That sentence has become a true Hollywood cliche, spoken by actors, writers, producers, editors, gaffers, grips, VFX guys, sound FX guys, accountants, caterers, Uber drivers, and Starbaucks baristas. In this town, it seems like everybody “really wants to direct.”
Not me, though.
I don’t know the first thing about directing—not even when to shout “Action!” and “Cut!” And I don’t pretend to know. Of course, I applaud those countless fan filmmakers who have taught themselves to direct through creating their own fan productions. More power to ’em! But I know my limits…and I don’t want my fan film to suffer just because I haven’t got the slightest idea what the frack I’m doing.
Fortunately, the fan film community is full of folks who DO know what they’re doing…including directors. Now, you might be thinking that I first decided to make my fan film and then went out to find a director. In fact, the exact opposite happened—and not only did I find one director, I found TWO!
Before we get to WARP 66 STUDIOS, a quick update on the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film “Demons.” With less than 15 hours left(!!!!), they are at $6,290 from 97 backers…plus another $500 directly from a special backer. That means that the campaign has reached nearly 80% of its $8500 goal. Can they get the rest of the way before tonight’s deadline at midnight? If you haven’t donated yet and want to, here’s the link:
Okay, on to WARP 66 Studios. Named after its founders GLEN WOLF and DAN REYNOLDS (Wolf And Reynolds Productions) followed by the year of the premiere of Star Trek (1966), their TOS sets are located in northern Arkansas on property owned by Dan and other property owned by Glen. Already, they and their team have constructed a partial Constitution-class bridge and the cockpit of a shuttlecraft, both of which were used in the recent fan films THE FEDERATION FILES: “Galaxy Hopper” and and AVALON LOST.
Unlike the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA, WARP 66 Studios is not necessarily open to any fan film, nor is it exclusive only to Glen and Dan’s Federation Files projects. Glen explained:
Currently, the sets are for The Federation Files and friends of the production group. Basically, if a member of our crew whats to make his/her own film, they may use our sets. We are in no way “competition” for The Neutral Zone or James Cawley’s Fan Film Academy. We are building sets for specific shoots, all of them can be considered temporary aside from the bridge.People may contact me, but due to the fluid nature of the sets, I can not promise any particular piece would be available.
This past weekend, Avalon Universe co-showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN (who also lives in Arkansas) spent a full day helping with the construction of a partial sickbay set, a briefing room, and an extended corridor that will be used as part of the USS Excalibur in the upcoming Avalon fan film “Demons.” Josh had this to say about the experience of working to help create the new sets…
It’s honestly a dream come true to spend the day building a space ship to film on. 14-year-old me would be very jealous of what 38-year-old me did today.
Remember to make a donation to Avalon’s Indiegogo before the end of today (if you haven’t already and are so included) or at least spread the link via social media. And in the meantime, enjoy these photos that Josh took over the weekend at WARP 66 Studios…
Currently, the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film, “Demons,” stands at $5,500 from 86 backers (64% of the way to their $8,500 goal). Actually, there’s an additional $500 donation that came in that didn’t get recorded (read more about that glitch here), so they’re really 70% of the way there!
Last week, show-runners JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX extended their campaign for 8 more days, trying to attract a few extra dollars, if possible. So far, it’s worked to get them to where they are, but there’s still a way to go. It’d be great to reach their goal, but if that’s not possible by Monday, Josh and Victoria are hoping for at least another $500, which will make a really big difference for the production.
So I’m doing my part in sharing the following three videos they’ve released showing the quality of the visual effects being done by the wizard of speed and time, SAMUEL COCKINGS. These are only pre-visualizations (rough animations to establish motion), but they show what some of the Klingon ships will look like in the Avalon Universe, which is similar to the prime universe but also slightly different in fun and fascinating ways. It gives the producers a bit more creative freedom than fan films that hew more closely to Trek canon usually get with ship and costume design.
Anyway, take a look at these three short videos, because they’re really cool…
Excited? Well, the live action scenes are just as well-produced, as Joshua and Victoria are both industry professionals in their “real” lives. You can listen to a great interview I recently did with them here…
$500 in 4 days…and you can help make it happen! Or if you can’t, maybe a fan friend of yours can. So please share the link and, if you’re feeling generous, help these fan producers make more Star Trek for the rest of us to enjoy…
Over this past weekend, two fan films that were scheduled to shoot on the TOS sets at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA (formerly used by Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut), made major announcements based on some unexpected new pricing policies implemented by the studio at the last minute. It wasn’t pretty.
