THE ROMULAN WAR releases newest WAR STORIES: “THE FIGHTING FOURTH”!

A week and a half ago, I reported that MARK NACCARATO, who is completing the fan film THE ROMULAN WAR (due out in the next few months), was about to release the fourth of his WAR STORIES vignettes: “The Fighting Fourth.” That happened for the general public this past weekend, and I have to say that this was my favorite War Story so far! (And since I starred in the third one, you know I’m being sincere.)

Before continuing, I just want to remind everyone to please donate a few bucks to their Indiegogo campaign. Although they surpassed their original goal, additional footage for the main film was shot by AARON VANDERKLEY in Australia, and Mark needs to reach $14,000 to cover Aaron’s additional expenses. He’s $980 short…can you help him out?

Anyway, this latest release is another “enhanced” audio drama, although I think I’d call this a full-on fan film! The difference is that “The Fighting Fourth” actually features a video recording of the main character, not simply the audio recording of log entries “enhanced” with display readouts and various animations. The footage features actor CHEWE NKOLE playing crewman Evander Littlejohn, and the African actor (now living in western Australia) turns in a very strong performance.

Also worth mentioning is sensational CGI effects done by everyone’s favorite British invader, SAMUEL COCKINGS of Trekyards. So we’ve got what I believe is the first-ever Star Trek fan film produced on three different continents (North America, Australia, and Europe), and a really fun and well-crafted 5-minute look at yet another intriguing aspect of The Romulan War

You can watch the other War Stories vignettes here.

THE ROMULAN WAR fan film is now being made on THREE CONTINENTS!

One of the fan productions I’m most looking forward to at the moment is MARK NACCARATO’s project focusing on the battles and strategies of THE ROMULAN WAR with Earth. Presented as a war documentary (similar to Prelude to Axanar), Mark’s stories will pick up where Star Trek: Enterprise frustratingly left off: just BEFORE the ware between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire began.

Leading up to the planned May 2019 premiere of the full fan film, Mark has released a series of short “enhanced” audio dramas called WAR STORIES. They typically present personal logs or subspace correspondence made by someone involved in the war, usually recorded by a trained voice actor reading the script. (I say “usually” because I am definitely not a trained actor, but I recorded one myself!) The releases, while available in audio format for listening only, are ALSO available on YouTube with added VFX and other graphics to look like Starfleet archival footage. They’re REALLY cool.

For anyone who hasn’t seen and heard these War Stories releases yet, you can view them all on this YouTube playlist. They are only 17 and a half minutes total, so it’s not even that much of a time investment. In fact, anyone who says you can’t tell a decent fan film story in 15 minutes or less NEEDS to watch these four productions, as they each do it in under five minutes! (Well, one is a two-parter.)

This is one of the few fan projects set in the NX-era. Another is the series of amazing and powerful short films produced by AARON VANDERKLEY in Australia. If you haven’t watched them yet, you should check them out.

Now Mark Naccarato and Aaron Vanderkley have joined forces for the latest War Stories production, “The Fighting Fourth.” So that’s America and Australia teaming up for the first time. BUT! Let’s also add in a third continent—Europe—as Britain’s own SAMUEL COCKINGS, the hardest-working Trekpert in geek fandom, has lent his talents with some amazing CGI animation. Just take a look at this trailer…

“The Fighting Fourth” will be released first to donors very soon. So if you’d like to see it early, contribute a buck or three to the still-active Indiegogo campaign (now funding post-production costs).

Continue reading “THE ROMULAN WAR fan film is now being made on THREE CONTINENTS!”

TEMPORAL ANOMALY is finally released…it’s about time! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

The time has finally come! After nearly six years, TEMPORAL ANOMALY has been released to astound and amaze Star Trek fans. Written, directed, and produced by SAMUEL COCKINGS—the King, Ace, and Jack of all trades involving CGI animation—back in 2013, Temporal Anomaly has traveled a long and challenging path on its way to completion. This included an e-mail directly from CBS saying, “You can’t release this fan film!”

