POTEMKIN is now in LEXINGTON (Kentucky) and invites locals to a PRE-PRODUCTION meeting October 26!

The eagle has landed…or more precisely, the LANDERS have landed. I refer, of course, to RANDY LANDERS, the show-runner of POTEMKIN PICTURES, and his wife. Mrs. R. recently got a new job in a new state, and so the two of them have just moved from Pelham, Alabama, about six hours away to Lexington, Kentucky. And they took a half-dozen starships with them!

Those starships are, of course, the many elaborate sets used to film a plethora of fan series including Starship Tristan, Starship Deimos, Starship Endeavour, Hospital Ship Marie Curie, Starship Triton, and Battlecruiser Kupok…plus a half-completed full-size “shuttlecoupe.” You can view all of the several dozen fan films released during the past almost-decade by Potemkin Pictures here on their website.

Over the years, there’s been a lot of Star Trek fan film-making in the southeastern U.S.—including in Georgia (Star Trek Continues), Alabama (Potemkin), North Carolina (Dreadnought Dominion), Tennessee (The Romulan War(s)), and Arkansas (Federation Files and Avalon). But to my knowledge, Kentucky has never before been the home to a significant Trek fan film production…which is surprising because Kentucky (and specifically the Lexington area) is Shatner horse country!

But that’s about to change in a big way, as not only is Randy Landers bringing his sets with him with plans to continue his existing fan projects, but he also intends to launch a NEW fan series featuring local area residents as actors and production crew!

So if you or someone you know live(s) in or around Lexington, Kentucky and want(s) to be part of an established fan filmmaking, er, enterprise (Enterprise, Potemkin, Lexington…this blog is becoming a fleet!) and get in on the ground floor of a new fan series, check out the following announcement and invitation from Randy Landers to attend a Pre-Production Meeting on Saturday, October 26th from 10:00AM until 11:30AM at the Tates Creek branch of the Lexington Public Library in Lexington, KY…

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POTEMKIN PICTURES releases newest TRISTAN two-parter…and moves to KENTUCKY!

It’s actually been about four weeks since POTEMKIN PICTURES released “Repercussions, Part Two,” the 18th episode from the STARSHIP TRISTAN creative group. It followed the release about a month earlier of the 17th episode from Tristan, “Repercussions, Part One.”

Two episodes back-to-back within a single month is pretty impressive. But it followed a drought of eight months without a single Starship Tristan episode. In contrast, during the seven months prior to that, Tristan had released no less than FIVE episodes. I was curious how a team that was so prolific last year went through the first half of this year without a single episode completed. So I asked Potemkin Pictures show-runner RANDY LANDERS: why the sudden slowdown? Here’s what he said…

No slowdown as far as we’re concerned. Last year we may have cranked up production, but as stated, our goal is 12 productions per year. To date, we have released 2 Tristans, 2 Deimos and 1 Triton this year for a total of 5. We have 2 Tristans, 3 Deimos, 1 Kupok, and 1 Marie Curie slated for release between now and December 31st. That’s a total of 12, and we’re on a pace to accomplish that easily.

Certain projects have been affected by real life. One of our musical composers is stepping away to do some VFX work. One of our VFX artists’ partner was injured in an accident, and his project was quite understandably delayed by that. Stuff like that happens, and we move on and deal with it.

We do expect a slow start to next year, in fact. My wife has changed jobs, and we’re in the process of relocating to Lexington, Kentucky. I completed the deconstruction of our sets in Pelham, Alabama (Studio 3a, 3b and 3c were decommissioned at 17:11 Central Time on July 31), and we will be starting up in Lexington soon.

Wow, I had no idea these guys were moving! And Lexington, Kentucky is 430 miles from Pelham Alabama (you have to drive through all of Tennessee to get there…fortunately, it’s the short way through Tennessee, not the long way!).

