INTERLUDE wins the GRAND PRIZE in the 5th annual IndieBOOM! Awards!

For the third time in the last five years, a Star Trek fan film has won the Grand Prize in the annual IndieBOOM! Film+Music Festival…and this year, the winner was my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE! The previous two winners were (in 2019) “The Equinox Effect” and (in 2020) “Mask“—both from THE FEDERATION FILES anthology series.

Actually, when I say “my” fan film, I really mean OUR fan film…because this was a labor of love and dedication from more than 50 people. And the two most important individuals in that group were my directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN. Technically, Victoria was listed in the credits as “director” and Josh as “director of photography.” But as far as I’m concerned, they EACH deserve the highest accolades, which is why I submitted the film with both of their names listed—and here’s the official certificate that was just e-mailed to me yesterday…

Although entered in the Fan Film category, Interlude received more views and viewing hours than any other selection in any category. I was told by IndieBOOM! festival co-founder ANTHONY DEVITO that Interlude was viewed more than 2,600 times for a total of 488 viewed hours! As such, it was elevated to Grand Prize winner, allowing another fan film, Stegosaurus: A Jurassic Park Fan Film (directed by BARRY WILKINSON from the UK) to win the Fan Film category.

Another notable winner was the the music video STAR TREK IS REAL, written and performed by ILIA “PIXI NEREID” McNEAL, star and producer of the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series, which took the title of Winning Original Song and scored Pixi a $250 prize…yay, Pixi!

Continuing the Star Trek strength in the festival, Trek anthology series The Federation Files took the award for Best Series.

And finally, my composer for Interlude, KEVIN CROXTON, won in the category for Best Musical with his James Bond-inspired fan film starring the 4th and 5th graders whom he teaches: IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE (which is an amazing film in its own right and something you should definitely take ten minutes out of your day to watch).

You can see all of this year’s winners here.

Now, some folks on Facebook have complained that choosing winners based on views and viewing hours turns IndieBOOM! into little more than a competition to see who has the most followers on social media and who can “turn out the vote” most effectively. Maybe so, but those are the rules. Other film festivals work differently, but IndieBOOM! has decided that this is the best way to let the viewers make their choices known. And so those of us who submit our films do what we can to reach out to friends, family, donors, fans, etc. and ask them to vote for us by viewing. In that way, it’s kind of like crowd-funding: the more interest and support you can generate from people, the more successful you’ll be.

And speaking of crowd-funding, the Grand Prize Winner for the IndieBOOM! festival receives $500. As soon as it arrives, I am going to donate it directly to the Avalon Universe crowd-funder!

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Please VOTE for INTERLUDE in the 5th Annual IndieBOOM! Film + Music Festival!

It was late 2017 when the IndieBOOM! Film Festival debuted with a category exclusively for “FAN FILMS”—one of the first major film competitions to do so. Created by the team at the award-winning Art of Brooklyn Film Festival, IndieBOOM! offers categories for filmmakers, musicians, and screenwriters working in all short-form formats and genres. In addition to Fan Films, their other categories include Comedy, Drama, Documentary, Horror/Sci-Fi, Experimental, Eusic Videos and Musicals, Animation, Series, Commercials, Dance, and Songs.

In 2019, the winner in the Fan Film category (and also the Sci-Fi category) was “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” from THE FEDERATION FILES. In 2020, the winning fan film was BATMAN: THE SCHEME IS SOUND, which (even though it wasn’t Star Trek) was written, directed, and produced by the man who composed the music for my fan film INTERLUDE: KEVIN CROXTON. And at the beginning of 2021, the announced winner in the category was a Star Wars fan film from Mexico titled JUNDLAND: NO MAN’S LAND.

Now, that we’re in 2022, I think it might be time for a Star Trek fan film to win again. What do you think?

This year’s official selections in the IndieBOOM! Fan Film category include two live-action Star Wars films (one from Australia and one from the USA), an animated Ghostbusters short from the USA, a live-action Jurassic Park fan film from the UK, a James Bond fan film from the USA with kids playing all the role, and two live-action Star Trek fan films from the USA. One of those is my fan film Interlude, and the other is an amalgamation of two fan films from The Federation Files (USA) released over the past two years.

Obviously, I’d like you to please vote for Interlude, although the choice is certainly up to you!

Voting is done by watching on Vimeo, and every view counts as one vote. So watch early, watch often! (Actually, if Vimeo works like YouTube, then each computer browser can log only one vote…so no cheating, I guess!)

