AVALON UNIVERSE takes on Pon Farr in THE NEEDS OF THE ONE… (part 3: video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and TYLER DUNIVAN)

About six weeks ago, I published a blog including the first of three video interviews spotlighting the latest release from THE AVALON UNIVERSE, an impressive 30-minute fan film titled THE NEEDS OF THE ONE. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out below…

That first interview was with the new lead actress for the series, ALEXANDRA REXFORD, who plays Commander Mikeala Allenby, the first officer of the U.S.S. Excalibur. Two and a half weeks later, I posted the second video interview with CORA WILSON and WADE KING, who played the adorable shipboard couple of Vulcan Nurse T’Prin and Security Officer Williams.

And now it’s three weeks after that, and I’ve finally completed the hat trick with my third and last interview, this time with showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and actor TYLER DUNIVAN…the Butch and Sundance (or perhaps Bill and Ted) of fan films! And why the long delays between interviews? Busy people, busy schedules—and it’s much more challenging coordinating two interviewees than one!

However, before we dive into the chat-fest, a quick update on the Indiegogo crowd-funder for CRISIS ON INFINITE EXCALIBURS. You are welcome (and encouraged) to donate here…

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/crisis-on-infinite-excaliburs-a-star-trek-fan-film

I’ve actually been contacted by a few members of our fan community asking if I was concerned that the campaign has “stalled out” a bit over the last two weeks, stuck just short of the halfway point with only 21 days left, and if I had any ideas why donations had seemingly dried up.

Here’s a few answers…

  • I know that a couple of larger supporters haven’t donated yet but are still planning to. By my estimates, this will potentially bring in another 20%.
  • The middle weeks of a crowd-funding campaign are typically the weakest for donations. Add to this that, for the past two weeks, Star Trek Las Vegas and Dragoncon have sucked up a lot of oxygen in the fan world, leaving it harder to promote a crowd-funder.
  • Beginning this week, Josh is planning to release the first in a series of videos on both the Avalon YouTube channel as well as Lore Reloaded, which has 115K subscribers. The latter will expose Avalon to many new potential donors that may not have ben aware of the fan series before this.

So no, not terribly worried yet. Let’s see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, today’s video chat with Josh and Tyler begins with a discussion of the upcoming project, with new details revealed.

Then we hit a delicate subject that Josh and Tyler wanted to address personally, and that is the departure from the series of a few team members, including executive producer and lead actress PIXI NEREID, who had been so prominent last year both during crowd-funding for and then starring in the ambitious AGENT OF NEW WORLDS. Now she and two other actresses have been recast. So…what happened? We’ll be talking about this, as well.

And of course, we’ll also be taking about The Needs of the One!

Continue reading “AVALON UNIVERSE takes on Pon Farr in THE NEEDS OF THE ONE… (part 3: video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and TYLER DUNIVAN)”

Wanna see NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS turned into a live STAGE PLAY???

Now, THIS is something really cool!

On Saturday, November 6, a truly unique (and busy!) event happened at NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA. Star Trek fans from around the world, sitting at their computers or watching from their smart devices, got to experience the amazing TOS sets while cosplayers played the roles of crewmen in what was a combination guided walk-though plus live performance.

Originally constructed for the fan series STARSHIP FARRAGUT and later STAR TREK CONTINUES, the contents of what is now known as Neutral Zone Studios were sold by VIC MIGNOGNA to Florida resident RAY TESI in 2018. Since then, Ray has opened up the sets to any fan filmmaker who wants to shoot there, and they’ve been used by DREADNOUGHT DOMINION, AVALON UNIVERSE, as well as others, including a series of fan films from Ray himself under the banner of TALES FROM THE NEUTRAL ZONE.

Because JAMES CAWLEY in Ticonderoga, NY has the license from CBS to host the exclusive STAR TREK Original Series Set Tour, Ray has to limit himself to fan film productions and free fan appreciation weekend events. And if Ray does provide a guided walk-through, then it must be completely free of charge to not compete directly with James’ commercial license.

