What should I do when another blogger CRIBS off my homework? (editorial)

Okay, I am totally stymied about what to do about this—MATT MILLER is now cribbing off my blog!

It all happened yesterday (Tuesday for me) shortly after I published this blog about this past weekend’s shoot in Arkansas for the upcoming AVALON UNIVERSE fan film THE NEEDS OF THE ONE and also the long-delayed CONVERGENCE marathon of filming in Bedfordshire, U.K. JOSHUA IRWIN and his team had shared so many amazing photos and clips on the Avalon chat group of their martial arts fight choreography, and SAMUEL COCKINGS was posting lots exciting updates about his 4-day shoot with all of the Convergence cast. And I thought it would be fun to do a two-in-one blog update on both major fan projects.

So I reached out to both Josh and Sam for short quotes. Sam, exhausted and about to pass out at what was about 2:15 a.m. for him, managed to write me up something surprisingly coherent and send me a bunch of behind-the-scenes photos that no one in the community had seen yet. Josh, also exhausted after the first day at his new job (congratulations, Josh!) dictated some quotes to me over the phone as I typed his comments as quickly as I could. Then he sent me a short video clip of the the awesome fight scene that, like Sam’s BTS photos, hadn’t been shared publicly yet.

In other words, folks, I did the prep work required and then wrote and published the blog, just as I usually do. End of story, right?

Well, not quite…

I got a call Tuesday afternoon from Josh asking me if I’d seen Matt Miller’s post. “Nope,” I said, “I don’t follow Matt’s Facebook posts anymore.” Well, apparently Matt had taken my blog from the morning, split it into two blogs, re-worded it slightly, and posted what was essentially the same content to his TrekZone website. According to the time-stamp, Matt published his pair of blogs roughly five hours after mine went live.

You can access the blogs here and here to compare the content. Or just in case Matt pulls them down for some reason, here’s the screen caps…

Continue reading “What should I do when another blogger CRIBS off my homework? (editorial)”

Here are the 2022 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARD entries for BEST SHORT SCENE…

As I announced last week, the final submissions for the 2022 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS were made official on June 1, and now the panel of twelve judges—each the showrunner of a Star Trek fan film or series—get to have their chance to pick the winners in 18 different categories…

  • Best Fan Film
  • Best Director
  • Best Writer
  • Best Lead Actor
  • Best Lead Actress
  • Best Supporting Actor
  • Best Supporting Actress
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Sound Design/Mixing
  • Best Visual Effects (CGI)
  • Best Special Effects (non-CGI)
  • Best Musical Score
  • Best Costuming
  • Best Hair & Makeup
  • Best Original Character
  • Best Micro-Budget Fan Film (total production cost $1,000 or less, not including set construction)
  • Best Short Scene (up to 2 minutes)

This final category is one that I personally find fascinating!

Think abut the long history of Star Trek, and there are some amazing episodes. But there are also some really impactful SCENES, as well. Let your mind and memory wander back to the scene of Edith Keeler being killed and Kirk’s reaction (“You deliberately stopped me, Jim. I could have save her. Do you know what you just did?” “He knows, Doctor. He knows…”), the scene of Kirk relieving Matt Decker of command on Kirk’s personal authority as captain of the Enterprise (“You’re bluffing…” “Vulcans never bluff…”), Khan stranding Kirk in the middle of a dead planet (“Buried alive…buried alive…” “KHANNNNNN!!!!!!”), Picard appears as Locutus for the first time (“From this time forward, you will service…us.” “Mr. Worf, fire…”), and the list goes on and on.

Yes, those impactful scenes were from some of the best episodes and movies—but not always. The climactic scene of three Losiras about to touch Kirk, McCoy, and Sulu o the shoulders just as Spock and a security guard beam in and shoot the Kalandan computer in “That Which Survives” was an exciting scene in an otherwise average episode.

And what about Star Trek fan films? Do WE have really exciting, dramatic, and impactful scenes? The judges and I decided to find out by offering the category of Best Short Scene (up to two minutes) for all entries. In retrospect, two minutes may have been a tad too short, and perhaps two and a half or even three minutes would have produced more submissions in the category. So we’ll probably increase the runtime limit next year as we figure out ways to improve the contest going forward.

