Time to GO FUND the new fan film THE LEXINGTON ADVENTURES! (interview with JOSEPH BONICE and VANCE MAJOR)

Yep, it’s another crowd-funder, folks!  But this one’s only trying to reach $1,350…and they’re already about a third of the way there ($420) in just one week!  So congratulations to THE LEXINGTON ADVENTURES!  If you want to make a donation yourself, here’s the link.  It’s a GoFundMe campaign, meaning there’s no perks.  But there’s also no time limit and no requirement to meet a goal in order to collect the money raised.

This year actually didn’t start out so well on the fan film funding front.  A Kickstarter back in March for The Holy Core failed to get even halfway to their $12K goal, despite being run by the same folks who wrote and directed the highly popular Chance Encounter fan film.  Fortunately, an angel donor can through and funded the entire production, so The Holy Core will be made, after all.  Yay!

Things were still looking sluggish in April when a $10K Indiegogo for The Romulan War stalled about halfway to its goal.  But after extending the campaign out an additional thirty days, The Romulan War not only fully funded but surpassed the goal with nearly $12K, allowing them to cover the overhead cost of using Indiegogo in the first place.

Also wrapping up last week and going over their Indiegogo goal was the non-Trek fan film (but edited by Axanar and Free Enterprise‘s own Robert Meyer Burnett) Sky Fighter, which blew past its $25K goal to finish at $31,284.

So things seem to be looking up for fan film crowd-funding…at least for now.  Can The Lexington Adventures continue this trend and reach THEIR goal, as well?  To do that, they need support from fans like you.  Is Lexington worth your donation dollar?

For the answer to this question, I went right to the source: show-runner JOSEPH “JOEY” BONICE and VANCE MAJOR, who will be a producer on this fan film.  Joey works for the U.S. government and is currently stationed in Germany.  But he’ll be moving back to the U.S. soon and and will be diving right into working on The Lexington Adventures, currently scheduled for filming during the third week of September.  Vance is known to most fans as the face of Erick Minard of Starship Valiant and about 30 other fan films that Vance wrote and directed.

Let’s see what the guys had to say…

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VANCE MAJOR completes the MINARD Saga! (interview, part 2)

Yesterday, we began discussing the many fan films of MINARD saga with their creator, VANCE MAJOR.  Nearly three dozen different episodes make up this rich and expansive tapestry telling the story of Chief Engineer Erick Minard of the USS Valiant, who goes on to live a life that spans over 100 years of Star Trek time.  During that life, Minard serves under Captain Christopher Pike, marries, suffers loss, gets a command of his own, fights the Borg, meets his counterpart from the Kelvin timeline, and even battles his Mirror Universe doppelgänger.

And it all happens in series of short fan films made for little to no budget, purposefully told out of chronological order and thereby creating a viewing experience unlike anything else in the world of Trek fan films.  The Minard saga isn’t for everyone, but for fans who appreciate the storyline and the effort and dedication that went into producing it, a very rewarding journey (or should I say trek?) has just been completed with the release of Vance’s final 2-part, 25-minute episode The Best Things.

You can view ALL of the Minard episodes here in their order of release.

Later in this interview (below), Vance will introduce each of his final seven episode, and I’ll link to them from here.  But right now, let’s pick up with the conclusion of this great interview…

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VANCE MAJOR completes the MINARD Saga! (interview, part 1)

Even the best things must come to an end…and so it is for the MINARD saga.  Depending on which films you count officially as part of this tapestry, the character of Erick Minard has appeared or been referenced in about THREE DOZEN different fan films!

More than thirty of these were written and produced by VANCE MAJOR (who plays the character of Erick Minard along with his mirror and Kelvin-verse alter-egos).  Minard has also appeared  in multiple episodes of Starship Valiant and Dreadnought Dominion.

Vance Major’s Minard films have ranged in length from 30-second parody vignettes to the full 15 minutes allowed by the fan film guidelines. His last episode, The Best Things, premieres today as a 2-part 25-minute finale.

With only a shoestring budget, Vance has done action, romance, comedy, suspense, quiet introspection, and even surreal dream sequences. He’s produced episodes featuring full casts of ten or more characters and other episodes with just two actors or even just one.  At one point, Vance released SEVEN Minard fan films in just SEVEN DAYS!  A couple of months later, Vance released another SIX Minard episodes in a SINGLE MONTH!

Vance’s Minard films range from Trek eras pre-Kirk to post-DS9…and they were NOT released chronologically.  This allowed viewers to jump around the century-long life of Erick Minard, experiencing a tapestry of moments that ultimately come together like puzzle pieces into a finished image.

You can view ALL of the Minard episodes here in their order of release.

Fan films can be the great equalizer when all one wants to do is simply tell his or her story without all the dazzle.  And that’s exactly what Vance Major has done…in a truly remarkable way.

I did an audio interview with Vance last summer (which is worth a listen), but he’s released nearly TWO DOZEN more fan films since then!  So to celebrate the successful conclusion of this ambitious fan series project, I decided to bring back Vance for a final 2-part print interview…

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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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Another SIX fan films in the MINARD saga from VANCE MAJOR…all in just 30 DAYS!

Back in September, I reported on how VANCE MAJOR (whom I affectionately refer to as the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek Fan Films”) had released SEVEN Trek fan films in just SEVEN DAYS.

And now Vance has done it again!

This time, Vance wasn’t quite as prolific, but he did manage to debut SIX fan films in less than 30 days, from November 3 to December 1.  All of the films continue to saga of Erick Minard, chief engineer of the Starship Valiant and the captain of the USS Constar nearly a century later.  How is Minard alive to serve under Captain Christopher Pike and still around in the 24th century to fight the Borg and talk to Lt. Commander Data and Dr. Crusher?  The only way to find out is to watch the episodes as they are released.

Some fans have criticized the production quality (or the lack thereof), and even Vance himself acknowledges the low-budget look of the finished product.  The uniforms often don’t always fit properly, the spoken lines in outdoor scenes can be overwhelmed by a mild gust of wind, and certain characters look like they could use a few extra workouts on the ship’s treadmill.  (I’m one to talk!)  Even Vance’s own production company vanity plate at the end acknowledges, “I’m the guy with a cord in the doorway” (a glitch which actually happened about 50 seconds into this fan film).

But those who criticize Vance’s work, in my opinion, aren’t getting what fan films are all about.  Not everyone can make a Star Trek Continues, Renegades, or Prelude to Axanar.  And they don’t have to!  Fan films are the great equalizer.  We all create our projects to the best of our abilities and our budgets.  Even the worst fan film still requires a great deal of work—writing a script, pre-production prep, getting the actors together, directing scenes both technically and dramatically, VFX (if you have any), sound, music, editing—fan films don’t make themselves!  And if you don’t like the end result, then don’t watch.  Or watch anyway because most fan films these days (including Vance’s) are pretty short.

Here’s what I think makes  Vance’s stuff so unique and special among fan films…

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VANCE MAJOR releases SEVEN TREK FAN FILMS in SEVEN DAYS!

Last month, in an interview with fan film maker VANCE MAJOR, I called him the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.”  The interview included a list of over a dozen different Trek fan films that Vance had written, directed, produced, appeared in, and/or worked on.

But now, after releasing ANOTHER seven (yes, SEVEN!) Trek fan films—one per day!—in just seven days, I think I need to rechristen Vance the “Oompa Loompa of Star Trek fan films”…perhaps even Willy Wonka himself!

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