In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, we watched how the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT grew from the aborted STARSHIP AJAX fan project, utilizing the 360-degree TOS bridge set at STARBASE STUDIOS in Oklahoma City. The brainchild of local resident MICHAEL L. KING, who would play the main character of Jackson Bishop, Valiant was the first completed fan production to film at Starbase Studios back in late 2013. They released their debut fan film, “LEGACY,” the following summer at SoonerCon 2014. Then in 2015, they released a special edition of “Legacy” with a freshly-added scene that introduced new characters on screen that hadn’t been seen in the original version, including VANCE MAJOR as Chief Engineer Erick Minard and DAVID COX as Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roger Floyd.
The StarshipValiant team headed into 2016 with plans to produce a much more ambitious second project, a 90-minute fan film titled “THE TIES THAT BIND,” and they were able to shoot the first ten minutes during the summer of that year. (You can view that segment here.) But just as they were filming those scenes, CBS announced new fan film guidelines that effectively killed any possibility for a single episode longer than 30 minutes. For a few months, plans for further work on “Ties” were put on hold.
However, at the same time, Vance Major decided to expand upon his character of Erick Minard in a new series of fan films, and some of these projects also featured Michael King as Captain Bishop. This included MINARD, THE VALHALLA STONE, a new fan series called MELBOURNE: “Storm Front”, and a crossover with fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION called CHAIN OF COMMAND. Each of those included footage shot at Starbase Studios in 2016 and were released in either 2016 or 2017.
In the meantime, Michael made a decision to move forward with Starship Valiant and continue filming “The Ties that Bind.” But because director BRADY FOSTER had picked up some professional production work outside of the country, shooting had to be scheduled for after he returned in November. But that wasn’t much of a problem—the Starbase Studios sets weren’t going anywhere.
In Part 1 and Part 2, we saw the birth of the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT, the brainchild of MICHAEL L. KING from Oklahoma. Utilizing the bridge set rescued from STARSHIP EXETER that was restored and expanded at STARBASE STUDIOS in Oklahoma City, the first episode of StarshipValiant, “Legacy,” began filming in late 2013 and debuted the following June at SoonerCon.
In 2015, Michael, with the help of Valiant director BRADY FOSTER, filmed a brand new scene that was shot on the just-completed sickbay set constructed at Starbase Studios for use by their “sister” fan series, STARSHIP GRISSOM. The 3-minute scene featured, for the first time on camera, VANCE MAJOR as Chief Engineer Erick Minard. It also showed the death of Captain Jeffrey Clark, an event that leads directly into the rest of the episode. The “Legacy – Special Edition” debuted at SoonerCon 2015 and was posted to Facebook shortly thereafter.
Michael sums up the Valiant pilot episode like this: “‘Legacy‘ has always been about the consequences of one’s actions. The story is a cautionary tale that tells us that, for every action we make, there is a reaction, either good or bad. It tells us that, sure, we are going to make mistakes and feel badly about them but to stick to our guns and fix them. It tells us that it’s okay to cry for the ones that we love and that those people’s actions are a result of how we have decided to live our lives. Bottom line: we are responsible for those who look up to us for guidance and love, and if we fail them, it’s never too late to make amends or to make it as right as we can.”
The fan series STARSHIP VALIANT has just released its latest episode, “Animals,” a fan film that got its start a little over three years ago in 2017. But the story of Starship Valiant goes back farther than that and starts with a fellow named MICHAEL L. KING. Michael is considered my many fan filmmakers to be one of the nicest people in our entire community. He’s positive, polite, doesn’t get angry or hold grudges, and he’s always willing to help out other productions. He loves Star Trek fan films and supports all of the many people who make them.
But before we get into Michael and the history of Starship Valiant, let’s take a look at his team’s most recent fan production…
A fellow by the name of JOHN HUGHES had found the Exeter‘s bridge set in 2009, decaying in a Texas barn for five years since they’d shot their second episode “The Tressaurian Intersection” in 2004. John’s intention was to restore the bridge (and build other TOS sets), to use in the creation of his own Star Trek fan series, STARSHIP AJAX. By 2013, with RICHARD WELLS and SCOTT JOHNSON leading the construction team, the bridge set was now ready to film on. And so John set himself the task of looking for volunteers to be a part of the new production.
In Part 1, we met MICHAEL L. KING from Oklahoma, considered by many to be one of the nicest, most agreeable and helpful folks in the fan filmmaking community. Back in 2013, Michael got involved with a group of local fans planning to launch a new fan series called STARSHIP AJAX to be filmed at STARBASE STUDIOS. The folks who ran the facility, originally located in Oklahoma City, had moved the deteriorating remnants of the TOS bridge set that had been used for the second episode of STARSHIP EXETER and then worked to restore and expand them into Trek fandom’s first and only 360-degree TOS bridge set.
