Just posted: PAGE 1 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!

The GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE launched a week ago, and it got off to a very exciting start! We’re currently nearly 1/6 of the way to our $19,500 goal with $3,089 from 52 donors (including me). And although donations have slowed a bit over the last few days—that’s to be expected on most crowd-funders—they’re still coming in. So…YAY!

What this means for YOU is, if you haven’t donated yet and want to see Interlude get made, please consider making a donation (or at least share the link with friends whom you think might be interested in helping us out).

What this means for ME, of course, is that I have to find ways to keep fans excited about this project! And that brings us to today’s blog entry…

As many of you know, Interlude got its start as “feedback” for ALEC PETERS after I read his first draft of the two 15-minute Axanar sequel fan films (shortened from the originally-planned 90-minute feature length production). I noticed his script contained no scenes on the bridge, and so I wrote a few for him. I didn’t know at the time that Alec wasn’t sure if the USS Ares bridge set would ever be completed (this was back in June of 2017), which is why he left out any scenes on the bridge.

Encouraged by Alec, however, I decided to create an Axanar comic book using one of my bridge scenes, following the lead of super Axanerd TREY McELWAIN, who was already publishing the second Axanar comic in his “Tip of the Spear” series. In fact, he let me “borrow” his artist, DANIEL FU to illustrate my short story.

It would be a 7-page one-shot—beginning at the exact moment that PRELUDE TO AXANAR ended on its cliff-hanger: “Stardate 2245.1 – The D7 enters the war!” Three D7s approach the camera, the lead one firing a torpedo. The comic would show their target…and why that target was so critical to the war. The story is about honor an sacrifice, bravery and duty in the face of a surprise sneak attack that leaves no time to plan or react with anything other than one’s true self.

The comic is now complete—ready to be shared with all of you. Over the course of the next seven weeks, I’ll be releasing one page per week. Many of you have already seen the cover, so this week is page 1.

Continue reading “Just posted: PAGE 1 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION premieres “REDEMPTION AT RED MEDUSA”! (audio interview with GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN)

Back in 2015, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION released its first two episodes (“Haunted” and “Anchors Aweigh“). Those two episodes set up the backstory of the main characters as the USS Dominion prepared to launch. But then the show-runner and lead actor, FRANK PAREKR, JR. (playing Commodore Samuel Grissom) left the series, leaving GARY DAVIS and RANDY WREEN to pick up the pieces and move on.

In late 2016, Dreadnought Dominion did a cross-over fan film with Starship Valiant called “Chain of Command.” With Dominion still waiting to launch, Gary’s character of Captain Jason Brousseau takes command and makes Randy’s Commander Stephen Denson his XO.

The following summer, a Mirror Universe version of the same episode, this one titled “Command and Conquer,” showed the same scenes taking place in the Terran Empire. It was a fun little project, and both fan films featured MICHAEL L. KING from Starship Valiant and VANCE MAJOR playing his fan favorite character of Erick Minard.

And Dominion still hadn’t left drydock!

Last summer Gary and Randy released two back-to-back vignettes, both filmed at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA: “Reality Check” (which purposefully broke the fourth wall in a tongue-in-cheek way) and “Silent Acknowledgement” (featuring the first deaf character and actress in a fan series). You can read a great two-part interview with Gary and Randy here.

And yet, after six complete fan films, Dominion was still in drydock!

Acknowledging the ridiculousness of the situation, Gary and Randy created one final script to get them on their way: “Technical Difficulties.” Also tongue-in-cheek, they finally got the starship launched and promised their next episode would be a serious one.

