When I started FAN FILM FACTOR on January 10, 2016, it was suggested that I try to write at least one or two new blogs per week so I’d stay relevant and keep readers coming back. Instead, I’ve written and published, on average, between four and five blogs per week for over two years. Some were short—just a few hundred words—while other blogs went 1,000 or 2,000 words (occasionally even longer). I calculated recently that I’ve written way more than HALF A MILLION WORDS about fan films…sheesh!!!
I wondered how I might mark this 500th blog milestone, and then I had an idea. Have you ever wondered how I manage to keep all of these blogs coming week after week, month after month, year after year? If you haven’t, then feel free to stop reading now.
But if you’re curious the learn how the Fan Film Factor sausage is made, this’ll be a fun read for you…
Today I turn 51 years old…and FAN FILM FACTOR just turned two. This blog doesn’t have an official birthday, but my earliest posts are dated January 10, 2016. It’s two years later, and in that time, I’ve published 465 blog entries!!! Holy shat!
Although some of my blogs are just 200-400 words, others get well over a 1,000 or even 2,000 words. (If they reach 3,000 words, it’s time to split them into Part 1 and Part 2!) So assuming I average a little over a thousand words per blog, that means I’ve probably written nearly a HALF MILLION WORDS in two years…mainly about fan films!
Some folks out there criticize me for writing blogs that are too long, but think of it this way: that’s dedication! Do ya know how long it takes to research, plan out, organize, and write a half million words of blogs??? (Don’t make fun of me; it’s my birthday.)
About 15 months ago, I added Google Ads to the site to help generate some revenue. Since then, my ads have earned me a whopping $529.65…or about a tenth of a penny per word. If you check online, most freelance writing assignments pay about 10 cents a word (maybe a bit higher for more high profile work).
So I’m making 1/100 of what a gainfully employed freelance writer makes! And yet I still do this. Why?
A few days ago, I posted a bloglooking back at the MANY fan film news stories I covered on Fan Film Factor over the past year—nearly 75, believe it or not! (Not bad for a sub-genre that some predicted would be all but extinct by now.)
But what were the fan film news stories from 2017 that had the greatest impact on the world of Star Trek fan films? Well, guess who just made a Top 10 list of that very thing!
I’m sure some folks won’t agree with all of my selections. Heck, some of the stories I chose aren’t even directly Star Trek-related. But hey, everyone’s got opinions, right? And if you think a different fan film story should have made it onto the list, feel free to tell me in the comments. (That’s a sneaky way of turning a “Top 10” list into a “Top 10 Plus” list!)
And so, without further ado, here’s the biggest fan film stories of 2017…
“Why are you even bothering with this blog?” one anonymous poster wrote to me a little over a year ago. “Star Trek fan films will all be gone soon, even your precious Axanar, and you’ll have nothing left to write about!”
Well, I’m still here…and so are Star Trek fan films! (And I really hope that anonymous person is reading today’s blog because he wasn’t just wrong; he was VERY wrong!)
2017 was a BIG year for Star Trek fan films…possibly one of THE biggest! And that’s kinda funny considering how many people told me that the fan film guidelines would spell certain doom for Trek fan films. Even I thought that at first!
I will admit that, one year ago, things did seem kinda bleak in fan film land. The Axanar lawsuit was less than a month from trial. The Axanerds and Axa-detractors were going at it like Hatfields and Dr. McCoys. The guidelines had been in existence for half a year, and already the long-ruinning Star Trek: New Voyages had halted production, the also-long-running Star Trek: Dark Armada had released its final episode at the end of 2016, Star Trek: Renegades had become Renegades: The Series-that-n0-longer-had-anything-to-do-with-Star-Trek-beyond-all-the-acrtors, and Star Trek Continues had announced their intention to produce only four (as opposed to six) final episodes to complete their fan series.
But I believed in fan films and the people who make them. I had faith that the genre would continue despite the guidelines—perhaps even because of them (since they now gave Trekkers official permission from the studios to create their own productions…albeit within some overly-strict limits).
And Trek fan films certainly didn’t die! In fact, they kept me pretty darn busy with news, features, and interviews all year long. Anyone who believed Trek fan films were on their deathbed at the end of 2016 should join us on this trip down Memory…er…Lane (!) as I take a look back at what fan film news made my blog’s headlines over the past 12 months.
This special post will list the biggest Fan Film Factor news articles for 2017, in order by month, with links to each one of those blog entries if you want to dive in deeper.
