VANCE MAJOR cameos in STARSHIP ANTYLLUS: “Desperate Gambit” (interview with GEORGE and ANYA SHEILA KAYAIAN)

I love it when fan filmmakers come together.

GEORGE KAYAIAN has been creating Star Trek fan films since George Bush was president…the first George Bush, that is! ANYA SHEILA KAYAIN is only nine years old and wasn’t even around for the second President Bush. VANCE MAJOR has been appearing as fan favorite character Erick Minard since 2014 when he first donned the engineer’s tunic in Starship Valiant.

And now these three people all have something in common: they’ve each appeared in the latest, twelfth episode of STARSHIP ANTYLLUS: “Desperate Gambit.” For George, his character of Captain Holt Allen has commanded the USS Antyllus since this fan series first debuted in 2013. And daughter Anya has appeared in a couple of episodes before this one—most recently the 11th episode: “247”—and helped out on a bunch of others. (You can check out her very full IMDB page here.) She also provided this little behind-the-scenes “tour” of the Antyllus set last year in this video…

But now Anya is joining the Antyllus bridge crew as a brand new alien character named Sharb. How they solved the challenge of how to show a child as a bridge officer is one of the reasons I consider this ultra-low budget fan series to be so masterful: they do so much with seemingly so little. I asked Anya what she thinks about this new character, and she said: “I think Sharb is very intelligent, which shows off a part of me… it was a joy to play him!”

You can watch Anya’s debut in the full 29-minute episode below…

As you can see, Vance Major has a decent sized cameo as Minard. George appeared briefly in one of the three dozen or so Minard saga fan films that Vance produced, and George will be appearing in a couple of episodes of Vance’s upcoming Constar Chronicles films. The two fan filmmakers have become good friends, and recently, Vance had this to say about George…

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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…”

The race to $500 for VANCE MAJOR is nearly over in just 48 hours!

Hurry, or else you won’t have a chance to donate!

The last time VANCE MAJOR, creator of the MINARD saga and currently producing the upcoming CONSTAR CHRONICLES, asked fans for donations, it was last July. He needed $500 to buy uniforms for his multi-episode Constar project. Just as I was getting ready to post something about the campaign, 72 hours after launching it, Vance shut it down. Why? Because he’d managed to raise the $500 he needed (plus an extra $50 to cover the commission to the crowd-funding service).

That $500 allowed Vance to complete 15 fan films (which will debut later this year), with a bunch more in post-production at the moment. But now he wants to produce some additional stories, but he needs a few more uniforms and certain props to make that happen. So once again, he’s reaching out to the fan community.

This time, it’s only been 48 hours, but Vance is nearly there again! As I write this, he’s at $401…just $99 to go to reach $500. If you’d like to help push him over the top in record time, click the link below:

https://www.gofundme.com/extra-constar-chronicles-minard-saga-films

And hey, if Vance reaches his goal before you can donate, and you still really want to help out a fan film, consider giving a few bucks to DREADNOUGHT DOMINION for their upcoming project “Redemption at Red Medusa.” (Check out the trailer here.) You can donate to their active crowd-funding campaign here:

https://www.gofundme.com/dreadnought-dominion

And finally, if you still feel like you haven’t donated enough today, the folks over at POTEMKIN PICTURES are building a full-size shuttlepod…with a design halfway between Trek movie-era and TNG-era. It’s taking shape nicely, as you can see here on Facebook.

In what I consider to be an interesting experiment, Potemkin opted NOT to use a crowd-funding service and is instead simply taking in donations directly through PayPal at producer@potemkinpictures.com. And if you donate $189, you get to name one of five shuttles they’ll be using (one model, five names).

So far, two of the five shuttles have been named. C.W. THOMPSON named the USS Deimos shuttlecraft “Ernest J. King” and LARRY FLEMING named the USS Endeavour shuttlecraft “Raptor.”

What would YOU name your shuttlecraft?

Update on THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES (interview with VANCE MAJOR, part 2)

Last week, I began chatting with VANCE MAJOR, the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.” After completing nearly three dozen fan films featuring the (long) career of the character of Erick Minard, Vance briefly stepped away from producing Trek fan films. Briefly.