Voting runs continuously from today through January 16. Here is the link to view and vote for Interlude

https://www.indieboomff.com/interlude-star-trek.html

And maybe give it a like while you’re there, just so I know there’s someone out there watching Interlude.

The first prize for the most viewed film over all of the various categories wins $500. If Interlude wins (fingers crossed!), I intend to donate the prize money to the AVALON UNIVERSE GoFundMe so my DP and Film Editor on Interlude, JOSHUA IRWIN, can produce even more awesome Star Trek fan films. I fully expect to see him winning IndieBOOM! next year!

I encourage you all to check out each of the wonderful films selected as finalists. And if you do choose to vote for Interlude, I thank you.

AVALON UNIVERSE (re)releases AGENT OF NEW WORLDS…version 2.0! (video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN)

On Halloween, JOSHUA IRWIN, showrunner of the the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series, released the team’s latest full-length fan film, AGENTT OF NEW WORLDS. It marked the beginning of a new era for their fan series, introducing multiple new characters and jumping the story forward in time to the next captain and crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur, following the departure of former stars VICTORIA FOX and CHUCK MERÉ from the series earlier this past year.

The new release was a labor of love for all involved…in more ways than one. For some on Team Avalon, it meant dozens of hours of round-trip driving to remote outdoor filling locations…along with trips to the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in Avalon‘s home state of Arkansas. For Josh himself, the total distance driven surpassed 5,500 miles!!! For an explanation of how that happened, along with a description of one of their most dangerous shoots, take a read through this blog from back in August.

Fast forward to Christmas Day (because, apparently, Josh really likes holiday releases), and Josh surprised the fan film community with a NEW cut of Agent of New Worlds. Apparently, “really good” wasn’t good enough for Josh, as he made about a dozen tweaks and improvements to the film. Take a look at version 2.0…

Amusingly, this wasn’t Josh’s only update of a previously-released fan film. A couple of weeks earlier, after working with me and composer KEVIN CROXTON for about four months, Josh released a third version of INTERLUDE. You can read all about that new edit, what was changed and why, and watch the new version on this blog page.

After watching the new version of Interlude, one of my readers commented that it might be fun to post the previous version and the newest version side-by-side so that fans could compare the two. Perhaps someday. But when it comes to Agent of New Worlds, I can do you one better right now!

Josh and I just finished a special interview that’s a bit different than my usual fare. This video chat focuses on each of the changes that Josh made—showing the “before” and “after” of each shot—followed by Josh explaining how and why he made the adjustment(s).

It’s a really fun and informative interview, especially if you’re interested in film editing. Josh is great at explaining both the philosophical side as well as the technical side without making your eyes glaze over. Also, there’s just a lot of enjoyable banter back and forth between us. I think you’ll really like watching this one…

Oh, and remember that the Avalon GoFundMe campaign is still active, and donations go directly into making really awesome fan films…

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

INTERLUDE Confidential #23: VERSION v3.0 is a hit with 25K VIEWS…time for FILM FESTIVALS!

It’s been a week since we debuted the newest release of INTERLUDE, our third version, and the response has been phenomenal. Already, there are more than 25K views on YouTube, 1.7K likes, and more than 200 comments. Here’s a small sample:

  • Real Star Trek again! Love it!
  • This is how you make a pre-Kirk Prequel. I rest my case.
  • So amazing. Great music too
  • this is incredible
  • MORE, MORE, MORE!!!
  • Outstanding!
  • This is real STAR TREK , Bless You All !
  • Ok, that rocked!! Nice appetizer as we await the main course.
  • Awsome! Your deflector shields are better than the TV shows.
  • I think Roddenberry would be proud!
  • This is terrible

Oops, that last one just kinda snuck in there. Actually, I included it because, for the first six days, it was literally the ONLY negative comment out of the hundreds we’ve received so far. We’re now up to two negative comments.

What JOSHUA IRWIN and I have found most shocking is how quickly the views have gone up considering that the previous versions already have over 200K views between the releases to the AVALON UNIVERSE YouTube Channel plus the releases to the AXANAR YouTube Channel. Obviously, 25K views in the first week would be understandable on the Axanar channel, as they have 108K subscribers. But version 3.0 is only up on the Avalon channel at the moment…and that one has only 13.7K subscribers.

So right now, Interlude v3.0 has TWICE as many views as Avalon has subscribers!

One of those views came from an Interlude donor who posted the following comment: “I just watched Interlude for the first time. Terrific work all around! It’ll definitely be something that I come back for repeat viewing.”

