One of the best TNG-era fan films I’ve seen is Chance Encounter, co-written and directed by GARY O’BRIEN out of Great Britain. It was crowd-funded in mid-2016 for a measly $2,500 (£1,700) and released in February of 2017. Since then, it’s piled up nearly 85K views and was a finalist in three different categories in this past year’s BJO Awards.
So what is Gary doing for an encore?
The answer to that was almost a very disappointing “nothing,” as a Kickstarter campaign at the beginning of this year for THE HOLY COREresulted in pledges that didn’t even reach half-way to Gary’s $11,000 (£8,700) goal…and with Kickstarters, if you don’t make it to your goal, you get zero. But then, a month later on May 7, Gary announced that an angel investor had given him the full amount necessary to complete the entire Holy Core production…!
As you can see from the above Twitter video, there were quite a number of ambitious sets planned for this project, all of them shown with exciting-looking virtual CGI animations. But could Gary pull off building all of these sets for real…?
This is turning out to be a week of VERY good news for Star Trek fan-funded projects! As I reported yesterday, the Star Trek rock band, The Roddenberries, managed to just reach their $9,500 Kickstarter goal with less than an hour left! The Romulan War was able to extend their Indiegogo campaign an extra 30 days, and now they’re now nearly 75% of the way to their $10,000 goal.
But by far the most shocking (in a VERY good way!) news came yesterday when writer/director GARY O’BRIEN announced that his newest fan film project, THE HOLY CORE, has been fully funded by a single donor!
At the end of March, the situation wasn’t nearly as rosy for The Holy Core, as their $12,000 Kickstarter (about £8,700) didn’t even reach the half-way point and received nothing. That was surprising for many of us, as Gary’s previous fan film, Chance Encounter, is considered one of the best ever low-budget Trek fan films.
I spoke to a very disappointed Gary after the failed Kickstarter, asking if he might try an Indiegogo instead (or multiple campaigns) and perhaps make the film in smaller installments. Gary wasn’t sure what he would do next, and I didn’t want to press him. Then, a week or so later, Gary told me privately that he might have found funding, but to please keep it under wraps until he knew for certain.
As the weeks went by, things sounded increasingly hopeful. But I was still asked to hold off sharing anything until the money was “in the bank.” After all, Murphy’s Law is still a thing.
And then yesterday, it all became official as Gary posted this video…
I asked Gary if this donor had requested to remain anonymous, as the video seems to go to great lengths not to provide a name. Gary replied…
Actually he hadn’t confirmed either way when I shot the video, so I played it safe and didn’t mention him. However, literally 10 minutes ago, he got back to me and says he’s happy for me to tell people. So…
He’s ALEXANDER MAYER, and he was the single largest backer of Chance Encounter. He’s about my age and hails from Germany. He’s a big TNG and Voyager fan and likes to back projects he thinks look good. Among others, he has funded Tommy Krafts’ sci-fi film about the Runaway androids (not sure if he funded it all or not though). Other than that, I don’t really have much info.
Well, I for one would like to personally THANK Herr Mayer for his super-generous support of these three fan films! Hopefully, when fans see the quality of The Holy Core, perhaps they will realize that Star Trek fan films are still a thing worthy of their support and donations.
Lately, some of my readers have complained that the fan film guidelines have essentially ended quality Star Trek fan films. “You can’t make a decent Trek fan film in just 15 or 30 minutes,” they say, “and limiting crowd-funding to just $50,000 is ridiculously constraining.”
To them I reply, “Watch CHANCE ENCOUNTER!” This 20-minute TNG-era fan film out of the U.K. had real actors, real sets, a fantastic script, wonderful directing, emotional music, great effects…you name it! And it was made for just a few thousand dollars (or rather, pounds, since they’re all British).
Now these guys want to make another fan film…and they’re struggling to reach their Kickstarter goal of $12K. They’re nearly halfway there, have raised an impressive $5, 345 from 74 backers (including me)…
…BUT THEY HAVE ONLY FIVE DAYS LEFT!!!
And the problem with Kickstarter is that, if they don’t reach their goal, they get ZERO! Show-runner GARY O’BRIEN and co-writer PAUL LAIGHT are trying very hard to reach out to fans. They’ve produced multiple spotlight videos, have been living on Facebook, and even did a podcast. But so far, they’ve only made it half way…and time is running out!
