STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!

Would you pay $1, $5, $10, or $25/month to keep the lights on for the only full TOS sets to be completely open to the fan film community?  Right now, 11 people are already doing that, giving STAGE 9 STUDIOS in Kingsland, GA a combined $100/month (or thereabouts) in guaranteed financial assistance to pay for rent, electricity, and maintenance.

With rent estimated at about $3,000/month, a hundred bucks a month might not seem like much.  But Stage 9 Studio only just recently launched their new Patreon, and owner RAY TESI is currently paying all expenses out of his own pocket from retirement savings.  So donating even as little as a dollar a month will be a welcome help.

For those not familiar with Patreon, it’s similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo in that anyone can set up a campaign, anyone can contribute, and there can be perks.  The difference is that, while the latter two are designed for a one-time contribution, Patreon is set up so that supporters (patrons) donate monthly, a recurring contribution charged to their credit card or transferred from their bank account until the donor says otherwise.  Patreon is designed for ongoing endeavors rather than one-time projects, so it’s perfect for something like Stage 9 Studios where the expenses from rent, utilities, and maintenance are ongoing.

And what happens if the Patreon generates more per month than it costs to “keep the lights on.”  (What a great problem to have, right!?!)  Simple.  Additional funds will be used to improve the studio (like adding air conditioning, perhaps?) and maybe even to build more sets.  As the Patreon page clearly states:

STAGE 9 STUDIOS is NOT a money-making enterprise, but an opportunity to share the passion that millions of STAR TREK fans have for the series!

But that’s not all that’s happening with Stage 9 Studios.  Would YOU like to see these amazing sets in person…for FREE???

Continue reading “STAGE 9 STUDIOS announces a new PATREON, OPEN HOUSE, and an awesome WALK-THROUGH VIDEO!”

TREKYARDS and VIC MIGNOGNA go behind-the-scenes of STAR TREK CONTINUES!

TREKYARDS is a force of nature in Star Trek fandom.  So is STAR TREK CONTINUES.  Put the two of them together, and there’s something really special in store for Trekkers!

Trekyards, for those who don’t know, is the brainchild of STUART FOLEY and SAMUEL COCKINGS.  Together, these two uber-fans have produced more than 500 webshow videos spotlighting ships from Trek and other sci-fi franchises, interviewing actors and production people from Star Trek, doing video podcasts, and filling the Internet with enough smart, funny, and fascinating content to eat up as much of your free time as you desire!

Star Trek Continues, as you undoubtedly know, was a cutting edge fan series that presented the final two years of the USS Enterprise‘s 5-year mission under James T. Kirk.  Using professional actors and technical crew, featuring noted sci-fi celebrities as guest stars, and displaying industry-level production quality on exact recreations of the TOS sets, STC set a standard of excellence seldom if ever matched in the realm of Trek fan films.

Although STC has completed its 11-episode run, fans still cherish this labor of love and the careful attention to detail that went into it.  And while STC has released a few special features here and there focussing on things like the music scoring, editing, and VFX—and Fan Film Factor published this exhaustively-researched complete history of STC—there hasn’t been a real “deep dive” into all of the  behind-the-scenes production secrets of this amazing series.

Until now, that is!

Trekyards is introducing a new webshow series spotlighting Star Trek Continues, hoping to cover EVERY fascinating detail of this beloved fan project with insight from those who produced it.  Up first, in a 20-minute interview about their first episode, “Pilgrim of Eternity,” Captain Kirk himself, VIC MIGNOGANA, talks about finding and convincing retired actor Michael Forest to reprise his role of Apollo, Vic’s feelings about other Trek fan series, and what gravity has to do with the color of the walls on the set!

Here’s the first installment of this new MUST-SEE Trekyards series…

I spoke to Trekyards co-host and editor Samuel Cockings about this new offering and learned some very interesting things—including why fans really need to tune in and support it…

Continue reading “TREKYARDS and VIC MIGNOGNA go behind-the-scenes of STAR TREK CONTINUES!”

The former STAR TREK CONTINUES sets are now OPEN for FAN FILMING!

Back in February, the fan film community was ecstatic to hear that RAY TESI of Florida had purchased the TOS sets that had been previously used by the fan series STAR TREK CONTINUES and STARSHIP FARRAGUT.

Prior to that, fans had been very worried since these incredible sets—used for nearly two dozen fan productions—were costing VIC MIGNOGNA a reported $5,000/month in rent to house and maintain.  Nobody wanted the sets tossed into a dumpster, but with a price-tag of $60K per year and no way to monetize them because there’s already a licensed Star Trek Set Tour in upstate New York, it was unrealistically expensive to keep these sets around.

