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 UNIVERSEStar 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:
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.
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:
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…
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
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!
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…
Over the next 21 days, I’m planning to provide one excellent reason each week to donate to the just-launched GoFundMe for the AVALON UNIVERSE‘s new series of Star Trek fan films, a multi-episode saga that will be titled “Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs.” The campaign had a soft launch last week and has already taken in over $1,200 in donations before most fans even knew it was happening! But today marks the official kick-off, and with it, my series of blogs.
Of course, if you don’t want to wait for me to convince you, feel free to click on over and donate something right now (and watch the “ask” video; it’s awesome!)…
I know, I know. It seems like lately there’s been a new Star Trek fan film crowd-funding campaign every month. And yep, there has! Back in May, CGI sensei SAMUEL COCKINGS raised more than $13K for his series of six (or is it seven?) anthology fan films under the canopy title of TREK SHORTS. Then in June, it was DREADNOUGHT DOMINION‘s turn, as GARY DAVIS successfully topped their $5K goal for two Dominion episodes plus the debut episode of their new PROJECT RUNABOUT fan series.
And as July begins, we go for the “hat trick” as JOSHUA IRWIN has just launched the most ambitious of these back-to-back-to-back campaigns, endeavoring to raise $20K for a new series of fan films set in the Avalon Universe.
There have already been six Avalon Universe fan films: GHOST SHIP, AVALON LOST, DEMONS, LEGACY, AIR AND DARKNESS, and NEW ORDERS…nearly two hours of super-high quality Star Trek fan films with a combined hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. And a seventh film, COSMIC STREAM, is set to premiere later this month…with an eighth film, AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, already in production!
Believe it or not, Josh has only ever held ONE Avalon crowd-funding campaign before now…back in early 2019, he raised $6,500. All the rest of the production costs for Avalon—literally tens of thousands of dollars—have been paid for out of Josh’s pocket…and this guy ain’t exactly living the lifestyle of the rich and famous!
Understandably, most fan filmmakers can only self-fund for so long before they need to ask for a little help from their friends…which is why many Star Trek fan productions seek support through crowd-funding. And indeed, that’s why I’m writing this blog (and the three weekly blogs that will follow): because Josh is my friend—along with being my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE. I’m also writing these blogs because I love the quality of Josh’s work, I love the Avalon Universe, and oh…
…BECAUSE JOSH IS BRINGING BACK CAPTAIN JAKANDE!!!
Yep, that’s the big Reason #1 to donate to this campaign!
It was Sunday afternoon, and I was having a call with JOSHUA IRWIN of the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series (Josh was also my director of photography and editor on INTERLUDE). Josh has been deep in planning for his next crowd-funding campaign for not one but TWO new Avalon fan films, both of which will feature the return WARREN HAWK as the Captain Jakande of the Avalon Universe…along with introducing two other really interesting new characters.
Josh and I were discussing strategies and timing, since there’s been a lot of “traffic” in the crowd-funding highway of late. Last month, SAMUEL COCKINGS raised a very impressive $13.7K for his six-film project TREK SHORTSIndiegogo campaign. And although I didn’t cover it, MARC SCOTT ZICREE just took in $86K in the Kickstarter for the conclusion of the “Forgiveness” 2-parter of SPACE COMMAND. That’s a LOT of funds raised during a month that included the delayed Tax Day for those of us in the United States!
This month, it’s GARY DAVIS and DREADNOUGHT DOMINION‘s turn to try to reach $5K in their latest Indiegogo campaign to fund three fan films (two episodes of Dominion plus one of the new fan series PROJECT RUNABOUT).
Now, you folks probably don’t know about what I’m about to tell you, but these three show-runners—Sam Cockings, Gary Davis, and Josh Irwin—have been trying very hard not to step on each other’s toes when it comes to their campaigns. When it looked like Samuel might not make it to his goal for Trek Shorts within the 30-day deadline, I suggested he might take advantage of Indiegogo’s “extension” option to give him an extra 30 days to meet his goal. But Sam was adamant that his campaign had to be over by the time Dominion‘s began on June 1st, as Sam didn’t want to compete for donor dollars (or pounds, in Sam’s case).
The same was true when I spoke to Gary, asking if he’d be willing to extend his deadline if it looked like he’d be coming up short by the end of June. Again, no…Gary did not want to compete with Josh, whose Avalon Universe crowd-funder would be up next.
But as I discussed things with Josh on Sunday, there emerged a small wrinkle. Y’see, one of the first pieces of advice I give to fan filmmakers when they set up a crowd-funder is: “Your campaign launch should NEVER be a surprise!” Always tease the kick-off of the new campaign with at least a few weeks of lead-up—posts on social media, videos, interviews, etc.—building excitement and anticipation.
