INTERLUDE Confidential #10 – I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling…

You can’t please all the Trekkies all the time.

I wrote that sentence at the beginning of yesterday’s blog featuring the new YouTube music video from GARY DAVIS of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION. In it, Gary featured a compilation of many of the viewer comments that have come in through social media over the past five years both praising and scorching their fan film efforts.

The video—set to the popular song “I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again” (the actual title is “Tubthumping” by the band Chumbawamba)—reflects Gary and his team’s positive and “bring it on” attitude about their hobby. They know they aren’t the giants of fan films, but they’re having FUN…and that’s really all that matters.

After writing that blog yesterday, I began thinking about the fan reaction to the trailer I released last Wednesday for my own fan film INTERLUDE. Man, did that one light a match! And it all came from a fun and silly little idea I had to do an homage to the opening credits of one of my favorite sci-fi series from the mid-1970s, Space: 1999. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, or you’d like to check it out again, here it is…

Actually, lots of people liked it. It’s had about 2.1K views so far on YouTube, with 85% of the reactions being thumbs up. Of the 15% that were thumbs down, the main complaint seemed to be my choice of music—likened by some to 70’s porn, and called by one Facebook poster “ear-raping” (whatever that means…although I’m guessing it’s not a good thing).

Others didn’t like the quick cuts, the over-use of the CGI shots, and one fellow thought I had too many clips of people spinning around in their chairs! ALEC PETERS said he liked the trailer but added that it’s not what he would have done. One of my oldest friends, ADAM “MOJO” LEBOWITZ, took time from his busy schedule to write on my Facebook post: “That’s the kind of trailer a fan makes after the movie came out. A mash up. It was cute and cool but I know nothing about your movie other than battle CGI.” Heck, even one of the members of my Interlude production team told me didn’t like the trailer. (Hey, at least he was honest.)

Such a fuss over a 1-minute trailer that I threw together in iMovie on a lark! Honestly, folks, I didn’t make the trailer for Alec or Mojo or for ear-raping guy. I made it for me…as a way to provide a sneak peek to supporters and friends and family members of what this fan film that they’ve been hearing about for a year was going to look like. It was fun to edit together, and I like the way it came out. Sure some people didn’t like it. So what? The world didn’t end (at least, not because of one Star Trek fan trailer).

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #10 – I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling…”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION honors viewer comments (good and bad!) in “I Get Knocked Down”…

You can’t please all the Trekkies all the time.

Whether you’re talking about Star Trek on television, in the movie theaters, or fan made projects on YouTube, you’re ultimately gonna see somebody complain about sumthin’…often a LOT of somebodies!

That’s one of the main reasons why I refuse to ever criticize any Star Trek fan film. It’s way too easy to do so because no fan film is perfect, and many of them fall far short. But at least they TRY.

Creating anything from nothing takes effort, determination, persistence, and—to be honest—a fair amount of courage. Whether you create just for yourself, for friends and loved ones, or for total strangers, you put a part of yourself out there for judgment.

And as hard as it is to create something from nothing just by yourself, doing it with an entire team of people is even more difficult. In a recent interview, actor J.G. HERTZLER said that there’s nothing harder than making a movie. Now that I’ve produced one—even a short 10-minute one—I know exactly what J.G. means…and he’s not that far off.

Hopefully, people will like what you’ve created and will shower you with praise. But there’s no guarantee of that (except maybe making a clay ash-tray at summer camp for your mom even though she doesn’t smoke…moms tend to be very generous art critics).

But Trekkies, man, some of them will cut you down to the quick if you let them…and even if you don’t let them! I never want to be that guy. So I praise all fan efforts because I feel that their determination and bravery should be respected and acknowledged. You made a frickin’ fan film…good for you!!!

And that’s why I cheered when I saw the latest offering from GARY DAVIS, show-runner of the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION. Over the past half-decade of releasing fan films, Dominion has produced everything from the serious (like the recent  “Redemption at Red Medusa”) to light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek romps (like “Reality Check”—which broke the 4th wall—“Technical Difficulties” and the just-released “A Barrel Full of Qunicys.”

Through it all, Dominion has always kept a positive and healthy attitude, acknowledging what they are and aren’t. Gary’s latest upload to YouTube sums up that outlook perfectly…

A fun look at some of the comments Dreadnought Dominion has had over the years… Scenes from our shows set against the song “I Get Knocked Down.” This song has always been a favorite of mine. It meant no matter who hard you get knocked down, GET BACK UP and move forward. I love the comments we get on our shows…even the bad ones! It just makes us strive to do better. WE KNOW we aren’t up to the same level as “giants” of fan films, but we don’t pretend to be, and don’t aspire to be. We are just a group of folks—some older and some of us “not slim”—having fun telling a story.

Bravo, Dominion…!

