Just $535 away from saving ERIC WATTS’ house!

Eight days ago when I first covered this story, ERIC L. WATTS had just launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $11,000…of which, the first $6,000 would go toward getting his house out of foreclosure and the other $5,000 would pay off the credit card debt accrued from Eric personally covering the shortfalls from the TREKLANTA convention (held each year since 2011). For the past five years, that convention has hosted what is now known as the BJO AWARDS, the only annual contest focused exclusively on honoring Star Trek fan films.

While I don’t usually cover campaigns for personal crowd-funding help, in Eric’s case, I made an exception because Treklanta and the Bjo Awards are a special resource for our fan film community, and I’d rather not lose either of them. And of course, Eric is a friend, and I don’t want the guy to be homeless.

I’ll be honest with you—I doubted that Eric would be able to pull this off…even just making it to $6,000 to save his house. It wasn’t that I doubted the generosity of our community. Heck, my own recent crowd-funding for Interlude has been surprisingly successful. But this isn’t a campaign for a fan film. Donors won’t get anything in return for supporting Eric’s campaign…other than the satisfaction of helping a fellow human being in need.

But it turns out that our community has quite a big heart after all! And in just a little over a week, Eric is within $535 from being able to save his house…and just in time, as his past-due mortgage payments must be received by early September (I don’t have the specific date) or else his home goes into foreclosure.

Part of the reason for the success of Eric’s campaign is certainly Eric’s reputation as an important part of our fan film and Star Trek community, along with his work in organizing the Bjo Awards each year. Another is that Eric wisely made use of a relatively new crowd-funding feature on Facebook where donations can be made through their site, as well.

So instead of having one campaign trying to reach $11,000 to cover mortgage and credit card debt, Eric now has two campaigns, each trying to reach only $6,000 combined to cover just the past-due mortgage itself. (Paying off the credit card will potentially be a separate endeavor. Right now, the priority for Eric is to keep his home.) Here are links to the two campaigns…

GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/help-save-eric039s-house-treklanta-amp-the-bjo-awards

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donate/2457823331114420/

By splitting the campaign in two, a new avenue for donations was opened, and now the GoFundMe is up to $3,145 from 52 donors (including me), and the Facebook total is at $2,320 from 53 backers. That combines to $5,465…just $535 away from the $6,000 Eric needs to (after fees) save his house. I think he might just be able to pull this off after all!

Eric provided me with the following statement of gratitude…

Continue reading “Just $535 away from saving ERIC WATTS’ house!”

RED ALERT! The BJO AWARDS are in jeopardy…along with TREKLANTA and ERIC WATTS’ house!

For the past nine years, ERIC L. WATTS has been chairman of the annual TREKLANTA convention, a small con in the Atlanta area that has always been very supportive of Star Trek fan films. In fact, for the last half-decade, Eric and Treklanta have hosted the annual BJO AWARDS—originally called the Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards, and rechristened the “Bjo’s” after the woman credited with saving Star Trek from an early cancelation in 1968, BJO TRIMBLE.

Those awards, and the Treklanta convention, have been a special boon to the Star Trek fan film world, letting us celebrate—year after year—the best our community has to offer. Eric has never charged fan filmmakers a fee to register for the Bjo’s. Trek fan productions were simply included in the contest if they met the qualifications…and most did.

Eric has done so much for the fan film community. Now he needs us to do something for him…and it’s pretty much an emergency!

Treklanta has never drawn huge crowds, and that has resulted in years finishing in the red. Rather than default on commitments and risk businesses no longer willing to do business with Treklanta, Eric would pay off the shortfalls out of his own pocket, using credit cards when there was too much to cover with available funds.

As the years went on, the credit card debt piled up with Eric only able to pay the minimums and interest mounting. Eventually, just making those minimum payments delayed Eric’s ability to submit his own mortgage payments on time.

Now Eric is about to lose his home, still buried in credit card debt, all because he wanted to keep a convention going that celebrated Star Trek and its fan films.

It’s tempting to do a whole bunch of woulda/shoulda/coulda to Eric. But advice on handling things differently over the last nine years isn’t going to fix the immediate problem. Eric needs $6,000 to pay his past-due mortgage, and another $5,000 pays off the convention’s credit card.