But for this year, we received 10 solid submissions for Best Short Scene out of the 38 total fan films entered. And it’s an interesting collection of scenes—some serious, some funny, some exciting and suspenseful, some poignant and intense. Take a look at the following, and feel free to share in the comments which one(s) YOU think is/are the best and why…


Continue reading “Here are the 2022 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARD entries for BEST SHORT SCENE…”

The 2022 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS now have their final 38 entries!

My friends, the great experiment: THE SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

In January of this year, two new fan film competitions launched, to join the third (the long-running annual BJO AWARDS) in celebrating our fun and quirky little niche-of-a-niche-of-a-niche of fandom. The first of the two new yearly award shows to begin—and conclude—was the DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS, where the directors of the submitted fan films became the judges (and were not allowed to vote for their own fan film, of course). And once those awards were handed out, it was time to launch of the new SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

Both first-time contests had fresh and unique aspects to them. For example, for the past almost-decade, ERIC L. WATTS of the Bjo Awards automatically entered any Star Trek fan film from the previous year that met the eligibility requirements. So a fan filmmaker didn’t have to do anything to be considered for a Bjo aside from release an eligible fan film in the previous year. The Directors Choice and Showrunner Awards, however, each required a small $10 submission fee to enter (in order to prevent a flood of entries). The Directors Choice also opened their contest to fan films beyond Star Trek—Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.—while the Showrunner Awards limited ourselves to only Star Trek fan films.

All three competitions have the standard categories like Best Fan Film, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, Best Hair and Makeup, etc. But the Directors Choice introduced some interesting outside-the-box categories like Best Ensemble Cast, Best Foreign (non-U.S.) Fan Film, Most Canon Fan Film, Best Animated Fan Film, and Best Parody.

Meanwhile, the Showrunner Awards created categories for Best Original Character, Best Scene (a short clip up to two minutes in length), and Best Micro-Budget ($1,000 or less) Fan Film. We also decided to do something the other two contests don’t do: give out THREE awards per category rather than just one winner and five finalists or one winner and one runner-up.

I keep saying “we” when referring to the Showrunner Awards. That’s because our panel of twelve judges—each the showrunner of a Star Trek fan film or series—brainstormed, discussed, and voted on our categories, entry fees, and rules. Among those rules is that we will use ranked-choice voting, each judge selecting their five favorites in each category in descending order. First choice gets 10 points, second gets 7, then 5, 3, and finally 1 point. A judge cannot vote for their own fan film in any of the top three slots.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the Showrunner Awards was our decision expand eligibility to a 5-year window. For our 2022 awards, any Star Trek fan film released from January 2017 through December 2021 could enter. Of course, that aspect of the “great experiment” carried some risks…

Continue reading “The 2022 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS now have their final 38 entries!”

This is one of the coolest aspects of the Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS…

First, here’s the link to submit your Star Trek fan film to the first annual Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS (deadline to enter is May 31):

https://www.cognitoforms.com/JonathanLane1/_2022StarTrekFanFilmSHOWRUNNERAWARDS


It’s funny how, over the past week and a half since I announced the first annual Star Trek Fan Film Showrunner Awards, several folks in the Axamonitor group have been up in arms (up in arms, I tells ya!) about this simple little fan film competition. This seemed pretty bizarre, since most of them have never even made a Star Trek fan film and won’t be competing.

At first, it appeared as though their issue was that the Showrunner Awards are charging a $10 entry fee (plus $1 per additional category like best director or best music). And thus I saw several posts like this…

Of course, submission fees are the industry standard. Just look on Film Freeway (where nearly all independent film festivals list their competitions), and you’ll see that submission fees range from $25 up to $100 per film. Even the recent fan film DIIRECTORS CHOICE Awards charged $10 per submission. Entry fees keep film competitions from being innundated with too many free entries.

When I pointed this out in one of the fan film Facebook groups, suddenly the issue “transformed” into from simply charging an entry fee to using those fees to help defray the ongoing annual hosting and site security costs for Fan Film Factor. The aforementioned JUSTIN BURTON suddenly switched to saying he was “fine” with the $10 fee itself, but not with what it would be used for…

And that’s when I realized: this is a complaint in search of a problem! (Imagine that!!!) I was actually tempted to reply, “Okay, so I won’t use the money raised for Fan Film Factor, and instead I’ll just go out and have a sushi dinner.” But I decided against it.

I probably don’t need to point out that fan filmmakers hold crowd-funders all the time looking for donations to help finance their “hobby.” And of course, I’ve covered hosting and security costs for Fan Film Factor mainly out of pocket for more than six years.