In case you didn’t know, the long-running (since 2014!) fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION has a new Indiegogo campaign trying to raise $5,000 to fund the production costs of three upcoming fan films—two Dominion episodes plus one episode of Gary’s new spin-off series PROJECT RUNABOUT, which will utilize this brand new set that Gary is nearly finished with…
If you haven’t donated yet, there’s still three weeks left, and they’re off to a solid start, having gotten nearly a third of the way to their goal. But every little bit helps, so here’s the link if you’d like to become a backer (and you totally should!)…
Heck, just look at this trailer they released last weekend for their next episode “The More Things Change”…
They’ve also done a number of serious stories. In fact, Dreadnought Dominion is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get!
And speaking of boxes, I raised an eyebrow when I saw one of the perks being offered in their latest Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. For supporters who donate $750 or more, show-runner GARY DAVIS will create a personalized action figure of the backer him or herself (or themselves, as we should remember to include non-binary folks)! Granted, $750 isn’t exactly chump change, but then again, only two of these unique perks are being offered.
I was curious about these personalized action figures, so I reached out to Gary with some questions…
Okay, this is a totally wild story (or rather, series of stories)! But first, if you haven’t donated yet to SAMUEL COCKINGS’ Indiegogo for his TREK SHORTS project, you have just a few short days left, and he’s only about $2K short of his goal! Two new small donation perks have just been added, so please try to help him cross the $10.5K finish line before March 31…
At the beginning of this month, Sam—fan film’s answer to Scotty, Geordi, Miles, B’Elanna, and Trip all rolled into one Brit—released the first of his Trek Shorts: A LONG WAY FROM HOME, starring NIMRAD SAUND, NICK and LUCITA COOK from the INTREPID fan series out of Scotland, with a cameo by MICHELE SPECHT form STAR TREK CONTINUES. The 19-minute film looked amazing, with jaw-dropping VFX, strong acting, and FANtastic virtual 3D backgrounds.
The Indiegogo, if successful, will fund an additional FIVE Trek Shorts fan films starring notables from such fan series as the AVALON UNIVERSE, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, DARK ARMADA, and Sam’s previous project TEMPORAL ANOMALY. It’s a really exciting and ambitious project, and the campaign got off to a strong start in its first week.
But by the second week, things were slowing down a bit. So Sam decided to quickly put together a teaser-trailer for Trek Short #3, “Hours to Doomsday,” which would star MARCUS CHURCHILL, reprising his role of Ensign Sam Harriman from Temporal Anomaly, along with Nimrad Saund as Lieutenant Keeley. Sam scheduled them both to shoot some footage for the fan film at his home studio on Thursday, May 13…and all was set. Sam had cleared his schedule for the next two and a half weeks to work on nothing else in order to release the teaser shortly before the campaign ended.
Let this be a lesson to all of you crowd-funders and would-be crowd-funders out there: ALWAYS check your campaign pages…not just once but often!
When SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Sensei of CGI, launched his new Indiegogo for his ambitious SIX-episode TREK SHORTS project (six fan films for the price of one!), he included an absolutely amazing and snazzy pitch video. I mean, it’s a totally MUST-SEE pitch video, with the kind of jaw-dropping CGI that’ll leave you drooling plus clips of cast members spanning Trek fan films from four different countries on two different continents. There’s catchy music, exciting behind-the-scenes details, and even a hilarious ending.
Just one small problem: the Indiegogo campaign page lost the link to the video!
Had the video been linked, fans would have seen this…
Sam has no idea how it happened. The video was up there when he first launched it. But I visited the page and donated just a few hours later, and I didn’t see it. I just assumed there wasn’t a pitch video. After all, they’re not required.
Even without the pitch video, the campaign still managed to raise about a third of the $10,000 goal in just 10 days, which is certainly impressive. But I kinda wondered why it wasn’t doing better. However, there were still three weeks left, and I was prepping a two-part interview with Sam to help promote the campaign.
By the way (before I forget!), if you want to donate, here is the link:
Fast forward to Monday, and I was preparing the Sam interview for later on this week (you will definitely want to read this two-parter, trust me!). While questions and answers were going back and forth across the Atlantic, Sam typed the following…
SAMUEL – I’m particularly pleased with the Norway bridge as seen in the Indiegogo pitch video.
And then the following exchange happened…
JONATHAN – What video?
SAMUEL – The video on the Indiegogo page. It’s in the part where Jakub says we have made it in 3D.
It’s been a dream of fans ever since Paramount and later CBS Studios decided to remaster TOS and TNG using original film negatives and redone CGI effects to create HIGH DEFINITION version of all of those treasured episodes. These special editions looked glorious…unbelievably better than when they first aired on television in standard definition.
