“STAR TREK IS REAL” and so is PIXI NEREID…real AWESOME, that is! (video interview with PIXI)

Finally! I get a chance to interview PIXI NEREID and share it with all of you…and it’s a really FANtastic interview.

Last week, I was supposed to interview Pixi along with AVALON UNIVERSE showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and angel-supporter RAY MYERS, who donated $3,000 to their current GoFundMe campaign as a match for $3,000 in fan donations that came in last week. The Zoom call interview was supposed to accompany the released of Pixi’s new Avalon Universe music video STAR TREK IS REAL (edited by Josh), which debuted last Friday. You can watch it below…

Catchy, ain’t it? Yeah, you’re gonna be hearing that song in your head for hours!

Pixi (whose real name is Ilia McNeil—“Pixi Nereid” is her stage name when she’s appearing at children’s birthday parties as a mermaid…and yes, that’s a thing) is a very busy woman, teaching high school, working on a Masters degree, teaching improv classes, and of course, the mermaid gig…all while starring in the next major Avalon fan film release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (coming out October 31) and serving as producer on the fan series.

Unfortunately, Pixi’s schedule unexpectedly exploded just before our Zoom call was supposed to start, and she felt so sorry that she had to bail at the last second. However, Josh was able to get Avalon actor TYLER DUNIVAN to fill in for Pixi, and we still managed to have a great interview discussion with the three of them (Josh, Ray, and Tyler). You can watch it here, if you’d like.

Speaking of Tyler, Josh released this fun “Shatneresque” interpretation of Star Trek Is Real sung by lounge lizard Tyler and his vape pen (hey, at least it wasn’t an actual cigarette like Shatner smoked on Rocket Man). Have a look…

But I was still determined to interview Pixi…mainly because she is just so darn awesome! I know this because I’ve gotten to be friendly with her since she “drafted” me onto Team Avalon to help guide their crowd-funding efforts. It’s tough to say no to Pixi—even if you’re NOT looking at that irresistible smile! Anyway, I kept hounding Pixi for that interview, and I finally got it on Saturday afternoon.

It’s hard to say why, but sometimes an interview just fires on all cylinders. This is not to disparage the interviews I’ve done with other fan filmmakers, but when you watch the recorded Zoom call below, you’ll see what I mean. Pixi herself is fascinating to learn about, full of surprises that I never even imagined! We learn about her theater, acting, and dance background, musical albums she’s released, and her oh-so-positive way to deal with her critics (not that there are many!).

Pixi also managed to draw out of me an unexpected 15-minute detour into my own background experiences with film production—which include some photos of when I stuck onto the sets of Star Trek: Voyager in 1996! Pixi and I just have a wonderful back-and-fourth, and I think you’ll find her enthusiasm to to be absolutely infectious…

And remember that you can still donate to their campaign here:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

“STAR TREK IS REAL” – the next AVALON UNIVERSE song that will get stuck in your head (video interview JOSHUA IRWIN, TYLER DUNIVAN, and RAY MYERS)

On Monday of this past week, showrunner JOSH IRWIN and the folks in the AVALON UNIVERSE got the song “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON stuck in our heads when they released this hilarious blooper-filled video announcing the kick-off of their donor-dollar-matching promotion week. However, the “week” ended up lasting only two and a half days, as that was all the time it took for fans to donate a whopping $3,000 to their GoFundMe campaign, the maximum that angel-supporter RAY MYERS had offered to match. That brought the total raised so far up over $11,500!

The campaign goes on, by the way, as it still has about $8,100 (40%) to go to reach its overall goal of $20,000. You can donate here…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

After seeing the announcement video, Avalon supporters requested a longer blooper reel, and Josh obliged on Wednesday when he posted this expanded video filled with even more bloopers and outtakes. Once again, fans got a healthy dose of Eric Clapton’s hit from 1986 (and later from Rick & Morty‘s fourth season).

On Friday, Avalon released yet another new video, but this one isn’t a blooper reel. Instead, it’s a full-fledged MUSIC VIDEO, shot on the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. However, you’re STILL going to come out of watching it humming a song for the rest of the day!

In this case, the song is “Star Trek Is Real,” written and performed by Avalon star and producer (and part-time mermaid) PIXI NEREID. Pixi wrote this song 15 years ago, but it’s still pretty fun and upbeat—just like Pixi herself! Take a look and a listen…

(It’s already echoing in your head, isn’t it? Go on, sing!)