He returned to the fold early last year, announcing the launch of production on THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES. While these new fan films would also feature Vance playing Minard, they would now focus on various members of his crew, once again weaving a complex tapestry of stories that could be viewed individually or as one long saga. In this way, Vance skirts the “no ongoing series” guideline (kinda) because these will be individual, self-contained stories and not an ongoing series. In fact, The Constar Chronicles isn’t even the official name of the production. Ultimately, it will simply be a number of separate fan films which feature some of the same characters serving on the same starship(s).

Last month, Vance released the following trailer…

In Part 1, Vance talked about the filmmaking process so far on Constar. But then we left off with a most intriguing question…

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Update on THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES (interview with VANCE MAJOR, part 1)

I’ve affectionately referred to VANCE MAJOR as the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.”  Between his appearances in episodes of  Starship ValiantMelbourneThe Lexington AdventuresDreadnought DominionThe Romulan Wars, and Outlaws…and his own Minard series of nearly three dozen fan films (check them all out here)…plus his involvement in helping to schedule fan film shoots on Ray Tesi’s TOS sets in Kingsland, GA…well, Vance is pretty much everywhere in front of and behind the fan camera these days!

Vance is a prolific, low-budget fan filmmaker who doesn’t care if his characters are a little hefty for Starfleet or wear glasses or sneakers with their uniforms.  He’s in it to have fun and tell his stories.  If you like what he makes, great.  If not, then don’t watch.

After wrapping up the Minard saga in February of 2018, Vance announced with 100% certainly that he was done producing Star Trek fan films.  He had said all he needed to say, he was worn out and exhausted, and it was time to move onto other things in his life.

Well, that New Year’s resolution lasted only a few months…!

Early last year, Vance announced that he would be producing a new fan series, loosely titled THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES.  I say “loosely” because the fan guidelines don’t allow for ongoing fan series.  But while these will all deal with the same crew on the same starship(s), each will be a self-contained tale focused on a different character.  Vance explained his decision to return to making fan films—and what would be different this time—in an audio interview in a blog back in August.

That was five months ago.  But last month, Vance released the first trailer for Constar

…and I figured now might be a good time to check in with him on how things are going.

Continue reading “Update on THE CONSTAR CHRONICLES (interview with VANCE MAJOR, part 1)”

GHOST SHIP appears out of nowhere! (audio interview with JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX)

The vast majority of the fan film community had no idea that GHOST SHIP was coming (including me)!  But just a few weeks ago, on Halloween, the newest full-length Star Trek fan production from JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX debuted on YouTube.

Although shot mainly on the STAGE 9 STUDIOS starship sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut, I learned from interviewing Josh and Victoria that some scenes were also filmed at the Arkansas sets originally known as Starbase Studios.  Their visual FX were done by Trekyards’ CGI genie SAMUEL COCKINGS, who will soon be releasing Temporal Anomaly and Convergence.  Even VANCE MAJOR makes a cameo as the character Erick Minard.  So these guys definitely got around the fan film world to make their project.

And what an impressive production it is!  A “Star Trek meets The Walking Dead” mash-up, of sorts, the film combines spooky zombie horror tropes with comedic moments and fun characters to create a wonderfully enjoyable space adventure.  And it follows the guidelines completely, including dividing the fan film into two less-than-15-minute segments.  The cast is made up of trained actors along with a crew of experienced film producers.  The result looks great, sounds great, and is written, directed, and edited at a noticeably high level.

That might be one of the reasons that the views for Ghost Ship have exploded on Youtube.  When I conducted our interview on Wednesday of last week, Josh and Victoria were excited to see their total views had climbed over 8,000.  Well, guess what?  As I write this 8 days later, they’ve gone viral with more than 105,000 views!

Before I get to the fan and interview, let me take a moment to mention that GHOST SHIP and a growing number of other Trek fan films would not be possible without the generosity of RAY TESI, present owner of the TOS  sets in of Kingsland, GA.  Ray makes these sets available for free (well, the cost of electricity used during the shoot) to any fan filmmaker following the guidelines.  But the $3,000/month rent is paid out of Ray’s own pocket.

