A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 2)

In Part 1, we began discussing the new TREK SHORTS fan film A LONG WAY FROM HOME. And whoever said that the CBS guidelines “killed off” all Star Trek fan films obviously forgot to inform SAMUEL COCKINGS!

With the talent and ingenuity of Willy Wonka and the uncanny productivity of a factory full of Oompa Loompas, Samuel has lent his considerable VFX skills to more than TWO DOZEN different Star Trek fan projects in five different countries on three different continents! In his “spare” time, Sam is also the co-host of the long-running and prolific TREKYARDS video podcast series. And in his “other” spare time, Sam also created the ambitious fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY, six years in the making!

In late 2018, Sam successfully crowd-funded $7,385 from 114 backers for another ambitious fan project, this time a crossover bringing together characters and storylines from five different Star Trek fan series. Called CONVERGENCE, part 1 was filmed in 2019 prior to the pandemic. But part 2, requiring travel of cast members to England from the United States, Holland, and Scotland, was indefinitely delayed due the outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent quarantine orders.

This didn’t stop Sam, though. Wanting to release something that could be produced during the pandemic, Sam came up with the concept of Short Treks, high-quality Star Trek fan films produced on shoestring budgets utilizing Sam’s prodigious CGI skills for exterior starship VFX combined with actors filmed remotely both on location and in front of green screens with super-realistic digital backgrounds composited behind them.

Samuel Cockings on location

But Sam wasn’t content to just make one fan film; he got it in his head to create SIX separate stories, each set in different periods of Starfleet history with different characters and starships. And so Sam launched an Indiegogo with a $10,000 goal. And with 10 days left, Sam is about two-thirds of the way there with more than 100 backers. If you haven’t donated yet and have a few bucks to spare, the perks are pretty cool. Here’s the link (pass it around to your friends, too):

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

But Sam couldn’t wait for the campaign to fund before releasing the first of the six Trek Shorts fan films: A Long Way from Home. It stars NIMRAD SAUND (from Temporal Anomaly) and NICK and LUCITA COOK (from the fan series INTREPID), as well as featuring MICHELE SPECHT (from STAR TREK CONTINUES). It’s a really well done production, having already generated more than 27K views on YouTube in just three weeks. Check it out…

Other Trek Shorts will feature ships and actors from DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, AVALON UNIVERSE, DARK ARMADA, and a couple of other characters from Temporal Anomaly in addition to Nimrad’s Lt. Keeley.

Continue reading “A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 2)”

A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 1)

SAMUEL COCKINGS is the distilled essence of the truest of Star Trek fans—gifted with an amazing talent that he enthusiastically shares with other Trekkies in the form of stunning CGI animations which appear in an endless parade of fan films. Indeed, it’d probably take less time to list the major fan films that Sam DIDN’T work on than those he did! (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but if you want the complete list of every Trek fan film that Sam has turned into CGI gold with his digital Midas touch, just check out Sam’s IMDb page.)

In addition to providing VFX animations for innumerable Star Trek fan productions, Sam is also the co-host of the amazing and engaging TREKYARDS series of podcasts. And if you don’t know what that is and you’re a Trekker, you are totally missing out!

But beyond just helping out other productions, Sam has also been trying his hand at creating some fan films of his own. Back in 2013, he began work on what he was calling STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY. It took him 6 years to complete it, and thanks to a call from CBS’s lawyers, he had to remove the words “Star Trek” and a few other things (click here to find out more and to view the finished fan film). But Temporal Anomaly was nevertheless a groundbreaking project, taking virtual backgrounds to an entirely new level for fan films.

In late 2018, Sam launched an Indiegogo for an ambitious new fan film to be titled CONVERGENCE and featuring a crossover of FIVE different Star Trek fan production. It ended up raising $7,385 from 114 backers and was supposed to be completed by now. Of course, it was funded before the world turned upside-down and had to shut down amidst a global pandemic.

With Convergence still paused in the middle of production, Sam surprised the fan film community at the beginning of May by launching yet another Indiegogo campaign, but this time, it wasn’t funding just one fan film but SIX!!! The series of unrelated anthology stories will be set in different time periods of Trek from TOS to the Wrath of Khan era to the Dominion War to the Enterprise-E encountering another “Doomsday Machine” planet-killer. Calling the anthology series TREK SHORTS, Sam announced participants from various other Trek fan series including: INTREPID, AVALON UNIVERSE, STAR TREK CONTINUES, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, DARK ARMADA, and of course Temporal Anomaly.

