Three positive COVID-19 tests among AVALON UNIVERSE cast and crew delay film shoot!

In a video interview that we did during the end of December, JOSHUA IRWIN of the AVALON UNIVERSE fan series was excited for a film shoot they had scheduled for early January. That shoot was supposed to be this weekend, but three significant members of the cast and crew have each, separately, been diagnosed with COVID-19 this past week, necessitating the delay of the shoot at least until February.

This was a major shoot for their next fan project, “The Needs of the One.” The story deals with a Vulcan crew member going through pon farr, similar to the beginning of the TOS episode episode “Amok Time.” But the similarities end there, as this crew member doesn’t simply accept the ancient traditions of the Vulcan culture where Vulcan females are “promised” to males as children. This episode turns all of that on its ear…or so I’m told.

This isn’t the first time a fan film has needed to delay a shoot due to COVID. Indeed, an earlier release from Avalon, AIR AND DARKNESS, had a COVID delay in late 2020, just as the pandemic seemed to potentially be receding a little (yeah, that didn’t happen).

Interestingly, it isn’t just Avalon that had to cancel a Star Trek-related film shoot this week. On Thursday, production on STAR TREK: PICARD season three had to be suspended when more than 50 members of the production crew (out of a total of 450) returned from the holiday break testing positive for COVID. SIR PATRICK STEWART was, thankfully, not among those reported to be sick. Filming restarted on Friday with COVID-negative replacements.

And it’s not just here in America where COVID is interfering with production. British Earl of CGI, SAMUEL COCKINGS, has already lost three shooting days for TREK SHORTS due to last-minute COVID infections. Sam has tried to make lemons from lemonade, though. During shoots when a single actor has had to cancel because of a positive COVID test or exposure to someone with COVID, Sam used the opportunity to either shoot scenes for alternate films or else write entirely new shorts with the actor or actors who did show up. You can read about one of those incidents in this blog about the origin of the bonus fan film HOURS AT WARP.

Three additional shooting days for Sam were affected by non-COVID illnesses (bloke can’t catch a break!) But because of costs to bring the actors in, travel and lodging, plus having to set up new shoots to replace the impacted ones, Sam no longer has the funds remaining to complete everything he promised donors. So Sam plans to launch an additional crowd-funding campaign. “There will be a LOT of new stuff to show,” Sam told me, “both to reveal what we actually did in 2021 but also all the new things we need help with finishing in 2022 and 2023!”

Continue reading “Three positive COVID-19 tests among AVALON UNIVERSE cast and crew delay film shoot!”

Four years in the making, THE FEDERATION FILES’ tenth episode is “DOPPELGANGER” (video interview with DAN REYNOLDS)

I first heard about “Doppelganger” back in early 2017 when I watched this short trailer, released at the same time as this short trailer for “Walking Bear, Running Wolf.” Both didn’t show any filmed footage, but they promised new releases coming from the fan anthology (fanthology?) series THE FEDERATION FILES, which had launched a few months earlier in late 2016 with their debut episode, “His Name Is Mudd.”

Following that initial premiere and those two trailers, The Federation Files released another eight episodes…

And while “Walking Bear, Running Wolf” was completed and released pretty quickly later in 2017, “Doppelganger” was nowhere to be seen…until this past summer, that is. On July 9th, 2021, The Federation Files debuted its TENTH full episode, and fans finally got to see “Doppelganger.”

It also marked the first time in five releases that an episode of The Federation Files featured any of the amazing Star Trek TOS sets at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northern Arkansas. After using the sets in their first four releases, the next five episodes were either filmed on location (both indoors and outdoors) or else on non-TOS sets custom-built for the needs of a particular story.

Of course, that’s the advantage of a fanthology format, as the time period can jump around and not be limited to only 23rd century Star Trek history. But the trend was enough for me to notice and ask co-showrunner GLEN L. WOLFE about the lack of use of the TOS sets in my previous blog about “Mask.” Amusingly, though, before I had a chance to publish that interview, these busy beavers in Arkansas released their newest fan production, “Doppelganger,” which most assuredly makes copious use of the many TOS sets, as you can see here…

That said, Federation Files has once again “lapped” me by already posting an ELEVENTH fan film, “No Good Deed,” before I could cover this tenth release. And I’ll certainly get to that one (hopefully before they release their twelfth episode!).