Yep, for only the fourth time, CBS stepped in to put the kibosh on a Star Trek fan film project (the others being Axanar, Federation Rising from Tommy Kraft, and “He Walked Among Us” from Star Trek: New Voyages. Considering there are literally several hundreds of Trek fan films, the VAST majority never hear from CBS. But Samuel did…just weeks before releasing his half-decade labor of love.

The fan film world was all ready, one year ago, to see this long-awaited masterpiece. In fact, I even featured a 38-minute audio interview with Samuel in mid-February of 2018 in anticipation of a March release. But then CBS contacted Samuel, and things came to an immediate halt!

However, in a very unexpected turn of events, Samuel was able to convince CBS to allow him to make certain changes and release the fan film after all, even negotiating a one-time exemption from the 30-minute limit to allow for his full 50-minute film to play out as scripted.

Unfortunately, making the required changes—which included stripping out the music track and finding a composer to re-score the entire feature—took nearly another year. In the meantime, Samuel made other improvements to the VFX, CGI backgrounds, etc. The result is one of the most visually stunning and impressive green screen Trek fan films you are ever likely to see.

And see it you shall, right now (in two parts)…

Pretty amazing, huh? Now take a listen to a FANtastic new audio interview with Samuel. This time, we discuss exactly what happened with CBS and how Samuel was able to convince them to change their minds and let him release Temporal Anomaly…and even make it 50 minutes long! We also discuss the fan film world in general, what makes good CGI, behind-the-scenes stories from Samuel’s production, and updates on his next fan project, Convergence.

If you’re thinking of listening to the following interview before watching the fan film—DON’T DO IT, MAN! There are spoilers in the interview! Watch Temporal Anomaly first, and THEN listen to this…

NEW TRAILER from the AVALON UNIVERSE!

JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX burst onto the Star Trek fan film stage this past Halloween with the unexpected release of GHOST SHIP. Shot using real actors and high production design on the TOS sets in Kingsland, GA and on the new WARP 66 Studios’ bridge sets in Arkansas, Ghost Ship was fun a “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” fan film that took the community by storm. Part 1 already has more than 167K views on YouTube, and Part 2 over 70K. (You can listen to a great audio interview with both producers here.)

One of the things that got fans’ attention was the Kelvin-verse Starfleet uniforms juxtaposed with TOS sets and warp nacelles for a Constitution-class starship that glowed blue. What universe was this???

Well, now we know, as there is a new trailer for upcoming fan films from Josh and Victoria in what they are calling the AVALON UNIVERSE

There is also a new Facebook page for the Avalon Universe (featuring the crew of the USS Excalibur). On Facebook, there’s the following posting:

The second fan film taking place in our "Avalon Universe" has begun filming. We'll meet new characters, and see interesting new design elements including visfx, LCARS readouts, uniforms and even unique divergent Starship and shuttle designs, and a new starbase dry dock design all from the amazingly talented Samuel Cockings and his crew of CG artists. The story is co-written and directed by Victoria Fox!
Look for it soon along with information on our crowd funding campaign, which will bring you more stories from this interesting alternate reality.

Filming for their second episode wrapped yesterday in front of a green screen in Arkansas. Plans currently call for the second episode to debut on February 1…along with a crowd-funding campaign for episodes 3 and 4.

Although I plan to do another interview with Josh and Victoria next month, I did ask Josh if he had any other details about what fans could expect from the Avalon Universe going forward…

Continue reading “NEW TRAILER from the AVALON UNIVERSE!”

SAMUEL COCKINGS 2013 and SAMUEL COCKINGS 2018 take a look forward and back at TEMPORAL ANOMALY!

For SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Harry Potter of CGI, it has truly been a long road getting from there to here. “There” was 2013 when he launched a Kickstarter to fund his fan film project, STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY. A month later, he’d raised £1,741 (about $2,700) with 27 backers. Compared to some of the Trek fan films at the time, this was a “humble” amount, but it was enough to assemble half a dozen actors, get them into Stafleet uniforms, and film them in front of green screens for a nearly hour-long fan video movie.

