Let’s look inside the SHOWRUNNER Awards and other fan film competitions (Part 2)

In Part 1, we took a look “under the hood” at the engines running three of the most significant and well-known of the annual awards competitions for Star Trek fan films: the BJO AWARDS, the DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS, and the SHOWRUNNER AWARDS. Of course, only one of these three is technically “annual” at this point, as the latter two competitions only got their start in January of this year while the Bjos have been running each year since 2015.

Why this deep-dive into the inner workings of three different awards shows? Why not? Most fans see only the end results of these competitions…who were the finalists, who were the runners up, and which films and filmmakers ultimately won. But what happens behind the scenes?

Last time, we looked first at the challenge of finding judges, and how ERIC L. WATTS of the Bjo Awards sets himself the Herculean task each year of finding people “…who have a professional credit in the Star Trek franchise or are Star Trek fans working in the television and film industry, are not in any way personally associated with any past or present Star Trek fan film.” Add to that these people must be willing to watch hours and hours of Star Trek fan films for no money and little more than a thank you for their efforts.

DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE went in a different direction for the Directors Choice Awards, opting to require the directors of the films entered to cast ballots for the winners in all categories in order for their own films to quality (and of course, a director could not vote for their own fan film). And finally, I assembled a panel of twelve Star Trek fan film and fan series showrunners (including myself) to judge the Showrunner Awards.

In all three cases, the judging panel was made up up ten or more judges, all publicly identified for the contest. This is, of course, by no means a requirement when holding a fan film contest, although it does inspire more confidence in the results knowing the the people judging the entries have a practical and experiential knowledge of the categories they are judging.

The next thing we looked at was the method each awards show used to gather and organize information on the entries. Eric would determine the submissions based on the Star Trek fan films released in a calendar year that met the eligibility requirements and then type in all of the names of the nominees himself.

Dan and Glen and I, instead, allowed the filmmakers themselves to fill out online forms, changing a nominal $10 entry fee for each fan film entered. The Showrunners then tacked on an extra $1 per each category entered, while the Directors Choice simply limited the number of categories per entry to no more than five. And in the end, all three contests rely heavily on Excel spreadsheets to record the immense amount of submission information.

So what’s left…?

Continue reading “Let’s look inside the SHOWRUNNER Awards and other fan film competitions (Part 2)”

Let’s look inside the SHOWRUNNER Awards and other fan film competitions (Part 1)

So you say you want to create a fan film awards competition! Actually, unless you want to work really, really hard, you probably DON’T want to create one…at least, if you want to do it right. And when I say “do it right,” there isn’t only one correct way to organize and run a film contest. In fact, there’s several different approaches, all of them totally valid.

The challenge is to set everything up so that the process runs smoothly and inspires confidence in both the process and the results. That’s what I mean by “do it right,” and it takes a surprisingly sizable amount of work. DAN REYNOLDS, who along with GLEN WOLFE, ran the recently-completed DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS, said, “The sheer enormity of organizing was difficult. There was a lot of checking, double checking and triple checking. I don’t think we knew just how much work it really would be to pull something like this off.” Glen said that he mostly concentrated on “…getting ballots returned in a timely manner, getting the presenters to turn their videos in in a timely manner, and then getting the whole award ceremony edited while juggling real life.”

ERIC L. WATTS lists off an even longer “to do” list for the annual BJO AWARDS, including…

  • Recruiting top-level, high-calibre judges;
  • Finding eligible fan films for consideration (filmmakers don’t actively enter the Bjo Awars—Eric includes all qualifying Star Trek fan films released in a calendar year);
  • Researching release dates, runtimes, cast and crew credits, and creating a spreadsheet that sorts and organizes that data; and
  • Spending hours and hours and hours creating the actual ballot.

And of course, none of this includes marketing the awards show and announcing its winners, answering questions from the fan community, and of course, nagging the judges to get their ballots in on time! Plus, there’s a whole host of other efforts involved.

