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…

POTEMKIN PICTURES launches its 7th fan series! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

It’s been a long road…getting from Project: Potemkin to here.  Project: Potemkin was the first fan series produced (and completed after more than three dozen episodes) by what would become POTEMKIN PICTURES—but it certainly wouldn’t be the last!  Over the majority of the past decade, Potemkin Pictures has launched the fan series (all currently in active production) Starship Tristan, Starship Deimos, Battlecruiser Kupok, Starship Triton, Starship Endeavour…and they’ve just debuted their seventh ongoing fan series HOSPITAL SHIP MARIE CURIE.

Of course, the guidelines prohibit ongoing fan series, but Potemkin Pictures carefully skirts the edges of this spatial anomaly by naming each fan film something unique and simply attributing these efforts to different “creative teams.”  So the Hospital Ship Marie Curie creative team has just released a fan film titled “The Beast.”  So far, with nearly two dozen fan films released in this manner since the publication of the guidelines, CBS and Paramount have not seemed to mind or take notice.

Potemkin Pictures‘ newest fan series is unique in a number of ways.  Although it uses the existing ultra-low budget costumes and sets of most of the other Potemkin projects, the hospital ship Marie Curie is a new design of starship that has no weapons.  After all, as I told someone recently who was commenting that the ship was too weak, “You don’t usually arm an ambulance like you would a tank!”  This makes for an interesting story angle in the pilot episode when the crew faces a situation where they potentially need to go into battle completely unarmed.

Another item of note—in addition to having a Betazoid crew member during movie-era Star Trek time—is that this series has two prominent African American characters, including the aforementioned Betazoid (played by Staci Marshay) as well as the captain herself (Lillian Cole).  They join the new captain of the Starship Deimos (played by Tony Anderson) as prominent black actors in the Potemkin Pictures family of fan films.

All episodes of the various Potemkin series can be accessed from their website.  You can watch their latest series release below, and then keep reading for a short interview with Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS…

Continue reading “POTEMKIN PICTURES launches its 7th fan series! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

STARSHIP TRISTAN gets a NEW CAPTAIN in their 13th fan film: “A Look in the Mirror”!

After a seven-month hiatus due to heart bypass surgery for POTEMKIN PICTURES‘ show-runner RANDY LANDERS, their parade of fan films came flooding back in March with the release of the eleventh and twelfth fan films from their Starship Tristan Creative Group…only one week apart!  This was followed by the release of two fan films from the Deimos Creative Group in May…only five days apart.  And last month, there was yet another fan film release for Deimos, their eighth total.

Well, it’s July, and that means it’s Tristan‘s turn again!  (Actually, Potemkin Pictures has SEVEN different active fan series at present, each in varying states of pre-production, production, and post production.  You can view all of their offerings at the Potemkin website.)

With this latest release , the titular Constellation-class starship now has a new captain, the former first officer, Lt. Commander Privette (played by Kimberly White).  I’d noticed that, over on Starship Deimos, that fan series had just gotten a new captain, as well (this one being Captain Mark Stone, played by actor Tony Anderson).

I asked Randy about this new game of “musical captains” that his main fan series seem to be playing lately…and also noted that, while a promotion from first officer to commanding officer isn’t unheard of, a rank jump from Lt. Commander directly to Captain is pretty significant.  Randy replied…

Tristan’s former Captain Walker (played by Keith Harris) has disappeared while on a mission, and the circumstances are quite mysterious.  Privette’s promotion came as quite a shock to both Lieutenant Commander T’Noshi and Lieutenant Commander Mycroft, and expect this to rear its head from time to time.

In real life, Keith stepped down, as the demands of the role of a ship’s captain are very challenging (Tristan films 4-6 times per year). Keith and I spoke about his return as Captain Walker in a much more limited capacity again only last week, and we look forward to his continued involvement with Potemkin Pictures once he recovers from a work-related injury.

Expect more cast and crew changes as our productions continue. Filming 12-15 times per year is very challenging to both our actors and our behind-the-scenes personnel.