After just two weeks, the campaign is already about 40% of the way to its $10,000 goal with more than 60 backers. And if you’d like to be one of them (I am!), the perks are cool, and the project is really exciting. Here’s the link to donate…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

In fact, the project is SO exciting that Sam couldn’t even wait for it to fund before releasing the competed first of the six Trek Shorts: A LONG WAY FROM HOME. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

And now, let’s chat with Sam…

Continue reading “A LONG WAY FROM HOME is a great way to crowd-fund! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS, part 1)”

OOOPSIE! The Indiegogo for TREK SHORTS didn’t include the PITCH VIDEO…and it’s a MUST-SEE!

Let this be a lesson to all of you crowd-funders and would-be crowd-funders out there: ALWAYS check your campaign pages…not just once but often!

When SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Sensei of CGI, launched his new Indiegogo for his ambitious SIX-episode TREK SHORTS project (six fan films for the price of one!), he included an absolutely amazing and snazzy pitch video. I mean, it’s a totally MUST-SEE pitch video, with the kind of jaw-dropping CGI that’ll leave you drooling plus clips of cast members spanning Trek fan films from four different countries on two different continents. There’s catchy music, exciting behind-the-scenes details, and even a hilarious ending.

Just one small problem: the Indiegogo campaign page lost the link to the video!

Had the video been linked, fans would have seen this…

Sam has no idea how it happened. The video was up there when he first launched it. But I visited the page and donated just a few hours later, and I didn’t see it. I just assumed there wasn’t a pitch video. After all, they’re not required.

Even without the pitch video, the campaign still managed to raise about a third of the $10,000 goal in just 10 days, which is certainly impressive. But I kinda wondered why it wasn’t doing better. However, there were still three weeks left, and I was prepping a two-part interview with Sam to help promote the campaign.

By the way (before I forget!), if you want to donate, here is the link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

Fast forward to Monday, and I was preparing the Sam interview for later on this week (you will definitely want to read this two-parter, trust me!). While questions and answers were going back and forth across the Atlantic, Sam typed the following…

SAMUEL – I’m particularly pleased with the Norway bridge as seen in the Indiegogo pitch video.

And then the following exchange happened…

JONATHAN – What video?

SAMUEL – The video on the Indiegogo page. It’s in the part where Jakub says we have made it in 3D.

JONATHAN – Um….

JONATHAN – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

JONATHAN – Watch the video. I’ll wait.

SAMUEL – It’s there in the video. I know it is.

JONATHAN – Seriously, click on the link. Watch the video.

SAMUEL – Why is the video not showing up? It was there when I launched it.

JONATHAN – Dude!!!

SAMUEL – I know because I watched it. Wonder when that glitched out.

JONATHAN – It was never there for me, but I’m sure it was awesome.

SAMUEL – Well, that explains why there were fewer views on the pitch video then I’dd like. But you did see the pitch video, right? I did send that to you, didn’t I?

JONATHAN – Nope and nope.

SAMUEL – Some journalist you are, not even looking for the pitch video. 😛

JONATHAN – I didn’t know there was one! I think you’re confusing me with Q.

SAMUEL – When the f*ck did it de-link? What bollocks. 😛

JONATHAN – You’re welcome. 😛

SAMUEL – Yeah seriously. Well…go take a look now. lol

And again, here’s that link to donate, folks:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans#

If ever there was a MUST-DONATE crowd-funding campaign, TREK SHORTS is certainly it!

Okay, I usually say things like “If you can afford to give a little something…” or “At least please share the link with your friends…” And yeah, consider me having said those things.

But seriously, get out your wallet! Go here and donate something:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trek-shorts-2021-by-fans-for-fans

Why am I so pumped about this new Indiegogo campaign from TREKYARDS‘ SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Brit who doesn’t quit when it comes to CGI animation? Well, first of all, it’s Sam Cockings! What he can’t do with a 3D starship just isn’t worth doing, people! But here’s the real reason you need to donate to this project:

IT’S NOT JUST ONE FAN FILM…IT’S SIX!!! AND ALL FOR JUST $10K!

How can Sam afford to produce SIX different fan films for just $10K (or whatever the heck that is in British pounds)? Well, actually, one of these films is already finished as a proof of concept. So you’re really just paying for five new fan films and reimbursing the costs for the sixth. But take a look at the incredible quality of the one that was just released:

You’ll probably recognize the four main actors in this fan film. There’s NICK COOK and his real-world wife LUCITA COOK on board the U.S.S. Intrepid from the long-running Scottish fan series of the same name. There’s NIMRAN SAUND, who did an amazing job back in 2013 filming scenes for TEMPORAL ANOMALY (which was released in 2019). And finally, making her triumphant return to fan films, the much beloved MICHELE SPECHT from STAR TREK CONTINUES plays a brand new character.

