This week we wrap our current featured blog series about the fan film Melbourne by interviewing Michael Sylvester AKA Captain Nathan Cooper.
Michael, born on September 11th and has lived in Huntsville, AL since 1993. Is a keen photographer who owns his own company http://www.sylvesterphotography.com/ Michaels love for photography started when he was a child and has always dreamt of making a career out of his passion and it was in 2006 when he made that dream a reality.
Since 2006 Michael has enjoyed having his own business as a freelance photographer and has photographed over 100 weddings, over 200 Portraits, 3 military special events, 1 prom dance, 2 local parades, and around 50 non-profit events. In 2013 Michael found out that Star Trek: Renegades needed a photographer for its 3 weeks of filming in LA, he applied and landed a dream job as along with photography Star Trek is another huge passion of his.
Along with his job on the production of Renegades and his acting role on Melbourne Michael has also helped out other productions and was even an extra on the fan series “Starship Tristan”.
“I first met Michael online a few months before the first promenade-acon. He was so excited. I thought he was just another person. Had no idea that he was such an uber fan. But man, had a few phone calls with him and then meet him and I just clicked with him. He had such a warm personality to him, I invited him to the Melbourne dinner we all had that night after the event. As an honorary guest. I think it was a month later I gave him a guest role. He was just so excited, it was infectious. About a month before filming the captain we had planned, stepped away. And Michael had already memorised his lines. To Jeremy and me, it was a no-brainer. And our new captain was born. And honestly, as we were filming, I couldn’t see anyone else in that role. He had played it with such honesty. Hit every note we needed him to. The guy is such a great actor. He’s such a great friend. And he’s just an all out great person”
Vance Owen, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hi Michael, thank you for taking some time to answer some questions with me about you and your role in Melbourne.
So let’s start with the obvious one tell me a bit about yourself.
Michael) Hi there, my name is Michael Scott Sylvester; I am 46 years old and live in Huntsville Ala. I have been married for more than 10 years and been with her more than 20 years.
James) What do you do when you are not acting or helping out on fan films?
Michael) I am a photographer full time and deliver pizza for Domino’s part-time.
James) What are your likes and dislikes?
Michael) I love cheesecake, esp plain. I dislike people who have no respect for others or stuck up or judgmental.
James) Other than your obvious love for Star Trek, what TV shows do you watch?
Michael) I love pretty much any kind of sci-fi shows, but I also love NCIS series, Bull, Scorpion, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and Flash. Arrow, hmmm, not sure about them. But what they say is true and what they are going to do, then they will win me back.
James) I love the Dc Universe TV series although like you have yet to really follow Arrow, just seems a bit meh to me.
Are there any Star Trek Games you play?
Michael) I pretty much do not play Trek games, I know. Many of my friends are shock by that. But I do play Cards against Humanity card game.
James) Tell me a bit about your history with Star Trek what does Trek mean to you, did you grow up watching it or was it something you came across later in life?
Michael) I remember when I was about 6 or 7 CBS was doing a marathon run on Star Trek and it was a Saturday night I think. The very first episode I saw was Spock’s Brain. I was hooked. I forced myself to stay up all the way up to 7 am to watch them.
James) “Spocks Brain” lol sorry have to laugh if I saw that one as a starter episode I might have been put off, it is honestly one of the worst ones have seen.
Talking about best and worst Trek Episodes are there any you would run as your “favourite and your worst”?
Michael) I know a lot of people call this one of the worst episodes ever made, but Spock Brain will always be my favourite because that was the very first one I had watched.
James) I get that I guess as the first Star Trek I ever saw was Search for Spock and that is one of my favourite films even though many tend not to like it, so do you have a worst Trek Episode?
