“STAR TREK IS REAL” and so is PIXI NEREID…real AWESOME, that is! (video interview with PIXI)

Finally! I get a chance to interview PIXI NEREID and share it with all of you…and it’s a really FANtastic interview.

Last week, I was supposed to interview Pixi along with AVALON UNIVERSE showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and angel-supporter RAY MYERS, who donated $3,000 to their current GoFundMe campaign as a match for $3,000 in fan donations that came in last week. The Zoom call interview was supposed to accompany the released of Pixi’s new Avalon Universe music video STAR TREK IS REAL (edited by Josh), which debuted last Friday. You can watch it below…

Catchy, ain’t it? Yeah, you’re gonna be hearing that song in your head for hours!

Pixi (whose real name is Ilia McNeil—“Pixi Nereid” is her stage name when she’s appearing at children’s birthday parties as a mermaid…and yes, that’s a thing) is a very busy woman, teaching high school, working on a Masters degree, teaching improv classes, and of course, the mermaid gig…all while starring in the next major Avalon fan film release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (coming out October 31) and serving as producer on the fan series.

Unfortunately, Pixi’s schedule unexpectedly exploded just before our Zoom call was supposed to start, and she felt so sorry that she had to bail at the last second. However, Josh was able to get Avalon actor TYLER DUNIVAN to fill in for Pixi, and we still managed to have a great interview discussion with the three of them (Josh, Ray, and Tyler). You can watch it here, if you’d like.

Speaking of Tyler, Josh released this fun “Shatneresque” interpretation of Star Trek Is Real sung by lounge lizard Tyler and his vape pen (hey, at least it wasn’t an actual cigarette like Shatner smoked on Rocket Man). Have a look…

But I was still determined to interview Pixi…mainly because she is just so darn awesome! I know this because I’ve gotten to be friendly with her since she “drafted” me onto Team Avalon to help guide their crowd-funding efforts. It’s tough to say no to Pixi—even if you’re NOT looking at that irresistible smile! Anyway, I kept hounding Pixi for that interview, and I finally got it on Saturday afternoon.

It’s hard to say why, but sometimes an interview just fires on all cylinders. This is not to disparage the interviews I’ve done with other fan filmmakers, but when you watch the recorded Zoom call below, you’ll see what I mean. Pixi herself is fascinating to learn about, full of surprises that I never even imagined! We learn about her theater, acting, and dance background, musical albums she’s released, and her oh-so-positive way to deal with her critics (not that there are many!).

Pixi also managed to draw out of me an unexpected 15-minute detour into my own background experiences with film production—which include some photos of when I stuck onto the sets of Star Trek: Voyager in 1996! Pixi and I just have a wonderful back-and-fourth, and I think you’ll find her enthusiasm to to be absolutely infectious…

And remember that you can still donate to their campaign here:

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

“STAR TREK IS REAL” – the next AVALON UNIVERSE song that will get stuck in your head (video interview JOSHUA IRWIN, TYLER DUNIVAN, and RAY MYERS)

On Monday of this past week, showrunner JOSH IRWIN and the folks in the AVALON UNIVERSE got the song “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON stuck in our heads when they released this hilarious blooper-filled video announcing the kick-off of their donor-dollar-matching promotion week. However, the “week” ended up lasting only two and a half days, as that was all the time it took for fans to donate a whopping $3,000 to their GoFundMe campaign, the maximum that angel-supporter RAY MYERS had offered to match. That brought the total raised so far up over $11,500!

The campaign goes on, by the way, as it still has about $8,100 (40%) to go to reach its overall goal of $20,000. You can donate here…

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

After seeing the announcement video, Avalon supporters requested a longer blooper reel, and Josh obliged on Wednesday when he posted this expanded video filled with even more bloopers and outtakes. Once again, fans got a healthy dose of Eric Clapton’s hit from 1986 (and later from Rick & Morty‘s fourth season).

On Friday, Avalon released yet another new video, but this one isn’t a blooper reel. Instead, it’s a full-fledged MUSIC VIDEO, shot on the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. However, you’re STILL going to come out of watching it humming a song for the rest of the day!

