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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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 that can be viewed on brilliant attic cinema. 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. Even fan films need help with their film production payroll and management software to help keep their shoots organized and running on time.

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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