Eric has just set up a GoFundMe campaign, and in the first 7 hours, 13 fans donated $635 (including $50 from me)…or about 6% of what he needs. There’s still a long way to go, but the news is only just beginning to make its way around fandom. Please help spread the word and, if possible, make a donation…even if it’s just a small one.

Click here to save Treklanta, the Bjos, and Eric’s House.

Once we help put out this fire, we fans can step up with some ideas to help make sure that Eric doesn’t fall down this slippery slope again (like maybe charging fan filmmakers a small $10 or $20 registration fee to enter the Bjo Awards contest). But right now, it’s all hands on deck to help someone in need.

Below is Eric’s public plea for assistance. You can tell this was not an easy video for him to make, and all the more reason to try to offer him some desperately needed assistance…

2019 BJO AWARD winners from TREKLANTA!

Who says Star Trek fan films are dead? Certainly not I! And certainly not the 2019 BJO AWARD winners, which included a number of first-time Star Trek fan filmmakers and their projects…along with winners who are veterans in the community.

The annual Bjo Awards show takes place each each at the TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, which celebrates Star Trek in general and Star Trek fan films specifically. A total of 28 new Trek fan films, all released during calendar year 2018, qualified for consideration by the panel of judges (view the entire list here).

The finalists were announced last week in 11 different categories. And interestingly enough, over half of the winners (six) were for fan films produced in Northwest Arkansas! Specifically, the fan film GHOST SHIP from Arkansas writer/director JOSHUA IRWIN took four Bjo Awards, and the fan film ADVENTURES OF THE USS PARKVIEW: “THE BUNNY INCIDENT” from Arkansas writer/director/composer KEVIN CROXTON took two Bjos.

Another three awards were claimed by the wonder from Down Under, Australian fan filmmaker AARON VANDERKELY and his team for their NX-era fan films GOOD MEN and THE FALL OF STARBASE ONE.

Of the other two awards, one went to MATTHEW BLACKBURN of California for the final installment of the “Survivor Trilogy,” LAST SURVIVOR, and the other to SHELTON E. WALKER for a guest actor appearance as Commodore Alwine in the two-part STARSHIP ENDEAVOUR: “THE MONOLITH, PART ONE” and “THE MONOLITH, PART TWO” from Potemkin Pictures in Alabama.

The judges this year were Diana Dru BotsfordAndrew GreenbergJason P. HuntDeborah StevensonWilliam Schlichter, and Andrew Wallace. The presenters included Star Trek: DS9 veteran actor Aron “NogEisenbergBill Blair, and Nichole McAuley.

And now, let’s find out who won what…!

Continue reading “2019 BJO AWARD winners from TREKLANTA!”

FINALISTS announced for the 2019 BJO AWARDS!

Each year at the annual TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, GA, the Star Trek fan film community holds its version of the Academy Awards. But instead of Oscars, ours are called Bjos, named after legendary fan BJO TRIMBLE, who is credited with having saved Star Trek from cancellation back in 1968.

This will be the fifth consecutive year that Treklanta has honored Star Trek fan films and their creators with awards. Originally named the Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards, the name was changed to honor Bjo Trimble after the 2016 awards were presented by Mrs. Trimble herself. For a full listing of previous winners and the complete history of these awards, click here to visit their website.

Treklanta will be held this coming weekend at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel, and tickets are still available. The guest list includes Star Trek cast members and background players, authors, artists, fan filmmakers, fan club representatives, and a host of others. While not a large convention, those who attend Treklanta always have VERY positive things to say about the experience there.

Fan film selections are made by Treklanta Chairman ERIC L. WATTS based on Star Trek fan films released during the previous calendar year and which meet certain requirements for eligibility. (For a complete list of all 28 selections for this year’s competition, click here.) Then finalists are chosen for various categories (this year, there are 11) based on points determined by a panel of judges. Typically, there are four finalists per category, but occasionally, an unbreakable tie for fourth place ups the number of finalists in a specific category.

