You don’t have to live like a “REFUGEE” if you’re on the STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

The fine folks at POTEMKIN PICTURES consistently continue to dutifully deliver a steady stream of finessed fan films mostly monthly. (Did you catch all the awesome alliteration in that previous sentence? Hey, a blogger’s gotta keep you on your toes, right?)

Anyway, their latest release comes from the long-running STARSHIP DEIMOS creative group, their 20th completed fan film in six years. “REFUGEE” is an intriguing story and worth viewing…

There’s actually a LOT going on behind the scenes in this little fan production. For more insights and info, here’s Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS…

Continue reading “You don’t have to live like a “REFUGEE” if you’re on the STARSHIP DEIMOS! (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

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 DEIMOS’ three-minute CHRISTMAS CARD to fans: “Together in the Night” (interview)

If you strip away the opening and closing credits, the 18th fan film from the STARSHIP DEIMOS Creative Group has a runtime of barely more than three minutes. But really, if you think about it, how long does it take to say “Merry Christmas”?

Interestingly, Christmas is rarely seen in Star Trek fan films, despite having been established in Star Trek Generations as still a part of 24th century culture, at least on Earth. So why not do a Christmas-themed fan film? Oh, they’re not unheard of, to be sure. In fact, one year ago, the cosplayers over at STAR TREK FAN PRODUCTIONS INTERNATIONAL released their holiday-themed “fandemic” film (recorded by each actor remotely) titled PEACE AND GOODWILL.

This year, it was Starship Deimos‘ turn. Let’s take a look at their Christmas card…

I reached out to showrunner RANDY LANDERS with some questions. He, in turn, reached out to episode writer and lead actress VICTORIA AVALON as well as producer LEE DREW. So let’s dive into a good ol’ fashioned yuletide fan film fireside chat (on the Internet)…


JONATHAN – What inspired you folks to create a Christmas-themed episode for Deimos?

VICTORIA – Deimos’ viewership is fairly small, and most seem to be very traditional Trek fans. I write largely from TOS and TNG inspiration, and that appeals to them. I’ve had feedback very positive for spiritual references in other stories. Similar to my character of Siân Gabriel, I’m Episcopalian in upbringing, and I often draw on Anglican Christian mythology in writing. My husband and I co-wrote and self-published a high fantasy novel in 2009 that explicitly drew on those themes.

I originally intended an old fashioned Christmas message that would have included shots from all the crews in our various productions. During the holiday season, you see those sorts of things all over local television; I suppose it comes with having grown up in the southern U.S. It’s traditional in the Southern culture I grew up in.

RANDY – I saw it as a chance to send a Christmas card out to the POTEMKIN PICTURES fans. But not all the casts and crews wanted to do it. We respected that, so I made the decision that this would be Deimos‘ Christmas card. And I think it works, especially in the light of IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations).

JONATHAN – It looks like “Together in the Night” was pretty quick to shoot. In a recent interview for DREADNOUGHT DOMINION (another fan series that Victoria appears in), she mentioned that she drives 15 hours from central Florida to Kentucky for Deimos shoots. I’m assuming Victoria didn’t drive all that way just to record 3 minutes of dialog. Did “Together in the Night” piggyback on any other shoots?

VICTORIA – The vignette was shot at the same time we shot “Leviathan,” and it also was motivated by our desire to do more with RENDA CARR’s character of Maura Drake, who didn’t have a significant part in “Leviathan.” It also brought in more character backstory both for Gabriel and Drake, and our viewership have suggested repeatedly in comments I’ve seen that they enjoy those personal references and building characters.

RANDY – I had just finished directing and running camera for “Leviathan.” It was a six-hour shoot, and my blood sugar was all out of whack. I excused myself, went upstairs, took my 4pm shot of Victoza, and sat down for an hour. I left the directing and camera in Victoria and Lee’s capable hands. I think they did a good job with it.

JONATHAN – That they did! Now, I know you were searching for somebody new to help out with your CGI. The last two episodes have VFX credited to DAN REYNOLDS of THE FEDERATION FILES. Is he your new ongoing VFX guy?

