The COVID vaccination is a shot in the arm for fan filmmakers…but only if they get it! (editorial)

Most of my readers, I am hopeful, are either planning to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines or have already gotten one or both (if necessary) shots. And if you are one of those people, I applaud you!

In fact, as of this week, I have joined the partially-vaccinated group, having received my first dosage of the Moderna vaccine. (California just opened up vaccinations to people with obesity…the only good thing to ever come from my chronic weight problem!)

I am pleased to report that, with the exception of a ridiculously sore left upper arm for 36 hours—which is now mercifully back to normal—I am feeling just fine. I didn’t die or go into anaphylaxis; I didn’t pass out or grow a second head.

In fact, now that I’ve gotten my first vaccination shot, there’s only unusual thing that I’m feeling:

AN AMAZING SENSE OF RELIEF!

Honestly, folks, I hadn’t realized how much I’d been living with this almost constant pounding of fear and dread these past 14 months. Like some crazy end-of-times sci-fi horror movie, there was literally a super-virus out there that could kill me! And sure, COVID-19 isn’t necessarily fatal to everyone, but when you’re 5′ 9″, 255 pounds, and have hypertension, this unpredictable virus was more likely than not to do a serious number on me…and possibly even end my life at 54. When you feel as though you’re taking a potentially fatal risk just by going to Costco…that’s stress!

Now, I realize that, with the Moderna vaccine, one dosage isn’t enough yet. Full immunization doesn’t come for me until my second shot in the middle of April. But for the next four weeks, the odds of my surviving an infection if I get one just shot up considerably!

It’s troubling to me that a number of people in our fan film community are not planning to get the vaccine (I won’t name names). In fact, I was texting one of my own INTERLUDE team members that I was at Rite Aid awaiting my shot, and this person sent me back the following IM…

You’re really going to take vaccine that hasn’t been through more than 4 months of clinical trials? You really are a gambler. Also, do note, that you’ll be 3 times more contagious for 2 weeks after you take the vaccine, so you’ll want to have st. john’s wort on hand for your family. There’s a high likelihood they’ll get it from you.

Nothing like getting a little emotional shot in the arm just before you get an actual shot in the arm! So I showed the message to Helen, my Rite Aid pharmacist. I’ve known this woman more than a decade, and I’ve literally trusted her with my life as well as the lives of my wife and son.

Helen explained something to me about the vaccine that I was unaware of…

Continue reading “The COVID vaccination is a shot in the arm for fan filmmakers…but only if they get it! (editorial)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #14: Ample post-production patience and perseverance!

“Production hell” (or “development hell”) is a real thing in Hollywood…so much so that it has its own Wikipedia page. But did you know there’s also post-production hell? Or at least, there SHOULD be!

The three phases of film creation are typically pre-production (planning, budgeting, financing, hiring, scheduling, location scouting, construction, costume and prop preparation, etc.), then production (actually shooting footage), and finally post-production (editing, picture level and color adjustment, visual effects, sound effects, music, sound-mixing, etc.). It’s understandable that the first phase would take a while, and of course, you might spend weeks or months (or more) filming everything that you need. And of course, sometimes these phases overlap a little with each other. But you’d think that, once all the raw footage is “in the can” as they say in the industry, that post-production would go pretty quickly…even on a big-budget project. In fact, especially on a big-budget project, as you can afford to pay people to focus on finishing YOUR production rather than splitting up their time.

Yeah, you’d think post-production would be nice and fast. And maybe it is for some projects…but sadly, not for me and my debut fan film INTERLUDE.

I’m actually not alone in having an unexpectedly extended period of post-production for my project. Some of the most ambitious Star Trek fan films shot the majority of their footage years or even as much as half a decade(!!!) before finally releasing their finished products: STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, PACIFIC 201, STARSHIP EXETER, THE ROMULAN WAR, STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY, many episodes of INTREPID…just to name a few. Heck, the series finale of STARSHIP FARRAGUT, “Homecoming,” was crowd-funded back in 2015, shot in 2016, and still isn’t out yet. And of course, fans have been waiting for YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL for what feels like forever. The most recently-announced release dates were this past Christmas day and then the end of January. (A major illness of one of JOHN ATKIN’s family members has delayed the release a bit longer.)