The judges this year are Diana Dru Botsford, Andrew Greenberg, Jason P. Hunt, Deborah Stevenson, William Schlichter, and Andrew Wallace. Winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony to be held Sunday afternoon, May 26, at Treklanta. Presenters will include Aron Eisenberg, Bill Blair, and Nichole McAuley.

Below is a list of finalists with links to the films…

Continue reading “FINALISTS announced for the 2019 BJO AWARDS!”

TREKLANTA announces BJO AWARDS qualifying fan films!

While Star Trek fan films might have a small presence at certain independent conventions, and while a few film festivals now feature categories for “fan films” to enter, there remains only one annual convention dedicated to Star Trek and Star Trek fan films: TREKLANTA.

Treklanta will be taking place over Memorial Day weekend (May 24-26) at the impressive Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel. Although small in size, the convention usually gets rave reviews, and the celebrity guests are fairly impressive, including a mix of folks from TV Star Trek, written Star Trek, fan club Star Trek, and of course, Star Trek fan films. Among the guests are…

  • Aron Eisenberg – “Nog” on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,
  • Nichole McAuley – A frequent background actress on Voyager and occasional body double for Jeri Ryan’s character Seven of Nine,
  • David R. George IIIThe New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who co-wrote the first-season Star Trek: Voyager episode “Prime Factors” and the author of 18 Star Trek novels and 18 articles for Star Trek Magazine,
  • Paul Jenkins – Eisner Award winning writer of both DC and Marvel Comics characters and current director and co-writer of the upcoming Axanar fan film sequels,
  • Randall Landers – Founder and show-runner for the numerous fan series released by Potemkin Pictures,
  • Greg Teft – actor in fan films including Starship Republic, episodes of the Minard saga, and the upcoming Constar Chronicles (for which he also wrote and directed a two-part episode).
  • Dan Toole – the president of STARFLEET, the International Star Trek Fan Association (the world’s oldest continuously active Trek fan club…I’ve been a member since 1983!)

There are other guests, too, and you can view them here.


But by far, the most anticipated aspect of Treklanta is the annual BJO AWARDS, named after the legendary fan savior of Star Trek, Bjo Trimble. Each year for the past half-decade, these awards have been presented in a number of different categories to numerous Star Trek fan films. They are the closest thing our community has to the Oscars. The judges are kept anonymous to avoid “lobbying” (and no, I am not a judge), and the winners are announced during the convention—with awards presented to the winners.

Each year, selections are made from the Star Trek fan films that were released the previous calendar that meet certain eligibility requirements. This year’s requirements are the following…

Continue reading “TREKLANTA announces BJO AWARDS qualifying fan films!”

Fan Film BJO AWARDS Wikipedia page almost gets deleted!

Whew!  We fan film Trekkers just dodged a bullet!  Well, maybe not a bullet, per se, but certainly a bit of bird poop heading straight for our windshield!

Many of you might not be aware that there is actually a Wikipedia page for the BJO Awards, which are given out each year in multiple categories to the best Star Trek fan films.  Presented each year at the annual TREKLANTA convention in Georgia, the BJOs were first called the The Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards and began in 2015.  The awards were renamed “The Bjo’s” the following year when Bjo Trimble (the fan credited with saving Star Trek from cancelation with the great letter-writing campaign back in 1968) and her husband John were in attendance in announce the winners.

With four years of nominees and winning films/actors/directors/etc., plus coverage on Trek Today, Trekmovie.com, Treksphere, and here on Fan Film Factor, I wasn’t surprised to discover a few weeks ago that a fan film aficionado calling himself “Leo Walsh” had created a very nicely laid out and thorough Wikipedia page for the Bjo Awards.  (And no, it wasn’t me.  I don’t have nearly enough time to do that much work!)

Yesterday, I discovered through the grapevine that the Bjo Awards Wikipedia entry had been anonymously nominated for DELETION by a Wiki non-admin going by the name of “ShadowOwl.”  I was sent this link to the challenge and the response.  Apparently, ShadowOwl’s problem was stated as simply: “Non-notable award only sourced to IMDB.”

Huh?

The original entry was extensively sourced to numerous outlets (including my blog and others), and Mr. Walsh responded with a very passionate and well-presented counter-argument.