Enter Ray Tesi, who had funded and produced a fan film vignette called STARSHIP REPUBLIC “Serpent of Yesterday“back in 2017.  Ray bought the sets, and will be using his retirement savings to pay the rent (Ray tells the behind-the-scenes story in this audio interview).  Keeping the name STAGE 9 STUDIOS (previously used by Star Trek Continues for the Kingsland, GA facility), Ray has announced his intention to open the sets up to other fan filmmakers in much the same way that STARBASE STUDIOS had been doing since 2011.

There were, however, a couple of big unknowns.  The first was a reaction by JAMES CAWLEY reported on Trekzone Spotlight (at the 18:10 mark) that James was concerned that Ray’s offering the Stage 9 TOS sets for fan use would compete with James’ exclusive set tour license.  The second unknown was how CBS would react.  They are okay with Star Trek fan films as long as they follow the guidelines.  And so far, CBS has been okay with Starbase Studios offering their TOS sets in exchange for fan productions paying only for the electricity they use while shooting there.  But would CBS continue to look the other way for a second studio full of TOS sets?  Ray didn’t want to take a chance, so he contacted CBS directly.

This weekend, Ray has taken a few of the set pieces to MegaCon in Orlando, FL to display publicly and announce that Stage 9 Studios is now open to fan projects.  So what did CBS say?  And what are the logistics for fan films to use these sets going forward?

Time for another Fan Film Factor interview with Ray…!

Continue reading “The former STAR TREK CONTINUES sets are now OPEN for FAN FILMING!”

The complete HISTORY OF STAR TREK CONTINUES…in a single PDF!

Just as STAR TREK CONTINUES was releasing their series finale last October, I was publishing an ambitious 6-part weekly blog feature covering the half-decade history of this beloved fan-made production.

The blog series was, without a doubt, my most ambitious endeavor to date, researched and compiled from several dozen sources—articles, interviews, features, reviews, Facebook posts, updates from STC itself, and even video recorded live by yours truly.  The six parts took me months to complete, and in the end, a few thousand people came to Fan Film Factor to enjoy reading about this fan series and the people who produced it.

I kinda figured that was it for STC on FFF.  The series wrapped up, the blogs were done…time to move on to other fan films both old and new.  But one of my readers, BRYAN LEECH from Melbourne, Australia, posted a comment on Part 3 of the blog:

Is there any possibility that, when completed, you could make your work available as a complete downloadable entity?

Man, did that sound like extra work!  I politely declined, explaining that I was pretty busy writing new blogs.  But then Bryan offered to create a PDF himself.  He’d assemble all of the text, add the graphics, and even include and test all of the hyperlinks that I’d included in the original blog.

Bryan got started in December and would send me versions to review every so often.  We’d discuss designs and fonts choices; whether to use italics, bold, and/or ALL CAPS in certain places; where to place images and how large to make them, and whether to have the text by completely justified on the right or not.  We troubleshooted bad hyperlinks, and Bryan even fixed some of my ultra-rare typos.

It took a few months and a lot of hard work on Bryan’s part to get things perfect, but in the end, the finished product is something we’re both very proud of.  SO big thanks to Bryan!

In addition to the link below, I’ve also posted the PDF file to my new “PDFs” section here on Fan Film Factor.  You can find that menu option in the middle of the top nav bar.  Check it out, as there’s some other fun PDFs there for download as well.

And now for your reading pleasure, here it is: the complete HISTORY OF STAR TREK CONTINUES

Click here to view the History of Star Trek Continues PDF.

The story BEHIND THE PURCHASE of the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets! (audio interview with RAY TESI)

Fans gave a sigh of relief in early February when it was announced that the STAR TREK CONTINUES sets in Kingsland, Georgia had been purchased by a fan filmmaker who intended to make the sets available to other fan filmmakers to create their Trek fan productions.  The new owner is a fellow by the name of RAY TESI, and his own fan project was STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which had released the 9-minute Serpent of Yesterday vignette in February of last year.

But I was curious about something: how was Ray affording all this?

Y’see, after releasing his fan film vignette, Ray launched an Indiegogo campaign to try to raise $16,000 to continue the production of his fan series.  That campaign only made it to $2,351, and the project was shelved indefinitely.

Now, I didn’t know whether Ray had purchased the sets from VIC MIGNOGNA of Star Trek Continues or had gotten them for free (turns out Ray bought them).  But I did know that the rent for the warehouse where the sets reside is tens of thousands of dollars per year!

So how is a guy who needed $16,000 in crowd-funding a year ago suddenly able to afford thousands of dollars a month in rent?  Did he win the lottery?  Rob a bank?  Blackmail a rich politician?

