DEMONS – The latest AVALON UNIVERSE fan film triumph! (audio interview with VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN)

The AVALON UNIVERSE made its unexpected debut in our universe on Halloween of 2018…which was somewhat appropriate, considering the storyline of the debut episode (the 2-part GHOST SHIP) was kinda a “Star-Trek-meets-The Walking Dead” mash-up. Exactly one year later, on Halloween 2019, the latest Avalon Universe fan film, DEMONS (the third story so far), premiered the first of its two segments, with part 2 coming out a week later. In between was the one-part AVALON LOST, which came out in February of 2019.

All three stories were something quite different than most other fan films…and I don’t mean just the unusual meshing of Kelvin-verse uniforms with TOS-style sets…along with nacelles and shuttlecraft which looked slightly different than the familiar Prime Universe technology. No, what fans noticed almost immediately was a quality level—of acting, directing, lighting, camera angles and lens selection, sound mixing, film editing, pacing—that was a step or three above the vast majority of other Star Trek fan films.

This is by no means meant to diminish the achievements of those other fan filmmakers…some of whom have used the same TOS sets (initially the former Starship Farragut and Star Trek Continues sets in Kingsland, GA and—later—the TOS sets at WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas). But when it came to the Avalon Universe, fans just knew this was something extra special.

That quality came primarily from the two show-runners: VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN, two die-hard Trekkers who work professionally in the film industry in Arkansas. With training in acting and film production, Victoria and Josh brought a level of craft not typically seen in most fan films…and fans watched these releases on YouTube in the tens and even hundreds of thousands.

Demons was the first of the three Avalon Universe fan films to be crowd-funded, raising just over $6,500 from 102 backers (including $45 from me!) on Indiegogo back in March of this year. And even though that was 25% short of their $8,500 goal, the completed fan film still looks mighty impressive.

I present below the two parts of Demons (there are links in the first paragraph of this blog to features on the earlier Avalon releases—along with additional audio interviews with Victoria and Josh). When you watch Demons, look for cameo appearances from two well-known Trek fan filmmakers: VANCE MAJOR and GLEN WOLFE. After that, I invite you all to share my latest fascinating interview with Victoria and Josh. But first, take a look at this

and this

Pretty impressive, huh? Wanna learn more about how a project like this came together? Have a listen as I interview director/co-writer/lead actor/producer Victoria Fox and co-writer/DP/production designer/executive producer/lots-of-other-things Joshua Irwin about their latest fan film masterpiece…

Star Trek FAN FILMS are most certainly NOT DEAD…here’s what’s coming down the pike!

No, not THAT Pike! But if you know one of those crazy people who keeps saying that Star Trek fan films are “dead” or that the guidelines or the Axanar lawsuit “destroyed” Trek fan films forever…well, it’s time for a little reality check!

Not only are Star Trek fan films alive and thriving, but we’re about to be inundated with new major productions at all levels of funding ranging from pocket-change to six-figure budgets.

The past year has already been loaded with a plethora of new fan film releases: Galaxy Hopper, Galactic Battles, Temporal Anomaly, Avalon Lost, The Fighting Fourth, Last Survivor, Diplomatic Relations, Desperate Gambit, The Holy Core, Dreadnought Dominion, All Ahead Full, Children of Eberus, The Looking Glass, Confrontations, To Have Boldly Gone, Repercussions, Stunt Doubles, and the just-released Line of Duty. And those are just the ones I’ve covered here on Fan Film Factor! Check out the Star Trek Reviewed blog for a ridiculously more detailed list including all of the smaller fan productions that I don’t usually have a chance to get to.

But you ain’t seen nuthin‘ yet!

Within the next six months, a host of exciting NEW Star Trek fan films are scheduled for release onto YouTube—some of them eagerly anticipated. Last week, I reached out to some prominent fan filmmakers to get updates on their productions and when fans will get a chance to finally see them.

Here’s just some of what you can look forward to in the very near future…

Continue reading “Star Trek FAN FILMS are most certainly NOT DEAD…here’s what’s coming down the pike!”

INTERLUDE GoFundMe tops $18,000…nearing the goal!

It wasn’t long ago that I was fearing, even assuming, that the GoFundMe campaign for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE would fall far short of its $19.5K goal. And so my directors and I created a “point of no return” minimum budget of $13.5K that would guarantee us being able to shoot in November.

But after a an amazing “Thousand Dollar Thursday” push a couple of weeks ago that turned into FIVE Thousand Dollar Thursday, we blew past that minimum and were now looking at the reality of shooting this thing (or at least the Ares Studios scenes) in November…barely 10 weeks away! And now that we had over $17K in the coffers, that meant we didn’t have to tighten our belts nearly as much. It also meant it was time to make a final budget!