This is the kind of quality Star Trek fan film you’ve been wanting to see, folks. But without donations, you won’t see it. That’s why I’m pushing so hard to assist these guys…because I really want to see it, too!
Here’s the link to donate:
Please consider making a pledge. But whether or not you do, at least share that link on Facebook, Twitter, in chat-rooms, forums, e-mail lists, skywriting, smoke-signals, semaphore…whatever you’ve got!
And just to get you a teensy bit more excited, here’s their latest spotlight video with a look at their LCARS…
Hey, folks. Just a friendly reminder that the Kickstarter for THE HOLY CORE, a new Star Trek fan project from the folks who brought us CHANCE ENCOUNTER, has only 13 days left to go! There’s already 53 backers, and they’re up to nearly 1/3 of the $12,000 they need to raise. But remember that if they don’t make it to their goal, they get nothing…zero, zip, zilch, nada. And that would be such a shame.
The key right now is to help SPREAD THE WORD (and donate, if you haven’t already)! Send out and share links to their Kickstarter campaign page:
One of my favorite Star Trek fan films is CHANCE ENCOUNTER, co-written by PAUL LAIGHT and GARY O’BRIEN, and directed by Gary. This 20-minute, TNG-era fan film was a perfectly-acted love story with wonderful music, tight editing, very nice costumes and uniforms, and even some physical TNG-era sets. Usually for this era, fan films just shoot actors in front of green screens and composite in the complex 24th century starship interiors as background images. But these guys built an actual shuttlepod cockpit and turbolift set.
It’s been over a year since Chance Encounter debuted, funded with the help of a Kickstarter campaign that raised £1,862 (about $2,700). Since then, many fans have wondered when we might see another fan production from this team. The answer was revealed last Thursday when Gary and Paul launched a new Kickstarter for their second project: THE HOLY CORE.
This time, they’re trying to raise £8,700 (approximately $12,000) for a much more ambitious production. This one will be 30-minutes long, following the fan film guidelines and split into two 15-minute parts. Once again, there will be physical sets, this time augmented by CGI backgrounds. Here’s a test shot that appears on their Kickstarter video:
And that’s just a TEST…wait’ll they shoot the real film!!!
And for anyone wondering if this’ll be just another love story disguised as a Star Trek: TNG episode, the answer is no. This time, things will be much more fast-paced and filled with deep ethical and moral questions. The crew of the USS Vigilance, a Nebula-class starship, has a mission to help the inhabitants of the planet Vita II. But things aren’t as they first appear, and the crew must wrestle with the difficult topics of faith, science, sacrifice, and destiny itself.
Assuming Gary and Paul reach their goal (they are already 15% of the way there after just five days…including $175 from me), they intend to release the completed fan film next February or March. I’d really like to see that happen, folks
As such, I’ll be publishing reminders about this Kickstarter over the next three and a half weeks, and I hope you’ll join me in both donating and spreading the word. This one is really worth it!
And now, here’s a message from show-runners Gary O’Brien and Paul Laight…
I love Brits who make Trek fan films! A year ago, writer / director GARY O’BRIEN and co-writer PETER LAIGHT released their first-ever Star Trek fan film CHANCE ENCOUNTER…and fans were blown away. Superb acting, touching story, well-directed, fantastic costumes and VFX, perfect music, and even custom-built shuttlepod and turbolift sets—it’s a MUST-SEE fan film well worth 20 minutes of your time to watch if you haven’t already.
This entire magnificent production was funded for just £1,862 (about $2,700) raised through a Kickstarter. And now, Gary and Peter have just announced a NEW crowd-funding campaign (coming in March) to try to raise £7,000 – £8,000 (about $10,000)…well within the $50K limit set by the fan film guidelines.
Speaking of the guidelines, I asked Gary about film length and crowd-funding perks:
We are structuring the script to split in half at the 15-minute mark, and so we are aiming for an overall run-time of 30 minutes for the story. We have yet to decide whether to make that two separate uploads of 15 minutes or not. That choice will be made much later in the process I think.
As for perks, we will probably only offer wallpapers, scripts, etc. Our hope is that anyone who donates does so to see the film get made. The simpler the perks, the more money we can put on screen!
