A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 2)

In Part 1, we began discussing the new TREK SHORTS fan film A LONG WAY FROM HOME. And whoever said that the CBS guidelines “killed off” all Star Trek fan films obviously forgot to inform SAMUEL COCKINGS!

With the talent and ingenuity of Willy Wonka and the uncanny productivity of a factory full of Oompa Loompas, Samuel has lent his considerable VFX skills to more than TWO DOZEN different Star Trek fan projects in five different countries on three different continents! In his “spare” time, Sam is also the co-host of the long-running and prolific TREKYARDS video podcast series. And in his “other” spare time, Sam also created the ambitious fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY, six years in the making!

In late 2018, Sam successfully crowd-funded $7,385 from 114 backers for another ambitious fan project, this time a crossover bringing together characters and storylines from five different Star Trek fan series. Called CONVERGENCE, part 1 was filmed in 2019 prior to the pandemic. But part 2, requiring travel of cast members to England from the United States, Holland, and Scotland, was indefinitely delayed due the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent quarantine orders.

This didn’t stop Sam, though. Wanting to release something that could be produced during the pandemic, Sam came up with the concept of Short Treks, high-quality Star Trek fan films produced on shoestring budgets utilizing Sam’s prodigious CGI skills for exterior starship VFX combined with actors filmed remotely both on location and in front of green screens with super-realistic digital backgrounds composited behind them.

Samuel Cockings on location

But Sam wasn’t content to just make one fan film; he got it in his head to create SIX separate stories, each set in different periods of Starfleet history with different characters and starships. And so Sam launched an Indiegogo with a $10,000 goal. And with 10 days left, Sam is about two-thirds of the way there with more than 100 backers. If you haven’t donated yet and have a few bucks to spare, the perks are pretty cool. Here’s the link (pass it around to your friends, too):

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

But Sam couldn’t wait for the campaign to fund before releasing the first of the six Trek Shorts fan films: A Long Way from Home. It stars NIMRAD SAUND (from Temporal Anomaly) and NICK and LUCITA COOK (from the fan series INTREPID), as well as featuring MICHELE SPECHT (from STAR TREK CONTINUES). It’s a really well done production, having already generated more than 27K views on YouTube in just three weeks. Check it out…

Other Trek Shorts will feature ships and actors from DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, AVALON UNIVERSE, DARK ARMADA, and a couple of other characters from Temporal Anomaly in addition to Nimrad’s Lt. Keeley.

Continue reading “A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 2)”

A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 1)

SAMUEL COCKINGS is the distilled essence of the truest of Star Trek fans—gifted with an amazing talent that he enthusiastically shares with other Trekkies in the form of stunning CGI animations which appear in an endless parade of fan films. Indeed, it’d probably take less time to list the major fan films that Sam DIDN’T work on than those he did! (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but if you want the complete list of every Trek fan film that Sam has turned into CGI gold with his digital Midas touch, just check out Sam’s IMDb page.)

In addition to providing VFX animations for innumerable Star Trek fan productions, Sam is also the co-host of the amazing and engaging TREKYARDS series of podcasts. And if you don’t know what that is and you’re a Trekker, you are totally missing out!

But beyond just helping out other productions, Sam has also been trying his hand at creating some fan films of his own. Back in 2013, he began work on what he was calling STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY. It took him 6 years to complete it, and thanks to a call from CBS’s lawyers, he had to remove the words “Star Trek” and a few other things (click here to find out more and to view the finished fan film). But Temporal Anomaly was nevertheless a groundbreaking project, taking virtual backgrounds to an entirely new level for fan films.

In late 2018, Sam launched an Indiegogo for an ambitious new fan film to be titled CONVERGENCE and featuring a crossover of FIVE different Star Trek fan production. It ended up raising $7,385 from 114 backers and was supposed to be completed by now. Of course, it was funded before the world turned upside-down and had to shut down amidst a global pandemic.

