YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 5)

In Part Part 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. 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 35-year trek… (Part 5)”

The latest in FANdemic Star Trek – THE FEDERATION FILES: “The Green Manifesto”…

Okay, I’ve decided to coin a new term: “FANdemic Star Trek film.” Because let’s face it, the global COVID-19 crisis isn’t going away anytime soon, and we’re gonna need to wear masks and social distance at least until a safe vaccine is developed and disseminated (and people actually take it!).

But Star Trek fan filmmakers are a dedicated and tenacious bunch! And just because most of Hollywood has shut down doesn’t mean fan films have to. We simply need to do things a little more creatively and carefully. Already, we’ve seen several pandemic-produced fan film releases from all over the world. One of the first, HORREUR POST ATOMIQUE from France, told the story of three survivors of World War III living in bunkers, just before first contact with the Vulcans. Then LOOK FORWARD TO THE DAY showed a socially distancing Kirk, Spock, and McCoy having a futuristic Zoom call. Two weeks later, JENS DOMBEK, “The German Spock,” released a one-man (well, one-Vulcan) fan film called I AM SPOCK. And even VANCE MAJOR has released two CONSTAR CONTINUES films post-pandemic (and I’ll be featuring an audio interview with him soon).

So for lack of a better word, I’m going with “FANdemic” film. And the latest example of one was written only three and a half weeks ago, filmed shortly thereafter in Mountain Home, Arkansas, and released this past weekend from WARP 66 STUDIOS and WOLF/REYNOLDS PRODUCTIONS. It’s the seventh overall fan film from the fan series THE FEDERATION FILES (you can view all of their releases on this YouTube playlist). Because their anthology format covers the entire history of the Star Trek universe, stories have ranged from the 20th and 21st centuries to the 23rd and 24th centuries.

Their latest production is set solidly in the 21st century during the time of World War III and focusing on Colonel Green from the TOS episode “The Savage Curtain” (although in this fan film, Green is still a Major). His genocidal campaign in the 21st century resulted in the deaths of 37 million people. Green believed he was cleansing the gene pool—a hero in his own mind and to scores of followers…an evil homicidal monster to others and to the annals of future history.

But how did he kill so many people so quickly? This fan film seeks to shine a light on this dark question with a little help from today’s headlines. Producer and director of photography DAN REYNOLDS (who also appears in the film as the scientist who engineers a deadly virus) suggested to writer GLEN WOLFE the idea of creating a story about a pandemic. Glen then researched the character of Colonel Phillip Green.

Continue reading “The latest in FANdemic Star Trek – THE FEDERATION FILES: “The Green Manifesto”…”

“VOICES FROM THE PAST” – the sixth fan film from THE FEDERATION FILES (audio interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)

When is a Star Trek fan film NOT a Star Trek fan film? Or is it vice-versa? For GLEN L. WOLFE, writer and director of the sixth installment of the anthology series THE FEDERATION FILES, “Voices from the Past,” any distinction is totally blurred and probably irrelevant. No matter what “Voices” might seem to be, it is at heart VERY much a Star Trek fan film!

Granted, it certainly doesn’t look like a Star Trek fan film. There are no starships flying around, no one wearing Starfleet uniforms, no Klingons or Romulans or Cardassians in sight. No main characters from any Star Trek TV series or movie are walking around. “Voices” doesn’t even take place in the 23rd or 24th century. And yet, it’s 100% a Star Trek fan film!

The fact that no scene takes place on a 23rd century starship is particularly surprising considering that Glen and his partner DAN REYNOLDS are the co-owners of WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas and have access to a number of very high-end TOS-era sets like the bridge and sickbay. Indeed, over the course of the past three and a half years, The Federation Files has released these five fan films all set in the 23rd/24th century:

But this time, Glen has something very different in mind, and very unique in the world of Trek fan films. Without spoiling it for you, how about you just give it a look-see for yourself…

At nearly 39 minutes, the two parts of this fan film exceed the 30-minute limit imposed by the ViacomCBS guidelines, but I doubt these are the droids the license holders are looking for…as it would be highly unlikely that the casual viewer might mistake “Voices” for anything resembling Star Trek. So I’m guessing Glen and Dan are safe for the time being.

I always enjoy chatting with my pal Glen, especially after the release of a new Federation Files production. So once again, I’ve got a great audio interview with this mover-and-shaker of the Star Trek fan film community…

INTERLUDE Confidential #3: neither RAIN nor SNOW nor TORNADOES will stop these filmmakers!

VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN didn’t think it was necessary that I write this blog. “We do this sort of thing all the time,” they told me. “It’s part of our job.” Well, maybe for work where they’re being paid professionally, but this is a FLIPPIN’ FAN FILM. And what they did this weekend meant a lot to me personally, and I want to tell you folks about it.