JOHN SIMS makes an impression as [Q]uincy in DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s latest vignette! (interview with GARY DAVIS)

Let face it, most (not all) Star Trek fan films take themselves seriously. And why not? Many are crowd-funded, and most require weeks or months or even years of planning and hard work to complete successfully. So Star Trek fan films have every right to take themselves seriously.

But one fan series in particular, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, has bucked that trend. Granted, over the past half-decade of releasing fan films, not everything from Dominion has been a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek romp. In fact, their first couple of episodes were completely serious, as was the recent “Redemption at Red Medusa.” But mixed in with those offerings were a series of humorous vignettes like “Reality Check” (which broke the 4th wall) and “Technical Difficulties.” Both of these short fan films featured actor JOHN SIMS playing a crewman named Quincy…who turned out to be a member of the Q Continuum. The character is mysterious and compelling—and quite a bit mischievous—all at the same time.

Quincy makes is third and most significant appearance in the latest Dominion vignette, “A Barrel Full of Quincys,” and it’s quite a hoot! John Sims gets to show off his range of celebrity impersonations in a short film with rather impressive production values. Check it out…

I asked John what his impression of the episode was (get it?), and he typed back in a very British accent (he’s actually from Worcester, Massachusetts and currently lives in Florida, but he’s a self-declared Anglophile):

I enjoyed the opportunity that Gary and Randy gave me. They are alright blokes with great sense of humour!

Indeed they are! GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN are the show-runners for the Dominion fan series, and I spoke to Gary recently about what went into creating this latest vignette. Turns out a LOT more work went into crafting this little short film than you’d suspect…!

Continue reading “JOHN SIMS makes an impression as [Q]uincy in DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s latest vignette! (interview with GARY DAVIS)”

A winning streak of SUCCESSFUL Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDERS!

Lately, it seems like I’m covering a LOT of crowd-funding campaigns raising money for a variety of Star Trek fan films. That’s because it’s been a really pretty busy few months…with more campaigns to come!

Fortunately for our wallets, though, four campaigns have just successfully reached their funding goals (or come very close!), clearing the way for the newcomers. So let’s take a brief look at the fan productions that scored recent wins…

THE TEARS OF J’KAH

Two week ago, I reported on how BENNY HALL raised $49,183 (of his $50K goal) for his second Trek fan film THE TEARS OF J’KAH…from just 13 donors! This post-guidelines crowd-funding record was accomplished with the help of some very generous friends and contacts who each made donations of $5K and even $10K.

AXANAR – shoot #3

Last Thursday morning, ALEC PETERS launched a “tiny” (his word) fundraiser on Ares Digital trying to generate $3,400 to cover expenses for the third AXANAR shoot at Ares Studios in Larenceville, GA on March 15. By Sunday evening, he’d taken in more than $5,000!

The surplus will go into the upcoming fundraiser for the “big” fourth shoot. That on is scheduled to happen in Los Angeles and will include GARY GRAHAM playing Vulcan Ambassador Soval plus a bunch of other aliens, each of whom will require a top-level make-up artist. Combined with the cost of studio rental, travel, lodging, etc., this is expected to be around a $30,000 expenditure (although a final budget is still being worked out).

The Axanar fundraiser for Shoot #4 will launch on Ares Digital right after shoot #3 wraps on March 15…with the long-awaited debut of the FULLL TRAILER! You can watch it debut live by clicking here.

STARSHIP INTREPID – “ECHOES”

For the first time in its decade-and-a-half history, those INTREPID folks from Scotland have sought some financial assistance from fans and supporters. NICK COOK set the goal at a humble $2,500 (or thereabouts, since they get their money in pounds, not dollars) with a 60-day deadline. Earlier this week, with less than two weeks left and with the help of 72 backers, they hit their goal.

CONSTAR CONTINUES

With an even more humble goal of $1,175, VANCE MAJOR launched his latest GoFundMe campaign back in December. It’s taken a little while, but this past Monday morning, he also reached (and slightly surpassed) his goal…with the help of 24 backers (including me).


My congratulations to all of the projects I’ve just mentioned, and my thanks to those of my readers who chose to donate in order to help make these fan film dreams into realities.

So what’s left that still needs crowd-funding help (besides Axanar)? Glad you asked!

Continue reading “A winning streak of SUCCESSFUL Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDERS!”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s latest release: “THE HEIST”

Last week on Halloween day, two brand new Star Trek fan films debuted on YouTube. I haven’t had a chance yet to cover either because I was overseeing a Halloween carnival at my son’s school last Thursday and then flying to Georgia over the weekend to make a fan film. But during this past week, one of those two fan films, the Avalon Universe episode DEMONS (Segment One) has already attracted over 26K views on YouTube as I write this. (And Segment Two has over a thousand views in just seven hours.)

