AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 3)

Here’s a summary of Day One, and here’s a summary of Day Two.

My head hit the pillow on Saturday night, I blinked, and it was suddenly 7 hours later (thank you, daylight savings!)—I was that exhausted after two days of Axacon.  But now I was recharged with only one day to go…and this day was much less hectic.  I was only scheduled to lead two panels, and nearly everyone I could think of had already been interviewed in the director’s chairs alcove.

I heard the shower running in the bathroom that I shared with STEVEN “Admiral Slater” JEPSON (we each had our own bedrooms in Alec’s house), so I started packing up my stuff.  I’d be leaving the con and taking the hotel shuttle directly to the airport a little after 4:00pm.  When Steven was done, I hopped into the shower and got myself dressed.

Steve was already downstairs, and  for a little while, it was just the two of us waiting for the others.  Over the weekend, Steve quickly became one of my favorite people in the entire Axanar brother-and-sisterhood.  A music and vocal teacher at the University of Missouri School of Music, Steve is also a singer and performer, and a really smart, well-spoken guy.  And like me, he’s incredibly funny (see what I did there?).

As we waited for the rest of the posse to get ready, Steve and I admired the new Starfleet admiral’s uniform, had-sewn for Steve by Axanar costumers CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIÈRE and ANGELA AVINO from Italy.  Steve’s original Admiral Slater uniform was the same one worn by actor TONY “Admiral Ramirez” TODD…who is a BIG guy!  When Steven tried the uniform on for his photo, it was like wearing a parka.  So it literally needed to be clipped (with binder clips) all along the back in order for Admiral Slater not to look like a toddler wearing his daddy’s Starfleet uniform.

This new uniform had been specifically tailored for Steven, and when he tried it on, it looked amazing!  And that gave me an idea…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 3)”

AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 2)

Click here for a summary of Day One of Axacon.

As for Day Two, I can sum it up in just one word: WOW!  It was unquestionably one of the craziest but most fun times I’ve ever had at any Trek convention (big or small).  As I did yesterday, this will be a “deep dive” into what Axacon was like for me…

It began with breakfast at ALEC PETERS’ house.  After Friday’s multiple skipped meals, I wasn’t gonna make the same mistake again…not with everything I was expected to do on Saturday!  And anyway, Alec provided quiche!

After fueling up our bodies, the five residents of Casa de Peters piled into three cars to drive the 45 minutes to the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Airport hotel.  Arriving about 45 minutes before Axacon and its host convention SphinxCon kicked off, we each carried boxes and posters and Garth’s original costume and loads of other stuff in from Alec’s trunk.

I found myself immediately impressed by how organized everything seemed to be.  Those Honor Harrington fan volunteers from the Royal Manticoran Navy certainly had their their act together (and looked really spiffy in those black military-style uniforms!) with folks assigned to security, check-in, set-up, etc.  The fellow handling the A/V system carried along about 15 different cables and adapters to make sure anyone could get video and sound from their laptop to the large monitors in the panel rooms.

As things were set up, the only “oops!” I could see was the following (see if you can spot it)…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 2)”

AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 1)

I love a small, intimate convention…especially one with guest celebrities.  While the huge Creation Cons and Dragon*Cons and San Diego ComiCons can be mind-blowing, the quiet, intimate setting of a small convention is a unique and treasured experience for me.  In my youth, it was at small cons where I once had breakfast with James Doohan, went jogging with George Takei (okay, I rode my bike alongside him…and could still barely keep up!), and helped a falling-down drunk Colm Meaney find his hotel room in the Marriott Hunt’s Valley Inn (“This place is a fookin’ maze…!”).  Good times.

I hadn’t been to a small con in many, many years.  And I didn’t realize how much I miss them…until this past weekend when I went to Axacon in Atlanta, GA.  Axacon was never meant to have tons of attendees.  The 30-40 people who showed up over the three days was about what ALEC PETERS had expected.  In fact, there were only about three dozen chairs in the Axacon panel room…a larger turnout wouldn’t have had a place to sit down!

This time, though, I wasn’t just an attendee; I was a guest.  And Alec made sure to put me to work earning my free room and board.  I stayed over at his home and even had my own bedroom, as did fellow house guests STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater) and LEE QUESSENBERRY (Axanar art director and webmaster).  Both of these men are now two of my favorite people.

In fact, the whole convention was filled with folks who are now my favorite people!  That’s just the kind of weekend it was.  There was love here, friendship, camaraderie, and a feeling of shared teamwork and dedication to bringing a dream to life.

It was a really FANtastic con.  Let me tell you all about it…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 1)”

Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!

Hey, guys.  Not a lot of time to blog.  I flew out on a red-eye from Los Angeles with minimal sleep last night, arrived in Atlanta at 6:30 am, and got to ALEC PETERS’ house about 8am.  Thank goodness he didn’t ignore the doorbell (he’d been pulling consecutive all-nighters with the team to get the USS Ares bridge completed).  After taking a 3-hour nap in one of Alec’s guest bedrooms, I got ready for my first-ever trip to OWC studios.