First though, I need to ask: what is it about INTERLUDE that invites acts of God, fate, or just Murphy? Do you remember last May when the Arkansas River flooded and trapped my composer KEVIN CROXTON on one side for days? Or the stray dog that delayed my GoFundMe rollout? Or the woodpecker trapped in the chimney? If you’ve forgotten, here’s the blog that listed everything that went wrong leading up to the launch of the Interlude crowd-funder.

Knowing our track record, I had a Star Wars-like “bad feeling” in the pit of my stomach when we scheduled the Sickbay shoot at WARP 66 Studios for the second weekend in January. It wasn’t that I was worried about bad weather in Arkansas. It’s a southern state, and at most, it’ll get four or five inches of snow over an entire winter season. And as for tornadoes, while there have been some during the winter months, those mostly come in the springtime there.

No, I was worried about Cleveland.

The fellow who is playing the wounded Admiral Ramirez in Interlude, DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS (read more about him here), lives in Cleveland, OH. And when I booked his flight to Fayetteville, I had visions of a huge Noreaster or Polar Vortex hitting the northeast and upper midwest and grounding his plane. I purposefully looked for connecting flights to Fayetteville through Raleigh, NC rather than Chicago just to try to minimize the risk of winter storms screwing up our January shoot.

DAVID BUTLER-AGRINSONIS will be playing a wounded Admiral Ramirez in INTERLUDE.

Turns out that I should have been more worried about snow and tornadoes in Arkansas…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #3: neither RAIN nor SNOW nor TORNADOES will stop these filmmakers!”

Things that go IndieBOOM! – three Trek fan filmmakers win big!

The winners of the third annual IndieBOOM! film festival awards have just been announced, and three Star Trek fan filmmakers did really well. The first, GLEN L. WOLFE (along with DAN and KELLY REYNOLDS) took the FAN FAVORITE overall grand prize of $500 for their recent fan film THE EQUINOX EFFECT, filmed at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas. You can listen to an interview with the three of them here. As a side note, Glen also won for best FAN FILM in the first IndieBOOM! film festival in 2017 with HIS NAME IS MUDD…the first of THE FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series.

The second Star Trek fan filmmaker didn’t win for a Trek fan film—even though he had one entered, as well—but he did take first place in the FAN FILM category with a 1960s BATMAN musical fan film titled THE SCHEME IS SOUND. This fellow is Emmy Award winner KEVIN CROXTON, who teaches music at Parkview Elementary School in Arkansas, and each year his 4th and 5th grade music club students produce a musical fan film in a specific genre. In 2018, it was Star Trek (THE BUNNY INCIDENT—which was also a finalist this year). Right now, Kevin and the kids are working on a JAMES BOND themed fan film for 2020.

The third Star Trek fan film to take a first place award was THE LOOKING GLASS from Neutral Zone Studios (directed by MIEK HEATH). However, even though it was entered in the FAN FILM category, The Looking Glass actually took the first place award in the SCI-FI category, in which it was also entered.

Rounding out the eight finalists in the FAN FILM category were two films from the UK (one a Dark Knight theme and the other XBox vs. Playstation), one Halloween themed fan film from Canada, and a Lost Boys sequel from the USA. The annual IndieBOOM! film festival is one of the only competitions to offer a category open specifically to fan films.

On a personal note, I couldn’t be happier with the results. While I certainly support and celebrate ALL Star Trek fan filmmakers, Glen Wolfe and Kevin Croxton are both part of the team for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. They’re also both residents of the state of Arkansas, along with my directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX…so a lot of Star Trek being made down there in Arkansas, folks!

A few people asked me why The Equinox Effect didn’t win the FAN FILM category as well as the overall prize. According to the rules, the film with the most views per category wins first place in that category, and the film with the most views overall wins the grand prize of $500. So if Equinox won overall, wouldn’t it have also won its category?

Continue reading “Things that go IndieBOOM! – three Trek fan filmmakers win big!”

THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)

Back in 2014, the sky seemed to be the limit for Star Trek fan films! Productions like AXANAR, RENEGADES, NEW VOYAGES, STAR TREK CONTINUES, and a few others were all eagerly casting active, retired, and semi-retired veteran Star Trek actors in fan film roles…often reprising the very characters they’d become famous playing.

Into this euphoric maelstrom burst the fan project STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “THE NIGHT OF TIME.” Originally it was simply going to be an outgrowth of New Voyages, filmed on the TOS sets in Ticonderoga, NY with JAMES CAWLEY as executive producer. (Here’s a video from New York Comic Con 2014 announcing that). The episode was to feature actor JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Voyager 2-parter “Equinox” and lead into a new series starring GARRETT WANG as Captain Harry Kim on new 24th century sets. (Ah, remember those carefree, optimistic days? Heck, James Cawley was still working with ALEC PETERS on Axanar back then!)