And be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a few final words from me about what’s coming in 2018…!
I’m thankful for YOU! If you’re here, reading this blog, I want you to know that I sincerely appreciate it. I’m not really doing this for the 80 cents a day I usually make from Google Ads. I’m doing it because I love Star Trek and fan films, and I want to share that love. I’m thankful because YOU’RE taking the time to read what I take the time to write.
Here in America, once a year on the third Thursday in November, we take a moment to stop and feel the gratitude for what we have. I kinda wish we did that more often, as I think many of us take a lot of the blessings in our life for granted way too much of the time. But at least for this one day, we can reflect on what and who mean the most to us and, if we’re lucky, share that appreciation with them.
Today, I want to share it with you, and say THANK YOU. Thank you for continuing to love Star Trek and for caring enough to support the producers making Trek fan films. While I’m most grateful for my wonderful family, my amazing son, our happy life, our health, and our fantastic friends, I’m also thankful for the following things:
Star Trek: Discovery – yeah, I don’t always see eye-to-eye with what the show-runners have decided to do, but at least they’re doing it. The alternative to that isn’t some kind of BETTER Star Trek on television, it’s NO Star Trek on television. But CBS saw fit to spend $120 million on a new TV show, and even though they are charging fans to see it and not always getting everything the way all the fans would want it, Star Trek is not sinply being abandoned by its owners and left to slowly fade away.
Fan films live on – seventeen months ago, we feared that Trek fan films were doomed because of those guidelines from CBS and Paramount. That hasn’t happened. Sure, we lost some of the biggest fish, but Star Trek Continues gave us four more spectacular episodes before they shut down, Renegades is still out there, Axanar is still to come, and so are other long-awaited productions like Pacific 201 and First Frontier. And of course, many fan producers like Potemkin Pictures, Intrepid, Antyllus, Vance Major, and others are still sharing their stories with us fans.
There are good people in this community – Sure, the detractors are gonna detract, tract, tract, tract, tract. But their echos are fading. Their blog sites and Facebook groups have, at most, a few hundred of the same members posting the same old nastiness. Meanwhile, the rest of us are here on Fan Film Factor and Fan Film Forum and elsewhere, and with a few rare exceptions, we’re being NICE to each other and rooting for fan films…all fan films.
And that, my friends, is what I have to be thankful for today. And I’m so glad that YOU’RE here to share it all with me. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
From the bottom of my heart, I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who comes to read this blog…whether you’re one of my “regulars” or you just visit every so often or even if you’ve never been here before. It means more to me than you can know.
Last month, for the first time ever, the total visits to this blog site ticked up over 100,000! Now, I realize that’s probably just a temporary blip, as the previous two months were closer to 25K (although the month before that was at 85K—it’s a crazy place this Internet!). And I also understand that some of that traffic is likely web crawling Internet “bots” hitting my blog site for search engine purposes. But hey, that doesn’t much matter.
I’m just excited that, after nearly two years of writing Fan Film blogs for this site, people are still coming to read them!!! And quite a few people, at that! My daily web traffic is between a few hundred and a few thousand. And that translates into ad dollars that sometimes get as high as $1 or $2 a day! Yeah, I’m not really doing it for the money, folks.
So why am I doing it?
It’s actually quite a bit of work. I research, write up, and edit (you only see the typos I don’t catch). I reach out to fan film producers to conduct interviews, try to keep track of the latest goings on in the Trek fan film community, hunt down little-known Trek fan productions from years ago to write about, and look for active crowd-funding campaigns….and all of this while trying to stay just a few days (or maybe a week if I’m lucky) ahead of publishing deadlines. I don’t want this blog site to get stale if I can help it!
If you’re curious how Jonathan puts this blog together, here’s an idea of what I’m working on at any given moment…
I asked myself that question recently as I was preparing a multi-part blog on the history of the fan production Star Trek: Renegades (you gonna love it!). The retrospective started out as a two-parter…then stretched itself to three…and finally finished up with four parts and more than 7,000 words! Who in their right mind writes THAT much about a single fan film???? (Well, other than Axanar, but they had a lawsuit to write about!)
And it’s not like there’s any money in this, folks. Maybe by the end of the year I’ll take in a few hundred dollars off of Google ads…if I’m lucky. I pay nearly that much just for web hosting and online security!