RANDY – We have three VFX folks. Dan stepped up to the plate with “Leviathan,” and we’re delighted with his work. He also did the VFX work for “Together in the Night,” and I intend to ask him to do the VFX work for our upcoming fan film “Prime Directive.”

JONATHAN – Well, that’s a perfect segue to my final question: what’s coming next from Deimos and from Potemkin Pictures?

LEE – As Randy just mentioned, Deimos has another new script from Victoria called “Prime Directive.” We have already shot principal scenes with the Deimos crew, and now we are waiting for additional scenes to be shot with our Klingon crew to finish the shoot. I think that this will be our best production ever thanks to a wonderful story from Victoria.

RANDY – As to what’s in the works for Potemkin Pictures, we’ve got “Opportunity” in late post-production (music from TONY LUNN and sound from RICK FOXX) from STARSHIP WEBSTER coming soon. We also worked a lot with pickup shots and edits for PROJECT: POTEMKIN‘s “Castaway.” I’m also continuing to work on Webster‘s “Snowbound” with special effects from RICHARD SVENNSSON.

Beyond that, we’re filming with a new creative group, STARSHIP CALIBORN, coming up in January. It will be unlike anything we’ve done before, and BILLY SWANSON is its showrunner.

We also will have a number of KLINGON SCOUT SHIP QAB’ELTH (created by Victoria Avalon) films coming in 2022. We have scheduled a Klingon shoot in February with LAWRENCE “Larry” FLEMING reprising his role from “The Solomon Gambit” as Klingon captain Le-Kat, in fact. It won’t take long to edit, and we should have it out sometime in the Spring of 2022.

JONATHAN – As always, lots of exciting things on the horizon from Potemkin Pictures! Thanks, everybody, and have a very Merry Christmas.

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION’s “The More Things Change” is their best fan film yet! (video interview with GARY DAVIS, RANDY WRENN, and VICTORIA AVALON)

The folks at DREADNOUGHT DOMINION are still going strong after more than eight years making fan films. They’ve given us long episodes, short vignettes, whimsical stories, serious plots, action, adventure, emotional drama…all delivered with that most important of ingredients: a deep love of Star Trek.

Although I didn’t have a chance to cover the May 1, 2021 release of “The Passenger with Baggage,” their tenth fan film (not counting the three crossover/alternate universe episodes: CHAIN OF COMMAND, COMMAND AND CONQUER, and the more recent CALM, COOL, AND COLLECTED), I did discuss “Passenger” briefly in a November video interview with FRANK PARKER, JR., the original show-runner of Dreadnought Dominion.

The last time I covered this fan series was over the summer when they were successfully crowd-funding an Indiegogo campaign that raised $6,250 by offering—among other exciting perks—personalized Star Trek action figures in the likenesses of donors. Seriously, you can read about it here!

That campaign funded a number of things, including the CGI for their next release, which came out on November 6 and was titled “The More Things Change.” I always get excited when a new Dominion episode comes out, not just because I love that starship design and they use the gorgeous TOS sets at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA, but because they have fun, interesting characters, great stories, and honestly, you never know what you’re going to get with these guys!

That was particularly true with their eleventh episode, which gave us a really engaging story with good acting along with great VFX and a solid selection of TOS background music that made it feel very much like a classic Star Trek episode. Yeah, Dominion is still noticeably a fan production, but at its heart, it’s Star Trek to me. And honestly, I thought this was their best episode yet! Take a look and see if you agree…

One of the things that I find to be most enjoyable about this series is that actors who aren’t the captain or first officer get their chances to shine in episodes that feature their character. This was one such episode, as VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Dr. Farrell, was given many dramatic scenes with generous amounts of dialog allowing her to really perform and stand out.

And speaking of Victoria, I’ve long admired her efforts in a number of different Star Trek fan series, including STARSHIP FARRAGUT (where she started her fan film career) and STARSHIP DEIMOS from POTEMKIN PICTURES (where she writes many of the episodes and stars as Captain Gabriel). Indeed, I’d been wanting to interview her for quite a while…and with this release from Dominion featuring Dr. Farrell is such a prominent role, I had the perfect opportunity.

