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)”

The shoots must go on – filming MUDD baking in an OVEN!

You’ve probably heard it on the news—or maybe you’re experiencing it yourself. There is a massive “dome of heat” sitting across much of America right now with temperature records being broken left and right. Even in the higher elevation Ozark Mountain area, the mercury on the thermometer outside read 95 degrees last Saturday. And it wasn’t just any kind of hot. It was the southeastern U.S. in June…meaning sticky, humid heat that melts you into a puddle of sweat even if you’re standing in the shade!

But inside WARP 66 STUDIOS in the town of Flippin, Arkansas, well, it was even HOTTER!!! Actually, I should specify that inside one of the WARP 66 Studios, it was even hotter. That’s because their TOS sets occupy two different locations. The bridge and shuttlecraft sets live in a nice, air-conditioned building owned by DAN REYNOLDS in Harrison, AR, and even though the lights and warm bodies can heat things up a bit, those two sets remain pretty comfortable.

However, things are much different in Flippin! GLEN L. WOLFE constructed a metal building on his property that currently houses the transporter room, briefing room, sickbay, corridors, and a swing set area. The building has no insulation, and only one small room inside for the actors to prep has a small A/C unit. The rest of the building is “cooled” by running small fans to move the air around. But when it’s 95 and humid outside, those poor fans are fighting a losing battle, and with the hot lights and bodies inside, you may as well be filming inside of an oven!

“It was dead air inside and hotter,” said Dan Reynolds, who served as director of photography for this oppressively sweltering Saturday shoot. “Thank goodness Glen built it with extremely high ceilings.”

Interestingly, not one but TWO different fan films shot simultaneously on those super-hot sets. The first and more significant of the two (in terms of total footage filmed) was for the next episode from Glen and Dan’s “fanthology” series THE FEDERATION FILES. Titled “MUDD’S MISSION,” this new production brings back two colorful characters from the series’ very first release back n 2016, “HIS NAME IS MUDD“: Captain Charles McCann of the U.S.S. Constitution, played by JIM VON DOLTEREN, and the irredeemable Harcourt Fenton Mudd played with flair by DAVID WHITNEY.

DAVID WHITNEY as Harry Mudd with DAN REYNOLDS (left) and JOSHUA IRWIN (right)

David, who lives in Iowa, actually filmed his scenes a couple of weeks ago during a much more pleasant weekend. “Up until June,” said JOSHUA IRWIN, showrunner for the AVALON UNIVERSE, who was also there this past weekend filming pick-up shots for that team’s upcoming release THE NEEDS OF THE ONE, “the weather in Flippin can be pretty mild. In fact, late spring this year has been cloudy and rainy, even into May. But June is about the farthest you can do it. July and August are out for shooting there, and we don’t typically schedule anything until September again.”

So why not simply cancel the hot shoot and come back some cooler day?

Continue reading “The shoots must go on – filming MUDD baking in an OVEN!”

Announcing the WINNERS of the first annual 2021 DIRECTORS CHOICE fan film awards!

Up until now, fan films (specifically Star Trek fan films) had only one annual awards competition devoted exclusively to their sub-genre, and those were the BJO AWARDS. Now there are three. The SHOWRUNNER AWARDS will begin taking submissions next week for Star Trek fan films, with winners announced on September 8, 2022. But yesterday, the Fan Film DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS announced their winners and honorable mentions.

Launched by fan filmmakers DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN L. WOLFE of WARP 66 STUDIOS in Arkansas, creators of the fan series THE FEDERATION FILES, the Directors Choice Awards were open to fan films of any genre (not just Star Trek) released during calendar year 2021. The judges were the directors of those submitted films. In order to take part, a director had to cast votes in each category for a fan film other than their own or be disqualified from winning.

Submissions were accepted during the month of February, and Dan Reynolds had this to say about their early trepidations: “We weren’t really sure how the initial response to our inaugural launch of the Fan Film Directors Choice Awards was going to turn out, but we soon realized that we struck a nerve with the fan film community. We knew we were on the right track, and within a few short weeks after our announcement, we received over 30 entries.”

