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

Fan-filmed before a live studio audience at STAGE 9 STUDIOS…but not without a little controversy!

An estimated 1,300 fans came to STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA on October 19-21 to visit the amazing TOS sets and meet STAR TREK CONTINUES cast and crew members, including VIC MIGNOGNA, CHRIS DOOHAN, LISA HANSELL, and many others.  (Here’s a complete list.)  Dubbed “Fan Appreciation Weekend,” the event was free of charge and admitted anyone who showed up on Friday from 2-10pm, Saturday from 9am-7pm, and Sunday from 9am-6pm.  That’s 27 hours of open set visit time over a three-day period!

Not just a simple “tour” (like what is offered in Ticonderoga, NY by James Cawley), this event included the opportunity for fans to watch and even participate in the FILMING of episodes for two different fan productions.  Both DREADNOUGHT DOMINION and the upcoming  CONSTAR CHRONICLES shot scenes on the bridge on Friday night and in engineering on Saturday as fans looked on.

Visitors would be escorted in groups through the sets by none other than STC star and show-runner Vic Mignogna, who would discuss the fan filmmaking process, point out certain details of the sets, share a few “secrets” (like how they filmed a scene from a camera angle when a permanent wall was in the way—answer: they put a hidden hole in the wall to film from behind!), and answered questions.  Other groups were escorted by Stage 9 owner RAY TESI, who purchased the sets from Vic last year and decided to make them available to any fan film that wanted to shoot there.  (Listen to Ray’s interview here.)

Vance Major live in front of a studio audience

The groups traveled in cycles through all of the sets—sickbay, auxiliary control, transporter room, captain’s quarters, briefing room, etc.—finally emerging on the bridge and/or engineering to watch rehearsal, set-up, or actual filming during certain scheduled times.  Each group spent about 5-10 minutes with the film crews before moving on and letting in the next bunch.  The fan filmmakers would talk to the audience, answer questions, and in some cases, even offer a few lucky fans the chance to throw on a tunic and be filmed as extras on the bridge or in engineering!  How cool is that???

The event was not without some controversy, though.

Continue reading “Fan-filmed before a live studio audience at STAGE 9 STUDIOS…but not without a little controversy!”

STAGE 9 STUDIOS opens up the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets to fans…FOR FREE! (October 19-21)

For years, if you wanted to see the Kingsland, Georgia sets being used to film the legendary fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES, you needed to either be working on the production itself or else a very special VIP.  But now STC has wrapped filming, and the sets have been purchased by super-fan RAY TESI.  And Ray is opening the Stage 9 Studios sets for the first time ever to the fans to come, look at, take pictures of, and even talk to some of the cast and production crew of STC itself!

The event is happening in a week and a half, and is open to any fan.  No tickets are needed, and admission is FREE!  You can get a behind-the-scenes look at Stage 9 Studios‘ starship sets, walk through the corridors, visit engineering, the transporter room, sickbay, the captain’s quarters, the iconic bridge, and more!

The guests include

  • VIC MIGNOGNA – STC‘s Captain Kirk
  • CHRIS DOOHAN – STC‘s Scotty (and son of actor James Doohan)
  • LISA HANSELL – STC producer and make-up supervisor
  • GINGER HOLLEY – STC costumer and designer
  • SARAI DUENAS – The actress who played Miramanee’s child in STC‘s episode “The White Iris”
  • JOE HALDEMAN – Nebula and Hugo Award-winning author
  • ROBERT MASON – Vietnam War veteran and author of several books including the sci-fi novels “Weapon” and “Solo”
  • KAVITA MAHARAJ – Artist best known for her acrylic medium Spock paintings
  • SAMUEL COCKINGS – “Trekyards” co-host, VFX artist, and fan filmmaker

The studio will be open for three days at the following times:

FRIDAY, OCT 19 – 2:00 PM-7:00 PM
SATURDAY, OCT 20 – 9:00 AM-7:00 PM
SUNDAY, OCT 21 – 9:00 AM-6:00 PM

There will be activities and ample opportunity to take photos…including sitting in the captain’s chair (a must!).  Here’s what’s in store:

  • Fan Film Production Q&A
  • Panel Discussions
  • Workshops
  • Special Effects Makeup Demos
  • Prop and Costume Displays
  • Trek Trivia Game Shows
  • Fan Art Demo
  • Vendor Tables
  • Fan Film Audience Participation
  • Fan Film Mania

Also, the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION will be filming there on Friday afternoon for anyone who wants to watch the magic happen.  (They might even need a few extras!)