In this case, the song is “Star Trek Is Real,” written and performed by Avalon star and producer (and part-time mermaid) PIXI NEREID. Pixi wrote this song 15 years ago, but it’s still pretty fun and upbeat—just like Pixi herself! Take a look and a listen…

(It’s already echoing in your head, isn’t it? Go on, sing!)

This little firecracker has only been in the fan film community for a few months and hasn’t even appeared in her first full fan film yet (that’ll be October!). But nonetheless, she’s taken our little fiefdom by storm, spreading her unbridled energy and enthusiasm far and wide.

That said, I need to apologize to all of you reading this blog today expecting to see a video interview with this effervescent little elf. I was supposed to interview Pixi, but she got buried in work and had to bail on our Wednesday night Zoom call. That left Josh Irwin and Ray Myers as my 2-out-of-3, and Josh quickly reached out to TYLER DUNIVAN, another star of Avalon, and asked if he could fill in for Pixi, and Tyler joined us.

It seemed strange to talk about Pixi’s new music video without Pixi, so we ended up talking about the campaign, finding out more about Ray Myers and why he’s been so generous to fan filmmakers, and discussing how Josh has ended up having driven his car over 5,500 MILES TOTAL just for one fan film! We also have an exclusive sneak peek at a never-before-scene from the upcoming Avalon release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (at 38:10) plus more info on what’s coming after.

Enjoy…

AVALON UNIVERSE reaches their $3,000 dollar match in just TWO AND A HALF DAYS!!!

I certainly didn’t see THIS coming! I mean, I was initially feeling hopeful that the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe campaign would be able to reach (and maybe even surpass) the $3,000 maximum that wonder-supporter RAY MYERS was offering as a dollar-for-dollar match to any donations that came in this week between Monday and Sunday. That would double that maximum to $6,000—and more-than-double their total from where the week had started (which was just over $5,500 raised in about two and a half months).

I figured that Team Avalon (and I) would need to pull out all the stops and really talk up the dollar-match promotion as much as possible for the entire week to even have a snowball’s chance of reaching that $3,000 maximum. Instead, it only took two and a half days to get there, and good as his word, Ray donated a whopping $3,000 to the campaign earlier this morning…

As I write this, the total shown on Avalon‘s GoFundMe page reads $11,572…about 57.8% of the way to their $20,000 goal. This is, by far, the most ambitious Star Trek fan film crowd-funder to come along in a couple of years, and it’s not nearly as easy to reach into the five-figures as it used to be!

I chatted with showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN last night, wondering whether or not to publish this blog today announcing the good news. On the one hand…YAY! On the other hand, to point out that the $3,000 maximum had been reached runs the risk of potential donors thinking, “Well, if my donation isn’t going to get doubled anymore, why bother?” Likewise, some folks might be confused and assume that the goal was only $3,000 and say, “Great, mission accomplished.” But the overall goal for the ENTIRE campaign is still about $8,400 away.

In the end, we decided share the good news. After all, this will be my fourth Avalon Universe blog in four days, so why ruin the streak, right? And if all goes well, tomorrow will be my fifth, as I just completed an awesome video interview with Josh, actor TYLER DUNIVAN, and this angel donor Ray (who also donated more than $3,000 to my fan film INTERLUDE). Fans have seen multiple interviews with Josh and Tyler, but who is this Ray Myers guy, and why is he being SO generous? Is he just super-rich, or is his wife gonna kill him for throwing their nest-egg away on a couple of silly Star Trek fan films?

And in the meantime, remember that the Avalon GoFundMe is still VERY much alive and active—and still aiming for a $20,000 goal. So if you haven’t donated yet, even though your dollars won’t be doubled, this is still a wonderful group of fan filmmakers and very deserving of our support….just ask Ray Myers!

Here’s the link:

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

AVALON UNIVERSE releases a new EXPANDED Blooper Reel!

Welcome to day three of “Jonathan-is-talking-about-nothing-other-than-THE-AVALON-UNIVERSE-all-week” week!