Michael) As for what I think is the worst, wow that is pretty hard to choose. I would have to say Enterprise season 4 Storm Front parts 1 and 2. The travel back in time with the Xindi and World War 2, just did not like the story line and I was sitting there thinking, oh god, please do not let the rest of the season go like this. Thankful they did not drag that storyline out. Was happy the rest of the season got better. I really did hate that they only had 4 seasons. Wish they could have gone at least 2 or 3 more showing the building of the Federation, leading up to many of the things we see in TOS series.
James) That covers your favourite episodes, let’s swap that to series what would you class as your best and worst, starting obviously with your favourite series then your worst 😛
Favourite Series & Why?
My favourite series will have to be Voyager. I love the fact that they were lost and trying to make their way home. And the challenged of holding onto their standers of being Starfleet, humanity and spirit. There were a lot of episodes where Janeway had to make some hard choices. And I wonder, would I have done the same thing.
Worst Series & Why?
Worst series, okay this will not make sense at first, but Voyager. LOL I know, I just said this was my favourite series, but there were some things in the show made me think what the frack were they thinking when they wrote this. Chakotay and Seven Relationships was the big one. Was not believable like Torres and Paris, they took their time building up their relationship. Then there were a few episodes right after each other, where the main crew member let Janeway down and she was disappointed in them and hurt, would not be that bad if they spread that out some. And seem a lot of the episodes mostly focused on Seven, which is really not a bad thing, but just seem like there was more of her story than the rest.
James) The whole Seven and Chakotay thing made me cringe like BIG time, I get the holodeck thing as she was experimenting but if you hold her up to his past flings its almost hey I know let’s just shove them together because “reasons” and I agree with the Tom and Torres thing it just was not believable I mean the untold love story of Neelix and Tuvok was more believable lol!!
So, Michael have you ever met any Trek actors in real life?
Michael) Well, that is funny that you asked that.
I had met Chase Masterson, Walter Koenig, Tim Russ, Robert Picador, Robert Beltram, Terry Farrell, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, I also got to meet Clint Carmichael who play the lead Nausicaan and the one who stabbed Picard from behind. There a picture of him choking me on my facebook album.
Michael) No top five, as long the story good and acting is decent I will watch.
James) Some people dislike Fan Films, are there any specific ones or type of fan films that just do not interest you?
Michael) Cannot get into the computer graphic fan films. They just lose me. I tried a few but… yeah had to click on something else.
James) The Last question in this section then moving on, to your experiences and history in filmmaking, What are yours?
Best and worst parts of the Star Trek Fandom, any bad experiences?
Best – Watching something that fans that love the show and come together and do it.
Worst – Yeah, there was one, but not going into details about that. Just I felt I got burned pretty badly and if they do another one, I am going to have a hard time supporting them.
James) WOW! That sounds bad and I won’t pry into it, So we will be moving on now…
What is your experience in Fan Films? – name the productions you have been in if possible.
Michael) I had always love Fan films, esp. the Star Trek ones. And as I had watched them, I kept telling myself, one day I will be in one myself. I have been an extra for Starship Tristan with Randy Landers. There was a lot of sitting around and waiting, but it was fun watching at the same time. I hope to be able to go back and help out again.
Michael) Right now I am part of Shadowstorm Studio, involved with Melbourne.
James) Have you had any other experiences you’d like to share?
Michael) I have done a few acting gigs here and there, not much; I have also done short videos including 2 music videos. Had worked on a Zombie Music video, a horror short video which I got to play a victim and got eaten alive by three witches and I was the primary photographer for the first episode of Star Trek Renegades which is now Renegades the series. But my main love is photography, but I am also hoping to get more involved with films also.
James) When you think about everything you have done and have planned how does it make you feel, do you ever just think oooh hold up it’s too much I need to slow down?
Michael) Sometimes it can get overwhelming with so much going on if you are not careful you can burn out and not know which way is up.
Right now I am working on interview videos myself I have done, working on Melbourne cards, working on a theme shoot script coming up next year. Have a convention coming up in March I am preparing for and have 2 weddings and a few photo shoots photos I need to go through. An Alice in Wonderland music Video, which we just got done filming last week for this young lady 15th birthday. So I am the one who video, edit, produce and direct it. Which, those are getting done first. They paid money.