I was quickly preparing a “RED ALERT!” blog asking if there might be any reader(s) who operate as a Wikipedia author or editor—or who might know one—and could help out in the discussion to resolve the issue.

But before I could even finish writing the blog (let alone publish it), the nomination  for deletion was withdrawn.  Yay!  However, not wanting to waste a well-written introduction, and figuring that most of you might not even be aware that there even is a Wikipedia entry for the Bjo Awards, I decided to post this blog anyway.  Check out the wiki-page—it’s REALLY well done!

 

Guest blogger ERIC L. WATTS discusses having ALEC PETERS at Treklanta… (editorial)

Today, please welcome special Guest Blogger ERIC L. WATTS, Chairman of the annual TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, GA and the organizer of the BJO Awards that honor the top Star Trek fan films each year.  Eric and Treklanta have been an important and integral part of theTrek fan film community for many years now—screening fan productions, featuring fan film panel discussions and guests, an generally giving support and validation to the genre.

Treklanta 2018 took place over the Memorial Day weekend and featured a couple of panels focusing on fan films.  Everything was going great until it was announced that ALEC PETERS of AXANAR would be taking part in these panels.  Then the shat hit the fans, and Eric was berated by angry e-mails and Facebook posts and even a phone call telling him how wrong he was for letting Alec Peters anywhere near his convention…let alone allowing Alec to be an announced guest on two panels.

The blowback both privately and on social media blasting Eric over Alec’s presence at Treklanta became so intense that I asked Eric if he’d like to comment on it here on Fan Film Factor in a blog I was preparing last week about the Bjo Awards.

Eric agreed, but his comment was so thorough and heartfelt that I decided it would be better to let it stand in its entirety as a separate guest blog.  My apologies to you and Eric for the delay in getting it posted (one week), but with two different crowd-funders ending, it’s been a very crowded seven days of blogs (and I was away in Santa Barbara over the weekend).

Anyway, here’s what Eric had to say about Alec Peters and panels at Treklanta…

Continue reading “Guest blogger ERIC L. WATTS discusses having ALEC PETERS at Treklanta… (editorial)”

Have the new GUIDELINES really hindered the production of STAR TREK FAN FILMS? (panel video from Treklanta)

Photo courtesy of Lee Drew

The annual TREKLANTA con in Atlanta, GA is not a particularly huge convention, but it is one of the most fan-film-friendly cons you’re likely to find anywhere.  This is thanks in large part to Chairman ERIC L. WATTS, who organizes the convention along with Treklanta’s annual BJO AWARDS for the best Star Trek fan films from the previous year.  And there’s usually at least a panel or two dedicated to a particular fan film or fan films in general.

This year, the most notable fan film panel was being led by RANDY LANDERS, show-runner for POTEMKIN PICTURES in Pelham, AL, which has produced about five dozen Trek fan films over the past eight years!  The title of the panel: “Have the new guidelines really hindered the production of Star Trek fan films?”

Good question!

To help answer this, Randy invited five additional noted Star Trek fan filmmakers to join him for a lively panel discussion:

JOSE E. CEPEDA -Show-runner and lead actor on the long-running STAR TREK: NATURES HUNGER web series.

GREG TEFT – Cast member of STARSHIP: REPUBLIC, which will soon be filming more fan productions on the former Star Trek Continues “Stage 9” sets in GA.

GLEN L. WOLFE – Co-owner of the STARBASE STUDIOS sets in AR and the show-runner of THE FEDERATION FILES anthology series.

MARK NACCARATO – Show-runner for the upcoming Trek fan project THE ROMULAN WAR, which is crowd-funding right now!  (Have you donated yet???)

ALEC PETERS – Head of Axanar Productions and Executive Producer of PRELUDE TO AXANAR.

Interestingly , when Alec’s participation on the panel was announced, even though the panelists were all fine with it, apparently a number of detractors weren’t.  Eric L. Watts was berated with e-mails and criticism in detractor social media groups.  (I’ve invited Eric to comment on that separately as a guest blogger later this week.)

The panel discussion was really enlightening and fun to watch.  And thanks to a video shot by LEE DREW (and posted here with the blessing of both Lee and Eric), you get to watch it, as well (in two parts)…

BJO FAN FILM AWARD WINNERS for 2018 announced!

