An unexpected obstacle (or two) that wasn’t a death sentence for STARSHIP CALIBORN’s latest release: “DEATH SENTENCE”…

The creation of a fan film (like the creation of any creative work) can often involve the unexpected. And in those cases, the persons doing the creating often have to adapt, adjust, and put in extra efforts that they hadn’t previously planned for. Otherwise, the unexpected can become a death sentence for a project like a Star Trek fan film. And indeed, the mark of a good creative team is how they tackle those unexpected challenges and still complete their production.

And that’s what happened with the second release from the STARSHIP CALIBORN creative group: “DEATH SENTENCE.” One of many teams producing fan films for POTEMKIN PICTURES at the moment, the majority of those involved with Caliborn are based in the Lexington, Kentucky area near showrunner RANDY LANDERS. Usually, Randy also takes an active role in either writing and/or directing Potemkin Pictures releases. But this time, his efforts were limited to film editing and playing a (comic) relief helmsman on the Caliborn named Peter Reigert, a recurring and somewhat incompetent officer who keeps getting booted off various ships.

“Death Sentence” was directed by ROBIN KUNKEL, who joined Potemkin Pictures recently and was listed as a producer on Caliborn‘s first release “WAR TARG” earlier this year. The writers were HOMER EVERSOLE and his brother DAVID EVERSOLE, both of whom had separately started writing Potemkin Pictures episodes back in 2016. In fact, David penned “The Night the Stars Fell from the Sky,” the most-watched of any Potemkin fan film with 155K views.

“Death Sentence” was the brothers’ first collaboration, originally intended to be an episode of STARSHIP WEBSTER, the other Starfleet-based creative group located in Lexington. However, when COVID hit and the Webster folks suspended production until the pandemic eased up, the Eversoles adjusted their script for Caliborn instead. Tragically, Homer passed away a year ago at the too-young age of 56, before seeing his final fan film completed. This is how it turned out…

But while losing one of the writers was certainly a blow, that wasn’t the unexpected obstacle(s) that needed to be dealt with. Let me tell you what was…

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What’s in “BOTTLES OF ALE” from STARSHIP WEBSTER?

STARSHIP WEBSTER launched back in October of 2020 shortly after showrunner RANDY LANDERS and his wife moved from Birmingham, Alabama to Lexington, Kentucky the previous year and assembled the eighth creative group from POTEMKIN PICTURES. Since then, the Webster crew has been on a tear, completing EIGHT fan films in less than two years!

Their latest release, “BOTTLES OF ALE,” made its debut in mid-July and featured a lot more than meets the eye. Randy gave me some interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits about this production. But before I tell you about all of the things you might not notice, take a look at the finished fan film…

Potemkin Pictures has always presented a wide variety of story genres: action and suspense, quiet and contemplative, sad and tragic, mysterious, etc. This episode was obviously intended primarily to be a comedy. The writer, LIZ KNAUEL, has penned a number of Potemkin scripts over the years, but what few people know is that Liz used to write for Randy Landers’ fanzine group, Orion Press, a full decade ago. So their collaboration goes back a long way!

A Bottle of Ale” features three actors who might look familiar to viewers of Potemkin’s most recent releases: BILLY SWANSON (who plays the lead Romulan “Crocutus”), MAT ACRA (who plays “Rifkin” in the red jumpsuit), and CLINTON RIDDLE (who plays the “Adjutant” in blue). All three are local to the Lexington, KY area and have collectively appeared in more Potemkin fan films as more different characters than all of the other local actors combined! Part of the reason for their being able to do this is because three different Lexington creative groups are currently producing films. In addition to Webster, there is also STARSHIP CALIBORN (where Billy Swanson plays Captain Hawkins) and the recently-premiered KLINGON SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH (where Billy played the first officer Commander Kodai).

Mat and Clinton also appeared in the Qab’elth debut. In fact, that was Clinton’s first experience with Potemkin and led to him getting two additional roles, including being cast as the new captain of the U.S.S. Webster. Randy explained what happened…

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One fan film becomes two as Potemkin Pictures’ KLINGON SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH premieres as a crossover with STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Admiral Kirk calls the U.S.S. Excelsior “The Great Experiment.” Well, Excelsior ain’t got nothing on POTEMKIN PICTURES as they launched their newest Creative group, KLINGON SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH, with an intriguing twist!

The debut episode from Qab’Elth was the 12-minuteHONOR BLADE,” featuring an all-Klingon crew on a newly constructed bird-of-prey bridge set built by Potemkin showrunner RANDY LANDERS and assorted yellow minions. Qab’Elth is the tenth fan series (or Creative Group making a series of fan films set on board a specific space vessel) to come out of this production studio (watch all of their many, many releases here), and the third to be based in Randy’s new home of Lexington, Kentucky. The other two are STARSHIP WEBSTER and STARSHIP CALIBORN, the latter having premiered this past June. But on July 23, it was time for Qab’elth, and here it is…

So what was “the great experiment,” then? What was the “twist”? On that exact same day, the latest release from the STARSHIP DEIMOS Creative Group was posted to YouTube. The 19th installment of Deimos, this 25-minute fan film was titled “PRIME DIRECTIVE” and seemed like a pretty typical episode…assuming you hadn’t already watched “Honor Blade.” But if you had, then about half of “Prime Directive” would have looked VERY familiar—almost déjà vu—because it was the EXACT SAME footage of the Klingons as was in “Honor Blade“! Take a look…

So now you can look at life from both sides now! It’s a fascinating experiment of telling the exact same parallel story in two simultaneously-released fan films…only from different perspectives. While Potemkin Pictures had previously done something similar when they took some of the footage from the Starship Tristan two-parter “RECLAMATION” to release the stand-alone fan film “FIREHAWK,” the latter was released more than two years after the former fan film. In the case of “Honor Blade” and “Prime Directive,” the two films were posted to YouTube on the same day.