James) Erm, ok that sounds like a LOT of work planned and I have enough stress just planning everything I need to in real life and maintaining TFP lol,
How would you say your viewpoint on filmmaking has changed in the last 18months if it has, is there anything you have become to love more than you thought you would.
Michael) I am really starting to enjoy the filming aspect and loved been behind the camera, but something happens I got to be in front of the camera with a part and now starting to think, hey I like this
Now I want to do more. Acting, I can see myself laying down the camera and getting the front of it now. And I really do hope it does not end with Melbourne because we are only doing so many episodes.
James) What has made you want to act more?
Michael) That first moment when I said my first lines, I knew this is what I really want to do and love just as much as photography.
James) What would you say grabs your attention when reading a script?
Michael) The story has to be great and grabs my attention. If the story is not that good, then I really cannot get into it. Also when you have a director listen to your ideas even if they might not agree, but they listen.
James) What are you currently working on?
Michael) Right now I have a lot on my plate with my photography business. This year I am doing at least 6 different conventions.
James ) Do you work in multiple areas: film, television, web, or are you focused in one area?
Michael) I was the primary photographer for the first Star Trek Renegades and I love being on set. I hope to be able to do something like this again, rather been the photographer or in front of the camera.
James) How easy has it been for you to move between areas like acting, directing etc?
Michael) Not hard at all, Esp. when you love something.
James) Was there a particular event or time that you recognised that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
Michael) Had really never thought about it that much. About 10 years ago I had a chance to perform with Richard Hatch in one of his classes and after the end of the class he came up to me and said I really surprised him that I should look into acting.
I never really gave it that much thought before till Vance and Jeremy asked me to be the Captain of the Melbourne.
James) I am going to fire some questions at you and I want you to just say the first thing that comes to about it…
Michael) OK 😕
James) When did you first realise that you wanted to Act
Michael) The first day in Melbourne
James) What do you like most about being an Actor?
Michael) Helping telling a story
James) What parts of Acting do you not enjoy?
Michael) Have not had one yet.
James) What gives you the most pleasure as an Actor?
Michael) I can be anyone and not be myself.
James) What elements of the craft do you find most difficult?
Michael) Sometimes finding that moment that the producer or director is looking for.
James) Do any famous actors inspire you?
Michael) Too many to list but on top, Robin Williams.
James) The hardest role you have ever played, and why?
Michael) So far Nathan T Cooper, but hoping there will be more in the future.
James) The most fun role you have ever played, and why.
Michael) LOL Nathan T Cooper is the only one so far. Because it is not me, I am someone different.
James) What sort of person is going to love this character?
Michael) Be more like hating him in the first film.
James) How is this role like you is it similar or different?
Michael) He cares for his crew and his friends just as I care for my friends and family
James) Is it easier to play this character or to be you?
Michael) Wow, either one is easy
James) What do you love about this character?
Michael) I will get to see him grow and become a great Captain. Well, I hope he does.
James) What do you hate about this character?
Michael) Oh watch the first film, you will see. lol
James) What is the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
Michael) Becoming a jerk.
James) Besides yourself, what celebrity would you like to see tackle this character?
Michael) John Barrowman.
James) Without giving anything away, what is your favourite line of dialogue?
Michael) That piece of junk… all I am going to say.
James) Besides you, which actor in this production is going to blow people away?
Michael) Wow, there are a few and some we really have not seen yet.
James) If you could play any other character on this show, who would it be?
Michael) The Doctor.
James) What makes a good scene partner?
Michael) How we play off each other.
James) When inspiration is waning when you feel creatively tapped, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?
Michael) Have not gotten to that step yet.
James) What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Michael) The flow of the story and needs to make sense.
James) What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Michael) Nothing really comes to mind right now, most have watched for just the entertainment part. But now, when I watch a movie, tv show or fan film, I look at it in a whole new perspective.