The fan appreciation weekends have been a blast for visitors…or so I’m told, as I haven’t been able to make the trip yet (to either Kingsland or Ticonderoga). And indeed, that has been a reason for many a Trekker to feel frustrated. But what about getting a set walk-through without ever leaving your house? It’s now possible thanks to a relatively new website called Heygo.com.

Heygo was founded in May 2020 by LIAM GARRISON and JOHN TERTAN, two world travelers who met at Oxford University about ten years ago. As the global pandemic wore on and tourist travel became a distant memory, Liam and John realized how much not only they but the world as a whole was losing by no longer being able to connect with people in exotic lands with fascinating cultures. So they started a website—originally called VirtualTrips.io—to offer live virtual tours, 24/7, to destinations all over the planet. Tour guides would be English-speaking locals who knew the landmarks and histories and other fascinating aspects of the people and their customs. Their guided tours would be livestreamed to small groups of people who could sign up for free through the website.

Wait…free? Why would anyone spend their time giving tours to virtual strangers for no money??? The answer in that the site runs on “tips,” which are optional. But giving $5 to a tour guide in Slovenia or Egypt or Vietnam could help someone feed their family for a week. Indeed, one formerly homeless man in Edinburgh, Scotland has been using the Heygo service to help other homeless people get off the streets by training them to give virtual tours for tips!

So what does any of this have to do with Star Trek???

Continue reading “Wanna see NEUTRAL ZONE STUDIOS turned into a live STAGE PLAY???”

How to be a SHOWRUNNER in the AVALON UNIVERSE…

We are now exactly one week out from the announced premiere of the latest fan film from THE AVALON UNIVERSE: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS. Fans are really looking forward to this one, for a number of reasons…

  1. The showrunner, writer, and director, JOSHUA IRWIN, is a film industry professional in Arkansas and a skilled craftsman. Avalon releases are among the best-looking, best-sounding, and best-edited Star Trek fan films being produced right now.
  2. This is a brand new era for Avalon. With the departure of director/writer/actor VICTORIA FOX from the series as well as lead actor CHUCK MERÉ (along with the characters they played: first officer Amanda Beck and Captain Lance Ramirez, respectively), a new cast and crew is coming aboard the U.S.S. Excalibur. This includes the ever-perky PIXI NEREID, who has already captured the hearts of fan film aficionados with a music video and interviews like this one. It also includes actor WARREN HAWK from my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE (now with 118K views!) who played fan-favorite character Captain Imari Jakande of the U.S.S. Artemis. Although Jakande died in the Axanar Universe, he’s alive and well in the Avalon Universe and is the new commanding officer of the U.S.S. Excalibur.
  3. The film looks like it’ll be visually stunning. This is because Josh and members of his team traveled all the way from Arkansas to Arizona to film parts of this on location in a desert outside of Phoenix along with driving and hiking to two different scenic locations in western Oklahoma…all to create the feeling of being stranded on an alien world.
An overhead drone shot from the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS

And of course, I’ve been talking up this latest fan film for the past few months as I’ve endeavored to help Team Avalon raise crowd-funding for this production—as well as other upcoming projects. Speaking of which, they’re currently 60% of the way to their $20,000 goal, and if you haven’t tossed a few pennies (or preferably dollars) into the collection plate yet, this would be a great time to do so at this link…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Have you ever wondered what goes on a week before the release of a fan film? Of course, there’s all sorts of different scenarios. Sometimes a film is finished weeks or months early, pretty much ready to go, and maybe there’s a few minor tweaks as things head for an announced deadline. Sometimes there’s no announced deadline and a fan filmmaker just releases the finished product whenever it’s ready. And sometimes a deadline is announced and then has to be extended because things aren’t ready yet. I’ve seen ’em all.