But hey, whether this blog site is a “hobby,” a pastime, a ridiculous time-suck, or a crazy obsession, Fan Film Factor serves our community in a very unique and important way. It honors and celebrates fan filmmakers and their creations, gives their projects extra exposure and web views, helps in their crowd-funding, and provides independent media coverage when these fan filmmakers opt to list themselves on IMDb.

Amusing, though, the negative nellies seemed to be even MORE incensed (if such a thing is possible) with the decision of our 12-member judging panel to open the competition to fan films released over MULTIPLE years—in the case of this first awards show, any fan film released from January 2017 through December 2021.

Continue reading “This is one of the coolest aspects of the Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS…”

2021 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!

Well, it’s been another year, and the CBS guidelines still haven’t killed Star Trek fan films! In fact, even focusing on just the highlights, this is still gonna be a loooooong blog. But that’s a GOOD thing…unless you’re the guy who has to write it up. But I don’t mind. In fact, I’ve actually written 108 blogs this year…94 of them about Star Trek fan films and the others a mix of editorials, reviews of new CBS Star Trek episodes and series, tracking the now-settled Star Trek/Dr. Seuss mash-up lawsuit, and sadly a few eulogies).

It’s always a challenge how to organize these year in review blogs, but this time, I think I’ll just go chronologically, highlighting the biggest releases for each month. However, before I do that, I’d like to acknowledge a few key people who go beyond simply making fan films and actually give of themselves to the greater fan film community in significant ways…

VANCE MAJOR – The creator of the fan-favorite character of Erick Minard, Vance has produced nearly 150 Star Trek fan films in total…including 30 this year alone covering both the CONSTAR series as well as other fan films released under the NO BUDGET PRODUCTIONS banner. (Because he’s released so many, I’ll be leaving most of Vance’s films off of this year’s highlight list…lest this blog becomes longer than War and Peace!) Vance has also been helping some of his actors make the transition to producers. In previous years, this included GREG TEFT and GREG MITCHELL. This year, PAUL JACQUES and SEAN REIMER joined that expanding group. And in addition to providing these wonderful opportunities, Vance is also spotlighting fan filmmakers regularly on his PIZZA ROLL DIARIES and CRITICAL, NOT CYNICAL video podcasts.


DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLF – In addition to producing the Star Trek anthology series THE FEDERATION FILES, Glen and Dan also maintain TOS set replicas in their WARP 66 STUDIOS facilities, allowing those sets in northern Arkansas to be used by other fan filmmakers, as well.


RAY TESI – Another fan who owns TOS set replicas, Ray bought the STAR TREK CONTINUES/STARSHIP FARRAGUT sets from VIC MIGNOGNA and now allows them to be used by fan filmmakers at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland,GA.


SAMUEL COCKINGS – If you see amazing CGI visual effects in a Star Trek fan film, there’s a good chance that the British “Royal of Rendering” created them. Indeed, at this point, it’s almost shorter to list the fan films that Sam Cockings hasn’t done the VFX for! While top-level CGI isn’t a requirement for a good fan film, it can add a professionally polished look. Sam spends an unbelievable amount of his time doing this for his fellow fan filmmakers, and it makes such a big difference for so many.

Continue reading “2021 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

‘Tis the season for GIVING…to FAN FILMS!

When folks come to me for advice on crowd-funding their fan projects, I always tell them the same thing: DON’T LAUNCH YOUR CAMPAIGN DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON!!! Ever since 2015, I’ve noticed that fan film crowd-funders that try to raise donations in November and December often struggle to reach their goals or even fail outright. The holiday season seems to be a “donation desert” for fan films.

It makes total sense. Nearly everyone is buying Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanza or Festivus) gifts for friends and family. And before COVID, people used to take expensive vacations during the holidays to visit family or just get away—remember when that used to happen? Charities, of course, usually choose this time to appeal to that ol’ spirit of giving and approach (hopefully) generous donors to give a little sumthin’. And soon Christmas bonus checks are spent before they even get cashed, and bank account balances do their impression of the Titanic.

I get that…not the time for fan films to ask for money.

But this past Monday, I received a bunch of e-mails from various places informing me that “Giving Tuesday” was here. So now we apparently have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and…Giving Tuesday? When did that become a thing? Actually it started in 2012 at New York City’s famous 92rd Street Y (where I went to summer camp back in 1981) and has grown into an international movement to encourage a little healthy philanthropy among the manic bargain-hunting.