For the past four years, the annual TREKLANTA Convention has hosted an awards ceremony for the best Star Trek fan films released during the previous year.  Initially called the “Independent Star Trek Film Awards,” the name was shorted to “The Bjo Awards” last year in honor of Bjo Trimble, the woman credited with saving Star Trek from an early cancellation by NBC by coordinating the great letter-writing campaign back in 1968.

The Bjo’s for 2018 were awarded this past weekend in a variety of categories (see the full entry rules here).  Each category had four-to-six finalists selected from the following list of 21 nominees:

Release Date Run Time Series Name Episode
1/1/17 0:14:58 Star Trek: Natures Hunger Sting of the Prosecution
1/4/17 0:30:05 Starship Tristan Between Two Worlds
1/11/17 0:08:26 Starship Intrepid Duty of Care
1/13/17 0:11:33 Starship Deimos No Greater Love
2/1/17 0:20:42 Chance Encounter
2/10/17 0:07:49 Starship Tristan Seeing Red
2/20/17 0:57:20 Quark’s Space Station Too Much Traffic
4/2/17 0:54:11 Star Trek Continues Still Treads the Shadow
4/4/17 0:14:17 Starship Tristan Departures
4/29/17 0:15:00 Survivors
5/26/17 0:14:09 Starship Deimos The Archive
7/30/17 0:49:13 Star Trek Continues What Ships Are For
7/31/17 0:14:31 Starship Tristan The Monsters Are With Us
8/13/17 0:07:56 Starship Tristan The Voice of Your Blood
8/18/17 0:28:20 The Federation Files Extraction
9/8/17 0:12:18 The Derelict
10/18/17 0:46:34 Star Trek Continues To Boldly Go, Part I
11/13/17 0:58:10 Star Trek Continues To Boldly Go, Part II
12/14/17 0:05:47 Starship Triton New Orders
12/29/17 0:10:13 Star Trek: The Mirror Frontier
12/30/17 0:13:35 The Federation Files Walking Bear, Running Wolf

You might have noticed that all four Star Trek Continues episodes from 2017 are on this list, meaning that there was definitely an 800-pound mugato to contend with this past year (four mugatos, in fact!).  As such, many of the results below might not seem all that unexpected.  That said, there were still a couple of surprises.

Also, I’d like to add, on a personal note, that who won isn’t as important as who participated and, most of all, that these awards are given out annually in the first place.  All Star Trek fan films are worthy of our respect and celebration because, whether slick and polished or just grass roots with some soil showing, these productions each resulted from hard work, dedication, and love Star Trek.

So if you haven’t seen some of the nominees above, think about clicking on a few of the links.  You just might be pleasantly surprised!

Continue reading “BJO FAN FILM AWARD WINNERS for 2018 announced!”

Thirty-three NOMINEES announced for the 2017 INDEPENDENT STAR TREK FAN FILM AWARDS

It’s award season here in Hollywood–the Golden Globes, the People’s Choice, and the Oscars (to name just a few)–to honor the best movies and performances and cinematic achievements of the past year.  But what about Star Trek fan fan films???

As it turns out, we have our own annual awards, too…or at least we have for the past three years.

The first INDEPENDENT STAR TREK FAN FILM AWARDS were handed out at the 2015 TREKLANTA convention (in Atlanta…in case you weren’t sure) for Star Trek fan films released in calendar year 2014.  Thirteen fan films entered, and awards were given out in nine categories.

The following year, seventeen different fan films entered and the categories were expanded to thirteen.  Judges for the two previous years have included such notables as Diana Dru Botsford, Peter David, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Michael DeMeritt, Ken Feinberg, Matthew M. Foster, Andrew Greenberg, David Orange, Emmett Plant, Susan Sackett, and Rick Sternbach.  This year’s judges will be revealed after ballots are collected in March (we don’t want the judges getting badgered to vote this way or that).  And the winners will be announced live at Treklanta on April 30.

The categories this year will be:

Continue reading “Thirty-three NOMINEES announced for the 2017 INDEPENDENT STAR TREK FAN FILM AWARDS”