What’s in “BOTTLES OF ALE” from STARSHIP WEBSTER?

STARSHIP WEBSTER launched back in October of 2020 shortly after showrunner RANDY LANDERS and his wife moved from Birmingham, Alabama to Lexington, Kentucky the previous year and assembled the eighth creative group from POTEMKIN PICTURES. Since then, the Webster crew has been on a tear, completing EIGHT fan films in less than two years!

Their latest release, “BOTTLES OF ALE,” made its debut in mid-July and featured a lot more than meets the eye. Randy gave me some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits about this production. But before I tell you about all of the things you might not notice, take a look at the finished fan film…

Potemkin Pictures has always presented a wide variety of story genres: action and suspense, quiet and contemplative, sad and tragic, mysterious, etc. This episode was obviously intended primarily to be a comedy. The writer, LIZ KNAUEL, has penned a number of Potemkin scripts over the years, but what few people know is that Liz used to write for Randy Landers’ fanzine group, Orion Press, a full decade ago. So their collaboration goes back a long way!

A Bottle of Ale” features three actors who might look familiar to viewers of Potemkin’s most recent releases: BILLY SWANSON (who plays the lead Romulan “Crocutus”), MAT ACRA (who plays “Rifkin” in the red jumpsuit), and CLINTON RIDDLE (who plays the “Adjutant” in blue). All three are local to the Lexington, KY area and have collectively appeared in more Potemkin fan films as more different characters than all of the other local actors combined! Part of the reason for their being able to do this is because three different Lexington creative groups are currently producing films. In addition to Webster, there is also STARSHIP CALIBORN (where Billy Swanson plays Captain Hawkins) and the recently-premiered KLINGON SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH (where Billy played the first officer Commander Kodai).

Mat and Clinton also appeared in the Qab’elth debut. In fact, that was Clinton’s first experience with Potemkin and led to him getting two additional roles, including being cast as the new captain of the U.S.S. Webster. Randy explained what happened…

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One fan film becomes two as Potemkin Pictures’ KLINGON SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH premieres as a crossover with STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Admiral Kirk calls the U.S.S. Excelsior “The Great Experiment.” Well, Excelsior ain’t got nothing on POTEMKIN PICTURES as they launched their newest Creative group, KLINGON SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH, with an intriguing twist!

The debut episode from Qab’Elth was the 12-minuteHONOR BLADE,” featuring an all-Klingon crew on a newly constructed bird-of-prey bridge set built by Potemkin showrunner RANDY LANDERS and assorted yellow minions. Qab’Elth is the tenth fan series (or Creative Group making a series of fan films set on board a specific space vessel) to come out of this production studio (watch all of their many, many releases here), and the third to be based in Randy’s new home of Lexington, Kentucky. The other two are STARSHIP WEBSTER and STARSHIP CALIBORN, the latter having premiered this past June. But on July 23, it was time for Qab’elth, and here it is…

So what was “the great experiment,” then? What was the “twist”? On that exact same day, the latest release from the STARSHIP DEIMOS Creative Group was posted to YouTube. The 19th installment of Deimos, this 25-minute fan film was titled “PRIME DIRECTIVE” and seemed like a pretty typical episode…assuming you hadn’t already watched “Honor Blade.” But if you had, then about half of “Prime Directive” would have looked VERY familiar—almost déjà vu—because it was the EXACT SAME footage of the Klingons as was in “Honor Blade“! Take a look…

So now you can look at life from both sides now! It’s a fascinating experiment of telling the exact same parallel story in two simultaneously-released fan films…only from different perspectives. While Potemkin Pictures had previously done something similar when they took some of the footage from the Starship Tristan two-parter “RECLAMATION” to release the stand-alone fan film “FIREHAWK,” the latter was released more than two years after the former fan film. In the case of “Honor Blade” and “Prime Directive,” the two films were posted to YouTube on the same day.

Both scripts were written by VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Captain Gabriel of the Deimos. Meanwhile, RANDY LANDERS served as director and executive producer on each fan film, and it’s he who gets to answer my questions this time out…

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Starship Deimos’ 17th release: “LEVIATHAN” (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

The STARSHIP DEIMOS has been flying around the fan film sector for more than five and a half years now…ever since their first release on March 9, 2016. It came on the heels of the new fan series STARSHIP TRISTAN, which had debuted just four months earlier. Both productions sprang from the venerable POTEMKIN PICTURES, which had already, by that time, released thirty episodes of their debut fan series, PROJECT: POTEMKIN.

Since that time, Potemkin Pictures has spawned an additional SIX series of Star Trek fan production teams with nearly two dozen episodes of their own. (You can access all of the nearly-100 Potemkin fan films from their website.) But by far, the most prolific productions came come from the teams making Tristan and Deimos. Tristan released their most recent fan film (their 21st overall) this past March, but Deimos had been running silent for nearly a year…since last Halloween, in fact.