It turns out, fortunately(!), that it was none of the above.  In fact, when you hear the actual story behind Ray’s purchase of the STC sets, I think that you—like me—will gain a new respect for Ray Tesi and feel truly inspired and positive about the future of this wonderful fan resource.

Here’s the interview…

Ray Tesi in the center seat surrounded by the cast of Starship Republic

And for anyone wanting to see how awesome these sets are, here’s a walkthrough from a few years ago (before they added Engineering, which makes it all even MORE awesome!)…

STAR TREK CONTINUES transfers OWNERSHIP of their TOS sets!

Ever since STAR TREK CONTINUES released its 11th and final episode last November, fans have been asking, “What will happen to those amazing TOS sets???”  They can’t be turned into a Star Trek set tour because there’s already one of those in upstate New York, and James Cawley’s license with CBS is exclusive.  And despite some fans suggesting the sets just be sold/donated to a museum or to CBS itself, there are use too many set pieces to make relocating them anywhere near practical or cost effective.

The challenge for VIC MIGNOGNA, the showrunner for STC, is that the sets are currently housed in a building in Kingsland, GA that costs about $5,000 a month in rent (according to their 501(c)(3) non-profit filing from 2015).  As much as Vic wants to keep the sets open and intact, $60K per year is a LOT to ask any Trekker to pay to keep those sets open.

Enter: RAY TESI.  Ray will be the new owner of the TOS sets that were used by STC.  Ray is the executive producer behind STARSHIP REPUBLIC, which released its first fan film vignette, the 9-minute “Serpent of Yesterday” almost one full year ago.  I interviewed Ray here on Fan Film Factor when he was trying to generate funds through an Indiegogo campaign to complete their first episode.  The plans were to shoot the scenes on the Starbase Studios sets in Arkansas.  But with the current uncertainty regarding those sets, Ray wasn’t certain he’d be able to rely on Starbase to film his fan project.  Now he’ll film in Georgia instead.

Ray has decided to keep the name STAGE 9 STUDIOS, which is what STC decided to call their facility (named after the location of the original TOS sets on the Paramount lot back in the late 1960s).

Obviously, there’s more news to come on this (including plans to restart Starship Republic later this year).  I’ve requested an interview with Ray, but right now, here’s the press release that was just circulated by Star Trek Continues

Continue reading “STAR TREK CONTINUES transfers OWNERSHIP of their TOS sets!”

VIC MIGNOGNA posts a special “thank you” video from the sets of STAR TREK CONTINUES

This past Monday evening, STAR TREK CONTINUES show-runner VIC MIGNOGNA posted a very special video onto the STC Facebook page.  Principal photography was completed last February on the final STC episode, “To Boldly Go.”  Shortly thereafter, Vic walked the corridors of the amazing TOS sets on a rainy day in Kingsland, GA, filming himself using a selfie stick as he discussed his feelings about wrapping up the series after nearly six years.

In the background, you can see how the sets are laid out in the warehouse, what some of the Enterprise “walls” look like from the other side, and how close everything was from the edges of the soundstage itself.  They certainly filled that space.

Some of the TNG set pieces on display at the now-closed Hollywood Entertainment Museum

The video shows a quiet and thoughtful moment for Vic, similar to one I experienced several years ago during my final visit to the Star Trek: TNG sets on display at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum.  For several years, I and friends from a local Trek fan club used to give docent tours in uniform once a month before the museum closed its doors forever.  While I can’t completely equate that experience to Vic’s in terms of time commitment and dedication, I still understand a little of how he felt when he made this video.

Everyone else was gone (or so it appears on Vic’s video), and it was a final chance to take in everything this project had meant to him personally for those many years.  Like Vic, I also did my final “set walk” alone.  I stayed there for about 45 minutes in silence (the museum was now closed to the public and we’d been helping get props organized and stowed—I was the last one there).  I sat in Picard’s chair, walked around Worf’s station, stood in the transporter, and took one last look at all the humorous details Mike Okuda had hidden in Geordi’s engineering cutaway of the Enterprise-D: Nomad, an airplane, the rubber duck.  And for no reason whatsoever, I gave one final tour…to no one.  I went through every part of the docent speech my friends and I used to give for the tourists, as I’d long ago memorized every line.  It was just a special moment with the sets…one last time.

And while Vic obviously still has access to his sets, I can imagine how deeply introspective he must have felt when he made this video—and I’m glad he decided to share it with us…

DVDs for STAR TREK CONTINUES? There’s good news and bad news…

Now that all 11 episodes of STAR TREK CONTINUES have been completed and released, the question rings out: Will there be DVD’s available for sale?