Actually, I hadn’t planned on blogging about Avalon each day, but so far, there’s been at least one newsworthy thing every 24 hours. On Monday, of course, it was the launch of a week-long promotion during which every dollar donated to the current Avalon GoFundMe campaign is being matched by super-supporter RAY MYERS (up to $3,000). Then yesterday, I was shocked and amazed that a whopping $2,135 had been donated just in the first day alone—which doubles to $4,270…all on day one!

Day two wasn’t quite as explosive, but nevertheless, a solid $675 more was raised, doubling to an impressive $1,350 to help fund the production of three (possibly four!) new Avalon Universe fan films. At this point, their grand total raised now stands at $11,132 (including matched dollars), and that’s 55.5% of their $20,000 goal. Can they reach that ambitious number this week? I suppose we’ll find out in five more days!

In the meantime, to keep things fresh and interesting, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN has listened to requests from fans and supporters both on YouTube and Facebook to provide even more fun Avalon bloopers. So he has expanded the blooper reel from Monday that announced this week’s donation-dollar-match promotion, and this new one has even MORE fun moments with the cast and crew…

(For those of you born after the awesome 80s, that background song is “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON from 1986, originally written as part of the soundtrack to the film The Color of Money, starring PAUL NEWMAN and TOM CRUISE and directed by MARTIN SCORSESE.)

For me—and I think for many fans in our community—those outtakes are part of the reason why we love this sub-sub-sub genre niche of ours. It’s all about the FUN! Yeah, we like our fan films and playing in the Star Trek sandbox, but if we’re not enjoying the filmmaking process at least a little, why bother going through all the hassle?

So the Avalon Universe folks, who are such a wonderful group of people, show us all how enjoyable making fan films can be, and what a wonderful bonding experience it can be among old friends AND new friends. Granted, it can also be a lot of hard work, frustrating at times, frantic at other times, and sometimes downright exhausting, but if you can keep a smile on your face through all the long hours and have a good time, that just makes the finished product all the sweeter.

And if you want to see more of those finished products from these great people, please consider making a donation to the Avalon GoFundMe campaign at this link…

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

AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe takes in $2,135 in 24 hours!!!

I have to admit that I was pretty shocked at the unexpectedly enthusiastic fan response to yesterday’s announcement of that all donations to the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe for this week would be matched dollar-for-dollar by super-supporter RAY MYERS. Ray’s upper limit for matching donations is $3,000, but I honestly expected that the Avalon folks would need to push really hard to reach that big number in only a week.

After all, the campaign has been running for two and a half months, and during that time, donations had only reached a little over $5,500. To expect more than half that amount in new donations in just seven days was being quite optimistic.

Then yesterday happened.

I must give showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN credit for editing together an awesome new crowd-funding “ask” video making the announcement. Likewise, Avalon stars TYLER DUNIVAN and PIXI NEREID have an electric chemistry and charm that comes across not only in their performances but also in their bloopers. Take a look if you haven’t watched the video already…

Reaction to the video was wonderfully positive on both Facebook and YouTube. In fact, Josh has received multiple requests for more Avalon bloopers, and he just might be willing to oblige if Tuesday’s donations come close to Monday’s (hint, hint).

And what were Monday’s donations, you ask?

In just 24 hours, the Avalon GoFundMe campaign was able to pull in $2,135 from 40 donors!!! Adding Ray Myers’ dollar matching, and that brings the total donations raised so far up to a whopping $9,800…or 49% of the final $20,000 goal! Folks, that is friggin’ amazing!!!

So what’s their secret? Well, in addition to the fun new video and sending an update to their existing donors, Team Avalon got by with a little help from their friends. I published yesterday’s blog and shared it to a dozen different Facebook groups. ALEC PETERS blasted the AXANAR donor list with a e-mail announcing of the dollar-match week-long promotion and encouraging Axanar supporters to also become Avalon supporters…as the recent Avalon release COSMIC STREAM featured a cameo by Garth, and an upcoming Avalon production is slated to be filmed at ARES STUDIOS. And finally, $800 came in a single donation from C.W. THOMPSON, who donated a couple of months ago to this same Avalon campaign and, before that, was one of the biggest donors to my fan film INTERLUDE. C.W. is very, very generous.