With Convergence still paused in the middle of production, Sam surprised the fan film community at the beginning of May by launching yet another Indiegogo campaign, but this time, it wasn’t funding just one fan film but SIX!!! The series of unrelated anthology stories will be set in different time periods of Trek from TOS to the Wrath of Khan era to the Dominion War to the Enterprise-E encountering another “Doomsday Machine” planet-killer. Calling the anthology series TREK SHORTS, Sam announced participants from various other Trek fan series including: INTREPID, AVALON UNIVERSE, STAR TREK CONTINUES, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, DARK ARMADA, and of course Temporal Anomaly.

After just two weeks, the campaign is already about 40% of the way to its $10,000 goal with more than 60 backers. And if you’d like to be one of them (I am!), the perks are cool, and the project is really exciting. Here’s the link to donate…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

In fact, the project is SO exciting that Sam couldn’t even wait for it to fund before releasing the competed first of the six Trek Shorts: A LONG WAY FROM HOME. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

And now, let’s chat with Sam…

Continue reading “A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 1)”

OOOPSIE! The Indiegogo for TREK SHORTS didn’t include the PITCH VIDEO…and it’s a MUST-SEE!

Let this be a lesson to all of you crowd-funders and would-be crowd-funders out there: ALWAYS check your campaign pages…not just once but often!

When SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Sensei of CGI, launched his new Indiegogo for his ambitious SIX-episode TREK SHORTS project (six fan films for the price of one!), he included an absolutely amazing and snazzy pitch video. I mean, it’s a totally MUST-SEE pitch video, with the kind of jaw-dropping CGI that’ll leave you drooling plus clips of cast members spanning Trek fan films from four different countries on two different continents. There’s catchy music, exciting behind-the-scenes details, and even a hilarious ending.

Just one small problem: the Indiegogo campaign page lost the link to the video!

Had the video been linked, fans would have seen this…

Sam has no idea how it happened. The video was up there when he first launched it. But I visited the page and donated just a few hours later, and I didn’t see it. I just assumed there wasn’t a pitch video. After all, they’re not required.

Even without the pitch video, the campaign still managed to raise about a third of the $10,000 goal in just 10 days, which is certainly impressive. But I kinda wondered why it wasn’t doing better. However, there were still three weeks left, and I was prepping a two-part interview with Sam to help promote the campaign.

By the way (before I forget!), if you want to donate, here is the link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

Fast forward to Monday, and I was preparing the Sam interview for later on this week (you will definitely want to read this two-parter, trust me!). While questions and answers were going back and forth across the Atlantic, Sam typed the following…

SAMUEL – I’m particularly pleased with the Norway bridge as seen in the Indiegogo pitch video.

And then the following exchange happened…

JONATHAN – What video?

SAMUEL – The video on the Indiegogo page. It’s in the part where Jakub says we have made it in 3D.

JONATHAN – Um….

JONATHAN – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

JONATHAN – Watch the video. I’ll wait.

SAMUEL – It’s there in the video. I know it is.

JONATHAN – Seriously, click on the link. Watch the video.

SAMUEL – Why is the video not showing up? It was there when I launched it.

JONATHAN – Dude!!!

SAMUEL – I know because I watched it. Wonder when that glitched out.

JONATHAN – It was never there for me, but I’m sure it was awesome.

SAMUEL – Well, that explains why there were fewer views on the pitch video then I’dd like. But you did see the pitch video, right? I did send that to you, didn’t I?

JONATHAN – Nope and nope.

SAMUEL – Some journalist you are, not even looking for the pitch video. 😛

JONATHAN – I didn’t know there was one! I think you’re confusing me with Q.

SAMUEL – When the f*ck did it de-link? What bollocks. 😛

JONATHAN – You’re welcome. 😛

SAMUEL – Yeah seriously. Well…go take a look now. lol

And again, here’s that link to donate, folks:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

If ever there was a MUST-DONATE crowd-funding campaign, TREK SHORTS is certainly it!

