HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me…and to FAN FILM FACTOR!

Today I turn 51 years old…and FAN FILM FACTOR just turned two.  This blog doesn’t have an official birthday, but my earliest posts are dated January 10, 2016.  It’s two years later, and in that time, I’ve published 465 blog entries!!!  Holy shat!

Although some of my blogs are just 200-400 words, others get well over a 1,000 or even 2,000 words.  (If they reach 3,000 words, it’s time to split them into Part 1 and Part 2!)  So assuming I average a little over a thousand words per blog, that means I’ve probably written nearly a HALF MILLION WORDS in two years…mainly about fan films!

Some folks out there criticize me for writing blogs that are too long, but think of it this way: that’s dedication!  Do ya know how long it takes to research, plan out, organize, and write a half million words of blogs???  (Don’t make fun of me; it’s my birthday.)

About 15 months ago, I added Google Ads to the site to help generate some revenue.  Since then, my ads have earned me a whopping $529.65…or about a tenth of a penny per word.  If you check online, most freelance writing assignments pay about 10 cents a word (maybe a bit higher for more high profile work).

So I’m making 1/100 of what a gainfully employed freelance writer makes!  And yet I still do this.  Why?

Well, there’s a few reasons…

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Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 2)

Read Part 1 of this blog entry if you haven’t already.  Did you do it?  Good.

So it was now a few weeks before Christmas, and VANCE MAJOR was ready to tag out and I was ready to tag in to try to get this compromise settlement for STARBASE STUDIOS to the finish line.  Vance was exhausted, but he got the runners 90% of the way there.  Just a few teensy details left to work out…or so I thought.

Keep in mind, neither Vance nor I is a lawyer.  Instead, we were just trying, as friends, to help SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT EDWARDS work out a way where GLEN L. WOLFE would drop his lawsuit against them, and Starbase Studios could continue without fan filmmakers having to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to use the Starbase Studios TOS sets.

By the time I tagged in, there was a full legal settlement agreement already written up by Glen’s lawyer, ready for Scott and Kent to sign.  But they still had some issues with it.  One of the biggest was that Scott decided that he didn’t want Glen to own 100% of the Starbase sets.  But he was willing to split them 50/50.  Would Glen agree?  Scott didn’t think so.  And frankly, neither did Vance.

“Look,” I said to Vance, “Maybe he’ll say no, and we’ll be back to square one.  But if Glen says yes, then we’re there!  It’s worth it to at least ask him.”

Vance agreed to make the call.  Five minutes later, I had Glen’s answer…

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Elementary school kids have a blast filming at STARBASE STUDIOS…and all hell breaks loose in fandom! (part 1)

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at STARBASE STUDIOS recently, and I’ll get to that in a moment.  But first, you might want to read up on the current situation if you don’t already know about the lawsuit and all of the other drama going on of late.

All right, strap in.  Let’s start with this past weekend when a group of 5th and 6th graders from Parkview Elementary School Music Club got a chance to film a music video project on the amazing TOS sets of Starbase Studios, currently located in Marble Falls, Arkansas.

The field trip was set up by their teacher, KEVIN CROXTON, who had composed the music for THE FEDERATION FILES’ second episode Walking Bear, Running Wolf last summer.  In exchange, Kevin had asked show-runner GLEN L. WOLFE for the opportunity to bring Kevin’s music students (they’re local) to the sets to film a video project.  So this past weekend’s excursion has been planned for nearly 7 months.

And, really, isn’t this what Starbase Studios is all about?  Sets by the fans, for the fans…and even attracting a whole new (next!) generation of young fans.  So what could possibly be wrong with that?

Well…

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The TOP 10 fan film news stories of 2017

A few days ago, I posted a blog looking back at the MANY fan film news stories I covered on Fan Film Factor over the past year—nearly 75, believe it or not!  (Not bad for a sub-genre that some predicted would be all but extinct by now.)

But what were the fan film news stories from 2017 that had the greatest impact on the world of Star Trek fan films?  Well, guess who just made a Top 10 list of that very thing!

I’m sure some folks won’t agree with all of my selections.  Heck, some of the stories I chose aren’t even directly Star Trek-related.  But hey, everyone’s got opinions, right?  And if you think a different fan film story should have made it onto the list, feel free to tell me in the comments.  (That’s a sneaky way of turning a “Top 10” list into a “Top 10 Plus” list!)

And so, without further ado, here’s the biggest fan film stories of 2017…

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2017 Star Trek fan film YEAR IN REVIEW!

“Why are you even bothering with this blog?” one anonymous poster wrote to me a little over a year ago.  “Star Trek fan films will all be gone soon, even your precious Axanar, and you’ll have nothing left to write about!”