Sadly, the Ajax team never really got themselves going, but Michael—who had initially signed up as a volunteer on that project—was able to launch a fan series of his own called STARSHIP VALIANT. His intention was to focus Valiant‘s stories more on the characters than the action. And although the initial script that Michael wrote, “LEGACY,” began with a space battle, the fight quickly ends, leaving the rest of the episode to focus on the aftermath and how some of the main characters try to deal with it.
Joined by director and editor BRADY FOSTER, Michael and his team were able to film “Legacy” in late 2013 and complete the project by the summer of 2014, where it debuted at the central Oklahoma SoonerCon convention before being posted to YouTube just afterwards. This is what was released…
The new fan series was warmly welcomed into the Star Trek fan film community, and the following year in 2015, Michael was contacted by SoonerCon organizer AISLINN BURROWS asking if he’d like to show “Legacy” again during the convention at the end of June. Michael was more than happy to accept the invitation, but then he had a thought. In the almost-year since “Legacy” had debuted, it had gotten many YouTube views, and fans were pretty familiar with it. But imagine their surprise if the version they saw at the convention included brand new footage!
And so it ends…not with a bang but with an auction.
A decade ago, the amazing 360-degree bridge set constructed back in 2004 for the second episode of Starship Exeter was found decaying in a Texas barn. Moved to Oklahoma City, the bridge set was rebuilt and refurbished and made available for free (plus the cost of electricity) to a parade of fan films:
Yorktown: A Time to Heal (still in post-production)
The Red Shirt Diaries
The Minard Saga (multiple episodes)
The Federation Files’ “His Name Is Mudd” and “Walking Bear, Running Wolf”
Adventures of the USS Parkview: “The Bunny Incident”
Some of these were filmed in Oklahoma at what was dubbed STARBASE STUDIOS and utilized additional sets that were constructed, like sickbay, the trasnporter room, and the briefing room. Other fan films were shot after the sets were moved to neighboring Arkansas when Starbase Studios lost their free rent deal in OKC.
But the move to Arkansas became problematic as ownership shifted around, frictions developed among owners, and even a lawsuit was filed. (If you want to learn more, just type “Starbase Studios” into my search bar on the upper right and climb down the blog reader’s rabbit hole.)
However, as time went on, time was also running out. The sets had been moved to a run-down former amusement park called Dogpatch in Marble Falls, AR. But that location was only available until this past December 31, 2018. After that, the sets had to either be removed and relocated or considered abandoned property.
Unfortunately, owners Glen Wolfe, Scott Johnson, and Glenn Miller couldn’t agree pretty much on anything…including where and how to move the sets. Eventually, time ran out. The owner of Dogpatch, Charles “Bud” Pelsor, and his partner decided to sell out and move away, leaving Dogpatch to its prior owner, who did not want a bunch of aging Star Trek sets cluttering up his properly. So this past weekend, “Bud” held an auction…
Well, this isn’t the happy ending I was hoping to write. It almost was, but then things turned disappointing in a very short amount of time.
Okay, let me first give bring everyone up to date on the story so far. The TOS sets that were formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS have been sitting in a building in Marble Falls, Arkansas since early 2017. The building is part of an abandoned and dilapidated former theme park known as Dogpatch, which is owned by Charles “Bud” Pelsor.
Ownership of the TOS sets—which included a full 360-degree bridge originally constructed in 2004 for a fan film called Starship Exeter “The Tressaurian Intersection,” a partial sickbay, a transporter room, a briefing room, and corridors—was, until recently, divided among GLEN L. WOLFE (50%), SCOTT JOHNSON (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%). Unfortunately, the three owners weren’t typically (if ever) on the same page, and frictions quickly developed and escalated.
“Bud” Pelsor had apparently offered to house the sets until the end of 2018, after which ownership of the Dogpatch property was to transfer to Heritage USA, and the sets would need to be relocated. But where would they go? Who has space for a full bridge, sickbay, transporter, and briefing room?
Earlier this past week, an answer seemed to have miraculously presented itself—with a solution worthy of King Solomon himself…
It was quiet…too quiet. At least, that’s the way it’s seemed lately when it came to STARBASE STUDIOS in Arkansas…an amazing fan film resource of TOS sets including the Trek community’s only 360-degree USS Enterprise bridge. Since 2011, Starbase Studios has been used to shoot scenes for literally dozens of various Star Trek fan projects.