Glen Wolfe echoed Dan’s sentiments: “From its inception, we wanted to fairly honor those hardworking fan film producers with recognition directly from their peers. This experience has been extremely positive, and I think that the films entered and those winning awards should show that the Fan Film Directors Choice Awards was a success and has encouraged us to continue it indefinitely.”

Dan concluded: “I’m very happy with the diversity of fan films that were included this year. We had Star Trek, Star Wars, James Bond, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones fan films entered this year, and we hope that expands in the coming years. I was also very happy that the winners were from all the represented genres.”

And speaking of winners, that’s the perfect segue into presenting the results of the very first annual Fan Film Directors Choice Awards

Continue reading “Announcing the WINNERS of the first annual 2021 DIRECTORS CHOICE fan film awards!”

YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 5)

In Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 4, we got to know STAN WOO and JOHN ATKIN. Back in 1985, Los Angeles-based Stan convinced GEORGE TAKEI and JAMES SHIGETA to play Hikaru Sulu and Admiral Nogura, respectively, in a low-budget fan film titled YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL. The completed production was finally released onto the Internet in April 2022…

Although much of the film was shot between 1985 and 1987, it remained unfinished even in 2010 when Canadian Trek fan John offered to help Stan finally complete the film.

Along with help from Hollywood writer PAUL McCUDDEN, Stan and John expanded the short 15-minute script to bring in new characters in new locations. The first original footage for Yorktown since the 1980s was shot in 2011 and 2012, as two different scenes featuring Klingons were filmed with lines spoken entirely in the Klingon language.

In the meantime, VFX artist ROLAND BARON created CGI models of the U.S.S. Yorktown, a Klingon K-fighter, and the terrorist vessel Nagaer based on sketches from ANDREW PROBERT, who designed the refit Enterprise NCC-1701 from Star Trek: The Motion Picture as well as and the Enterprise-D. A short trailer spotlighted Roland’s amazing work…

MORE SHOOTS…LOTS OF ‘EM!

The year 2012 ended with two major shoots that took place at Capilano College, based in North Vancouver, British Columbia. The first shoot was filmed in November in front of a green screen and featured CHARLES EDWARD BAE (who had provided the Klingon translations) as the Klingon Colonel Qumeq, publicly lambasting the evils of the Federation to an audience over a newsfeed.

Charles Edward Bae in full Klingon make-up and garb

The second shoot happened at the same location in December but was not simply another green screen. John elaborates, “IAN GUSTAFSON had access to an amazing set at Capilano College. The set was one that had been used on a small independent sci-fi movie, but Ian and Charles modified it so much that it is just about unrecognizable to its original form. The set was transformed into ‘Deck 19, Section 6’ of the U.S.S. Yorktown.”

This was for a new sequence set before the refit, showing the terrorist attack and the death of Jeffrey Pond’s fiancée Lt. Katherine Baetz, played by ZLATINA PACHEVA. This opening sequence will be the only footage in Yorktown to feature the classic TOS-style Starfleet tunics, which were purchased from Anovos and then adorned with Yorktown patches (custom-designed and manufactured by STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE fan film costumer JOE KEREZMAN).

George Kayaian (right) on his set for Starship Antyllus, doubling as the Yorktown Hangar Bay control room.

A final piece of the opening segment was supplied the following April in 2013 by none other than GEORGE KAYAIAN, who had begun shooting his own new fan series in New York called STAR TREK: ANTYLLUS. “I had seen some of George Kayaian’s earlier fan film work on YouTube,” John explains, “and I had seen pictures of his small bridge set that he was building on Facebook. I thought that it would be perfect for our Hangar Bay scene and asked if we could use it in the film, and if he would be interested in playing an officer in that scene.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 37-year trek… (Part 5)”

THE FEDERATION FILES shows fans the S.S. BOTANY BAY in “No Good Deed” (video interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)

THE FEDERATION FILES fanthology series is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. That’s because GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas have decided that no era of Star Trek history is out of bounds for them to explore. This has included everything from the 1950s through today into the 23rd century and beyond to the 24th century. It’s a really fun fan series to follow.

Most recently, in what is their overall eleventh completed fan film since their first release (“His Name Is Mudd” back in 2016), The Federation Files takes us both into the Trek movie era and also back to 1996 when the SS Botany Bay was launched following the Eugenics Wars. (You remember that, right? It was only a quarter century ago.)