Alec put me to work almost immediately, tasking me and my co-host KEITH M. SEDOR with conducting a number of video interviews with various guests.  I spoke with ALBERT MARTINEZ (the creator of Chasing the Infinite Sky), DON GAFFNEY (Star Trek prop-maker and Klingon expert), DANA WAGNER (who is supervising the completion of the bridge set), and his wife ALLISON (who works with the local school district getting high schoolers access to the the set at the studio for ultra-cool student projects).  Keith got to interview GARY GRAHAM (Soval) and J.G. HERTZLER (Sam Travis/Martok).  I’ve interviewed J.G. before, so Keith got the big celebrities.

Unfortunately, all that work prepping, doing pre-interviews, and conducting the interviews themselves didn’t give me as much time for photos and videos as I wanted, but Alec hired a 4-person professional film crew to record the entire event.  This included about 40 people wandering through the bridge and, at one point, being treated to a live read-through of two scenes from the full 90-minute Axanar script (which will, eventually, be released in both written and audio format).  The readers included Gary, J.G., Alec, and STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater himself).  It was really awesome hearing Gary and J.G. doing a dramatic script reading—they’re both incredibly gifted actors.  There were even special Axanar cookies brought in by one of the attendees!

It was a super-fun day for everyone who made the, er, trek to Lawrenceville…and there’s even more on tap for Saturday and Sunday (including a panel of upcoming fan films with some footage debuting exclusively at Axacon!).

But the star of Friday’s show was the USS Ares bridge.  Still not 100% finished, it’s now about 95% of the way there…with some fun little Easter eggs to find hidden in plain site on a few of the control panels.  I’ve included some pictures of those along with the best of the photos I got on Friday…

Continue reading “Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!”

AXACON schedule released – and I need YOUR questions for J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and ALEC PETERS!

The first-ever AXACON is less than three weeks away, and ALEC PETERS has just released the schedule.  It’s a pretty busy weekend, filled with all kinds of activities and panels…most of them focused on AXANAR (both past, present, and future), but also a few opportunities to expand beyond just one fan film.

Here’s a look at some of the things that will be going on:

FRIDAY

  • A set tour of OWC Studios (including photo ops on the USS Ares bridge)
  • A reading from the full 90 minute version of the Axanar movie script (featuring J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, Alec Peters, and Steven Jepson)
  • Socialize at the bar with the actors and Axanar team (donor funds will NOT be used to pay the bar tab!)

SATURDAY

  • The Top 10 Star Trek fan films (at least in our opinion…and we don’t all agree!)
  • J.G. and Gary talk about their time on televised Star Trek
  • An Axanar UPDATE with Alec Peters and director/co-writer Paul Jenkins
  • Alec discusses how the Honor Harrington novels influenced Axanar
  • A special Axanar donor lunch with the actors and production team
  • Axanar fan fiction with three people who are writing/drawing/animating it
  • Alec and Paul discuss the evolution of Axanar from story to screenplay
  • The Axanar fleet – designing cool starships from 20 years before TOS
  • A preview of upcoming Star Trek fan films
  • Klingon kostuming…er, costuming
  • The Axanar project from a fan’s perspective
  • Everyone hits the bar again, including J.G. and Gary

SUNDAY

  • Starship combat in the Axaverse (when did we start calling it that?)
  • J.G., Gary, and Alec discuss working on Prelude to Aanar and plans for the remaining two Axanar films
  • When fan films become professional independent films…what does the future hold?
  • Alec discusses James T. Kirk’s hero: Garth of Izar, and Steven Jepson discuss the infamous “Admiral Scaredy”: Conrad Slater
  • Axanar trivia…with PRIZES!

As you can see, a lot of careful consideration went into filling this mini convention with diverse content while still keeping it centered around Axanar.  I think the organizers did an excellent job with that.

They also scheduled me to host five panels and appear on an additional three…for a total of EIGHT panels in THREE days!  Oy.  But in one of those panels, I have to interview J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, and Alec Peters about their work on Prelude and plans for the two upcoming Axanar films.  And that’s where I need YOUR help…

Continue reading “AXACON schedule released – and I need YOUR questions for J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and ALEC PETERS!”

AXACON adds more guests – TICKETS now available!

Things are beginning to get very exciting when it comes to AXACON, the “con-within-a-con” that is happening during the first weekend of November in Atlanta, GA.

In the last few weeks, some major new guests were added, and last week, tickets finally went on sale.  The guest list now includes GARY GRAHAM (who plays Ambassador Soval in AXANAR) and J.G. HERTZLER (who plays the surly Admiral Sam Travis in AXANAR)—both of whom are veteran television Star Trek actors—along with tribbles creator DAVID GERROLD.