Both scripts were written by VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Captain Gabriel of the Deimos. Meanwhile, RANDY LANDERS served as director and executive producer on each fan film, and it’s he who gets to answer my questions this time out…

Continue reading “One fan film becomes two as Potemkin Pictures’ KLINGON SCOUTSHIP QAB’ELTH premieres as a crossover with STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

STARSHIP CALIBORN launches with WAR TARG! (interview with BILLY SWANSON)

POTEMKIN PICTURES has been a fan film “nursery” ever since 2015 when it launched a second fan series STARSHIP TRISTAN, to join its flagship series PROJECT: POTEMKIN, which began back in 2010. Tristan was followed by STARSHIP DEIMOS, then BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, STARSHIP TRITON, STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR, HOSPITAL SHIP MARIE CURIE, and STARSHIP ALEXANDER. Some lasted longer than others. While Tristan and Deimos have released about 20 fan films each, Kupok has released only six, Triton and Marie Curie both had four, Endeavour three, and Alexander only one.

Part of the reason some of these groups folded was due to the move of Potemkin Pictures showrunner RANDY LANDERS (and his homemade sets) from Pelham, Alabama to Lexington, Kentucky in 2019. While some actors and filmmakers are still willing to make the longer drive, others have moved on.

But just because you move the chicken, that doesn’t mean she stops laying eggs. (If that isn’t an idiom, it should be!) Not that I’m suggesting Potemkin Pictures is laying any eggs, mind you!!! But Randy is birthing a whole new crop of creative groups, each with their own starship…or warship. The first out of the Lexington launch bay was the crew of the STARSHIP WEBSTER, and they’ve already completed and released EIGHT fan films less than two years! And in May of 2022, Potemkin Pictures teamed up with NATURE’S HUNGER and RELIC FILMS to release FIREHAWK. And gearing up for its debut in the near future is the new Klingon-based IMPERIAL SCOUT QAB’ELTH team.

Wow, just listing all that is nearly an entire blog just by itself! (You can access all 100-plus Potemkin Pictures films from their website.)

But there’s one group I’ve left out: STARSHIP CALIBORN—and they’ve just premiered their first fan film, WAR TARG. Caliborn spun off from Webster thanks to one the latter’s lead actor, BILLY SWANSON, wanting to become a showrunner himself…along with a captain! Webster‘s second release, A VOICE IN THE DARK, filmed at the height of the pandemic as a one-man show, highlighted Billy’s strong acting abilities. He’s gone on to appear in four of the five subsequent Webster releases, playing executive officer Commander Robert Hawkins.

But now it’s time to Hawkins to get a command of his own, and you can watch his first mission here…

As you can see, Captain Hawkins isn’t your typical starship captain (as if any captain is “typical”)! And Billy Swanson isn’t your typical showrunner. Or maybe he is. There’s only one way to find out…

Let’s interview him!

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STARSHIP WEBSTER invites you to a LANDING PARTY…but wear your MASK! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

Chalk up another fan film release for POTEMKIN PICTURES, and the fifth in just over a year for the STARSHIP WEBSTER Creative Group. The Lexington, Kentucky-based team of actors is the eighth such group to assemble for Potemkin releases, and as you’ll discover in today’s interview with showrunner RANDY LANDERS, they won’t be the last!

Their latest release is a fun little jaunt that includes a bunch of Gorn, a landing party, and less than five minutes of actual footage shot on location in Belleau Woods Park in Lexington. Who says you can’t make a fan film that runs less than 15 minutes???

But what I found particularly intriguing was the use of “breather masks” for the Webster planetary reconnaissance team. During this time of COVID, masking up is an effective way to stay safe—but it doesn’t always make for good cinema. After all, unless you’re Darth Vader or Spider-Man, you kinda need your face in order to act and show emotions. However, when masks work in your story, they can serve multiple purposes in addition to keeping the cast COVID-safe.

First of all, they add a little bit of “real science” into your science fiction, since the odds are actually very slim that every alien planet you visit will contain a class-M breathable oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere. And second, if you’re filming outdoors and don’t have good mics or sound equipment, masks allow you to record dialog later on (a process known as ADR) and not have to tear your hair out trying to make certain that the dubbed dialog matches the lip movements from the original footage.

“Breather masks” were used for the first time during the pandemic about a year ago by the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION in their film “We Are Many.” Now they appear in the latest release from Starship Webster: “Landing Party. Take a look…

With 58.5% of the country’s population fully vaccinated, many fan filmmakers have gone back into production without masks—at least when the cameras are running. (I know of several that are still requiring crew on set to be masked and actors to be masked while not actively filming a scene.) So I was a little curious about what prompted the Webster team to mask up in front of the camera, as well. And for that, as usual, I reached out to Randy Landers…

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