Last Friday, I had a very productive 90-minute production call with my two co-directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN. They’re both super-busy right now on other professional productions, as well as finishing up their latest Avalon Universe fan film “Demons.”  But we carved out some time to add up everything we now could and couldn’t afford to do with Interlude.

Without going too deeply into the weeds (I’m done with the hassles of detailed budget blogs—too many back-seat producers out there), I can tell you all with absolute confidence and excitement that we’re now back to being able to do everything that we originally wanted to do in this fan film—with two notable exceptions….

The first item where we’re still short is that we completely forgot to budget hard drive storage for all of our video footage!  (I knew we were gonna forget something!  I even said so in my budget blog…third to last paragraph.)  Josh’s current hard drive and back-up drive are filled with Avalon footage, so we need to buy new drives for Interlude.  Two 10TB G-drives (one for back-up) are about $600 total.  So we still need funds for that.

The second item is contingency (also known as “what could possibly go wrong?”) funds.  Assuming we raise enough to buy the hard drives but don’t bring in a penny more, then we’re at a point where we have to pray that everything goes perfectly and nothing unexpected pops up…which almost never happens, of course!

All of which is to say that this crowd-funding campaign is still very much alive and active, so please keep spreading the word. Remember that there are still very nice Axanar poster sets available from MARK PAYTON for $125 each (with proceeds after shipping & handling being donated by Mark to Interlude).  And of course, if you haven’t donated yet (or would like to donate more), here’s the link…

https://www.gofundme.com/interlude

Donations do keep coming in, and we’re just about at $18,300 (including about $100 in direct Paypal donations) from 215 backers. Another $1,200 gets us those hard drives and $1,000 in contingency. I’m confident we can make it!

Continue reading “INTERLUDE GoFundMe tops $18,000…nearing the goal!”

ST: Discovery’s ANTHONY RAPP shares film festival performance nomination with two TREK FAN FILM ACTORS!

Okay, this…is…just…plain…COOL!

Although the CBS fan film guidelines say that Star Trek actors can’t appear in Trek fan films anymore, the rules don’t say anything about being nominated in the same category for an independent film festival award!

In this case, the film festival is INDIE SHORT FEST – the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival. And this is no minor film festival. ISF-LA has regular bimonthly screenings in Hollywood and Burbank and features judges from across the movie industry and film schools. In July alone, over 200 independent short films were considered for judging in various production and performance categories.

And that’s where we find Star Trek: Discovery‘s ANTHONY “Paul Stamets” RAPP going head-to-head against two actors from the latest Avalon Universe fan film, Avalon Lost: CHUCK MERE and VICTORIA FOX. None of the above are nominated for anything involving Star Trek, but it’s still an interesting intersection. Typically, most Trek fan film actors aren’t of the caliber to qualify for inclusion in major film festival award shows…and certainly don’t appear nominated in the same category as actual Star Trek actors!

For this show, the award nomination is actually for the very unique category (at least as far as I’ve seen), “Best Acting Duo.” Many times, an actor’s true abilities can be highlighted and enhanced through an amazing chemistry they share with a fellow actor in the same production. This category recognizes when that “magic” happens.

Chuck and Victoria are nominated for a film titled Before My Eyes, about a faulted relationship seen through the eyes of a grieving woman and a regretful man. Directed by Mason Bowen.

Antony Rapp is nominated alongside VIVIAN KERR in a film called Scrap. Kerr plays single mom Beth who get fired and finds herself living in her car, struggling to hide her homelessness from her estranged brother Ben (played by Rapp). Directed by Leena Pendharkar.

Normally, I’d be rooting for the Star Trek actor (regardless of how I might feel about his TV series). But this time, my heart belongs to Chuck and Victoria…not only because they’re fan film actors but because Victoria is also producing and co-directing my fan film INTERLUDE! (Remember to please donate!)

And I might as well spill the beans: Victoria is also going to appear in my fan film, albeit in a small role. Victoria is immensely talented, and while lately I’ve been seeing more of the “production” side of her skills, I’ve also watched her perform in both fan films and actual films. And her acting skills are top notch. In fact, if you have a chance to watch this newly released film by my other director, JOSHUA IRWIN, I highly recommend you check it out. Victoria appears in it (as does the lead actor of the Trek fan films Ghost Ship and Avalon Lost), and it’s just a really well-crafted, entertaining film.

In the meantime, I’ll keep you all posted on who wins the ISF-LA award for “Best Acting Duo” for this round.