That episode was just released this past Saturday. Check it out…

Gary and Randy are great guys and truly dedicated to the essence of what a Star Trek fan film should be: fun, dedication, hard work, and a desire to share their stories with fellow fans. I’d been wanting to do an audio interview with them, and this seemed like the perfect excuse. So take a listen to a fun and funny interview with two gentlemen whom you are going to want to get to know better…

RANDY WRENN and GARY DAVIS of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION

Dreadnought Dominion‘s last crowd-funding campaign feel short of its goal. But now, with the impressive “Redemption at Red Medusa” showing what they can do, Gary and Randy have launched a new GoFundMe for their next TWO episodes with a $3,000 goal. If you’d like to help them out, click on the link below…

https://www.gofundme.com/dreadnoughtdominion

A whole new DIMENSION to my fan film INTERLUDE!

And this is why I’m not a video editor!

But before I begin publicly admitting my embarrassment, let me first say how excited and encouraged I am to see so much support for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. After just 24 hours, we’d already made it an amazing 1/8 of the way to our $19,500 goal…with new donations popping up every few hours. So THANK YOU!

If you haven’t donated yet and would like to, here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

So let me tell you a little bit about my experience as a filmmaker…

And there it was. I’m not an accomplished editor or VFX artist; I can’t compose music; I don’t know lighting; and I’m working my way up to”novice” when it comes to video cameras and the latest technology. Fortunately, I have some amazing people who DO know this stuff backwards and forwards, and I’m more than happy to find them some money to produce a film and then just get out of their way and let them work their magic.

However, when it came to creating the “ask” video for Interlude, I didn’t feel comfortable requesting or expecting too much free work just yet. Oh sure, LEWIS ANDERSON created the awesome CGI render of the opening VFX sequence, MARK EDWARD LEWIS added the sound effects, KEVIN CROXTON composed the music, and Mark did the sound mixing. Those 19 seconds were a true team effort.

But the other 12 minutes and 16 seconds of the ask video were all me, my Canon G3X camera, and my Mac. And as I said, I’m not exactly an accomplished expert, and I don’t have the high-end editing software (nor did I have time to learn it). So I just did my best to record footage and assemble the video using the “Happy Meal” of Mac film editing applications: iMovie.

Considering my limited experience and abilities, and also the short amount of time I had to complete everything, the 13-minute ask video and the 1-minute Interlude “commercial” came out fairly decently. Lots of people agreed…even a few detractors, if you can believe it. But those same detractors were all too eager to point out how disappointed they were that Interlude would have a standard HD aspect resolution of 16:9 instead of the wider screen cinemascope aspect ratio of 2:39.1 that Prelude to Axanar was shot in.

Then, two days after I’d launched the GoFundMe with the “ask” video that I was so proud of, my CGI guy messengered me to ask why I cropped his cinemascope VFX footage down to 16:9?

To quote the great Scooby Doo: “R’uh R’oh!”

Continue reading “A whole new DIMENSION to my fan film INTERLUDE!”

My INTERLUDE GoFundMe launches with $1,600 in just 6 hours!

Wow! I launched the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE during the rescheduled livecast of this week’s Axanar Confidential. Then I headed out to have dinner with a good friend and watch episodes of Fear the Walking Dead and The Last Kingdom. After dinner but before geeking out in front of the TV, I showed my friend the YouTube “commercial” I posted for Interlude

He was curious how much we’d raised so far. I joked that it’d only been about two and a half hours, only 70 people had watched the podcast live, and we really hadn’t started the heavy promotion yet. Nevertheless, I pulled out my cell phone and checked: $420. Not bad, I thought…even though $100 of that came from me as the first donation.

But when I returned home three hours later (just a few minutes ago as I write this), I was shocked to see the total had jumped to $1,620! And this included an anonymous $1,000 donation (whoever you are, I love you—thank you so much!). Actually, I want to thank everyone who has donated so far, from a $5 donation from my dear friends ALEX & SARAH ROSENZWEIG to a $100 donation from CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIERE in Italy (who will be the costume consultant for Axanar) to a $250 donation from a fellow named JT KLAMER, whom I’m not sure I know yet, but I’d sure like to. To you five and the other half dozen donors so far, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

But there’s still a long road to get from here to there…which is my ultimate goal of $19,500. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to be publishing a LOT of blogs about Interlude to keep up interest and excitement in the project. These will include features, interviews, a couple of videos, some editorials, and the seven pages of the short comic book story I wrote that Interlude is based on.