One of the biggest challenges is logistics. And like the duck gliding gently across the smooth surface of the lake, most fans never get to see all of the intense paddling that goes on just beneath the surface to make these fan film competitions run like well-oiled machines.

So if you’re interested in “peeking under the hood,” today’s blog is for YOU…

Continue reading “Let’s look inside the SHOWRUNNER Awards and other fan film competitions (Part 1)”

A FATHERS DAY blog as my 11-year-old son JAYDEN discovers STAR TREK fan films…

In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to share something special and Trekkish that recently happened with me and my son.

Jayden is reaching the age where he’s developing his own interests that are completely separate from Daddy’s. He’s playing Roblox and Terraria and a bunch of other games on his computer that I’ve never heard of. He watches YouTubers with names like Mr. Beast, Flamingo, and Merg. He codes, builds robots, and does karate. And now that summer has started, hours will go by where I’ll only see him when he comes down from his room for a quick snack (and it’s all I can do to make him eat a nutritious lunch!).

Ah, being the father of an almost-teen…

I am so proud of my not-so-little boy!

But there is one thing that we do almost every day, and that’s watch Star Trek together after dinner. I give the food a little while to digest, and then we’ll head off to my office where I’ll do 25-30 minutes of cardio on the bike while we watch (most of) an episode of Star Trek. It’s been our “thing” since Jayden was 5. We’re going in release order. We began with TOS, then TAS, then back to TOS because Jayden was really young when he first watched them, and I wanted him to remember. Then on to the first four movies, then TNG…with DS9 added as we hit season six of TNG. And of course, we watched Trek V and Trek VI when those came up in the chronological release order.

We’ve also watched LOWER DECKS, PRODIGY, and STRANGE NEW WORLDS—but not DISCOVERY or PICARD. In the case of Discovery, too much @$&%ing swearing, and in the case of Picard…SPOILERS!

Anyway, Jayden has become quite the little Trekkie (thank heaven!) and sci-fi nerd. The other day at the comic book store, he begged me to buy him a stuffed xenomorph from Alien(s)—which he’s seen, of course—with a zipper for a mouth and a second mouth-tongue inside. (We named him Zipley.)

Jayden holds the newest addition to the family: ZIPLEY!

Most recently, we’ve made it to the end of TNG. We only have “All Good Things” left to watch, but it’s time to switch back over to DS9 and complete season two. We’re two episodes away from watching “Crossover,” the first episode of any Trek to feature the Mirror Universe since TOS’s “Mirror, Mirror.”

Not certain whether Jayden would remember that early episode, I fished out the ol’ remastered Blu-rays to watch that as a special “extra” before heading back to DS9. I’d done the same thing earlier in season two when we did a detour to watch “Errand of Mercy” then “The Trouble with Tribbles” and finally “Day of the Dove.” Those three were all in anticipation of DS9‘s “Blood Oath,” which featured the return of Klingons Kor, Koloth, and Kang from those episodes. So as you can see, I am doing all of this VERY methodically!

Last week, we viewed “Mirror, Mirror” and, as I watched the following scene, I got a crazy idea…

Continue reading “A FATHERS DAY blog as my 11-year-old son JAYDEN discovers STAR TREK fan films…”

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!”

The 2022 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS are now open to any STAR TREK FAN FILM released in the last FIVE YEARS!

The 2022 Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS are now accepting submissions! Entries can be submitted until the end of the day on May 31, 2022. Winners will be announced on September 8, 2022. Here is the entry form:

https://www.cognitoforms.com/JonathanLane1/2022StarTrekFanFilmSHOWRUNNERAWARDS

The Showrrunner Awards are the newest annual competition exclusively for Star Trek fan films and will be unique in a couple of very significant ways. The first is that the window of eligibility is not just a release within the previous calendar year but any Star Trek fan film released with in the last FIVE years (January 2017 – December 2021)! Once a fan film wins a Showrunner Award in a specific category, it is no longer eligible to win in that category again.