Currently, there is an opportunity for fans to contribute a little bit each month (even a dollar makes a difference) through a PATREON.  Right now, fans are donating $163 of that $3,000 monthly expense, but there’s always room for more help from our community.  To donate, go to:

https://www.patreon.com/stage9studios

And now, here are parts 1 and 2 of Ghost Ship

Pretty good fan film, huh?  Want to learn more about how it was made, how long it took to complete, and where to go to find a dozen convincing zombies in southern Georgia?  Take a listen to this really fun interview with writer/director Joshua Irwin and producer Victoria Fox…

JOSHUA IRWIN as Commodore Joseph Austin and VICTORIA FOX as Commander Amanda Beck in GHOST SHIP

Fan-filmed before a live studio audience at STAGE 9 STUDIOS…but not without a little controversy!

An estimated 1,300 fans came to STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA on October 19-21 to visit the amazing TOS sets and meet STAR TREK CONTINUES cast and crew members, including VIC MIGNOGNA, CHRIS DOOHAN, LISA HANSELL, and many others.  (Here’s a complete list.)  Dubbed “Fan Appreciation Weekend,” the event was free of charge and admitted anyone who showed up on Friday from 2-10pm, Saturday from 9am-7pm, and Sunday from 9am-6pm.  That’s 27 hours of open set visit time over a three-day period!

Not just a simple “tour” (like what is offered in Ticonderoga, NY by James Cawley), this event included the opportunity for fans to watch and even participate in the FILMING of episodes for two different fan productions.  Both DREADNOUGHT DOMINION and the upcoming  CONSTAR CHRONICLES shot scenes on the bridge on Friday night and in engineering on Saturday as fans looked on.

Visitors would be escorted in groups through the sets by none other than STC star and show-runner Vic Mignogna, who would discuss the fan filmmaking process, point out certain details of the sets, share a few “secrets” (like how they filmed a scene from a camera angle when a permanent wall was in the way—answer: they put a hidden hole in the wall to film from behind!), and answered questions.  Other groups were escorted by Stage 9 owner RAY TESI, who purchased the sets from Vic last year and decided to make them available to any fan film that wanted to shoot there.  (Listen to Ray’s interview here.)

Vance Major live in front of a studio audience

The groups traveled in cycles through all of the sets—sickbay, auxiliary control, transporter room, captain’s quarters, briefing room, etc.—finally emerging on the bridge and/or engineering to watch rehearsal, set-up, or actual filming during certain scheduled times.  Each group spent about 5-10 minutes with the film crews before moving on and letting in the next bunch.  The fan filmmakers would talk to the audience, answer questions, and in some cases, even offer a few lucky fans the chance to throw on a tunic and be filmed as extras on the bridge or in engineering!  How cool is that???

The event was not without some controversy, though.

Continue reading “Fan-filmed before a live studio audience at STAGE 9 STUDIOS…but not without a little controversy!”

CONSTAR CHRONICLES premieres in a crossover with Dreadnought Dominion: “TIME’S ECHO”

I like to call VANCE MAJOR the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.”  He seems to be all over the place, listed in the credits of Starship Valiant, Melbourne, The Lexington Adventures, Dreadnought Dominion, The Romulan Wars, and Outlaws.  He’s also one of the two people running Starbase Studios, LLC at the moment, helping Trek fan filmmakers find resources and sets to shoot on.

And of course, Vance has played the character of Erick Minard in nearly three dozen fan films, including Starship Valiant, Melbourne, Chain of Command, Command and Conquer, and about 30 fan films in the MINARD saga spanning multiple eras of Star Trek.

Those Minard films came to a conclusion his past February.  And in multiple interviews, Vance confirmed over and over again that this was it for him making fan films!  He was willing to step in and help behind the scenes if asked, but he was done making his own fan films.

Well, that New Years resolution didn’t even make it past summer…

A couple of months ago, Vance announced that he would be returning to fan films with a new series titled CONSTAR CHRONICLES, about the heavy cruiser class starship that Minard commanded in the later part of his long career.  The debut episode of that new series just premiered a few weeks ago as a 5-minute crossover with Dreadnought Dominion featuring Vance’s friend GARY DAVIS playing Captain Jason Brousseau.  It’s a fun little vignette, and I must say that it’s about time!  You’ll get that joke after you watch it…

Of course, the big question on my mind for Vance was: “What part of ‘I’m done with making fan films!’ isn’t he understanding???”  But seriously, I was really curious what made Vance change his mind so quickly…and what his plans are for this new fan series.  Will it go another 30 episodes like the Minard saga?  How will it be different than what we’ve seen before?  How soon until we see more episodes?