And then there’s Interlude.

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #14: Ample post-production patience and perseverance!”

2020 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!

On the one hand, 2020 pretty much sucked. Political upheaval, protests and rioting, wildfires burned, rains flooded, hurricanes and tornadoes blew…and some crazy bat virus got loose and started spreading rapidly across the world while scientists tried to find a vaccine at warp speed. Civilization as we knew it seemed to have hit “pause,” and we’re still wondering if things will ever return to the way they used to be.

On the other hand, with most of the world’s outside-of-the-home activities curtailed, we did have ample time to catch up on our binge-watching on TV and YouTube. And for those of us with a predilection for Star Trek, 2020 gave us, for the first time ever, TWO new Star Trek TV series premiering in the same year! STAR TREK: PICARD debuted in January (you remember January, right?) and STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS followed in August.

And no sooner had Lower Decks finished than a new season of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY fired back up…meaning that 2020 will have a total of 32 new episodes of Star Trek in a single year! We haven’t had that much new Star Trek on TV since back in 1999 when Deep Space Nine and Voyager were running concurrently.

And if 32 new episodes of television Star Trek weren’t enough for you, then fan films gave you even MORE to binge-watch during your quarantine! Anyone who had “The guidelines will totally destroy Star Trek fan films” in the office betting pool lost big for a fifth straight year, as not only did Trek fan films live long and prosper, they even did so despite a global pandemic with the release of new “fandemic” films shot carefully with masks and social distancing during production.

This year also saw the debut of multiple long-awaited Star Trek fan films that had been in production for three years, five years, and even 35 years! It’s been an exciting twelve months for our fan film community, and a darn BUSY one for bloggers like me (assuming there are any other bloggers like me!) who spend their time covering the people behind these productions and the seemingly endless parade of of content they bring to us. In fact, back in October, I published my one thousandth blog since starting back in January of 2016!

So let’s take a look at some of the good that came out of 2020 in the form of a wonderful supply of new Star Trek fan films…

Continue reading “2020 Star Trek Fan Film YEAR IN REVIEW!”

I am THANKFUL for YOU – my friends in the fan film community!

Early last month, I published my one-thousandth blog and announced a new Patreon campaign to help pay the bills for Fan Film Factor and (potentially) provide a little extra support for me personally. (I typically spend between 10 and 30 hours each week covering Star Trek fan films.) Twelve generous fans have since signed up to donate a combined $60/month to help me out, and I can’t thank them enough for that!

But my gratitude extends far beyond those dozen people to the hundreds (possibly thousands?) of regular readers of my blog posts and to the Star Trek fan filmmakers who make this blog site possible in the first place. Many of these wonderful folks have become friends (some of them very close friends), and I would like to take a few moments to thank certain of these fan filmmakers by name…

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What does a 10-YEAR-OLD think of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS? (audio interview)

Special thanks to MARK PAYTON for the above drawing of me and Jayden.

I love watching Star Trek with my son Jayden. We’ve been enjoying the Trekkie experience together since he was four when we started with the animated episodes. Then we moved onto TOS and watched them all though twice. Then we watched the movies (going chronologically, of course) followed by NEXT GENERATION. Jayden is now ten, and we’re nearly at the end of TNG season five—in a few more months, he’ll get his first taste of Deep Space Nine!

It’s so much fun sharing these wonderful episodes and movies with Jayden, and I plan to do it as long as Jayden is enjoying it, too (and maybe just a weeeee bit longer if he doesn’t turn into too much of a grouchy teenager!).

When CBS All Access first began airing new Star Trek, I suspected that DISCOVERY would not be appropriate for my son…and $#!& was I right!!! Even three years later, I still wouldn’t let Jayden watch that series yet. As for PICARD, same f*cking problem.

