No sooner has the final page of my Axanar Universe comic book “Stardate 2245.1” come out than there’s a NEW fan film comic book in town! But this one isn’t Axanar. It’s the first comic book associated with the upcoming fan film THE ROMULAN WAR by show-runner MARK NACCARATO of Tennessee.
The Romulan Waris the first Star Trek fan film since Prelude to Axanar to be presented in a “mockumentary” style to tell an epic tale from the point of view of interviews and “archival” footage. And The Romulan War has the potential to become just as epic as Axanar. Both tell the story of a significant war that helped to define the United Federation of Planets for decades and even centuries to come, and both fan projects take a look back at those seminal events from numerous perspectives. The trailers for The Romulan War—with visual FX by the “Sorcerer of CGI,” SAMUEL COCKINGS, and trained actors—look very exciting and are worth checking out (click here to view them).
An Indiegogo campaign last summer took in $13K for the project, and the finished fan film was supposed to be ready about now. However, an illness and passing of a close family member took precedence for Mark earlier this year, and things are still being worked on. Mark gave me a progress report:
Sam is wrapping up effects shots for Part 1, but we still have to lock in the score, there’s some 3D maps we are working on, and we’re re-tracking some audio. We also went back into the studio two weeks ago to shoot two NEW scenes that were added last-minute. I am hoping that we get it out by the end of August, but I continue to be plagued by delays that are not really under my control.
But while fans were waiting for this eagerly-anticipated production, Mark helped to quench our thirst by releasing five (so far) very well-crafted and dramatically intense “enhanced audio dramas” called WAR STORIES. Each of these short vignettes focuses on the logs of someone involved in the war (including me!!—I voiced Lt. Cmdr. Geoffrey Christopher who designed and tested the Warp 7 engine), presented as voice-overs but with graphical animations (hence, the “enhanced”). They are also REALLY worth checking out (click here to access them all).
Mark reports that two additional “enhanced” audio dramas will be released within the next month or two to help expand the epic of the upcoming 2-part fan film. One of the audio dramas was just recorded two weeks ago.
A week and a half ago, I reported that MARK NACCARATO, who is completing the fan film THE ROMULAN WAR (due out in the next few months), was about to release the fourth of his WAR STORIES vignettes: “The Fighting Fourth.” That happened for the general public this past weekend, and I have to say that this was my favorite War Story so far! (And since I starred in the third one, you know I’m being sincere.)
Before continuing, I just want to remind everyone to please donate a few bucks to their Indiegogo campaign. Although they surpassed their original goal, additional footage for the main film was shot by AARON VANDERKLEY in Australia, and Mark needs to reach $14,000 to cover Aaron’s additional expenses. He’s $980 short…can you help him out?
Anyway, this latest release is another “enhanced” audio drama, although I think I’d call this a full-on fan film! The difference is that “The Fighting Fourth” actually features a video recording of the main character, not simply the audio recording of log entries “enhanced” with display readouts and various animations. The footage features actor CHEWE NKOLE playing crewman Evander Littlejohn, and the African actor (now living in western Australia) turns in a very strong performance.
Also worth mentioning is sensational CGI effects done by everyone’s favorite British invader, SAMUEL COCKINGS of Trekyards. So we’ve got what I believe is the first-ever Star Trek fan film produced on three different continents (North America, Australia, and Europe), and a really fun and well-crafted 5-minute look at yet another intriguing aspect of The Romulan War…
One of the fan productions I’m most looking forward to at the moment is MARK NACCARATO’s project focusing on the battles and strategies of THE ROMULAN WAR with Earth. Presented as a war documentary (similar to Prelude to Axanar), Mark’s stories will pick up where Star Trek: Enterprisefrustratingly left off: just BEFORE the ware between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Star Empire began.
Leading up to the planned May 2019 premiere of the full fan film, Mark has released a series of short “enhanced” audio dramas called WAR STORIES. They typically present personal logs or subspace correspondence made by someone involved in the war, usually recorded by a trained voice actor reading the script. (I say “usually” because I am definitely not a trained actor, but I recorded one myself!) The releases, while available in audio format for listening only, are ALSO available on YouTube with added VFX and other graphics to look like Starfleet archival footage. They’re REALLY cool.
For anyone who hasn’t seen and heard these War Stories releases yet, you can view them all on this YouTube playlist. They are only 17 and a half minutes total, so it’s not even that much of a time investment. In fact, anyone who says you can’t tell a decent fan film story in 15 minutes or less NEEDS to watch these four productions, as they each do it in under five minutes! (Well, one is a two-parter.)
This is one of the few fan projects set in the NX-era. Another is the series of amazing and powerful short films produced by AARON VANDERKLEY in Australia. If you haven’t watched them yet, you should check them out.
Now Mark Naccarato and Aaron Vanderkley have joined forces for the latest War Stories production, “The Fighting Fourth.” So that’s America and Australia teaming up for the first time. BUT! Let’s also add in a third continent—Europe—as Britain’s own SAMUEL COCKINGS, the hardest-working Trekpert in geek fandom, has lent his talents with some amazing CGI animation. Just take a look at this trailer…
“The Fighting Fourth” will be released first to donors very soon. So if you’d like to see it early, contribute a buck or three to the still-active Indiegogo campaign (now funding post-production costs).
