Despite fan confusion with the NICHELLE NICHOLS elder abuse GoFund Me, the Kickstarter for RENEGADES: OMINARA passes $43K…

In a cosmic case of bad timing, a brand new Kickstarter debuted two weeks ago for the new RENEGADES: OMINARA fan-produced film starring NICHELLE NICHOLS…at the same time a GoFundMe campaign launched to cover the cost of a lawsuit involving elder-abuse of the beloved Star Trek TOS actress.

First things first: the two campaigns are COMPLETELY unrelated. RENEGADES is a fan-run project from SKY CONWAY, who got involved with Star Trek licensing shortly before GENE RODDENBERRY passed away in 1991. Sky became close friends with Gene and his wife Majel and eventually went on to become a manager for various Star Trek alumni actors, including Nichelle Nichols.

In 2006, Sky wrote and produced—along with TIM “Tuvok” RUSS, who directed —the first “mega” Star Trek fan film to feature multiple big-name veteran actors from the franchise…including Nichelle, WALTER KOENIG, GARRETT WANG, J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, CHASE MASTERSON, ALAN RUCK, and others. He would later go on to produce STAR TREK: RENEGADES and the sequel “THE REQUIEM.”

Walter Koenig, Alan Ruck, and Nichelle Nichols in STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN, filmed in 2006

Meantime, there is a tragic and highly disturbing story (read more about it in this Newsweek article) about a man named GILBERT BELL who entered Nichelle’s life in 2010 (years and years after Sky Conway did) and presented her with a feature film idea. Nichelle would be the co-star, and profits would be split evenly between her and Bell. But the project never happened…if such a thing ever existed at all.

But Bell nevertheless took over as Nichelle’s new “talent manager,” collecting fees from her many convention appearances (usually about $10K per appearance and paid in cash). Meanwhile, Bell convinced Nichelle to allow him to move into the second house on her property (where he still lives), locking in a ridiculously low rent in perpetuity while Nichelle paid all of his utilities. Had it stopped there, things would have been bad enough. But the story gets MUCH worse.

In 2013, Nichelle was in a very weakened state following a hospitalization for pancreatitis. She was later transferred to a Los Angeles area rehabilitation center and nursing home. Diagnosed later with dementia, Nichelle was (according to the Newsweek article) surreptitiously removed from the facility against medical advice by Bell. That same day, Bell convinced Nichelle to sign both a directive naming Bell as her primary agent for health care decisions as well as documents handing General Power of Attorney to him. The next day, Bell also allegedly arranged for new bank accounts to be opened at Wells Fargo, granting him direct access to Nichelle’s assets.

But wait, it gets even worse…

Continue reading “Despite fan confusion with the NICHELLE NICHOLS elder abuse GoFund Me, the Kickstarter for RENEGADES: OMINARA passes $43K…”

RENEGADES: OMINARA Kickstarter reaches $29.5K with one week left!

On Monday, I reported on how the second part of the one-hour RENEGADES series premiere, “The Requiem,” would be available for free via YouTube for the first time ever…but only through August 28, 2020. This unusual move is intended to promote the current 15-day Kickstarter for the newest Renegades project, OMINARA, starring NICHELLE NICHOLS and WALTER KOENIG in what is likely to be Nichelle’s final performance in a film (the actress is 87 years old).

Ominara will be the first new Renegades project since “The Requiem” debuted back in 2017. This latest short film is intended to reboot the series by introducing a new character, Ominara, who is the queen of the galactic underworld. Nichelle will play the character in her twilight years, as she recalls her past and the path she chose to become the woman she became. From the Kickstarter description of the storyline…

As the first test subject of the “link,” Ominara (Nichelle Nichols) was exposed to myriad experiments that could be construed as torture. All for the advancement of technology and the “betterment” of mankind. Anton Steiner (Walter Koenig) knew that Ominara’s escape would cause problems for both himself and his company in the future, but he had no idea how much. 