Ultimately, most of those plans for New Voyages fell through, but footage with actor John Savage and California actress BLANCA BLANCO had still been shot at Retro Studios in upstate New York, and it was usable. This is when producer ERIC NYENHUIS decided to take the story out independently on its own, calling the project Star Trek: Equinox, with the first episode being titled “The Night of Time.”

The full script had already been written by CAMREN T. BURTON based on an idea from Savage and fellow actor GARY LOCKWOOD, who had also agreed to come on board the new series to reprise his TOS role of Gary Mitchell (who became a god-thing in the second TOS pilot episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”—but apparently survived and returned to normal).

Hopes were high for this fledgling fan project, which would also feature Lockwood’s daughter Samantha as a new character named Nurse Christine Roddenberry. Optimism was so high, in fact, that the show-runners were telling reporters in articles like this one that Equinox would be presented directly to CBS as a PILOT for a new series. (Yep, they were totally serious.)

The first order of business, though, was to get that footage they’d already shot assembled into a teaser—and that would require money. After a couple of failed crowd-funders like this one (with only one donor), they eventually managed to raise about $6.2K on Kickstarter in 2015. That allowed them to produce and release the following 6-minute vignette that summer…

Although it had some potential—along with two signed Trek veteran actors—a year later, the film project was mothballed. An announcement by writer Burton discussed the possibility of turning the project into an audio drama, but nothing else was ever heard about it.

That was all more than three and a half years ago…so why am I talking about it now?

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” the abandoned STAR TREK: EQUINOX fan film! (audio interview with KELLY & DAN REYNOLDS and GLEN WOLFE)”

VOTE NOW as 3 STAR TREK FAN FILMS are selections for this year’s IndieBOOM! Awards for a $500 CASH prize…

Christmas is over, New Years is still a few days away, and you’ve got some extra time. So what do you do now?

How about helping your favorite Star Trek fan filmmaker win $500 cash?

The IndieBOOM! Film Festival was among the first to offer a category exclusively for FAN FILMS…along with many other categories (comedy, drama, documentary, animation, scifi/thriller, music video…you can view the entire list here). It’s a real film festival, now in its third year of presenting awards to both aspiring and accomplished independent filmmakers…including fan filmmakers!

In the first year of IndieBOOM!, Star Wars fan film from Mexico won in the category. And last year, a Star Trek fan film, THE FEDERATION FILES: “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” took first place as best fan film against two Star Wars, one Blade, one Superman, and one Stranger Things fan film competitor finalists.

A panel of judges choose the films that make it as finalists. Those, in turn, get posted online and to IndieBOOM!‘s ROKU channel for viewing. The film that gets the most views on their website and ROKU app in each category receives “Winning Laurels” (first prize) in that category. Also, the panel of judges will choose their favorite selection among all finalists, which will receive the Jury Prize Laurels. And finally, the overall most-viewed film of the festival will receive Fan Favorite Laurels and a cash prize of $500!

This year, THREE Star Trek fan films have been selected as finalists. In order to “vote” for them, you have to actually watch them through (no loading and reloading the page). Viewing is free and can be done at the following links. Here’s the Star Trek finalists from the Fan Film category (in the order released). Scroll down the linked page to view…

Continue reading “VOTE NOW as 3 STAR TREK FAN FILMS are selections for this year’s IndieBOOM! Awards for a $500 CASH prize…”

INTERLUDE update: How do you solve a problem like Ramirez?

The whole reason INTERLUDE exists (will exist) is because ALEC PETERS wanted to explain why Admiral Ramirez won’t be appearing in the Axanar sequels. In reality, actor TONY TODD left the production and declined to play Ramirez again. Actors J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and the late RICHARD HATCH, on the other hand, decided to stick with Alec and see it through.

And while the loss of Richard hit us all very hard, it turned out that losing Tony Todd, even though he is an amazing actor, wasn’t as devastating a set-back for the Axanar script as was the loss of Kharn. In other words, it was fairly easy to write out Ramirez and replace him with a different Starfleet commanding admiral. In Alec’s original draft, Ramirez gets wounded while being escorted back on a convoy from a secret meeting. His injuries are serious enough that he has to sit out the rest of the war, turning over his duties to Admiral Threl of Androria.

My Interlude script took that quick “oh, by the way…” bit of exposition and expanded it into a 10-12 minute fan film (or so I hope!). The only problem is: now I need to show Ramirez!

