POTEMKIN PICTURES asks fans to help out with expenses (10 DAYS LEFT!)…

It’s the first crowd-funder for 2023, and it comes from RANDY LANDERS and the various creative teams of POTEMKIN PICTURES, based primarily in Lexington, Kentucky with a creative team also located in Alabama (both groups are shooting fan films this weekend, by the way). But unlike most crowd-funding campaigns that utilize a service like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe, Potemkin is going a different route. They’re simply asking for PayPal donations to be sent directly to [email protected]…no middle man.

While there’s no official perks, Randy has offered the following: “Donors can request a perk of their own choice, and we will do our best to accommodate them, if reasonable.” So no asking for their full-size shuttlecraft model…

But if you’d like one of their tunics or to do a voice-over for one of their films, hey, it couldn’t hurt to ask!

There isn’t any specific goal for this campaign, nor is there a tracker available to the public to check the totals. But as of right now, they’ve collected $1,160 from 15 different donors (including me). “Last year, we had $1420.87 last year.” says Randy. “We would like to pull in between $1300 and $2600 this year to fund all 13 planned films, including new tunic sweaters for STARSHIP DEIMOS and STARSHIP WEBSTER, and a few location shoots that require usage fees.” That’s actually not too bad, all things considered, as it averages to barely $100-$200 per fan film.

But the bulk of the funds raised (more than 75% of donations) goes for lumber, paint, and hardware for the construction, maintenance, and improvements for their sets. Take a look at what they already have…

And of course, there’s also props, wigs, make-up, and other miscellany…

What makes Potemkin Pictures special—in addition to its longevity (having been producing fan films continuously for over a dozen years!)—is how many opportunities it offers fans to participate in the production of completed Star Trek fan films. Over its lifetime, Potemkin Pictures has birthed a dozen different creative groups who have released 108 individual Star Trek fan films! (You can access them all from this page on their website.) Six of those creative groups are still active, releasing on average a combined ten or more new fan films each year. That’s a staggering amount of chances for a fan to work either in front of or behind the camera and have a lot of fun.

But even at an ultra-low budget level, fan films still cost money, and your support can make a BIG difference, even if it’s just a tiny bit. This year’s campaign ends on January 31, so you’ve got less than 10 days left to donate. And once again, contributions can be made directly via PayPal using the account [email protected].

PROJECT: POTEMKIN returns with “THE CASTAWAY”!

Before there was ever a Fan Film Factor website, I was composing weekly fan film blogs over on the AXANAR website as a “guest writer,” just dipping my own toes into this ever-expending ocean of content. And back in August of 2015, with just three completed blogs under my belt, I tackled my first interview with a fan filmmaker (and my first-ever two-part blog) when I chatted with RANDY LANDERS of PROJECT: POTEMKIN.

It seems like such a long time ago!

I don’t say that merely because almost seven and a half years have passed since I published that blog. Heck, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old…seven years is nuthin’! Although back then, there was no Axanar lawsuit yet, no fan film guidelines, and Project: Potemkin was the ONLY fan series that Randy was producing from his home in Albany, GA.—with “only” 26 episodes released thus far (they would finish with nearly 40)! Randy had begun the fan series four years prior in 2011 and, by 2015, was knocking out new episodes nearly once a month!

Since then, Randy would move twice—once to Pelham, Alabama and then more recently to Lexington, Kentucky. And wherever he went, he would recruit more actors and production people who wanted to help make Star Trek fan films! It wasn’t long before there were way too many folks to limit to just ONE fan series. So POTEMKIN PICTURES went on to launch eleven other fan productions, some one-offs and others releasing multiple films under various “creative groups” including: STARSHIP TRISTAN, STARSHIP DEIMOS, BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR, STARSHIP TRITON, HOSPITAL SHIP MARIES CURIE, STARSHIP ALEXANDER, STARSHIP WEBSTER, STARSHIP CALIBORN, SCOUT SHIP QAB’ELTH, and FIREHAWK.

