There are certain people in fan films who are, for want of a better word, prolific. They seem to pop up nearly everywhere in multiple fan productions. Sometimes they play a minor role or background character. And occasionally, they play major characters in one or more fan films or series.
VICTORIA AVALON is definitely one of these prolific people!
About a year and a half ago, I featured a Zoom interview with Victoria along with GARY DAVIS and RAANDY WRENN of the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, where Victoria has played their Chief Medical Officer Maurine Farrell for many years. Later this year, she will take over as the commanding officer of that starship, replacing Gary’s character of Captain Jason Brusseau, as Gary transitions to more behind-the-scenes tasks on Dominion.
But for the longest time, I had been wanting to interview Victoria about her OTHER gig as a commanding officer: portraying Captain Siân Gabriel of the STARSHIP DEIMOS, one of the multiple ongoing fan projects produced by one of POTEMKIN PICTURES‘ many creative groups. (You can view all of their hundred-plus releases here.).
Unfortunately, as they say: “every time God opens a window, He closes a door…” (or something like that). And so it came to pass that Victoria is departing Deimos with the release of their latest release “Siren’s Song”…
I asked both Victoria and Potemkin showrunner RANDY LANDERS what led to Victoria and her character leaving StarshipDeimos, but neither wished to discuss the matter, and I didn’t want to pry.
According to Randy, Victoria’s Captain Gabriel will be replaced in the center seat by TUCK STEVENS, who previously played the chief engineer, Commander Timothy Harper. I’ll have more information from Randy about the cast changes when Deimos releases its next episode later this year.
But right now, since this is my final opportunity to interview Victoria about her time with Potemkin Pictures and Starship Deimos, let’s do just that…
It’s the first crowd-funder for 2023, and it comes from RANDY LANDERS and the various creative teams of POTEMKIN PICTURES, based primarily in Lexington, Kentucky with a creative team also located in Alabama (both groups are shooting fan films this weekend, by the way). But unlike most crowd-funding campaigns that utilize a service like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe, Potemkin is going a different route. They’re simply asking for PayPal donations to be sent directly to [email protected]…no middle man.
While there’s no official perks, Randy has offered the following: “Donors can request a perk of their own choice, and we will do our best to accommodate them, if reasonable.” So no asking for their full-size shuttlecraft model…
But if you’d like one of their tunics or to do a voice-over for one of their films, hey, it couldn’t hurt to ask!
There isn’t any specific goal for this campaign, nor is there a tracker available to the public to check the totals. But as of right now, they’ve collected $1,160 from 15 different donors (including me). “Last year, we had $1420.87 last year.” says Randy. “We would like to pull in between $1300 and $2600 this year to fund all 13 planned films, including new tunic sweaters for STARSHIP DEIMOS and STARSHIP WEBSTER, and a few location shoots that require usage fees.” That’s actually not too bad, all things considered, as it averages to barely $100-$200 per fan film.
But the bulk of the funds raised (more than 75% of donations) goes for lumber, paint, and hardware for the construction, maintenance, and improvements for their sets. Take a look at what they already have…
And of course, there’s also props, wigs, make-up, and other miscellany…
What makes Potemkin Pictures special—in addition to its longevity (having been producing fan films continuously for over a dozen years!)—is how many opportunities it offers fans to participate in the production of completed Star Trek fan films. Over its lifetime, Potemkin Pictures has birthed a dozen different creative groups who have released 108 individual Star Trek fan films! (You can access them all from this page on their website.) Six of those creative groups are still active, releasing on average a combined ten or more new fan films each year. That’s a staggering amount of chances for a fan to work either in front of or behind the camera and have a lot of fun.
But even at an ultra-low budget level, fan films still cost money, and your support can make a BIG difference, even if it’s just a tiny bit. This year’s campaign ends on January 31, so you’ve got less than 10 days left to donate. And once again, contributions can be made directly via PayPal using the account [email protected].
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…
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-minute “HONOR 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…
If you strip away the opening and closing credits, the 18th fan film from the STARSHIP DEIMOSCreative 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.
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.
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…
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…!
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”…
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)
BATTLECRUISERKUPOK – 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!).
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.
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…?