James) How do you earn a living and sustain a career doing what you love?
Michael) I do photography and work for Domino’s delivering pizza.
James) Do you think social media is the future of televised series and films, just as you use YouTube etc now is TV on its way out?
Michael) Oh yes, in fact, we do not have cable, everything is online we watch.
James) Have you ever had a time when you had to deal diplomatically with different personalities?
Michael) A wedding photographer, many many times.
James) When you get angry at a movie, what sets you off? Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike? Is there something you try to subvert, avoid, or rebel against in your work?
Michael) When the writers have the actor or actress say or do something that is so stupid and make no sense at all.
James) What is harder: getting started or being able to keep going?
Michael) Hmmm, I really do not know. So far no problems getting started and no prob of keep going.
James) Thanks, I like that kind of questions it tends to reveal more than having time to think.
James) So I know you are keen on photography and that you took a role on Renegades tell me more. What exactly is the role of a Principal Photographer?
Michael) A principal or primary photographer is the one who does all the behind scene shot, promo shots of the stars.
James) What is your experience in Principal Photographer?
Michael) Work on Star Trek Renegades.
James) Describe what it is you look for when doing a photography shoot – Using Renegades as an example?
Michael) The right moment when they are not paying attention and you capture that expression or look.
James) Apart from Renegades what other films have you been the Principal/Secondary Photographer?
Michael) I have work on a few music video’s one with Santiago Carlos from Walking Dead.
James) Where did you study Photography or is this a hobby of yours?
Michael) Started off as a hobby than a business.
James) What is the key of lighting techniques and how to achieve them
Michael) When you are on set doing photos, sometimes flash can be a bad thing.
James) Moving on I would like to ask some more Melbourne-centric questions
Being an actor in Melbourne was this an easy task or did you find the role lead to many challenges in making things fit from script to film?
Michael) There were a few challenges but overall, I seem to fit right in for Cooper.
James) How would you describe your character in Melbourne?
Michael) I really do not know, but my character Nathan T Cooper, there is a whole back story that led him to where he is now and I hope to be able to do some flashback with this character before I get too old.
James) What research did you carry out in the preparation for this role, what challenges and responsibilities did this present in making it something unique?
Michael) Watch a lot of Star Trek and BSG original and Stargate with O’Neil.
James) What other things did you find yourself doing on the set or after shooting Melbourne?
Michael) Mostly spent time on set and preparing for my scene. But I do a lot of the Photoshop for the pictures that were taken.
James) With everything you have done in both Melbourne and your photography do you ever take a step back and appreciate what you have made thus far?
Michael) Well I have not seen any footage yet so I do not know yet, but I have with many of my photos I had taken.
James) As a standard question I ask everyone involved within the Fan Film community with the release of the “Fan Film Guidelines,” how did it make you feel when they came out?
Michael) Upset because I really wanted to do a full 30 min to 45-minute episodes, shoot I would have loved the last one we do be an hour long episode.
James) Do you think they are fair?
Michael) Some yes, some no. Many of the rules have hurt so many fan films. But at the same time, it is sad to see so many fan films stop and say no more.
James) Thanks, Michael, for your frank answers, ok well its time to wrap things up I guess, as we move into the last section, what advice would you give to someone who wants to?
Michael) Do not over do it unless it calls for that, just be normal, if that is possible.
James) Make/Star in their own (fan) film
Michael) Do it do it, then sends me a link or shoot me a message. If possible would love to see or be involved.
Michael) Be careful what you ask for, LOL
James) Become a Principal Photographer
Michael) Be sure to listen to the director and be on hand and ready to at that moment.
James) Ok well I guess that’s it but Is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world? (The good, the bad, how you see the current world of fan productions)
Michael) The good part, something you can sit back with your friends and family and enjoy have a good laugh doing it and be proud of it. No matter how the sets look, just make sure the story flows and not jumping everywhere.