I asked Vance these questions and more in yet another audio interview (below).  It feels like I have this guy as a guest on my blog almost monthly!  (Maybe I should just rent him my guest bedroom…)

VANCE MAJOR (front) and the crew of the USS Constar

Some troubling news from STARBASE STUDIOS (audio interview with KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS and VANCE MAJOR)

Starting in 2010, when Trek fans heard the words STARBASE STUDIOS, they thought of the 360-degree TOS bridge set (originally used for the second Starship Exeter fan film), rescued from a barn in Texas, brought to Oklahoma City, and restored for fans to use essentially for free.  Over the years, countless fan films were shot on that bridge and, later, on the transporter, sickbay, briefing room, and other sets added into that small Oklahoma warehouse.

In 2017, however, everything changed…and not necessarily for the better.  Forced to relocated when their free-rent warehouse was sold to a new owner, the sets were moved to Arkansas.  An ownership struggle ensued that eventually gave way to a lawsuit and many months of discussions.  When the dust settled, an agreement was signed between GLEN WOLFE (50% ownership) and SCOTT JOHNSON and GLENN MILLER (25% ownership each).

A previous owner, KENT “WORDS” EDWARDS, divested himself of any ownership of the sets but continued to operate a business entity known as Starbase Studios, LLC.  Kent brought on VANCE MAJOR to help run the company, which was (and is) now acting to help fan filmmakers find resources to produce their projects…including sources of props, costumes, equipment, production team members, and sets to shoot on.

No longer limiting themselves simply to the TOS sets in Arkansas, Starbase Studios, LLC now works with a number of different set owners, including RAY TESI who owns the Stage 9 Studios TOS sets (formerly used by Star Trek Continues) in Georgia and RANDY LANDERS who built modified movie-era sets for Potemkin Pictures in Alabama.

Starbase Studios, LLC had fully intended to keep working with the owners of the Arkansas TOS sets…even shooting a commercial for their services there a back in May.  However, last month, “Words” and Vance announced that they would no longer be referring fan filmmakers to the Arkansas sets.

Naturally, with such a major (and troubling) development, I reached out to “Words” and Vance and asked if they would care to go on the record to explain what had happened to trigger this significant decision on their part.  You can listen to our 3-way discussion below…

Vance Major and Kent “Words” Edwards of Starbase Studios, LLC

MELBOURNE’s “Storm Front, Part 2” fan film is finally released!

Back in April of 2017, I interviewed VANCE MAJOR about his newest fan film release, MELBOURNE.  The previous month, Vance and his long-time friend JEREMY MINARD (yes, Minard…like the character from Vance’s other fan films) had just released their first Melbourne fan film, the 11-minute “Storm Front, Part 1.”  Unlike Vance’s other prolific fan project, the Minard saga—consisting of more than 30 individual fan films about the life and career of Engineer (and later Captain) Erick Minard—Melbourne would focus on an entirely different set of characters on board the USS Melbourne.

The scenes for both parts of “Storm Front” were filmed entirely on the Starbase Studios TOS sets when they were still in Oklahoma in 2016.  In fact, Melbourne was one of the final two fan projects to film there before the sets were moved to Arkansas at the beginning of 2017.

With all of the footage “in the can,” as they say, it didn’t seem like it would be long until “Storm Front, Part 2” was released to complete the story.  In fact, in Vance’s April 2017 interview, I asked him when he thought the conclusion might be available, and he answered:

 Definitely this summer.  I’m just waiting on my special effects guy, Craig Fray, to finish up with our CGI.  Right now, he’s working hard on Valiant‘s next episode, “The Ties That Bind.”  As soon as he’s done with them, he shifts over to us.

But instead of the summer of 2017, part two wasn’t released until the summer of 2018, about ten days ago.  You can view it here…

So why the delay?  I asked Vance that question a few days ago…

Continue reading “MELBOURNE’s “Storm Front, Part 2” fan film is finally released!”