A first look at FARRAGUT FORWARD…and it looks AMAZING!!!

Two months ago, I published a blog interviewing JOHNNY K., the producer and director of the new fan series FARRAGUT FORWARD. It’s a “sequel” series to the long-running STARSHIP FARRAGUT, which recently released its own series finale, “HOMECOMING” on October 1…after five years in post-production! (And if you’re wondering why I haven’t covered that release yet, please help me nag showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON, writer PAUL SIEBER, and post-production supervisor/composer STEVEN SEMMEL to finish writing up their answers to my interview questions.)

For the past several months, Johnny K., John B., and the Farragut Forward team have been hard at work building sets and props, polishing the script for the debut episode, and even creating physical ship models in order to film their visual FX the “old fashioned way”—none of this new-fangled CGI nonsense!

On October 16, cameras began rolling for the first time on the new series, shooting footage for what will be an initial 3-minute “teaser” prologue to the debut episode. The first look fans got came earlier this week with three photos posted on the KAOTICA STUDIOS Facebook page

Talk about firing an actor!

The post included the following caption:

Fun fact: it takes the Farragut Forward costuming team weeks of painstaking work to recreate accurate uniforms for our production. The attention to detail is extraordinary. It takes costume assistant Belle Bredehoft just a few seconds to light those items ON FIRE! 🔥🔥🔥

The next day, Kaotica released two new images from the actual footage shot in 6K on the set. You can see John B. below as Captain Jack Carter of the U.S.S. Farragut in the Wrath of Khan movie era (wearing a gorgeous and properly-fitting “monster maroon” uniform)…

From the NEWS section of the Kaotica Studios website, John Broughton had this to say (reprinted with permission):

A lot of preparation and hard work went into last weekend’s shoot which paid off in being well-organized, professional, and successful in best capturing our story. More importantly, the film shoot was FUN, which at the end of the day, is what this is all about, right?

It was surreal playing Captain Carter again and wearing a Starfleet uniform, but like an old worn glove, it fell right into place, and this time, it was a bit more natural. It’s great working with Johnny K., Kaotica Studios, and all the talented cast and crew in bringing the next chapter of Farragut to life and in in the best ‘light’ (or perhaps ‘low-light’). Thanks again to everyone involved!

The other still image posted was this shot of actor WILLIAM JAY in full Klingon makeup and armor…

William had this to say:

Continue reading “A first look at FARRAGUT FORWARD…and it looks AMAZING!!!”

STARSHIP FARRAGUT is coming BACK…or is it FORWARD??? (interview with JOHNNY K.)

When last we left STARSHIP FARRAGUT, showrunner JOHN BROUGHTON and his gallant crew had crowd-funded about $15K at the end of 2015 for what was to be their series finale, “Homecoming.” Footage for that fan film was shot in 2015 and 2016, and there were sporadic updates to donors (like me) but nothing major until about 14 months ago, when it was announced that musical composer STEVE SEMMEL had taken over as Post-Production Supervisor (you can check out the interview I did with Steve here).

According to the most recent update, “Homecoming” will, at long last, be released on October 1 of this year. Here’s a trailer for that fan film, which features an eye-catching cameo by the deeply missed, legendary Marvel Comics creator STAN LEE…

While “Homecoming” was to mark the end of the U.S.S. Farragut‘s five-year mission under Captain Jack Carter (played by John Broughton), the end was just the beginning. Also back in 2015, John announced that the team would soon be launching a new sequel series to be titled FARRAGUT FORWARD. At the time, Farragut Films had officially ended their relationship with “sister” series STAR TREK CONTINUES, leaving their TOS sets in Kingsland, GA—nearly all of which Farragut folks had either built or helped to build. Many members of the Farragut team lived in the Washington, D.C. area anyway, not particularly close to southeastern Georgia.

The new Farragut series would jump forward (hence, the name) in time about 20 years, just as Star Trek itself had done with the feature films, into the Wrath of Khan/”monster-maroon” uniform era. However, with the guidelines emerging within just a few months of John’s announcement, many wondered if the group would still launch a brand new Star Trek fan series when the very first guideline said that you can’t have an ongoing Star Trek fan series. And indeed, any news about Farragut Forward pretty much stopped after the guidelines were announced.

Until two weeks ago.

Fans were ecstatic to find a Facebook post from John Broughton linking to this website announcement that Farragut Forward had finally entered pre-production! John has joined forces with independent film studio KAOTICA STUDIOS in Washington, DC, and the studio’s founder, JOHNNY KARZAI, will be directing the initial episode.