So the next question I asked was how this would affect the production. Most of the current cast members are local actors and fans based in Alabama. Are they gonna want to drive 12 hours round-trip just to make Star Trek fan films…?

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The 3rd STARSHIP TRITON release “CONFRONTATIONS” led to an interesting question for RANDY LANDERS…

Lately, whenever POTEMKIN PICTURES releases a new fan film from one of their (currently) SIX different creative teams, I try to ask show-runner RANDY LANDERS a question or two about the latest episode.

With two different releases from Potemkin Pictures coming out on the exact same day (May 25), I tried to spread out the coverage a little by spotlighting one last month (STARSHIP DEIMOSChildren of Eberus“) and one this month. The joke’s on me, though, because Randy just released a third new fan film on June 22, but I’ll get to that one at some point soon!

Anyway, this blog focuses on the newest offering from the STARSHIP TRITON creative team: “Confrontations.” The series features as a main character Janice Rand (now a Commander, as this is movie-era, and also the first officer) along with, as of this latest episode, Dr. Christine Chapel. So far, Triton is the only Potemkin Pictures fan series to include canonical Star Trek characters as members of the crew.

“Confrontations” is this series’ third episode, having just re-cast the role of Rand with a new actress, PAM SHURETT, who gets some dramatic scenes with with the second officer, played by LEZLIE SAWYER (who seems to be popping up in fan films all over the place these days!). You can watch it here…

When I reached out to Randy to ask about this episode, I found myself wondering about something. Triton was the sixth different fan series to premiere from Potemkin Pictures. (You can see all the episodes from all seven series on their website.) PROJECT: POTEMKIN was their first series and wrapped up a couple years ago with three dozen episodes. That was followed by STARSHIP TRISTAN, STARSHIP DEIMOS, BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, and STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR…then TRITON and finally HOSPITAL SHIP MARIE CURIE.

So my question for Randy was: what happens to justify Potemkin Pictures launching a whole new series/creative team?  Why not just put some of these characters and actors (like Rand and Chapel) onto a starship in an existing series?

I also wondered what had happened to necessitate re-casting the role of Janice Rand? Previously, for the various Potemkin series, when an actor moved away or was no longer available, the character was written off the series. I suppose, however, when the character is a major one, like Rand, recasting makes more sense. But nevertheless, I was curious.

Here’s Randy’s very informative answer…

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STARSHIP DEIMOS goes on location with their 12th episode “CHILDREN OF EBERUS” (field report from RANDY LANDERS)

It’s kinda strange when two months feels like a “long time” between fan film releases. But when it comes to POTEMKIN PICTURES, two months is almost “red alert!” That’s because for the past several years, these folks have been releasing an average of a dozen or more Star Trek fan films per year. Currently, they have six different creative teams working on six parallel fan series—each on their own schedule with their own personnel—creating short fan films on ultra-low budgets.

These folks aren’t trying to bowl anyone over with super-slick sets or elaborate costumes and props. Instead, they simply try to tell interesting stories and hopefully have some fun while doing it.  You can view all of their many fan film releases on their website.

I’ve decided to do something a little different than I usually do (which is announce the latest episode, say a few words about Potemkin Pictures, maybe include a short quote from show-runner RANDY LANDERS, and then show the episode). But when I watched “Children of Eberus,” the twelfth episode from the STARSHIP DEIMOS creative team that was released a week ago, I marveled at the amount of outdoor footage. While such scenes might look cheap and easy to shoot, there’s actually a lot more moving parts and careful considerations than you might think.

So this time, I asked Randy to tell us all about the challenges of filming this episode and some of the funny behind-the-scenes stories. But first, let’s check out the episode itself, shall we…?

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A closer look at STARSHIP DEIMOS: “Diplomatic Relations” (interview with LEE DREW)

This blog might be called Fan Film Factor, but POTEMKIN PICTURES is a fan film FACTORY…having produced about 70 different fan films for six active (and one completed) fan series. You can view all of their releases on their website. Show-runner RANDY LANDERS manages to release an average run of twelve episodes each year, although last December he finished with a bang, posting four fan films in four days to bring Potemkin’s 2018 total to FIFTEEN fan films!