The other unique feature of the Showrunner Awards is that there will be THREE winners in each category: ADMIRAL, CAPTAIN, and COMMANDER level…each with a digital certificate (sorry, there’s no way I can afford physical plaques).

Following the example of most industry film festivals, the Showrunner Awards will require a small entry fee ($10) for each fan film submission, which allows a qualifying entry to be considered in the main category of Best Star Trek Fan Film. Each additional category will cost an extra $1, plus there is a small processing fee. To keep operational costs down, payments will be accepted only by credit card only (no check, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, or Crypto at the moment) and are processed by the third party service STRIPE.

The money raised will help me cover the annual expenses for FAN FILM FACTOR (domain hosting, support, site security, etc.). While I truly appreciate the monthly contributions from my 8 patrons, the money from my Patreon falls well short of my ongoing costs for keeping this blog site going.

Here is a list of categories for the Showrunner Awards:

  • Best Fan Film
  • Best Director
  • Best Writer
  • Best Lead Actor (submitter may enter up to three actors)
  • Best Lead Actress (submitter may enter up to three actresses)
  • Best Supporting Actor (submitter may enter up to three actors)
  • Best Supporting Actress (submitter may enter up to three actresses)
  • 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 Scene (up to 2 minutes)
  • Best Micro-Budget Fan Film (total production cost $1,000 or less, not including set construction)

The last three categories are really intriguing to me and were suggested by members of our twelve-member panel made up of Star Trek fan film showrunners…

Continue reading “The 2022 SHOWRUNNER AWARDS are now open to any STAR TREK FAN FILM released in the last FIVE YEARS!”

The BJOs are BACK, baby!

Beginning in 2015, the world of Star Trek fan films has had its own, exclusive annual awards show…thanks entirely to the exhaustive efforts of ERIC L. WATTS and the panels of judges whom he has assembled each year. It’s a daunting task: keeping track of, viewing, and scoring so many Star Trek fan films. A typical judge might have to devote as many as 10 or 20 hours to what is essentially a volunteer task. And of course, that effort increases exponentially when you get to Eric Watts himself!

The name of this annual competition was changed to the BJO AWARDS in 2018, in honor of BJO TRIMBLE, credited with saving Star Trek from early cancellation in the 1960s by organizing the “great letter-writing campaign.” Bjo was a guest of honor that year and graciously agreed to the name change. And they have been the Bjo Awards each year since.

Well, ALMOST each year since…

Last year, 2020, was—if you can remember that far back—just a little f’d up. (Yeah, I said “f’d”!) The world transformed into an alternate reality of shutting down and shutting in, and like nearly all social gatherings, the annual TREKLANTA convention, where the Bjo Awards are announced, could not safely take place in person. The event went virtual, but without a physical venue to present at and hand out plaques, Eric elected not to hold the Bjo Awards last year.

Bjo Award plaques are always presented in person.

This year, however, even though Treklanta is still not taking place, Eric has decided to once again resume the Bjos. But what to do about the “missed” year? Traditionally, each year’s Bjo Award nominees are Star Trek fan films released during the previous calendar year. Fan filmmakers don’t actively “enter” the competition. Instead they automatically qualify if they meet the following requirements…

1) Be a live-action dramatic presentation set in the Star Trek universe, not animated or CGI, or a satire or parody of Star Trek.
2) Have “Based upon Star Trek, Created by Gene Roddenberry” (or similar) in the title sequence, opening credits or closing credits. (This requirement may be waived under certain circumstances and at the sole discretion of Treklanta.)
3) Have been released to the Internet (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) during the previous calendar year.
4) Have an entry on IMDb.com with full cast and crew credits listed.

It’s #3 in the above list that’s the problematic one…

Continue reading “The BJOs are BACK, baby!”

“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!”

TREKLANTA is back, baby…and this year, it’s VIRTUAL!!!