I also invited sh0w-runners GARY DAVIS and RANDY WRENN to join in on the Zoom chat, as they are both also essential to the series. So sit back and enjoy as we get to know these three prominent fan filmmakers a bit better…

Starship Deimos’ 17th release: “LEVIATHAN” (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

The STARSHIP DEIMOS has been flying around the fan film sector for more than five and a half years now…ever since their first release on March 9, 2016. It came on the heels of the new fan series STARSHIP TRISTAN, which had debuted just four months earlier. Both productions sprang from the venerable POTEMKIN PICTURES, which had already, by that time, released thirty episodes of their debut fan series, PROJECT: POTEMKIN.

Since that time, Potemkin Pictures has spawned an additional SIX series of Star Trek fan production teams with nearly two dozen episodes of their own. (You can access all of the nearly-100 Potemkin fan films from their website.) But by far, the most prolific productions came come from the teams making Tristan and Deimos. Tristan released their most recent fan film (their 21st overall) this past March, but Deimos had been running silent for nearly a year…since last Halloween, in fact.

That changed on September 24, 2021 with the release of Deimos‘s 17th fan production, LEVIATHAN. It’s a good ol’ fashioned ship-in-peril-from-a-spatial-anomaly story, and it’s very well-acted. It was filmed on the new Potemkin Pictures sets in Lexington, KY. Check it out…

Time to ask showrunner RANDY LANDERS some questions…!

Continue reading “Starship Deimos’ 17th release: “LEVIATHAN” (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

Watch POTEMKIN PICTURES’ new STARSHIP WEBSTER “Launch”… (interview with RANDY LANDERS)

Look out, pardner, ’cause there’s a new Trek fan series in town! But don’t you dare call it a “series”—’cause those pesky guidelines don’t like us doing series. So instead, let’s call it what POTEMKIN PICTURES calls it: the STARSHIP WEBSTER Creative Group.

This newest gang of fan filmmakers takes its place beside the other seven current Potemkin creative groups—including DEIMOS, ALEXANDER, TRISTAN, MARIE CURIE, BATTLECRUISER KUPOK, TRITON, and ENDEAVOUR…releasing (prior to the pandemic) an average of a dozen combined fan films each year going back more than half a decade! (You can access all of the previous Potemkin Pictures releases by clicking here.)

The various Potemkin Pictures productions have seen three bases of operations over the past ten-plus years. Things began in Albany, GA with their first fan series (back when you were allowed to call it that), PROJECT: POTEMKIN. When show-runner RANDY LANDERS moved to Alabama, some of the production team stayed in Georgia while others migrated to Alabama and various new creative groups formed.

Then, last year, Randy and his wife moved again, this time to Lexington, KY. This has allowed a whole new assemblage of fan filmmakers—writers, directors, producers, actors, make-up and costuming people, set builders, etc.—to join in on the fun in a brand new location. But there were certain unanswered questions.

  • Would Randy be able to find enough local fans and actors to support a full creative croup?
  • Would all the sets survive the 425-mile “trek” from Alabama to Kentucky and then be able to be properly rebuilt/reassembled?
  • How long would it take to get their first fan film completed, and what would the new starship be called?
  • What effect would the pandemic have on production?
  • With the sets all located in a new state—6 and a half hours’ drive away from the previous location—would the other creative groups be willing or able to continue making their fan films?

Obviously, it’s time to talk to Randy Landers again! First, though, take a look at the premiere episode from the Starship Webster Creative Group, “Launch”…

Continue reading “Watch POTEMKIN PICTURES’ new STARSHIP WEBSTER “Launch”… (interview with RANDY LANDERS)”

Three new fan films from STARSHIP DEIMOS in seven months…and more POTEMKIN news from RANDY LANDERS!

I try to cover each new fan film from POTEMKIN PICTURES soon after it’s released. But with seven different creative groups all working simultaneously, occasionally I’ll miss one or two.