And that’s just ONE fan film!

Honestly, I don’t know why Sam is calling them “short.” The first one is pretty much pushing the 15-minute time limit imposed by the fan film guidelines. But I suppose if ViacomCBS can call their 15-minute mini-episodes Short Treks, Sam can make his just as long and call them Trek Shorts.

Anyway, to answer the question of how Sam can afford to make multiple releases for the price that some fan filmmakers raise for just ONE project, the answer is simple: virtual sets. But not just any virtual sets. Over the years, Sam has been collecting and developing some of the highest quality and most realistic virtual set models anywhere, which you can see from the above video. In fact, that’s where most of the funds raised will be going: 3D models of backgrounds and starships (which do cost money to create, as they are very time-consuming). Once Sam has them, he can animate and composite green screen footage of the actors. But paying 3D modelers is like paying for props or costumes…the time-consuming labor is not free.

Samuel Cockimgs (front) uses subtle blurring to create depth of field for the virtual Intrepid-class bridge.

The rest of the money raised will be used for the aforementioned props and costumes, studio equipment, cast expenses like travel, and catering…all done “on the cheap,” as it were.

So what will the other five fan films be about? Glad you asked…!

Continue reading “If ever there was a MUST-DONATE crowd-funding campaign, TREK SHORTS is certainly it!”

A surprise trailer for A LONG WAY FROM HOME blows away fans! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

I bet you didn’t see this coming! Well, at least I certainly didn’t. But most fans were taken completely by surprise last week to see a 90-second sneak peek at a fan film that seemingly no one knew about: A LONG WAY FROM HOME. Well, that’s not entirely true. Show-runner SAMUEL COCKINGS, the CGI wind beneath many fan filmmakers’ wings, knew about the project (because it’s his project!) as did the actors from the fan film community who will appear in it. This includes NICK COOK from the long-running fan series INTREPID, as well as NIMRAN SAUND from Samuel’s previous fan film masterpiece TEMPORAL ANOMALY.

Nick and Nimran are also both slated to appear in Samuel’s next “mega” fan production, the five-way fan film crossover event CONVERGENCE. But delays due to various issues (including COVID) have caused the release date to be pushed back quite a bit. So we weren’t really expecting to see anything from Samuel for a while…well, if you don’t count all of the other fan films he’s been working on lately like: STAR TREK: FIRST FRONTIER, DREADNOUGHT DOMINION: “We Are Many,”THE ROMULAN WAR: Part 1, the AVALON UNIVERSE, YORKTOWN: A TIME TO HEAL, TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE: “Endosymbiosis,” and lord knows what else at this point! Oh, TREKYARDS…don’t forget those podcasts!

So, yeah, we weren’t really expecting a brand new, unannounced project from Samuel, let alone one with an actual completed trailer that looked and sounded amazing! See for yourself…

With nearly 2,000 views in the first week, there with 165 likes and only one dislike on YouTube! When have you ever known only a single Trekkie out of thousands to have any complaint with something Star Trek related? (And who the heck is this person???)

Anyway, I had a lot of questions for the British Boy Wonder of CGI. So let’s hear what Samuel had to say…

Continue reading “A surprise trailer for A LONG WAY FROM HOME blows away fans! (interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)”

Surprising NEW CAST MEMBER added to CONVERGENCE! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

If you think of fan films without visual effects as being like plain chocolate bars, then there’s one person in our community who is definitely nuts!

Yes, folks, it’s time to check in once again with the elf who cobbles the CGI shoes, the beaver that builds the digital dam, Great Britain’s own SAMUEL COCKINGS. I like to joke that it’s quicker to list the fan films and series that Sam hasn’t worked on than those he has. And while that’s certainly a bit of an exaggeration, the fact is that in 2019 alone, Sam did the VFX for two episodes of DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, two episodes from the AVALON UNIVERSE, LINE OF DUTY from Aaron Vanderkley in Australia, THE FEDERATION FILES: “THE EQUINOX EFFECT”, WAR STORIES from the upcoming THE ROMULAN WAR fan film (which he’s also working on), plus his own mega fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY. In addition to all of this, Sam releases regular weekly episodes of TREKYARDS (click here for the YouTube playlist) with STUART FOLEY plus reviews, interviews, and other special Trek and scifi features.

Considering how busy he is, it’s a wonder Sam has the time to make yet ANOTHER Star Trek fan film, but back in 2018, he crowd-funded through an Indiegogo campaign $7,385 from 114 backers for CONVERGENCE (surpassing two stretch goals)! The fan film itself is a crossover of characters, aliens, ships, and/or actors from five different fan films: INTREPID, DARK ARMADA, RENEGADES, STARSHIP REPUBLIC, and Sam’s own TEMPORAL ANOMALY.