Previously, Neutral Zone Studios, purchased last year by RAY TESI, had followed the lead of the now-defunct Starbase Studios in Oklahoma and (later) Arkansas of charging fans only for the cost of electricity and utilities but otherwise allowing the use the sets for free for any fan production to film on. Of course, nothing is really “free,” and the costs for rent and upkeep had to be paid by someone…and in this case, it’s been Ray Tesi.
Just this past month alone, Ray had to write $6,000 in checks for rent, utilities and his annual insurance on the facility and sets. In a typical year, Ray’s out-of-pocket costs—just to keep the sets from winding up in the dumpster—is about $42,000!
To try to help with expenses, Ray launched a Patreon campaign almost a year ago seeking small monthly donations from fans. While it’s doing modestly well—currently taking in about $800 a month from 64 backers—that still leaves Ray with nearly $33,000 in annual expenses. For a guy who is paying for this venture out of his retirement fund , this is a significant commitment. And frankly, I personally think more fans need to step forward and help Ray cover his costs…because if Ray runs out of money, these sets really will wind up in a dumpster.
But more on that in a moment. First, let me tell you about what happened this past weekend—both the bad, the ugly, and the good…
If you donated to the AVALON Indiegogo, please read this blog
First of all, you’ve got until THIS SUNDAY to donate to the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film: “Demons”…so hurry up and click on the link below (or at least share it with friends):
Currently, the total shows the campaign at $4,615 from 70 backers, about 54% of the way to their $8,500 goal. But as it turns out, there’s a $500 donation MISSING (more on that in a moment), meaning the total is really up to $5,115, or about 60% of the goal.
So how did a $500 get lost? No one knows exactly—not even Indiegogo. But here’s what we do know…
It’s here! The first new 2019 Indiegogo campaign for a Star Trek fan film is now live and taking donations. Why should YOU donate? Lemme tellya…
THE AVALON UNIVERSE kicked off its debut last Halloween with a complete surprise for most fans: the 2-part GHOST SHIP, a sort of “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” hybrid fan film that quickly went viral and now has a combined 280K views on YouTube!
Filmed both in Kingsland, GA on the old Star Trek Continues TOS sets and also in the new WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas, Ghost Ship looked amazing. Lighting, make-up, directing, editing, music, VFX, acting…everything came together flawlessly to present fans with one of the most polished-looking set-based fan films in a long time.
The only thing fans found a little odd were the uniforms worn by the Starfleet crew: a mix of the first two Kelvin-verse styles with Star Trek Beyond and TOS uniforms, all in a classic TOS setting. Even the USS Excalibur looked somewhat strange with a blue glow on the nacelles.
But then fans discovered that this was yet another alternate universe, the Avalon Universe, where things are a little different. (Avalon was the island on which King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was forged.) Fair enough; Trekkers are used to alternate universes by now.
Then, on February 2, the second Avalon Universe fan film, AVALON LOST, premiered., and it’s already up to nearly 35K views! This time, it was a one-parter with a very unexpected ending. Before you listen to my audio interview with the two Avalon show-runners at the end of this blog, I invite you to watch their most recent offering because there WILL BE SPOILERS in there interview…
Pretty awesome, right? I love that shuttlecraft! Anyway, I chatted with Josh and Victoria about their latest fan film, their new Indiegogo campaign, and their plans for future episodes from the Avalon Universe. Enjoy…
JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX burst onto the Star Trek fan film stage this past Halloween with the unexpected release of GHOST SHIP. Shot using real actors and high production design on the TOS sets in Kingsland, GA and on the new WARP 66 Studios’ bridge sets in Arkansas, Ghost Ship was fun a “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” fan film that took the community by storm. Part 1 already has more than 167K views on YouTube, and Part 2 over 70K. (You can listen to a great audio interview with both producers here.)
One of the things that got fans’ attention was the Kelvin-verse Starfleet uniforms juxtaposed with TOS sets and warp nacelles for a Constitution-class starship that glowed blue. What universe was this???