Okay, I usually say things like “If you can afford to give a little something…” or “At least please share the link with your friends…” And yeah, consider me having said those things.

But seriously, get out your wallet! Go here and donate something:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans

Why am I so pumped about this new Indiegogo campaign from TREKYARDS‘ SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Brit who doesn’t quit when it comes to CGI animation? Well, first of all, it’s Sam Cockings! What he can’t do with a 3D starship just isn’t worth doing, people! But here’s the real reason you need to donate to this project:

IT’S NOT JUST ONE FAN FILM…IT’S SIX!!! AND ALL FOR JUST $10K!

How can Sam afford to produce SIX different fan films for just $10K (or whatever the heck that is in British pounds)? Well, actually, one of these films is already finished as a proof of concept. So you’re really just paying for five new fan films and reimbursing the costs for the sixth. But take a look at the incredible quality of the one that was just released:

You’ll probably recognize the four main actors in this fan film. There’s NICK COOK and his real-world wife LUCITA COOK on board the U.S.S. Intrepid from the long-running Scottish fan series of the same name. There’s NIMRAN SAUND, who did an amazing job back in 2013 filming scenes for TEMPORAL ANOMALY (which was released in 2019). And finally, making her triumphant return to fan films, the much beloved MICHELE SPECHT from STAR TREK CONTINUES plays a brand new character.

And that’s just ONE fan film!

Honestly, I don’t know why Sam is calling them “short.” The first one is pretty much pushing the 15-minute time limit imposed by the fan film guidelines. But I suppose if ViacomCBS can call their 15-minute mini-episodes Short Treks, Sam can make his just as long and call them Trek Shorts.

Anyway, to answer the question of how Sam can afford to make multiple releases for the price that some fan filmmakers raise for just ONE project, the answer is simple: virtual sets. But not just any virtual sets. Over the years, Sam has been collecting and developing some of the highest quality and most realistic virtual set models anywhere, which you can see from the above video. In fact, that’s where most of the funds raised will be going: 3D models of backgrounds and starships (which do cost money to create, as they are very time-consuming). Once Sam has them, he can animate and composite green screen footage of the actors. But paying 3D modelers is like paying for props or costumes…the time-consuming labor is not free.

Samuel Cockimgs (front) uses subtle blurring to create depth of field for the virtual Intrepid-class bridge.

The rest of the money raised will be used for the aforementioned props and costumes, studio equipment, cast expenses like travel, and catering…all done “on the cheap,” as it were.

So what will the other five fan films be about? Glad you asked…!

Continue reading “If ever there was a MUST-DONATE crowd-funding campaign, TREK SHORTS is certainly it!”

A surprise trailer for A LONG WAY FROM HOME blows away fans! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

I bet you didn’t see this coming! Well, at least I certainly didn’t. But most fans were taken completely by surprise last week to see a 90-second sneak peek at a fan film that seemingly no one knew about: A LONG WAY FROM HOME. Well, that’s not entirely true. Show-runner SAMUEL COCKINGS, the CGI wind beneath many fan filmmakers’ wings, knew about the project (because it’s his project!) as did the actors from the fan film community who will appear in it. This includes NICK COOK from the long-running fan series INTREPID, as well as NIMRAN SAUND from Samuel’s previous fan film masterpiece TEMPORAL ANOMALY.

Nick and Nimran are also both slated to appear in Samuel’s next “mega” fan production, the five-way fan film crossover event CONVERGENCE. But delays due to various issues (including COVID) have caused the release date to be pushed back quite a bit. So we weren’t really expecting to see anything from Samuel for a while…well, if you don’t count all of the other fan films he’s been working on lately like: STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION: “We Are Many,”THE ROMULAN WAR: Part 1, the AVALON UNIVERSE, YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE: “Endosymbiosis,” and lord knows what else at this point! Oh, TREKYARDS…don’t forget those podcasts!