I was actually a little uncertain when LOWER DECKS was announced. As an animated show, it would be something that Jayden might like to watch with me. But would the content be appropriate for a kid Jayden’s age? I screened the first episode without him and felt relief to see that they were bleeping the swear words. And while some of the content might be a little mature for Jayden (some people die), it was nothing worse that what he’s already seen on TOS and TNG.

So Jayden and I started watching (and loving!) Lower Decks every Thursday for the past ten weeks. It was so cool that neither of us knew what to expect next!

As the first season came to an end last week, I began wondering whether I should write a final review of the entire season. I seemed like everyone had already commented—good or bad—on what they thought of it. In fact, so did I! I joined in a group podcast for Axanar Confidential last week with a number of movers and shakers in the fan film community asking “Is Lower Decks Canon?” (the podcast is really worth checking out). So what else was left to say? Every kind of fan had chimed in.

Or had they?

I suddenly realized that the one kind of Star Trek fan that hadn’t shared their opinion yet was a KID…and I had one of those easily available! And not just any kid—Jayden is all personality, all the time. If you’re wondering what Jonathan Lane’s offspring would be like (even though Jayden is adopted), this is your chance to see where the acorn is relative to the tree.

That said, Jayden did a really awesome job with this interview, and I’m very proud of him. Trust me, you’re gonna laugh…a lot (often at ME!). So please give a round of applause to one of the two best things in my life, JAYDEN LANE…

Continue reading “What does a 10-YEAR-OLD think of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS? (audio interview)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #13 – So when is your fan film coming out?

“So when is INTERLUDE coming out?”

I’m getting this question more and more often these days. Granted, Interlude isn’t the first fan film to announce a release date and then miss that deadline. I join such notable company as AXANAR (of course), PACIFIC 201, THE ROMULAN WAR, STARSHIP FARRAGUT‘s finale “Homecoming,” YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, and the recently-released STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER (which has been in production for five years).

Fans often wonder what takes so long…especially after everything has been filmed (which is the case for each of the fan films I just listed except for Axanar, which still needs to do their Los Angeles “alien” green screen shoot). But once all of the live-action footage is “in the can” (as they say in Hollywood), isn’t everything else relatively EASY? After all, the only things left are deciding which takes to use, putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle into an edit, finishing the VFX, writing some music, adjusting the sound, and…then you’re done, right? Oh, and remember to include the credits.

Well, it’s not quite that easy…

As I explained back in April, post production is actually a pretty complex processin and of itself—or at least it can be. In the case of Interlude, it was because we wanted to do things as carefully as we could, and because VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN got a lot of coverage of each line of dialogue. Editing alone took us from January through April (actually, slightly into May!). And only after we had a “picture lock” could we pass along the edited film to KEVIN CROXTON to write the score.

So confident was I at that point that we were on the cusp of finishing that I edited together this really cool retro trailer (complete with the theme music to Space: 1999 from the 70s) to proudly and excitedly announce a premiere date of July 25, 2020…

Man, did I get THAT one wrong! By mid-July, I had to humbly write this blog admitting that we were not going to make our deadline. And worse, I had no idea when we were going to be finished. I had learned my lesson about making promises about release dates.

So it’s now two and a half months later, and Interlude still isn’t out yet. So what’s going on?

Part of the reason I decided to make a Star Trek fan film was to document EVERY step along the way for my Fan Film Factor readers—from crowd-funding to pre-production to production to post-production. So if there’s a delay, well, Jonathan’s gonna blog about that, too! Here goes…

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This is my ONE THOUSANDTH blog – time for a Fan Film Factor PATREON!

That’s right, folks! I’m finally taking the plunge and launching a PATREON campaign to help fund the expenses of the Fan Film Factor blog. Here’s the link to donate…

https://www.patreon.com/fan_film_factor

I don’t need much. Each year, my expenses to keep this blog site operational run about $400. This includes domain registration for FanFilmFactor.com, web hosting at GoDaddy for a WordPress site (along with hi-end tech support, which is an extra premium but VERY helpful!), my SSL certificate (so that your browser trusts my blog site), and an additional layer of site security to guard against Russian hackers, random bad actors, and angry detractors.