The announcement said that fans “…can expect a more ‘sophisticated’ version of Farragut…  a darker, more serious side.” And indeed, after doing a lighting test with John Broughton in a meticulously-crafted captain’s uniform, Johnny K. commented, “This isn’t your Daddy’s Farragut!”

As you can see from the above photo, John B.’s character of Captain Jack Carter has aged VERY gracefully and looks as awesome as his uniform. “I think shelving this project for 5 years has helped us greatly in many ways, including the older self!” John said in a Facebook post.

Fans already know a good deal about John Broughton (if not, then read this 3-part History of Starship Farragut). But what about director Johnny Karzai? I reached out to Johnny K. for the inside scoop on all things Farragut Forward

Continue reading “STARSHIP FARRAGUT is coming BACK…or is it FORWARD??? (interview with JOHNNY K.)”

STARSHIP FARRAGUT’s finale “HOMECOMING” is coming along… (interview with STEVE SEMMEL)

Starting in 2005, Starship Farragut began releasing a series of nearly a dozen high-quality fan productions—including full length episodes, vignettes, and even two animated projects (featuring voice-overs by TIM RUSS (not playing Tuvok from Voyager) and CHASE MASTERSON (not playing Leeta from Deep Space 9). Along the way, they constructed an extensive TOS set recreation that was eventually shared with, and later sold to, VIC MIGNOGNA of STAR TREK CONTINUES. (Read the full and fascinating history of Starship Farragut here.)

At the end of 2014, Farragut Films decided to transition themselves ino the first full-budget, set-based regular fan series to be set in the Trek movie era.  The actors had aged a decade since the earliest episodes of Starship Farragut, so jumping the series forward seemed logical. In fact, the new series was to be called Farragut Forward. But it never came to be. Instead, at the end of 2015, the group crowd-funded a series finale episode called “Homecoming,” and raised $15,787 from 207 donors on Kickstarter.

Things seemed to be going smoothly on “Homecoming.” Filming took place in early 2016 with some outdoor reshoots being completed in June of that year, according to donor updates. In early 2017, donors were treated to a two-minute teaser-trailer with an unexpected cameo by Marvel Comics legend STAN LEE (who passed away in November 2018). The trailer looked promising…

But after an October 2017 update from show-runner and lead actor JOHN BROUGTON saying that post production was about 50% completed, two and a half years went by without any further updates to donors or new trailers or news of any kind.

That changed this past April when a new update was sent to Farragut donors by STEVE SEMMEL. Steve came on board the project last September to help compose the score, and he had some good news. Steve would be taking on the title and duties of Post-Production Supervisor, and along with Special Effects Supervisor KEN THOMSON, Film Editor JAYN PENNINGTON, and Music Scorer CARL HAYES, there would now be a concerted effort to bring “Homecoming” to completion (and to YouTube) in 2021.

Naturally, I was curious to learn more—not just about the status of the project itself but about Steve, how he came to be involved with the project, how he got the “promotion” from Composer to Post-Production Supervisor, and what tasks he and others will be doing to bring “Homecoming” home…

Continue reading “STARSHIP FARRAGUT’s finale “HOMECOMING” is coming along… (interview with STEVE SEMMEL)”

The STARSHIP FARRAGUT finale “HOMECOMING” is still being actively worked on!

While AXANAR usually hogs the comments on social media asking, “Why isn’t it finished yet?” there’s been another crowd-funded Star Trek fan project from 2015 also still lingering in post production. No, not PACIFIC 201. And not FIRST FRONTIER either (it wasn’t crowd-funded). And not EQUINOX or PIKE (although successfully crowd-funded, neither project was ever filmed).

No, I am talking about the long-awaited finale to the venerable fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT, an episode titled “Homecoming.”

Starship Farragut got its start way back in 2005 when they began shooting their pilot episode “The Captaincy.” Over the course of the next decade, the folks at Farragut Films would release nearly a dozen more full-length episodes, vignettes, and even two animated episodes (featuring voice-overs by TIM RUSS (not playing Tuvok from Voyager) and CHASE MASTERSON (not playing Leeta from Deep Space 9). Along the way, they expanded their filming space and constructed an extensive TOS set recreation that was eventually shared with and later sold to VIC MIGNOGNA of STAR TREK CONTINUES. (Read the full and fascinating history of Starship Farragut here.)