I am also planning to continue to cover the larger world of fan films. After all, that’s what this blog is all about! Already, I have an audio interview with MARC ZICREE of SPACE COMMAND coming on Thursday, another audio interview with the show-runners of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION the following week, a sneak peek at VANCE MAJOR’s upcoming series THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES, and the first new STALLED TREK animated puppet parody in more the three years.

So no, it’s not going to be “all Interlude all the time,” and yes, it is going to be a VERY busy summer for Jonathan!

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Please consider making a donation to my crowd-funder for Interlude, or at least please share the link below…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

The DOG ate my LIVECAST – INTERLUDE launch rescheduled for TONIGHT at 9PM Eastern Time!

Some of you might be aware that last night I was planning to launch my GoFundMe crowd-funding campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. We had it all planned: ALEC PETERS would host me and my directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN, on his Axanar Confidential YouTube Livecast. The start time was supposed to be 9:00 pm Eastern. I posted all over Facebook and to a number of mailing lists.

And then the dog happened…

To be honest, I’d been a feeling little uneasy about the livecast the entire day. Alec was traveling back to Georgia all the way from Oklahoma (where he had been for the weekend)—a 13-hour drive! Could he make it back in time for the livecast?

As the day went on, I checked in with Alec periodically. By lunchtime, he and his girlfriend CRYSSTAL HUBBARD were in Memphis…half-way there. Later in the afternoon, while passing through Birmingham, Alabama, Alec’s GPS showed an arrival time of 8:30 pm. Cutting it close, to be sure…but we should still make it. Whew!

But then Alec texted me that he had to cancel the livecast. The reason: an emergency dog rescue…

Continue reading “The DOG ate my LIVECAST – INTERLUDE launch rescheduled for TONIGHT at 9PM Eastern Time!”

The REVISED BUDGET for my fan film INTERLUDE!

The crowd-funder for my fan film INTERLUDE goes live next week, and this is my last chance to share the details of the budget, explaining the goal of…

$19,500

…(a slight increase over the estimate in my previous blog from three weeks ago because a few things have changed).

Before I begin, let me state for the record that this budget was compiled by me based on input from a number of sources, including my directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSH IRWIN along with several other people whom I trust. But the final numbers and estimates were mine because, as executive producer, I am the guy responsible for raising the money, explaining to you how we are going to utilize it, and ultimately writing the checks from the money we raise.

So is this budget 100% perfect? Probably not. Some things might end up costing less, some will cost more, and probably a bunch of things we haven’t even thought of will suddenly pop up out of nowhere. If we come up short, we’ll need to figure out ways to trim things. For that reason, I’ve “erred on the side of caution” and created my budget to assume costs on the high side. That way, if we don’t make our goal, we’ll hopefully still have enough to make a decent fan film by streamlining and trimming things from the budget.

And what if we go over our goal?  Well, if there’s enough left over, perhaps we take the surplus and mail out some extra patches to our donors as a thank you gift. Maybe we can afford something even nicer than a patch. Maybe we can afford something even nicer than a patch. We’ll see. If there’s a lot left over, it goes into a bank account to be reserved for a future Axanar Universe fan film from me or another Axanar fan.

One place the funds do NOT go is to Axanar Productions to help ALEC PETERS in any way to make his Axanar sequels. That would, according to Alec himself, violate his settlement agreement with CBS and Paramount. This includes giving him any of our uniforms to use for his shoot. (Amusingly, he can loan some of his uniforms to us, but not vice-versa. Even though that sounds odd, it’s the legally prudent thing to do.)

And now, let’s take a deep-dive into our budget…

Continue reading “The REVISED BUDGET for my fan film INTERLUDE!”

To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!