The bad part, if this is your project, listen to people but you have the final say and some will not agree with you.
I think we have lost a lot of good stories out there because of the new rules. I am hoping before we finish our 6 film episode the rules will change.
James) Thanks Michael for your time.
Well there we go folks, we have come to the end of the run of the Melbourne files, we did miss out some crew members that could not free up time to sit and chat with me so we will! Revisit this series when I can pin them down for an hour and get them to answer some questions about Melbourne for me.
Until then I wish to Thank! The cast and crew of Melbourne for being some of the nicest people I have had the opportunity to talk with.
Our next featured blog series starts in April and it is a ten-part series based on the Fan Film Guidelines, trust me it is not going to be boring and it is going to open a lot! of eyes.
Brittany loves to cosplay and can even read Egyptian hieroglyphs, yep that is right she can read those things inside the pyramids and on ancient artifacts… I wonder if she can read Gould lol!
I have been told that she is one of the nicest people I could possibly ever meet by so many who know her, and it is my pleasure to sit down with her today and discuss some aspects of her acting life and her role in Melbourne.
“Brittany is someone who takes acting very seriously. Most ppl in fan films get caught up in the excitement of being in Trek, but with her, there was always a sense of excitement, but professionalism. I’d say that anyone that has the opportunity to work with her, do it. She is honestly so damn talented, I expect high things from this woman in the years to come. And I am fortunate enough to be able to say I knew her before all the glamour”
Vance Owen, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hi Brittany thank you for talking to me about Melbourne and what your history is with Star Trek.
Firstly you can read Hieroglyphs, can you read Gould from Stargate LOL!
Brittany) I taught myself to read Egyptian when I was in 6th grade. Had a slight obsession with mummies lol I e never tried to read it
James) That is so Awesome! Anyway, I guess we should start with the obvious tell me a bit about yourself.
Brittany) My name is Brittany Wilson and I currently reside in Huntsville Alabama. I really enjoy anything to do with nerd culture. I read manga, watch anime and nerdy shows, as well as play video games. I enjoy the whole experience and meeting others who share the same passions as I do.
James) Tell me a bit about your history with Star Trek what does Trek mean to you, what is your favourite Trek episode and why?
Brittany) One of my favourite Trek episodes is “The Measure of a Man” I really enjoy this episode because it is something that we can relate to in real life. It centres on a great message that I think we can learn from. Especially with all, that’s going on today.
James) That one is one of my favourites as well for me it is more about the message that we are all equal and it does not matter what we are made of we all deserve the same, so that is your fave episode do you have a fave series?
Brittany) My favourite series is Next Generation. Mostly because it was something that I watched after school and remember it fondly.
James) That is the same for me here in the UK, it used to be on every Wednesday at 6 pm :-P, so Do you have a series or episode you do not like?
Brittany) I don’t really have a series or episode that I don’t like. I feel that they all have their place and meaning.
James) What Trek Actors have you met in real life if any?
Brittany) I met Patrick Stewart at Dragon Con a few years ago on accident. I thought he was a cosplayer! Haha…talk about an awkward meeting.
James) Tell me what is your experiences in the Trek fandom everyone’s is different but I am interested in how you see it as you cosplay so you may have a better Idea than the average fan as cosplaying would allow you to have a different outlook on it.
Brittany) My favourite part of the Trek fandom is the people. I have yet to run into someone that I regretted meeting. The culture is so welcoming and nonjudgmental, I adore it. I hope to get more involved in the community as time goes on!!
James) So moving on to your acting experience, tell me a bit about your experiences, when did you realise you wanted to act?
Brittany) I’ve always enjoyed and entertained the thought of acting but never had the guts to do it until this past year.
James) When did you first perform and tell me what you like and enjoy about acting?