Well, I’m still here…and so are Star Trek fan films!  (And I really hope that anonymous person is reading today’s blog because he wasn’t just wrong; he was VERY wrong!)

2017 was a BIG year for Star Trek fan films…possibly one of THE biggest!  And that’s kinda funny considering how many people told me that the fan film guidelines would spell certain doom for Trek fan films.  Even I thought that at first!

I will admit that, one year ago, things did seem kinda bleak in fan film land.  The Axanar lawsuit was less than a month from trial.  The Axanerds and Axa-detractors were going at it like Hatfields and Dr. McCoys.  The guidelines had been in existence for half a year, and already the long-ruinning Star Trek: New Voyages had halted production, the also-long-running Star Trek: Dark Armada had released its final episode at the end of 2016, Star Trek: Renegades had become Renegades: The Series-that-n0-longer-had-anything-to-do-with-Star-Trek-beyond-all-the-acrtors, and Star Trek Continues had announced their intention to produce only four (as opposed to six) final episodes to complete their fan series.

But I believed in fan films and the people who make them.  I had faith that the genre would continue despite the guidelines—perhaps even because of them (since they now gave Trekkers official permission from the studios to create their own productions…albeit within some overly-strict limits).

And Trek fan films certainly didn’t die!  In fact, they kept me pretty darn busy with news, features, and interviews all year long.  Anyone who believed Trek fan films were on their deathbed at the end of 2016 should join us on this trip down Memory…er…Lane (!) as I take a look back at what fan film news made my blog’s headlines over the past 12 months.

This special post will list the biggest Fan Film Factor news articles for 2017, in order by month, with links to each one of those blog entries if you want to dive in deeper.

And be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a few final words from me about what’s coming in 2018…!

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My FAN FILM just beat AXANAR in the Berlin Sci-Fi Film Festival! (Yay!)

Now, this is pretty crazy!  Back in April of 2016, while the CBS/Paramount v. Axanar lawsuit was still going strong, MARK LARGENT and I decided to create a parody of the whole mess with a short animated spoof called PRELUDE TO AX’D-WE-ARE.  We wrote the script together in about five days, and I provided the voices for half of the characters.  Mark did the lion’s share of the work, animating the entire seven-minutes in just 31 days!  (For more background on how this all came together, check out this blog.)

When I first heard about the Berlin Sci-Fi Filmfest back in June, I posted about it because, for the first time that I was aware of, an international film festival was featuring a category specifically for FAN FILMS!  I suggested to Mark Largent that he might want to enter Prelude to Ax’d-We-Are.  After all, it was just 15 bucks.  Other Trek fan films were also entered—including the excellent Chance Encounter, Starship Republic – “Serpent of Yesterday”, and Survivors—and we figured we might have a shot…maybe.  There were also three Star Wars fan films (one from the UK and another from France), a Blade Runner fan film out of South Africa, and a horror movie spoof.

And then we saw that Prelude to Axanar had been entered.  Oh well, we thought, there goes our chance to win.  (Prelude is pretty much a juggernaut.)  But at least audiences would be able to watch both the parody and the original it was based on.

We actually made it to the semi-final round, along with Tears in the Rain (the South African Blade Runner fan film with some great acting), The Secret of Tatooine (all in French with awesome visual effects), and of course, Prelude to Axanar.  With competition like that, we figured that “semi-finalist” was as far as we’d get.  We were wrong.

We won BEST FAN FILM!!!!

Mark and I thought it was a typo!  But no, there is was up on their website with our poster image.  “I feel like there’s all these guys in my class who studied for months to pass the exam and all I did was cram at the last minute and ace it!” Mark told me over the phone.

I joked to ALEC PETERS of Axanar, writing, “I hope you’re not pissed at us.”

Why would I be pissed?” he wrote back.  “It’s awesome.  Its all in the family.  We have won 47 awards.  Nice for you guys to win one.”

So Mark and I, co-writers and co-producers, can now also call ourselves winners of an international sci-fi film festival competition.  And that is totally cool!  Thanks for letting me share that news with you.

And in case you missed it, here’s Prelude to Ax’d-We-Are in all of its 7 minutes of glory…

FAN FILM FACTOR gets 100K visits last month!

THANK YOU!!!

From the bottom of my heart, I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank everyone who comes to read this blog…whether you’re one of my “regulars” or you just visit every so often or even if you’ve never been here before.  It means more to me than you can know.

Last month, for the first time ever, the total visits to this blog site ticked up over 100,000!  Now, I realize that’s probably just a temporary blip, as the previous two months were closer to 25K (although the month before that was at 85K—it’s a crazy place this Internet!).  And I also understand that some of that traffic is likely web crawling Internet “bots” hitting my blog site for search engine purposes.  But hey, that doesn’t much matter.