Among the more annoying and often-ignored fan film guidelines is number 6e: “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.”

Boo. Hiss. Expletive.

And as I’ve said elsewhere, a number of post-guidelines fan film crowd-funding campaigns have ignored that one…offering posters, patches, and a bunch of other perks. Thus far, CBS hasn’t seemed to mind. In one case, the production even got permission from CBS to offer perks!

However, I’d be naive to believe that CBS won’t have me and my production under a microscope. So I’m taking great pains to keep INTERLUDE completely separate from Alec Perets’ Axanar sequels (other than having Alec play Garth) and to establish very clearly and publicly my intention to follow ALL of the guidelines.

And that means…no perks!

Man, it’s a huge risk. Perks are exciting! Perks are cool! Perks make people think they’re getting something tangible for their donation (which, if you think about, isn’t that different from simply buying that perk…which is probably why CBS doesn’t want fan productions to do it).

But perks also cost money to make and to mail. In addition to the patches or posters or T-shirts or mugs, you’ve got to buy shipping materials and pay for postage. And heaven help you if you’ve got backers from places like Asia or Australia. That $10 donation is likely gonna cost you $25 just to mail them a frickin’ patch!

So I’ve obviously got a pretty good reason NOT to offer perks. I’m already trying to raise about $20K. Add in perks and packaging and postage, and you can increase that number easily to $22K or $23K!

So instead, all I am going to be offering as a “perk” is getting your name in the credits. But are people going to want to donate simply to see their name at the end of my fan film??? Granted I do have some fun categories for listing the names:

  • Ensign – donate up to $10
  • Lieutenant – $11-$50
  • Lieutenant Commander – $51-$100
  • Commander – $101-$250
  • Captain – $251-$500
  • Commodore – $501-$1000
  • Admiral – $1001-$2500
  • Associate Producer – $2501 and up
    (no Fleet Captain…that rank’s reserved for Garth!)

The idea is that, the larger your donation, the higher your rank and the larger your name in the credits. And for the Associate Producers (assuming I get any), they will also be invited to join us at ARES STUDIOS for filming. They’ll have to pay for their own transportation and lodging—but I figure if they can afford thousands of dollars to donate to a fan film, they shouldn’t have a problem with a plane ticket and a Holiday Inn Express.

And there’s one more fun thing I wanna do…!

Continue reading “To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!”

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS Patreon is ON FIRE!

Man, I hope nobody misread that headline as “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS is ON FIRE!” No, no, no…that is NOT what’s happening!

But what is happening is that donations are coming into their Patreon campaign at an awesome pace! It was barely three weeks ago that I published a blog marveling at a single donor committing to pay more than $800/month(!!!) to help keep the rent, utilities, maintenance, and insurance paid on the building housing the amazing TOS sets that had first been used for both Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues.

After purchasing the sets from VIC MIGNOGNA in late 2017, uber-fan RAY TESI decided to open up the renamed NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA to any fan filmmaker wanting to shoot there (cost is $300/day). Already, Dreadnought Dominion, Ghost Ship, and the upcoming Constar Chronicles have all shot there…with more projects scheduled soon, including an appearance by NICHELLE NICHOLS for the proposed documentary about her amazing life and career.

The sets were also opened up to the general public for a weekend last October and will be opened up again this coming weekend for Fan Appreciation Weekend 2. (It’s free to attend, and you can still sign up here.)

But while they say the best things in life are free, in this case, someone has definitely been paying for the “free”—Ray Tesi himself. Considered by many (including me) to be one of the nicest guys in our fan film community, Ray has been paying the costs for this studio out of his retirement savings for the last year and a half. That’s about $3,500/month or $42,000/year.

Think about that number for a second. Ray isn’t a Kardashian (or even a Cardassian). He’s just a nice guy with a modest income and some decent savings wanting to keep these unbelievably beautiful and important sets out of the dumpster.

Continue reading “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS Patreon is ON FIRE!”