Brittany) I had done things a few times before for others, but mostly small parts. I was an extra a few times as well. But have only recently started pursuing and pushing more. I really enjoy telling the story that has been laid out. Putting myself in the shoes of my character and entering their world is the most amazing feeling ever. I appreciate the chances I get to intemperate such things on the screen.
James) What steps did you take to become an actor did you do any formal training etc?
Brittany) While I haven’t had any formal training, I have learned and lot and had to coach from actors I have worked with in the past. I am very fortunate in that sense. Seeing them behind the scene has helped my understanding of the craft.
James) What would you say is the hardest role you have played to date?
Brittany) To date the hardest role I have had to play is Wilma in Melbourne. Mainly because I see a lot of myself in her and I do not want to get lost in the moment. She is a great character though and I can’t wait to see where she goes.
James) Brittany If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Brittany) If someone were to play me in my life…I would want it to be Emma Watson. She has such a great energy and is very skilled. I look up to her a lot as a young actress. Peter Jackson would be my director of choice haha. He’s brilliant!
James) When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
Brittany) I like to have a lot of fun on set. When I get a chance, I love to make people smile and laugh. We all know that set can get stressful and intense with long hours, so I like to keep it fun in the end. I feel as a team we all perform better that way. As a team, we are all funny. I would have to say none of us outshines one another in that sense. Which is good because then I’d have competition in the funny department.
James) What do you do when you are not doing Fan Productions? And How would you describe your acting style?
Brittany) When I am not doing fan productions, I am either at my full-time day job or travelling to conventions. I cosplay throughout the year and attend conventions and charity events. It’s wonderful and keeps me in shape for acting, got to be in character! It helps a lot when I walk onto the set. I am more of an in the moment actress, I take the emotions of the scene and put myself and my character in them.
James) How do you memorise your lines?
Brittany) I practice a lot in front of the mirror, both in and out of costume. This helps memorise my lines and get the emotion that I want to portray.
James) If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next? (Any not just, fan films)
Brittany) I would say that if I could pick my next project, I would want to be in a CW show or a Netflix series. They are doing great right now.
James) How do you stay in the moment when acting out a difficult scene is there any tricks you have so if there is a break in filming you keep your head clear?
Brittany) As odd as it sounds, to stay in the moment and concentrate, I have to keep my hands busy. During Melbourne, in between scenes, I would walk up to a crew or cast member and massage their shoulders. STAY WITH ME, it works. Hahaha, I was a drummer for a long time, so to keep my head clear, my hands have to be busy. It’s strange, I know.
James) So moving on to your time on Melbourne, how a typical shoot played out from your Perspective?
Brittany) Shooting for Melbourne was amazing. It was different being in front of the camera versus behind the scenes. I really enjoyed it. Even though we were a small crew, everything went smoothly and our amazing crew was on point. Out of all of the sets, I have worked with, this one was by far my favourite.
James) Did you research your role and how Jeremy & Vance perceived the part to be so you could make sure your part fitted how they envisioned it to be or was this totally your own style and you made the character your own?
Brittany) Jeremy and Vance were wonderful about giving us our scripts and freedom to play our characters as we saw them this helped a lot with Wilma
James) Do you feel that you are much like the character that you played? (Physically, personality, etc.)
Brittany) She is very similar to me, I feel, in my personal life. She is a very intricate character and there is a lot more to her than meets the eye. I’m eager to grow with her.
James) Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story, and how it is different from other Fan Productions? And What was it that drew you to the role you are playing in Melbourne.
Brittany) Melbourne is very different than any fan film I’ve had the pleasure of working on in the fact that you can take this story, and apply it to any other medium. It isn’t strictly Trek universe. I love that. Because it’s more about the story and characters than anything. It’s something that I feel a lot of people will be able to relate to and take the journey with us.
James) With the release of the “Fan Film Guidelines,” how did they make you feel when you saw them,
Brittany) With the guideline change, I was slightly concerned at what our future would be. There were many productions who quit their productions and went on a hiatus. But, Vance and Jeremy didn’t give up, instead, they adapted. In many ways, I feel our production is better off with that.