The other Halloween release last week was the latest episode of the long-running DREADNOUGHT DOMINION: “The Heist.” Since debuting, the Youtube view count for this fan film is currently a whopping…356. And that, my friends, is the main reason why I am covering Dominion first here on Fan Film Factor…well, that and the fact that I still need to interview the Demons directors—who are also MY fan film’s directors—and they are both VERY sleep deprived from an incredible weekend of fan filming along with two 12-hour one-way drives between Arkansas and Georgia!

There’s really no direct comparison between these two productions beyond the fact that some of the flashbacks in Demons were filmed at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA…which is also where Dominion films. (Avalon now shoots at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas.) But in terms of acting, lighting, sound, and a slew of other technical elements, Demons is clearly the superior production. However, if that is the only reason you’re watching Star Trek fan films, you’re missing a big part of what this community is all about!

Both of these projects have HEART. In fact, Dreadnought Dominion is one of those fan series that, I believe, epitomizes the very core of what makes fan films so special: FANS. They don’t do this necessarily to dazzle you with their acting or filmmaking prowess. They’re not looking to win awards or get millions of views on Youtube. Folks like Dreadnought Dominion, Potemkin Pictures, VANCE MAJOR’s Minard and Constar Chronicles—plus a host of others—do this because it’s an itch they have to scratch. They want to tell their Star Trek stories, and they want to have fun along the way. They’re not afraid or embarrassed to put themselves out there for all to see…nor should they be!

So I ask you all who are reading this blog today to give this latest episode of Dominion a watch. Let’s up their view count a bit. Fans with heart, who love Star Trek just as much as you do, deserve our support and encouragement. Then, after you watch, take a minute or two to read the following short interview with show-runner GARY DAVIS further down this blog page…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s latest release: “THE HEIST””

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

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION releases the second trailer for “REDEMPTION AT RED MEDUSA”!

Growing up as a Trekkie in the 1970s (before the word “Trekker” even existed), I owned and cherished my copy of the “STAR TREK Starfleet Technical Manual” by Franz Joseph. It had EVERYTHING a prepubescent Trekkie could want…including drawings of starship classes beyond the familiar heavy cruiser design that was the USS Enterprise. There were destroyers, scouts, tugs and transports, and of course, the mighty dreadnought class!

I don’t know what it was about the dreadnought. The third nacelle? The hangar bay doors on the front? The fact that the bridge was located safely in the center of a reinforced saucer section rather that sitting on top, vulnerable to any Tom, Dick, or Klingon with a photo torpedo and a targeting computer? Whatever it was, I loved that ridiculous starship design and dreamed of seeing a dreadnought flying through space just as I’d watched the Enterprise.

It took forty years, but I finally got my wish…kind of. The fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION debuted back 2015 with footage shot on the Farragut Films sets in Georgia two years earlier. The only problem was that those first episodes (“Haunted” and “Anchors Aweigh“) had the USS Dominion sitting in Spacedock the whole time. The only scenes of it flying were in the opening credits. I yearned to see that great bird spread its wings and leave the nest…but I’d have to wait another four years for that!

After a number of shorter vignette episodes and crossovers with Starship Valiant and Vance Major’s Minard films, the dreadnought Dominion finally left Spacedock this past February with the short vignette “Technical Difficulties.” So now that the ship and crew were finally out in space…where would they go first?

The answer to that question arrives this Friday when Dreadnought Dominion releases their first full-length (22-minute) episode in nearly half a decade: “Redemption at Red Medusa.” The first trailer for that long-awaited episode was posted back in March. If you missed it, here it is:

And just this past Friday, they released their second trailer. This one features our first glimpses into some of the incredible CGI effects created by that graphics grandmaster SAMUEL COCKINGS…including a couple of the Romulan ship classes he’ll be using in the upcoming fan film The Romulan War. It’s a really exciting looking trailer. Check it out…

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION finally launches with “TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION didn’t set out to be a tongue-in-cheek Trek fan film parody…and it doesn’t plan to be one for much longer. But for the last ten months, GARY DAVIS and RANDY WREN have taken this passion-driven fan production in some very quirky directions.

Back in 2015 when the first two episodes (“Haunted” and “Anchors Aweigh“) were released, Dreadnought Dominion was actually pretty serious. 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 Parker, Jr. (playing Commodore Samuel Grissom) left the series, leaving Gary and Randy 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!

This past summer, Gary and Randy became the first fan filmmakers to shoot a project at Stage 9 Studios (now renamed THE NEUTRAL ZONE), site of the former Star Trek Continues sets in Kingsland, GA and now available to all fans to use. (Support the Patreon for The Neutral Zone by clicking here.) They released two back-to-back vignettes, “Reality Check” (which purposefully broke the fourth wall) 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.” They scheduled filming for the same weekend that owner RAY TESI opened up his TOS sets in Kingsland free to visitors for a Fan Appreciation Weekend. It was a huge success, but it also afforded the Dominion folks to go somewhere only one Trek fan project (“Walking Bear, Running Wolf”) had ever gone before: they filmed before a live studio audience!