(You can watch all of their releases from their website.)

Project: Potemkin would release their final epilogue episode, “ROOM SERVICE,” in October of 2016, a little over a year after our interview and after moving to Alabama. At least, we all thought it was their final episode. At the beginning of December of 2022 (six years later), a brand NEW episode of Project: Potemkin was released titled “THE CASTAWAY,” with former series lead JEFFREY GREEN reprising his role of Captain Alec Grigory—along with a few other familiar faces from Potemkin‘s original 6-year run. Take a look…

As you can see, the fan film ends with an announcement that Project: Potemkin will be returning in 2023…which will bring the total number of active Potemkin Pictures creative groups back up to five. So expect to see a LOT more fan films!

As if to save me time, Randy Landers was kind enough to post the following behind-the-scenes write-up of the episode onto Facebook, meaning I simply have to copy-paste the following for you…

Continue reading “PROJECT: POTEMKIN returns with “THE CASTAWAY”!”

You don’t have to live like a “REFUGEE” if you’re on the STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

The fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES consistently continue to dutifully deliver a steady stream of finessed fan films mostly monthly. (Did you catch all the awesome alliteration in that previous sentence? Hey, a blogger’s gotta keep you on your toes, right?)

Anyway, their latest release comes from the long-running STARSHIP DEIMOS creative group, their 20th completed fan film in six years. “REFUGEE” is an intriguing story and worth viewing…

There’s actually a LOT going on behind the scenes in this little fan production. For more insights and info, here’s Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS…

Continue reading “You don’t have to live like a “REFUGEE” if you’re on the STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

An unexpected obstacle (or two) that wasn’t a death sentence for STARSHIP CALIBORN’s latest release: “DEATH SENTENCE”…

The creation of a fan film (like the creation of any creative work) can often involve the unexpected. And in those cases, the persons doing the creating often have to adapt, adjust, and put in extra efforts that they hadn’t previously planned for. Otherwise, the unexpected can become a death sentence for a project like a Star Trek fan film. And indeed, the mark of a good creative team is how they tackle those unexpected challenges and still complete their production.

And that’s what happened with the second release from the STARSHIP CALIBORN creative group: “DEATH SENTENCE.” One of many teams producing fan films for POTEMKIN PICTURES at the moment, the majority of those involved with Caliborn are based in the Lexington, Kentucky area near showrunner RANDY LANDERS. Usually, Randy also takes an active role in either writing and/or directing Potemkin Pictures releases. But this time, his efforts were limited to film editing and playing a (comic) relief helmsman on the Caliborn named Peter Reigert, a recurring and somewhat incompetent officer who keeps getting booted off various ships.

“Death Sentence” was directed by ROBIN KUNKEL, who joined Potemkin Pictures recently and was listed as a producer on Caliborn‘s first release “WAR TARG” earlier this year. The writers were HOMER EVERSOLE and his brother DAVID EVERSOLE, both of whom had separately started writing Potemkin Pictures episodes back in 2016. In fact, David penned “The Night the Stars Fell from the Sky,” the most-watched of any Potemkin fan film with 155K views.

“Death Sentence” was the brothers’ first collaboration, originally intended to be an episode of STARSHIP WEBSTER, the other Starfleet-based creative group located in Lexington. However, when COVID hit and the Webster folks suspended production until the pandemic eased up, the Eversoles adjusted their script for Caliborn instead. Tragically, Homer passed away a year ago at the too-young age of 56, before seeing his final fan film completed. This is how it turned out…

But while losing one of the writers was certainly a blow, that wasn’t the unexpected obstacle(s) that needed to be dealt with. Let me tell you what was…

Continue reading “An unexpected obstacle (or two) that wasn’t a death sentence for STARSHIP CALIBORN’s latest release: “DEATH SENTENCE”…”

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…

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

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…

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

STARSHIP CALIBORN launches with WAR TARG! (interview with BILLY SWANSON)

POTEMKIN PICTURES has been a fan film “nursery” ever since 2015 when it launched a second fan series STARSHIP TRISTAN, to join its flagship series PROJECT: POTEMKIN, which began back in 2010. Tristan was followed by STARSHIP DEIMOS, then BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, STARSHIP TRITON, STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR, HOSPITAL SHIP MARIE CURIE, and STARSHIP ALEXANDER. Some lasted longer than others. While Tristan and Deimos have released about 20 fan films each, Kupok has released only six, Triton and Marie Curie both had four, Endeavour three, and Alexander only one.