Anyway, that was the first 24 hours. But this week is full of promotional events for Avalon, so who knows how far they can get? They…could…go…all…the…way! And even if they don’t make it this week, GoFundMe campaigns have no time limit. And I suspect that, once their next major release, AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, premieres on October 31, fan excitement and donor support will pick up all over again.

But fans and supporters appear to be very excited right now, too! If you’re one of them and want to help with a donation—big or small—here is the link…

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

Mystery revealed: AVALON UNIVERSE angel-donor announces DOLLAR-MATCHING for a week!

Last Friday, JOSHUA IRWIN, showrunner for the very impressive fan series known as the AVALON UNIVERSE, surprised and confused fans and supporters by posting a video telling viewers NOT to donate to their current GoFundMe campaign—at least, not until Monday…

This fun-yet-intriguing video was followed by a shorter one on Saturday…

And a third one on Sunday…

The videos have done their job, as commenters on Facebook have generally expressed interest in finding out what’s going on. After all, when you’re trying to crowd-fund THREE different upcoming episodes of your series by raising $20,000 in donations from fans, you kinda WANT people to donate. So…what gives?

Well, wonder no more—as earlier today the big reveal was, er, revealed. A few clever folks actually guessed correctly: Monday begins a seven-day DONATION MATCH WEEK where every dollar donated to the current Avalon Universe will be DOUBLED (up to $3,000)…thanks to the generosity of angel-supporter RAY MYERS.

Take a look at today’s awesome video…

And here’s the link to the campaign…

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

If the name Ray Myers sounds familiar, you might remember him from my own fan film INTERLUDE, where Josh Irwin was director of photography. Back in the summer of 2019, I’d launched a similarly ambitious GoFundMe with an $18K goal. A few weeks into the campaign, I woke up one morning to discover that at some point the previous night, someone had donated a whopping $3K to my project—someone I’d never even met before!

Ray and I went on to become friends, and in addition to getting listed in the Interlude credits as associate producer and getting his name on the Game of Thrones memorial coffee cup in the engineering scene, Ray also got to play the first officer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis.

Ray Myers as the first officer of the U.S.S. Artemis in Interlude

Ray has maintained a friendship with Josh as well as with me. And when he saw a few weeks ago that the Avalon GoFundMe was slowing down a bit at a level about a quarter of the way there, Ray reached out to Josh with an offer to do a dollar-matching donation promotion for a week whenever Josh was ready to do so.

With the Creation Las Vegas con and then the 55th anniversary of Star Trek sucking up most of the oxygen in fandom, it was decided that this week would be the best opportunity to build up to a big reveal and then pull out all the stops for the next seven days…so expect me to be talking up Avalon quite a lot this week! In fact, I’ve got a special Zoom video interview coming up (hopefully) on Friday to coincide with a brand new release from Avalon and also an exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS Avalon fan film…the first to be funded using donations from this current campaign.

Continue reading “Mystery revealed: AVALON UNIVERSE angel-donor announces DOLLAR-MATCHING for a week!”

Why should we NOT donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE crowd-funder until MONDAY?

Back in July, I was pushing my blogging warp engines to the red line trying to help my friends over in the AVALON UNIVERSE reach their green line goal of $20,000 for their current GoFundMe campaign. The money raised will go toward production costs on THREE separate fan films, including the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, set to debut on October 31 (and it looks amazing with breathtakingly beautiful desert cinematography that includes aerial drone footage).