Wait, for the FIRST time??? But he donated! I asked why he hadn’t watched Interlude when it first came out back in April. Turns out he just never got around to it, and when I sent an e-mail update to my donors about the release of v3.0, he decided to watch it on his lunch break right then and there.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a few bits of news with you all. The first is that I’ve finally started entering Interlude into film festivals. I just made the cut-off deadline for the annual IndieBOOM! festival, which was one of the first and only competitions to include a category exclusively for Fan Films. And as of yesterday, Interlude is an OFFICIAL SELECTION for IndieBOOM! (More on that news in January!) And then I decided to take a crack at the L.A. Sci-Fi and Horror Festival because they also have a Fan Film category.

Wish us luck!

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #23: VERSION v3.0 is a hit with 25K VIEWS…time for FILM FESTIVALS!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #22: Presenting INTERLUDE version 3.0!!!

Geez, Lane! How many times are you going to re-do your frickin’ fan film???

Back in April, we premiered a version of my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE with PAUL JENKINS playing the chief engineer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis. At the time we shot those engineering scenes, Paul was still directing the Axanar sequels and had been a great help behind-the-scenes advising my directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX along with myself on ways to work collaboratively on finishing up the production. Giving Paul a small role in Interlude seemed like a fun way to acknowledge his generous help, and Paul was happy to appear in our film.

Then things soured between Paul and Axanar producer ALEC PETERS—Paul was no longer director, lawsuits were filed, fire and brimstone came down from the skies, rivers and seas began boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. (Wait, that was Ghostbusters…who here loved Afterlife?)

Anyway, just as we were about to release our just-completed Interlude fan production on April 5, Paul informed us that he no longer wished to appear in the film and demanded we remove his footage. There wasn’t time to replace his scenes before the big premiere (he contacted us just a couple of days prior), but thanks to some scrambling and about 22 hours of round-trip driving from Arkansas to Georgia and back by Josh and his good friend TYLER DUNIVAN, we were able to get Interlude version 2.0 out just two weeks later, with Tyler replacing Paul as the engineer. You can watch that release here…

A couple of months later, while I was making a video about the editing process of Interlude, Josh asked me if I’d be okay if he created a special version of Interlude just for himself using a different transition between the first portion of the film (the battle sequence) and the epilogue documentary. You can watch the transition that we used at the 6:37 mark in the above video.

But Josh had always wanted to do a different transition using an alternate take of Garth where the camera slowly zooms out from a close-up. Victoria, as director, wanted to go a different way, but now that Interlude had been released, Josh was curious how the other transition would have turned out.

And so was I!

Truth to tell, I was never all that crazy about the transition that we ended up with and never even knew that we had an alternate take available. Josh said the new transition would be closer to what I’d initially had in the original comic book version of Interlude…a direct cut from the younger Garth to the older Garth as though he were emerging from a recollection of a haunting memory.

“Make it so!” I told him. A few hours later, I watched the new alternate transition for the first time.

My friends, it looked amazing! Such a small change, and yet it felt so much more impactful. And then I had a thought…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #22: Presenting INTERLUDE version 3.0!!!”

AXANAR finally has its first film shoot in 20 MONTHS! (video interview with MARK EDWARD LEWIS)

It’s been more than five months since I’ve published a blog regarding AXANAR, ARES STUDIOS, or ALEC PETERS…and that might be some kind of record for Fan Film Factor! The previous blog covered the moving of the U.S.S. Ares bridge set to a new, smaller facility (with lower rent) down the road in Lawrenceville, GA. But since then, there hasn’t been much Axanar news worth covering (I don’t bother with the non-production-related drama anymore).

That said, this past weekend finally featured some Axanar news definitely worth reporting on. For the first time since before the pandemic and lockdown, new footage for the two Axanar sequels was filmed. The shooting location was NOT Ares Studios, however. The bridge set still sits disassembled, awaiting the return of DANA WAGNER (whom I call “the miracle worker” because he’s basically Scotty when it comes to that set and studio) from medical treatment. We all wish Dana the best of outcomes and a speedy recovery…we love you, Dana!

Instead, the shoot took place in a nearby Gwinnett County high school video studio with ample green screen space available. Because Dana’s wife Allison teaches video for the school district and Alec had previously allowed students in the school video program to film on the bridge set at Ares Studios, the school was all too happy to return the favor and allow Axanar to be shot at their campus facility.

Alec reported in a blog on the Axanar website that the shoot was a “HUGE success” (I’m glad my use of ALL CAPS is catching on!). Unlike the first Axanar shoot back in October of 2019 that had 80 people (cast, crew, volunteers) present over three days, last Saturday’s activities were much smaller in scope, lasting for a single day with only about 15-20 people present. The main reason was COVID, which is still a major consideration for all SAG union shoots—so at present, only the most essential personnel are allowed on set…any set.