And then five years happened.

To be fair to Samuel, he was doing anything BUT procrastinating during that time. His skills and resources were constantly expanding, and his abilities to create a better and better looking fan film around that green screen footage were growing by the day!

Early last year, however, just as he was finally planning to debut his long-awaited fan film, Samuel released a trailer that included footage of Picard, Riker, Worf, Troi, etc.—who would be in a short 90-second “prologue” to the film—and got the attention of CBS (and not in a good way). But rather than shut him down completely, CBS worked with Samuel to find a way that he could release his fan film and not have to toss all of his hard work. So…kudos to CBS for finally taking a chill pill.

Those CBS changes have required nearly ten months to complete, but now Temporal Anomaly is nearly ready to premiere later this month. And when it does, I’ve got a great audio interview with His Royal Trekness that you’re all gonna enjoy listening to.

But right now, in anticipation of the impending release of five and a half years of work and dedication, Samuel has posted a special video which takes a look back at the journey…including footage of himself from 2013 and his initial Kickstarter campaign plus comparisons of shots and CGI from back then with what we’ll see in just a couple more weeks.

Take a look…

THE ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES – new release “FINAL FLIGHT” starring…me!

Hey, guess who developed the Warp Seven engine?  Me, that’s who!

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I had help (will have help?) from my NX-Zeta project team, and from MARK NACARRATO, the show-runner of the upcoming fan production THE ROMULAN WAR.  Oh, and it wasn’t really me; it was Lieutenant Geoffrey Christopher of the United Earth Space Probe Agency.  But he looks and sounds a lot like me.

I suppose I should back up a few steps and explain what the heck I’m talking about…

For those of you unfamiliar with The Romulan War, it’s going to be an amazing Trek fan film picking up where Star Trek: Enterprise left off…at the beginning of the war between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Empire.  Filming on the production is all but completed, and now the finishing touches of post production—editing, VFX, sound, music, etc.—are being applied.  Release is planned for 2019.

Of course, with the limitations of the fan film guidelines, it would be nearly impossible to recount the entire war…despite using a “mock” documentary style similar to Prelude to Axanar.  So Mark came up with an interesting idea to push the envelope a bit—WAR STORIES.  These are short vignettes that are essentially audio dramas…just with a little something “extra” added: images with simple animations.  These “enhanced” audio dramas are presented as the logs of various Starfleet officers who served during the war, and the logs are accompanied by computer readouts and archival photos with some short video clips.  Less than a full fan film but more than a simple audio drama.

Last August, Mark released the first War Stories, the two-part “Sleep Is Hard to Find.”  If you go to that blog page, you’ll see that yours truly provided some of the Photoshop work to get the actors’ faces onto NX-era uniforms.  A month later, Mark released the second War Stories, “They Want Us Dead.”  That one didn’t require my Photoshop services, but the third release, “Final Flight,” did.

It also required my face…

Continue reading “THE ROMULAN WAR: WAR STORIES – new release “FINAL FLIGHT” starring…me!”

GHOST SHIP appears out of nowhere! (audio interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX)

The vast majority of the fan film community had no idea that GHOST SHIP was coming (including me)!  But just a few weeks ago, on Halloween, the newest full-length Star Trek fan production from JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX debuted on YouTube.

Although shot mainly on the STAGE 9 STUDIOS starship sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut, I learned from interviewing Josh and Victoria that some scenes were also filmed at the Arkansas sets originally known as Starbase Studios.  Their visual FX were done by Trekyards’ CGI genie SAMUEL COCKINGS, who will soon be releasing Temporal Anomaly and Convergence.  Even VANCE MAJOR makes a cameo as the character Erick Minard.  So these guys definitely got around the fan film world to make their project.

And what an impressive production it is!  A “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” mash-up, of sorts, the film combines spooky zombie horror tropes with comedic moments and fun characters to create a wonderfully enjoyable space adventure.  And it follows the guidelines completely, including dividing the fan film into two less-than-15-minute segments.  The cast is made up of trained actors along with a crew of experienced film producers.  The result looks great, sounds great, and is written, directed, and edited at a noticeably high level.