When I first started including Google Ads on the right column of my blog pages, I was getting a bit more traffic because of the Axanar lawsuit, and the ad revenue pretty much covered the cost for the site upkeep. But in the last two years, ad revenue has settled in at a solid $200 annually, which is about half of what I pay to keep the blog’s lights on.

With the pandemic, money is tight, and so I decided to do what a few others in our community have done before—like RAY TESI from Neutral Zone Studios, ALEC PETERS from Ares Studios, and TREY McELWAIN from Mac’s World Creations Studio. (Hmmm, maybe I need to become a “studio”!) If just 18 or 20 folks sign up to give $1/month, then all is good. If I get even more donors, then I’ll be covered if ad revenue goes down…or maybe even be able to stop doing all of this completely for free.

That said, I’ve never been interested in turning blogging into a lucrative career. I do this for LOVE—love of Star Trek and of fan films, as well as respect and admiration for the fine folks who produce these great projects. The stories behind their stories deserve to be told. And between researching, writing, editing, interviewing, sound-editing, and graphics preparation, I average between 10 and 25 hours per week working on this blog site that I love so much. I’ve been doing all this for free for nearly five years now, and sure, it’d be nice to make a few bucks from it. But that’ll never be a deal-breaker for me.

In fact, this blog that you’re reading marks my ONE THOUSANDTH published blog on Fan Film Factor since January of 2016! Just take a look at my WordPress dashboard…

Click to enlarge

Earlier this year, I’d been curious how many blog entries I’d published and saw the total at 928. So I kept in the back of my mind that I should do something special for blog number 1,000. Then, a couple of months ago when I decided to launch a Patreon, it seemed like the perfect time to announce it.

I’ll post reminders from time to time (unless I get tons of patrons all at once, which I don’t expect). But for now, once again, please click below to sign up:

Thanks in advance if you decide to become one of my Patreon supporters!

Could the new LOWER DECKS be the STAR TREK series fans have been waiting for?

Get ready for an, ahem, animated discussion…and probably a whole bunch of really angry response comments!

These days, if a new Star Trek series from CBS All Access debuts to universal or near-universal acclaim, then it’s probably premiering in a different universe! In THIS universe, Trek fans are an infamously hard-to-please/easy-to-piss-off mob with social media pitchforks and YouTube podcast torches.

I know; I’ve been one of them…kinda.

Granted, I’ve probably kept more of an open mind than many, and with the exception of the last two episodes of the first season of PICARD, I actually really enjoyed that series. But you guys know how critical I was of DISCOVERY‘s first season—and season two, while significantly better, didn’t completely escape my blogs of shame!

And so, like many fans, I reacted to details about the new STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS series (debuting next month) with some serious trepidation…although still trying very hard to keep an open mind. It hasn’t been easy. The very concept of the new series scared the crap out of me!

I mean…an animated comedy???

Star Trek has survived being animated before. The 22 episodes from Filmation in 1973-74 had a few true gems (“Yesteryear” and “The Slaver Weapon”) and some major klunkers (“The Infinite Vulcan”). But it was generally a well-executed series. As for comedy Trek, episodes like “The Trouble with Tribbles,” “A Piece of the Action,” and movies like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home showed that you could certainly add a bit of comedic flair to Trek and get a pretty decent result.

Don’t say that Star Trek can’t be funny!

But could an animated series designed purposefully for non-stop gags and punchlines still work as Star Trek? Would fans accept such a tongue-in-cheek approach to a universe that we’ve dearly cherished and believed in for all these decades?

Well, CBS (now VCBS, I guess) and ALEX KURTZMAN have decided to find out—and I suppose we will, too, on August 6…and more likely on August 7 when the fannish mob once again takes to social media to make their opinions known (probably quite loudly).

But I am going to go out on a limb and say that, in my gut, we fans might just be getting the Star Trek we’ve been demanding for so long now from both CBS and Paramount!

