Drawing AXANAR – an interview with “WHY WE FIGHT” artist MARK McCRARY

Last week, I premiered the first-ever AXANAR illustrated short story, “Why We Fight,” written by yours truly and illustrated by MARK McCRARY.  I met Mark through another Mark, MARK LARGENT, with whom I co-wrote and co-produced the fan parody film Prelude to Ax’d-We-Are.  Mark and Mark are buddies, and together they wrote and illustrated an awesome fan comic book about the final voyage of James T. Kirk entitled “Save What From Heaven Is with the Breezes Blown.”

You probably already know about me (and if you don’t, read some of my biography blogs here).  But my illustrator Mark McCrary is still a mystery to most fans.  Not anymore!  I felt that Mark deserved a decent interview to finally tell the fan film world a little bit about himself.

And so, without further ado, the man who made my Axanar fan fiction story look totally amazing…

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Continuing drama for STARBASE STUDIOS…and my departure

Sometimes no good deed goes unpunished.  When last I reported on STARBASE STUDIOS, things looked like they would finally work out.  An agreement that had been in negotiation for three arduous months had finally been agreed to and signed by all parties. The Starbase Studios lawsuit filed by Glen Wolfe was dropped, and it seemed like things could return to normal.

The new owners of the sets would be GLEN WOLFE (50%), SCOTT JOHNSON (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%).  KENT EDWARDS would no longer own any part of the sets but would continue to be involved with Starbase Studios, LLC, and working with fan filmmakers.

Although the sets would remain in their current location in Marble Falls, Arkansas until the end of this year, after that, plans were that they would be moved into a fantastic new building with heat, A/C, electrical, and best of all, bathrooms!  Free rent would be provided by the building’s owners, Glen Wolfe and his wife, and fan productions going through Starbase Studios would be able to continue using the sets essentially for free.  It was looking like Starbase Studios had gotten through the rough waters and emerged safely on the other side of the river.

Yeah, well, don’t get out of the boat just yet, folks…

Continue reading “Continuing drama for STARBASE STUDIOS…and my departure”

“WHY WE FIGHT” – the first-ever AXANAR illustrated short story!

Click here to view the PDF version of “Why We Fight”

Read more about the creation of this original Axanar short story by clicking here.  And come back next week for an interview with illustrator Mark McCrary.

“Why We Fight”

An Axanar Short Story

Written by Jonathan Lane
Illustrations by Mark McCrary

Stardate: 2244.9
Location: The 602 Club, Mill Valley near San Francisco, Earth

At a table…

Continue reading ““WHY WE FIGHT” – the first-ever AXANAR illustrated short story!”

Coming next week: the first-ever AXANAR SHORT STORY written by…me!

Yes, folks, I wrote an Axanar short story…and you’ll get to read it in just one more week!

Inspiration hit last spring when another Axanar super-fan, Trey McElwain from Texas, announced that he would be releasing a three-page (plus cover) original Axanar comic book story.  I interviewed Trey back in June (read it here) and was really excited to see the finished product…which would debut in July.  But I also thought about how much fun it would be to write an Axanar comic book myself.

The first thing I needed to decide is what the story would be about.  Space battles with Starfleet fighting the Klingons seemed obvious…perhaps too obvious.  After all, Prelude to Axanar had already given us quite a bit of starship combat, and so had Trey’s Axanar comic book.  I didn’t want to simply do more of the same.

To me, the most interesting aspects of the Axanar tapestry were the characters themselves and also the world of the Federation a short 20 years before Captain Kirk’s five-year mission.  At the time, I hadn’t seen the script for the full Axanar feature or the two 15-minutes “mockumentary-style” fan films being planned.  So I didn’t really know what I could and couldn’t do with the characters…even if I set the story during the events of Prelude.

So that left the world of 2245 and where the United Federation of Planets was at that point in its history.  Yes, there was a four-year-long war with the Klingons going on.  But for me, there was something even more significant, and it all came from a single line from Prelude

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STARBASE STUDIOS settlement reached!!! (amen!)

When last we left STARBASE STUDIOS…aw heck, just read the blog, folks!  But long story short, VANCE MAJOR and I had worked tirelessly (and I mean that) for months trying everything we could to get these two parties—GLEN L. WOLFE on one side and SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS on the other—to compromise and reach a place where they could reasonably settle their lawsuit over the ownership of the Starbase Studios sets.

It was like pulling teeth…from a Klingon targ!

Every time we thought we had a settlement ready to sign, another problem seemed to crop up.  But then, by the middle of January, we finally had an agreement that everyone could live with.  Glen was taking it to his lawyer to review, but he was planning to sign it, send it along to Scott and Kent, and finally Starbase Studios could heal and move forward, once again becoming a place where fans could create amateur Star Trek film projects on professional-looking TOS sets.

That agreement was never signed.

So why the headline saying that a settlement has finally been reached?  Well, folks, it’s been an…interesting…three weeks!

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THIS is what happens when you ask JONATHAN LANE for a FAN FILM FAVOR!

On December 8th, I received an instant message on Facebook from VANCE MAJOR, the creator of the MINARD Saga of fan films.  Vance needed a favor from me.

Vance and I have become pretty good friends over the past year or so…divided only by the distance between southern California and Kansas, but united by our love for fan films and Star Trek, as well as our shared experiences as fathers to wonderful little boys.

Oh, and we’re both fan filmmakers.

Granted, Vance has done waaaaaaay more in that genre than I ever have, and I truly respect his work.  And that’s why I happily agreed to the favor he asked me.

For a few of his final productions, Vance wanted to include brief video clips of some of his closest friends from the fan film community.  One of these was a fan film titled Change (which was released last Friday).  All I needed for the short headshot clip was to look into the camera and say something like, “Comm secure, standing by…” or “Channel encrypted, go ahead…” and then stare at the screen for the next 15-20 seconds.  Then I would upload the video file to Vance who would do the rest, editing the various clips he received from folks into his final production.

Vance said he preferred a late 24th century uniform (final seasons of DS9), but if I didn’t have that style of uniform, I could just wear a black T-shirt and he’d composite my head onto a proper uniform.

Do I have a late-season DS9 uniform!?  Is the Pope Catholic???

(Actually that particular uniform was custom made for me about 15 years ago by none other than GABE KOERNER—yep, the same guy who does VFX for The Orville and just declared that he no longer thinks Alec Peters is a willful criminal.  Hi, Gabe.)

So I went out and bought a blue-colored matte board to serve as a makeshift blue screen background, came home, put on the uniform, set up some lamps, stuck my camera on a tripod, and recorded Vance’s 20 seconds of footage.

I also recorded something else for him—something that, um, well…

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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…

Continue reading “HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me…and to FAN FILM FACTOR!”

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…

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

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?


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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…

Continue reading “The TOP 10 fan film news stories of 2017”