The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 4)

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 Starship Valiant 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.

Or were they…?

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The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 3)

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 Starship Valiant, “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.”

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The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 2)

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!

Continue reading “The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 2)”

The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 1)

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…

And now, let’s travel backward in time a bit. Michael had loved watching Star Trek fan films, being particularly impressed with the quality of productions like STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and STARSHIP EXETER, both of which featured TOS set recreations. In fact, the amazing bridge set from Exeter had managed to find its way from Austin, TX to Michael’s backyard of Oklahoma City (read the entire story of the birth of STARBASE STUDIOS here).

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.

A photo from March of 2013 of what would have been the cast and crew of Starship Ajax. John Hughes is second-from-the-right wearing a black jacket. Michael L. King is standing behind the command chair wearing a blue tunic.

This is where Michael enters the story…

Continue reading “The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 1)”

Screen-used props and costumes from STARSHIP EXETER go up on EBAY!

What I like to call “The Modern Age of Star Trek fan films” was ushered in by three fan series: STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER, STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES, and STARSHIP EXETER. Hidden Frontier was the first fan series to become truly prolific, with multiple episodes in multiple seasons and numerous recurring characters and ongoing plot lines that allowed for very different stories in each unique episode. New Voyages, of course, was the first Trek fan series to build sets of such high quality that they were virtually identical to the sets used on TOS in the 1960s.

And then there was Starship Exeter. Filmed way back in 1997, the completed first episode, “The Savage Empire” (you can read all about it here) wasn’t released until 2002, which was still two years before New Voyages debuted in 2004. But 2004 was also the year the Exeter began filming its second full episode, “The Tressaurian Intersection” (you can read all about it here). This episode pulled out all the stops—including fandom’s first-ever 360-degree TOS bridge set (New Voyages‘ set was only a partial 180-degrees). Six years later, that bridge set would be moved from Austin, TX to Oklahoma City and become STARBASE STUDIOS.

Exeter‘s 52-minute long second episode was released in parts—the trailer first and then acts 1 through 4 as they became ready—the final act being released in 2014…ten years after the scenes were shot and nine years after the release of the teaser! But it was worth the wait, as “The Tressaurian Intersection” remains one of the few fan films rated “MUST SEE+” on my Fan Film Factor LIST OF FAN FILMS.

Now the entire collection of screen used props, costumes, models, wigs, fabrics, set dressing, and materials from the production—more than a hundred different items!—are up for auction on eBay. They are being sold only as a single lot with a buy-it-now price of $3,499.99 (or best offer) plus $250 shipping via FedEx or UPS. Here’s the link to the eBay auction page:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/143757316053?fbclid=IwAR19oa-UCK-XESo7GRkb_FUUmFJBVogFg_0l544kbefm0vztB5Rjdw9-mxM

The proceeds will be used, according to this webpage, to finance the production and shipping of DVD copies of their documentary film STARSHIP EXETER: Behind The Scenes, by JOEL SARCHET. These DVDs were promised as a perk to numerous small donors who helped to crowd-fund Exeter half a decade before Kickstarter or Indiegogo even existed! So for anyone complaining that it took ALEC PETERS way too long to fulfill the perks for AXANAR, the Exeter donors have been waiting more than a decade and a half!!! However, credit where credit is due for remembering their promise after all this time and trying to make good on fulfilling that promise.

Below are photos of all of the merchandise available, all part of fan film history. There are some VERY nice hand-made props in the batch—certainly worth the money for other productions out there doing TOS fan films. Take a look (and click to enlarge)…

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YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 5)

In Part Part 2Part 3, and Part 4, we got to know STAN WOO and JOHN ATKIN. Back in 1985, Los Angeles-based Stan convinced GEORGE TAKEI and JAMES SHIGETA to play Hikaru Sulu and Admiral Nogura, respectively, in a low-budget fan film titled YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL. Although much of the film was shot between 1985 and 1987, it remained unfinished even in 2010 when Canadian Trek fan John offered to help Stan finally complete the film.

Along with help from Hollywood writer PAUL McCUDDEN, Stan and John expanded the short 15-minute script to bring in new characters in new locations. The first original footage for Yorktown since the 1980s was shot in 2011 and 2012, as two different scenes featuring Klingons were filmed with lines spoken entirely in the Klingon language.

In the meantime, VFX artist ROLAND BARON created CGI models of the U.S.S. Yorktown, a Klingon K-fighter, and the terrorist vessel Nagaer based on sketches from ANDREW PROBERT, who designed the refit Enterprise NCC-1701 from Star Trek: The Motion Picture as well as and the Enterprise-D. A short trailer spotlighted Roland’s amazing work…

MORE SHOOTS…LOTS OF ‘EM!