James) there has been a LOT! Of negativity surrounding them do you feel that they were needed and what are your feelings on them as someone who is an actor in fan films?
Brittany) As a fan in the community, I can understand why they put things like this into place. Do I like that it pulls our creativity leash tighter? Not at all. But as a fan, I let the passion drive me, and adapt however necessary to continue telling my story. If anything these guidelines are just a test for us as creators.
James) do you think they will stop fan films?
Brittany) No, Melbourne is living proof that you can make something quality while following them.
James) Moving on to other aspects of fandom and not just Trek Fandom do you or have you watched any other fan films?
Brittany) I watch a lot of random YouTube fan films. Especially Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter. Mainly for the special effects, story, and wardrobe. It’s great to see how others create and collaborate with one another.
James) Do you watch/listen to other Podcasts, YouTube shows?
Brittany) I really only listen to Comic Pop and Pop Culture Philosophers. Haha, they are great to listen to and have great discussions. Go check them out!!!!
James) Brittany we are moving into the last section now, what advice would you give someone who wants to go into the fan film world, be it making them or acting in them?
Brittany) My advice for people wanting to act or go into fan filmmaking, would be to work hard and be passionate. It has to be something that you want to make happen, and you have to work hard. If you have the passion for it, the drive will follow. Not to mention, have faith in yourself and the people around you. Keep moving forward!!!!
James) Lastly is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world?
Brittany) One thing that I am seeing in the fan film community, is the repetition of plot and the fact that with the story, it is only meant for that fandom Don’t get me wrong, some fandoms have very specific lore and story, but I would personally like to see a wider range. Something I could relate to on a personal level. But, I am super stoked to see more fan films getting made and shared! The time is now and everyone is doing an amazing job! I cannot wait to see and watch more.
James) Well Brittany thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.
In this week’s Melbourne files we talk to Ronald Seipel, the actor behind Commander Anthony Tate.
Ronald is not only a first-time actor with his role in Melbourne, but he is a keen modeller who builds custom models not just for fun, but also for other people, and his custom models are things of beauty.
Hailing from Colorado, home to Cheyenne Mountain which is not only the home of NORAD, but also the home to the fictitious TV show Stargate SG1.
“Ron Ron Ron…. So many times that’s all you can say lol he’s one of those ppl that knows so much about TREK that he’ll put you to shame lol if I were to go on a trek game show, it would be with him. The dude was the first hire as far as actors and I knew he would fit the part perfectly, and he did.”
Vance Owen, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hi Ron, thank you for taking the time to sit with me and answer some questions about not only your role in Melbourne but allowing me to discuss your passion for modelling.
So, I guess I will start with the obvious, tell me a bit about yourself.
Ron) My name is Ronald Seipel I’m 54 and live in a small town in western Colorado, I’m retired but not by choice I was injured on the job and now disabled. I am a huge Star Trek fan, I’ve been watching it since its debut in 66 and I always wanted to be in one episode, but that just wasn’t in the stars, I have been collecting Trek items for a long time and have a good size collection. I have model building business RPS Custom Models it is also a Facebook page, it seems that I build a lot of Trek models but I build all genres.
James) I have seen your page it is AMAZING! And if you lived in the same country as me, I would so hit you up to make one for me.
You say you have a passion for Trek, can you expand that for me what makes your passion so great?
Ron) Well like I said above Trek has always been in my life, it taught me not to judge other races and that if we put our minds to it we can achieve anything it also gave me a strong sense of morals. If we really could all live like that the planet would be a much better place.
James) That is so true, especially in the modern world ATM people seem to be going a bit crazy however politics lol so not going there J
You recently went on the Trek Cruise tell me about it, what was it like?
