My visit to CHÂTEAU PICARD…

One of the coolest things about being a Trekkie living in Los Angeles is that I’ve been able to visit a plethora of filming locations used for various Star Trek episodes over the decades. I’ve been to Vasquez Rocks and Bronson Canyon, both of which appeared in numerous episodes of multiple Trek series and movies. I’ve been to “Starfleet Academy” (the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant), “Bajor” (Fern Dell), the Franklin Canyon Reservoir (where Kirk became Kirok), the hill in “Montana” (really Charton Flats in the Angeles National Forest) where the statue of Zephram Cochrane will be built, the Ba’ku lake that Data steps into in Insurrection (really the San Gabriel Dam in Azusa), Starfleet HQ from Into Darkness (really the Getty Center Art Museum) and even stood on the spot where McCoy saw Alice and the White Rabbit in “Shore Leave” (no longer green and lush, as most of the the Soledad Canyon foliage in that area was washed away in a flood in the early 1970s).

While I probably could have found all of these spots over the years by myself, fortunately, I didn’t have to. Thanks to my membership in the local USS Angeles chapter of Starfleet International, I got to join my crew mates on away missions to these many “sacred sites” of Star Trek

Of course, when the producers of Star Trek: Discovery chose Toronto, Ontario in Canada as their filming location, I figured my opportunities to visit Star Trek filming locations would now be limited to only the TV series and movies produced before 2016. But then Star Trek: Picard was announced, and production was set right back here in Trek‘s (and my) backyard in Los Angeles.

Time to add some more “sacred sites” to my list!

Some are easier than others. The new location for Starfleet HQ is the Anaheim Convention Center, which I visit annually to attend WonderCon. The shoreline location for the Daystrom Institute in “Okinawa” was, I believe, Golden Cove in Rancho Palos Verdes—a place I’ve been to a few times. But by far, the pièce de résistance would be the magnificently beautiful and scenic Château Picard, the winery and vineyard where Jean-Luc Picard grew up, and where he’d spent his twilight years after resigning from Starfleet in 2385.

But where the heck is Château Picard?

Continue reading “My visit to CHÂTEAU PICARD…”

INTERLUDE Confidential #6 – meet WARREN HAWK, Captain Jakande of the USS Artemis…

Post-production work on INTERLUDE is continuing, with our third rough cut edit currently being worked on. I love seeing it all take shape, and I adore watching actor WARREN HAWK playing USS Artemis Captain Imari Jakande. I can’t wait for you all to see him on screen!

Warren was the final actor we cast, and it happened only four days before before our November shoot! I was biting my fingernails down to the nubs, but VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN assured me that everything would work out. Sometimes actors are cast very late in the process; it’s just the nature of the industry. Turns out they were right.

Casting the rest of Interlude, by comparison, was relatively simple. Our other main character, Fleet Captain Kelvar Garth, would be played by ALEC PETERS (of course!). The rest of the speaking parts were pretty minor. Two of the actors who played bridge officers on the USS Ares for the AXANAR shoot in October—AARON ROMANO as Comm Officer Caine and ROBERT HAYES as Pilot Deville—returned to play those same roles for Interlude‘s November shoot. Also on the Ares bridge was Science Officer Franklin, and Joshua got one of his friends, JAY PLYBURN (who lives in the area) for that part. Jay is also a trained actor, and Josh has directed him in the past.

Admiral Slater will appear at the end of Interlude, and STEVEN JEPSON agreed to play him. The two remaining on-camera speaking roles are the Ares doctor, a role which Victoria is filling, and the Artemis chief engineer, being played by an actor whose name we’re keeping secret for the moment (but it’s a person with some fan film experience). Then there’s two voice-over roles, plus all of the background actors who won’t be speaking.

And that left Jakande…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #6 – meet WARREN HAWK, Captain Jakande of the USS Artemis…”

INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!

Now, THIS is a cool idea…just till you hear it!!!

But first, I need to update you on where my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE stands at the moment. As I mentioned in my previous Interlude Confidential, we’re nearly finished with principal photography (shooting the live action scenes) plus creating the VFX shots and voice-overs…and have recently started assembling the “puzzle pieces” into a rough cut.

JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX warned me not to expect too much “excitement” from the initial rough cut. It’s also known as a “wide” cut because the takes are purposefully cut to be a little longer (meaning they have a bit more at the beginning and end of the lines). Later on, the wide cut is “tightened” into shorter takes as the timing and pacing of the scenes are refined.