Sadly, the owners of Star Trek lost their enthusiasm for this expensive process of remastering after the completion of the seven season of TNG in late 2014. No announcements were ever made regarding similar projects for Deep Space Nine or Voyager, and as it’s now been nearly a decade since work began on the TNG remaster. With CBS putting all of its considerable financial resources into producing (currently) FIVE different first-run Star Trek series, it’s unlikely any other pre-CBS Trek series will be getting the remastering treatment.
But all hope is not completely lost…!
When IRA STEVEN BEHR and the folks at 455 Films were making the DS9 documentary WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND—which was initially crowd-funded back in 2017 and released the following year—they were disappointed with the low SD quality of the footage. They had hoped to spend some of the nearly 650K that they had raised in their Indiegogo remastering a few of the clips that they’d be including. But seeing the quality of those crisp and vibrant HD scenes only bummed them out whenever they saw a lower quality clip.
Unfortunately, the process for remastering is quite costly, both in terms of time and especially money. You have to look through seeming endless reels of raw film, find the takes you need, digitize those segments, and spend painstaking hours adjusting light levels, color balance, and a ton of other details. The results are amazing—they just cost a ton of money…
With nearly all of the money raised from their Indiegogo already accounted for, the folks behind the DS9 documentary held additional fundraisers to cover the costs of digitizing the rest of the more than 20 minutes of footage they were using, at one point even offering “sponsorships” of specific clips. In the end, the addition crowd-funding was successful, including live action scenes and some amazing remastered VFX sequences.
Now, it looks like Star Trek: Voyager might get the same HD treatment!
With ten days left, the Indiegogo for the new Voyager documentary by the same folks at 455 Films is already hundreds of thousands of dollars above their DS9 predecessor’s campaign. In fact, they’re nearing a MILLION DOLLARS (which will set a new record for crowd-funding a documentary film on Indiegogo).
There have been ample stretch goals—revealed one-at-a-time as previous stretch goals were unlocked—but when they crossed $750K, they revealed three more stretch goals, and two of them are for remastering footage…
Already, they’ve passed the first of these goals, with the next one in sight. It’s very possible that this documentary will indeed take in over $1 million in donations from nearly 10K backers. Click below if you’d like to be one of them…
Four years ago, when 455 Films—the production team behind the popular Star Trek-related documentaries FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK, CHAOS ON THE BRIDGE, THE CAPTAINS, THE CAPTAINS CLOSE UP, STILL KICKING, and GET A LIFE—began crowd-funding for a major new documentary celebrating Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it took them a full week to reach $300K (and they finished their Indiegogo with nearly $650K).
A new documentary retrospective spotlighting Star Trek: Voyager just launched an Indiegogo campaign at 2am Pacific Time on Monday morning and had reached $300K barely nine hours later! As I type this Tuesday afternoon, they’ve crossed 490K with 4,869 backers.
Now, before anyone starts saying “Nyah, nyah…fans like Voyager more than DS9!” keep in mind that it’s always easier to crowd-fund a project when you have 1) an existing list of previous donors and 2) another successfully-completed crowd-funded project under your belt.
It also helps that this Indiegogo campaign has some pretty exciting perks at relatively affordable levels, like exclusive zoom calls (limited to no more than 50 donors) with duos of Star Trek celebrities from various Trek TV series…each for only $150.
Meanwhile, for donors with deeper pockets, three different “away missions” to sacred filming sites of Star Trek—Vasquez Rocks, Griffith Observatory, and the Japanese Garden (aka Starfleet Academy)—will be led by Trek cast members and limited to groups of just 40 donors…and those perks are $1,000 each (travel costs not included). Then $2,000 gets you access to a 10-donor dinner with JAMES DARREN, NICOLE DeBOER, CONNOR TRINNEER, DOMINIC KEATING, and maybe more. There are also perks at lower levels, like $36 T-shirts and lapel pins, and even perks at levels of just $15 or even $5.
The initial goal was a “modest” $150K, which was passed in the first few hours. Since then, stretch goals have fallen like dominoes…funding additional 3D graphics and animations, the filming of the Voyager reunion convention in London this November, expanding the scope of the documentary from 60 to 90 minutes, and composing an original score.
And that’s all just in the first 24 hours of the campaign—there’s still 29 days left!!!
What does all of this donated money actually pay for? The campaign page answers…
We are still in the early stages of production with more interviews and support footage yet to be filmed. Once that is complete, Post-Production expenses will need to be covered such as editing, music, animation, color-correction, sound mixing and CBS/Star Trek footage licensing. The more we raise on this Indiegogo campaign, the more creative ways we have of making this documentary unique.
Also, remember that the Ds9 documentary, WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND, ended up doing additional fundraising for special remastering of the original film negatives and VFX footage to provide clips to match the HD quality of the remastered Next Generation blu-rays—something ViacomCBS sadly does not seem likely to spend money on for the other pre-CBS Trek series.
Anyway, the Indiegogo campaign is up, there’s already more than 4,500 backers, and you can be one of them if you’d like to donate here…