Like Chance Encounter, the new film, The Holy Core, will be set in a time period about midway through TNG, likely 2368 or thereabouts, with a cast of all new characters. And while Chance Encounter was basically a love story, Gary says…
This time we will touch on several themes, such as scientific pursuit, the roles of religion, and a little hint of romance, too.
The new campaign will start up around March 1 and run through the end of that month. Filming will likely happen over the summer (once sets are built and cast members selected), and the finished film(s) will likely debut in late 2018 or early 2019. Obviously, a lot can happen before then, but Chance Encounter stayed pretty much on schedule all though production.
So start saving your pennies (or pence) for a very exciting crowd-funder coming in just five more weeks. And here’s something to get you in the donating mood…
My life isn’t usually all that interesting or exciting…at least, not all in one week. But what a week it was!
(Actually, it was only really exciting if you happen to be a Trekkie interested in fan films. If you’re my wife, it’s more like, “That’s nice, honey. I’m glad you had such a good time. Did you remember to empty the dishwasher?”
And that’s why I’m writing this blog—because I have now emptied the dishwasher, and I really want to tell you guys about the fan film filled week I just had…because you care, right? (Aw don’t answer that; it’ll just kill my buzz.)
The bar has just been raised for Star Trek fan films. On May 2 of last year, Gary O’Brien and Paul Laight launched a Kickstarter to fund their latest short film. Based in Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom, over the past eleven years Gary and Paul had collaborated on eight other short films.
At first, their script had nothing whatsoever to do with Star Trek. It was, quite simply, a chance encounter between an older man and a younger woman. Then Paul suggested adding in a science fiction element, and Gary (who would later be crowned the U.K.’s “Ultimate Trekker” and win a trip to Los Angeles to tour Paramount Studios) suggested that the idea might work well as a Star Trek story.
Their Kickstarter was surprisingly modest, asking for only £1,700 (the equivalent of only about $2,500). They ultimately raised £1,862…including £10 me yours truly. And although Gary put in some of his own money, you will likely be shocked that a fan film of such quality could be made for so little…especially considering that the actors were paid a modest amount (production predated the guidelines requiring no one be paid) and that two very impressive sets were constructed, props created, uniforms purchased, visual FX rendered, and original music composed. And the entire project was completed in just half a year!
You can discover more about this project, find out about the cast and creators, and see some fun behind-the-scenes videos on their website.
Do yourself a favor. Drop whatever you’re doing and take twenty minutes to watch this impressively crafted, deftly acted, and gently touching fan film…
CHANCE ENCOUNTER, a short Star Trek fan film out of the United Kingdom, is filming one final scene today (Saturday). Most of their shooting wrapped back in August, but as post-production progressed and the final film began to take shape, the producers felt that one more scene was needed…along with hiring a new actor to play the role of Captain Janssen.
Director Gary O’Brien has been releasing regular, brief production update videos. The previous one discussed this added scene:
…and the most recent update shows the really cool (and surprisingly simple!) turbolift set:
You can also check out their trailer…this looks like a good one, folks:
I really love these guys! The Star Trek short fan film, CHANCE ENCOUNTER, is cruising along smoothly at high warp, and they’ve just launched a new website with their first trailer on the home page (posted below).
The attractive website has production news (all of the video updates posted so far), bios on the cast and crew, and a brief but informative “About” page with the following back story:
It began when Gary and Paul decided to embark on another short film project together. This would be their ninth collaboration in about 11 years.
Originally the premise had nothing to do with Star Trek, or even science fiction. Rather, it had a contemporary setting and the hope was to tell a gentle story that showed men and women as equally capable of listening to, and helping one another on issues of both life and love.
Various scenarios were conceived of and abandoned before Paul hit upon a soft science fiction element in one of the many draft outlines he was writing. This sparked an idea in Gary who saw that with a sci-fi element in the mix, and the the themes of decency and respect being explored, that maybe they had hit upon a great Star Trek idea.
Paul agreed and after several more draft outlines were produced, the pair decided that they were ready to try and raise some funds to make the film a reality. And so they launched their first Kickstarter campaign to great success, exceeding the modest amount they had hoped to raise and thus securing their funding. Whilst they would still both contribute financially to the film themselves, the generosity of the Kickstarter backers ensured that the project was now able to be made.