This little firecracker has only been in the fan film community for a few months and hasn’t even appeared in her first full fan film yet (that’ll be October!). But nonetheless, she’s taken our little fiefdom by storm, spreading her unbridled energy and enthusiasm far and wide.

That said, I need to apologize to all of you reading this blog today expecting to see a video interview with this effervescent little elf. I was supposed to interview Pixi, but she got buried in work and had to bail on our Wednesday night Zoom call. That left Josh Irwin and Ray Myers as my 2-out-of-3, and Josh quickly reached out to TYLER DUNIVAN, another star of Avalon, and asked if he could fill in for Pixi, and Tyler joined us.

It seemed strange to talk about Pixi’s new music video without Pixi, so we ended up talking about the campaign, finding out more about Ray Myers and why he’s been so generous to fan filmmakers, and discussing how Josh has ended up having driven his car over 5,500 MILES TOTAL just for one fan film! We also have an exclusive sneak peek at a never-before-scene from the upcoming Avalon release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (at 38:10) plus more info on what’s coming after.

Enjoy…

Why should we NOT donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE crowd-funder until MONDAY?

Back in July, I was pushing my blogging warp engines to the red line trying to help my friends over in the AVALON UNIVERSE reach their green line goal of $20,000 for their current GoFundMe campaign. The money raised will go toward production costs on THREE separate fan films, including the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, set to debut on October 31 (and it looks amazing with breathtakingly beautiful desert cinematography that includes aerial drone footage).

Anyway, when your crowd-funder is trying to reach $20K these days, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Heck, it took me more than three months to reach that amount with my fan film INTERLUDE back in 2019.) So it wasn’t surprising to find the Avalon campaign stalling out at about $5.5K…

Obviously, however, it’s critically important to get the campaign back into gear and raising more donations again. And that’s why it came as quite a surprise on Friday morning when showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN posted the following video telling fans NOT to donate to the campaign—at least not until this coming Monday…

It’s a fun little video, showing actor TLYER DUNIVAN (who plays Captain Derek Mason) struggling to get his lines right while PIXI NEREID (Commander Micaela Allenby) is just her usual perky, playful, patient, and positive self…lighting up the room with her smile. It’s candid moments like this that just make me love all these guys and their wonderful enthusiasm.

Anyway, this afternoon saw the second video in what I suspect will be a trilogy leading up to the big reveal on Monday. Video #2 was much shorter but still included some fun chuckle moments…

So what’s the big announcement? Why should fans and supporters not donate just yet and instead wait until Monday? I guess we’ll find out in just two more days, folks!

AVALON UNIVERSE’s crazy and dangerous cave adventure…WHY THE HECK did they do it??? (interview with Joshua Irwin and Pixi Nereid)

You might say that fan filmmakers need to be at least a little crazy at times to do what we do. But this…this was a LOT crazy!

On Monday, August 1, at 5:30 a.m., JOSHUA IRWIN, PIXI NEREID, and NEAL BILBE got into Josh’s SUV at Neal’s home in Farmington, Arkansas, and drove for five hours straight to the middle of nowhere in southwestern Oklahoma.

Then they hiked a mile and a half, gaining more than 200 feet in elevation (the height of a 25-story building) and free-climbing the final portion over sheer boulders with steep drops—all in order to get to this cave…

They spent about 30 minutes filming there, shooting footage that will last LESS THAN 15 SECONDS(!!!) in the final fan film. Then they hiked 1.5 miles back to their car, and drove 350 miles back to Farmington, arriving at Neal’s house about 11:00 p.m. Josh lives close by in Fayetteville, but Pixi lives 3 hours away in Little Rock. She got home around 3 a.m.

WHO DOES THIS??? And for a FAN film???

This was from the PREVIOUS trip to the middle of nowhere!

Now, you might remember how I already wrote about Josh’s 1,800-mile drive (each way) from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Phoenix, Arizona in May for a professional shoot. In that blog, I also described the subsequent 270-mile drive (each way) done by a production crew of a dozen people to shoot two actresses at Gloss Mountain State Park in western Oklahoma on July 23.

This blog isn’t either of those trips. This was a THIRD trip!

I realize that I’ve been blogging quite a bit lately about the folks over in the AVALON UNIVERSE as they try reach their goal of $20K in their current GoFundMe campaign (currently just over 1/4 of the way there). And if you’d like to donate, please-please-please click the link below…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

But even if I weren’t trying to help with their crowd-funding, I would still write about this adventure because it just astounds me how committed these folks are making to a “little” Star Trek fan film. Of course, when it comes to filmmaking, Josh Irwin doesn’t know the meaning of the word “little”!