So, yeah, we weren’t really expecting a brand new, unannounced project from Samuel, let alone one with an actual completed trailer that looked and sounded amazing! See for yourself…

With nearly 2,000 views in the first week, there with 165 likes and only one dislike on YouTube! When have you ever known only a single Trekkie out of thousands to have any complaint with something Star Trek related? (And who the heck is this person???)

Anyway, I had a lot of questions for the British Boy Wonder of CGI. So let’s hear what Samuel had to say…

Continue reading “A surprise trailer for A LONG WAY FROM HOME blows away fans! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)”

INTREPID’s 13th episode “A TREASURE FOR THE AGES” is their first release filmed entirely post-guidelines!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost exactly four years since CBS and Paramount (now ViacomCBS) announced the new guidelines for Star Trek fan films. And at this point, anyone still saying that the guidelines “killed Star Trek fan films” needs to take a well-deserved walk of shame off a short pier.

And nowhere is the fact that Trek fan films remain alive and well more evident than Dundee, Scotland…the home of INTREPID, the longest continuously-active Trek fan series still filming episodes (they began production back in 2003!). Their latest offering, “A Treasure for the Ages,” marks their 13th fan production overall and their fourth to be released since the guidelines were announced in late June of 2016.

Interestingly enough, though, this latest fan film, which premiered this past Sunday, is their first release to be filmed entirely AFTER the guidelines were announced. The interiors were shot aboard the RRS Discovery on June 27, 2018 and at a local monastery called The Friary on January 19, 2018. Exterior shooting took place in February and April 2019. The other three post-guidelines releases all feature footage shot months and even years prior to the guidelines. More Intrepid installments are in the pipeline with footage that still needs to be shot, and you can read about them on the bottom half of this blog entry.

The RRS Discovery, filming location for one of the interiors used in “A Treasure for the Ages.”
Filming on board the RRS Discovery

Writer/Producer/Director/Lead Actor/Showrunner NICK COOK had this to say about Intrepid‘s latest release…

I really enjoy making these shorter, more character-oriented pieces. As much as some folks dislike the shorter format, there’s a lot to be said for it. Might not be everyone’s cup of earl grey, but I like it.

I’m particularly proud of this film. It’s not perfect, but for all its flaws, I think it’s a nice little character piece. And the credit for that has to go to everyone who gave their time and energy to make it. These films are always a collaboration, and that’s a lot of the fun of it. So if you enjoyed it, please sit back, listen to Dylan Feeney-Brown’s beautiful end credits, and read all those names…because this film literally wouldn’t exist without them, and every single one of them deserves that recognition.

This fan film is one of the rare times that I have one of the storyboards available to show you folks. So as you watch “A Treasure for the Ages” (and after you marvel at SAMUEL COCKINGS’ breathtaking opening CGI sequence), keep the following storyboard in your mind as you watch the later sequences on the planet…

Click to enlarge.

And now, please take some time to enjoy the latest release from those Intrepid fans in Scotland: “A Treasure for the Ages”…

A winning streak of SUCCESSFUL Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDERS!

Lately, it seems like I’m covering a LOT of crowd-funding campaigns raising money for a variety of Star Trek fan films. That’s because it’s been a really pretty busy few months…with more campaigns to come!

Fortunately for our wallets, though, four campaigns have just successfully reached their funding goals (or come very close!), clearing the way for the newcomers. So let’s take a brief look at the fan productions that scored recent wins…

THE TEARS OF J’KAH

Two week ago, I reported on how BENNY HALL raised $49,183 (of his $50K goal) for his second Trek fan film THE TEARS OF J’KAH…from just 13 donors! This post-guidelines crowd-funding record was accomplished with the help of some very generous friends and contacts who each made donations of $5K and even $10K.

AXANAR – shoot #3

Last Thursday morning, ALEC PETERS launched a “tiny” (his word) fundraiser on Ares Digital trying to generate $3,400 to cover expenses for the third AXANAR shoot at Ares Studios in Larenceville, GA on March 15. By Sunday evening, he’d taken in more than $5,000!

