let’s have a chat with Greg…

Next week, the other Greg, Greg Mitchell, gets his turn in the spotlight.

A tragic COVID death hits the fan film / cosplay community…

SOPHIA NEROVNAYA is a very well-known cosplayer from St. Petersburg, Russia who looks amazingly like T’Pol from Star Trek: Enterprise. On her Facebook page are nearly 800 photos of Sophia throughout Russia and Europe and at home, always in makeup and often in costume, looking nearly identical to her fictional Vulcan counterpart. The only difference is Sophia’s wonderful smile that seems to convey sheer happiness and enthusiasm with Star Trek and with life itself.

All of that was shattered on Sunday with this single post to Facebook:

My loving husband and father of my two sons
died today at 4 pm, of COVID-19.

Sophia and Vadim were married in 2006. The illness apparent came upon him quickly, as Sophia was making typical Facebook posts up though Friday, and then Saturday saw a message that Vadim was urgently hospitalized and in intensive care, under ventilation.

As I type this, there have already been more than 650 comments conveying sympathy. I can’t begin to imagine her grief and loss…and that of her two children. Obviously, Sophia has my condolences, as well my wife’s, even though she has no idea who we are.

Sophia’s connection to the fan film community—in addition to being a huge fan of AXANAR because of the appearance of GARY GRAHAM reprising his role of Ambassador Soval—came about three months ago when VANCE MAJOR reached out to her from across the planet with a request for her to make a cameo or two as T’Pol in his newest CONSTAR COMPLETED fan series. Vance was one of Sophia’s thousands of Facebook friends, but they have communicated a bit over the years through the Star Trek Cosplay Facebook group.

Sophia happily agreed to help Vance out and sent him takes of T’Pol composited in front of an Enterprise NX-01 background which have already appeared in the episode “The Stuff of Legend” alongside her good friend, DAVID FRANCOEUR…

Sophia will also appear in Vance’s new release “1000 Dirty Tricks” in a few weeks.

Continue reading “A tragic COVID death hits the fan film / cosplay community…”

VANCE MAJOR needs uniforms (again) to complete CONSTAR…new GoFundMe campaign launched!

VANCE MAJOR has produced about a billion Star Trek fan films (or it seems like a billion!)…and he’s not finished yet. With a new batch of about 20 episodes of CONSTAR CONTINUES set for release early next year, Vance still has a bunch more fan films in him! So he’s already planning for his NEXT fan series.

The new project will be titled CONSTAR COMPLETED, and Vance needs some new uniforms to put on his actors. If this sounds kinda déjà vuish to you, you’re not imagining things. Vance has sought out the financial assistance of the fan film community for uniform funding a few times before…and he usually gets there within the first day or two…a week tops! In fact, there’s been a couple of instances when I haven’t even had time to get a blog posted announcing the new Constar crowd-funder before Vance reached his goal.

So this time, I’m rushing as fast as I can to get this blog written and published! Indeed, it’s been less than a day already, and Vance is already nearly a third of the way to his $1,100 goal (including a little sumthin’-sumthin’ from yours truly). That’s the way it goes in this community…even during a pandemic with an economic slowdown.

However, it is still a pandemic with an economic slowdown, so it never hurts to spread the word (rather than the virus!) to fellow fans and friends. So here is the link to Vance Major’s new Constar Completed crowd-funding campaign on GoFundMe:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/constar-completed

If you have a little sumthin’-sumthin’ yourself to give, I guarantee you’ll get a fan film out of it—maybe even one or two DOZEN fan films! And even if you can’t afford to donate at the moment, please help get the word out by sharing the above link. And as always, thanks from both Vance and me.

More FANdemic films: CONSTAR’s “MUCH AFRAID” and “SINKING” (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)!

At least temporarily, most fan film production has entered a new phase following social distancing. New releases have not been quite so prolific, and most that have been produced since the beginning of the global pandemic have reflected the need to keep actors mainly isolated from each and from camera crews. For fan films, the show must go on…even if the show must be produced in careful and creative ways.

I’ve coined the phrase “FANdemic” film to categorize these releases. Some recent examples include:

  • HORREUR POST ATOMIQUE from France, told the story of three survivors of World War III living in bunkers, just before first contact with the Vulcans.
  • LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY showed a socially distancing Kirk, Spock, and McCoy having a futuristic Zoom call.
  • I AM SPOCK featured JENS DOMBEK, “The German Spock,” doing a somber and introspective one-man (well, one-Vulcan) short fan film.
  • “THE GREEN MANIFESTO” from THE FEDERATION FILES showed the nefarious Colonel Green from the TOS episode “The Savage Curtain” (still with the rank of major) engineering a global super-virus that threatened to wipe out millions worldwide.

And then there’s CONSTAR CONTINUES…from that fan filmmaking machine VANCE MAJOR! Vance’s many, many, many fan films—which cover the Minard Saga, Constar Chronicles, and the latest Constar Continues series—are actually tailor-made for the pandemic…at least some of them. Although the scores of episodes that he’s done have included scenes with multiple characters on the screen at the same time, Vance has also made a good number of episodes featuring two-person “calls” via subspace. These are easy enough to shoot and edit together during a global quarantine, and so, as one might expect, a fandemic Constar production was bound to show up sooner or later.