The new Kickstarter has one week left (they started with two), but they have already exceeded their goal of $20,000…in fact, they did so on only the second day of the campaign! Right now, the total donated stands at $29,590…which includes a $5,000 donation, seven $500 donations, plus another 255 individual donations including $33 from yours truly.

Part of the reason for the large number donors is that the finished film will only be shared with backers who contribute $25 or more. Eventually, Renegades will be one of the tentpole pieces of content in the new AtomicTV lineup.

According to the campaign page, money raised in this Kickstarter will go toward the following…

1. Pre-Production – Getting the script written, the sets designed and built, the budgets finalized, securing the permits, the rental of the studio space, the costumes designed and fabricated as well as the props, such as tricorders, phasers, computer screens, etc.

2. Production – Paying the Cast and Crew, the cost of the Lights, Cameras, Grip equipment, Monitors, Food/Meals, Makeup/Prosthetics and Sound Equipment, etc.

3. Post Production – Paying the Editing Team as well as the cost of the CGI Effects, Color Correction, Sound Mixing, and Musical Score. (For this Campaign, the CGI Effects will be marked as a Stretch Goal.)

Plans call for production to begin “immediately” upon funding, likely in the third quarter of 2020. No details have been included about safety measures due to COVID-19 due to the advanced ages of Nichelle and Walter, but I am certain that all appropriate precautions will be taken when filming. The team plans to supply donors with updates and photos as production progresses.

To donate,, please click on the link below…

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/atomicstudios/renegades-prequel-nichelle-nichols-final-performance

RENEGADES: “THE REQUIEM, Part 2” available on YouTube until AUGUST 28!

Back in June of 2016, on the second day of filming the first hour-long episode of STAR TREK: RENEGADES, “The Requiem,” the production team received a nasty and potentially catastrophic surprise. CBS and Paramount had just released a new set of guidelines for Star Trek fan films that would essentially stop Renegades in its tracks.

The timing of the release might not have been entirely coincidental.

Six months earlier, CBS and Paramount had “stopped” the fan film AXANAR with a huge, multi-million dollar copyright infringement lawsuit. But there were still many other fan productions out there using the Star Trek name and intellectual property. And while Axanar had been the first to cross the million-dollar threshold by raising $1.2 million in donations from thousands of fans, Renegades was hot on Axanar‘s heels with (at the time) over $850K in crowd-funding, also from thousands of fans.

And while Axanar featured one veteran Star Trek actor reprising his role from canon (GARY GRAHAM as Soval), Renegades would feature TIM RUSS as Tuvok, WALTER KOENIG as Chekov, NICHELLE NICHOLS as Uhura, CIRROC LOFTON as Jake Sisko, TERRY FARREL as “Jadzia” (minus the Dax symbiont), ROBERT BELTRAN as Chakotay, ARON EISENBERG as Nog, and even HANA HATAE as a grown-up Molly O’Brien.

The previous year, Star Trek: Renegades had premiered a 90-minute fan film with a red carpet premiere at the historic Crest Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles, calling the project a “backdoor pilot”or “spec pilot” for CBS to consider. Late in 2015, CBS requested (politely) that the Renegades team stop referring to their fan film as a pilot, a request they quickly compiled with. So instead they announced plans to release 12 half-hour webisodes per year (or “season”) oftheir spinoff Star Trek series, with “The Requiem” being the kickoff full-hour episode.

But the guidelines put the kibosh on all of that. No longer permitted to use Star Trek veteran actors or crew people, no longer allowed to pay professions, and constrained to no more than two 15-minute episodes and no sequels or seasons or ongoing series, Renegades had been effectively castrated as a Star Trek fan production before production come even get up to speed.

Continue reading “RENEGADES: “THE REQUIEM, Part 2” available on YouTube until AUGUST 28!”

Get a virtual tour of NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS from VIC MIGNOGNA today at 7:30pm Eastern Time!

One of the wonders of the fan film world is the incredibly detailed TOS sets at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA. For the past two years, owner RAY TESI has been offering open house fan appreciation weekends when Trekkers from all over the globe could come to tour the facility. Right now, however, the pandemic prevents that from happening. In fact, it prevents any in-person convention from happening.