The surplus will go into the upcoming fundraiser for the “big” fourth shoot. That on is scheduled to happen in Los Angeles and will include GARY GRAHAM playing Vulcan Ambassador Soval plus a bunch of other aliens, each of whom will require a top-level make-up artist. Combined with the cost of studio rental, travel, lodging, etc., this is expected to be around a $30,000 expenditure (although a final budget is still being worked out).

The Axanar fundraiser for Shoot #4 will launch on Ares Digital right after shoot #3 wraps on March 15…with the long-awaited debut of the FULLL TRAILER! You can watch it debut live by clicking here.

STARSHIP INTREPID – “ECHOES”

For the first time in its decade-and-a-half history, those INTREPID folks from Scotland have sought some financial assistance from fans and supporters. NICK COOK set the goal at a humble $2,500 (or thereabouts, since they get their money in pounds, not dollars) with a 60-day deadline. Earlier this week, with less than two weeks left and with the help of 72 backers, they hit their goal.

CONSTAR CONTINUES

With an even more humble goal of $1,175, VANCE MAJOR launched his latest GoFundMe campaign back in December. It’s taken a little while, but this past Monday morning, he also reached (and slightly surpassed) his goal…with the help of 24 backers (including me).


My congratulations to all of the projects I’ve just mentioned, and my thanks to those of my readers who chose to donate in order to help make these fan film dreams into realities.

So what’s left that still needs crowd-funding help (besides Axanar)? Glad you asked!

Continue reading “A winning streak of SUCCESSFUL Trek fan film CROWD-FUNDERS!”

8 YEARS in the making, INTREPID releases their 12th fan film: “DISSONANT MINDS”! (interview with NICK COOK)

Quick reminder: these nice folks from Scotland currently have an active Indiegogo campaign trying to raise about $2,600. With one month down and one month to go, they’re two-thirds of the way to their goal. If you’d like to help them get the last $800 of the way there, please click the link below…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-fund-echoes-a-starship-intrepid-fanfilm


Scottish fan series STAR TREK: INTREPID began work on their first Trek fan film waaaaay back in 2003. Since then, they’ve completed production on a dozen fan films ranging in length from 6 to 47 minutes. (Read more about their history here.) Their latest release, “Dissonant Minds” came out last week, reconfirming their status as the longest-running, still-active Star Trek fan film group in the world!

Considering that these folks have been producing Trek fan content for 17 years, it may not be as surprising as some might think to discover that a good deal of the footage in this latest fan film was shot back in 2012! Yep, this fan film has been EIGHT YEARS in the making!!! And “Dissonant Minds” also had help from show-runners on three other major Trek fan productions (although it is not a crossover).

So let’s take a look…

If you’re curious which parts are from 2012, it’s all of the outdoor scenes plus the scenes in the governor’s office. What happened to make the production take so long? Well, unfortunately, after a full weekend of grueling filming way back when, a good portion of the outdoor shots turned out to be unusable in the final production for various reasons, and so the footage lingered on a hard drive.

Why not just re-shoot it? Show-runner NICK COOK explained that one of the cast, BODO HARTWIG, lives in Germany, so accommodating his schedule was an issue. “I didn’t feel comfortable asking him to make a second trip to reshoot it,” Nick told me. “The other issue was that this was sort of the start of a period of slow down for us, largely due to me being busy with work and family—and probably a degree of burn out. These films are hard work and can be pretty draining.”

Eventually, the script was reworked to incorporate a number of new scenes to make up for the loss of footage planetside. The bridge, sickbay, and space station scenes were shot separately s few years later on green screen using the revised script. “The original script is quite different and involved a lot more time with Merik and the civilians,” Nick explained. “I really struggled finding the right direction for that revised plot. I had a few dead end ideas over time, but I kept coming back to it.”