But seriously, who does this???

It’s not like there aren’t caves in Arkansas. There are some very nice caves, thank you very much. But their entrances are lush and forest-like. Josh’s other footage was shot in desolate desert terrain, so anything filmed in Arkansas would yield footage that wouldn’t match what had already been shot.

A typical cave entrances in Arkansas

So why not just film Pixi against a green screen and composite her against a photo of some desert cave that Josh could grab off the Internet? Why the 10-hour round-trip drive, 3-mile round-trip hike, and 200-foot dangerous climb?

Obviously, it’s time to talk to Josh and Pixi! (Neal wasn’t available.)

Continue reading “AVALON UNIVERSE’s crazy and dangerous cave adventure…WHY THE HECK did they do it??? (interview with Joshua Irwin and Pixi Nereid)”

Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!

Your mission: find an actress—young, positive attitude, who lives in Oklahoma—willing to appear in a volunteer Star Trek fan film. Oh, and she needs to be of Native American ethnicity.

You have two days.

When you donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE Star Trek fan production, you’re paying for a get-it-done attitude and a proven track record. Over the past few weeks, I’ve provided three solid reasons to lend your financial support to this hard-working fan production crew: Jakande Lives, Do It for Pixi, and The Team. This week, I’ve saved the best for last—the most compelling reason to donate to their GoFundMe campaign, which just happens to be located at this link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

These folks never give up…ever! No matter what obstacles God, the gods, fate, the Universe, and/or or the Flying Spaghetti Monster throw their way, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and his team will always find a way to get their fan film(s) finished.

Avalon Universe has already released SEVEN high-quality fan films (two of which were two-parters of 30-plus minute length) in less than three years. And even as they try to crowd-fund another three productions, they’re already hard at work on a fourth fan film: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS.

And therein lies a tale…

Continue reading “Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!”

Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!

Fan films are like weddings. (Ha, got your attention!)

Think about it. Weddings can be as cheap and simple as a trip to City Hall or a few friends in the backyard. Or they can be expensive galas with hundreds of guests and all the trimmings. Or they can be anywhere in between.

And so it is with fan films. We get everything from cardboard sets and scenes shot with cell phones to professional-looking productions with trained actors, meticulous sets and costumes, top-quality recording equipment, and budgets into the five-figure range and sometimes even beyond that.

In general, the larger and more ambitious the wedding, the more critical it is that a team of planners and managers be involved to make sure everything goes smoothly. You get one chance at the actual ceremony, and it’s all that the behind-the-scenes planning that can determine if the wedding is a triumph or a disaster.

The AVALON UNIVERSE fan films aren’t exactly Kardashian weddings (thank goodness!), but they are still pretty impressive, with production quality a few steps above the majority of Star Trek fan films out there. This is not meant to diminish those other fan films. All fan filmmakers deserve support and encouragement. But when you donate to an Avalon Universe crowd-funding campaign, you know your money will be well-spent, and the finished product will look and sound and be amazing.

Oh, and speaking of donating, Avalon has a crowd-funding campaign going on right now, if you’d like to back it…

https://www.gofundme.com/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Like a successful wedding, a well-run fan production requires careful planning and preparation, and that means having the right people in the right jobs…not just during the shoots but in the months and weeks leading up to the director yelling “Action!” for the first time.

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t initially planning to be part of “Team Avalon,” even though I consider Avalon Universe director/showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN to be a close friend. (Josh was my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE.) What I did offer to do was to advise Josh and his producer, PIXI NEREID, on strategies for crowd-funding…advice I’ve also offered to other fan filmmakers over the years.

But before I knew it, Pixi had jumped into action, adding me to the production crew’s Facebook chat, giving me access to their Slack productivity app account where the cast and crew keep all of their online resources, and inviting me onto the kick-off production meeting Zoom call. So that’s how I became a part of “Team Avalon,” and it’s given me a fascinating look into who these fine folks are and all that they’re doing to make the wedding…er, fan film extra spectacular and go off without a hitch.

Let me tell you about the team…

Continue reading “Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!”

Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!

If you’ve never been part of the making of a fan film, it’s kinda hard to explain. But there’s a bug that bites ya, and then there’s an itch that you just need to scratch. It’s difficult to say when exactly that fan film bug bites—I guess it’s different for everyone; like the moment someone realizes they’re a Trekkie/Trekker—but when it does, everything can change in a heartbeat.

