The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 4)

In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, we watched how the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT grew from the aborted STARSHIP AJAX fan project, utilizing the 360-degree TOS bridge set at STARBASE STUDIOS in Oklahoma City. The brainchild of local resident MICHAEL L. KING, who would play the main character of Jackson Bishop, Valiant was the first completed fan production to film at Starbase Studios back in late 2013. They released their debut fan film, “LEGACY,” the following summer at SoonerCon 2014. Then in 2015, they released a special edition of “Legacy” with a freshly-added scene that introduced new characters on screen that hadn’t been seen in the original version, including VANCE MAJOR as Chief Engineer Erick Minard and DAVID COX as Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roger Floyd.

The Starship Valiant team headed into 2016 with plans to produce a much more ambitious second project, a 90-minute fan film titled “THE TIES THAT BIND,” and they were able to shoot the first ten minutes during the summer of that year. (You can view that segment here.) But just as they were filming those scenes, CBS announced new fan film guidelines that effectively killed any possibility for a single episode longer than 30 minutes. For a few months, plans for further work on “Ties” were put on hold.

However, at the same time, Vance Major decided to expand upon his character of Erick Minard in a new series of fan films, and some of these projects also featured Michael King as Captain Bishop. This included MINARD, THE VALHALLA STONE, a new fan series called MELBOURNE: “Storm Front”, and a crossover with fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION called CHAIN OF COMMAND. Each of those included footage shot at Starbase Studios in 2016 and were released in either 2016 or 2017.

In the meantime, Michael made a decision to move forward with Starship Valiant and continue filming “The Ties that Bind.” But because director BRADY FOSTER had picked up some professional production work outside of the country, shooting had to be scheduled for after he returned in November. But that wasn’t much of a problem—the Starbase Studios sets weren’t going anywhere.

Or were they…?

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The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 3)

In Part 1 and Part 2, we saw the birth of the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT, the brainchild of MICHAEL L. KING from Oklahoma. Utilizing the bridge set rescued from STARSHIP EXETER that was restored and expanded at STARBASE STUDIOS in Oklahoma City, the first episode of Starship Valiant, “Legacy,” began filming in late 2013 and debuted the following June at SoonerCon.

In 2015, Michael, with the help of Valiant director BRADY FOSTER, filmed a brand new scene that was shot on the just-completed sickbay set constructed at Starbase Studios for use by their “sister” fan series, STARSHIP GRISSOM. The 3-minute scene featured, for the first time on camera, VANCE MAJOR as Chief Engineer Erick Minard. It also showed the death of Captain Jeffrey Clark, an event that leads directly into the rest of the episode. The “Legacy – Special Edition” debuted at SoonerCon 2015 and was posted to Facebook shortly thereafter.

Michael sums up the Valiant pilot episode like this: “‘Legacy‘ has always been about the consequences of one’s actions. The story is a cautionary tale that tells us that, for every action we make, there is a reaction, either good or bad. It tells us that, sure, we are going to make mistakes and feel badly about them but to stick to our guns and fix them. It tells us that it’s okay to cry for the ones that we love and that those people’s actions are a result of how we have decided to live our lives. Bottom line: we are responsible for those who look up to us for guidance and love, and if we fail them, it’s never too late to make amends or to make it as right as we can.”

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The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 1)

The fan series STARSHIP VALIANT has just released its latest episode, “Animals,” a fan film that got its start a little over three years ago in 2017. But the story of Starship Valiant goes back farther than that and starts with a fellow named MICHAEL L. KING. Michael is considered my many fan filmmakers to be one of the nicest people in our entire community. He’s positive, polite, doesn’t get angry or hold grudges, and he’s always willing to help out other productions. He loves Star Trek fan films and supports all of the many people who make them.