I had this somewhat embarrassing realization a couple of weeks ago when I went to watch the latest offering from the STARSHIP DEIMOS creative team, “Butterfly Effect.” It was quite good (as are nearly all of the releases from the Deimos team). And I noticed that this particular episode was written by VICTORIA AVALON, who plays Captain Gabriel of the USS Deimos. Victoria had written all but two of the first eight episodes of Deimos, but I hadn’t seen her name as writer for a while (I checked, and it’d been about two years). Victoria—who also helped write the STARSHIP FARRAGUT episode “Conspiracy of Innocence” back in 2014—writes some very strong scripts, and “Butterfly Effect” was no exception.

But when the episode ended, YouTube (as it usually does) automatically loaded up another video, and it was another episode of Starship Deimos: “Blood Crystals.” I let it play, and remembered that I’d started watching it back in February, but I’d never finished it…and I totally forgot to blog about it! Oy vey. It was also a very good episode.

Then YouTube loaded another Deimos episode for me, “The Solomon Gamble” from last October. I’d never watched that one at all! Then I went to check my blogs and discovered, much to my horror, that my last Deimos blog was last June(!!!) about their episode “Children of Eberus.” I’d missed covering THREE new episode releases. Oh, the shame!

So here they all are, in the order they were released over the past seven months…

I noted that, in the past seven months, while Deimos had just released their THIRD completed fan film, the other Potemkin creative teams were trailing:

  • MARIE CURIE – 2 episodes (November and March)
  • TRISTAN – 2 episodes (December and April)
  • BATTLECRUISER KUPOK – 1 episode (November)
  • ALEXANDER – 1 episode (February, but that was the series premiere)
  • TRITON – 0 episodes (most recent was May 2019)
  • ENDEAVOUR – 0 episodes (most recent was December 2018)

I remembered asking Potemkin show-runner RANDY LANDERS at one point about this inconsistency, but many of my current readers might not have read his original answer. So I decided to ask Randy again, this time wondering if his and his wife’s recent move from Alabama to Kentucky might have affected the schedule and perhaps have spelled the end for one or more of the above-listed fan teams (and remember, we DON’T call them fan series!).

Here was Randy’s response…

Continue reading “Three new fan films from STARSHIP DEIMOS in seven months…and more POTEMKIN news from RANDY LANDERS!”

STARSHIP DEIMOS goes on location with their 12th episode “CHILDREN OF EBERUS” (field report from RANDY LANDERS)

It’s kinda strange when two months feels like a “long time” between fan film releases. But when it comes to POTEMKIN PICTURES, two months is almost “red alert!” That’s because for the past several years, these folks have been releasing an average of a dozen or more Star Trek fan films per year. Currently, they have six different creative teams working on six parallel fan series—each on their own schedule with their own personnel—creating short fan films on ultra-low budgets.

These folks aren’t trying to bowl anyone over with super-slick sets or elaborate costumes and props. Instead, they simply try to tell interesting stories and hopefully have some fun while doing it.  You can view all of their many fan film releases on their website.

I’ve decided to do something a little different than I usually do (which is announce the latest episode, say a few words about Potemkin Pictures, maybe include a short quote from show-runner RANDY LANDERS, and then show the episode). But when I watched “Children of Eberus,” the twelfth episode from the STARSHIP DEIMOS creative team that was released a week ago, I marveled at the amount of outdoor footage. While such scenes might look cheap and easy to shoot, there’s actually a lot more moving parts and careful considerations than you might think.

So this time, I asked Randy to tell us all about the challenges of filming this episode and some of the funny behind-the-scenes stories. But first, let’s check out the episode itself, shall we…?

Continue reading “STARSHIP DEIMOS goes on location with their 12th episode “CHILDREN OF EBERUS” (field report from RANDY LANDERS)”

A closer look at STARSHIP DEIMOS: “Diplomatic Relations” (interview with LEE DREW)

This blog might be called Fan Film Factor, but POTEMKIN PICTURES is a fan film FACTORY…having produced about 70 different fan films for six active (and one completed) fan series. You can view all of their releases on their website. Show-runner RANDY LANDERS manages to release an average run of twelve episodes each year, although last December he finished with a bang, posting four fan films in four days to bring Potemkin’s 2018 total to FIFTEEN fan films!

