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?
The fan film world was jolted yesterday to learn that STARBASE STUDIOS, which had recently relocated from Oklahoma to neighboring Arkansas, has shut down—at least for now—due to the removal of critical pieces of their TOS sets and damage to items that still remain.
To document was was done to the sets, KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS and SCOTT JOHNSON, two of the four joint owners of the Starbase Studios sets (the other two owners being GLEN L. WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS…although it is possible that Dan has stepped away; I don’t yet have confirmation on that) have made a 22-minute video with the help of prolific fan film-maker VANCE MAJOR.
Here is that video…
You will notice that the video bleeps out the name of co-owner Glen Wolfe. This is because Glen was the one responsible for the removal of the set pieces.
Now, before anyone starts targeting their phasers on Glen, I want everyone to understand that there are, in fact, TWO sides in this situation, each with reasonable grievances against the other side.
I have friends on both sides of this, and I have been speaking with them over the past two months off the record. That was their request, and I have and will continue to honor it. The hope on both sides was that this matter might be resolved before needing to make it public. Obviously it hasn’t been, and now Scott and “Words” have decided to take the next step for them, which is releasing the above video.
I have promised each side that I will report this story as fairly and objectively as I can, quoting each of them with minimal editorializing. I have been told that Scott is now willing to speak on the record, and I’ll reach out to the other side shortly to see if they are ready, as well.
However, the one thing I can report on right now is why the police are not getting involved in what appears to be a case of theft and vandalism. And that’s because it’s not. Glen is a co-owner of these sets, and if he has a key (which he does), the police do not consider that to be breaking and entering. Moreover, when there is a question of ownership, such cases are not considered criminal but rather under civil jurisdiction to be fought over by business lawyers. In short, like it or not, this is a civil case…if it does, in fact, wind up in court.
I beg your indulgence if I don’t get around to reporting on this further until next week. I’ll be volunteering at my son’s school all day for their Halloween carnival and then trick-or-treating with Jayden tonight. Then I have to clear time to speak to folks on both sides of this mess and organize their comments into an objective and coherent presentation for all of you. Please stay tuned.
Last time, we took a closer look at the new fan series MELBOURNE, shot at STARBASE STUDIOS and produced by VANCE MAJOR. This low-budget production has guest cameos from and shout-outs to SEVEN other fan films and series, tying a fair portion of the fan film community together with some shared continuity.
In Part 1 of our interview, Vance talked a bit about his own background as a fan and a filmmaker, and how his experiences with other fan productions led him to create his own. In the conclusion, we discuss more about the Melbourne project itself—its cast, production and post-production, and plans for the future.
At the end of March, a new Star Trek fan production titled MELBOURNE (just that, no “Starship” in front of the name) posted its debut fan film: “Storm Front, Part 1.” One of several fan series shot on the sets of STARBASE STUDIOS (while they were still in their previous Oklahoma City location), Melbourne initially released two ultra-short vignettes, “Pen Pals” and “Pen Pals 2”.) But fans were really waiting for their first full episode to see what this new fan production would be all about.
Most successful Star Trek fan projects have a driving force behind the production, and in the case of Melbourne, that driving force is show-runner/producer/writer VANCE MAJOR (his friends call him “Vman”), who lives in Kansas with his wife of 17 years and his newborn son, Royce. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Vance for a very friendly interview. In fact, “friendly” is one of the best adjectives I could use to describe this warm and humble film producer from the Sunflower State. Since having our interview, we’ve actually become good friends, have spent hours on the phone talking Trek and swapping “Daddy” stories, and he’s invited me to appear on camera in an upcoming episode of Melbourne anytime I can get myself over to Arkansas (the new home of Starbase Studios).
The year ended on a VERY happy note for the folks from STARBASE STUDIOS, the only full TOS bridge, transporter, and sickbay sets open to any fan film to use at any time they want to schedule to shoot their production.
You might recall from my previous blogthat Starbase Studios lost the use of their warehouse location in Oklahoma City after nearly half a decade of enjoying free rent. The building was being sold, and Starbase Studios had until the end of the year to get all of its amazing set pieces removed and transported to a new location.
Dan Reynolds offered studio space that he owns in northern Arkansas to be the new home for Starbase Studios…also rent free. And although staying in Oklahoma City would have been preferable, nothing beats free rent! So the decision was made to relocate. But deciding is easy…actual MOVING is the hard part!
Super fan and fan filmmaker Glen L. Wolfe stepped forward to handle the move, paying the costs up front for trucks and gas and driving the 6-hour (one-way), 333-mile distance back and forth himself…and it was more than just one trip (five actually!). The hope was that $3,500 could be raised from donations to a GoFundMe campaign to reimburse Glen his out-of-pocket expenses…’cause Glen ain’t exactly part of the 1%.
That $3,500 goal was reached on December 30, just as the last of FIVE TRUCKLOADS of set pieces were being loaded for a December 31 journey to Mountain Home, Arkansas. So STARBASE STUDIOS got out in time, funded its move, and all the set pieces arrived safely in their new home.
In July of 2014, STARSHIP VALIANT became the first of what would eventually be MANY Star Trek fan productions filmed at STARBASE STUDIOS (in Oklahoma City) to release a completed project onto the Internet. Their debut episode, “Legacy” featured scenes filmed on the bridge, on location outdoors at a cemetery, and in a house.