I wasn’t able to write a blog in time for this year’s Giving Tuesday because I just had cataract surgery early this week, and it took away my ability to see the text on my computer screen for a couple of days. Today is the first day I’ve got reliable sight back enough to compose a blog.

I’d actually been meaning to post something reminding folks about the ongoing Fan Film Factor Patreon to cover my annual expenses for keeping this blog site running. Currently, I’m taking in enough in monthly donations to cover the costs of domain registration and hosting, technical support, and security services.

But last month, I added a new annual expense: a $160/year Pro Account for Zoom. You might have noticed that I’ve been doing more video interviews with fan filmmakers lately. Zoom is an easy way to reach multiple people and record the interview calls. And Zoom is free as long as your call is less than 45 minutes or has only one other person on it. But my interviews go 60-90 minutes, and I often have multiple people on at the same time.

So with “Giving Tuesday” happening, even though we’re in the middle of the “fan film donation desert,” as I call it, I thought this might be a good time to post a little reminder about my Patreon

I’m looking for monthly contributions of $1, $2, whatever folks can spare to help cover the annual expenses of Fan Film Factor

PATREON link: https://www.patreon.com/fan_film_factor

Continue reading “‘Tis the season for GIVING…to FAN FILMS!”

“The very BEST of Star Trek FAN FILMS” is now available for viewing!

For the past two and a half years, I’ve been quietly working on a “secret” project for Star Trek fan films. I mean, it wasn’t purposefully a secret. I just never bothered to mention it to anybody…

…until now, that is.

The idea behind this 75-minute montage was to collect what I considered to be the “best” scenes and sequences from the many, many, MANY Star Trek fan films that have been released during the last two decades or so.

It wasn’t easy choosing!

First of all, what does “the best” even mean??? The best…what? Acting? Directing? Story? Visual Effects? Make-up? Costumes? Sound quality? Music? Editing? Well, yes to all of the above! But few Star Trek fan films actually check ALL of those boxes. So once again, I was left the challenge of deciding what “the best” actually means.

I ultimately created two criteria for inclusion in the video. The clips needed to (in my determination):

  1. Make an average viewer who wasn’t really familiar with this sub-sub-sub genre of ours react with something akin to, “Wait, this is a FAN film???”
  2. Leave the person watching the clip wanting to see more of that particular fan film or series.

Once I knew what I was looking for, I needed to do a LOT of looking! That’s one of the reasons this project has taken as long as it has to complete. But I did discover something important early on. Really short clips (on the whole) don’t work. You need at least a minute or two—and sometimes even three minutes or more—to convey the power and impact of a sequence. Otherwise, you just get disjointed VFX sequences and isolated snippets of dialog that don’t really pack much of a punch. You have to give the viewer a chance to get the “flavor” of a sequence and a grasp of what is going on.

Ultimately, I ended up selecting about three dozen clips and sequences from fan films spanning the last decade and a half…for a total run-time of 75 minutes (an average of two minutes per segment). Sadly, I couldn’t include content from many of my closest friends in the fan film community. (I didn’t want this video to go on forever!) And so I sincerely apologize to anyone who didn’t make it into the final selections. It wasn’t personal, and I love you all and the wonderful work you and your teams bring to us.

Continue reading ““The very BEST of Star Trek FAN FILMS” is now available for viewing!”

It’s FEAST OR FAMINE here at FAN FILM FACTOR…and it’s about to be FEAST! (editorial/news)

Have you noticed that these past couple of months have been relatively quiet in the Star Trek fan film world? There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. There’s an “ebb and flow” with news and releases from time to time…feast or famine, as they say.

And it’s not like there’s been no new Trek fan films whatsoever. The folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES never let us down, and there was a new release from STARSHIP ANTYLLUS a couple months ago that I haven’t gotten around to covering yet. Oh, and we can’t forget the steady stream of new content from that fan filmmaking machine known as VANCE MAJOR, who has been releasing one new episode per week of CONSTAR COMPLETED this past month. Vance says that he’s only going to release another five Trek fan films and then he’s hanging up his cell phone. Of course, he’s “retired” before.