We also expect to begin construction on our small shuttlecraft…I’m calling it a shuttle-coupe (LOL). It will be for two or three persons, and we’re hoping to begin its construction in September.

Here’s the latest adventure of the Tristan crew, “A Look in the Mirror”…

STARSHIP DEIMOS releases their eighth episode: “The Deimos Factor”!

Two weeks after releasing their sixth and seventh episodes just one day apart, the production team for STARSHIP DEIMOS just debuted their eighth episode, “The Deimos Factor.”  If it seems like Deimos is pushing its production warp engines to ludicrous speed, it’s actually much simpler than that.  All of the fan series from POTEMKIN PICTURES ran into a many-months-long delay last year when show-runner and main editor RANDY LANDERS (who also directed each of the latest releases) had quadruple bypass surgery last August.  He’s fine now, by the way.

Randy’s ultimate goal is to release one fan film per month under the Potemkin Pictures label, and it looks like he’s rapidly getting back on schedule.  With seven different fan “series” in active production, plus the 36 episodes of the completed Project: Potemkin, Randy has released a jaw-dropping 62 separate fan films in 8 years, ranging in length from a couple of minutes to nearly an hour.  That’s an amazing accomplishment.

I’ve heard a small number of fans recently disparaging Randy and his fan films, claiming there is weak writing or minimal character development or just complaining about the low production values.  I say: “Nonsense!!! Malarkey!!!  Horse pooey!!!”  What Potemkin Pictures has done is to assemble separate casts of people over five dozen times, get them to perform and complete enough full scenes to create finished productions, edit those scenes together, add VFX and music, and release those completed episodes on a very consistent schedule fro nearly a decade.  Along the way, they built home-made sets, got inexpensive costumes to look like Starfleet officers and assorted aliens, and even had some make-up.

As for the scripts, while not every one is a cinematic masterpiece, they have all managed to be unique and non-repetitive.  They focus on different characters and different scenarios…just like Star Trek.  There are episodes with lots of cast members and ones with just two or three.  There’s first contacts, prime directive dilemmas, space battles, mind control, alien rituals, medical emergencies, diplomatic missions, Starfleet bureaucracy and intrigue, personal crises, spatial anomalies, drama, humor, triumph, and tragedy.  It’s never the same thing twice.

You try to do that 62 times and see how diverse your scripts are!

Anyway, you can watch all 62 productions here on the Potemkin Pictures website.  And you can watch their 63rd release, “The Deimos Factor,” right here, right now…

 

STARSHIP DEIMOS releases TWO fan films in FIVE days!

POTEMKIN PICTURES now produces five active fan series (even though they don’t call them “fan series,” since the guidelines don’t allow those) plus another two with episodes in post-production, plus the 36 episodes of the completed Project: Potemkin fan series.

You might remember back in early March when Starship Tristan released two new episodes (their 11th and 12th productions) within a week of each other.  Now its time for Tristan‘s sister series, STARSHIP DEIMOS, to have two releases, this time just five days apart!  In this case, it’s Deimos’ 6th and 7th episodes.

Prior to these two, the last fan film to come from the Deimos Production Crew debuted nearly a year ago.  The reason for the delay, followed by the quick double release, was that show-runner and main editor RANDY LANDERS (who also directed both of these latest releases) had quadruple bypass surgery last August, and much of the work had to be pushed back.

These latest two episodes could not have been more different from each other.  The first, “Prodigal Daughter,” takes place mainly on a Klingon battlecruiser and features “action” fight scenes (hey, those aren’t as easy as they look!), and it focuses on a single member of the Deimos crew.  At the end of the episode, we are told there is also a new captain on board, even though we don’t meet him yet.  The previous captain, Jeremy Quinn, was played by actor TERRY SELF.  The new captain, Mark Stone, is played by TONY ANDERSON, taking his place as one of the few black actors to command a starship in Star Trek fan films.

The second episode, “Shattered Sky” (which actually shows the new captain), had scenes filmed on location at a historic landmark in Birmingham, AL, other scenes filmed on their bridge and lounge sets, and still others in front of green screen with composited backgrounds.  Nearly all regular members of the crew were featured throughout.  So it was a pretty ambitious production, all things considered.