Believe it or not, the Star Trek fan film community DOES have its own convention every year…or at least it did until COVID shut down the entire world in 2020!

Granted, TREKLANTA isn’t only a fan film convention. Since 2011, ERIC L. WATTS, Founder and Chairman of the the Treklanta mini-con (originally called TrekTrax), has invited a wide range of guests over the years that’s included a wealth of Star Trek and sci-fi veteran actors, authors, and production people…along with other fine folks whom fans have always enjoyed seeing and meeting.

But Treklanta is also the convention that Star Trek fan filmmakers call “home.” For the past half-decade, Treklanta has presented the annual BJO AWARDS—the only competition devoted exclusively to recognizing and honoring Star Trek fan films. It’s the closest thing we have to the Oscars (only “Oscar” is now the woman who saved Star Trek from cancellation with a giant letter-writing campaign back in the 1960s!).

Sadly, Treklanta didn’t happen at all last year because of the pandemic. And because this mini-con is typically funded with revenue from the previous year’s event, there wasn’t enough in the coffers to entirely finance an in-person Treklanta this year. Fortunately, fifteen months of quarantining has taught fans that the show CAN go on—and you don’t even have to leave your house!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Treklanta™ on the Holodeck!

This year’s Treklanta event will be a full day of FREE virtual panels beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time and going straight through till 10:00 p.m. THIS SATURDAY (August 7, 2021). All of the panels will be accessible via Google Meet at the following link:

https://meet.google.com/nxm-nnmz-ppf?fbclid=IwAR3FltmbCZgHPr-tjK5-hI-n_BXCSu1KvVl3kXOgVKifMPWMlx3qzc68eFI

The only requirement is that you have a Google/Gmail account to participate in the online events. And what if you don’t? Well, creating a free Google account is free and easy and doesn’t take very long. And you never have to use the Google account again if you don’t want to. But aside from that one requirement, Treklanta™ on the Holodeck is open to anyone at anytime during the day on Saturday. Start watching a panel, stick around for bit, ask a question or two, leave, come back, or just keep the link open all day long. It’s the easiest convention you’ve ever stayed home for!

Here’s the schedule of events (including a Fan Film “Power Panel” at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time that you will NOT want to miss!)…

Continue reading “TREKLANTA is back, baby…and this year, it’s VIRTUAL!!!”

FAN FILM FACTOR is now LESS than a YEAR BEHIND!

The more proficient one is at procrastination, the less proficient one need be at all else.

This was one of the “corollaries” to the famous Murphy’s Law of “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” I loved the above procrastination quote back in high school in the 1980’s because it so perfectly described my philosophy about doing homework.

Little did I know that it would still apply to me three and a half decades later with my blog!

It’t not that I’m procrastinating from writing blogs. I typically publish between two and five new blogs a week. (You knew that!) But working on all those blogs has allowed me a convenient excuse for not updating my LIST pages.

Did you even know I had LIST pages? Chances are, you probably didn’t notice; many people don’t. But the lists are there…right in the middle of that navigation bar at the top of each page of Fan Film Factor. “LIST OF FAN FILMS” it says.

Actually, it’s not just one list, it’s THREE! Just hover above the link at the top of the page and you’ll see that those lists are arranged in custom orders depending on how you’d like to view them…

I’m really proud of those list pages, as they remind me just how far this blog has come since I started it back in 2016. I’ve done deep dives into nearly 75 different fan films!!! And that doesn’t include all the “short” blogs where I briefly cover a new release or trailer or update with a quick quote from the show-runner.

Instead, the list pages are for the major blogs that feature in-depth histories of individual fan films and/or series, or text or audio interviews with their creators. Those blogs are the main reason Fan Film Factor exists—to tell as many “getting from there to here” stories of fan film productions in order to honor the dedicated fans who make them.

And for a few years, I was really good about keeping those list pages up to date. But then I started slacking…

Continue reading “FAN FILM FACTOR is now LESS than a YEAR BEHIND!”