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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here for a summary of Day One of Axacon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!

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

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

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

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

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

Continue reading “Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!”

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

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

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

FRIDAY

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

SATURDAY

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

SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

J.G. HERTZLER suspends his campaign for Congress and talks about AXANAR! (audio interview)

In June of 2017, when I saw the headline that a former Star Trek actor was planning to run for the U.S. Congress, I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that it was J.G. HERTZER.

Even though his character of General Martok from Deep Space Nine (who eventually became Chancellor Martok, leader of the Klingon Empire) loathed politics, J.G. always seemed drawn to it.  The few times I’d seen and spoken with him at conventions, J.G. would invariably share his strongly-held progressive views on political issues and politicians in general.

So it kinda made sense that J.G. would combine his two passions—theater and politics—into his campaign to represent the 23rd Congressional District of New York State.  That said, I still scratched my head a little at J.G.’s choice to run simultaneously as himself and also as his “spokesman” Mark Twain (pen name of noted American author Samuel Clemens).  Clemens spent a portion of his adult life living and writing in J.G.’s upstate New York district, and the author’s humorous and straight-spoken approach to life seemed a perfect way to comment on the state of our union and the challenges facing it.

JG HERTZLER as 19th Century author Mark Twain

Unfortunately for the fan film AXANAR, however, J.G.’s choice to campaign as Mark Twain included a decision to also look the part, which meant letting his hair grow long and wavy (like the author).  This precluded J.G. from filming any scenes of the upcoming Axanar fan film sequels until after the U.S. midterm elections in November, as his character of Admiral Sam Travis had a distinctively short military-style haircut.

So naturally, as an Axanar supporter myself, I took notice when I learned last week that J.G. Hertzler was SUSPENDING his Congressional campaign!  Did this mean he was now free to cut his hair and do Axanar sooner?  Was he even going to do Axanar at all?  (He hadn’t been officially confirmed yet.)  And why would J.G. suddenly suspend his campaign less than three months before the midterm elections?

Continue reading “J.G. HERTZLER suspends his campaign for Congress and talks about AXANAR! (audio interview)”

AXACON adds more guests – TICKETS now available!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to purchase tickets for Axacon.


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

J.G. HERTZLER discusses AXANAR and ALEC PETERS!

Well, it’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks for news about AXANAR, as literally every other blog entry I’ve posted over the past 12 days has involved that particular fan production in some way.  So heck, let’s keep the momentum going for one more day!

But seriously, folks, there’s an interesting bit of news about Axanar coming from Atlanta…but NOT from the new studio in Lawrenceville.  Instead, it happened during a panel yesterday at Treklanta, a small but well-attended annual Star Trek convention in the Atlanta area.  And the panel featured J.G. Hertzler, who famously played General Martok on Deep Space Nine (along with a few other Trek roles).  But his most recent Trek-related appearance came playing the character of Samuel Travis in the fan film Prelude to Axanar.

After Tony Todd’s public announcement that he had chosen to part ways with Axanar and not appear in the feature fan film after his mesmerizing performance as Admiral Marcus Ramirez in Prelude to Axanar, some were wondering if any of the cast and crew would be sticking with ALEC PETERS to continue their participation.  The late RICHARD HATCH was always very supportive of the project and of Alec himself, but with Richard’s recent passing, fans wondered if any of the former cast members would be making a return for the 2-part sequel allowed by the settlement.

Now, I knew that J.G. Hertzler and Gary Graham were both interested in reprising their roles, as I spoke with both last summer in Las Vegas.  But I’m just one blogger-guy, and those weren’t on-the-record interviews, just casual conversations at their tables in the autograph room.

But now, we’ve got the first public indication that at least one of those actors is still very much supportive of both the project and of Alec Peters himself.  Yesterday, J.G. Hertzler took time during his panel discussion to specifically address this beleaguered fan film…