Set Cancellations, Scheduling Conflicts, Costume Conundrums, Stray Dogs, Trapped Woodpeckers, and Acts of God…what I DIDN’T expect when I decided to make a fan film!

Before we begin, quick crowd-funding update! After ten days, 88 backers have already donated $7,621 to INTERLUDE (nearly 40% of the way to $19,500!). That’s amazing! If you haven’t donated yet, or if you’d just be willing to help spread the word, here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

And now, today’s blog…


“Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Man, am I learning that lesson with Interlude!

Over the years, I’ve interviewed countless fan filmmakers, and the one thing that nearly all of them have in common are stories of unexpected crises that pop up out of nowhere…demanding to be dealt with quickly lest the project get partially or completely derailed.

I never truly appreciated what these show-runners go through until I became an executive producer myself. My fan film hasn’t even started shooting yet, and already I’ve had to deal with some of the weirdest occurrences that I could have ever imagined—including emergency dog rescues, woodpeckers in chimneys, and an honest-to-goodness flood—all of which have conspired to try to delay the launch of my crowd-funder!

The dog actually DID delay it. You all probably remember how a stray canine in Alabama crossed the highway in front of ALEC PETERS and CRYSSTAL HUBBARD, and how they spent the next two hours trying to keep the dog safe (keep it from trying to cross back) until help could arrive. And those two hours ate up the window for livecasting Axanar Confidential that Monday night, forcing us to delay the roll-out of the GoFundMe campaign for INTERLUDE until the following night.

But wait till you hear about some of the other Murphy’s Law moments I’ve had over the past month and a half…

Continue reading “Set Cancellations, Scheduling Conflicts, Costume Conundrums, Stray Dogs, Trapped Woodpeckers, and Acts of God…what I DIDN’T expect when I decided to make a fan film!”

Just posted: PAGE 1 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!

The GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE launched a week ago, and it got off to a very exciting start! We’re currently nearly 1/6 of the way to our $19,500 goal with $3,089 from 52 donors (including me). And although donations have slowed a bit over the last few days—that’s to be expected on most crowd-funders—they’re still coming in. So…YAY!

What this means for YOU is, if you haven’t donated yet and want to see Interlude get made, please consider making a donation (or at least share the link with friends whom you think might be interested in helping us out).

What this means for ME, of course, is that I have to find ways to keep fans excited about this project! And that brings us to today’s blog entry…

As many of you know, Interlude got its start as “feedback” for ALEC PETERS after I read his first draft of the two 15-minute Axanar sequel fan films (shortened from the originally-planned 90-minute feature length production). I noticed his script contained no scenes on the bridge, and so I wrote a few for him. I didn’t know at the time that Alec wasn’t sure if the USS Ares bridge set would ever be completed (this was back in June of 2017), which is why he left out any scenes on the bridge.

Encouraged by Alec, however, I decided to create an Axanar comic book using one of my bridge scenes, following the lead of super Axanerd TREY McELWAIN, who was already publishing the second Axanar comic in his “Tip of the Spear” series. In fact, he let me “borrow” his artist, DANIEL FU to illustrate my short story.

It would be a 7-page one-shot—beginning at the exact moment that PRELUDE TO AXANAR ended on its cliff-hanger: “Stardate 2245.1 – The D7 enters the war!” Three D7s approach the camera, the lead one firing a torpedo. The comic would show their target…and why that target was so critical to the war. The story is about honor an sacrifice, bravery and duty in the face of a surprise sneak attack that leaves no time to plan or react with anything other than one’s true self.

The comic is now complete—ready to be shared with all of you. Over the course of the next seven weeks, I’ll be releasing one page per week. Many of you have already seen the cover, so this week is page 1.

Continue reading “Just posted: PAGE 1 of the INTERLUDE comic “STARDATE 2245.1”!”

A whole new DIMENSION to my fan film INTERLUDE!

And this is why I’m not a video editor!

But before I begin publicly admitting my embarrassment, let me first say how excited and encouraged I am to see so much support for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. After just 24 hours, we’d already made it an amazing 1/8 of the way to our $19,500 goal…with new donations popping up every few hours. So THANK YOU!

If you haven’t donated yet and would like to, here’s the link:

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

So let me tell you a little bit about my experience as a filmmaker…

And there it was. I’m not an accomplished editor or VFX artist; I can’t compose music; I don’t know lighting; and I’m working my way up to”novice” when it comes to video cameras and the latest technology. Fortunately, I have some amazing people who DO know this stuff backwards and forwards, and I’m more than happy to find them some money to produce a film and then just get out of their way and let them work their magic.