Part of the reason some of these groups folded was due to the move of Potemkin Pictures showrunner RANDY LANDERS (and his homemade sets) from Pelham, Alabama to Lexington, Kentucky in 2019. While some actors and filmmakers are still willing to make the longer drive, others have moved on.

But just because you move the chicken, that doesn’t mean she stops laying eggs. (If that isn’t an idiom, it should be!) Not that I’m suggesting Potemkin Pictures is laying any eggs, mind you!!! But Randy is birthing a whole new crop of creative groups, each with their own starship…or warship. The first out of the Lexington launch bay was the crew of the STARSHIP WEBSTER, and they’ve already completed and released EIGHT fan films less than two years! And in May of 2022, Potemkin Pictures teamed up with NATURE’S HUNGER and RELIC FILMS to release FIREHAWK. And gearing up for its debut in the near future is the new Klingon-based IMPERIAL SCOUT QAB’ELTH team.

Wow, just listing all that is nearly an entire blog just by itself! (You can access all 100-plus Potemkin Pictures films from their website.)

But there’s one group I’ve left out: STARSHIP CALIBORN—and they’ve just premiered their first fan film, WAR TARG. Caliborn spun off from Webster thanks to one the latter’s lead actor, BILLY SWANSON, wanting to become a showrunner himself…along with a captain! Webster‘s second release, A VOICE IN THE DARK, filmed at the height of the pandemic as a one-man show, highlighted Billy’s strong acting abilities. He’s gone on to appear in four of the five subsequent Webster releases, playing executive officer Commander Robert Hawkins.

But now it’s time to Hawkins to get a command of his own, and you can watch his first mission here…

As you can see, Captain Hawkins isn’t your typical starship captain (as if any captain is “typical”)! And Billy Swanson isn’t your typical showrunner. Or maybe he is. There’s only one way to find out…

Let’s interview him!

Continue reading “STARSHIP CALIBORN launches with WAR TARG! (interview with BILLY SWANSON)”

Does STARSHIP WEBSTER’S latest fan film “SNOWBOUND” prove that RANDY LANDERS is absolutely NUTS??? (interview)

I’m just kidding about you being nuts, Randy…well, kinda kidding!

If you look on the Internet (I’ve heard some people are doing that now), you’ll eventually run into a meme of DANNY DeVITO wearing a white wig pretending to be a pretentious art collector named Ongo Gablogian. It’s from an episode of the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and the quote is:

Artists must suffer for the art. That’s why it’s called PAINting!

Well, if PAINting includes clicking multiple points with your mouse on literally tens of thousands of individual frames from a Star Trek fan film, then yes, RANDY LANDERS, showrunner of POTEMKIN PICTURES, has certainly suffered for his art. More precisely, he suffered for the most recent release from the STARSHIP WEBSTER Creative Group, “SNOWBOUND.” After filming, this fan film took an entire YEAR to finish!

Have a look…

Now, you might watch the above fan film and say, “So a bunch of Trekkies in Lexington, Kentucky went out on a day when it was snowing, shot some scenes, and turned it into a five-minute fan film (not counting opening and closing credits.) What’s the big deal?”

The big deal, my friends, is that it WASN’T snowing when Randy Landers shot it! Here’s what it looked like before Randy’s year-long odyssey of post-production began…

And here’s what it looked like after

Of course, that’s just one still-frame. As I said, there’s nearly FIVE MINUTES of that!!!