But before we get into Michael and the history of Starship Valiant, let’s take a look at his team’s most recent fan production…

And now, let’s travel backward in time a bit. Michael had loved watching Star Trek fan films, being particularly impressed with the quality of productions like STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and STARSHIP EXETER, both of which featured TOS set recreations. In fact, the amazing bridge set from Exeter had managed to find its way from Austin, TX to Michael’s backyard of Oklahoma City (read the entire story of the birth of STARBASE STUDIOS here).

A fellow by the name of JOHN HUGHES had found the Exeter‘s bridge set in 2009, decaying in a Texas barn for five years since they’d shot their second episode “The Tressaurian Intersection” in 2004. John’s intention was to restore the bridge (and build other TOS sets), to use in the creation of his own Star Trek fan series, STARSHIP AJAX. By 2013, with RICHARD WELLS and SCOTT JOHNSON leading the construction team, the bridge set was now ready to film on. And so John set himself the task of looking for volunteers to be a part of the new production.

A photo from March of 2013 of what would have been the cast and crew of Starship Ajax. John Hughes is second-from-the-right wearing a black jacket. Michael L. King is standing behind the command chair wearing a blue tunic.

This is where Michael enters the story…

Continue reading “The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 1)”

The history of STARSHIP VALIANT! (Part 2)

In Part 1, we met MICHAEL L. KING from Oklahoma, considered by many to be one of the nicest, most agreeable and helpful folks in the fan filmmaking community. Back in 2013, Michael got involved with a group of local fans planning to launch a new fan series called STARSHIP AJAX to be filmed at STARBASE STUDIOS. The folks who ran the facility, originally located in Oklahoma City, had moved the deteriorating remnants of the TOS bridge set that had been used for the second episode of STARSHIP EXETER and then worked to restore and expand them into Trek fandom’s first and only 360-degree TOS bridge set.

Sadly, the Ajax team never really got themselves going, but Michael—who had initially signed up as a volunteer on that project—was able to launch a fan series of his own called STARSHIP VALIANT. His intention was to focus Valiant‘s stories more on the characters than the action. And although the initial script that Michael wrote, “LEGACY,” began with a space battle, the fight quickly ends, leaving the rest of the episode to focus on the aftermath and how some of the main characters try to deal with it.

Joined by director and editor BRADY FOSTER, Michael and his team were able to film “Legacy” in late 2013 and complete the project by the summer of 2014, where it debuted at the central Oklahoma SoonerCon convention before being posted to YouTube just afterwards. This is what was released…

The new fan series was warmly welcomed into the Star Trek fan film community, and the following year in 2015, Michael was contacted by SoonerCon organizer AISLINN BURROWS asking if he’d like to show “Legacy” again during the convention at the end of June. Michael was more than happy to accept the invitation, but then he had a thought. In the almost-year since “Legacy” had debuted, it had gotten many YouTube views, and fans were pretty familiar with it. But imagine their surprise if the version they saw at the convention included brand new footage!

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Are you ready for the return of STARSHIP VALIANT???

Some of my favorite blogs to write are the “History of…” features where I trace the behind-the-scenes stories of long-running Star Trek fan series like STAR TREK CONTINUES, HIDDEN FRONTIER, STARSHIP EXETER, DARK ARMADA, INTREPID, RENEGADES, STARSHIP FARRAGUT, YORKTOWN, and others. These are among the most challenging blogs to write, as they take a great deal of research and (hopefully) include in-depth interviews with the fan filmmakers themselves…resulting in multi-part features that sometimes stretch into short novels!

I don’t usually have time to do more than one or two of these deep dives per year, and it was early 2018 when I got a Facebook message from MICHAEL L. KING, showrunner of STARSHIP VALIANT, noticing that his fan series wasn’t listed anywhere on Fan Film Factor. I assured him that Valiant was definitely on my short-range sensors, but I first needed to finish doing the history of Intrepid, and I had just started working on that with NICK COOK in Scotland. That history ended up taking much longer than I expected it to, delayed by a combination of busy Nick working on his fan films and busy Jonathan working on mine. The Intrepid feature ended up being three parts and not coming out until the end of 2019.