But “Doppelganger” gives me a chance to interview the “R” in WARP 66 Studios: Mr. DAN REYNOLDS of Wolf/Reynolds Productions. In fact, Glen has sorta been hogging the last four interviews, and I haven’t had Dan in the hot seat since January of 2020!

So let’s remedy that absence with a brand new video interview (lately, I’ve kinda graduated from audio interviews to recorded Zoom calls—let me know what you think)…

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…”

“MASK” marks FIVE releases in a row from THE FEDERATION FILES without a TOS set in sight! (interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)

I want you to imagine something. You and your best friend have built a bunch of super-accurate Star Trek TOS sets near your homes. You’ve got a partial bridge set, sickbay, transporter room, briefing room, corridor, and even the inside of a shuttlecraft. You can go there anytime you want, stay as long as you like, invite friends, etc.

You might even…I don’t know…shoot a Star Trek fan film??? C’mon, you know you would!

And starting in late 2017, that’s what GLEN WOLFE and DAN REYNOLDS began to do. Actually, they had both been involved in fan filmmaking for years previously, working on both other people’s projects as well as their own. The Federation Files released the first of its many, many Star Trek anthology-style productions back in 2016. Titled “His Name Is Mudd,” much of the episode was shot at the now-dearly-departed STARBASE STUDIOS while it was still in Oklahoma. Their second episode, “Walking Bear, Running Wolf,” and part of their third episode, “Extraction” were filmed at Starbase Studios after the sets were moved to Arkansas.

But “Extraction,” released in late 2017, also marked the first time Dan and Glen shot on their own set…in this case a shuttlecraft cockpit made of some elements donated from JAMES CAWLEY of STAR TREK: PHASE II after being used in their episode “The Holiest Thing” and completed in a TV studio building that Dan owns near his home in northern Arkansas.

Likewise, their fourth episode, “Galaxy Hopper,” included scenes shot in the briefing room, transporter room, and corridor sets at Starbase Studios early in 2018. But the episode featured, for the first time ever, scenes filmed on a brand new partial bridge set constructed by Glen and Dan at another of Dan’s studio facilities. With both a shuttlecraft cockpit and a bridge set, and with more sets planned, the two fan filmmakers officially christened their production location WARP 66 STUDIOS (“WARP” standing for Wolf And Reynolds Productions and “66” being the year that Star Trek debuted).

Amusingly, their fifth episode, “The Equinox Effect,” shot in 2019, utilized almost none of the TOS sets that Glen and Dan had constructed. The TOS sets that appear in that fan film were actually the ones located in upstate New York, rented out by James Cawley back in 2015 to the producers of the never-completed STAR TREK: EQUINOX – “The Night of Time,” footage which Glen Wolfe “rescued” to include in this original episode of The Federation Files. Meanwhile, Glen was building out a sickbay, transporter, briefing room, and corridor set to add to WARP 66.

Why this elaborate history lesson, you ask? It all goes back to the question I asked above: if you had complete and total access to high-end TOS set recreations, wouldn’t you want to shoot some cool fan films on them?

Continue reading ““MASK” marks FIVE releases in a row from THE FEDERATION FILES without a TOS set in sight! (interview with GLEN L. WOLFE)”

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!”

Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!

If you’ve never been part of the making of a fan film, it’s kinda hard to explain. But there’s a bug that bites ya, and then there’s an itch that you just need to scratch. It’s difficult to say when exactly that fan film bug bites—I guess it’s different for everyone; like the moment someone realizes they’re a Trekkie/Trekker—but when it does, everything can change in a heartbeat.

Or not. Some people make a fan film or participate in a production or two and they’re done. And that’s fine. But for many others, fan films get into your blood—sometimes into your very DNA—and then there’s just no stoppin’ it!

Which brings us to PIXI NEREID.

That’s actually her stage name. Pixi’s real name is ILIA McNEIL…and yes, the “Ilia” is actually inspired by the bald Deltan navigation officer from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, as her parents were TOS fans. And Ilia is a hardcore fan herself. But all of her friends call her Pixi, and so do I because Pixi has (almost overnight!) become a friend.