So the obvious question this time out is: how on earth (or whatever planet that is) did Randy manage to accomplish this chilling feat? And since Fan Film Factor is mainly about fan filmmakers’ journeys getting from there to here, it’s time for another chat with Mr. Landers…

Continue reading “Does STARSHIP WEBSTER’S latest fan film “SNOWBOUND” prove that RANDY LANDERS is absolutely NUTS??? (interview)”

STARSHIP WEBSTER production crew discusses their latest “OPPORTUNITY”… (interview with a bunch of folks)


And then there were six…six fan films from the STARSHIP WEBSTER Creative Group that’s a part of POTEMKIN PICTURES, that is. And considering that this relatively new production team only launched 16 months ago, that’s going at a pretty decent clip…especially when one considers there was a pandemic lockdown for a decent potion of that time.

Webster got its start when show-runner RANDY LANDERS and his wife moved from Pelham, Alabama two states north to Lexington, Kentucky and reached out to local Trekkers and fans in the area to be a part of what turned into Potemkin‘s NINTH creative group (you can access all of the fans films from the various teams here). While other states in the vicinity like Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas have supported fan films and series for many years, as far as I’ve been able to research, Webster was the first ongoing Star Trek fan production to be based in the state of Kentucky.

And the group has done some impressive work so far. Most recently, their latest release, “OPPORTUNITY,” has a run-time of 19 minutes and a cast of 18 actors with scenes on multiple homemade sets (in addition to a couple of composited green screen backgrounds). There are more than a dozen VFX shots.

While some fans criticized the “unpolished” nature of many of the Potemkin Pictures releases over the years, if you’re watching these fan films solely to be dazzled by top-tier production quality rivaling the major Hollywood studios, then you may have gotten off at the wrong exit. But if you go into viewing these productions with a mind open to seeing what fans with little money but lots of heart can manage to do, then you’re sure to come away satisfied.

And if you know what to look for, a fan film like “Opportunity” accomplishes quite a lot. Take a look…

This time out, I decided to have a free-form chat with four of the folks behind this film:

BILLY SWANSON – a producer and actor who portrays Commander Robert “Hawk” Hawkins, Executive Officer and Security Chief of the U.S.S. Webster.

LAURA JOHNSON – one of the three writers of “Opportunity,” also a producer and actress who portrays Lieutenant Commander T’Varik, the Vulcan Science Officer of the U.S.S. Webster.

ROSS TROWBRIDGE – visual FX producer and artist.

And of course, it’s not a proper Potemkin Pictures interview without show-runner and executive producer Randy Landers, who also directed this film.

Let’s dive in…

Continue reading “STARSHIP WEBSTER production crew discusses their latest “OPPORTUNITY”… (interview with a bunch of folks)”

STARSHIP DEIMOS’ three-minute CHRISTMAS CARD to fans: “Together in the Night” (interview)

If you strip away the opening and closing credits, the 18th fan film from the STARSHIP DEIMOS Creative Group has a runtime of barely more than three minutes. But really, if you think about it, how long does it take to say “Merry Christmas”?

Interestingly, Christmas is rarely seen in Star Trek fan films, despite having been established in Star Trek Generations as still a part of 24th century culture, at least on Earth. So why not do a Christmas-themed fan film? Oh, they’re not unheard of, to be sure. In fact, one year ago, the cosplayers over at STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTIONS INTERNATIONAL released their holiday-themed “fandemic” film (recorded by each actor remotely) titled PEACE AND GOODWILL.

This year, it was Starship Deimos‘ turn. Let’s take a look at their Christmas card…

I reached out to showrunner RANDY LANDERS with some questions. He, in turn, reached out to episode writer and lead actress VICTORIA AVALON as well as producer LEE DREW. So let’s dive into a good ol’ fashioned yuletide fan film fireside chat (on the Internet)…


JONATHAN – What inspired you folks to create a Christmas-themed episode for Deimos?