Also, there’s a lot missing from a rough cut. The music isn’t there, for one thing, and that will eventually add a lot of excitement and richness. But right now, it’s all just people speaking their lines on an otherwise quiet set—no red alert klaxon, no explosion sounds, not even the pressing of buttons and the beeps they make. As they said, don’t expect much yet…and I didn’t.

Instead, I used my imagination to fill in what was missing. As I watched the rough cut, I mentally added in the explosions, the red alert, the music, and the camera shake. And in my head, it was MUCH more exciting! But even in my mind’s eye (or rather, ear), it felt like something was still missing.

And almost immediately I knew exactly what it was!

When I started telling Victoria and Josh about my suggestion during our next production meeting, it turned out that Victoria had the exact same idea! And since they’re both actual industry professionals, if I think of something that they’ve thought of, too, then I know we’re in good shape.

So what’s this great idea already??? You’ve been so patient, let me tell you…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #5 – the latest CHATTER!”

PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)

I love PAUL JENKINS. I just do. Over the past few months, he has become one of my favorite people on the planet…and when you listen to my interview with him, I think you’ll understand why (or at least, I hope you will).

When it comes to AXANAR, it always seems to be ALEC PETERS this and ALEC PETERS that—here an Alec, there an Alec, everywhere an Alec, Alec. But as Alec himself would be the first to tell you, Axanar is a TEAM effort, and the team is made up of some very talented and dedicated individuals…and few more so than Axanar co-writer and director, Paul Jenkins.

When Alec first announced that Paul was joining the project back in 2017, replacing ROBERT MEYER BURNETT as director as well as helping to co-write the two-part, 30-minute fan film allowed by the settlement with CBS and Paramount, a number of fans were initially scratching their heads. And I’ll admit, I was one of them.

After all, I really only knew Paul from the days when I was reading twenty comic books a month, and his name was on many of them. Paul is widely considered as the person who helped save Marvel Comics from chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 1990s with the development of the Marvel Knights imprint. Later, he went on to write the ground-breaking Wolverine: Origin (which was later turned into a motion picture). In fact, Paul has worked for various comic book publishers—including DC, Mirage, and Tundra. He developed video games, too. So yeah, Paul can obviously write.

But could he direct?

It turns out, the answer is yes. In fact, Paul co-founded META Studios in Atlanta, has been directing for about 20 years, and was even asked in 2015 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to assemble and chair an advisory committee to educate the Georgia General Assembly on the evolution of digital and interactive technologies. So yep, Paul’s a pretty big deal…but you’d never know it by speaking with him. The man is as humble and soft-spoken as they come.

I learned this firsthand during the shoot for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Paul popped by Ares Studios on that Sunday to say hi and see how things were going. He stayed off to the side, just happily watching, and even volunteered to stand behind the turbolift and flick the console lights on and off during a torpedo “hit.” The guy who saved Marvel Comics was flicking lights on my fan film??? You bet!

Later, during a break, Paul chatted with me for a good 45 minutes, sharing some stories, some insights, and just shooting the breeze. He even hung out with Interlude directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN during some quiet moments when they weren’t both doing a thousand things. He was a true gentleman and a lot of fun to talk to.

So when I had the opportunity to chat with him some more and record the call, I jumped at the chance! Take a listen…

Continue reading “PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #4 – putting the post-production puzzle pieces in place!

A little more than a decade before his untimely death in 1997, John Denver trained with NASA and became a finalist for the first citizen’s trip to space in 1986. When asked why a singer/songwriter should be chosen to go to space, John Denver replied by asking who better to communicate the inspirational experience of spaceflight to the masses than someone used to putting sights, sounds, and feelings into words and music?

These “INTERLUDE Confidential” blogs I write are intended to do something similar. I realize that many of my readers will never produce or even work on a fan film. And most fan filmmakers are too busymaking fan films to blog about the experience in depth and try to communicate the nuances of all that they do.

So I want to give you folks a window into the process of creating a fan film from the point of view of someone who has never done this sort of thing before and is still blown away by the entire process. And today, I’d to talk about where Interlude stands right now.

There are three main phases to creating a film. Pre-production is planning everything: determining budgets, raising money, hiring (or in my case, begging for) actors and crew, setting up filming dates, getting costumes ready, and about a thousand other things from renting equipment to scheduling a caterer. The script is worked on and re-worked, the director(s) plan out a shot list…it’s like everything NASA does before a rocket is cleared for lift off.