Okay, so maybe things haven’t been nearly as quiet as all that. But they have been pretty quiet, all things considered. Since January’s release of the AVALON UNIVERSE’s AIR AND DARKNESS and STARSHIP VALIANT’sANIMALS,” and then February’s release of the blockbuster Czech fan film SQUADRON, there haven’t been many totally new releases other than those I mentioned above.

This was actually somewhat serendipitous for me, as it opened a convenient four-week window for me to release my four-part History of STARSHIP VALIANT blog series. Then I filled up some “thin” weeks by covering (two months late) the December release of the German Spock JENS DOMBEK’s TIMES ARE CHANGING, the launch and staggeringly successful conclusion of the Star Trek: Voyager documentary Indiegogo campaign, along with some features about older fan films that I’ve had on the back-burner, like STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE and the amazing stop-motion fan films ENTERPRISE II from German wunderkind J√úRGEN KAISER.

Oh, and let’s not forget the release of my AXANAR-universe fan film INTERLUDE and some of the the subsequent Interlude Confidential behind-the-scenes blogs that I’ve published since. And of course, the Star Trek/Dr. Seuss mash-up lawsuit is still going on and is as interesting as ever!

And sadly, we lost that beloved cheerleader of Trek fan films, BARBARA READER, last month.

So even when the Star Trek fan film world is a little slow with new releases, I’m still doing my best to supply you fine folks with new content. Indeed, between the “back-burner” features I’ve been working on and an impending uptick in new fan film news and releases, Fan Film Factor is about to be getting VERY busy VERY soon!

Here’s what’s coming down the, er, pike…

Continue reading “It’s FEAST OR FAMINE here at FAN FILM FACTOR…and it’s about to be FEAST! (editorial/news)”

2020 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!

On the one hand, 2020 pretty much sucked. Political upheaval, protests and rioting, wildfires burned, rains flooded, hurricanes and tornadoes blew…and some crazy bat virus got loose and started spreading rapidly across the world while scientists tried to find a vaccine at warp speed. Civilization as we knew it seemed to have hit “pause,” and we’re still wondering if things will ever return to the way they used to be.

On the other hand, with most of the world’s outside-of-the-home activities curtailed, we did have ample time to catch up on our binge-watching on TV and YouTube. And for those of us with a predilection for Star Trek, 2020 gave us, for the first time ever, TWO new Star Trek TV series premiering in the same year! STAR TREK: PICARD debuted in January (you remember January, right?) and STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS followed in August.

And no sooner had Lower Decks finished than a new season of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY fired back up…meaning that 2020 will have a total of 32 new episodes of Star Trek in a single year! We haven’t had that much new Star Trek on TV since back in 1999 when Deep Space Nine and Voyager were running concurrently.

And if 32 new episodes of television Star Trek weren’t enough for you, then fan films gave you even MORE to binge-watch during your quarantine! Anyone who had “The guidelines will totally destroy Star Trek fan films” in the office betting pool lost big for a fifth straight year, as not only did Trek fan films live long and prosper, they even did so despite a global pandemic with the release of new “fandemic” films shot carefully with masks and social distancing during production.

This year also saw the debut of multiple long-awaited Star Trek fan films that had been in production for three years, five years, and even 35 years! It’s been an exciting twelve months for our fan film community, and a darn BUSY one for bloggers like me (assuming there are any other bloggers like me!) who spend their time covering the people behind these productions and the seemingly endless parade of of content they bring to us. In fact, back in October, I published my one thousandth blog since starting back in January of 2016!

So let’s take a look at some of the good that came out of 2020 in the form of a wonderful supply of new Star Trek fan films…

Continue reading “2020 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

I am THANKFUL for YOU – my friends in the fan film community!

Early last month, I published my one-thousandth blog and announced a new Patreon campaign to help pay the bills for Fan Film Factor and (potentially) provide a little extra support for me personally. (I typically spend between 10 and 30 hours each week covering Star Trek fan films.) Twelve generous fans have since signed up to donate a combined $60/month to help me out, and I can’t thank them enough for that!

But my gratitude extends far beyond those dozen people to the hundreds (possibly thousands?) of regular readers of my blog posts and to the Star Trek fan filmmakers who make this blog site possible in the first place. Many of these wonderful folks have become friends (some of them very close friends), and I would like to take a few moments to thank certain of these fan filmmakers by name…

Continue reading “I am THANKFUL for YOU – my friends in the fan film community!”