But then there’s Josh Irwin. Josh doesn’t miss deadlines, no matter how many hours he has to work or go without sleep. It’s a matter of professional pride. And in the case of Agent of New Worlds, the announced release date of October 31 is significant because it marks exactly three years from the 2018 premiere of Avalon’s debut fan film GHOST SHIP.

So with the clock ticking down, what is life like for Josh right now…?

Continue reading “How to be a SHOWRUNNER in the AVALON UNIVERSE…”

“STAR TREK IS REAL” and so is PIXI NEREID…real AWESOME, that is! (video interview with PIXI)

Finally! I get a chance to interview PIXI NEREID and share it with all of you…and it’s a really FANtastic interview.

Last week, I was supposed to interview Pixi along with AVALON UNIVERSE showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and angel-supporter RAY MYERS, who donated $3,000 to their current GoFundMe campaign as a match for $3,000 in fan donations that came in last week. The Zoom call interview was supposed to accompany the released of Pixi’s new Avalon Universe music video STAR TREK IS REAL (edited by Josh), which debuted last Friday. You can watch it below…

Catchy, ain’t it? Yeah, you’re gonna be hearing that song in your head for hours!

Pixi (whose real name is Ilia McNeil—“Pixi Nereid” is her stage name when she’s appearing at children’s birthday parties as a mermaid…and yes, that’s a thing) is a very busy woman, teaching high school, working on a Masters degree, teaching improv classes, and of course, the mermaid gig…all while starring in the next major Avalon fan film release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (coming out October 31) and serving as producer on the fan series.

Unfortunately, Pixi’s schedule unexpectedly exploded just before our Zoom call was supposed to start, and she felt so sorry that she had to bail at the last second. However, Josh was able to get Avalon actor TYLER DUNIVAN to fill in for Pixi, and we still managed to have a great interview discussion with the three of them (Josh, Ray, and Tyler). You can watch it here, if you’d like.

Speaking of Tyler, Josh released this fun “Shatneresque” interpretation of Star Trek Is Real sung by lounge lizard Tyler and his vape pen (hey, at least it wasn’t an actual cigarette like Shatner smoked on Rocket Man). Have a look…

But I was still determined to interview Pixi…mainly because she is just so darn awesome! I know this because I’ve gotten to be friendly with her since she “drafted” me onto Team Avalon to help guide their crowd-funding efforts. It’s tough to say no to Pixi—even if you’re NOT looking at that irresistible smile! Anyway, I kept hounding Pixi for that interview, and I finally got it on Saturday afternoon.

It’s hard to say why, but sometimes an interview just fires on all cylinders. This is not to disparage the interviews I’ve done with other fan filmmakers, but when you watch the recorded Zoom call below, you’ll see what I mean. Pixi herself is fascinating to learn about, full of surprises that I never even imagined! We learn about her theater, acting, and dance background, musical albums she’s released, and her oh-so-positive way to deal with her critics (not that there are many!).

Pixi also managed to draw out of me an unexpected 15-minute detour into my own background experiences with film production—which include some photos of when I stuck onto the sets of Star Trek: Voyager in 1996! Pixi and I just have a wonderful back-and-fourth, and I think you’ll find her enthusiasm to to be absolutely infectious…

And remember that you can still donate to their campaign here:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

“STAR TREK IS REAL” – the next AVALON UNIVERSE song that will get stuck in your head (video interview JOSHUA IRWIN, TYLER DUNIVAN, and RAY MYERS)

On Monday of this past week, showrunner JOSH IRWIN and the folks in the AVALON UNIVERSE got the song “It’s in the Way that You Use It” by ERIC CLAPTON stuck in our heads when they released this hilarious blooper-filled video announcing the kick-off of their donor-dollar-matching promotion week. However, the “week” ended up lasting only two and a half days, as that was all the time it took for fans to donate a whopping $3,000 to their GoFundMe campaign, the maximum that angel-supporter RAY MYERS had offered to match. That brought the total raised so far up over $11,500!