Of course, all of the various Potemkin productions are ultra-low budget. The actors are a mix of local community theater folks from Alabama and neighboring southern states, drama school students, and fans who just want a chance to have some fun acting in a Star Trek fan film. The same is true of the production crew, who are about as far from being “Hollywood professionals” as you’re likely to find. They’re just in it for the fun and the love of Trek.

Of course, not everybody “gets” Potemkin Pictures. Compared to the sleek, semi-professional fan series like Star Trek Continues and Renegades, or the ultra-polished looking productions like Horizon and Axanar, Potemkin’s offerings don’t even come close. And they’re not meant to. If you want to watch those top shelf fan productions, then by all means, do so. But don’t judge Potemkin for all they don’t achieve. Look at what they DO achieve.

To provide a better perspective into what I mean, I’m doing something a little unusual with the most recent release from STARSHIP DEIMOS, one of Potemkin’s six ongoing fan series. “Diplomatic Relations” debuted in February, less than 9 minutes in length and attracting a respectable 1,370 views over the past six weeks or so.

Typically with Potemkin Pictures, I post a short blog announcing the latest release, complimenting the creative team, and getting a brief quote from sh0w-runner Randy Landers. But this time, when I asked Randy to say a few words, he wrote back: “Interview LEE DREW about his personal project. “Diplomatic Relations” is his baby. Starred, wrote, directed, choreographed the fight.”

Great idea! So I reached out to Lee to talk about what went into what looks like such a simple fan film to have made. Take a look at the finished production itself and then read about what went into it. I think you’ll be very surprised…

And now, here’s Lee…

Continue reading “A closer look at STARSHIP DEIMOS: “Diplomatic Relations” (interview with LEE DREW)”

The four days of Christmas…POTEMKIN PICTURES style!

POTEMKIN PICTURES, run by RANDY LANDERS out of Pelham, Alabama, is a juggernaut of low-budget, from-the-heart Star Trek fan films. With six different fan “series” (actually, they don’t like to call them “series” since the guidelines don’t allow that) currently in production and another about to debut soon, Randy’s goal is to release an average of one new fan film a month. And so far this year, they’ve been on par to hit that mark, having released a total of 11 completed fan films prior to December. At one point, they even posted five fan films in five consecutive weeks!

But would they be able to, before the end of the year, make it an even DOZEN within twelve months? Well, kinda.

Yes, Potemkin Pictures did manage to release their 12th fan film before the end of the year…and their 13th…and their 14th…and their 15th!!!

Four fan films from three different series were posted to Youtube in just FOUR DAYS! (You can watch them all at the bottom of this blog entry.) The new productions included a two-part fan film from the STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR creative team (since its total runtime of 19 minutes was over the 15-minute guideline limit), a pivotal addition to the STARSHIP DEIMOS storyline, and the first new release from the BATTLECRUISER KUPOK creative team since August of 2017.

I asked Randy why the rush to release four fan films in just four days? I understand releasing the two-parter on consecutive days, but why not hold the other two and spread things out a little? Randy replied…

We don’t sit on any production. When it’s done, it’s released. Not everyone loves every creative group. There are Deimos fans, Endeavour fans, Kupok fans. Each of them got a Christmas present…so to speak.

Speaking of Kupok, “Spirit in the Star” features an absolutely gorgeous CGI model of a K’t’inga-class Klingon battlecruiser, created and supplied by ROB BONCHIUNE (who used to do the VFX for DS9 and Voyager). The honourable warrior of Trekyards, SAMUEL COCKINGS, rendered some gorgeous VFX shots featuring this digital model that are truly stunning (or maybe I should say “disrupting”).

