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!!!!)”

Did CARLOS PEDRAZA just cost my fan film an extra $2,000?

Okay, it’s not what you think!

Sure, CARLOS PEDRAZA and I have seldom seen eye-to-eye on most things (although we both think the Tardigrade lawsuit is ridiculous and should be thrown out of court…but I digress). However, good advice can come in many sizes, shapes, and packages. And after I published my projected $18,800 budget last week for my fan film INTERLUDE, Carlos posted the following comment:

Jonathan,
You, Josh and Victoria appear to have neglected to include production insurance, which you will definitely need, especially if you plan on having minors working as crew. And your liability is likely to be complicated because your cast and crew are all volunteers rather than employees. Insurance could cost you upwards of $2,000.

Now, I’m sure there’s some suspicious minds out there wondering what Carlos’ angle is on posting such a comment here to Fan Film Factor. After all, he’s never mentioned production insurance for any other Star Trek fan project before (not even Axanar). Is Carlos trying to make it harder for me to make it to my goal by driving it up to nearly $21K? Is he trying to make me reconsider inviting locals students to help out on set? Does he not believe I’ll play by the guidelines and pay my crew instead of requiring them to all be unpaid volunteers?

I’ll be honest, many of these cynical thoughts (and others) went through my own head. And unfortunately for me, my directors (JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX) were both shooting their own fan film this past weekend, and I didn’t want to bother them until they returned back home. So I had ample time to fret over this new wrinkle.

While I waited for a chance to talk to Josh and Victoria, I read up on film production insurance on this website, and it doesn’t seem to be the scary boogey man I feared. And hey, they even allow for productions to have volunteers and interns. It’s not “complicated” after all, since many productions do the same thing. So yay!

On Monday, I finally touched base with Josh and Victoria and had a very enlightening conversation with them. Keep in mind that I’m a total novice at this whole filmmaking process. While I’ve worked on a few fan films over the years (decades now), I’ve never been a show-runner. I never had to worry about all of the details and deal with questions like “What is production insurance and do I need it?” Josh and Victoria, on the other hand, do all of this professionally, and they have been wonderfully patient with me. So on Monday, I shared Carlos’ message with them…

My angels of production (and directors): JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX
Continue reading “Did CARLOS PEDRAZA just cost my fan film an extra $2,000?”

My STAR TREK fan film is going to cost HOW MUCH???

$18,800. WTF???

It’s kinda mind-blowing, I know, considering that my fan film, INTERLUDE, is shooting on two existing sets (Ares Studios and Neutral Zone Studios), the guidelines don’t allow me to pay people, and we’re only planning to film for three days. On the other hand, my goal is to do a top-quality fan film…a worthy sequel to Prelude to Axanar. And apparently, even keeping things really tight budget-wise, doing this thing right is gonna cost some bucks.

At the risk of invoking 1980s rock-and-roll wisdom, I may ask myself: “Well, how did I get here?” (And more to the point: “My God, what have I done???”) Let me take you through it.

Now, before I get started diving into the nitty gritty, let me warn you that this is going to be a looooooong blog. If you don’t care, then by all means, please skip it. I won’t take it personally. And some people (including one with the initials A.P.) told me not to even bother explaining that high number. “It’s gotta be Axanar quality,” he said. “It costs what it costs. People will accept that.”

Maybe. But if even I was shocked by that high number, then I just know others are gonna wonder if I’m just trying come up with some sushi and tire money…and believe me, nothing could be farther from the truth! So I want to be as forthcoming and up front with all of you as I can be. And when someone says to me later, “Hey, I know you don’t need that much money for such-and-such,” I’ll just answer, “Yes, I do—check out paragraph 27 of my blog!”

Also, as a blogger who devotes his waking moments to bringing fans closer to fan filmmakers and their processes, discussing my budget in detail provides a unique opportunity for a deep-dive into what I consider to be one of the most fascinating aspects of production: figuring out what everything is gonna cost.

So if you haven’t bailed on the blog yet, let’s all boldly go into Jonathan’s budget for Interlude

Continue reading “My STAR TREK fan film is going to cost HOW MUCH???”

Who will DIRECT my STAR TREK fan film?

“But I really want to direct…”

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!

Let me tell you what happened…

Continue reading “Who will DIRECT my STAR TREK fan film?”

WARP 66 STUDIOS expands its TOS sets…with the help of JOSH IRWIN from Avalon!

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:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

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…

Continue reading “WARP 66 STUDIOS expands its TOS sets…with the help of JOSH IRWIN from Avalon!”

Can the Klingons help AVALON get $500 in donations in 4 days???

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…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Major CONTROVERSY for NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA – the bad, ugly, and the good…

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…

Continue reading “Major CONTROVERSY for NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA – the bad, ugly, and the good…”

Mysterious INDIEGOGO glitch almost cost the AVALON fan filmmakers a $500 donation!

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):

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

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…

Continue reading “Mysterious INDIEGOGO glitch almost cost the AVALON fan filmmakers a $500 donation!”