I’m just excited that, after nearly two years of writing Fan Film blogs for this site, people are still coming to read them!!!  And quite a few people, at that!  My daily web traffic is between a few hundred and a few thousand.  And that translates into ad dollars that sometimes get as high as $1 or $2 a day!  Yeah, I’m not really doing it for the money, folks.

So why am I doing it?

It’s actually quite a bit of work.  I research, write up, and edit (you only see the typos I don’t catch).  I reach out to fan film producers to conduct interviews, try to keep track of the latest goings on in the Trek fan film community, hunt down little-known Trek fan productions from years ago to write about, and look for active crowd-funding campaigns….and all of this while trying to stay just a few days (or maybe a week if I’m lucky) ahead of publishing deadlines.  I don’t want this blog site to get stale if I can help it!

If you’re curious how Jonathan puts this blog together, here’s an idea of what I’m working on at any given moment…

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My son JAYDEN turns SEVEN today! (personal)

The great thing about doing my own blog is that I get to decide what I write about.  And even though my focus is usually Star Trek fan films, today I’m going to indulge with a different kind of fan project: my son JAYDEN.  He turns seven years old today, and I promised him that I’d feature him on my blog today.

Some of you have already seen me talk about him in blog comments or viewed him in videos like this one I did just before Axanar Productions moved out of Industry Studios.  I’ve been doing my part to raise Jayden as a proper Trekkie (as I hope the photo on the left demonstrates).  Jayden has already been a special guest on his first-ever Star Trek podcast interview, and he enthusiastically watches TOS episodes with me each night while I exercise.

We’re half-way through the animated series at present, and then we’ll hit Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  With proper timing, we can just finish that film by the time I take Jayden to the Los Angeles Comic Con in later October to see the series finale of Star Trek Continues live with some of the cast.  STC‘s final two-parter completes the five-year mission of the USS Enterprise under James Kirk and leads into The Motion Picture.  After that, we’ll re-watch “Space Seed,” then the next five Trek feature films, and on to TNG.  (At least, that’s the plan; we’ll see what Jayden’s tastes are like in a couple more years.)

Today, I’d like to share two special fan films with you.   In this case, it’s me being a fan of my son Jayden.  And if you think that’s too sappy or inappropriate for a Star Trek fan film site, then come back on Friday instead for SEVEN new Trek fan films!

And for anyone who’s still sticking around, here’s a video I made during spring break of 2014 (which was half a lifetime ago for Jayden!) when everyone was making their own versions of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” music video.  I took Jayden around to our favorite places in southern California and edited this together…

And finally, here’s a video that’s been seven years in the making and will probably go for at least another seven or ten years…or whenever Jayden finally decides that enough is enough (or when I finally run out of song).  And yes, that’s the theme to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, a very singable song called “Suspension” sung by Kipp Lennon and written by the awesome STU PHILLIPS (who also composed themes for the original Battlestar Galactica, Airwolf, and Knight Rider).

HAPPY 7th BIRTHDAY, JAYDEN!!!

JONATHAN LANE appears as a guest on the SHANE PLAYS RADIO SHOW!

A week and a half ago, I taped an episode of the SHANE PLAYS GEEK TALK RADIO SHOW.  Shane talks to guests about all things geek, from sci-fi to fantasy to horror, movies, television, comic books, video and role-playing games, you name it!  It’s an actual hour-long radio show (like, you can listen to it in your car if you’re driving through parts of Arkansas) and also posted as a podcast.

Usually, it’s a live show, and I’m not always available to be a phone-in guest on the Saturday mornings when it’s broadcast, but this particular show had to be recorded so Shane could fulfill a family commitment.  And that allowed me to appear, as Shane has been wanting to focus on the world of Star Trek fan films.

The show was just posted online, with me discussing Star Trek Continues, the new Star Trek Film Academy, Axanar, Renegades, Potemkin Pictures, Pacific 201, the newly renamed Fan Film Forum Facebook group, and a host of other fan film related news and topics.

If you’re curious to know what I sound like, or if I can hold my own in a live recorded interview, here’s your chance to find out (and yes, I noticed the typo on the YouTube still image–don’t tell Shane!)…

I just had an AWESOME fan film week! (personal)

My life isn’t usually all that interesting or exciting…at least, not all in one week.  But what a week it was!

(Actually, it was only really exciting if you happen to be a Trekkie interested in fan films.  If you’re my wife, it’s more like, “That’s nice, honey.  I’m glad you had such a good time.  Did you remember to empty the dishwasher?”

And that’s why I’m writing this blog—because I have now emptied the dishwasher, and I really want to tell you guys about the fan film filled week I just had…because you care, right?  (Aw don’t answer that; it’ll just kill my buzz.)

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