Continue reading “More FANdemic films: CONSTAR’s “MUCH AFRAID” and “SINKING” (audio interview with VANCE MAJOR)!”

A winning streak of SUCCESSFUL Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDERS!

Lately, it seems like I’m covering a LOT of crowd-funding campaigns raising money for a variety of Star Trek fan films. That’s because it’s been a really pretty busy few months…with more campaigns to come!

Fortunately for our wallets, though, four campaigns have just successfully reached their funding goals (or come very close!), clearing the way for the newcomers. So let’s take a brief look at the fan productions that scored recent wins…

THE TEARS OF J’KAH

Two week ago, I reported on how BENNY HALL raised $49,183 (of his $50K goal) for his second Trek fan film THE TEARS OF J’KAH…from just 13 donors! This post-guidelines crowd-funding record was accomplished with the help of some very generous friends and contacts who each made donations of $5K and even $10K.

AXANAR – shoot #3

Last Thursday morning, ALEC PETERS launched a “tiny” (his word) fundraiser on Ares Digital trying to generate $3,400 to cover expenses for the third AXANAR shoot at Ares Studios in Larenceville, GA on March 15. By Sunday evening, he’d taken in more than $5,000!

The surplus will go into the upcoming fundraiser for the “big” fourth shoot. That on is scheduled to happen in Los Angeles and will include GARY GRAHAM playing Vulcan Ambassador Soval plus a bunch of other aliens, each of whom will require a top-level make-up artist. Combined with the cost of studio rental, travel, lodging, etc., this is expected to be around a $30,000 expenditure (although a final budget is still being worked out).

The Axanar fundraiser for Shoot #4 will launch on Ares Digital right after shoot #3 wraps on March 15…with the long-awaited debut of the FULLL TRAILER! You can watch it debut live by clicking here.

STARSHIP INTREPID – “ECHOES”

For the first time in its decade-and-a-half history, those INTREPID folks from Scotland have sought some financial assistance from fans and supporters. NICK COOK set the goal at a humble $2,500 (or thereabouts, since they get their money in pounds, not dollars) with a 60-day deadline. Earlier this week, with less than two weeks left and with the help of 72 backers, they hit their goal.

CONSTAR CONTINUES

With an even more humble goal of $1,175, VANCE MAJOR launched his latest GoFundMe campaign back in December. It’s taken a little while, but this past Monday morning, he also reached (and slightly surpassed) his goal…with the help of 24 backers (including me).


My congratulations to all of the projects I’ve just mentioned, and my thanks to those of my readers who chose to donate in order to help make these fan film dreams into realities.

So what’s left that still needs crowd-funding help (besides Axanar)? Glad you asked!

Continue reading “A winning streak of SUCCESSFUL Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDERS!”

Star Trek fan film TEARS OF J’KAH raises $49,183 on Indiegogo…from 13 DONORS!

When I first interviewed BENNY HALL about his first Star Trek TOS fan production, LET OLD WRINKLES COME, and discovered he had set a goal of $50K for his second fan project TEARS OF J’KAH, I was quite dubious. In fact, I figured he had a snowball’s chance on Venus of even getting close.

I realize that the fan film guidelines allow projects to publicly crowd-fund up to $50K, but since those guidelines were announced, no Trek fan film has been able to raise even half that much in a public campaign. (I don’t count AXANAR because that campaign is private, and I don’t count the Deep Space Nine documentary because that wasn’t a typical fan film following the guidelines.) Since the guidelines came out, only a small handful have successfully cracked $10,000, and the majority have set and reached only goals in the four-digit range.

And not only that, it seemed to me as though poor Benny was making a bunch of rookie mistakes with his Indiegogo campaign. He’d launched close to Christmas time when most people’s money is going into buying presents and traveling. His launch was done with little fanfare, and there were no updates or postings on Facebook groups reminding folks to please donate. Benny wasn’t doing interviews (except one with me), and most Trek fans probably had little to no idea this project was even actively crowd-funding!

I felt bad for Benny, and I tried to help him by listing him at the top of my CROWDFUNDING NOW page here on Fan Film Factor. But it turned out Benny knew something I didn’t know—or rather, someone…several someones, in fact. Benny is the CFO at a production company located in Burbank, and it seems he’s friends with some very generous people. I noted that his first donation was $5,000. Then another $5K donation came in…and another. Every week or two, after seeing the campaign stagnate for a while, I’d refresh the browser tab, and the total would suddenly be $5K higher. In the final week of the campaign, which closed on Sunday night, the last two donations were $10K each. I wanna have friends like that!

Anyway, my congratulations to Benny on bringing in nearly $50K from just 13 backers in two months. He spent $50K of his own money on his first fan project, so he’s certainly paid his dues. And I’m confident the folks who supported Benny were impressed when they saw Let Old Wrinkles Come that he would show such dedication to his dream and making it happen. And now we get to see another $50K fan film!


And as long as I have your attention, and since Benny doesn’t need any more money, there’s still two active crowd-funders that are very near their goals and could use your donations to get there (click either graphic to go to their campaign pages)…

CONSTAR CONTINUES (just $185 more gets them to their goal!)


STARSHIP INTREPID: “ECHOES” (just $802 gets them to their goal!)