How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)

Last week, I revealed that I’m going to need to raise $18,800 (possibly more if I end up getting production insurance) in order to make my fan film INTERLUDE, which takes place in what I’ve decided to call the “Axanar Universe.” Now, $18.8K is pretty ambitious in the post-guidelines fan film world. So how am I going to get there?

Over the years that I’ve published the Fan Film Factor blog, I’ve seen a LOT of crowd-funding campaigns—some more successful than others—and I’ve noticed some things that work and some that don’t. I’ve shared this “acquired wisdom” with many folks along the way, but now it’s time to see if I can practice what I’ve been preaching!

They say that a magician should never reveal how they do their tricks, but today I am going to do just that. I’m gonna tell you all exactly what I’m planning to try to make this a successful crowd-funding campaign. And hey, if you’ve got any additional ideas that I haven’t thought of (and don’t require me to “break bad”), please feel free to share them in the comments.

Okay, let’s pull back the magician’s curtain…

Continue reading “How I plan to have a SUCCESSFUL crowd-funder (HOPEFULLY!!!!)”

My STAR TREK fan film is going to cost HOW MUCH???

$18,800. WTF???

It’s kinda mind-blowing, I know, considering that my fan film, INTERLUDE, is shooting on two existing sets (Ares Studios and Neutral Zone Studios), the guidelines don’t allow me to pay people, and we’re only planning to film for three days. On the other hand, my goal is to do a top-quality fan film…a worthy sequel to Prelude to Axanar. And apparently, even keeping things really tight budget-wise, doing this thing right is gonna cost some bucks.

At the risk of invoking 1980s rock-and-roll wisdom, I may ask myself: “Well, how did I get here?” (And more to the point: “My God, what have I done???”) Let me take you through it.

Now, before I get started diving into the nitty gritty, let me warn you that this is going to be a looooooong blog. If you don’t care, then by all means, please skip it. I won’t take it personally. And some people (including one with the initials A.P.) told me not to even bother explaining that high number. “It’s gotta be Axanar quality,” he said. “It costs what it costs. People will accept that.”

Maybe. But if even I was shocked by that high number, then I just know others are gonna wonder if I’m just trying come up with some sushi and tire money…and believe me, nothing could be farther from the truth! So I want to be as forthcoming and up front with all of you as I can be. And when someone says to me later, “Hey, I know you don’t need that much money for such-and-such,” I’ll just answer, “Yes, I do—check out paragraph 27 of my blog!”

Also, as a blogger who devotes his waking moments to bringing fans closer to fan filmmakers and their processes, discussing my budget in detail provides a unique opportunity for a deep-dive into what I consider to be one of the most fascinating aspects of production: figuring out what everything is gonna cost.

So if you haven’t bailed on the blog yet, let’s all boldly go into Jonathan’s budget for Interlude

Continue reading “My STAR TREK fan film is going to cost HOW MUCH???”

Who will DIRECT my STAR TREK fan film?

“But I really want to direct…”

That sentence has become a true Hollywood cliche, spoken by actors, writers, producers, editors, gaffers, grips, VFX guys, sound FX guys, accountants, caterers, Uber drivers, and Starbaucks baristas. In this town, it seems like everybody “really wants to direct.”

Not me, though.

I don’t know the first thing about directing—not even when to shout “Action!” and “Cut!” And I don’t pretend to know. Of course, I applaud those countless fan filmmakers who have taught themselves to direct through creating their own fan productions. More power to ’em! But I know my limits…and I don’t want my fan film to suffer just because I haven’t got the slightest idea what the frack I’m doing.

Fortunately, the fan film community is full of folks who DO know what they’re doing…including directors. Now, you might be thinking that I first decided to make my fan film and then went out to find a director. In fact, the exact opposite happened—and not only did I find one director, I found TWO!

Let me tell you what happened…

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WARP 66 STUDIOS expands its TOS sets…with the help of JOSH IRWIN from Avalon!

Before we get to WARP 66 STUDIOS, a quick update on the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film “Demons.” With less than 15 hours left(!!!!), they are at $6,290 from 97 backers…plus another $500 directly from a special backer. That means that the campaign has reached nearly 80% of its $8500 goal. Can they get the rest of the way before tonight’s deadline at midnight? If you haven’t donated yet and want to, here’s the link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Okay, on to WARP 66 Studios. Named after its founders GLEN WOLF and DAN REYNOLDS (Wolf And Reynolds Productions) followed by the year of the premiere of Star Trek (1966), their TOS sets are located in northern Arkansas on property owned by Dan and other property owned by Glen. Already, they and their team have constructed a partial Constitution-class bridge and the cockpit of a shuttlecraft, both of which were used in the recent fan films THE FEDERATION FILES: “Galaxy Hopper” and and AVALON LOST.