But not virtual online ones.

Since Wednesday, VIRTUAL TREK CON has been appearing on a computer or smart device near you! And already, thousands of people have tuned in to see and ask questions of celebrity guests from all eras and series of Star Trek…everyone from actors like TIM RUSS, ARMIN SHIMERMAN, MICHELLE HURD, GARY GRAHAM, DOUG JONES and over a dozen others to behind-the-camera folks like IRA BEHR, ROBERT HEWITT WOLFE, and DOUG DREXLER. The full guest list is 34 people! And it’s all absolutely free…you don’t even have to sign up for a mailing list!

Today (Sunday) at 7:30pm Eastern Time, Neutral Zone Studios will be taking its turn as a Virtual Trek Con event with a special live tour of all the sets hosted by STAR TREK CONTINUES show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA, who will be taking family friendly, respectful questions submitted by viewers (so no questions about you-know-what) . Fans are encouraged to submit questions that may be answered live on air in the comments of the live broadcast chat.

Vic will share stories about the fan films that have been made at that studio and (according to the Virtual Trek Con website) have special guests joining to tell their stories and lend their expertise and advice on filmmaking.

The hour-long online event will also celebrate STC‘s Mr. Sulu, actor GRANT IMAHARA, who passed away unexpectedly last Monday. Vic will spotlight Grant’s achievements and the special contributions he made to both the Trek community and the sci-fi community as a whole. 

You can access the live virtual event on Sunday July 19th, 2020 at 7:30pm Eastern Time at the following link:

www.facebook.com/events/s/neutral-zone-studios-live-at-v


There will also be a special message from actress NICHELLE NICHOLS (“Uhura” on TOS) to her fans immediately before the Neutral Zone Studios event at 7:15pm Eastern Time on Sunday.

The folks over at the Atomic Network (creators of RENEGADES) recorded Nichelle and were going to release the video to the public, and the timing was right to have it done during Virtual Trek Con. So you can watch this announcement from our inspirational lady of communications at either of the following links before it goes out to the rest of the public:

The Aron Eisenberg Stage: https://youtu.be/6VIQk_MDShE
The Rene Auberjonois Stage: https://youtu.be/hGTi8mY94Nc

NICHELLE NICHOLS and other Trek/sci-fi celebs sign onto the virus-safe SPACE COMMAND: “RIPPLE EFFECT”!

First of all, a big congratulations to MARC ZICREE of SPACE COMMAND for raising more than $57K from nearly 700 backers in his latest Kickstarter. It’s a challenging time to be crowd-funding, and the latest campaign did struggle over the past few weeks. But for a project with a goal of $48K, surpassing that by nearly 20% is quite impressive.

This latest campaign will fund the shoot for the fourth hour of Space Command, part 2 of “Forgiveness.” Hour one (part 1 of “Redemption”) is completed and can be viewed here. Hours two and three are in post production, and hour four will go into production just as soon as society is allowed to leave our homes and come into contact with each other again…which could be weeks or it could be months.

In the meantime, actors still like to hone their craft, even if they can’t leave their homes…and Space Command creator Marc Zicree is giving them a chance to do just that! As I mentioned last week, Marc is writing a special episode of Space Command titled “Ripple Effect.” It will take place in the continuity of the Space Command universe, featuring characters from the two episodes that are being produced so far plus introducing a bunch of new ones.

The actors themselves won’t have to leave their homes. Instead, each one will be able to film themselves using their own camera. The footage will be uploaded, and Marc and his post production team will edit the pieces, add VFX, adjust sound and color balance, and turn it all into a special “free” episode (no crowd-funding) that will be posted publicly to YouTube.

Even more exciting is that Marc is planning to allow fans to watch the post production process every step of the way through completion.