Of course, all of the various Potemkin productions are ultra-low budget. The actors are a mix of local community theater folks from Alabama and neighboring southern states, drama school students, and fans who just want a chance to have some fun acting in a Star Trek fan film. The same is true of the production crew, who are about as far from being “Hollywood professionals” as you’re likely to find. They’re just in it for the fun and the love of Trek.

Of course, not everybody “gets” Potemkin Pictures. Compared to the sleek, semi-professional fan series like Star Trek Continues and Renegades, or the ultra-polished looking productions like Horizon and Axanar, Potemkin’s offerings don’t even come close. And they’re not meant to. If you want to watch those top shelf fan productions, then by all means, do so. But don’t judge Potemkin for all they don’t achieve. Look at what they DO achieve.

To provide a better perspective into what I mean, I’m doing something a little unusual with the most recent release from STARSHIP DEIMOS, one of Potemkin’s six ongoing fan series. “Diplomatic Relations” debuted in February, less than 9 minutes in length and attracting a respectable 1,370 views over the past six weeks or so.

Typically with Potemkin Pictures, I post a short blog announcing the latest release, complimenting the creative team, and getting a brief quote from sh0w-runner Randy Landers. But this time, when I asked Randy to say a few words, he wrote back: “Interview LEE DREW about his personal project. “Diplomatic Relations” is his baby. Starred, wrote, directed, choreographed the fight.”

Great idea! So I reached out to Lee to talk about what went into what looks like such a simple fan film to have made. Take a look at the finished production itself and then read about what went into it. I think you’ll be very surprised…

And now, here’s Lee…

Continue reading “A closer look at STARSHIP DEIMOS: “Diplomatic Relations” (interview with LEE DREW)”

STARSHIP DEIMOS releases their eighth episode: “The Deimos Factor”!

Two weeks after releasing their sixth and seventh episodes just one day apart, the production team for STARSHIP DEIMOS just debuted their eighth episode, “The Deimos Factor.”  If it seems like Deimos is pushing its production warp engines to ludicrous speed, it’s actually much simpler than that.  All of the fan series from POTEMKIN PICTURES ran into a many-months-long delay last year when show-runner and main editor RANDY LANDERS (who also directed each of the latest releases) had quadruple bypass surgery last August.  He’s fine now, by the way.

Randy’s ultimate goal is to release one fan film per month under the Potemkin Pictures label, and it looks like he’s rapidly getting back on schedule.  With seven different fan “series” in active production, plus the 36 episodes of the completed Project: Potemkin, Randy has released a jaw-dropping 62 separate fan films in 8 years, ranging in length from a couple of minutes to nearly an hour.  That’s an amazing accomplishment.

I’ve heard a small number of fans recently disparaging Randy and his fan films, claiming there is weak writing or minimal character development or just complaining about the low production values.  I say: “Nonsense!!! Malarkey!!!  Horse pooey!!!”  What Potemkin Pictures has done is to assemble separate casts of people over five dozen times, get them to perform and complete enough full scenes to create finished productions, edit those scenes together, add VFX and music, and release those completed episodes on a very consistent schedule fro nearly a decade.  Along the way, they built home-made sets, got inexpensive costumes to look like Starfleet officers and assorted aliens, and even had some make-up.

As for the scripts, while not every one is a cinematic masterpiece, they have all managed to be unique and non-repetitive.  They focus on different characters and different scenarios…just like Star Trek.  There are episodes with lots of cast members and ones with just two or three.  There’s first contacts, prime directive dilemmas, space battles, mind control, alien rituals, medical emergencies, diplomatic missions, Starfleet bureaucracy and intrigue, personal crises, spatial anomalies, drama, humor, triumph, and tragedy.  It’s never the same thing twice.

You try to do that 62 times and see how diverse your scripts are!

Anyway, you can watch all 62 productions here on the Potemkin Pictures website.  And you can watch their 63rd release, “The Deimos Factor,” right here, right now…