You can access the nearly-70 previous Potemkin Pictures fan films from their website. And here are the latest four releases…

Continue reading “The four days of Christmas…POTEMKIN PICTURES style!”

5-in-5! STARSHIP TRISTAN releases its 16th fan film: “Distant Echoes, part two”!

Five fan film releases in five weeks!  Last week, POTEMKIN PICTURES had gone four-for-four, releasing a new fan film for three of their six (soon to be seven!) active fan series…including two from the STARSHIP TRISTAN creative group.  Well, make that THREE from Tristan, as “Distant Echoes, part two” completed their first-ever mutli-part episode late last week.

As explained previously, the run-time of the full episode was 18 minutes, above the 15-minute limit set forth in the fan film guidelines.  So the Potemkin folks decided to cut this fan film in two.

I asked show-runner RANDY LANDERS whether we’d be seeing a sixth new fan film next week…

This pretty much gets us caught up for the time being. (All hail the time being!)  We have six in post-production.  Oh, we shot one last Saturday.  Make it seven in post-production.  Two nearing completion.  We generally release six months after we film.

I then asked what “caught up” means….

“Caught up” is six releases.  It takes six months for a production to go from the completion of principal videography to release:

  • 1st month: capturing and editing
  • 2nd month: sound and ADR
  • 3rd month: final edit with sound (color correction and other tweaks are in the 3rd month as well)
  • 4th month: VFX guys
  • 5th month: music guys
  • 6th month: release

So if we have six in post, then we’re on target.  It’s a PROCESS. And it’s what works for us.  This is why so many fan films never make it.  They don’t know what to do after they shoot their movie.

Also, we use the 96% rule. If it’s good to the point of being 96%, then it’s time to move to the next step. The remaining 4% is not worth the expenditure of time and energy required to get to 100%.  That 4% is the law of diminishing returns.  That’s a harsh measure to produce by, but it’s what works for us.

I’m aware of everything in our films that’s not perfect, believe me. We have five producers with eagle eyes, but we ask ourselves: “Is the problem worth fixing?”  Most of the time, we can do it immediately. But when an actress or actor is not available for ADR or reshoots, then guess what? Time to cut your losses.

Coming up next: Endeavour and Kupok!

In the meantime, you can access all the dozens and dozens of Potemkin Pictures fan films from their website.  And check out the conclusion of “Distant Echoes” below…

STARSHIP TRISTAN releases its 15th fan film: “Distant Echoes, part one”!

Four weeks…four fan films.  Sounds like I’m talking about POTEMKIN PICTURES again!  These folks from Alabama are a veritable fan film factory, with SIX different fan series  from different creative groups all in active release…and a seventh series about to launch.

Over the past month, Potemkin Pictures first debuted its newest fan series from the Hospital Ship Marie Curie Creative Group.  A week later came the 14th fan film from the Starship Tristan Creative Group.  And a week after that, fans saw the release of the second film from the Starship Triton Creative Group…complete with a record number of Orions!

And now it’s week four, and we’re back to the Constellation-class Starship Tristan.  In this latest episode, we see most of the crew, with a spotlight on its captain, Eva Privette, played by KIMBERLY WHITE.  She’s got a lot of lines, and all were memorized.  (In some of the more “grass roots” fan films, cast members with large amounts of dialog don’t/can’t learn all their lines and instead read from cue cards or scripts off-camera…and sometimes this can be very obvious.)  Potemkin Pictures tries to use, when possible, students from local drama programs and people from community theater who have studied acting.

What’s notable about this latest offering is that it’s the first time any Potemkin Pictures production has been divided into a part one and part two.  Show-runner RANDY LANDERS explained to me that the full run-time for “Distant Echoes” was 18 minutes, over the 15-minute time limit imposed by the fan film guidelines.  So part one ends at the 9:40 mark. “We chose not to risk the ire of CBS,” Randy said.  “The second part will be our next release, possibly by month’s end.”  If that happens, then it’ll be five fan films in five straight weeks!