Although one green screen shooting weekend had already brought together four of the cast members (the European ones), the Indiegogo would fund a second green screen shoot, this time also flying in actor JIM VON DOLTEREN from America to Britain. The idea was to schedule the shoot for mid-2019 and release the completed film before the end of the year.

But that didn’t happen.

So what did happen? Well, why don’t I just let Sam tell you that himself…?

Hmmmm…a lot to unpack there. With so much news about the project, Sam and I had an informative one-on-one chat to go a little deeper into the significant casting change, the last year of production, progress on the visual effects, and the timing for production in 2020 and release in early 2021. Take a look…

TEMPORAL ANOMALY is finally released…it’s about time! (audio interview with SAMUEL COCKINGS)

The time has finally come! After nearly six years, TEMPORAL ANOMALY has been released to astound and amaze Star Trek fans. Written, directed, and produced by SAMUEL COCKINGS—the King, Ace, and Jack of all trades involving CGI animation—back in 2013, Temporal Anomaly has traveled a long and challenging path on its way to completion. This included an e-mail directly from CBS saying, “You can’t release this fan film!”

Yep, for only the fourth time, CBS stepped in to put the kibosh on a Star Trek fan film project (the others being Axanar, Federation Rising from Tommy Kraft, and “He Walked Among Us” from Star Trek: New Voyages. Considering there are literally several hundreds of Trek fan films, the VAST majority never hear from CBS. But Samuel did…just weeks before releasing his half-decade labor of love.

The fan film world was all ready, one year ago, to see this long-awaited masterpiece. In fact, I even featured a 38-minute audio interview with Samuel in mid-February of 2018 in anticipation of a March release. But then CBS contacted Samuel, and things came to an immediate halt!

However, in a very unexpected turn of events, Samuel was able to convince CBS to allow him to make certain changes and release the fan film after all, even negotiating a one-time exemption from the 30-minute limit to allow for his full 50-minute film to play out as scripted.

Unfortunately, making the required changes—which included stripping out the music track and finding a composer to re-score the entire feature—took nearly another year. In the meantime, Samuel made other improvements to the VFX, CGI backgrounds, etc. The result is one of the most visually stunning and impressive green screen Trek fan films you are ever likely to see.

And see it you shall, right now (in two parts)…

Pretty amazing, huh? Now take a listen to a FANtastic new audio interview with Samuel. This time, we discuss exactly what happened with CBS and how Samuel was able to convince them to change their minds and let him release Temporal Anomaly…and even make it 50 minutes long! We also discuss the fan film world in general, what makes good CGI, behind-the-scenes stories from Samuel’s production, and updates on his next fan project, Convergence.

If you’re thinking of listening to the following interview before watching the fan film—DON’T DO IT, MAN! There are spoilers in the interview! Watch Temporal Anomaly first, and THEN listen to this…

SAMUEL COCKINGS 2013 and SAMUEL COCKINGS 2018 take a look forward and back at TEMPORAL ANOMALY!

For SAMUEL COCKINGS, the Harry Potter of CGI, it has truly been a long road getting from there to here. “There” was 2013 when he launched a Kickstarter to fund his fan film project, STAR TREK: TEMPORAL ANOMALY. A month later, he’d raised £1,741 (about $2,700) with 27 backers. Compared to some of the Trek fan films at the time, this was a “humble” amount, but it was enough to assemble half a dozen actors, get them into Stafleet uniforms, and film them in front of green screens for a nearly hour-long fan video movie.

And then five years happened.

To be fair to Samuel, he was doing anything BUT procrastinating during that time. His skills and resources were constantly expanding, and his abilities to create a better and better looking fan film around that green screen footage were growing by the day!

Early last year, however, just as he was finally planning to debut his long-awaited fan film, Samuel released a trailer that included footage of Picard, Riker, Worf, Troi, etc.—who would be in a short 90-second “prologue” to the film—and got the attention of CBS (and not in a good way). But rather than shut him down completely, CBS worked with Samuel to find a way that he could release his fan film and not have to toss all of his hard work. So…kudos to CBS for finally taking a chill pill.

Those CBS changes have required nearly ten months to complete, but now Temporal Anomaly is nearly ready to premiere later this month. And when it does, I’ve got a great audio interview with His Royal Trekness that you’re all gonna enjoy listening to.