Then production happens. This is when the various elements that will go into the film are actually produced. This can mean filming scenes or getting voice-overs or having your CGI friend create your visual effects. Every item that gets produced (filmed, recorded, rendered, etc.) becomes a piece of the overall puzzle that will become your final fan film.

Right now, Interlude is still in production. At the same time, we’re also in post-production. How is that possible?

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #4 – putting the post-production puzzle pieces in place!”

My sincere apologies to VANCE MAJOR

I know a lot of people in the fan film community—friends, comrades-in-arms, friendly acquaintances, long-distance buddies—but few of them do I feel closer to than VANCE MAJOR. You might have heard of him…’cause I mention him a lot on this blog!

Last month, I posted an audio interview with Vance when he released 51 new episodes of THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES and 18 special editions of the MINARD saga of fan films. Earlier this month, I posted a blog promoting his new GoFundMe campaign for CONSTAR CONTINUES…which I hope you’ll consider donating to.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be featuring audio interviews with two guys named Greg—GREG TEFT and GREG MITCHELL—both of whom worked on Constar with Vance in significant production roles. Vance requested that I interview them separately to give each fan filmmaker a chance to shine. And I’m happy to do it!

The reason is that I love Vance…I love him like a brother. In fact, he frequently calls me “brother”—although I think that’s just his word for “dude”—but “brother” just shows what a truly warm and loving heart he has for people.

I’ve literally lost sleep because of Vance—not because I worry about him but because he works an overnight shift and our calls frequently start after midnight my time (2am for him in Kansas) and can usually last an hour or even two! We’ve chatted about everything from fan films and fan filmmakers to Star Trek, superhero movies, politics, weather, triumphs, frustrations, and my favorite subject: our boys. Vance is a dad like me—and a damn awesome one!—and since my son is half a decade older than his, I can give him some “heads up” advice and also look back at those days gone by and silently envy Vance getting to live those wonderful moments himself.

Yesterday, I hurt Vance.

Continue reading “My sincere apologies to VANCE MAJOR”

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!”

“LET ME HELP”…do you have any extra STAR TREK stuff that you no longer need?

I joined STARFLEET, the International Star Trek Fan Association, Inc., way back in 1983 and have been a member ever since. (Heck, it wasn’t even an “Inc.” back then! STARFLEET incorporated in 1992 and became a 501(c)(7) non-profit shortly thereafter.) STARFLEET itself has been around since 1974 and has grown into the largest, continuously active Star Trek fan organization in the world with more than 5,300 members in 225+ chapters in more than 20 countries worldwide.

But this blog isn’t about STARFLEET itself. It’s about its new president, STEVEN PARMLEY.

Every three years, the STARFLEET membership holds an election to select its next Commander and Vice-Commander. The most recent election happened last fall, and Steven Parmley was the victor with 1,014 votes (51.7%) over Denise Rush with 946 votes (48.3%). Normally a cause for celebration, Steven didn’t feel much like celebrating. Around the same time, Steven and his family lost their home and all of their possessions in a fire…

We had a fire in 2019 when we had moved in to a new rental, but due to an electrical issue, the house had caught fire, and before we had insurance. I lost 20 years of STAR TREK Memorabilia and we lost furniture, clothes, etc.  While we were able to replace the furniture and clothes, I have been unable to replace my collection. But as long as I have my daughters, then anything is possible.

Steven is a single dad of two beautiful girls: Natalie, 15 and Fiona, 8. He works as a deputy jailer in Western Kentucky. He also serves as an assistant chief of the local fire department and as a Lt. Cmdr. in the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, responsible for 115 cadets and 37 instructors in his posting as the regional commander for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

I wasn’t aware of any of this until a few days ago. I simply reached out to the new Commander, STARFLEET shortly after he took office on January 1 to congratulate him and say “hi.” My own rank is Vice Admiral (the CS is a Fleet Admiral), and I’d served as Chief of Communications for the club back in 2008-2010. As Steven and I chatted, I discovered that he was a big fan of AXANAR and enjoyed reading my blog. I also learned about the fire. Steve had lost his entire collection of Star Trek memorabilia and didn’t have the money to replace anything.

I immediately went onto eBay and ordered these for Steven…

It seemed the least I could do for a fellow fan and STARFLEET member—let alone the new Fleet Admiral! But then I had an idea…

Continue reading ““LET ME HELP”…do you have any extra STAR TREK stuff that you no longer need?”

2019 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!