ERIC L. WATTS of the fan film Bjo Awards pointed out, “It’s worth noting that the producers of this episode took advantage of the presence of several attendees…who happened to be in TOS costumes and casting them as background characters, particularly in Engineering, which gave those scenes the unexpected benefit of looking like the ship had a full crew complement aboard.”

The result, as you’ll see below, is a fun and original fan film, full of gags and laughter, that has the added benefit of finally—after some technical difficulties—getting the dreadnought Dominion out of drydock and finally on to her missions in space…

CONSTAR CHRONICLES premieres in a crossover with Dreadnought Dominion: “TIME’S ECHO”

I like to call VANCE MAJOR the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.”  He seems to be all over the place, listed in the credits of Starship Valiant, Melbourne, The Lexington Adventures, Dreadnought Dominion, The Romulan Wars, and Outlaws.  He’s also one of the two people running Starbase Studios, LLC at the moment, helping Trek fan filmmakers find resources and sets to shoot on.

And of course, Vance has played the character of Erick Minard in nearly three dozen fan films, including Starship Valiant, Melbourne, Chain of Command, Command and Conquer, and about 30 fan films in the MINARD saga spanning multiple eras of Star Trek.

Those Minard films came to a conclusion his past February.  And in multiple interviews, Vance confirmed over and over again that this was it for him making fan films!  He was willing to step in and help behind the scenes if asked, but he was done making his own fan films.

Well, that New Years resolution didn’t even make it past summer…

A couple of months ago, Vance announced that he would be returning to fan films with a new series titled CONSTAR CHRONICLES, about the heavy cruiser class starship that Minard commanded in the later part of his long career.  The debut episode of that new series just premiered a few weeks ago as a 5-minute crossover with Dreadnought Dominion featuring Vance’s friend GARY DAVIS playing Captain Jason Brousseau.  It’s a fun little vignette, and I must say that it’s about time!  You’ll get that joke after you watch it…

Of course, the big question on my mind for Vance was: “What part of ‘I’m done with making fan films!’ isn’t he understanding???”  But seriously, I was really curious what made Vance change his mind so quickly…and what his plans are for this new fan series.  Will it go another 30 episodes like the Minard saga?  How will it be different than what we’ve seen before?  How soon until we see more episodes?

I asked Vance these questions and more in yet another audio interview (below).  It feels like I have this guy as a guest on my blog almost monthly!  (Maybe I should just rent him my guest bedroom…)

VANCE MAJOR (front) and the crew of the USS Constar

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION launches new GOFUNDME with two vignettes! (interview, part 2)

Last week, we took a look at the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, which debuted in early 2015 and returned in late 2016 and 2017 with two additional episodes that crossed over with STARSHIP VALIANT and Vance Major’s MINARD saga. Now Dominion is set for yet another return, and has launched a brand new GoFundMe campaign attempting to raise $1,500 for a full-length (two 15-minute episodes) fan film.

In the first part of my interview with show-runners GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN, we discussed the crowd-funder, the guidelines, and the two recent vignettes that were released. But were very outside-of-the box fan films. The first, “Reality Check,” debuted last month and features jumps between the Star Trek fan film universe and the “real” world where their production is actually being filmed. You can watch it here…

The second vignette, “Silent Acknowledgement,” focused on an intriguing concept: a communications officer who is deaf. Played by Gary’s wife TRACEY DAVIS, who is actually deaf and has cochlear implants, Lt. Paula Tomkins’ “disability” is no more a hindrance in the 23rd century than Geordi LsForge’s blindness was in the 24th century. For hearing impaired watchers of fan films, this is (I believe) the first totally deaf character to be featured in any fan production or series. This will probably be very appreciated by those with hearing issues as the show acknowledges deafness. The vignette is below to watch, however if you struggle to hear it, you could consider using some hearing aids, such as the tv ears costco has. With the help of those hearing devices, hearing impaired people should be able to watch the episode more clearly whilst the show introduces the first deaf character.

One of the most distinctive things about Dreadnought Dominion (in addition to the deaf communications officer and the use of a tri-nacelled Federation-class dreadnought design from the Franz Joseph Starfleet Technical Manual from the 1970s) is where the series has been filmed. The first two episodes and the most recent two vignettes were each filmed on the TOS sets in Kingsland, GA, previously used exclusively for the fan series Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues. No other fan production was ever allowed to film there. But Dominion filmed there years earlier and was also the first fan production to film on those sets just as the new owner, RAY TESI of STARSHIP REPUBLIC, was opening them up to other fan productions. How did they manage that…?

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION launches new GOFUNDME with two vignettes! (interview, part 2)”