Other announced guests include director/co-writer of the upcoming Axanar sequel fan films PAUL JENKINS, editor/sound designer MARK EDWARD LEWIS, art directors LESS QUESSENBERRY and ALEXANDER RICHARDSON, STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater from Prelude to Axanar), and of course, writer/executive producer/Garth of Izar himself ALEC PETERS.  There’s also a growing number of notables from the fan film community including Stalled Trek creator MARK LARGENT, Chasing the Infinite Sky creator ALBERT J. MARTINEZ, Axanar fan artist MARK PAYTON, and your favorite Fan Film Factor blogger JONATHAN LANE.

Also announced is that Axacon ticket holders will be invited for a Friday tour of OWC Studios in Lawrenceville, GA, where the Ares bridge set is located.  Guests need to provide their own transportation to and from the studio, which is about 40 minutes from the hotel.

Tickets for the event can now be purchased.  Note that these are “add-on” tickets, meaning that a ticket for Axacon (either $25 or $50) can only be purchased AFTER you first buy a ticket for SphinxCon (which is a separate $50 ticket).  SphinxCon, a convention celebrating the Honor Harrington book series, is happening at the same location and is acting as the “host” convention (meaning they are paying the main expenses for the hotel facilities).  Axacon is happening in a special area of the convention open only to Axacon ticket holders.

The event will be taking place at the  Crowne Plaza – Atlanta Airport (free shuttle from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) on November 2-4, 2018.

Click here to purchase tickets for Axacon.


And come back tomorrow for a surprisingly candid interview with J.G. Hertzler discussing his recent political campaign, his haircut, and whether or not he’ll be appearing in the Axanar sequel films!

GARY GRAHAM’S “Sons of Kirk” KICKSTARTER enters its final TWO-DAY push!

It took Star Trek and sci-fi actor GARY GRAHAM just 33 hours to hit his $5,000 goal on a Kickstarter to help fund the first official studio album and music video for his rock band THE SONS OF KIRK. Gary’s band plays songs with Star Trek and sci-fi themed lyrics inspired by Gary’s own personal experiences playing various characters not only on Star Trek: Enterprise and Voyager but also in Alien Nation and in the Trek fan films Of Gods and Men, Renegades, and Prelude to Axanar.

The real goal for this Kickstarter was actually more ambitious: $15,000 to produce an extended album and multiple music videos.  The $5,000 goal was set simply to make certain they reached their goal and didn’t miss out on the money entirely (as Kickstarter gives you nothing if you fail to reach your goal).

But Gary and the band needn’t have worried.  Less than a day and a half after going live, they blasted past that $5,000 goal.  They’d now be able to produce an album with at least six full songs.  So they next set a series of stretch goals, each upping the total a little bit more in increasingly larger chunks:

  • $7,000 – Song #7 (unlocked)
  • $8,000 – Song #8 (unlocked)
  • $10,000 – Songs #9 and 10 (unlocked)
  • $13,000 – A second music video (unlocked)
  • $16,000 – A third music video of an unoffical bonus acoustic jam (unlocked)
  • $19,000 – A final video of the band rocking out live at Star Trek Las Vegas

The $16,000 stretch goal was reached late Sunday afternoon, and that leaves only the last stretch goal to achieve.  The Sons of Kirk just performed as the house band at Creation’s 2018 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas a week ago.  I’m guessing they shot footage.  The question is: will we fans get to see it?

We’ll know in just about 58 hours (as I type this).  Right now, they’re at $16,288 from 213 backers.  If you haven’t donated yet, or if you want to up your donation to send them over the top, click here.

 

YOU could appear in GARY GRAHAM’S new MUSIC VIDEO!

GARY GRAHAM is no stranger to Star Trek and sci-fi…and he’s also been a friend to Trek fan films for over a decade.  Known as Ambassador Soval from Star Trek: Enterprise (he was in an episode of Voyager, too) and Detective Matt Sikes from the TV series Alien Nation, Gary also appeared in the Trek fan films Of Gods and Men, Renegades, and Prelude to Axanar.

But did you know that Gary also has a rock band that plays original songs with Star Trek-themed lyrics?  It’s true!  Heck, he’ll even perform at your wedding or birthday party with his group, THE SONS OF KIRK.  (Seriously, how cool would it be to have a Star Trek veteran actor come to your house and sing Star Trek songs???)

According Gary, “All of [my] insider experiences are infused into the songs and lyrics!  Every single song is Star Trek-themed, with hilarious, cool, and sexy lyrics to make even the most casual fan crack a Vulcan Smile. No filler, No additives; just #NerdCool.

Gary and his band have just launched a KICKSTARTER campaign with a $5,000 goal.  Their hope is raise enough to record their first studio album and then create a music video for one of the songs.  If they surpass their goal (which is looking likely, as nearly a third of that $5K has been raised in the first 12 hours!), they will have stretch goals for additional songs and potentially more music videos.

Perks include the expected—copies of the finished album, autographed photos, merchandise, listings in the credits at various producer levels—plus a a couple of unique options.  With as little as a $15 donation, your name will be mentioned in a special “Thank You” song (not on the album, but released to the public).  And all contributors of $200 or more get to be in the music video (travel and lodging not included).

You can follow The Sons of Kirk on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

To donate, visit their Kickstarter page.