Check out all the details at: https://www.stage9studios.com/visit

Stage 9 Studios

is located at:

516 W William Ave
Kingsland, GA  31548
(just minutes off I-95)

STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!

Would you pay $1, $5, $10, or $25/month to keep the lights on for the only full TOS sets to be completely open to the fan film community?  Right now, 11 people are already doing that, giving STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA a combined $100/month (or thereabouts) in guaranteed financial assistance to pay for rent, electricity, and maintenance.

With rent estimated at about $3,000/month, a hundred bucks a month might not seem like much.  But Stage 9 Studio only just recently launched their new Patreon, and owner RAY TESI is currently paying all expenses out of his own pocket from retirement savings.  So donating even as little as a dollar a month will be a welcome help.

For those not familiar with Patreon, it’s similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo in that anyone can set up a campaign, anyone can contribute, and there can be perks.  The difference is that, while the latter two are designed for a one-time contribution, Patreon is set up so that supporters (patrons) donate monthly, a recurring contribution charged to their credit card or transferred from their bank account until the donor says otherwise.  Patreon is designed for ongoing endeavors rather than one-time projects, so it’s perfect for something like Stage 9 Studios where the expenses from rent, utilities, and maintenance are ongoing.

And what happens if the Patreon generates more per month than it costs to “keep the lights on.”  (What a great problem to have, right!?!)  Simple.  Additional funds will be used to improve the studio (like adding air conditioning, perhaps?) and maybe even to build more sets.  As the Patreon page clearly states:

STAGE 9 STUDIOS is NOT a money-making enterprise, but an opportunity to share the passion that millions of STAR TREK fans have for the series!

But that’s not all that’s happening with Stage 9 Studios.  Would YOU like to see these amazing sets in person…for FREE???

Continue reading “STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!”

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION releases the first fan film shot at STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Georgia! (interview with RAY TESI)

Well, that didn’t take very long!

Less than a month after RAY TESI announced that the STAGE 9 STUDIOS Star Trek sets were open for fan filmmakers to shoot on, the long-running fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION released the six-and-a-half minute fan film “Reality Check.”

The TOS-era sets, originally constructed for the fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT and STAR TREK CONTINUES, were purchased by Ray Tesi (show-runner for STARSHIP REPUBLIC) late last year from STC‘s VIC MIGNOGNA.  After checking with CBS Legal and receiving guidance, Ray has opened up the Kingsland. GA sets to any Star Trek fan film project that agrees to follow the fan film guidelines and first submits their script for review and approval.

Although I’ve published a couple of recent interviews with Ray Tesi, things do seem to be moving quite quickly forward with this amazing fan film resource.  So I had yet another brief chat with Ray, mainly curious about how Dreadnought Dominion got their project scheduled and filmed so quickly and how things are progressing with other fan productions at Stage 9.

Please note, I’ll also have an upcoming interview with GARY DAVIS and RANDY WREN of Dreadnought Dominion about “Reality Check” as well as other planned projects.

And speaking of “Reality Check,” before we start our brief interview today with Ray, I invite you to take a look at this unique, tongue-in-cheek fan film that cracks through the “fourth wall” and has some important things about why fans make these films in the first place…

And now, let’s hear what Ray has got to say today (yay!)…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION releases the first fan film shot at STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Georgia! (interview with RAY TESI)”

The former STAR TREK CONTINUES sets are now OPEN for FAN FILMING!

Back in February, the fan film community was ecstatic to hear that RAY TESI of Florida had purchased the TOS sets that had been previously used by the fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES and STARSHIP FARRAGUT.

Prior to that, fans had been very worried since these incredible sets—used for nearly two dozen fan productions—were costing VIC MIGNOGNA a reported $5,000/month in rent to house and maintain.  Nobody wanted the sets tossed into a dumpster, but with a price-tag of $60K per year and no way to monetize them because there’s already a licensed Star Trek Set Tour in upstate New York, it was unrealistically expensive to keep these sets around.

Enter Ray Tesi, who had funded and produced a fan film vignette called STARSHIP REPUBLIC “Serpent of Yesterday“back in 2017.  Ray bought the sets, and will be using his retirement savings to pay the rent (Ray tells the behind-the-scenes story in this audio interview).  Keeping the name STAGE 9 STUDIOS (previously used by Star Trek Continues for the Kingsland, GA facility), Ray has announced his intention to open the sets up to other fan filmmakers in much the same way that STARBASE STUDIOS had been doing since 2011.