The campaign goes on, by the way, as it still has about $8,100 (40%) to go to reach its overall goal of $20,000. You can donate here…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

After seeing the announcement video, Avalon supporters requested a longer blooper reel, and Josh obliged on Wednesday when he posted this expanded video filled with even more bloopers and outtakes. Once again, fans got a healthy dose of Eric Clapton’s hit from 1986 (and later from Rick & Morty‘s fourth season).

On Friday, Avalon released yet another new video, but this one isn’t a blooper reel. Instead, it’s a full-fledged MUSIC VIDEO, shot on the TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. However, you’re STILL going to come out of watching it humming a song for the rest of the day!

In this case, the song is “Star Trek Is Real,” written and performed by Avalon star and producer (and part-time mermaid) PIXI NEREID. Pixi wrote this song 15 years ago, but it’s still pretty fun and upbeat—just like Pixi herself! Take a look and a listen…

(It’s already echoing in your head, isn’t it? Go on, sing!)

This little firecracker has only been in the fan film community for a few months and hasn’t even appeared in her first full fan film yet (that’ll be October!). But nonetheless, she’s taken our little fiefdom by storm, spreading her unbridled energy and enthusiasm far and wide.

That said, I need to apologize to all of you reading this blog today expecting to see a video interview with this effervescent little elf. I was supposed to interview Pixi, but she got buried in work and had to bail on our Wednesday night Zoom call. That left Josh Irwin and Ray Myers as my 2-out-of-3, and Josh quickly reached out to TYLER DUNIVAN, another star of Avalon, and asked if he could fill in for Pixi, and Tyler joined us.

It seemed strange to talk about Pixi’s new music video without Pixi, so we ended up talking about the campaign, finding out more about Ray Myers and why he’s been so generous to fan filmmakers, and discussing how Josh has ended up having driven his car over 5,500 MILES TOTAL just for one fan film! We also have an exclusive sneak peek at a never-before-scene from the upcoming Avalon release AGENT OF NEW WORLDS (at 38:10) plus more info on what’s coming after.

Enjoy…

Why should we NOT donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE crowd-funder until MONDAY?

Back in July, I was pushing my blogging warp engines to the red line trying to help my friends over in the AVALON UNIVERSE reach their green line goal of $20,000 for their current GoFundMe campaign. The money raised will go toward production costs on THREE separate fan films, including the upcoming AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, set to debut on October 31 (and it looks amazing with breathtakingly beautiful desert cinematography that includes aerial drone footage).

Anyway, when your crowd-funder is trying to reach $20K these days, it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Heck, it took me more than three months to reach that amount with my fan film INTERLUDE back in 2019.) So it wasn’t surprising to find the Avalon campaign stalling out at about $5.5K…

Obviously, however, it’s critically important to get the campaign back into gear and raising more donations again. And that’s why it came as quite a surprise on Friday morning when showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN posted the following video telling fans NOT to donate to the campaign—at least not until this coming Monday…

It’s a fun little video, showing actor TLYER DUNIVAN (who plays Captain Derek Mason) struggling to get his lines right while PIXI NEREID (Commander Micaela Allenby) is just her usual perky, playful, patient, and positive self…lighting up the room with her smile. It’s candid moments like this that just make me love all these guys and their wonderful enthusiasm.

Anyway, this afternoon saw the second video in what I suspect will be a trilogy leading up to the big reveal on Monday. Video #2 was much shorter but still included some fun chuckle moments…

So what’s the big announcement? Why should fans and supporters not donate just yet and instead wait until Monday? I guess we’ll find out in just two more days, folks!

Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!

Your mission: find an actress—young, positive attitude, who lives in Oklahoma—willing to appear in a volunteer Star Trek fan film. Oh, and she needs to be of Native American ethnicity.

You have two days.