And honestly, it’s hard not to absorb all of the positivity, fun, and optimism that radiates from her—so much so that you almost need to call her Pixi. And if you’re wondering where that name comes from, Pixi has a side gig (along with a small number of other women in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area) performing as a mermaid at children’s parties. So I suppose that Pixi Nereid isn’t her “stage” name so much as her “pool” name, but whatever you call it, she’s totally a Pixi!

We got no troubles…life is the bubbles…under the sea!

JOSHUA IRWIN, who will be directing the new AVALON UNIVERSE fan films that are crowd-funding now (click here to donate), first met Pixi on the set of the soon-to-be-released COSMIC STREAM while filming at WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas. Pixi was told about the shoot by one of her fellow mermaids, who had a role in the fan film. But Pixi didn’t come to appear on camera, she just wanted to help out. In fact, she arrived and immediately told Josh that she’d be happy to be a grip for the day (a grip is someone someone who moves the lights around…not very glamorous but super-important).

It’s a 108-mile drive each way from Fayetteville to the studio, so the people who volunteer for these fan film shoots at WARP 66 have to be pretty committed. After the shoot in mid-March, Josh posted the following photo and comment to Facebook…

Continue reading “Reason #2 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: DO IT FOR PIXI…!”

Reason #1 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: JAKANDE LIVES!!!

Over the next 21 days, I’m planning to provide one excellent reason each week to donate to the just-launched GoFundMe for the AVALON UNIVERSE‘s new series of Star Trek fan films, a multi-episode saga that will be titled “Crisis on Infinite Excaliburs.” The campaign had a soft launch last week and has already taken in over $1,200 in donations before most fans even knew it was happening! But today marks the official kick-off, and with it, my series of blogs.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait for me to convince you, feel free to click on over and donate something right now (and watch the “ask” video; it’s awesome!)…

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

I know, I know. It seems like lately there’s been a new Star Trek fan film crowd-funding campaign every month. And yep, there has! Back in May, CGI sensei SAMUEL COCKINGS raised more than $13K for his series of six (or is it seven?) anthology fan films under the canopy title of TREK SHORTS. Then in June, it was DREADNOUGHT DOMINION‘s turn, as GARY DAVIS successfully topped their $5K goal for two Dominion episodes plus the debut episode of their new PROJECT RUNABOUT fan series.

And as July begins, we go for the “hat trick” as JOSHUA IRWIN has just launched the most ambitious of these back-to-back-to-back campaigns, endeavoring to raise $20K for a new series of fan films set in the Avalon Universe.

There have already been six Avalon Universe fan films: GHOST SHIP, AVALON LOST, DEMONS, LEGACY, AIR AND DARKNESS, and NEW ORDERS…nearly two hours of super-high quality Star Trek fan films with a combined hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. And a seventh film, COSMIC STREAM, is set to premiere later this month…with an eighth film, AGENT OF NEW WORLDS, already in production!

Believe it or not, Josh has only ever held ONE Avalon crowd-funding campaign before now…back in early 2019, he raised $6,500. All the rest of the production costs for Avalon—literally tens of thousands of dollars—have been paid for out of Josh’s pocket…and this guy ain’t exactly living the lifestyle of the rich and famous!

Joshua Irwin…spent his last pennies in the Avalon Universe!

Understandably, most fan filmmakers can only self-fund for so long before they need to ask for a little help from their friends…which is why many Star Trek fan productions seek support through crowd-funding. And indeed, that’s why I’m writing this blog (and the three weekly blogs that will follow): because Josh is my friend—along with being my Director of Photography and Editor on INTERLUDE. I’m also writing these blogs because I love the quality of Josh’s work, I love the Avalon Universe, and oh…

…BECAUSE JOSH IS BRINGING BACK CAPTAIN JAKANDE!!!

Yep, that’s the big Reason #1 to donate to this campaign!

Continue reading “Reason #1 to donate to the AVALON GoFundMe: JAKANDE LIVES!!!”

THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 1)

One of the most unique and intriguing aspects of the fan series THE FEDERATION FILES is that it is a true anthology series. Each new episode features entirely different characters and settings and even eras. We’ve seen Star Trek episodes in the present, the not-too-distant future, the 23rd century, the 24th century, and even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Essentially, these folks can tell any Star Trek or Star Trekkish story that they want to.

And by “these folks,” I mean GLEN WOLFE and his partner DAN REYNOLDS, the co-owners of WARP 66 STUDIOS in northeastern Arkansas. They have a growing collection of TOS set recreations, allowing them to create fan films from that era, but they’ve gone far beyond that both in terms of space and time.

