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…!
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…
Easter came early to STARBASE STUDIOS on a cold day in January. That’s when Emmy-winning musician and Parkview Elementary School teacher KEVIN CROXTON brought 33 students from his Music Club to shoot a Star Trek fan film.
The previous summer, Kevin had agreed to compose and record music for GLEN WOLFE’s and DAN REYNOLD’s fan production “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” (part of their FEDERATION FILES anthology fan series). In exchange, Kevin was invited to bring his 4th and 5th grade students to the Starbase Studios TOS sets in Marble Falls, Arkansas (about three hours from Parkview Elementary) to spend a day there filming.
The finished product was released a couple of weeks ago and is already up to an impressive 3,200 views. I consider this a MUST SEE Trek fan film not simply because the kids are adorable but because it really is a remarkably well-produced fan film! It’s well-lit with lots of interesting camera angles, the sound levels are perfect, the music is great (the kids even get to sing!), there’s amazing make-up on Spock and the Klingons (plus really nice TOS Klingon uniforms), and all of the children do a spectacular job.
But don’t just take my word for it, have a look…
I reached out to Kevin for an interview, and we had a wonderful chat. Toward the end, he told me that a photographer named BRENDA YELVINGTON had taken hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos, and offered to let me use them for the interview.
Normally, I just do my audio interviews as MP3 files with no visual elements. But this time, I was able to do something a little extra special and turn the interview into a full YouTube video. But before anyone says, “That looked really great, Jonathan, you should do it more often…” it only works when you’ve got hundreds of photos and I have a lot of extra time!
Anyway, now that you’ve watched this wonderful little fan film, please enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at group of kids and adults who made it possible…
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…
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes at STARBASE STUDIOS recently, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But first, you might want to read up on the current situation if you don’t already know about the lawsuit and all of the other drama going on of late.
All right, strap in. Let’s start with this past weekend when a group of 5th and 6th graders from Parkview Elementary School Music Club got a chance to film a music video project on the amazing TOS sets of Starbase Studios, currently located in Marble Falls, Arkansas.
The field trip was set up by their teacher, KEVIN CROXTON, who had composed the music for THE FEDERATION FILES’ second episode Walking Bear, Running Wolflast summer. In exchange, Kevin had asked show-runner GLEN L. WOLFE for the opportunity to bring Kevin’s music students (they’re local) to the sets to film a video project. So this past weekend’s excursion has been planned for nearly 7 months.
And, really, isn’t this what Starbase Studios is all about? Sets by the fans, for the fans…and even attracting a whole new (next!) generation of young fans. So what could possibly be wrong with that?
Just before the start of the new year, the anthology series THE FEDERATION FILES released its third full episode: “Extraction.” Produced by GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS, this episode was written by Glen and features Dan as the captain of the USS Nikita, a dreadnought-class starship. Glen also appears briefly as a shuttlecraft pilot.
But the cast is much more extensive than that. The 12-minute fan film features Romulans, a Starfleet bridge crew, shuttlecraft pilots, and a team of TOS-era MACOs. The episode also features a Starfleet shuttlecraft interior set that took about four weeks to build. The control console, front view ports, and one panel on the the left side were supplied by JAMES CAWLEY and were used previously for one of the episodes of Star Trek: New Voyages, “The Holiest Thing.” Glen and Dan built out the rest or the interior, including the iconic lightbox ceiling, and the electronics were custom made by Glen. The shuttle interior remains standing at Dan’s WARP TV studio in Harrison, Arkansas, available to use in future fan films.
The rest of the episode was filmed both at STARBASE STUDIOS (mostly before the recent controversy) and by a second unit in a rock quarry close to the Harrison studio during a few hours while Romulan make-up was being applied to JIM VON DOLTEREN and ALLYSON MARX back at the studio. In total, about four days were spent filming all the scenes, mainly during July of last year.
Dan reports that he and Glen will soon be choosing one of the remaining ten scripts that Glen has already written to film as their fourth production in The Federation Files anthology series. Now that Glen has moved to Arkansas, Dan expects them to have a lot more time to brainstorm, write, create, and produce new Star Trek. .
How quickly the next episode gets started and produced depends on the resolution of the current lawsuit regarding the Starbase Studios sets. From what I understand, there is some hopeful progress happening in that situation. I’ll report more as soon as I’m cleared to.
Yesterday, we looked at the history of STARBASE STUDIOS from its founding in 2010 to its move from Oklahoma to Arkansas at the beginning of 2017. Things started to get tense and messy by early summer, with DAN REYNOLDS stepping aside, leaving GLEN L. WOLFE wanting to charge fan producers $500/day (plus extra fees) to use the studios TOS sets and resources…while SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS wanted to keep the sets free for use by fans (only requesting a donation to cover the cost of electricity for the day). And as long as CHARLES “BUD” PELSOR, the landlord of the warehouse where the STARBASE STUDIOS sets were being housed in Dogpatch, AR, was providing free rent until the end of 2018, offering use of the sets essentially for free was certainly doable.
Then, in early August, as recounted in this recent blog a large number props and items both freestanding and attached to the sets were removed and taken from the warehouse. It was not a break-in, as there was no indication of forced entry. Later on, when the police were brought in,they spoke with Glen’s attorney who explained that the items taken were the personal property of Glen Wolfe, and if Scott and “Words” wanted to prove otherwise, they would need to do so in civil court. The police then told everyone that they would stay out of the matter until ownership was clearly and legally established.
As you might recall from this recent blog, SCOTT JOHNSON and KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, with the help of VANCE MAJOR, posted a videoshowing many critical pieces of the TOS sets that were removed, 90 days earlier, along with damage done to the remaining set pieces during the removal process. But the question must be asked: was this “theft” and “vandalism” or simply someone reclaiming his personal property? And it is now looking as though that question will end up being answered in an Arkansas courtroom.
There’s a LOT of ground to cover right now, folks, and I’m going to share as much as I’m allowed to while trying to break this whole situation down for you. Ready?