When first I mentioned this last week, only a few of the actors had signed up for the project. But Marc was in the process of talking to more of them, and this past weekend he announced a growing cast confirmed to appear. These include:

  • NICHELLE NICHOLS (Star Trek)
  • ROBERT PICARDO (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • ETHAN PHILLIPS (Star Trek: Voyager)
  • MIRA FURLAN (Babylon 5, Lost)
  • BILL MUMY (Babylon 5, Lost in Space)
  • MICHAEL HARNEY (Orange is the New Black, Project Blue Book)
  • BRYAN McCLURE (Atlanta, Doom Patrol)
  • BARBARA BRAGG (Carol’s Acting Class, American Horror Story)

The full cast of Space Command is even more extensive than that, so I suspect we’ll see yet more names added to the above list. It sounds like a fun project, and I’d imagine actors are itching to act during this stay-at-home crisis (or at least read Shakespearean sonnets). So we’ll see what happens.

And of course, once Marc starts offering fans a look at how the project is progressing, I’ll be sure to keep you all in the loop!

I just interviewed NICHELLE NICHOLS…how cool is that???

As many fans know, beloved Star Trek TOS actress NICHELLE NICHOLS is embarking on a year-long farewell convention tour…culminating next May in Burbank, CA. Although Nichelle had a minor stroke back in 2015, and she’s 86 years old, she’s still going strong enough to appear in nearly a half dozen cons around the country.

The last time I saw her in person was in late 2016, when my then six-year-old son Jayden photo-bombed a picture she was taking with WALTER KOENIG on a partial TNG bridge recreation at a convention in Los Angeles. I told Jayden to get out of Riker’s seat, but Nichelle insisted that he stay for a photo—and it’s one that I’ll always treasure…

I love Nichelle. I think it’s fair to say that all fans love Nichelle! I can’t recall ever hearing a single negative thing said about this warm, gracious, talented, and elegant actress who gave women of color in the 1960s and beyond a precedent-setting character to admire and aspire to someday be like themselves. And indeed, starting in the 1970s, Nichelle was recruited by NASA to encourage promising women and ethnic minorities to become astronauts—among them was Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and Charles Bolden, the NASA administrator until last year.

Nichelle has always loved her fans right back, and has been one of the major Star Trek actors to agree to portray her character in multiple fan films (along with GEORGE TAKEI, WALTER KOENIG, GRACE LEE WHITNEY, TIM RUSS, ROBERT PICARDO, GARY GRAHAM, and a few others). Nichelle appeared as Uhura in both STAR TREK: OF GODS AND MEN and later as simply “The Admiral” in the de-Trekified RENEGADES two-part episode “The Requiem.” She will also be adding her voice talents to another upcoming Star Trek fan film.

So imagine my excitement and jubilation when I discovered that SKY CONWAY, Nichelle’s long-time friend and business partner (and the producer of Renegades and Of Gods and Men), is pitching the idea for a documentary on Nichelle’s life and ground-breaking career. After the success of Adam Nimoy’s tribute to his father, FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK, a similar spotlight on Nichelle Nichols seems like a no-brainer!

Sky has set up an Indiegogo campaign seeking to raise $25,000 (in just 16 days!) to create a “sizzle reel” to help pitch the full project to investors. This sizzle reel will include a two-day shoot on the Neutral Zone Studios TOS sets in Kingsland, GA. Just imagine Uhura back on the bridge of the USS Enterprise!

The brief crowd-funder got off to an explosive start, raising $10,000 in just three days. And it’s now nearly 60% of the way to its goal with just six days left. I’ve already listed it here on Fan Film Factor, but when I reached out to Sky Conway to get a quick quote from him or Nichelle, he invited me to write up some questions and do an actual interview.

Really? That’s totally awesome!

Continue reading “I just interviewed NICHELLE NICHOLS…how cool is that???”

A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2016-2017 (feature, part 5)

Last time, the world of Star Trek fan films was shaken to its core by a copyright infringement lawsuit against Axanar Productions in late December of 2015 followed by a call to Tommy Kraft of Star Trek: Horizon in April of 2016 telling him to shut down his new $250,000 Kickstarter for his sequel, Star Trek: Federation Rising.