When you donate to the AVALON UNIVERSE Star Trek fan production, you’re paying for a get-it-done attitude and a proven track record. Over the past few weeks, I’ve provided three solid reasons to lend your financial support to this hard-working fan production crew: Jakande Lives, Do It for Pixi, and The Team. This week, I’ve saved the best for last—the most compelling reason to donate to their GoFundMe campaign, which just happens to be located at this link:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

These folks never give up…ever! No matter what obstacles God, the gods, fate, the Universe, and/or or the Flying Spaghetti Monster throw their way, showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN and his team will always find a way to get their fan film(s) finished.

Avalon Universe has already released SEVEN high-quality fan films (two of which were two-parters of 30-plus minute length) in less than three years. And even as they try to crowd-fund another three productions, they’re already hard at work on a fourth fan film: AGENT OF NEW WORLDS.

And therein lies a tale…

Continue reading “Reason #4 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!”

Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!

Fan films are like weddings. (Ha, got your attention!)

Think about it. Weddings can be as cheap and simple as a trip to City Hall or a few friends in the backyard. Or they can be expensive galas with hundreds of guests and all the trimmings. Or they can be anywhere in between.

And so it is with fan films. We get everything from cardboard sets and scenes shot with cell phones to professional-looking productions with trained actors, meticulous sets and costumes, top-quality recording equipment, and budgets into the five-figure range and sometimes even beyond that.

In general, the larger and more ambitious the wedding, the more critical it is that a team of planners and managers be involved to make sure everything goes smoothly. You get one chance at the actual ceremony, and it’s all that the behind-the-scenes planning that can determine if the wedding is a triumph or a disaster.

The AVALON UNIVERSE fan films aren’t exactly Kardashian weddings (thank goodness!), but they are still pretty impressive, with production quality a few steps above the majority of Star Trek fan films out there. This is not meant to diminish those other fan films. All fan filmmakers deserve support and encouragement. But when you donate to an Avalon Universe crowd-funding campaign, you know your money will be well-spent, and the finished product will look and sound and be amazing.

Oh, and speaking of donating, Avalon has a crowd-funding campaign going on right now, if you’d like to back it…

https://www.gofundme.com/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

Like a successful wedding, a well-run fan production requires careful planning and preparation, and that means having the right people in the right jobs…not just during the shoots but in the months and weeks leading up to the director yelling “Action!” for the first time.

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t initially planning to be part of “Team Avalon,” even though I consider Avalon Universe director/showrunner JOSHUA IRWIN to be a close friend. (Josh was my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE.) What I did offer to do was to advise Josh and his producer, PIXI NEREID, on strategies for crowd-funding…advice I’ve also offered to other fan filmmakers over the years.

But before I knew it, Pixi had jumped into action, adding me to the production crew’s Facebook chat, giving me access to their Slack productivity app account where the cast and crew keep all of their online resources, and inviting me onto the kick-off production meeting Zoom call. So that’s how I became a part of “Team Avalon,” and it’s given me a fascinating look into who these fine folks are and all that they’re doing to make the wedding…er, fan film extra spectacular and go off without a hitch.

Let me tell you about the team…

Continue reading “Reason #3 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: THE TEAM!”

COSMIC STREAM is the first-ever fan film to be shot at THREE different TOS set studios! (video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and TYLER DUNIVAN)

The AVALON UNIVERSE isn’t the Prime Star Trek universe, and it’s not the Kelvin timeline either. It’s not the Mirror universe or the Axanar universe or any other Star Trek or Marvel or DC or sci-fi universe you’ve ever seen before…unless, of course, you’ve watched the previous six Avalon fan films releases.

Instead, the Avalon Universe is simply a place where show-runner JOSHUA IRWIN (from Fayetteville, Arkansas) can play around with Star Trek stories without worrying about tripping over existing canon or angering this or that Trekkie because such-and-such never happened or this-or-that did happen so what you’ve just shown us doesn’t work. It works in the Avalon Universe, and that’s all you need to know.