JONATHAN LANE’s fan film will take place in…the AXANAR UNIVERSE!

What…you didn’t see that coming?

I thought about keeping this little nugget of information secret for a few weeks longer, doing a “big reveal” just before launching my crowd-funding campaign next month. But I just can’t help myself! I want you all to know about INTERLUDE: A Star Trek Fan Film set in the AXANAR Universe.

Wait, Jonathan’s doing what now?

Okay, set your Guardian of Forever or Burnham-built Time-Suit to June of 2017 when ALEC PETERS sent me a script to review and provide him feedback. It was his first attempt to shorten the 90-minute Axanar feature film into two 15-minute episodes of “The Four Years War” (in a similar mockumentary style to PRELUDE TO AXANAR).

I was kind of a “unique” reader for Alec, as I’d purposefully avoided reading his full-length script up until that point. So I had no idea what Alec was taking out and keeping in. But when I finished reading it, I was left feeling a little confused. Despite some very exciting sequences in and around the epic Battle of Axanar, I noticed that there were no scenes that took place on that incredible USS Ares bridge! WTF???

I figured that Alec was worried that he didn’t have enough screen time available with just 30 minutes to include dramatic sequences on the bridge. But I felt that, if handled carefully, a few parts could be trimmed here and there to make room for some cool (albeit short) bridge scenes. To illustrate what I was trying to explain, I wrote out one of these scenes, taking a quick line of Garth’s dialogue that explained why Admiral Ramirez wouldn’t be in these next two movies (actor TONY TODD isn’t returning for the sequels) and turned it into a brief sequence set on the bridges of two Ares-class starships.

I ended up “catching a muse” and just kept writing…and writing…and writing. By 5 a.m., I’d created a full 15-minute Axanar script similar to Alec’s but littered with exciting bridge scenes. After a few hours of sleep, I began working on the other 15-minute script, finishing that one by 3 p.m. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I shared my new script versions with Alec…

Continue reading “JONATHAN LANE’s fan film will take place in…the AXANAR UNIVERSE!”

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS nearly doubles its Patreon total with an unexpected $800/MONTH donor!

As you might remember from my recent blog, NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingland, GA (where Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut) has a Patreon campaign currently trying to raise $3,500/month to cover rent, utilities, insurance, and maintenance. Right now, those expenses are being paid primarily by RAY TESI, the super-fan who purchased the iconic TOS set recreations from STC show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA. Ray has generously opened up his sets to fan filmmakers and also to the general public during periodic Fan Appreciation Weekends (the next of which is coming up on May 24-26).

The challenge for Ray is that these monthly expenses are ongoing…which is not the case for his retirement savings, which is what is funding the dream at the moment. So Ray has asked the fan community to chip in in the form of small monthly contributions made via Patreon.

The campaign kicked off last July and kinda went nowhere for seven months. By February, Ray was up to only 17 patrons donating $176/month (of which Patreon takes a small percentage), leaving Ray with annual expenses that were still topping $40,000…YIKES!!!

But then things began to look up, as a renewed outreach effort on social media saw totals nearly triple by the end of February to 41 patrons and $566/month. Ray was down to having to cover “only” $35,000/year. Sure, still a long way to go…but definitely headed in the right direction.

The following two months saw reliably steady growth, reaching 74 patrons and $872/month by the time I checked the campaign before heading to bed on April 22. Ray was now taking in about $10,000/year, covering about 25% of his expenses.

When I sat down at my computer the next morning, Ray’s Patreon page was still on the screen, so I did a refresh just out of curiosity. I didn’t expect the total to change, but ya never know. That said, it took me a few moments to fully process what I was seeing…

At some point while I slept, Ray’s Patreon total had jumped from $872/month to $1,696/month—almost DOUBLING overnight! Surely this was some kind of glitch at Patreon. No one donates $824/month…do they????

I messaged Ray.

Continue reading “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS nearly doubles its Patreon total with an unexpected $800/MONTH donor!”