Last month, in an interview with fan film maker VANCE MAJOR, I called him the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films.” The interview included a list of over a dozen different Trek fan films that Vance had written, directed, produced, appeared in, and/or worked on.
But now, after releasing ANOTHER seven (yes, SEVEN!) Trek fan films—one per day!—in just seven days, I think I need to rechristen Vance the “Oompa Loompa of Star Trek fan films”…perhaps even Willy Wonka himself!
Since he first made his debut as Chief Engineer Minard on the initial episode “Legacy” of the fan series STARSHIP VALIANT back in 2014, VANCE MAJOR has been involved with no less than FIFTEEN different Star Trek fan films and series…in positions both behind and in front of the camera. That’s why I like to call Vance the “Where’s Waldo of Star Trek fan films!”
Here’s a complete list of the films he’s either produced, written, directed, or appeared in (or any combination of the above)…in addition to “Legacy”:
Vance’s latest release is, I think, one of his best yet: the 7-minute Minard. The episode provides a series of scattered glimpses into the professional and personal life of Vance’s engineering character as Minard advances through Starfleet. There’s laughter, excitement, tears, and tragedy…all in just 7 minutes. It’s worth checking out before you listen to our audio interview with Vance…
I already did a 2-part print interview with Vance back in April, and I invite you to read it, as well. But I’m following that up with a new AUDIO interview that was only completed just a few short weeks ago. In the brief time since we chatted, the prolific Mr. Major has released not just one but TWO more completed Trek fan films that were still in post production when we spoke: Minard and “Command and Conquer.” (This fella is quick!)
Vance is a great guy and really interesting to listen to, but what makes this interview really compelling is that his fan films are so cheaply done…and he doesn’t mind that! Many in the fan film community lament the passing of the high-budget mega-projects like Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, Renegades, and Axanar. Barely two years ago, the future of Trek fan films seemed to hold such promise…
And it still does! That’s what this interview is all about. Sure, we might not see the hundred-thousand and million-dollar Trek fan films any longer, but the genre is far from dead! Guys like Vance Major are keeping the dream alive and prospering, and he’s about to tell you how and why…
UPDATE: A month after this interview was posted, Vance Major set a new record by releasing SEVEN Star Trek fan films in just SEVEN DAYS! All of them continues the Minard saga. Read more about it by clicking here…
Last November, the fan series DREADNOUGHT DOMINIONreturned from a 16-month hiatus with a new episode that crossed over with sister fan series STARSHIP VALIANT…an episode entitled “Chain of Command.” You can read more about that endeavor here in this Fan Film Factor blog.
Written by Vance Major, Gary Davis, and David R. Wrenn, and directed by Vance and Gary, the scenes for “Chain of Command” were filmed separately in the states of Ohio, North Carolina, and Oklahoma (the former location of Starbase Studios) and then edited together into a 7-minute fan film. It focused on the new CO of the USS Dominion trying to find a first officer.
It’s rare to see the full (or nearly full) casts of two different fan series cross over into a single fan film. What’s even rarer is to see them cross over TWICE!
And it’s interesting that I said “cross over” because the latest film film to feature these two crews crosses viewers over into the Mirror Universe with a retelling of the “Chain of Command” story with the same characters but from the Terran Empire’sISS Dominon and ISS Valiant.
It’s fun and fascinating…all at the same time! Written by the same team, the directors were now Gary Davis and Kent Edwards. And the locations still included Ohio and North Carolina, but Starbase Studios has now moved to Arkansas, and some scenes were also filmed in Georgia. I’m told the entire production was shot last month (with a few scenes filmed in May) and edited together pretty quickly to come out with such a fast turnaround.
I’m going to provide links to three different fan films here. The first is mirror universe “Command and Conquer.” Below that is the prime universe “Chain of Command” for you to compare it to. And finally, there’s a short vignette written by and starring Vance Major titled Project Defiant: “Dark Glimmer.” Although it came out in late June, it’s a sequel to the newly-released “Command and Conquer.”
And look for a really great audio interview with Vance Major on Fan Film Factor this coming Friday!
My life isn’t usually all that interesting or exciting…at least, not all in one week. But what a week it was!
(Actually, it was only really exciting if you happen to be a Trekkie interested in fan films. If you’re my wife, it’s more like, “That’s nice, honey. I’m glad you had such a good time. Did you remember to empty the dishwasher?”
And that’s why I’m writing this blog—because I have now emptied the dishwasher, and I really want to tell you guys about the fan film filled week I just had…because you care, right? (Aw don’t answer that; it’ll just kill my buzz.)
I really hate when things go nuclear. It happens all too often these days…especially online. Neither party wants to give an inch, each believing he or she is in the right and the other is a total git and knee-biting jerk. People start taking sides, arguments get heated, “evidence” is collected, and folks generally begin gettin’ real pissy.
That was yesterday.