That might be one of the reasons that the views for Ghost Ship have exploded on Youtube.  When I conducted our interview on Wednesday of last week, Josh and Victoria were excited to see their total views had climbed over 8,000.  Well, guess what?  As I write this 8 days later, they’ve gone viral with more than 105,000 views!

Before I get to the fan and interview, let me take a moment to mention that GHOST SHIP and a growing number of other Trek fan films would not be possible without the generosity of RAY TESI, present owner of the TOS  sets in of Kingsland, GA.  Ray makes these sets available for free (well, the cost of electricity used during the shoot) to any fan filmmaker following the guidelines.  But the $3,000/month rent is paid out of Ray’s own pocket.

Currently, there is an opportunity for fans to contribute a little bit each month (even a dollar makes a difference) through a PATREON.  Right now, fans are donating $163 of that $3,000 monthly expense, but there’s always room for more help from our community.  To donate, go to:

https://www.patreon.com/stage9studios

And now, here are parts 1 and 2 of Ghost Ship

Pretty good fan film, huh?  Want to learn more about how it was made, how long it took to complete, and where to go to find a dozen convincing zombies in southern Georgia?  Take a listen to this really fun interview with writer/director Joshua Irwin and producer Victoria Fox…

JOSHUA IRWIN as Commodore Joseph Austin and VICTORIA FOX as Commander Amanda Beck in GHOST SHIP

CONVERGENCE winds up 134% funded, releases TEST SCENE Teaser!

At midnight Pacific Time last Friday (while I was on East Coast time in Atlanta…don’t worry, folks, Axacon coverage is coming later this week!), the 5-way crossover fan film CONVERGENCE finished up its Indiegogo campaign with $7,385 from 114 backers!  This was a third over their posted goal of $5,500, and allowed them to surpass two stretch goals.  The first (at $6,000) would cover the Indiegogo fees and perk production costs, meaning that all $5,500 could go to the production itself.  The second stretch goal ($7,000) will fund both a new late TNG/DS9 era uniform for actor Jim Von Dolteren (of a quality to match the others) as well as a special behind-the-scenes bonus video with interviews, bloopers, and “making of” features.

Even though Indiegogo offers the “In Demand” status for any campaign that exceeds its goal (meaning, you can continue raising money even after your campaign “ends”), sh0w-runner and Hobbit ring-bearer (to bring them all, get it?) SAMUEL COCKINGS has decided that he’s now got enough to make this happen.  So the campaign is now officially closed.

As you might remember, Samuel was contacted by a concerned CBS when they saw the trailer to his other upcoming Trek fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY.  And even though discussions with CBS were cordial, and Samuel reached an agreement when Temporal Anomaly could be released with some changes and is now allowed to exceed the 30-minute runtime limit, Samuel prefers not to poke the bear when it comes to the Trek copyright holders.  He set out to raise $5,500.  He did so, got a little extra to improve the finished project, and now he doesn’t need to keep taking in more money.

On the final day of the campaign, Samuel released a sneak-peek “test scene teaser” showing what Convergence will look like when finished.  Well…kinda.  Y’see, it’s a TEST scene, and it still needs quite a bit of work.  Samuel says it’s got the wrong LCARS, it’s missing a Master Systems Display, a dedication plaque, and possibly some extra crew members in the background.  The sound and music aren’t finalized yet either.  “It’s a work-in-progress (WIP),” Samuel told me with the enthusiasm of someone tackling a challenging project that he’s really excited about.  And I’m also excited!

And I think, after you watch this sneak-peek video, even though it’s still rough around the edges, you’ll be excited, too…

LAST CHANCE to donate to CONVERGENCE (new “4th wall” video available)!

The Indiegogo campaign for the multi-crossover fan production CONVERGENCE ends in less than two days!  Convergence unites actors and elements from FIVE different fan films and series—Intrepid, Dark Armada, Starship Republic, Renegades, and the soon-t0-be-released Temporal Anomaly—under the direction of fan CGI wunderkind SAMUEL COCKINGS.