Anyway, when your crowd-funder is trying to reach $20K these days, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Heck, it took me more than three months to reach that amount with my fan film INTERLUDE back in 2019.) So it wasn’t surprising to find the Avalon campaign stalling out at about $5.5K…

Obviously, however, it’s critically important to get the campaign back into gear and raising more donations again. And that’s why it came as quite a surprise on Friday morning when showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN posted the following video telling fans NOT to donate to the campaign—at least not until this coming Monday…

It’s a fun little video, showing actor TLYER DUNIVAN (who plays Captain Derek Mason) struggling to get his lines right while PIXI NEREID (Commander Micaela Allenby) is just her usual perky, playful, patient, and positive self…lighting up the room with her smile. It’s candid moments like this that just make me love all these guys and their wonderful enthusiasm.

Anyway, this afternoon saw the second video in what I suspect will be a trilogy leading up to the big reveal on Monday. Video #2 was much shorter but still included some fun chuckle moments…

So what’s the big announcement? Why should fans and supporters not donate just yet and instead wait until Monday? I guess we’ll find out in just two more days, folks!

Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!

Your mission: find an actress—young, positive attitude, who lives in Oklahoma—willing to appear in a volunteer Star Trek fan film. Oh, and she needs to be of Native American ethnicity.

You have two days.

When you donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE Star Trek fan production, you’re paying for a get-it-done attitude and a proven track record. Over the past few weeks, I’ve provided three solid reasons to lend your financial support to this hard-working fan production crew: Jakande Lives, Do It for Pixi, and The Team. This week, I’ve saved the best for last—the most compelling reason to donate to their GoFundMe campaign, which just happens to be located at this link:

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

These folks never give up…ever! No matter what obstacles God, the gods, fate, the Universe, and/or or the Flying Spaghetti Monster throw their way, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and his team will always find a way to get their fan film(s) finished.

Avalon Universe has already released SEVEN high-quality fan films (two of which were two-parters of 30-plus minute length) in less than three years. And even as they try to crowd-fund another three productions, they’re already hard at work on a fourth fan film: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS.

And therein lies a tale…

Continue reading “Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!”

Why is the Fan Films & Audio Dramas Facebook group REJECTING posts about the AVALON UNIVERSE? (editorial)

I’m extremely troubled about something that happened last week on Facebook, and I’m not sure what to do about it other than bringing it to the attention of my readers.

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been putting in a fair bit of effort over the past few weeks trying to help encourage donations to the current GoFundMe campaign for the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series. They’re doing pretty well so far, about 18% ($3.6K) of the way to to their $20K goal. If you’d like to give a little sumthin’, by the way, here’s the link:

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

Now, helping fan productions get the word out for their campaigns is nothing new for me. Over the past three months, I’ve written multiple blogs about SAMUEL COCKINGS’ TREK SHORTS crowd-funder back in May and GARY DAVIS’ campaign for DREADNOUGHT DOMINION in June. Naturally, I’d also want to help out JOSHUA IRWIN with his Avalon GoFundMe…not only because he’s a Star Trek fan filmmaker but because he did an awesome job as DP and editor on my fan film INTERLUDE and because he’s a good friend.

So last week when I posted to Facebook a “progress” graphic like the one at the top of this blog, I shared it with the usual collection of Star Trek and fan film groups on Facebook that I’m a member of. I do this with all Fan Film Factor and related posts to increase visibility, and invariably, I either see an immediate “Your post has been shared with your group” message or, within a few minutes to a few hours, “An admin has approved your post.”

What I don’t usually see is a DECLINE notice like this one…

Huh?

Now, two things immediately struck me as odd about the note from the admin at the bottom. The first was that a Facebook group called “Star Trek Fan Films & Audio Dramas” was restricting anything related to JJ Trek. There’s almost no Star Trek fan films set in that universe anyway, but why exclude the few that are? I mean, even if you loathe J.J. ABRAMS and the motorcycle he rode in on, why should the “sins of the producer” also be an albatross worn around the neck of a fan filmmaker? (What a wonderful mix of metaphors!)

So I looked at the rules of the group, just to be sure. And lo and behold…

7) No Kelvin universe fan films will be permitted. Nor will discovery based fan films

Continue reading “Why is the Fan Films & Audio Dramas Facebook group REJECTING posts about the AVALON UNIVERSE? (editorial)”

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…!”