Recently, Glen Wolfe “rescued” (my word) a fan film from several years ago that was partially filmed at Retro Studios in Ticonderoga, NY (before it became the official TOS Set Tour) but never completed. That fan film was STAR TREK: EQUINOX, written by CAMREN T. BURTON and starring GARY LOCKWOOD reprising his role of Gary Mitchell from the TOS episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and JOHN SAVAGE reprising his role of Captain Rudy Ransom from the Star Trek: Voyager “Equinox” two-parter. Glen came in, created a new 24th framing sequence, and finished the ill-fated fan film half a decade later. You can read more about that project here.

Late last year, Glen decided to do an encore with another uncompleted fan film from 2006-2007 called STAR TREK: ORIGINS – “The Wounds of War.” Once again, Glen produced a framing sequence and incorporated filmed elements of the the original footage to create an entirely original production—a new episode of the The Federation Files that he chose to call “FRIENDS AND FOES.” Let’s take a look…

This two-part blog interview was actually a somewhat challenging to put together. Obviously, I had some questions for Glen, as The Federation Files‘ show-runner as well as writer/director of this latest episode. But there was also the writer of the original uncompleted episode (again, the aforementioned Camren T. Burton) plus the executive producer and star of the original fan film, MICHAEL DEMPSEY.

What’s so difficult about interviewing three people? Well, I usually try to interview people together, but this time, it was three separate interviews that I’ve needed to merge into one that flows smoothly. (In other words, I need to make you guys think they were all in the same room or zoom call or email chain together when they really weren’t.) But the other challenge was that Michael’s portion of the interview needed to wait several months because he actually contracted a rather serious case of COVID-19 before I could interview him!

So with that as an intro, let’s get into it…

Continue reading “THE FEDERATION FILES “rescues” another uncompleted fan film in “FRIENDS AND FOES” (interview with MICHAEL DEMPSEY, CAMREN BURTON, and GLEN WOLFE, part 1)”

Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!

(I know you wanna see INTERLUDE! Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this web page, then come back to read the full blog entry.)


I was a fan of AXANAR even before the launch of their first Kickstarter campaign back in early 2014. And when PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released that summer, I was ecstatic. There had never been any fan film like this one, and it FELT like the Star Trek I had grown up with…something I couldn’t say about the newest Trek movie releases from Paramount and (later) television releases from CBS.

Later that summer, I jumped at the chance to volunteer to help pack and ship perks to donors (of which I was one, of course), and I got to know ALEC PETERS, DIANA KINGSBURY, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, and a bunch of other folks involved with the production. Heck, I even joined the gang along with RICHARD HATCH (may he rest in peace) at a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach after a convention for an awesome dinner experience.

By 2015, I was writing weekly “Fan Film Friday” blogs for the Axanar website about other Trek fan films…something that led to the creation of Fan Film Factor half a year later. Fan films in general, and Axanar in particular, had quickly become a major part of my life as a Trek fan.

Interlude was born in stages, but I can trace its initial origin back to June of 2017 when I was reading Alec’s new 2-part Axanar script. The legal settlement with CBS and Paramount forced him to trim the full-length movie script down to two 15-minute segments that would be filmed in the same mock documentary style as Prelude.

By this point, the amazing half-completed bridge set was being packed up and moved cross-country from southern California to Georgia, and I was looking forward to seeing how bridge scenes would be incorporated into the “mockumentary” format. But to my shock and horror, there were NO bridge scenes in Alec’s new script…only the same “talking heads” dialog and VFX as there was in Prelude. Huh?

What I didn’t know at the time was that Alec had purposefully left out any bridge scenes because he wasn’t certain whether he’d be able to raise the funds to complete the set. However, not knowing why there weren’t any bridge scenes, I mistakenly assumed Alec just felt like he couldn’t squeeze them in and still tell the story properly. So as a way of demonstrating that it was possible to have bridge scenes, I wrote a new version of the script…what I call my “alt-Axanar” script. Alec won’t be using it (he’s fine with his own version), but someday after the two Axanar sequels are released, I’ll publish it here on the blog just for fun.

Continue reading “Presenting INTERLUDE – a Star Trek fan film in the AXANAR Universe!”