However, when it came to creating the “ask” video for Interlude, I didn’t feel comfortable requesting or expecting too much free work just yet. Oh sure, LEWIS ANDERSON created the awesome CGI render of the opening VFX sequence, MARK EDWARD LEWIS added the sound effects, KEVIN CROXTON composed the music, and Mark did the sound mixing. Those 19 seconds were a true team effort.

But the other 12 minutes and 16 seconds of the ask video were all me, my Canon G3X camera, and my Mac. And as I said, I’m not exactly an accomplished expert, and I don’t have the high-end editing software (nor did I have time to learn it). So I just did my best to record footage and assemble the video using the “Happy Meal” of Mac film editing applications: iMovie.

Considering my limited experience and abilities, and also the short amount of time I had to complete everything, the 13-minute ask video and the 1-minute Interlude “commercial” came out fairly decently. Lots of people agreed…even a few detractors, if you can believe it. But those same detractors were all too eager to point out how disappointed they were that Interlude would have a standard HD aspect resolution of 16:9 instead of the wider screen cinemascope aspect ratio of 2:39.1 that Prelude to Axanar was shot in.

Then, two days after I’d launched the GoFundMe with the “ask” video that I was so proud of, my CGI guy messengered me to ask why I cropped his cinemascope VFX footage down to 16:9?

To quote the great Scooby Doo: “R’uh R’oh!”

Continue reading “A whole new DIMENSION to my fan film INTERLUDE!”

My INTERLUDE GoFundMe launches with $1,600 in just 6 hours!

Wow! I launched the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE during the rescheduled livecast of this week’s Axanar Confidential. Then I headed out to have dinner with a good friend and watch episodes of Fear the Walking Dead and The Last Kingdom. After dinner but before geeking out in front of the TV, I showed my friend the YouTube “commercial” I posted for Interlude

He was curious how much we’d raised so far. I joked that it’d only been about two and a half hours, only 70 people had watched the podcast live, and we really hadn’t started the heavy promotion yet. Nevertheless, I pulled out my cell phone and checked: $420. Not bad, I thought…even though $100 of that came from me as the first donation.

But when I returned home three hours later (just a few minutes ago as I write this), I was shocked to see the total had jumped to $1,620! And this included an anonymous $1,000 donation (whoever you are, I love you—thank you so much!). Actually, I want to thank everyone who has donated so far, from a $5 donation from my dear friends ALEX & SARAH ROSENZWEIG to a $100 donation from CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIERE in Italy (who will be the costume consultant for Axanar) to a $250 donation from a fellow named JT KLAMER, whom I’m not sure I know yet, but I’d sure like to. To you five and the other half dozen donors so far, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

But there’s still a long road to get from here to there…which is my ultimate goal of $19,500. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to be publishing a LOT of blogs about Interlude to keep up interest and excitement in the project. These will include features, interviews, a couple of videos, some editorials, and the seven pages of the short comic book story I wrote that Interlude is based on.

I am also planning to continue to cover the larger world of fan films. After all, that’s what this blog is all about! Already, I have an audio interview with MARC ZICREE of SPACE COMMAND coming on Thursday, another audio interview with the show-runners of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION the following week, a sneak peek at VANCE MAJOR’s upcoming series THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES, and the first new STALLED TREK animated puppet parody in more the three years.

So no, it’s not going to be “all Interlude all the time,” and yes, it is going to be a VERY busy summer for Jonathan!

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Please consider making a donation to my crowd-funder for Interlude, or at least please share the link below…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

The DOG ate my LIVECAST – INTERLUDE launch rescheduled for TONIGHT at 9PM Eastern Time!

Some of you might be aware that last night I was planning to launch my GoFundMe crowd-funding campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. We had it all planned: ALEC PETERS would host me and my directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN, on his Axanar Confidential YouTube Livecast. The start time was supposed to be 9:00 pm Eastern. I posted all over Facebook and to a number of mailing lists.

And then the dog happened…

To be honest, I’d been a feeling little uneasy about the livecast the entire day. Alec was traveling back to Georgia all the way from Oklahoma (where he had been for the weekend)—a 13-hour drive! Could he make it back in time for the livecast?

As the day went on, I checked in with Alec periodically. By lunchtime, he and his girlfriend CRYSSTAL HUBBARD were in Memphis…half-way there. Later in the afternoon, while passing through Birmingham, Alabama, Alec’s GPS showed an arrival time of 8:30 pm. Cutting it close, to be sure…but we should still make it. Whew!

But then Alec texted me that he had to cancel the livecast. The reason: an emergency dog rescue…

Continue reading “The DOG ate my LIVECAST – INTERLUDE launch rescheduled for TONIGHT at 9PM Eastern Time!”

The REVISED BUDGET for my fan film INTERLUDE!