But for those two eras, Glen managed to construct two unbelievably believable sets for a fan-produced film (plus a Vulcan moon base command center set). The first unbelievably believable set was was a recreation of Kirk’s San Francisco apartment from Star Trek II and III. The other was the interior of the aforementioned Botany Bay in a sequence that looked like it could have been built at Paramount Studios back in 1967!

Granted, as I said, these were fan-produced sets, so they’re not precisely identical. But they’re close enough that a viewer can squint a little and accept that, yes, Saavik has walked into Kirk’s apartment and a Vulcan wearing a space suit has entered the sleeper ship containing Khan Noonien Singh and the genetically-engineered supermen.

Take a look at “NO GOOD DEED”…

This fan film was released way back in early November, and I had wanted to interview Glen months earlier than this. But in December, Glen became seriously ill—as in “had-to-be-hospitalized-and-nearly-died” kinda ill. Rumors flew that he had caught the more deadly delta variant of COVID. Others said he had pneumonia…or both! Either way, it took Glen months to recover, but I am pleased to report that he is now on the mend.

In the following video, we discuss what happened to put Glen into the hospital, along with discussing these impressive set recreations, production of this latest episode, Glen’s experiences being involved with other fan films and series, and all sorts of other things that come up when two Star Trek fan film-o-philes get together and geek out. Oh, and at the 42 second mark, you even get to hear me sing (oy vey!)…

Fan Film DIRECTORS CHOICE Awards submission deadline is THIS TUESDAY!

Three weeks ago, I announced that submissions were now open for the first annual Fan Film DIRECTORS CHOICE Awards, organized by GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS. Any fan film (not just Star Trek) released onto the Internet during calendar year 2021 is eligible for submission. Glen Wolfe reports that participation, so far, has been encouragingly strong so far.

The deadline to enter is this Tuesday, February 22, and if you want to submit your fan film, you can do so here:

CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR THE FAN FILM DIRECTORS CHOICE AWARDS

Voting is done exclusively by the directors of the submitted films, and directors cannot vote their own films—otherwise, there would likely be massive ties with each fan film getting one vote! Ballots are due back no later than March 15, and any director who does not return their ballot by that deadline will have their fan film disqualified from winning anything.

When entering, the submitter can choose up to five categories for which that fan film can be considered for an award:

  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Director
  • Best Original Costuming
  • Best Make-up/Hairstyling
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Original Music
  • Best F/X Make-up
  • Best Audio Mixing
  • Best Lighting
  • Best CGI FX
  • Best Green Screen
  • Best Screenplay
  • Best Parody
  • Best Foreign Fan Film
  • Best Animated Fan Film
  • Best Editing
  • Most Canon Award
  • Best Ensemble
  • Most Valuable Crew Member

After all of the ballots have been tabulated, a “Best In Fest” winner will be determined as the fan film that receives the most votes overall in all of the categories combined (so it’s advantageous to submit your film for the maximum of five categories).

Winners will be announced on April 5, and each winner will be e-mailed an award certificate. If you’ve entered or are planning to (before the end of Tuesday!), I wish you the best of luck!

Submissions now OPEN until Feb. 22 for the Fan Film DIRECTORS CHOICE Awards!

Last month, I announced TWO new annual award shows for fan films debuting this year. Up util now, Star Trek fan films were honored annually by the BJO AWARDS. However, now the Bjos will be joined by the Fan Film DIRECTORS CHOICE Awards and (later this year) the Star Trek Fan Film SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

The two new competitions will be different in several logistical ways, with many details of the Showrunner Awards still needing to be worked out (by me and my team). In the meantime, however, coordinators GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of WARP 66 STUDIOS are launching the Directors Choice Awards today (February 1), with submissions being accepted for any fan film (not just Star Trek) publicly released in calendar year 2021. The YouTube/Vimeo publication date stamp will be used to verify eligibility.

Submissions are open from February 1 through February 22, 2022. Anyone can enter any fan film with a submission fee of $10 by filling out the form on this web page, but only a maximum of three films by the same director can be entered.