Granted, he only needs to be wounded, so he won’t have any spoken lines. In the comic book version, it was easy to show him—as the artwork in the panel above illustrates him lying in the Ares sickbay covered in blood. But what about the fan film?

Of course, I could simply take the easy way out and just not show Ramirez in Sickbay at all…and instead have the doctor call up to the bridge, “Captain, Admiral Ramirez is in critical condition down here!” But that would have been such a cop out.

Also, I was kinda looking forward to filming a scene somewhere other than on the Ares Studios bridge set. Granted, it’s a AWESOME set, but I really wanted one or two other locations for the action, as well. Initially, that Sickbay scene was going to be filmed at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA on the TOS sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut. But that offer was rescinded. Fortunately, GLEN WOLFE stepped up and volunteered his WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas for the Sickbay scene.

Now we just needed to find someone to play Admiral Ramirez…!

Continue reading “INTERLUDE update: How do you solve a problem like Ramirez?”

Set Cancellations, Scheduling Conflicts, Costume Conundrums, Stray Dogs, Trapped Woodpeckers, and Acts of God…what I DIDN’T expect when I decided to make a fan film!

Before we begin, quick crowd-funding update! After ten days, 88 backers have already donated $7,621 to INTERLUDE (nearly 40% of the way to $19,500!). That’s amazing! If you haven’t donated yet, or if you’d just be willing to help spread the word, here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

And now, today’s blog…


“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Man, am I learning that lesson with Interlude!

Over the years, I’ve interviewed countless fan filmmakers, and the one thing that nearly all of them have in common are stories of unexpected crises that pop up out of nowhere…demanding to be dealt with quickly lest the project get partially or completely derailed.

I never truly appreciated what these show-runners go through until I became an executive producer myself. My fan film hasn’t even started shooting yet, and already I’ve had to deal with some of the weirdest occurrences that I could have ever imagined—including emergency dog rescues, woodpeckers in chimneys, and an honest-to-goodness flood—all of which have conspired to try to delay the launch of my crowd-funder!

The dog actually DID delay it. You all probably remember how a stray canine in Alabama crossed the highway in front of ALEC PETERS and CRYSSTAL HUBBARD, and how they spent the next two hours trying to keep the dog safe (keep it from trying to cross back) until help could arrive. And those two hours ate up the window for livecasting Axanar Confidential that Monday night, forcing us to delay the roll-out of the GoFundMe campaign for INTERLUDE until the following night.

But wait till you hear about some of the other Murphy’s Law moments I’ve had over the past month and a half…

Continue reading “Set Cancellations, Scheduling Conflicts, Costume Conundrums, Stray Dogs, Trapped Woodpeckers, and Acts of God…what I DIDN’T expect when I decided to make a fan film!”

INTERLUDE will be filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS instead of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS…

A slight change of plans for my fan film INTERLUDE, which will be set in the Axanar Universe and will be crowd-funding soon!

The majority of the fan film will be shot on the amazing bridge set of the USS ARES in Lawrenceville, GA. Initially, the plan was to film there for two days in late September and then drive down to Kingsland, GA for a third day of filming on the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios. There are two scenes that take place in my fan film—one in sickbay and the other in engineering—that are brief but still very important to the story.

The new plan, instead of filming in Kingsland, has the sickbay scene being shot in Arkansas at WARP 66 Studios, which is run by GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS. Those TOS sets have been used for episodes of THE FEDERATION FILES as well as recent Avalon Universe productions from my Interlude directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX. In fact, Josh and Victoria live relatively close to Glen and Dan, so the change of location actually makes things quite a bit more convenient for them.

It also trims about $1,000 or so from our budget…YAY! Without the need to drive 5 hours across Georgia, I won’t have to rent a car in Atlanta for the weekend. Plus, we won’t need three or four hotel rooms in Kingsland for the night.

Glen is already coming up with ideas for altering his TOS sickbay set into looking more like the earlier sickbay from the second Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” If so, that’d be totally AWESOME(!!!), since Interlude takes place during the Four Years War, two decades before Kirk’s 5-year mission. So Glen has my undying appreciation (that’s a subtle Kharn reference for all those Axanerds out there)!

As for the engineering scene, WARP 66 doesn’t have that set as yet. However, the engineering scene in Interlude is so brief (like, maybe, 10 seconds) that we can easily “fake” it with a green screen composite. And there’s a bunch of engineering backgrounds available out there for our VFX guy to use.

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on a really fun “ask” video for the crowd-funding campaign, which will launch in just a couple of weeks! The opening VFX sequence is being scored right now, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. My team is excited, I’m REALLY excited, and I hope that soon you’ll be just as excited, too!