The year 2012 ended with two major shoots that took place at Capilano College, based in North Vancouver, British Columbia. The first shoot was filmed in November in front of a green screen and featured CHARLES EDWARD BAE (who had provided the Klingon translations) as the Klingon Colonel Qumeq, publicly lambasting the evils of the Federation to an audience over a newsfeed.

Charles Edward Bae in full Klingon make-up and garb

The second shoot happened at the same location in December but was not simply another green screen. John elaborates, “IAN GUSTAFSON had access to an amazing set at Capilano College. The set was one that had been used on a small independent sci-fi movie, but Ian and Charles modified it so much that it is just about unrecognizable to its original form. The set was transformed into ‘Deck 19, Section 6’ of the U.S.S. Yorktown.”

This was for a new sequence set before the refit, showing the terrorist attack and the death of Jeffrey Pond’s fiancée Lt. Katherine Baetz, played by ZLATINA PACHEVA. This opening sequence will be the only footage in Yorktown to feature the classic TOS-style Starfleet tunics, which were purchased from Anovos and then adorned with Yorktown patches (custom-designed and manufactured by STAR TREK: SECRET VOYAGE fan film costumer JOE KEREZMAN).

George Kayaian (right) on his set for Starship Antyllus, doubling as the Yorktown Hangar Bay control room.

A final piece of the opening segment was supplied the following April in 2013 by none other than GEORGE KAYAIAN, who had begun shooting his own new fan series in New York called STAR TREK: ANTYLLUS. “I had seen some of George Kayaian’s earlier fan film work on YouTube,” John explains, “and I had seen pictures of his small bridge set that he was building on Facebook. I thought that it would be perfect for our Hangar Bay scene and asked if we could use it in the film, and if he would be interested in playing an officer in that scene.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Continue reading “YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL (starring GEORGE TAKEI as Sulu) – the 35-year trek… (Part 5)”

The Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS have just been AUCTIONED!

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:

  • Starship Valiant
  • Starship Republic
  • Dreadnought Dominion
  • Melbourne
  • Starship Grissom
  • Yorktown: A Time to Heal (still in post-production)
  • The Red Shirt Diaries
  • The Minard Saga (multiple episodes)
  • Project Defiant
  • 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…

Continue reading “The Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS have just been AUCTIONED!”

The FINAL FATE (?) of the Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS!

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…

Continue reading “The FINAL FATE (?) of the Arkansas TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS!”

THE FEDERATION FILES releases its 4th fan film: “GALAXY HOPPER” (interview with DAN REYNOLDS)

THE FEDERATION FILES is an anthology Star Trek fan series from show-runners GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS, both currently based in Arkansas. In fact, Glen is 50% owner of what remains of the TOS sets formerly known as STARBASE STUDIOS. But more recently, Glen and Dan constructed a new TOS bridge set for use in their latest Federation Files fan film, “Galaxy Hopper.”

The Federation Files first launched in October of 2016 with the 47-minute “His Name Is Mudd” featuring the crew of the USS Constitution.  Ten months later, their second anthology episode, the 28-minute “Walking Bear, Running Wolf,” featured two live-action characters who had previously been seen only in the Star Trek animated series: Ensign Dawson Walking Bear and Lt. M’Ress of the USS Enterprise.  Most recently, in January of 2018, The Federation Files‘ third production,  the 13-minute “Extraction,” featured Romulans, a Starfleet shuttlecraft interior, and the dreadnought-class USS Nikita.

Through it all, the one constant (aside the use of the Arkansas sets for filming) has been the “Wolf/Reynolds Production” logo at the end.  With the release of their latest Federation Files episode, the Star Trek/Star Wars crossover “Galaxy Hopper,” Glen and Dan come together once again for a very exciting and good-looking fan effort on board the USS Lexington. What stands out this time—in addition to a really awesome astromech droid!—is a brand new TOS bridge set constructed specially for this production…along with the director: KELLY REYNOLDS.

You probably haven’t seen the name “Kelly Reynolds” in any other Star Trek fan film before…and that’s because, up until November 24, 2018, that wasn’t her name! Kelly and Dan just got married!

I decided to interview Dan Reynolds about “Galaxy Hopper,” the new bridge set, and finding the love of his life and having her direct his latest fan project. But first, take a look at what they just released…

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES releases its 4th fan film: “GALAXY HOPPER” (interview with DAN REYNOLDS)”

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