The campaign has already met its primary goal of $5,500 and currently sits at $6,040.  But if Samuel can reach $6,400, he’ll be able to afford an improved late-DS9/TNG movie-era uniform…or possibly even something a little more, shall we say, futuristic (since one of the characters will be traveling back from the future).  I’m pretty sure he can make that goal before things close up.

And the campaign will be closing up.  Although reaching a goal on Indiegogo allows a campaign to continue raising funds after the campaign “ends” (it’s called “In Demand” status), Samuel has no intention of doing so.  Since he’s offering a lot of really exciting perks, he doesn’t want CBS to think that he’s trying to turn this project into an online shopping site.  (Right now, Samuel has a good relationship with CBS after making the changes they requested to Temporal Anomaly before releasing it…which is why it’s been delayed.)

So once this campaign is over, it’s over—and the perks will no longer be available.  If you want any of ’em, donate NOW!

There are also currently some exciting stretch goals.  At $7,000 (certainly within reach!) fans will get to see special behind-the-scenes features: bloopers, interviews, making-of documentary, etc.  $8,000 will see the addition of a NEW SCENE in the corridor (which requires a new virtual CGI “set” be created), available as a special direct-to-donors extended cut.  $9,000 funds a second exclusive NEW SCENE, this one in Engineering.  And $10,000 will allow Samuel to create a new shuttle design rather than using the existing Type 11 shuttlecraft we’ve all seen before.

So take those credit cards out of your wallets (assuming you’re so inclined!), and let’s try to give our Trekyards buddy a donation boost as far as we can:

Click here to donate to Convergence.

And here’s a fun little video with NICK COOK and ROBIN HIERT that knocks on that fourth wall a little while showing the quality that can be expected once this ambitious cross-over fan production is completed…

CONVERGENCE releases one of the BEST crowd-funding videos I’ve ever seen!

With less than seven days to go, and within striking distance of his goal, Trekyards co-host and treknology trexpert SAMUEL COCKINGS is filling his final week of his Indiegogo campaign for CONVERGENCE with new videos.  Currently at $4,755 as I type this, they’re just $845 (14%) away from their goal of $5,500…although Samuel would love to reach $6,000 to cover Indiegogo fees and perk costs.  And if he reaches $7,000, he’ll release bonus behind-the-scenes content.  (There’s also other stretch goals beyond that.)

Samuel has saved the best videos for last.  Already, there was a fun interview on Wednesday with NICK COOK, who will be reprising his role of Captain Daniel Hunter of the fan series Star Trek: Intrepid.  And on Friday, Samuel posted another interview with actor CHRIS BURDETT from the upcoming fan film Temporal Anomaly.  Both of these gentlemen will be starring in Convergence.

While both of those interviews were very well-produced (good lighting, good sound, interesting questions and answers) and are certainly worth viewing if you’re a fan of fan films, it was the video Samuel released this morning that blew me away.

This 3-minute vignette is now my second favorite crowd-funding “ask” video ever.  Why is it my second favorite?  Well, nothing will likely ever surpass this video (and the four that came after it) from Star Trek Continues‘ “Kirkstarter 2.0.”  But the reason this Convergence video gets the secondprise (get it?), is because it has so much fun while asking folks to donate.

Begging for money is never easy, and fan films who go the crowd-funding route have taken various approaches from serious to whacky.  Sometimes it’s easy because they have big celebrities or they’ve already filmed or released other work to show what they can do.  But sometimes, you’ve just gotta work with what you have.

And that’s what Samuel did, combining a script for the video with ad-libs and outtakes to produce a very real, creative, sincere, and funny video that just makes me want to throw my money at them!  Take a look, and see if you agree…

For anyone planning a crowd-funder, bookmark this video and the others in Samuel’s series.  And speaking of which, our Mr. Cockings promises another two interviews over the next two days, followed by what he calls a “4th wall-breaking viral video” on Tuesday and the first full teaser with actual footage on Wednesday.  The campaign ends Friday.

To donate, click here.