But right now, in anticipation of the impending release of five and a half years of work and dedication, Samuel has posted a special video which takes a look back at the journey…including footage of himself from 2013 and his initial Kickstarter campaign plus comparisons of shots and CGI from back then with what we’ll see in just a couple more weeks.

Take a look…

CONVERGENCE winds up 134% funded, releases TEST SCENE Teaser!

At midnight Pacific Time last Friday (while I was on East Coast time in Atlanta…don’t worry, folks, Axacon coverage is coming later this week!), the 5-way crossover fan film CONVERGENCE finished up its Indiegogo campaign with $7,385 from 114 backers!  This was a third over their posted goal of $5,500, and allowed them to surpass two stretch goals.  The first (at $6,000) would cover the Indiegogo fees and perk production costs, meaning that all $5,500 could go to the production itself.  The second stretch goal ($7,000) will fund both a new late TNG/DS9 era uniform for actor Jim Von Dolteren (of a quality to match the others) as well as a special behind-the-scenes bonus video with interviews, bloopers, and “making of” features.

Even though Indiegogo offers the “In Demand” status for any campaign that exceeds its goal (meaning, you can continue raising money even after your campaign “ends”), sh0w-runner and Hobbit ring-bearer (to bring them all, get it?) SAMUEL COCKINGS has decided that he’s now got enough to make this happen.  So the campaign is now officially closed.

As you might remember, Samuel was contacted by a concerned CBS when they saw the trailer to his other upcoming Trek fan film TEMPORAL ANOMALY.  And even though discussions with CBS were cordial, and Samuel reached an agreement when Temporal Anomaly could be released with some changes and is now allowed to exceed the 30-minute runtime limit, Samuel prefers not to poke the bear when it comes to the Trek copyright holders.  He set out to raise $5,500.  He did so, got a little extra to improve the finished project, and now he doesn’t need to keep taking in more money.

On the final day of the campaign, Samuel released a sneak-peek “test scene teaser” showing what Convergence will look like when finished.  Well…kinda.  Y’see, it’s a TEST scene, and it still needs quite a bit of work.  Samuel says it’s got the wrong LCARS, it’s missing a Master Systems Display, a dedication plaque, and possibly some extra crew members in the background.  The sound and music aren’t finalized yet either.  “It’s a work-in-progress (WIP),” Samuel told me with the enthusiasm of someone tackling a challenging project that he’s really excited about.  And I’m also excited!

And I think, after you watch this sneak-peek video, even though it’s still rough around the edges, you’ll be excited, too…

LAST CHANCE to donate to CONVERGENCE (new “4th wall” video available)!

The Indiegogo campaign for the multi-crossover fan production CONVERGENCE ends in less than two days!  Convergence unites actors and elements from FIVE different fan films and series—Intrepid, Dark Armada, Starship Republic, Renegades, and the soon-t0-be-released Temporal Anomaly—under the direction of fan CGI wunderkind SAMUEL COCKINGS.

The campaign has already met its primary goal of $5,500 and currently sits at $6,040.  But if Samuel can reach $6,400, he’ll be able to afford an improved late-DS9/TNG movie-era uniform…or possibly even something a little more, shall we say, futuristic (since one of the characters will be traveling back from the future).  I’m pretty sure he can make that goal before things close up.

And the campaign will be closing up.  Although reaching a goal on Indiegogo allows a campaign to continue raising funds after the campaign “ends” (it’s called “In Demand” status), Samuel has no intention of doing so.  Since he’s offering a lot of really exciting perks, he doesn’t want CBS to think that he’s trying to turn this project into an online shopping site.  (Right now, Samuel has a good relationship with CBS after making the changes they requested to Temporal Anomaly before releasing it…which is why it’s been delayed.)

So once this campaign is over, it’s over—and the perks will no longer be available.  If you want any of ’em, donate NOW!

There are also currently some exciting stretch goals.  At $7,000 (certainly within reach!) fans will get to see special behind-the-scenes features: bloopers, interviews, making-of documentary, etc.  $8,000 will see the addition of a NEW SCENE in the corridor (which requires a new virtual CGI “set” be created), available as a special direct-to-donors extended cut.  $9,000 funds a second exclusive NEW SCENE, this one in Engineering.  And $10,000 will allow Samuel to create a new shuttle design rather than using the existing Type 11 shuttlecraft we’ve all seen before.

So take those credit cards out of your wallets (assuming you’re so inclined!), and let’s try to give our Trekyards buddy a donation boost as far as we can:

Click here to donate to Convergence.

And here’s a fun little video with NICK COOK and ROBIN HIERT that knocks on that fourth wall a little while showing the quality that can be expected once this ambitious cross-over fan production is completed…