The scenes being shot this past weekend were of actors J.G. HERTZLER (who flew in from upstate New York), ROBERT HAYES (who recently appeared on The Walking Dead and plays helm officer Deville), and RAJ KALA (an Indian Sikh who plays Commodore Singh). All three of these actors had filmed their lines previously during the first Axanar shoot, but for various reasons, their footage wasn’t usable (which I can personally confirm, having seen it), and in one case, the original footage was completely lost to a damaged memory card.

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INTERLUDE Confidential #21: watch the ENTIRE Saturday shoot at ARES STUDIOS!

A few months ago, I posted a fun video showing ARES STUDIOS “coming to life” just before we began the first day of a two-day shoot for my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE back in November of 2019. But that was only SOME of the footage that I shot!

The great thing about being the producer on a film project is that you’re the boss. While the director runs things on the set during filming, the producer is still the person ultimately in charge of everything from the earliest budgeting and pre-production meetings through post-production and the release of the finished project.

My goal in making Interlude wasn’t simply to produce a Star Trek fan film or to shoot something on the bridge set at ARES STUDIOS—although that was certainly part of the goal. But what I really wanted to do was to document the entire experience of creating a fan film, start to finish, for my readers. And certainly the most exciting aspect of that experience was the two-day shoot in Lawrenceville, GA on the U.S.S. Ares (and Artemis) bridge set!

My director, VICTORIA FOX, and my director of photography, JOSHUA IRWIN, were okay with me filming the shoot as long as I kept quiet, kept still, and didn’t interfere in any way with the cast and crew. So I got to record nearly the entire shoot from start to finish. As such, this is a pretty long video…but that’s a good thing!

Why not edit the footage down to something shorter, you ask? Because I wanted you folks to experience exactly what it was like on that set, even when things weren’t moving at wrap speed. In fact, on TV and movie sets, there’s a lot of time that goes by with seemingly little to nothing happening (or at least, that’s the way it might look to someone on the outside).

And as it happens, I didn’t film “everything.” In fact, the Saturday shoot lasted nearly TEN HOURS once things finally got going, and the video I’ve posted below is only two hours long. Part of the reason is I didn’t spend much time filming when lights and cameras were being moved around—that gets boring really quickly! Instead, I concentrated on moments when the cameras were either rolling or about to roll. I also paused every so often to switch over from video mode on my camera to picture mode so I could also take behind-the-scenes production photos. That’s why you’ll see many spots in the video where one clip unexpectedly ends and another begins.

Do you have to watch the WHOLE video…?

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #21: watch the ENTIRE Saturday shoot at ARES STUDIOS!”

Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!

Fan films are like weddings. (Ha, got your attention!)

Think about it. Weddings can be as cheap and simple as a trip to City Hall or a few friends in the backyard. Or they can be expensive galas with hundreds of guests and all the trimmings. Or they can be anywhere in between.

And so it is with fan films. We get everything from cardboard sets and scenes shot with cell phones to professional-looking productions with trained actors, meticulous sets and costumes, top-quality recording equipment, and budgets into the five-figure range and sometimes even beyond that.

In general, the larger and more ambitious the wedding, the more critical it is that a team of planners and managers be involved to make sure everything goes smoothly. You get one chance at the actual ceremony, and it’s all that the behind-the-scenes planning that can determine if the wedding is a triumph or a disaster.

The AVALON UNIVERSE fan films aren’t exactly Kardashian weddings (thank goodness!), but they are still pretty impressive, with production quality a few steps above the majority of Star Trek fan films out there. This is not meant to diminish those other fan films. All fan filmmakers deserve support and encouragement. But when you donate to an Avalon Universe crowd-funding campaign, you know your money will be well-spent, and the finished product will look and sound and be amazing.

Oh, and speaking of donating, Avalon has a crowd-funding campaign going on right now, if you’d like to back it…

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

Like a successful wedding, a well-run fan production requires careful planning and preparation, and that means having the right people in the right jobs…not just during the shoots but in the months and weeks leading up to the director yelling “Action!” for the first time.

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t initially planning to be part of “Team Avalon,” even though I consider Avalon Universe director/showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN to be a close friend. (Josh was my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE.) What I did offer to do was to advise Josh and his producer, PIXI NEREID, on strategies for crowd-funding…advice I’ve also offered to other fan filmmakers over the years.