VICTORIA – Deimos’ viewership is fairly small, and most seem to be very traditional Trek fans. I write largely from TOS and TNG inspiration, and that appeals to them. I’ve had feedback very positive for spiritual references in other stories. Similar to my character of Siân Gabriel, I’m Episcopalian in upbringing, and I often draw on Anglican Christian mythology in writing. My husband and I co-wrote and self-published a high fantasy novel in 2009 that explicitly drew on those themes.

I originally intended an old fashioned Christmas message that would have included shots from all the crews in our various productions. During the holiday season, you see those sorts of things all over local television; I suppose it comes with having grown up in the southern U.S. It’s traditional in the Southern culture I grew up in.

RANDY – I saw it as a chance to send a Christmas card out to the POTEMKIN PICTURES fans. But not all the casts and crews wanted to do it. We respected that, so I made the decision that this would be Deimos‘ Christmas card. And I think it works, especially in the light of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations).

JONATHAN – It looks like “Together in the Night” was pretty quick to shoot. In a recent interview for DREADNOUGHT DOMINION (another fan series that Victoria appears in), she mentioned that she drives 15 hours from central Florida to Kentucky for Deimos shoots. I’m assuming Victoria didn’t drive all that way just to record 3 minutes of dialog. Did “Together in the Night” piggyback on any other shoots?

VICTORIA – The vignette was shot at the same time we shot “Leviathan,” and it also was motivated by our desire to do more with RENDA CARR’s character of Maura Drake, who didn’t have a significant part in “Leviathan.” It also brought in more character backstory both for Gabriel and Drake, and our viewership have suggested repeatedly in comments I’ve seen that they enjoy those personal references and building characters.

RANDY – I had just finished directing and running camera for “Leviathan.” It was a six-hour shoot, and my blood sugar was all out of whack. I excused myself, went upstairs, took my 4pm shot of Victoza, and sat down for an hour. I left the directing and camera in Victoria and Lee’s capable hands. I think they did a good job with it.

JONATHAN – That they did! Now, I know you were searching for somebody new to help out with your CGI. The last two episodes have VFX credited to DAN REYNOLDS of THE FEDERATION FILES. Is he your new ongoing VFX guy?

RANDY – We have three VFX folks. Dan stepped up to the plate with “Leviathan,” and we’re delighted with his work. He also did the VFX work for “Together in the Night,” and I intend to ask him to do the VFX work for our upcoming fan film “Prime Directive.”

JONATHAN – Well, that’s a perfect segue to my final question: what’s coming next from Deimos and from Potemkin Pictures?

LEE – As Randy just mentioned, Deimos has another new script from Victoria called “Prime Directive.” We have already shot principal scenes with the Deimos crew, and now we are waiting for additional scenes to be shot with our Klingon crew to finish the shoot. I think that this will be our best production ever thanks to a wonderful story from Victoria.

RANDY – As to what’s in the works for Potemkin Pictures, we’ve got “Opportunity” in late post-production (music from TONY LUNN and sound from RICK FOXX) from STARSHIP WEBSTER coming soon. We also worked a lot with pickup shots and edits for PROJECT: POTEMKIN‘s “Castaway.” I’m also continuing to work on Webster‘s “Snowbound” with special effects from RICHARD SVENNSSON.

Beyond that, we’re filming with a new creative group, STARSHIP CALIBORN, coming up in January. It will be unlike anything we’ve done before, and BILLY SWANSON is its showrunner.

We also will have a number of KLINGON SCOUT SHIP QAB’ELTH (created by Victoria Avalon) films coming in 2022. We have scheduled a Klingon shoot in February with LAWRENCE “Larry” FLEMING reprising his role from “The Solomon Gambit” as Klingon captain Le-Kat, in fact. It won’t take long to edit, and we should have it out sometime in the Spring of 2022.

JONATHAN – As always, lots of exciting things on the horizon from Potemkin Pictures! Thanks, everybody, and have a very Merry Christmas.