Hey, guess who developed the Warp Seven engine? Me, that’s who!
Well, that’s not entirely true. I had help (will have help?) from my NX-Zeta project team, and from MARK NACARRATO, the show-runner of the upcoming fan production THE ROMULAN WAR. Oh, and it wasn’t really me; it was Lieutenant Geoffrey Christopher of the United Earth Space Probe Agency. But he looks and sounds a lot like me.
I suppose I should back up a few steps and explain what the heck I’m talking about…
For those of you unfamiliar with The Romulan War, it’s going to be an amazing Trek fan film picking up where Star Trek: Enterprise left off…at the beginning of the war between the Coalition of Planets and the Romulan Empire. Filming on the production is all but completed, and now the finishing touches of post production—editing, VFX, sound, music, etc.—are being applied. Release is planned for 2019.
Of course, with the limitations of the fan film guidelines, it would be nearly impossible to recount the entire war…despite using a “mock” documentary style similar to Prelude to Axanar. So Mark came up with an interesting idea to push the envelope a bit—WAR STORIES. These are short vignettes that are essentially audio dramas…just with a little something “extra” added: images with simple animations. These “enhanced” audio dramas are presented as the logs of various Starfleet officers who served during the war, and the logs are accompanied by computer readouts and archival photos with some short video clips. Less than a full fan film but more than a simple audio drama.
Last August, Mark released the first War Stories, the two-part “Sleep Is Hard to Find.” If you go to that blog page, you’ll see that yours truly provided some of the Photoshop work to get the actors’ faces onto NX-era uniforms. A month later, Mark released the second War Stories, “They Want Us Dead.” That one didn’t require my Photoshop services, but the third release, “Final Flight,” did.
I’m beginning to really, really love these enhanced audio dramas that are being released by MARK NACCARATO as a lead-in to his highly anticipated THE ROMULAN WAR fan film! The project itself managed to take in over $12,000 in a recent Indiegogo (and is now trying to reach $14,000 to cover the cost of new live-action footage shot in Australia along with new CGI). And the full fan film itself is supposed to be released very soon.
But in the meantime, Mark has released a series of “enhanced” audio dramas under the banner The Romulan War: “War Stories.” These are personal log entries from those serving in Starfleet during the Romulan War with Earth that led to the founding of the United Federation of Planets in the mid-22nd century. The idea is to tell the “smaller” stories of war, while the main fan film tells the “big” story.
And what are “enhanced” audio dramas? Like most audio dramas, the actors record their lines vocally, without a video camera running. But rather than just playing back the audio over a black screen or a single image or even a series of images, there is actually an ongoing video the whole time, some with simple 2D animation, some with video footage, and some even with 3D CGI.
Mark’s first release was made available to the public about a month ago, the two-part “Sleep Is Hard To Find” (you can view it here). Now the second release is a one-parter entitled “They Want Us Dead,” and it’s riveting. I really mean that. An intense and gripping vocal performance was turned in by actress GINNY WELSCH, who has extensive experience with voice work, over a brilliant script written by ANDREW J. LUCAS, who previously penned multiple episodes of the just-completed The Romulan Wars (plural) fan series.
You’ll probably recognize some footage in the video “borrowed” from a number of familiar cinematic sci-fi sources. Whether or not the studios who own that footage will care about or bother with a small fan film getting a few hundred views is anyone’s guess. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the production…
And remember that you can still donate to the “in demand” Indiegogo campaign to help them reach $14,000…
One of my favorite things about Star Trek is that there are so many stories still waiting to be told…not only about the crews of the USS Enterprise or Voyager or Deep Space Nine but all over Starfleet, the Federation, the Klingon Empire…the entire Milky Way Galaxy! It’s one of the reasons I love fan films so much, as they explore that special universe that I cherish.
I also find myself truly intrigued with how we get/got/will get from here to there…not just the triumphs that built the Federation but also the struggles and even the failures. It’s why I’m such a fan of Axanar, and why I’m so looking forward to the upcoming Pacific 201 and First Frontier, both filling in some of the missing details about major turning points in the history of the United Federation of Planets.
And it’s why I can’t wait to see the new fan production THE ROMULAN WAR.
War stories, if done right, can be very compelling. They test the characters, twist them into unrecognizable shapes, and spit them out…sometimes for the better but all-too-often for the worse. How do we survive war? How do we fight? What decisions do we make that might have been unimaginable to us during peacetime?
There are just some of the questions that are asked in a fascinating new “enhanced” audio drama just released in the lead-up to the debut of The Romulan War fan film series.
I don’t usually cover audio dramas—not because I don’t enjoy them but simply because I don’t have the time to cover both audio dramas AND fan films. But in this case, I’m making an exception because 1) The Romulan War will be a fan film soon, and 2) this isn’t “just” an audio drama.
While some audio dramas feature still images in a slide-show format over the dialog, The Romulan War series “WAR STORIES” goes a step farther. Rather than try to explain it, let me just show you their first 2-part audio episode: “Sleep Is Hard To Find”…