There were, however, a couple of big unknowns.  The first was a reaction by JAMES CAWLEY reported on Trekzone Spotlight (at the 18:10 mark) that James was concerned that Ray’s offering the Stage 9 TOS sets for fan use would compete with James’ exclusive set tour license.  The second unknown was how CBS would react.  They are okay with Star Trek fan films as long as they follow the guidelines.  And so far, CBS has been okay with Starbase Studios offering their TOS sets in exchange for fan productions paying only for the electricity they use while shooting there.  But would CBS continue to look the other way for a second studio full of TOS sets?  Ray didn’t want to take a chance, so he contacted CBS directly.

This weekend, Ray has taken a few of the set pieces to MegaCon in Orlando, FL to display publicly and announce that Stage 9 Studios is now open to fan projects.  So what did CBS say?  And what are the logistics for fan films to use these sets going forward?

Time for another Fan Film Factor interview with Ray…!

Continue reading “The former STAR TREK CONTINUES sets are now OPEN for FAN FILMING!”

The story BEHIND THE PURCHASE of the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets! (audio interview with RAY TESI)

Fans gave a sigh of relief in early February when it was announced that the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets in Kingsland, Georgia had been purchased by a fan filmmaker who intended to make the sets available to other fan filmmakers to create their Trek fan productions.  The new owner is a fellow by the name of RAY TESI, and his own fan project was STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which had released the 9-minute Serpent of Yesterday vignette in February of last year.

But I was curious about something: how was Ray affording all this?

Y’see, after releasing his fan film vignette, Ray launched an Indiegogo campaign to try to raise $16,000 to continue the production of his fan series.  That campaign only made it to $2,351, and the project was shelved indefinitely.

Now, I didn’t know whether Ray had purchased the sets from VIC MIGNOGNA of Star Trek Continues or had gotten them for free (turns out Ray bought them).  But I did know that the rent for the warehouse where the sets reside is tens of thousands of dollars per year!

So how is a guy who needed $16,000 in crowd-funding a year ago suddenly able to afford thousands of dollars a month in rent?  Did he win the lottery?  Rob a bank?  Blackmail a rich politician?

It turns out, fortunately(!), that it was none of the above.  In fact, when you hear the actual story behind Ray’s purchase of the STC sets, I think that you—like me—will gain a new respect for Ray Tesi and feel truly inspired and positive about the future of this wonderful fan resource.

Here’s the interview…

Ray Tesi in the center seat surrounded by the cast of Starship Republic

And for anyone wanting to see how awesome these sets are, here’s a walkthrough from a few years ago (before they added Engineering, which makes it all even MORE awesome!)…

STAR TREK CONTINUES transfers OWNERSHIP of their TOS sets!

Ever since STAR TREK CONTINUES released its 11th and final episode last November, fans have been asking, “What will happen to those amazing TOS sets???”  They can’t be turned into a Star Trek set tour because there’s already one of those in upstate New York, and James Cawley’s license with CBS is exclusive.  And despite some fans suggesting the sets just be sold/donated to a museum or to CBS itself, there are use too many set pieces to make relocating them anywhere near practical or cost effective.

The challenge for VIC MIGNOGNA, the showrunner for STC, is that the sets are currently housed in a building in Kingsland, GA that costs about $5,000 a month in rent (according to their 501(c)(3) non-profit filing from 2015).  As much as Vic wants to keep the sets open and intact, $60K per year is a LOT to ask any Trekker to pay to keep those sets open.

Enter: RAY TESI.  Ray will be the new owner of the TOS sets that were used by STC.  Ray is the executive producer behind STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which released its first fan film vignette, the 9-minute “Serpent of Yesterday” almost one full year ago.  I interviewed Ray here on Fan Film Factor when he was trying to generate funds through an Indiegogo campaign to complete their first episode.  The plans were to shoot the scenes on the Starbase Studios sets in Arkansas.  But with the current uncertainty regarding those sets, Ray wasn’t certain he’d be able to rely on Starbase to film his fan project.  Now he’ll film in Georgia instead.

Ray has decided to keep the name STAGE 9 STUDIOS, which is what STC decided to call their facility (named after the location of the original TOS sets on the Paramount lot back in the late 1960s).

Obviously, there’s more news to come on this (including plans to restart Starship Republic later this year).  I’ve requested an interview with Ray, but right now, here’s the press release that was just circulated by Star Trek Continues

Continue reading “STAR TREK CONTINUES transfers OWNERSHIP of their TOS sets!”