JAMES HAMS and I went toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano for much of the day over what amounted to three words in a recent blog he wrote. Granted, they weren’t just any three words, but the point is that the world wasn’t ending. And yet, you’d never know from all the urgent text messages and e-mails I had to read and write throughout the day. I’m sure James had a similar experience on his end.
Enter VANCE MAJOR. Vance is a friend of both James and myself, and he’s also one of Trek fandom’s calmest and coolest heads. Think of Vance as Switzerland…only with a beard. Not liking the escalation of tempers he was witnessing between his two friends, Vance stepped in, spoke to us both separately, and negotiated a “cease fire.”
In short, James will be removing those three words from his blog (along with half a sentence that will no longer make sense with the three words gone). I’ll be telling the folks on SMALL ACCESS (and here on FAN FILM FACTOR) to stand down, secure from general quarters, cancel battlestations…whatever you want to call it. We’ve both agreed not to mention the other—or their blog(s) or Facebook group(s)—on our own blogs in any negative way on a go-forward basis.
We’re both in agreement on this, and there’s no hard feelings. There were definitely hard feelings yesterday, but it’s nice to know that things can, with a little give and take, be worked out without going to DefCon 1.
I’d like to thank James for being part of the solution…and also Vance for making that solution possible in the first place. I much prefer writing a short blog entry like this one over writing a long entry like yesterday’s!
Last time, we took a closer look at the new fan series MELBOURNE, shot at STARBASE STUDIOS and produced by VANCE MAJOR. This low-budget production has guest cameos from and shout-outs to SEVEN other fan films and series, tying a fair portion of the fan film community together with some shared continuity.
In Part 1 of our interview, Vance talked a bit about his own background as a fan and a filmmaker, and how his experiences with other fan productions led him to create his own. In the conclusion, we discuss more about the Melbourne project itself—its cast, production and post-production, and plans for the future.
At the end of March, a new Star Trek fan production titled MELBOURNE (just that, no “Starship” in front of the name) posted its debut fan film: “Storm Front, Part 1.” One of several fan series shot on the sets of STARBASE STUDIOS (while they were still in their previous Oklahoma City location), Melbourne initially released two ultra-short vignettes, “Pen Pals” and “Pen Pals 2”.) But fans were really waiting for their first full episode to see what this new fan production would be all about.
Most successful Star Trek fan projects have a driving force behind the production, and in the case of Melbourne, that driving force is show-runner/producer/writer VANCE MAJOR (his friends call him “Vman”), who lives in Kansas with his wife of 17 years and his newborn son, Royce. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Vance for a very friendly interview. In fact, “friendly” is one of the best adjectives I could use to describe this warm and humble film producer from the Sunflower State. Since having our interview, we’ve actually become good friends, have spent hours on the phone talking Trek and swapping “Daddy” stories, and he’s invited me to appear on camera in an upcoming episode of Melbourne anytime I can get myself over to Arkansas (the new home of Starbase Studios).
The last two short fan films were also teasers for the latest production made at STARBASE STUDIOS…a new fan film (possibly series) called MELBORNE. And no, the word “Starship” is not in the title—unlike many other projects.
Melbourne is the brainchild of VANCE MAJOR, a filmmaker from Kansas who also plays Chief Engineer Minard on Starship Valiant. From its debut episode, it looks as though Melbourne is set somewhere between the end of Kirk’s five-year mission and the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture…featuring starship and uniform elements from both (apparently in a very purposeful way).
I’ll be featuring a full interview with Vance in a few weeks. But for now, please enjoy Part 1 of Melbourne‘s first full episode debut, “Storm Front”…
Back in April of 2015, a new Star Trek fan series called DREADNOUGHT DOMINION premiered with its initial episode, “Haunted.” Three months later, a second episode, titled “Anchors Aweigh” (a bit of a prequel to the first episode), made its debut. It wasn’t the only TOS-era fan series to feature the crew of a non-heavy cruiser class starship, but it was the first and only one to feature the crew of a Starfleet dreadnought-class starship based on the mid-1970s Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual.
Thanks to a 3D model created by Kenneth Thomson, Jr. and Thomas Phong, the beauty shots of the tri-nacelled USS Dominion in the opening credits and during the episodes were gorgeous. The two episodes were filmed primarily on the very impressive TOS sets in Starship Farragut’s Studio Two in Kingsland, GA (also the shooting location of Star Trek Continues).
A year earlier, another fan series, Starship Valiant, made its debut on YouTube with an introduction vignette titled “Legacy.” Valiant was filmed using the TOS bridge set at Starbase Studios in Oklahoma City. (The following year, a “special edition” version of “Legacy” with added footage was posted after Starbase Studios built a new sickbay set.) Valiant has since completed principal filming on its second episode “The Ties That Bind,” although post production is still ongoing and the second episode hasn’t been released yet.
So what do these two fan series–filmed in different locations in different states during different years–have in common? A man named Vance…