As I did my research on the history of Star Trek: Renegades—researching dozens and dozens of different websites and articles, blogs and crowd-funding updates, and forums and Facebook pages—I finally realized the reason that I put so much time and effort into writing all these blogs and maintaining this web site…
Hey, did you notice the “SHOP” button over there in the upper right corner on the main menu bar? Betcha didn’t! It’s right next to the “CONTACT US” option. (“Us”? It’s pretty much just me here. I should change that.)
It’s okay if you didn’t notice—no one did—for months! The button has been up there since late February, I think. Initially, I never even intended to sell FAN FILM FACTOR T-Shirts. But an amusing series of events led to the creation of an FFF online store. Wanna hear a funny story?
Sometimes people ask me why I spend so much time writing about and obsessing on Star Trek fan films. After all, few people even know about them, and on a good day, I only get about 1,000 visits to this blog (on a bad day, it’s about 500…and on an Axanar day, it’s about 3,000!). Some comments have even said that fan films are just wasted time with Trekkies playing “dress up,” and most fan films aren’t even watchable. So why do I write this blog?
Well, first of all, someone’s gotta do it, right? I mean, whether or not a fan film is good or bad (and remember my Prime Directive of Fan Film Factor), a great deal of work and dedication goes into each one. Sometimes it might not look that way, but trust me, I’ve worked on enough of them and spoken to enough creators to know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into even the most humble, low-budget fan film. And frankly, someone out there should be covering it all and giving them some credit. Why not me?
Second, I find it really interesting to watch this medium developing and evolving. And this blog is an archive, of sorts, of that evolution. Granted, things were much more ambitious before the guidelines, but it’s still exciting—at least to me—to see what fans can come up with: the stories, characters, sets, props, costumes, VFX, sound and film editing, music, etc.
And third, it’s not as small a world of viewership as you might think! Sure, I only get about 45K-50K visits a month, but fan films like Horizon, Renegades, and Prelude have gotten MILLIONS of views on YouTube! People out there are taking notice of fan films…usually in a good way. And one of the people who took notice was none other than Academy Award-winning actor TOM HANKS!
I’d forgotten about the 2013 interview with Tom Hanks that took place on actor/comedian Kevin Pollak’s online chat show. In it, he briefly discussed Star Trek fan films and STAR TREK CONTINUES in particular. Although he mistakenly said they were based in South Carolina (it was actually southern Georgia), it was clear that he was talking about STC.
At the time, they had only released their first episode “The Pilgrim of Eternity,” but that was clearly enough to make an impression upon Mr. Hanks. I thank STC actor MICHELE SPECHT for posting this little gem a week ago and reminding me of yet another reason I work on this blog site: BECAUSE TOM HANKS WATCHES STAR TREK FAN FILMS! YAY!!! Take a look at this 79-second clip…
I’d always hoped to one day have a child who would enjoy Star Trek as much as I do (or at least not hate it completely). And I’ll freely admit that I’m a totally biased daddy who is super-proud of his Trekkie son. But Jayden recently did his first-ever Star Trek podcast, discussing the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror.” And he just blew me away with one of the most priceless and hysterical interviews I could have ever imagined.
The podcast that Jayden (and I) appear on is called ENTERPRISING INDIVIDUALS, and it’s an interesting concept. Each week, the show features a different guest from the world of Star Trek—authors, screenwriters, experts, and superfans—and they discuss their favorite episode (from any of the series) along with providing information and insight about themselves and their experiences with Star Trek.
It’s a fun way to do an interview, with just enough banter about the featured Star Trek episode to keep the interview from getting too monotonous…and just enough interview that it doesn’t feel like yet another “discuss-an-episode-for-an-hour” podcast.
When the Minnesota-based host, who goes by the handle of Ka1iban of Just Enough Trope Studios, first reached out and asked me which episode was my favorite, I’d actually said “The Doomsday Machine.” But that one had already been taken by a previous guest. So I suggested “Mirror, Mirror,” which Jayden and I had just finished watching as we make our way through TOS episodes each night while I exercise. And then I suggested that it might be fun to include Jayden for part of the interview, as he’s a real fan…and the host agreed.
And Jayden didn’t let me down. His 17-minute segment is PRICELESS! The rest of the podcast with me is also a lot of fun, but yeah, Jayden’s segment is a MUST-HEAR and leaves my interview in the dust!
The full interview can be linked to here, and Jayden’s segment begins at about the 39:35 minute mark. But to save you from having to scroll to the good part, I’ve created a version with just Jayden’s portion below…
(Oh, and that beard is water-soluble magic marker. It washed off completely in 20 seconds.)