In memory of ARON “Nog” EISENBERG (far right)…taken from us all way too soon

Okay, anyone who is still claiming that the CBS fan film guidelines “killed” or “destroyed” or “ruined” Star Trek fan films “forever” needs to be strapped into the Neutral Neutralizer chair and forced to read this blog!

Sure, the 6-figure crowd-funded productions were now a thing of the past, but they were always the exception and not the rule anyway. Most fan projects have traditionally had very humble budgets, and those have continued to live long and prosper. If they weren’t doing so, I doubt I’d be spending so much time writing this darned blog!

Speaking of which, did you know that I’ve published 205(!!!) individual blog entries in 2019? Yep, I just counted! Granted, some have been reviews of Star Trek: Discovery or Short Treks episodes; a good number of blogs were in support of the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE and other fan film crowd-funders; the long-awaited production of AXANAR itself got a lot coverage, as did the Star Trek/Dr. Seuss “mash-up” infringement case; and there were news stories and updates and, sadly, eulogies for ARON EISENBERG, D.C. FONTANA, and RENÉ AUBERJONOIS. And of course, I also continued my series of “The History Of…” features, most recently focusing on the Scottish fan series INTREPID.

But there were also more than TWO DOZEN brand new Star Trek fan film releases that got special coverage here on Fan Film Factor in 2019…plus another FIFTY new CONSTAR CHRONICLES fan films from VANCE MAJOR—and remember that many fan films were two-parts.

And this is by no means even a complete list!!!

There were also a number of releases I didn’t get to yet (hey, I’m just one guy!), including ones from Germany (STAR TREK: EUDERION) and the Czech Republic (STAR TREK: DIPLOMACY), humor vignette series like STAR TREK: IT GUY and the surreal STAR TREK: STUNT DOUBLES…and a whole bunch of smaller efforts from right here in the U.S.A. and around the world. So I’d say we’re well over a HUNDRED new Trek fan films in 2019…

Dead, Jim? Hardly!

So just in case you missed any of my features and/or interviews (both written and audio) covering these many fan releases—of if you’d just like to enjoy something to watch during your down time before heading back to work later this week—here’s what’s been published here on Fan Film Factor for new Trek releases over the past twelve months (click in the title(s) to view the blogs or else just watch the videos below them)…

Continue reading “2019 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

GREEN SCREEN crowd-funded in SIX DAYS…Paul Jenkins reimbursed!

By now, most of you know about the mishap during the INTERLUDE shoot at Ares Studios in November and how, when AXANAR director PAUL JENKINS arrived in December, he found his 100-foot-long custom green screen ruined. It was an accident, but the responsibility lay squarely (or rectangularly) on the shoulders of the Interlude production team.

No one individual was singled out as being “the idiot responsible” because no one on my team was an idiot. In fact, most of them are amazingly talented, competent, and dedicated craftsmen (and women) and hard-working volunteers…from directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX, who knocked it out of the park that weekend, to the good folks who vacuumed the bridge set. As far as I am concerned, everyone is to be praised and commended, and no one will be thrown under the bus!

Anyway, I asked my donors and other supporters of Interlude (and fan films in general) to please help raise enough money to reimburse Paul the $4,760 cost for replacing the ruined green screen. I kicked off the donations with $500 of my own money, and three of my biggest donors each matched my amount…leaving another $2,760 to raise from other contributors. Honestly, I thought I was going to be crowd-funding this until February or March, if not longer.

And then a fan film Christmas miracle happened. We reached our goal for reimbursing Paul in less than a week!!!

Usually, the holiday season is the worst time of year to do fan film crowd-funding (other than anytime near tax day in April). But I reached out to folks anyway, asking for only $10 per donor. Altogether, 112 donors graciously answered the call, chipping in anywhere from $10 to $100 each (one put in $300). It was, for me at least, a heartwarming reminder of what I know is so precious about this fan film community.

I sent Paul the full funds via PayPal last Friday, while we were still a few hundred dollars short of our goal. But I had faith it wouldn’t be long until we got there. And then, on Sunday evening—less than six days after I made my first appeal, we reach the goal. If fact, later that evening, two additional donations brought us $35 over that goal. I’ve let the supporters know that they no longer have to donate anything more. Interlude is covered.

I’ve said it probably a thousand times already, but you can never say THANK YOU enough in my book! So my sincere gratitude to everyone who has supported Interlude…whether you gave to replace the green screen or simply donated along the way to help me and my team make a really awesome fan film.

You are truly the best of Star Trek fandom.