Valiant was next, of course…although things were still really busy in the fan film world (just read my 2020 Year in Review blog!). But as the year went by, Yorktown totally cut in line in front of poor, patient Valiant! My only excuse is that Yorktown was coming out first (or so we all thought!), and I was able to connect with JOHN ATKIN and STAN WOO for a sweeping set of really fascinating Yorktown interviews.

But then I leaned that Starship Valiant‘s first new fan film release since 2017’s “The Ties That Bind“—a new story titled “ANIMALS“— was coming out on January 20. YIKES! I immediately contacted Michael King and asked if he’d be available for an interview before it came out. Michael thanked me for the offer, but he was really busy with the holidays and politely declined. But he was amenable to answering a few short questions if I had any. (Michael is one of the nicest guys in fan films, so even his noes are still almost yeses.)

So I dived into research on Valiant (interviews, updates, videos, etc), and then I shot Michael a few quick questions about a week before Christmas. I expected fairly short answers, but instead, I received a 700-word reply! Michael, my friend, that counts as an interview! Anyway, I kept sending him more questions, and he kept sending me answers. And as December turned into January, I assembled—with the help of Michael and also VANCE MAJOR—a FANtastic 4-part weekly blog series on the history of Starship Valiant from 2013 up till now…with the first part debuting this week along with “Animals.”

In the meantime, Michael King has been counting down to the big premiere with this fun series of daily videos…

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VANCE MAJOR releases SEVEN TREK FAN FILMS in SEVEN DAYS!

Last month, in an interview with fan film maker VANCE MAJOR, I called him the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.”  The interview included a list of over a dozen different Trek fan films that Vance had written, directed, produced, appeared in, and/or worked on.

But now, after releasing ANOTHER seven (yes, SEVEN!) Trek fan films—one per day!—in just seven days, I think I need to rechristen Vance the “Oompa Loompa of Star Trek fan films”…perhaps even Willy Wonka himself!

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DREADNOUGHT DOMINION/STARSHIP VALIANT team up again for “COMMAND AND CONQUER”!

Last November, the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINION returned from a 16-month hiatus with a new episode that crossed over with sister fan series STARSHIP VALIANT…an episode entitled “Chain of Command.”  You can read more about that endeavor here in this Fan Film Factor blog.

Written by Vance Major, Gary Davis, and David R. Wrenn, and directed by Vance and Gary, the scenes for “Chain of Command” were filmed separately in the states of Ohio, North Carolina, and Oklahoma (the former location of Starbase Studios) and then edited together into a 7-minute fan film.  It focused on the new CO of the USS Dominion trying to find a first officer.

It’s rare to see the full (or nearly full) casts of two different fan series cross over into a single fan film.  What’s even rarer is to see them cross over TWICE!

And it’s interesting that I said “cross over” because the latest film film to feature these two crews crosses viewers over into the Mirror Universe with a retelling of the “Chain of Command” story with the same characters but from the Terran Empire’s ISS Dominon and ISS Valiant.

It’s fun and fascinating…all at the same time!  Written by the same team, the directors were now Gary Davis and Kent Edwards.  And the locations still included Ohio and North Carolina, but Starbase Studios has now moved to Arkansas, and some scenes were also filmed in Georgia.  I’m told the entire production was shot last month (with a few scenes filmed in May) and edited together pretty quickly to come out with such a fast turnaround.

I’m going to provide links to three different fan films here.  The first is mirror universe “Command and Conquer.”  Below that is the prime universe “Chain of Command” for you to compare it to.  And finally, there’s a short vignette written by and starring Vance Major titled Project Defiant: “Dark Glimmer.”  Although it came out in late June, it’s a sequel to the newly-released “Command and Conquer.”

And look for a really great audio interview with Vance Major on Fan Film Factor this coming Friday!

And now, the prime universe “Chain of Command”…

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STARSHIP VALIANT releases its second episode “CROSSES TO BEAR”!

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:

You can learn more about Starship Valiant on their website and on their Facebook page.

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…

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