That changed on September 24, 2021 with the release of Deimos‘s 17th fan production, LEVIATHAN. It’s a good ol’ fashioned ship-in-peril-from-a-spatial-anomaly story, and it’s very well-acted. It was filmed on the new Potemkin Pictures sets in Lexington, KY. Check it out…

Time to ask showrunner RANDY LANDERS some questions…!

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Saving a fan film in post-production – STARSHIP TRISTAN’s “36 hours” (interview with RANDY LANDERS and RICK FOXX)

All told, the latest episode of STARSHIP TRISTAN, “36 Hours,” is the 90th(!!!) fan film from the fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES (and you can watch all of their releases here on their website). Their very first fan series, PROJECT: POTEMKIN, ran for 36 episodes…beginning all the way back in late 2010 and wrapping up six years later.

Tristan was their second fan series (now referred to as a “Creative Group”), beginning in late 2015 and still going today. Of all of their remaining eight groups, Tristan has the most releases, with “36 Hours” being the 21st production overall to be posted to YouTube.

But “36 Hours” almost didn’t happen!

I mean, it got filmed, but it almost didn’t get completed and might have had to be scrapped…and this would have been a true pity, as several of the actors in it won’t be able to continue to be involved now that show-runner RANDY LANDERS—along with all of the sets—have relocated 6 hours north from their former location near Birmingham, Alabama to Lexington, KY.

This blog tells the story of how this one fan film was saved from digital oblivion during post production. Some fans are aware that that are three phases of development for a film project: pre-production (planning and getting everything ready), production (actual filming), and post-production (putting the pieces of the puzzle together and making sure everything looks and sounds good). You might think that, once you’ve shot all of your footage, that editing and post-production are fairly simple and straightforward. Well, it turns out that sometimes things are quite a bit more challenging.

To help tell this “story behind the story,” I have two fellows who helped make “36 Hours” happen. Randy Landers was the director, executive producer, and co-writer; and RICK FOXX was co-executive producer and also co-writer. However, in addition to sharing writing credits, Randy and Rick also shared editing duty—although you’ll only find Rick’s name as editor in the credits. Why is that? You’ll need to read the interview below.

But first, take a look at “36 hours”…

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Watch POTEMKIN PICTURES’ new STARSHIP WEBSTER “Launch”… (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

Look out, pardner, ’cause there’s a new Trek fan series in town! But don’t you dare call it a “series”—’cause those pesky guidelines don’t like us doing series. So instead, let’s call it what POTEMKIN PICTURES calls it: the STARSHIP WEBSTER Creative Group.

This newest gang of fan filmmakers takes its place beside the other seven current Potemkin creative groups—including DEIMOS, ALEXANDER, TRISTAN, MARIE CURIE, BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, TRITON, and ENDEAVOUR…releasing (prior to the pandemic) an average of a dozen combined fan films each year going back more than half a decade! (You can access all of the previous Potemkin Pictures releases by clicking here.)

The various Potemkin Pictures productions have seen three bases of operations over the past ten-plus years. Things began in Albany, GA with their first fan series (back when you were allowed to call it that), PROJECT: POTEMKIN. When show-runner RANDY LANDERS moved to Alabama, some of the production team stayed in Georgia while others migrated to Alabama and various new creative groups formed.

Then, last year, Randy and his wife moved again, this time to Lexington, KY. This has allowed a whole new assemblage of fan filmmakers—writers, directors, producers, actors, make-up and costuming people, set builders, etc.—to join in on the fun in a brand new location. But there were certain unanswered questions.

  • Would Randy be able to find enough local fans and actors to support a full creative croup?
  • Would all the sets survive the 425-mile “trek” from Alabama to Kentucky and then be able to be properly rebuilt/reassembled?
  • How long would it take to get their first fan film completed, and what would the new starship be called?
  • What effect would the pandemic have on production?
  • With the sets all located in a new state—6 and a half hours’ drive away from the previous location—would the other creative groups be willing or able to continue making their fan films?

Obviously, it’s time to talk to Randy Landers again! First, though, take a look at the premiere episode from the Starship Webster Creative Group, “Launch”…

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BATTLECRUISER KUPOK production team releases its third fan film: “A GATHERING STORM”!

If you’re looking for Klingons in a Star Trek fan film, you can certainly find them…but it’ll take some work!  And usually the Klingons are just there to be the bad guys (at least in TOS and movie-era Trek fan productions).

But there is one production which guarantees a Klingon in every episode…and they’re not there just to be the bad guys.  Well, yeah, they are the bad guys, but not to their way of thinking!