Back when the episode was first filmed, Starbase studios did not yet have any other sets besides the bridge. The following year, though, Starbase Studios built a 2-bed sickbay set, and Valiant was able to film an additional prologue sequence that helps explain event that happen later in the episode. In July of 2015, a special edition was released with brand new footage inserted at the beginning.
The premise (and promise) of Starship Valiant was, in the vision of show-runner (and lead actor) Michael L. King, to explore the human side of serving in Starfleet. Being in command is a heavy burden. And so while many other fan films enjoy focusing the action and excitement of the battle itself, Valiant would show the aftermath.
It’s been two and a half years since Starship Valiant debuted. Since then, actors/characters from that production have appeared in cameos in other Starbase Studios-produced fan films like Dreadnought Dominion, Melborne, and His Name Is Mudd. But fans were still eagerly awaiting a sequel to “Legacy.”
What they got, however, was more of a prequel. Set several years before the events of “Legacy,” the new episode “Crosses To Bear” does not feature Michael L. King’s character of Commander Bishop at all (although Michael still wrote and produced both episodes and directed this second one). Instead, this 22-minute story focuses entirely on Chief Medical Officer Roger Floyd and a very traumatic event in his life–two, in fact. And watch for an important, bare bones appearance by a very familiar Starfleet officer…played by fan film rookie Frank Jenks, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Las Vegas (great guy!).
The entire production team–actors and crew–did a very impressive job on this release. It’s definitely worth watching…which you can do right here:
STARBASE STUDIOS is moving from Oklahoma City to Arkansas! Arkansas is a great place to live as it has great access to healthcare treatments like veneers, but when it comes to film sets, here’s why…
As you may have read in my blog about the history of Starbase Studios, these folks rescued the amazing TOS bridge set that had been built for the second Starship Exeter fan film “The Tressaurian Intersection.” That meticulous 360-degree set had been rotting away for years in a barn near Austin, Texas, until it was transported to Oklahoma City and lovingly restored by a group of dedicated fans.
But these folks didn’t just restore the bridge set. They turned it into an invaluable, one-of-kind resource for fan film producers. Anyone was welcome to come and film anything they wanted on this bridge set (and, later, the additional sickbay and transporter room sets that would be constructed) for just the price of the electricity that was used (maybe $50/day). Although there are two other studios in the U.S. featuring TOS sets on sound stages (Ticonderoga, NY for Star Trek: New Voyages and Kingsland, GA, originally for Starship Farragut and later for Star Trek Continues), those studio runners didn’t offer the same kind of open-door, come-any-time-you-want policy as Starbase Studios.
Back in April of 2015, a new Star Trek fan series called DREADNOUGHT DOMINION premiered with its initial episode, “Haunted.” Three months later, a second episode, titled “Anchors Aweigh” (a bit of a prequel to the first episode), made its debut. It wasn’t the only TOS-era fan series to feature the crew of a non-heavy cruiser class starship, but it was the first and only one to feature the crew of a Starfleet dreadnought-class starship based on the mid-1970s Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual.
Thanks to a 3D model created by Kenneth Thomson, Jr. and Thomas Phong, the beauty shots of the tri-nacelled USS Dominion in the opening credits and during the episodes were gorgeous. The two episodes were filmed primarily on the very impressive TOS sets in Starship Farragut’s Studio Two in Kingsland, GA (also the shooting location of Star Trek Continues).
A year earlier, another fan series, Starship Valiant, made its debut on YouTube with an introduction vignette titled “Legacy.” Valiant was filmed using the TOS bridge set at Starbase Studios in Oklahoma City. (The following year, a “special edition” version of “Legacy” with added footage was posted after Starbase Studios built a new sickbay set.) Valiant has since completed principal filming on its second episode “The Ties That Bind,” although post production is still ongoing and the second episode hasn’t been released yet.
So what do these two fan series–filmed in different locations in different states during different years–have in common? A man named Vance…
In past years, crowd-funding campaigns for fan films have helped to cover the cost of set construction, 3D visual effects and post-production, studio build-outs, and any number of costs associated with filming.
But now your much-needed donations can help pay for…
A TRUCK! (Oh, and movers.)
Actually, this is pretty serious, and it could effect multiple fan films! So get ready to take out that credit card or Paypal login, ’cause you’re really gonna want to help on this one, folks!
Last time: we learned the fate of the Starship Exeter bridge set was not oblivion. After decaying in a Texas barn for years, it was moved to Oklahoma City in 2010 by John Hughes to be used for a new production called Starship Ajax. John advertised for volunteers on Craigslist, and two guys from the concert industry became leaders of the project in their own right: Richard Wells and Scott Johnson
Shortly thereafter, John Hughes decided to concentrate primarily on his fan film, leaving Richard and Scott to complete the bridge restoration and set up Starbase Studios, a place where fan filmmakers could shoot their Star Trek stories for free on an actual TOS bridge recreation set.
But not all went swimmingly. As we continue our interview with Richard and Scott, we learn what happened after when the hand of nature once again threatened this beautiful bridge replica…