And yet, even with more footage filmed, the film didn’t make much more progress in post-production until a fellow fan filmmaker stepped in to help…

Continue reading “8 YEARS in the making, INTREPID releases their 12th fan film: “DISSONANT MINDS”! (interview with NICK COOK)”

INTREPID crowd-funder proves Jonathan absolutely WRONG!

January is a bad month for crowd-funding…or so I thought.

I usually advise people who ask (and advise them strongly) to avoid scheduling their fan film crowd-funding campaigns in December and January. Both months compete with the holidays. In December, people aren’t really paying much attention to requests to donate to fan projects. And by the time you reach January, many people’s wallets and bank accounts are recovering from holiday expenses like gifts and vacations. So if you can, wait until mid-February to launch your crowd-funder.

A good example of this was VANCE MAJOR, who kicked off his latest GoFundMe for CONSTAR CONTINUES in December. With previous Constar campaigns trying for a $500 goal, Vance had been able to cross the finish line within days. But that was in March. This time, with a goal of $1,175 for costumes and props, Vance took in just a few hundred dollars over the first few weeks, and even now, more than a month later, is only up to $675 from 17 backers (including me). He’s getting there, but it’s definitely slower this time out. Was I right about December and January?

I thought I was…which is why I scratched my head when I saw NICK COOK launch an Indiegogo campaign for STARSHIP INTREPID‘s next fan film, “Echoes.” The long-running fan series out of Dundee, Scotland is trying to raise $2,600 for:

  • Travel expenses
  • Room hire (location rental)
  • Food for the actors
  • Props and costumes
  • Make up
  • Associated consumables (such as batteries)
  • Post-production expenses

With a goal more than double what Vance was asking for, I contacted Nick Cook and suggested we hold off doing a crowd-funding feature/interview here on Fan Film Factor until February—expecting that he (like Vance) wouldn’t get too far over the next few weeks.

It’s only three days later, and Intrepid‘s campaign is already nearly 40% of the say to their goal with $1,036 from 28 backers (including me). Boy, was I wrong! But why was I wrong?

Continue reading “INTREPID crowd-funder proves Jonathan absolutely WRONG!”

The history of STAR TREK: INTREPID (interview with NICK COOK, part 3)

In part 1 and part 2, we met NICK COOK and the crew of STAR TREK: INTREPID, a long-running Star Trek fan series based out of Dundee, Scotland. Starting off production waaaaaaay back in 2003, Intrepid is (at the time of this writing) the longest continuously-active Trek fan series still filming episodes.

By 2011, Intrepid had already released six episodes with run-times ranging from 6 minutes to 47 minutes. They also released three different crossover episodes, produced in conjunction with STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER. The first of these crossovers, ORPHANS OF WAR, came out in 2007. The second, OPERATION BETA SHIELD, followed a year later. There was no crossover in 2009, but 2010 saw the final joint Star Trek: Intrepid/Hidden Frontier production: ONE OF OUR OWN. Take a look…

When last we left off in our interview, I’d just asked Nick how this third crossover came to be…


NICK COOK at the iconic Vasquez Rocks north of Los Angeles

NICK – One of Our Own was a different kettle of fish. We had a vacation planned and knew we’d be in Los Angeles. A group of us from Intrepid and HF did a road trip to Yosemite from L.A. and back that summer of 2010. So I suggested doing another short team up.

Rob said yes, so I had to come up with a story. I thought the idea of Shelby chasing down a rumour that Lefler wasn’t dead might be interesting. The twist being: it’s not Lefler, but they end up helping someone anyway, and Shelby gets some sort of closure. As always, it never quite turns out as the way you envision it, but for what it is, I think it’s still a fun piece, even if the narrative could have been clearer.

JONATHAN – I was actually going to ask you if you’d come to America to film that one. If you watch the fan film, the two of you are never on the screen at the same time except at the very end, which could have been a split screen composite. But you and RISHA DENNEY (the actor who played Elizabeth Shelby) were actually doing that scene together in the same place?

Continue reading “The history of STAR TREK: INTREPID (interview with NICK COOK, part 3)”