Unlike the TOS sets at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA, WARP 66 Studios is not necessarily open to any fan film, nor is it exclusive only to Glen and Dan’s Federation Files projects. Glen explained:

Currently, the sets are for The Federation Files and friends of the production group. Basically, if a member of our crew whats to make his/her own film, they may use our sets. We are in no way “competition” for The Neutral Zone or James Cawley’s Fan Film Academy. We are building sets for specific shoots, all of them can be considered temporary aside from the bridge.People may contact me, but due to the fluid nature of the sets, I can not promise any particular piece would be available.

This past weekend, Avalon Universe co-showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN (who also lives in Arkansas) spent a full day helping with the construction of a partial sickbay set, a briefing room, and an extended corridor that will be used as part of the USS Excalibur in the upcoming Avalon fan film “Demons.” Josh had this to say about the experience of working to help create the new sets…

It’s honestly a dream come true to spend the day building a space ship to film on. 14-year-old me would be very jealous of what 38-year-old me did today.

Remember to make a donation to Avalon’s Indiegogo before the end of today (if you haven’t already and are so included) or at least spread the link via social media. And in the meantime, enjoy these photos that Josh took over the weekend at WARP 66 Studios…

Continue reading “WARP 66 STUDIOS expands its TOS sets…with the help of JOSH IRWIN from Avalon!”

Can the Klingons help AVALON get $500 in donations in 4 days???

Currently, the Indiegogo campaign for the third AVALON UNIVERSE fan film, “Demons,” stands at $5,500 from 86 backers (64% of the way to their $8,500 goal). Actually, there’s an additional $500 donation that came in that didn’t get recorded (read more about that glitch here), so they’re really 70% of the way there!

Last week, show-runners JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX extended their campaign for 8 more days, trying to attract a few extra dollars, if possible. So far, it’s worked to get them to where they are, but there’s still a way to go. It’d be great to reach their goal, but if that’s not possible by Monday, Josh and Victoria are hoping for at least another $500, which will make a really big difference for the production.

So I’m doing my part in sharing the following three videos they’ve released showing the quality of the visual effects being done by the wizard of speed and time, SAMUEL COCKINGS. These are only pre-visualizations (rough animations to establish motion), but they show what some of the Klingon ships will look like in the Avalon Universe, which is similar to the prime universe but also slightly different in fun and fascinating ways. It gives the producers a bit more creative freedom than fan films that hew more closely to Trek canon usually get with ship and costume design.

Anyway, take a look at these three short videos, because they’re really cool…

Excited? Well, the live action scenes are just as well-produced, as Joshua and Victoria are both industry professionals in their “real” lives. You can listen to a great interview I recently did with them here…

$500 in 4 days…and you can help make it happen! Or if you can’t, maybe a fan friend of yours can. So please share the link and, if you’re feeling generous, help these fan producers make more Star Trek for the rest of us to enjoy…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/demons-a-star-trek-fan-film–2

Major CONTROVERSY for NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA – the bad, ugly, and the good…

Over this past weekend, two fan films that were scheduled to shoot on the TOS sets at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA (formerly used by Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut), made major announcements based on some unexpected new pricing policies implemented by the studio at the last minute. It wasn’t pretty.

Previously, Neutral Zone Studios, purchased last year by RAY TESI, had followed the lead of the now-defunct Starbase Studios in Oklahoma and (later) Arkansas of charging fans only for the cost of electricity and utilities but otherwise allowing the use the sets for free for any fan production to film on. Of course, nothing is really “free,” and the costs for rent and upkeep had to be paid by someone…and in this case, it’s been Ray Tesi.

Just this past month alone, Ray had to write $6,000 in checks for rent, utilities and his annual insurance on the facility and sets. In a typical year, Ray’s out-of-pocket costs—just to keep the sets from winding up in the dumpster—is about $42,000!

To try to help with expenses, Ray launched a Patreon campaign almost a year ago seeking small monthly donations from fans. While it’s doing modestly well—currently taking in about $800 a month from 64 backers—that still leaves Ray with nearly $33,000 in annual expenses. For a guy who is paying for this venture out of his retirement fund , this is a significant commitment. And frankly, I personally think more fans need to step forward and help Ray cover his costs…because if Ray runs out of money, these sets really will wind up in a dumpster.

But more on that in a moment. First, let me tell you about what happened this past weekend—both the bad, the ugly, and the good…

Continue reading “Major CONTROVERSY for NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA – the bad, ugly, and the good…”