At the end of 2014, Farragut Films made a decision to transition themselves to become the first full-budget, set-based regular fan series to be set in the Trek movie era.  The actors had aged a decade since the earliest episodes of Starship Farragut, so jumping the series forward seemed logical. In fact, the new series was to be called Farragut Forward. But it never came to be. Instead, at the end of 2015, they crowd-funded a series finale episode called “Homecoming,” and raised $15,787 from 207 donors on Kickstarter.

Things seemed to be going smoothly on “Homecoming.” Filming took place in early 2016 with some outdoor reshoots being completed in June of that year, according to donor updates. In early 2017, donors were treated to a two-minute teaser-trailer with an unexpected cameo by Marvel Comics legend STAN LEE (who passed away in November 2018). The trailer looked promising…

An October 2017 update by show-runner JOHN BROUGHTON reported decent progress:

Our video editor Jay Pennington is doing an outstanding job with the edit. I’d say that we’re 1/2 way done based on the cuts that have been reviewed and critiqued for edits. Although he is on track to deliver as promised an edited film before year’s end, the CGI and FX shots still need to be done. In addition, there is also color correction and ADR work to do given the acoustical and lighting challenges we had filming outdoors.

And then, silence…

Continue reading “The STARSHIP FARRAGUT finale “HOMECOMING” is still being actively worked on!”

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS Patreon is ON FIRE!

Man, I hope nobody misread that headline as “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS is ON FIRE!” No, no, no…that is NOT what’s happening!

But what is happening is that donations are coming into their Patreon campaign at an awesome pace! It was barely three weeks ago that I published a blog marveling at a single donor committing to pay more than $800/month(!!!) to help keep the rent, utilities, maintenance, and insurance paid on the building housing the amazing TOS sets that had first been used for both Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues.

After purchasing the sets from VIC MIGNOGNA in late 2017, uber-fan RAY TESI decided to open up the renamed NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA to any fan filmmaker wanting to shoot there (cost is $300/day). Already, Dreadnought Dominion, Ghost Ship, and the upcoming Constar Chronicles have all shot there…with more projects scheduled soon, including an appearance by NICHELLE NICHOLS for the proposed documentary about her amazing life and career.

The sets were also opened up to the general public for a weekend last October and will be opened up again this coming weekend for Fan Appreciation Weekend 2. (It’s free to attend, and you can still sign up here.)

But while they say the best things in life are free, in this case, someone has definitely been paying for the “free”—Ray Tesi himself. Considered by many (including me) to be one of the nicest guys in our fan film community, Ray has been paying the costs for this studio out of his retirement savings for the last year and a half. That’s about $3,500/month or $42,000/year.

Think about that number for a second. Ray isn’t a Kardashian (or even a Cardassian). He’s just a nice guy with a modest income and some decent savings wanting to keep these unbelievably beautiful and important sets out of the dumpster.

Continue reading “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS Patreon is ON FIRE!”

NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS nearly doubles its Patreon total with an unexpected $800/MONTH donor!

As you might remember from my recent blog, NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingland, GA (where Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut) has a Patreon campaign currently trying to raise $3,500/month to cover rent, utilities, insurance, and maintenance. Right now, those expenses are being paid primarily by RAY TESI, the super-fan who purchased the iconic TOS set recreations from STC show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA. Ray has generously opened up his sets to fan filmmakers and also to the general public during periodic Fan Appreciation Weekends (the next of which is coming up on May 24-26).

The challenge for Ray is that these monthly expenses are ongoing…which is not the case for his retirement savings, which is what is funding the dream at the moment. So Ray has asked the fan community to chip in in the form of small monthly contributions made via Patreon.

The campaign kicked off last July and kinda went nowhere for seven months. By February, Ray was up to only 17 patrons donating $176/month (of which Patreon takes a small percentage), leaving Ray with annual expenses that were still topping $40,000…YIKES!!!

But then things began to look up, as a renewed outreach effort on social media saw totals nearly triple by the end of February to 41 patrons and $566/month. Ray was down to having to cover “only” $35,000/year. Sure, still a long way to go…but definitely headed in the right direction.

The following two months saw reliably steady growth, reaching 74 patrons and $872/month by the time I checked the campaign before heading to bed on April 22. Ray was now taking in about $10,000/year, covering about 25% of his expenses.

When I sat down at my computer the next morning, Ray’s Patreon page was still on the screen, so I did a refresh just out of curiosity. I didn’t expect the total to change, but ya never know. That said, it took me a few moments to fully process what I was seeing…

At some point while I slept, Ray’s Patreon total had jumped from $872/month to $1,696/month—almost DOUBLING overnight! Surely this was some kind of glitch at Patreon. No one donates $824/month…do they????