Voting is done exclusively by the directors of the submitted films. (So for INTERLUDE, for example, even though I am the one submitting and paying the entry fee, I won’t be the one voting since I wasn’t the director.) Directors cannot vote for their own films—otherwise, there would likely be massive ties with each fan film getting one vote! Ballots are due back no later than March 15, and any director who does not return their ballot by that deadline will have their fan film disqualified from winning anything.

When entering, the submitter can choose up to five categories for which that fan film can considered for an award:

  • Best Actor
  • Best Actress
  • Best Director
  • Best Original Costuming
  • Best Make-up/Hairstyling
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Original Music
  • Best F/X Make-up
  • Best Audio Mixing
  • Best Lighting
  • Best CGI FX
  • Best Green Screen
  • Best Screenplay
  • Best Parody
  • Best Foreign Fan Film
  • Best Animated Fan Film
  • Best Editing
  • Most Canon Award
  • Best Ensemble
  • Most Valuable Crew Member

After all of the ballots have been tabulated, a “Best In Fest” winner will be determined as the fan film that receives the most votes overall in all of the categories combined (so it’s advantageous to submit your film for the maximum of five categories).

Winners will be announced on April 5, and each winner will be e-mailed an award certificate. To all the fan filmmakers who choose to enter (and hopefully, there will be many), I wish you the best of luck!

Click here to enter your fan film.

Announcing TWO new FAN FILM AWARD SHOWS coming in 2022!

File this under: “Great minds think alike…” or perhaps under, “This is what you get for missing staff meetings, Doctor.” Either way, GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS of THE FEDERATION FILES and I had the same idea at the same time, and now there are going to be TWO new fan film awards shows coming your way in 2022!

In my case, the idea of hosting an annual awards show for Star Trek fan films has been percolating in the back of my mind for a few years…not as a way of competing with the annual BJO AWARDS but as simply an additional opportunity for Star Trek fan filmmakers and their productions to shine.

As the new year dawned a few days ago, I was able to finally enjoy a break from the blogging “sprint” that took up much of my December. And I decided that, if I was really serious about creating some Fan Film Factor awards show, now might be a good time to do some thinkin’…

At first, I tried to come up with a name—and you know how much I like things that abbreviate to “FFF.” The Fan Film Festival Awards? Nah. Fan Film Faves? Cheesy. Fan Film Friends? Family? Flamingos? Jeez, I had nothing decent!

Okay, time to try a different approach vector…

So I shifted to thinking about judging. I mean, I suppose it could just be me deciding the winners and losers, but no one fan should possess such power! And, sheesh, what a way to completely piss off almost all of my friends, right? Nope, I needed a panel, but whom? When I finally answered that question, the name for the awards show fell easily into place: THE SHOWRUNNER AWARDS.

I’ve always felt there should be a fan film awards competition where members of the community judge each other’s work…and who knows more about what it takes to make a fan film than a showrunner? But I didn’t want too many judges, so I decided to limit my invitations to showrunners who had successfully released at least four or five completed Star Trek fan films.

Of course, the next concern was making sure there weren’t too many entries. Goodness knows that VANCE MAJOR alone (one of the judges) could enter dozens—maybe hundreds!—of fan films all by himself! So I decided that, unlike the Bjo Awards, the Showrunner Awards will feature a nominal entry fee (maybe $10) plus an additional $1 for each special category like Best VFX, Best Music, Best Film Editing, etc. As I’m learning from entering my fan film INTERLUDE in various film festivals, this is how most of them work with application fees.

Speaking of Vance, or any of the judges, how do we make certain that all of them don’t simply vote for their own fan film, and we wind up with a 6-way or 10-way tie each year? Glad you asked…

Continue reading “Announcing TWO new FAN FILM AWARD SHOWS coming in 2022!”

Four years in the making, THE FEDERATION FILES’ tenth episode is “DOPPELGANGER” (video interview with DAN REYNOLDS)

I first heard about “Doppelganger” back in early 2017 when I watched this short trailer, released at the same time as this short trailer for “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.” Both didn’t show any filmed footage, but they promised new releases coming from the fan anthology (fanthology?) series THE FEDERATION FILES, which had launched a few months earlier in late 2016 with their debut episode, “His Name Is Mudd.”