Or not. Some people make a fan film or participate in a production or two and they’re done. And that’s fine. But for many others, fan films get into your blood—sometimes into your very DNA—and then there’s just no stoppin’ it!

Which brings us to PIXI NEREID.

That’s actually her stage name. Pixi’s real name is ILIA McNEIL…and yes, the “Ilia” is actually inspired by the bald Deltan navigation officer from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as her parents were TOS fans. And Ilia is a hardcore fan herself. But all of her friends call her Pixi, and so do I because Pixi has (almost overnight!) become a friend.

And honestly, it’s hard not to absorb all of the positivity, fun, and optimism that radiates from her—so much so that you almost need to call her Pixi. And if you’re wondering where that name comes from, Pixi has a side gig (along with a small number of other women in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area) performing as a mermaid at children’s parties. So I suppose that Pixi Nereid isn’t her “stage” name so much as her “pool” name, but whatever you call it, she’s totally a Pixi!

We got no troubles…life is the bubbles…under the sea!

JOSHUA IRWIN, who will be directing the new AVALON UNIVERSE fan films that are crowd-funding now (click here to donate), first met Pixi on the set of the soon-to-be-released COSMIC STREAM while filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas. Pixi was told about the shoot by one of her fellow mermaids, who had a role in the fan film. But Pixi didn’t come to appear on camera, she just wanted to help out. In fact, she arrived and immediately told Josh that she’d be happy to be a grip for the day (a grip is someone someone who moves the lights around…not very glamorous but super-important).

It’s a 108-mile drive each way from Fayetteville to the studio, so the people who volunteer for these fan film shoots at WARP 66 have to be pretty committed. After the shoot in mid-March, Josh posted the following photo and comment to Facebook…

Continue reading “Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!”

Reason #1 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: JAKANDE LIVES!!!

Over the next 21 days, I’m planning to provide one excellent reason each week to donate to the just-launched GoFundMe for the AVALON UNIVERSE‘s new series of Star Trek fan films, a multi-episode saga that will be titled “Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs.” The campaign had a soft launch last week and has already taken in over $1,200 in donations before most fans even knew it was happening! But today marks the official kick-off, and with it, my series of blogs.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait for me to convince you, feel free to click on over and donate something right now (and watch the “ask” video; it’s awesome!)…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

I know, I know. It seems like lately there’s been a new Star Trek fan film crowd-funding campaign every month. And yep, there has! Back in May, CGI sensei SAMUEL COCKINGS raised more than $13K for his series of six (or is it seven?) anthology fan films under the canopy title of TREK SHORTS. Then in June, it was DREADNOUGHT DOMINION‘s turn, as GARY DAVIS successfully topped their $5K goal for two Dominion episodes plus the debut episode of their new PROJECT RUNABOUT fan series.

And as July begins, we go for the “hat trick” as JOSHUA IRWIN has just launched the most ambitious of these back-to-back-to-back campaigns, endeavoring to raise $20K for a new series of fan films set in the Avalon Universe.

There have already been six Avalon Universe fan films: GHOST SHIP, AVALON LOST, DEMONS, LEGACY, AIR AND DARKNESS, and NEW ORDERS…nearly two hours of super-high quality Star Trek fan films with a combined hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. And a seventh film, COSMIC STREAM, is set to premiere later this month…with an eighth film, AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, already in production!

Believe it or not, Josh has only ever held ONE Avalon crowd-funding campaign before now…back in early 2019, he raised $6,500. All the rest of the production costs for Avalon—literally tens of thousands of dollars—have been paid for out of Josh’s pocket…and this guy ain’t exactly living the lifestyle of the rich and famous!

Joshua Irwin…spent his last pennies in the Avalon Universe!

Understandably, most fan filmmakers can only self-fund for so long before they need to ask for a little help from their friends…which is why many Star Trek fan productions seek support through crowd-funding. And indeed, that’s why I’m writing this blog (and the three weekly blogs that will follow): because Josh is my friend—along with being my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE. I’m also writing these blogs because I love the quality of Josh’s work, I love the Avalon Universe, and oh…

…BECAUSE JOSH IS BRINGING BACK CAPTAIN JAKANDE!!!

Yep, that’s the big Reason #1 to donate to this campaign!

Continue reading “Reason #1 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: JAKANDE LIVES!!!”