Some Trek fans like having DVDs of their favorite fan films, and some productions have obliged.  However, with the guidelines now forbidding the sale or distribution of fan films on DVDs or Blu-rays, most fan producers are opting not to release their episodes on disc except in the rare circumstance where they are given directly only to people who worked on their productions.

However, Star Trek Continues hasn’t exactly been following all of those guidelines.  So the question of whether they will continue that philosophy and release DVDs anyway is certainly a fair one to ask.

And now STC has answered.  In an e-mail sent out Saturday, executive producer VIC MIGNOGNA said the following:

Thousands of you have been asking for years if our series would ever be available on DVD & Blu-ray. Because there is significant cost in having discs and artwork pressed & packaged, it’s not feasible for us to make physical discs since we cannot sell them. That’s the bad news….
 
Now for the good news.  From the cast & crew of STC, our Christmas present to all of you is this: ISO image files (files in the .iso format) of all four volumes (and all 11 episodes) of our series are now available for free download on our website at so you can burn your own DVDs & Blu-ray discs:

www.startrekcontinues.com/downloads.html
 
You can also download the artwork inserts & disc art for all four volumes for free as well!
 
But that’s not all! We have made available the full-sized 24”x36” posters of all 11 episodes for free, including a custom STC poster I created which is displayed in this newsletter. [See the image at the top of this blog -Jonathan] All of our final shooting scripts can be downloaded as well.
 
But that’s not all! Many of you have asked about the original music that has been composed & produced for STC. We are releasing all of that music for free download, as well as the artwork and disc art for “The Music Of Star Trek Continues.”
 
So let’s recap:

  • DVD & Blu-ray disc .iso files for all four volumes (all 11 episodes) of STAR TREK CONTINUES
  • Artwork inserts and disc art for all four volumes
  • The official posters from all 11 episodes, full-sized and ready to print
  • “The Music Of Star Trek Continues” CD file download
  • Artwork for the music CD case insert and disc
  • All 11 STC shooting scripts in .pdf format 

All for free!
 
Merry Christmas from STC!

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 6)

WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!

Last time, an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign in early 2016 gave the STAR TREK CONTINUES team just under $200,000 to produce more episodes of their fan series.  But a new set of fan film guidelines released by CBS and Paramount threatened to stop the production in its tracks by limiting episode length to 15-minutes, blocking ongoing series, and forbidding the use of paid professionals and Star Trek alumni on any fan production.  STC‘s episodes had been regularly violating several of these new guidelines, and while the new rules were not retroactive, they would apply to anything produced by STC going forward.

But the STC team decided to forge ahead anyway, arguing that the guidelines were only that—guidelines—and not some kind of new “law.”  They only said that fan productions that followed these guidelines would not be sued by the studios, NOT that those who didn’t follow the guidelines would be sued.

So STC announced their intention to produce four new full-length episodes with professional actors and crew, release all four in 2017, and then shut down their fan series for good.  The hope was that their amicable relationship with CBS would convince the studios to allow them to finish up, shut down, and go out on the high note.  It wasn’t the most optimum solution, of course.  STC had initially wanted to produce 13 episodes, and now they would only go to 11.  However, considering the harsh constraints of the new guidelines on fan films, being able to produce four full-length episodes—assuming the studios would let them do so without a cease and desist letter or a lawsuit—seemed to be more of a victory than a defeat.

But would CBS and Paramount allow then to actually do it?

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 6)”

A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 5)

Last time, as 2015 came to a close, STAR TREK CONTINUES was well on its way to a royal fizzbin.  They purchased the entirety of the sets in Kingsland, GA, and released their sixth episode, “Divided We Stand.” STC‘s second “Kirkstarter” at the beginning of 2015 had brought in nearly $215,000 to fund their next two episodes and build two new sets: Engineering and a planet set similar to what existed for TOS back in the 1960s on the Paramount lot.  And then 2016 brought the release of those next two episodes, “Come Not Between the Dragons“and “Embracing the Winds.”

With eight episodes completed and released, STC was now way past the mid-point of what was originally intended to be a 13-episode run.  Show-runner Vic Mignogna never envisioned STC going past that number of episodes, and joked that he, now well into his fifties, couldn’t play a 35-year-old James T. Kirk forever.  Indeed, episodes 7 and 8 already began introducing plot elements that would form into an ongoing story arc that would culminate in the series finale that would end Kirk’s five-year mission and lead into Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

But as 2015 drew to a close, no one suspected that 2016 would turn out to be an uncertain and controversial year, not just for STC, but for all Star Trek fan films.  And it all began just before New Years with the filing of a copyright infringement lawsuit by CBS and Paramount against another fan production…Axanar.

Continue reading “A history of STAR TREK CONTINUES (feature, part 5)”