Starbase Studios has had a rather turbulent nine months, beginning last August when a significant number of props and set pieces were removed from the warehouse where the sets were being stored. This was followed by a lawsuit where one of the owners, GLEN WOLFE, sued the other owners, SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, for ownership and monetary compensation. Fan filming there all but screeched to a halt for several months while both sides tried to negotiate a compromise.
With some outside assistance, a settlement agreement was signed earlier this year, and the sets are now owned by Glen Wolfe (50%), Scott Johnson (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%)…although many of the items removed have not yet been returned. With the exception of a one-day video shoot with Parkview Elementary School students this past January (which had been reserved six months earlier), no filming has happened on the Starbase Studios sets since the new year began.
That changed this past weekend when a “who’s who” of Starbase Studios personnel got together in Marble Falls, Arkansas for a very special video shoot. Among the participants were Glen Wolfe and Scott Johnson, seeing each other in person for only the second time since the lawsuit was settled. Would they find a way to get along? Would that old feeling of camaraderie from fan filming Star Trek rekindle their friendship? Or had things been pushed too far for healing to happen?
Needless to say, I was dying to find out! And fortunately, Kent “Words” Edwards, who organized the weekend production, was nice enough to call me from the road and do a quick audio interview.
So let’s check in on Starbase Studios and see what’s up and what went down this past weekend…
Sometimes no good deed goes unpunished. When last I reported on STARBASE STUDIOS, things looked like they would finally work out. An agreement that had been in negotiation for three arduous months had finally been agreed to and signed by all parties. The Starbase Studios lawsuit filed by Glen Wolfe was dropped, and it seemed like things could return to normal.
The new owners of the sets would be GLEN WOLFE (50%), SCOTT JOHNSON (25%), and GLENN MILLER (25%). KENT EDWARDS would no longer own any part of the sets but would continue to be involved with Starbase Studios, LLC, and working with fan filmmakers.
Although the sets would remain in their current location in Marble Falls, Arkansas until the end of this year, after that, plans were that they would be moved into a fantastic new building with heat, A/C, electrical, and best of all, bathrooms! Free rent would be provided by the building’s owners, Glen Wolfe and his wife, and fan productions going through Starbase Studios would be able to continue using the sets essentially for free. It was looking like Starbase Studios had gotten through the rough waters and emerged safely on the other side of the river.
Yeah, well, don’t get out of the boat just yet, folks…
When last we left STARBASE STUDIOS…aw heck, just read the blog, folks! But long story short, VANCE MAJOR and I had worked tirelessly (and I mean that) for months trying everything we could to get these two parties—GLEN L. WOLFE on one side and SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS on the other—to compromise and reach a place where they could reasonably settle their lawsuit over the ownership of the Starbase Studios sets.
It was like pulling teeth…from a Klingon targ!
Every time we thought we had a settlement ready to sign, another problem seemed to crop up. But then, by the middle of January, we finally had an agreement that everyone could live with. Glen was taking it to his lawyer to review, but he was planning to sign it, send it along to Scott and Kent, and finally Starbase Studios could heal and move forward, once again becoming a place where fans could create amateur Star Trek film projects on professional-looking TOS sets.
That agreement was never signed.
So why the headline saying that a settlement has finally been reached? Well, folks, it’s been an…interesting…three weeks!
Read Part 1 of this blog entry if you haven’t already. Did you do it? Good.
So it was now a few weeks before Christmas, and VANCE MAJOR was ready to tag out and I was ready to tag in to try to get this compromise settlement for STARBASE STUDIOS to the finish line. Vance was exhausted, but he got the runners 90% of the way there. Just a few teensy details left to work out…or so I thought.
Keep in mind, neither Vance nor I is a lawyer. Instead, we were just trying, as friends, to help SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT EDWARDS work out a way where GLEN L. WOLFE would drop his lawsuit against them, and Starbase Studios could continue without fan filmmakers having to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to use the Starbase Studios TOS sets.
By the time I tagged in, there was a full legal settlement agreement already written up by Glen’s lawyer, ready for Scott and Kent to sign. But they still had some issues with it. One of the biggest was that Scott decided that he didn’t want Glen to own 100% of the Starbase sets. But he was willing to split them 50/50. Would Glen agree? Scott didn’t think so. And frankly, neither did Vance.
“Look,” I said to Vance, “Maybe he’ll say no, and we’ll be back to square one. But if Glen says yes, then we’re there! It’s worth it to at least ask him.”
Vance agreed to make the call. Five minutes later, I had Glen’s answer…