Following that initial premiere and those two trailers, The Federation Files released another eight episodes…

And while “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” was completed and released pretty quickly later in 2017, “Doppelganger” was nowhere to be seen…until this past summer, that is. On July 9th, 2021, The Federation Files debuted its TENTH full episode, and fans finally got to see “Doppelganger.”

It also marked the first time in five releases that an episode of The Federation Files featured any of the amazing Star Trek TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. After using the sets in their first four releases, the next five episodes were either filmed on location (both indoors and outdoors) or else on non-TOS sets custom-built for the needs of a particular story.

Of course, that’s the advantage of a fanthology format, as the time period can jump around and not be limited to only 23rd century Star Trek history. But the trend was enough for me to notice and ask co-showrunner GLEN L. WOLFE about the lack of use of the TOS sets in my previous blog about “Mask.” Amusingly, though, before I had a chance to publish that interview, these busy beavers in Arkansas released their newest fan production, “Doppelganger,” which most assuredly makes copious use of the many TOS sets, as you can see here…

That said, Federation Files has once again “lapped” me by already posting an ELEVENTH fan film, “No Good Deed,” before I could cover this tenth release. And I’ll certainly get to that one (hopefully before they release their twelfth episode!).

But “Doppelganger” gives me a chance to interview the “R” in WARP 66 Studios: Mr. DAN REYNOLDS of Wolf/Reynolds Productions. In fact, Glen has sorta been hogging the last four interviews, and I haven’t had Dan in the hot seat since January of 2020!

So let’s remedy that absence with a brand new video interview (lately, I’ve kinda graduated from audio interviews to recorded Zoom calls—let me know what you think)…

How to be a SHOWRUNNER in the AVALON UNIVERSE…

We are now exactly one week out from the announced premiere of the latest fan film from THE AVALON UNIVERSE: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS. Fans are really looking forward to this one, for a number of reasons…

  1. The showrunner, writer, and director, JOSHUA IRWIN, is a film industry professional in Arkansas and a skilled craftsman. Avalon releases are among the best-looking, best-sounding, and best-edited Star Trek fan films being produced right now.
  2. This is a brand new era for Avalon. With the departure of director/writer/actor VICTORIA FOX from the series as well as lead actor CHUCK MERÉ (along with the characters they played: first officer Amanda Beck and Captain Lance Ramirez, respectively), a new cast and crew is coming aboard the U.S.S. Excalibur. This includes the ever-perky PIXI NEREID, who has already captured the hearts of fan film aficionados with a music video and interviews like this one. It also includes actor WARREN HAWK from my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE (now with 118K views!) who played fan-favorite character Captain Imari Jakande of the U.S.S. Artemis. Although Jakande died in the Axanar Universe, he’s alive and well in the Avalon Universe and is the new commanding officer of the U.S.S. Excalibur.
  3. The film looks like it’ll be visually stunning. This is because Josh and members of his team traveled all the way from Arkansas to Arizona to film parts of this on location in a desert outside of Phoenix along with driving and hiking to two different scenic locations in western Oklahoma…all to create the feeling of being stranded on an alien world.
An overhead drone shot from the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS

And of course, I’ve been talking up this latest fan film for the past few months as I’ve endeavored to help Team Avalon raise crowd-funding for this production—as well as other upcoming projects. Speaking of which, they’re currently 60% of the way to their $20,000 goal, and if you haven’t tossed a few pennies (or preferably dollars) into the collection plate yet, this would be a great time to do so at this link…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Have you ever wondered what goes on a week before the release of a fan film? Of course, there’s all sorts of different scenarios. Sometimes a film is finished weeks or months early, pretty much ready to go, and maybe there’s a few minor tweaks as things head for an announced deadline. Sometimes there’s no announced deadline and a fan filmmaker just releases the finished product whenever it’s ready. And sometimes a deadline is announced and then has to be extended because things aren’t ready yet. I’ve seen ’em all.

But then there’s Josh Irwin. Josh doesn’t miss deadlines, no matter how many hours he has to work or go without sleep. It’s a matter of professional pride. And in the case of Agent of New Worlds, the announced release date of October 31 is significant because it marks exactly three years from the 2018 premiere of Avalon’s debut fan film GHOST SHIP.

So with the clock ticking down, what is life like for Josh right now…?

Continue reading “How to be a SHOWRUNNER in the AVALON UNIVERSE…”