The Avalon fan series got its start on Halloween 2018 with the release of the creepily comedic (or was that comedically creepy?) GHOST SHIP, which can best be described as “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead.” It was fun and surprisingly professional-looking. The reason for the latter is because Josh and many members of his team do actually work in the film industry and know how to shoot a proper film…fan or otherwise.

Ghost Ship introduced the new crew of the recently-repaired U.S.S. Excalibur, including VICTORIA FOX as First Officer Amanda Beck, VICTORIA ARCHER as Engineer Jamie Archer (yep, same last name as the character), and TYLER DUNIVAN as Captain Derek Mason. But no sooner had Mason been introduced than we saw the character die a noble death in the second Avalon episode AVALON LOST.

The third Avalon episode, DEMONS, released a year after Ghost Ship and eight months after Avalon Lost, showed fans how Commander Beck and new commanding officer, Captain Lance Ramirez (played by  CHUCK MERÉ) dealt with the loss of their close friend and colleague. LEGACY and NEW ORDERS were both short vignettes, while AIR AND DARKNESS was an ambitious full-length episode with night shots, stunts, great VFX, and lots of Klingons!

Earlier this month, “Team Avalon” launched a brand new GoFundMe campaign trying to raise $20K to continue their saga, hoping to finance as much of their next multi-episode chapter “Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs” as possible. Barely a week and a half in, the campaign is doing strongly with 55 backers and nearly $3K in donations so far—about 15% of the way to their goal. But more support is sorely needed to generate the remaining 85%, so please consider making a donation, even if it’s a small one, by clicking here…

https://www.gofundme.com/f/zdn4p-AvalonUniverse2021

While the team waits for more backers, they have been doing anything BUT resting on their laurels! In fact, Josh has already released a number of interviews with the team and other special features, and today they’ve just premiered their seventh fan film, COSMIS STREAM. Take a look…

Is that Tyler Dunivan’s character of Derek Mason, back from the dead??? Or is he in heaven, purgatory, another universe, another dimension, or is it just a dream? Fortunately, I was able to interview both Tyler and Josh and discover the answer.

Continue reading “COSMIC STREAM is the first-ever fan film to be shot at THREE different TOS set studios! (video interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and TYLER DUNIVAN)”

INTERLUDE Confidential #18: The “McFly Edit”

Ready for some fan film FUN???

The RE-launch of INTERLUDE last Friday with new cast member TYLER DUNIVAN went amazingly smoothly. Already, after just four and a half days, there’s a total of nearly 48K views on YouTube (more than 40K on the AXANAR Channel and 7.5K on the AVALON UNIVERSE Channel—take your pick of which one you’d like to watch…again).

Fan reaction to Tyler’s performance as the chief engineer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis is getting rave reviews. Personally, I’m really happy with this new version, and 97.5% of viewers are giving it a thumbs up! Who are the other 2.5%? Well, remember how 4 out of 5 dentists recommended sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum? Ever wonder about the fifth dentist? Obviously, you can’t please all the Trekkies all the time, but we sure are pleasing nearly all of ’em!

Anyway, I just wanted to share with you a quick video that will hopefully make you laugh. Y’see, Tyler Dunivan isn’t simply a great actor who takes his craft very seriously. Tyler is also a professional MICHAEL J. FOX impersonator…especially playing the character of Marty McFly from the Back to the Future movies. In fact, Tyler had the starring role in the absolute BEST Back to the Future fan film ever! (Check in out here.)

So when Tyler and JOSHUA IRWIN drove down to ARES STUDIOS in Georgia a couple of weeks ago to reshoot the engineering scenes for Interlude, I asked the guys if Tyler could do a “Marty McFly” version of the take…just for fun (because fan films are FUN films!). I didn’t know if we’d ever use it, but at least we’d have it, right?

Well, folks, it came out even better than I expected. There’s not much, but I cut together this 30-second vignette for your viewing pleasure. Thank you, Tyler!

Prepare to party like it’s 1985…