The crowd-funder for my fan film INTERLUDE goes live next week, and this is my last chance to share the details of the budget, explaining the goal of…

$19,500

…(a slight increase over the estimate in my previous blog from three weeks ago because a few things have changed).

Before I begin, let me state for the record that this budget was compiled by me based on input from a number of sources, including my directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSH IRWIN along with several other people whom I trust. But the final numbers and estimates were mine because, as executive producer, I am the guy responsible for raising the money, explaining to you how we are going to utilize it, and ultimately writing the checks from the money we raise.

So is this budget 100% perfect? Probably not. Some things might end up costing less, some will cost more, and probably a bunch of things we haven’t even thought of will suddenly pop up out of nowhere. If we come up short, we’ll need to figure out ways to trim things. For that reason, I’ve “erred on the side of caution” and created my budget to assume costs on the high side. That way, if we don’t make our goal, we’ll hopefully still have enough to make a decent fan film by streamlining and trimming things from the budget.

And what if we go over our goal?  Well, if there’s enough left over, perhaps we take the surplus and mail out some extra patches to our donors as a thank you gift. Maybe we can afford something even nicer than a patch. Maybe we can afford something even nicer than a patch. We’ll see. If there’s a lot left over, it goes into a bank account to be reserved for a future Axanar Universe fan film from me or another Axanar fan.

One place the funds do NOT go is to Axanar Productions to help ALEC PETERS in any way to make his Axanar sequels. That would, according to Alec himself, violate his settlement agreement with CBS and Paramount. This includes giving him any of our uniforms to use for his shoot. (Amusingly, he can loan some of his uniforms to us, but not vice-versa. Even though that sounds odd, it’s the legally prudent thing to do.)

And now, let’s take a deep-dive into our budget…

Continue reading “The REVISED BUDGET for my fan film INTERLUDE!”

ALEC PETERS chokes up at a panel from AXACON…

In the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy,” Kirk mentions that Garth’s exploits were required reading at Starfleet Academy. Well, if you’re a fan of AXANAR and ALEC PETERS, then the video below should be considered “required viewing.”

AXACON took place last November in Atlanta, and about 30 people attended. However, knowing that there were thousands and thousands more supporters of Axanar who wouldn’t be able to make it, Alec hired a video crew to film every panel—along with several interviews with the guests—through the 3-day weekend event. About ten of these interviews have already been released for early viewing to ARES STUDIOS Patreon donors, with about half of those now posted publicly to YouTube. (You can view all of the public Axacon videos here.)

The latest video to be released to the public debuted on Friday evening as a livecast on YouTube. Since then, it’s been viewed nearly a thousand times…and with good reason. It’s a really FANtastic panel…especially if you love Axanar. And for me, it was probably my favorite panel of the weekend. Why, you ask?

Well, it was an exhausting weekend…three days of non-stop fun mixed with hard work and little sleep (or was it hard work mixed with fun and almost no sleep?) where I conducted countless interviews and led seemingly endless panels. And honestly, I totally don’t know how to lead panels! I’m not sure if there are classes in it, but it there are, I never took any of them. So for most of the weekend I was flying by the seat of my pants and getting terrorized by J.G. HERTZLER and GARY F-ING GRAHAM. (You’ll need to watch my interviews with them to get that joke…and some haven’t been released yet.)

By the time we got to the “Elite of the Fleet” panel—the next-to-last of the weekend—I was totally spent. You can tell it from watching the video below. But now I had to lead STEVE JEPSON and Alec as we discussed Admiral Slater and Garth. I’d already interviewed Steve about Slater a few hours earlier, and Alec had already spoken on another panel about Garth. So I just kinda winged it…as did Steve and Alec.

To my utter surprise, this exhausted trio managed to have a fascinating and lively discussion—just three obsessed Axanerds chatting about their favorite fan film. It’s the kind of geeked-out conversation we fans love to have from time to time, and it was totally engaging and fun. Each of us got ample time to talk, and everything was SO interesting.

And then a very unexpected and special “moment” happened.

Continue reading “ALEC PETERS chokes up at a panel from AXACON…”

To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!

Among the more annoying and often-ignored fan film guidelines is number 6e: “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.”

Boo. Hiss. Expletive.

And as I’ve said elsewhere, a number of post-guidelines fan film crowd-funding campaigns have ignored that one…offering posters, patches, and a bunch of other perks. Thus far, CBS hasn’t seemed to mind. In one case, the production even got permission from CBS to offer perks!

However, I’d be naive to believe that CBS won’t have me and my production under a microscope. So I’m taking great pains to keep INTERLUDE completely separate from Alec Perets’ Axanar sequels (other than having Alec play Garth) and to establish very clearly and publicly my intention to follow ALL of the guidelines.