Before diving into my reasons for that bold prediction, however, if you haven’t seen the latest trailer yet (released on July 12), then please have a look…

Also, a short scene from the first episode was just released yesterday…

And now, let’s cry “Havoc” and let those dogs of war slip a little…

Continue reading “Could the new LOWER DECKS be the STAR TREK series fans have been waiting for?”

INTERLUDE clip gets 7.8K views (and 1K likes) in 15 HOURS!

Wow…what a difference a successful YouTube Channel makes!

I posted a link to the 48-second “sneak peak” clip from INTERLUDE last week as part of a blog explaining why we were going to miss our announced premiere date of July 25, 2020. Long story short, the music isn’t done yet. But I wanted to give folks a taste of how the music sounded. So I cut a short clip and posted it. The video got 363 views over six days.

Last night, ALEC PETERS debuted the same video clip on the AXANAR YouTube channel. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is…

I woke up this morning to see that the clip has now had over 7.8K views and 1K thumbs up (versus only 35 thumbs down)…so YAY! Of course, the channel has 89K subscribers—no wonder it got so many views so quickly. But hey, I’m not complaining!

I also read though the comments, and there were a number of questions and topics that came up repeatedly. So I thought I’d respond to them here if anyone is interested and/or curious:

1. When is Interlude coming out?

Soon. As I explained in last week’s blog, KEVIN CROXTON is about halfway done with the music, then MARK EDWARD LEWIS will add in the final sound effects and balance the sound levels. We’re also awaiting one final VFX sequence from LEWIS ANDERSON. Then we’re pretty much D-O-N-E.

2. The music is too loud/voices are too low.

Yep. As I said, the sound-mixing gets done last (since you need all the music before you can balance the levels). This clip was simply to give folks a taste of the music, and it’s a work-in-progress.

One of the most FUN things about making this fan film is showing you folks the behind-the-scenes steps of making a fan film. I didn’t want this clip to be polished and perfect…yet. It’s more interesting to hear the music raw before sound-mixing and then compare it to the finished product in order to get an appreciation for what sound mixing can do.

3. We waited ten years for 48 seconds???

Sigh. First of all, Interlude isn’t Axanar. We only started crowd-funding a year ago. And for the record, Axanar had its first crowd-funding campaign in 2014…six years ago, not ten. (Why people keep saying “ten years” is beyond me. Counting to six isn’t hard…you don’t need to round to the nearest ten!) And remember that Axanar was sued for a year, had to move across the country, then finish the bridge, raise money to replace the funds that were lost during the lawsuit while filming couldn’t happen, and then had to go through the many and complex steps of actually producing a fan film.

Axanar has now had multiple shoots, and only one 2-day shoot remains…a shoot that can’t happen while the international pandemic is still shutting down union productions everywhere. And if you’d like to donate to Axanar so that it can be finished, please click on the link below…

https://aresdigital.axanar.com

Continue reading “INTERLUDE clip gets 7.8K views (and 1K likes) in 15 HOURS!”

INTERLUDE Confidential #12 – The best laid plans of fans and filmmakers…

Um, about that July 25th release date…

As I’ve said before ,when I first set out to make INTERLUDE, my goal wasn’t simply to make a Star Trek fan film. I wanted to EXPERIENCE making a Star Trek fan film and then share that experience with with all of you through these blogs.

But there was one fan filmmaker moment that I hadn’t experienced yet—until now, that is. Over the decades-long history of Star Trek fan films, many projects have announced their premiere dates…only to miss them. For some fan films, multiple premiere dates were missed.

Well, you can now add Interlude (and me) to that list. After announcing my premiere date in this really cool trailer that I edited together…

…I can now confirm that Interlude will NOT be coming to YouTube on July 25th after all. And I sincerely apologize. It won’t be delayed too much—and I can say that because I know what still needs to be done (more on that shortly).

To quote The Talking Heads, “You may ask yourself: ‘Well, how did I get here?'” The answer isn’t as simple as “letting the days go by.” Lots of people have been working really hard on post-production. But since these blogs are meant to assist other and future fan filmmakers by sharing my experiences (both good and bad), here’s what happened…

Continue reading “INTERLUDE Confidential #12 – The best laid plans of fans and filmmakers…”