BATTLECRUISER KUPOK (pronounced “kuh-POOK”) debuted in September of 2015 as the eighth episode (“The Battle Of Alawanir“) of the third season of the long-running fan series PROJECT: POTEMKIN. It was a unique episode, self-contained and presented with its own opening monologue:

Space…it is ours for the taking.  These are the missions of the Imperial Klingon Cruiser Kupok.  Its never-ending quest: to seize unclaimed worlds, to seek new cultures and species to serve us, and to further expand the Klingon Empire!

The idea was to create a fan series completely from the point of view of the Klingons, to show them in their “natural element” without any influence from or even interaction with Starfleet.

Their low-budget fan series was later given an independent run of its own the following March with the release of their second episode, “Sanctuary.”  A few months later, the fan film guidelines were released, and all of the Potemkin Pictures projects were forced to drop their series titles (like Starship Deimos, Starship Tristan, and of course, Battlecruiser Kupok) and instead treat every subsequent release as a new fan film with a completely new title.

Since then, the Deimos and Tristan production teams have released a combined total of nine new fan films (plus two that completed the run of Project: Potemkin), but nothing from the Kupok team…until now!

Based in Pelham, Alabama, Kupok‘s latest episode “A Gathering Storm” was written and directed by Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS.  It asks the question: what happens when the Klingons try to conquer a planet full of Renaissance Faire attendees?  No, I’m just kidding!  Well, I’m KINDA kidding.

Oh, just see for yourself…

PROJECT: POTEMKIN releases its series epilogue final episode “ROOM SERVICE”!

potemkin-room-serviceSo you’re probably saying, “Hey, I thought PROJECT: POTEMKIN already released its final episode back in late September!”  Well, yes…and no.

The long-running fan series which has produced three dozen original episodes since 2011 and spawned four different spin-off series, did, in fact, release its series finale back on September 20.  But there was still one more episode shot and in post-production waiting to be shared with fans.  And it was always intended to be an epilogue showing, at least for some of the Potemkin crew, the aftermath of the events of the previous finale episode.

“Room Service” was written by Christin Woods, who also plays the Vulcan Lt. T’Noshi, and filmed on location at the 2015 Treklanta con with a great deal of whimsy.  My ol’ buddy Eric L. Watts wears his iconic Klingon Korgoth persona to perfection, and goodness knows the green dye sellers in the metro-Atlanta area were counting their profits that weekend.  You can tell by the still image I’ve included above that this might not be your typical fan film, but don’t worry…it stops far short of an NC-17 rating.  And it’s pretty fun.

And so, with this tongue-in-cheek 7-minute episode, we bid a fond and final farewell to a unique and heart-felt fan series, made with love, dedication, almost no budget…and all for a spoonful of borsch.  You can read more about Project: Potemkin in this great 2-part interview with show-runner Randy Landers.  And you can watch “Room Service” below…

PROJECT: POTEMKIN releases its SERIES FINALE (but it’s NOT ending because of the GUIDELINES)!

In 2011, a new Star Trek fan series based in the movie-era released its first episode, and the world of fan films was introduced to PROJECT: POTEMKIN.

Five years and thirty-four episodes later, Project: Potemkin has just released its series finale, “Destinies.”  No spoilers except to say that this seven-minute episode wraps up the series nicely and ties in with three other fan series also being produced by Potemkin Pictures: Starship Tristan, Starship Deimos, and Starship Endeavour.

Some fans have been wondering whether Project: Potemkin is yet another victim of the fan film guidelines released by CBS and Paramount.  Not so, says series show-runner RANDY LANDERS:

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PROJECT: POTEMKIN is no more…and it’s “ALL IN A DAY’S WORK!”

Potemkin-All in a Day's WorkThe fan series Project: Potemkin was nearly finished with its four-season run.  Thirty episodes had already been produced and released, and only three more remained.  Show-runner RANDY LANDERS (read his interview with Fan Film Factor here) had announced that the series would wrap up after the end of season four, although four other series–Starship Tristan, Starship Deimos, Battlecruiser Kupok, and Starship Endeavour–would continue with new episodes.

The remaining three episodes of Project: Potemkin had already been filmed over a year ago and were simply awaiting post-production editing, sound, VFX, and musical scoring.  Then the fan film guidelines were released by CBS and Paramount.

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PROJECT: POTEMKIN releases its latest episode!

Potemkin - Cover 2

The third episode of Project: Potemkin‘s fourth (and final) season–the 5-minute “Inquiry”–was recently posted online just weeks after their previous episode… continuing a run of rapid-fire new releases.

This latest episode reveals why Captain Grigory (played by actor Jeffrey Green) was called away from the USS Potemkin by Starfleet Command.  The episode features Jeffrey Green’s real-life wife, fellow actor Deborah Liss-Green, in a major guest starring role.

Watch “Inquiry” now!

Read PART 1 of our interview with Project: Potemkin creator RANDY LANDERS.

Read PART 2 of our interview with Project: Potemkin creator RANDY LANDERS.