And that means…no perks!

Man, it’s a huge risk. Perks are exciting! Perks are cool! Perks make people think they’re getting something tangible for their donation (which, if you think about, isn’t that different from simply buying that perk…which is probably why CBS doesn’t want fan productions to do it).

But perks also cost money to make and to mail. In addition to the patches or posters or T-shirts or mugs, you’ve got to buy shipping materials and pay for postage. And heaven help you if you’ve got backers from places like Asia or Australia. That $10 donation is likely gonna cost you $25 just to mail them a frickin’ patch!

So I’ve obviously got a pretty good reason NOT to offer perks. I’m already trying to raise about $20K. Add in perks and packaging and postage, and you can increase that number easily to $22K or $23K!

So instead, all I am going to be offering as a “perk” is getting your name in the credits. But are people going to want to donate simply to see their name at the end of my fan film??? Granted I do have some fun categories for listing the names:

  • Ensign – donate up to $10
  • Lieutenant – $11-$50
  • Lieutenant Commander – $51-$100
  • Commander – $101-$250
  • Captain – $251-$500
  • Commodore – $501-$1000
  • Admiral – $1001-$2500
  • Associate Producer – $2501 and up
    (no Fleet Captain…that rank’s reserved for Garth!)

The idea is that, the larger your donation, the higher your rank and the larger your name in the credits. And for the Associate Producers (assuming I get any), they will also be invited to join us at ARES STUDIOS for filming. They’ll have to pay for their own transportation and lodging—but I figure if they can afford thousands of dollars to donate to a fan film, they shouldn’t have a problem with a plane ticket and a Holiday Inn Express.

And there’s one more fun thing I wanna do…!

Continue reading “To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!”

INTERLUDE will be filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS instead of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS…

A slight change of plans for my fan film INTERLUDE, which will be set in the Axanar Universe and will be crowd-funding soon!

The majority of the fan film will be shot on the amazing bridge set of the USS ARES in Lawrenceville, GA. Initially, the plan was to film there for two days in late September and then drive down to Kingsland, GA for a third day of filming on the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios. There are two scenes that take place in my fan film—one in sickbay and the other in engineering—that are brief but still very important to the story.

The new plan, instead of filming in Kingsland, has the sickbay scene being shot in Arkansas at WARP 66 Studios, which is run by GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS. Those TOS sets have been used for episodes of THE FEDERATION FILES as well as recent Avalon Universe productions from my Interlude directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX. In fact, Josh and Victoria live relatively close to Glen and Dan, so the change of location actually makes things quite a bit more convenient for them.

It also trims about $1,000 or so from our budget…YAY! Without the need to drive 5 hours across Georgia, I won’t have to rent a car in Atlanta for the weekend. Plus, we won’t need three or four hotel rooms in Kingsland for the night.

Glen is already coming up with ideas for altering his TOS sickbay set into looking more like the earlier sickbay from the second Star Trek pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” If so, that’d be totally AWESOME(!!!), since Interlude takes place during the Four Years War, two decades before Kirk’s 5-year mission. So Glen has my undying appreciation (that’s a subtle Kharn reference for all those Axanerds out there)!

As for the engineering scene, WARP 66 doesn’t have that set as yet. However, the engineering scene in Interlude is so brief (like, maybe, 10 seconds) that we can easily “fake” it with a green screen composite. And there’s a bunch of engineering backgrounds available out there for our VFX guy to use.

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on a really fun “ask” video for the crowd-funding campaign, which will launch in just a couple of weeks! The opening VFX sequence is being scored right now, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you. My team is excited, I’m REALLY excited, and I hope that soon you’ll be just as excited, too!

How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)

Last week, I revealed that I’m going to need to raise $18,800 (possibly more if I end up getting production insurance) in order to make my fan film INTERLUDE, which takes place in what I’ve decided to call the “Axanar Universe.” Now, $18.8K is pretty ambitious in the post-guidelines fan film world. So how am I going to get there?

Over the years that I’ve published the Fan Film Factor blog, I’ve seen a LOT of crowd-funding campaigns—some more successful than others—and I’ve noticed some things that work and some that don’t. I’ve shared this “acquired wisdom” with many folks along the way, but now it’s time to see if I can practice what I’ve been preaching!

They say that a magician should never reveal how they do their tricks, but today I am going to do just that. I’m gonna tell you all exactly what I’m planning to try to make this a successful crowd-funding campaign. And hey, if you’ve got any additional ideas that I haven’t thought of (and don’t require me to “break bad”), please feel free to share them in the comments.

Okay, let’s pull back the magician’s curtain…

Continue reading “How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)”