But before I knew it, Pixi had jumped into action, adding me to the production crew’s Facebook chat, giving me access to their Slack productivity app account where the cast and crew keep all of their online resources, and inviting me onto the kick-off production meeting Zoom call. So that’s how I became a part of “Team Avalon,” and it’s given me a fascinating look into who these fine folks are and all that they’re doing to make the wedding…er, fan film extra spectacular and go off without a hitch.

Let me tell you about the team…

Continue reading “Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!”

Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!

If you’ve never been part of the making of a fan film, it’s kinda hard to explain. But there’s a bug that bites ya, and then there’s an itch that you just need to scratch. It’s difficult to say when exactly that fan film bug bites—I guess it’s different for everyone; like the moment someone realizes they’re a Trekkie/Trekker—but when it does, everything can change in a heartbeat.

Or not. Some people make a fan film or participate in a production or two and they’re done. And that’s fine. But for many others, fan films get into your blood—sometimes into your very DNA—and then there’s just no stoppin’ it!

Which brings us to PIXI NEREID.

That’s actually her stage name. Pixi’s real name is ILIA McNEIL…and yes, the “Ilia” is actually inspired by the bald Deltan navigation officer from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as her parents were TOS fans. And Ilia is a hardcore fan herself. But all of her friends call her Pixi, and so do I because Pixi has (almost overnight!) become a friend.

And honestly, it’s hard not to absorb all of the positivity, fun, and optimism that radiates from her—so much so that you almost need to call her Pixi. And if you’re wondering where that name comes from, Pixi has a side gig (along with a small number of other women in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area) performing as a mermaid at children’s parties. So I suppose that Pixi Nereid isn’t her “stage” name so much as her “pool” name, but whatever you call it, she’s totally a Pixi!

We got no troubles…life is the bubbles…under the sea!

JOSHUA IRWIN, who will be directing the new AVALON UNIVERSE fan films that are crowd-funding now (click here to donate), first met Pixi on the set of the soon-to-be-released COSMIC STREAM while filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas. Pixi was told about the shoot by one of her fellow mermaids, who had a role in the fan film. But Pixi didn’t come to appear on camera, she just wanted to help out. In fact, she arrived and immediately told Josh that she’d be happy to be a grip for the day (a grip is someone someone who moves the lights around…not very glamorous but super-important).

It’s a 108-mile drive each way from Fayetteville to the studio, so the people who volunteer for these fan film shoots at WARP 66 have to be pretty committed. After the shoot in mid-March, Josh posted the following photo and comment to Facebook…

Continue reading “Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #20: Editing from ROUGH CUT to PICTURE LOCK…

I didn’t create INTERLUDE simply to make an AXANAR Universe fan film. Sure, that was one of the goals, but it wasn’t the MAIN goal. As a blogger focussing on numerous Star Trek fan productions, I wanted to better understand how these projects came together. But more than that, I wanted to SHARE my experiences with my readers—especially those interested in creating fan films of their own—to “pull back the curtain” on every aspect of development from writing a script to budgeting, crowd-funding, pre-production, production, and ultimately post-production.

Of course, the post-production blogs needed to wait until AFTER Interlude was released (didn’t want it spoiled!). But it’s now been out for more than two months (and closing in on 100K views on YouTube for the final version…watch it here), and so I can finally start talking about what went into the last phase of development…

…starting with EDITING!

In many ways, editing a film is one of, if not the most important part of the entire filmmaking process. Don’t just take my word for it! Countless articles on the Internet like this one highlight the critical role proper editing plays in the creation of a successful film project. Quoting the article…

What most people not in the film or video industry don’t realize is that film and video editing is an art form. Editing is arguably the most important element of film or video production. It is in the editing, the art of arranging pictures and dialog and sounds, that a finished film product is able to communicate a story first envisioned by its writer, and subsequently by a director and producer to its intended audience. Days, weeks, even months of shots captured on film or video must be studied, interpreted, analyzed, and finally distilled into a story lasting a fraction of the time it took to capture it all.

People outside the film making industry have little or no idea about “post production” and the crucial part it plays in the production of a film or video work. It is because of the significant importance of this phase of film and video production that the process takes an extended amount of time to complete.

Indeed! And in fact, it took JOSHUA IRWIN (our editor), VICTORIA FOX (our director), and me (the producer) four full months of working together to get Interlude from its first rough cut to its final picture lock version that was sent along to music composer KEVIN CROXTON for scoring. Those four months were filled with intense hard work, painstaking attention to detail, and some passionate “discussions,” as three very creative and talented people didn’t always agree 100% of the time.

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #20: Editing from ROUGH CUT to PICTURE LOCK…”