And what of STAR TREK: RENEGADES?  In November, they had raised a very impressive $375,000 for their new continuing series.  Even though CBS had rejected their offer to make Renegades into a pilot for a new Trek TV series (and by now, Star Trek: Discovery had been announced), the Renegades team hadn’t been told to stop.  So it was full steam ahead with plans to use the existing sets and CGI models and props to make an ambitious TWELVE half-hour webisodes per year (yes, per year…that was the plan), beginning with a two-parter called “The Requiem.”  It would feature both Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and Walter Koenig playing Chekov for one final swan song.

Although Trek fan filmmakers were feeling very uncertain (and downright nervous) at the moment—with the Axanar lawsuit dragging on for months and mixed messages coming from JJ Abrams and the studios themselves—the show must go on, as they say.  And so Star Trek: Renegades scheduled the first day of filming on “The Requiem” for June 22, 2016.

The initial scenes on day one were all green screen, featuring Nichelle and Walter, Tim Russ as Tuvok in full Vulcan make-up, and even Cirroc Lofton reprising his role as Jake Sisko.  The production would also feature other veteran Trek actors reprising their roles, including Terry Farrel as “Jadzia” (minus the Dax symbiont), Robert Beltran as Chakotay, Aron Eisenberg as Nog, and even Hana Hatae as a grown-up Molly O’Brien!  The sets were built, the costumes made, the studio rented…it was time to make an awesome new fan series!

And then the guidelines happened…

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2016-2017 (feature, part 5)”

A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2015-2016 (feature, part 4)

Last time, it had been a long road for STAR TREK: RENEGADES… getting from there to here.  “There” was a an idea back in 2006, on the last day of filming Star Trek: Of Gods and Men, of a “Star Trek meets The Dirty Dozen” fan series concept…maybe even a pilot to pitch to CBS!  And “here” was the Crest Theater in Westwood, August 1, 2015, for the red carpet premiere of a 90-minute, $400,000 Star Trek “fan” film with veteran actors and professionals working alongside amateurs and novices…all for the love and passion of a sci-fi franchise that hadn’t seen a new television episode in more than a decade!

In between were three different crowd-funding campaigns, many months of pre-production, two weeks of studio shooting with 61 actors and a total crew of 170, nearly two years of post production, and 637 different visual effects shots.  And it all led to this moment with a movie marquis on Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles that read:

SKY CONWAY PRESENTS
STAR TREK RENEGADES

There were two showings, each with a limited number of tickets available (the theater only seats 460, and there were cast members and crew in attendance, as well).  The Renegades team made 325 tickets available to donors and the general public for the first showing at 4:30 pm for $20 each (and that’s when I made my first donation to the project).  And thanks to a friend of mine who worked on the production, I was able to get in again for the second 7:30 pm showing that was intended to be exclusively for cast, crew, and the media.

It was quite the happening!  The first showing was mainly fans, many in costume.  But after the theater was cleared from that audience, the red carpet and “runway” background were set up, the Paparazzi began to assemble (seriously, there were more than a dozen of them…including me!), and the limousines started arriving.  Yes, there were limousines.

Nichelle Nichols (who came to support her friend Walter Koenig), Adrienne Wilkinson, and Robert Picardo arrive on the red carpet for the premiere.

Wanna see what it looked like inside?

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK: RENEGADES – 2015-2016 (feature, part 4)”

RENEGADES announces WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING in North Hollywood on JULY 12th!

Back in August of 2015, STAR TREK: RENEGADES held a red-carpet premiere screening of its 90-minute feature film at the Crest Theater in Westwood in Los Angeles.  It was a star-studded event with Star Trek celebrities galore, paparazzi, perks for sale, and even free popcorn (although tickets were a $20 donation for the fan film’s production costs).