I messaged Ray.

Continue reading “NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS nearly doubles its Patreon total with an unexpected $800/MONTH donor!”

Clips of STAN LEE in two STAR TREK FAN FILMS!

I realize it’s unusual to re-eulogize the same person two days in a row, but STAN LEE was special.  Also, since this is Fan Film Factor, I wanted to take a moment to highlight his appearances in two fan films (and his love for Star Trek) before <sniff, sniff> letting him go.

Three years ago, the folks at STARSHIP FARRAGUT raised $15,787 from 202 backers in a Kickstarter intended to fund their series finale “Homecoming.”  You can read about the full history of this cutting-edge fan series in this 3-part blog.

Although “Homecoming” is still unreleased (all of the scenes and reshoots were completed by summer of 2016, so the finale remains in a state of post-production), a brief segment was released in August of 2017 featuring none other than STAN LEE!  I captured a still image of Stan from that video and used it yesterday for my eulogy blog.  Here is the full minute-long clip that includes Stan’s full cameo…

Stan had previously appeared in an early pilot vignette for the fan series TREK: ISOLATION, which was set to spin off from Starship Farragut back in 2015.  The vignette, “A Great Responsibility,” viewers with stunned looks on their faces as they  saw the legendary Marvel Comics godfather sitting at a desk, wearing a gold TOS Starfleet admiral’s tunic!  Here is that video in its entirety…

The fact that someone as famous as Stan Lee, a man who was already well into his 90s(!!!) when these two productions were shot, would even agree to appear in a “silly” Star Trek fan film says so much about this amazing man whom we lost yesterday.  Stan was so easy-going, so humble, and loved to have fun.  He truly appreciated the fans and would often bend over backward for them.

And Stan loved Star Trek.  He discussed the original series with ROD RODDENBERRY (son of Star Trek‘s creator GENE RODDENBERRY) for the documentary TrekNation

I leave you with this wonderful illustration that I saw yesterday on Facebook…

Face front, true believers!

DREADNOUGHT DOMINION and STARSHIP VALIANT cross-over in “CHAIN OF COMMAND”!

chain-of-command-dreadnought-dominion-and-svBack 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.

dreadnought-dominionThanks 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…

Continue reading “DREADNOUGHT DOMINION and STARSHIP VALIANT cross-over in “CHAIN OF COMMAND”!”

TREK: ISOLATION spins off from STARSHIP FARRAGUT and releases its first series episode “Out of the Fire”!

trek-isolationTREK ISOLATION, the long-awaited spin-off fan series to the long-running and celebrated Starship Farragut, is finally here with its first series episode Out of the Fire.

Technically, Trek Isolation has been “here” for a couple of years already.  The series first debuted in late 2014 with a short prelude vignette titled Change in Command.”  During the 5-minute fan film, Captain Jack Carter (played by co-writer and Starship Farragut show-runner/star John Broughton) informs his chief of security (played by co-writer Eric Moran) that the lieutenant commander will be getting a promotion and reassignment as first officer and science officer aboard the USS Babylon.

Six months later, the Trek Isolation team SHOCKED fans when it released its second prelude vignette A Great Responsibility featuring none other than Marvel Comics legend STAN LEE as a Starfleet Admiral!  And it wasn’t just a brief cameo, as happens in so many Marvel movies.  Instead, Stan does a two and a half minute scene as part of this four and a half minute fan production as he assigns Captain Hawkins (played by co-writer Dave Turner) as the new commander of the USS Babylon.

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STARSHIP FARRAGUT completes re-shoots on their finale “Homecoming”

Farragut HomecomingThe long running fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT is currently in production on its final episode, “Homecoming.”  After that episode is released, Farragut Films will transition into a new movie-era fan series to be called FARRAGUT FORWARD.  You can read more about that new series here.

In the meantime, Starship Farragut‘s final episode had initially shot a series of exterior scenes last October.  But as post-production ramped up, the producers felt that the footage and performances from these October shoots could be enhanced and improved for a better final product.

Over the past weekend (and also during a weekend last month), Farragut re-shot those exterior scenes…and they report that the results will bode very well for the overall quality of their swan song episode.

For people who complain that fan films suffer from poor acting and a general lack of quality, this is a wonderful example of a fan series going the extra mile to present the best finished product possible.  So a big hand for Starship Farragut!