Well, now we know, as there is a new trailer for upcoming fan films from Josh and Victoria in what they are calling the AVALON UNIVERSE…
There is also a new Facebook pagefor the Avalon Universe (featuring the crew of the USS Excalibur). On Facebook, there’s the following posting:
The second fan film taking place in our "Avalon Universe" has begun filming. We'll meet new characters, and see interesting new design elements including visfx, LCARS readouts, uniforms and even unique divergent Starship and shuttle designs, and a new starbase dry dock design all from the amazingly talented Samuel Cockings and his crew of CG artists. The story is co-written and directed by Victoria Fox! Look for it soon along with information on our crowd funding campaign, which will bring you more stories from this interesting alternate reality.
Filming for their second episode wrapped yesterday in front of a green screen in Arkansas. Plans currently call for the second episode to debut on February 1…along with a crowd-funding campaign for episodes 3 and 4.
Although I plan to do another interview with Josh and Victoria next month, I did ask Josh if he had any other details about what fans could expect from theAvalon Universe going forward…
Well, this isn’t the happy ending I was hoping to write. It almost was, but then things turned disappointing in a very short amount of time.
Okay, let me first give bring everyone up to date on the story so far. The TOS sets that were formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS have been sitting in a building in Marble Falls, Arkansas since early 2017. The building is part of an abandoned and dilapidated former theme park known as Dogpatch, which is owned by Charles “Bud” Pelsor.
Ownership of the TOS sets—which included a full 360-degree bridge originally constructed in 2004 for a fan film called Starship Exeter “The Tressaurian Intersection,” a partial sickbay, a transporter room, a briefing room, and corridors—was, until recently, divided among GLEN L. WOLFE (50%), SCOTT JOHNSON (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%). Unfortunately, the three owners weren’t typically (if ever) on the same page, and frictions quickly developed and escalated.
“Bud” Pelsor had apparently offered to house the sets until the end of 2018, after which ownership of the Dogpatch property was to transfer to Heritage USA, and the sets would need to be relocated. But where would they go? Who has space for a full bridge, sickbay, transporter, and briefing room?
Earlier this past week, an answer seemed to have miraculously presented itself—with a solution worthy of King Solomon himself…
The vast majority of the fan film community had no idea that GHOST SHIP was coming (including me)! But just a few weeks ago, on Halloween, the newest full-length Star Trek fan production from JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX debuted on YouTube.
Although shot mainly on the STAGE 9 STUDIOS starship sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut, I learned from interviewing Josh and Victoria that some scenes were also filmed at the Arkansas sets originally known as Starbase Studios. Their visual FX were done by Trekyards’ CGI genie SAMUEL COCKINGS, who will soon be releasing Temporal Anomaly and Convergence. Even VANCE MAJOR makes a cameo as the character Erick Minard. So these guys definitely got around the fan film world to make their project.
And what an impressive production it is! A “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” mash-up, of sorts, the film combines spooky zombie horror tropes with comedic moments and fun characters to create a wonderfully enjoyable space adventure. And it follows the guidelines completely, including dividing the fan film into two less-than-15-minute segments. The cast is made up of trained actors along with a crew of experienced film producers. The result looks great, sounds great, and is written, directed, and edited at a noticeably high level.
That might be one of the reasons that the views for Ghost Ship have exploded on Youtube. When I conducted our interview on Wednesday of last week, Josh and Victoria were excited to see their total views had climbed over 8,000. Well, guess what? As I write this 8 days later, they’ve gone viral with more than 105,000 views!
Before I get to the fan and interview, let me take a moment to mention that GHOST SHIP and a growing number of other Trek fan films would not be possible without the generosity of RAY TESI, present owner of the TOS sets in of Kingsland, GA. Ray makes these sets available for free (well, the cost of electricity used during the shoot) to any fan filmmaker following the guidelines. But the $3,000/month rent is paid out of Ray’s own pocket.
Currently, there is an opportunity for fans to contribute a little bit each month (even a dollar makes a difference) through a PATREON. Right now, fans are donating $163 of that $3,000 monthly expense, but there’s always room for more help from our community. To donate, go to:
Pretty good fan film, huh? Want to learn more about how it was made, how long it took to complete, and where to go to find a dozen convincing zombies in southern Georgia? Take a listen to this really fun interview with writer/director Joshua Irwin and producer Victoria Fox…