Also, Potemkin Pictures has begin to use ADR (voice dubbing) to record dialog separately into a microphone after a scene is filmed.  The process results in clearer sound quality, but sometimes the words don’t synch perfectly to the lip movements.  Oh, well…it’s a fan film, the The Avengers.

You can view all of the Potemkin Pictures releases on their website.

And here are the latest two adventures of the crew of the USS Deimos

STARSHIP TRISTAN Creative Group releases their 12th fan film: “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE”!

Last week, I announced the release of the eleventh fan film, “Sepulchre,”  from the STARSHIP TRISTAN Creative Group from POTEMKIN PICTURES.  I noted that the previous tenth release had come out seven months earlier.  But now, the new twelfth release, “Pride and Prejudice,” has followed only ONE WEEK after the eleventh.  What gives?

I decided to go to the source and ask show-runner RANDY LANDERS.  I was quite surprised to learn the answer:

Back in August, I had a quadruple bypass which delayed post production on a number of our short films. We have never before held back releases, in fact, but we actually are this time.  We released “Sepulchre” as soon as it was ready, then released the follow-up “Pride and Prejudice” a week later.  “Pride and Prejudice” was actually ready for release in January.  For the same reason, we’re holding up the release of “Shattered Sky” (a Deimos film) until we finish up and release “Prodigal Daughter.”

It’s quite possible we will have four releases in March!

I asked Randy how he was doing after the bypass.  (My own father had a double bypass about three years ago and is still going strong).

I’m doing great. You can quote me, and report that two productions were filmed without me (“New Orders,” which was directed by Jason Furman, and “Sepulchre” which was directed by Lee Drew).  And “Pride and Prejudice” was directed by Christin Woods [who plays T’Noshi  -Jonathan] relieving me of that concern as well. I’m very proud of the work they did to get these productions completed.

I should also mention that this latest episode from the Tristan folk was written by WILLIAM C. SEARCY, who plays the fan-favorite character of the half-Vulcan Dr. Skep Anderson.

So please enjoy the second Potemkin Pictures fan film release in two weeks, “Pride and Prejudice”…

 

STARSHIP TRISTAN Creative Group releases their 11th fan film: “SEPULCHRE”!

The nice folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES now have five different Trek fan production teams producing new fan films, two teams with new series in post-production, and of course the completed series that started it all: PROJECT: POTEMKIN (with three dozen episodes).  You can watch everything from Potemkin Pictures on their website.

The first fan series to spin off from Project: Potemkin was STARSHIP TRISTAN, filmed in Pelham, Alabama where show-runner RANDY LANDERS is based.  It debuted in December of 2015, but six months later, the fan film guidelines prohibited ongoing fan series.  So Starship Tristan simply dropped their fan series name and began naming each new release with the title of that particular “episode.”

Their latest offering is a fan film called “Sepulchre” which runs ten and a half minutes.  Set in the post-TOS-movie-era, the series has built its own somewhat cramped bridge set and uses simplified long-sleeve shirts for uniforms.  But if you’re watching these productions for their big-budget quality, then you probably want Star Trek Continues down the hall.  These folks are more about the story, and this latest story is pretty decent.  In fact, if lengthened out and developed a little more, I could imagine “Sepulchre” easily being an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Although the first ten episodes of this fan-series-that-is-not-to-be-called-a-fan-series were released about once every 1 to 3 months, it’s actually been 7 months since the last new Tristan fan film.   However, in that time, there has been an interesting change that I noted.  Previously, all new releases were credited to the “Tristan Production Crew” or the “Potemkin Creative Team”—not really wanting to call too much undue attention to the previous fan series name.  Now the opening credits say “Produced by the STARSHIP TRISTAN Creative Group.”  Big step forward, in my opinion.  With luck, CBS won’t bat an eyelash.

And now, please enjoy Tristan’s latest fan production, “Sepulchre”…