Now on July 12th, 2017, RENEGADES: THE SERIES (now minus the “Star Trek“) will premiere in its entirety for the first time the full debut episode of its fan series: “The Requiem.”  (Part 1 debuted online back in February, but only for donors.  Two months later, Part 1 was made available for free to everyone.)

The big premiere will take place at 7:30 at the Leammle Theater (5240 Lankershim Blvd) in North Hollywood, CA.  Many of the cast and crew will be there, including Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Tim Russ, Robert Beltran, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, and Justin McQueede.  After the screening of the full episode (Parts 1 & 2), there will be a question and answer session with the stars the creators.

Tickets are only $20 each and can be purchased here.

Although they set out to raise an additional $80K for their final post production efforts in a recent crowd-funding campaign (here’s a link to that), they only got as far as $30K.  So to help raise additional money, for a little extra, fans attending the event can get special VIP seating with the stars along with appearing in autographed photos with certain cast members.Here’s a breakdown on prices for each photo option:

$75 – Photo with WALTER KOENIG (autographed)

$150 – Photo with WALTER KOENIG and NICHELLE NICHOLS (autographed by both)

$250 – Photo with WALTER KOENIG, NICHELLE NICHOLS, TIM RUSS, and ROBERT BELTRAN (autographed by all four)

All photos will be autographed at the event and ready for fans to take home.

You can learn more about this web series on their website.  And here is an exciting trailer for Part 2 of “The Requiem”…

RENEGADES releases the trailer for “THE REQUIEM, PART 2” and seeks $80,000!

By now, you’re probably aware of how Star Trek: Renegades became RENEGADES: THE SERIES on the day the new fan film guidelines were announced…and how they surgically removed all traces of Star Trek from their Star Trek fan film.

But the show must go on!  And filming completed for both Parts 1 and 2 of the first full episode of Renegades, “The Requiem,” after the release of the initial 90-minute pilot.

Starring Walter Koenig as an aging admiral named “Pavel” with a strong Russian accent, Nichelle Nichols as another unnamed admiral, and Tim Russ (who also directed it) as the Confederation Security Chief Kovok—plus a half dozen other Star Trek acting veterans from various series—“The Requiem, Part 1” was already completed and released and can be viewed here.

Now the time has come to finish post-production on Part 2, and that means another round of crowd-funding.  Their first round of crowd-funding for “The Requiem” (called episodes 2 and 3 at the time) came via Kickstarter at the end of 2015 and raised more than $378,000!  That covered production (sets, costumes, make-up, actors, production crew, equipment, studio, etc.) but not post-production (visual effects, sound, music, color balancing, editing, etc.).

A separate crowd-funding campaign for post-production was held using Indiegogo last August with a goal of $60,000 for “The Requiem, Part 1” and $150,00 for the completion of both episodes.  And they nearly made it!  A total of $138,580 was raised…allowing them to complete and release “Part 1” and nearly complete Part 2.

So let’s see, doing the math, Renegades needed $150,000 and raised just over $138,000.  So that leaves…$80,000???  Yeah, you were probably gonna say $12,000, but this is crowd-funding math!

Aw, I’m just teasing…although Renegades really is asking for another $80,000.  But like certain other fan productions (you know the one I’m talking about), when you’ve done successful crowd-funding, there’s always room for scope-creep, and Renegades is promising lots more than originally planned:

We are seeking post-production funding to expand and finish our visual FX work, and to finish up the audio, mixing and color correction. This campaign will also allow us to add many new VFX shots to enhance the story and dramatically increase the visual production value – if you’ve viewed part one, you’ve seen what an amazing job the team has done with the effects! Renegades: the Requiem is so close to public release, and we are eager to offer the dramatic conclusion to the film. Spoiler alert: the Renegades universe will never be the same!

You can donate by clicking on this link.

This time out, they’re doing their own internal crowd-funding campaign (no Kickstarter or Indiegogo) with some great perks.  And in just two days, they’re already raised more than 10% of their goal!  Please consider making a donation if you can.

And if you’re on the fence, this trailer for Part 2 should definitely put you in the mood to open your wallet!