All episodes of the various Potemkin Pictures series can be accessed from their website.  You can watch the latest release from Starhsip Tristan below…

STARSHIP TRITON releases its SECOND fan film: “The Crown Jewels of Xantharus”!

Another week, another new fan film from POTEMKIN PICTURES…or at least it seems that way lately!  The end of August saw the release of “The Beast,” the debut episode of their new fan series Hospital Ship Marie Curie.  A week later, the 14th fan film from the Starship Tristan creative group, “Deception,” was posted to YouTube.

And then a week after THAT, yet another new release—this one the second fan film from the STARSHIP TRITON creative team: “The Crown Jewels of Xantharus.”  Their debut episode, featuring the character of Commander Janice Rand, debuted last December.

Three fan films in three weeks sounds pretty ambitious, but in fact, the goal of Potemkin Pictures, according to show-runner RANDY LANDERS, is to release an average of one new fan production per month for a total of twelve films each year.  In 2016, that steak was impacted by heart bypass surgery for Randy in August, which delayed releases until March of 2017.  But Potemkin came roaring back with multiple releases, two of which were released only five days apart and, at one point, five in just three months!

For anyone keeping count (like me), this latest release marks Potemkin’s ninth in 2018.  And since it’s September, that actually does average out to one per month…so the streak is holding!

This particular episode, despite looking very low budget (as usual) was actually a really big challenge to film.  It took sixteen months to complete everything (not even counting pre-production).  That included separate shoots (during different months) to film scenes in a bar, on a pirate ship, on a Romulan ship, shots of Starfleet officers watching an Orion dance, the dance itself, and a Happy Birthday bit at the end.  Then they had to re-film the bar scene when they had to replace one of the actors.  Then they had to re-re-film the bar scene at a different location when they realized the lighting hadn’t worked!

Most impressive—to me, at least—were multiple Orion women (and one man), all of which needed to be covered head-to-toe in green.  I asked Randy how much make-up they went through: “Half a cake per person!  But we filmed one actress who was replaced, and had to film Lezlie Cohen’s and Brute’s bar scene twice. So five and a half large cakes of Wolfe Aqua (water activated) parrot green. Total makeup time over all the shoots: 11 hours (one hour per person). Total expense in just green: $220.”  Wow!

It’s worth watching just to marvel at the record number of Orions in one fan film!

STARSHIP TRISTAN releases its 14th fan film: “Deception”!

Well, it’s been a week since the last fan film release from POTEMKIN PICTURES…so I guess it’s time for another!

Actually, the goal for show-runner RANDY LANDERS is to release twelve new fan films per year from their various creative teams.  Last week featured the debut episode of their newest fan series Hospital Ship Marie Curie.  This week, we return to the series that has the most releases of any of the Potemkin Pictures projects (that are still in active production): STARSHIP TRISTAN.  Their initial fan series, Project: Potemkin, holds the record currently with 36 completed episodes, but that production is no longer releasing new episodes.

The latest installment in the adventures of the Constellation-class USS Tristan (during “movie era” Star Trek time) shines a spotlight on fan favorite character T’Noshi, played by actress CHRISTIN WOODS.  Her Vulcan character initially debuted way back in the early days of Project: Potemkin and remains a part of the Potemkin Pictures fan film “factory” even now nearly half a decade later.

Their budgets are, of course, ultra-low…and the on-location “sets” don’t have a lot of dressing.  In fact, in this latest episode, you can even see an “EXIT” sign in the background in one scene.  But that’s not why these folks do it.  For them, it’s all about the love of Star Trek and the fun of creating a fan film that starts from an idea, becomes a script, and then through a lot of hard work and persistence, emerges months later as a completed film.  It’s the joy of creating something no one has ever seen before, and now you and others get to see it for yourselves.

All episodes of the various Potemkin Pictures series can be accessed from their website.  You can watch the latest release from Starhsip Tristan below…