Ron) OK, it was the inaugural Star Trek cruise hosted by Mr Shatner and there were other guests as well like Marina Sirtis Denise Crosby ETC plus it was our 3rd year anniversary and honeymoon and my wife’s birthday all rolled up in one. Only got to see two places due to the weather Cozumel was first, then Nassau which I will never set foot in again. The parties were late starting but fun each night had a different theme Trek style. It was just what the Dr ordered.
James) That is cool, wish my other half would get me tickets to the Trek cruise for my birthday lol. The Cruise lasted several days, do you have any funny stories to tell?
Ron) Well on the first night of the cruise my wife and went to dinner and suddenly around comes Ethan Phillips (Neelix) so I invited him to sit with us and he did which was great, he told us a couple of stories and how long it took to do the makeup which was 5 to 6 hours. After we were done, we said Goodnight and went our own way.
So we are now waiting for the elevator so we can get to our room and the doors open and standing there is my hero William Shatner I’ve always wanted to talk to him and not about Trek so I said hi and asked him about his horses and he started talking away and showed us pictures of a grass and dirt stone that sometimes horses get and it was as big as a Honeydew melon. But he was really nice and we talked about ponies until he got off so that was like the best day ever.
James) That is really cool and I’m jealous as fook lol… Especially the fact you stood and spoke to the legend himself and not just about Trek, but about him as a person, that is so cool!
So with the exception of Ethan and Bill, what other Trek Actors have you met?
Ron) I have met a lot of Trek actors like pretty much all of them but Nimoy, Kelley and Doohan I know Chris Doohan fairly well I met him in Vegas in 2014 while I was waiting to talk with Vic Mignogna about trying to be an extra on their fan film and we just hit it off, I have a pretty extensive autograph collection TOS tunic signed by all but the above three, a TNG uniform signed by everyone from that series a poster from Voyager signed by almost everyone and last year I bought the very first issue of the DS9 magazine signed by almost everyone o now all I have left is the Enterprise series to get signed off. I will have pretty much all of them, plus I have other signatures from other actors that have been on one series or another.
James) OK, so you have met a lot of people in the Trek universe then… LUCKKKY!
Speaking of the universe, when you think of the Trek universe as a whole is there anything that makes you thankful for being a part of this world?
Ron) The people I meet its like we are family, we are all outgoing and happy people, and we do kind of live like we were in the 22nd century where there was no racism and hatred.
James) Sound words, so moving on to your favourite series, out of all the 5 live action series and the one animated one what one would you say is your go-to favourite?
Ron) I will always be a TOS guy it had the stories with characters that showed humanity at its best and its worst, it showed us that we could be a better person and put aside those certain feelings that we humans have about governments and racism, and what could possibly be if we all could get past these petty differences.
James) and do you have a “worst” series?
Ron) I was never a big fan of DS9 even though I watched all of them, I thought that it was just too bland the only discovery, they really made was in the Gamma Quadrant through the wormhole which in the end almost became the end of the Federation because of the Dominion War which basically saved that series otherwise it was just plain boring.
James) I have to admit, I am not sure I agree DS9 had so many layers, yes, there was the War, which was something we never saw in Trek before, but also the religious undertones that you only really get after watching it several times over and over, from the Emissary through to What we Leave Behind it was set up to be a subplot through the entire series.
I will admit though that I am biased since it is the type of story I like lots of layers and you have to watch carefully to get it all.
What about episodes, are there any episodes you love and hate?
My Favourite Trek Episode
My favourite episode is from the Original series, it’s called The Doomsday Machine it brings together two Captains that have totally different command styles, Decker is like shoot first, ask questions later and Kirk is like I need info and facts before I make a decision. Plus, it is one of the few episodes that saw another Starfleet vessel albeit destroyed but there it is.
The Worst Trek Episode
The worst episode that’s a hard one there are several throughout the Trek history Move along Home from DS9 that had to be the worst I mean you are playing a game that can actually harm other contestants by making the wrong decision or move plus it really wasn’t much of a game, to begin with, it was more like a holodeck adventure that some played in your mind it just really
James) yeah that episode is awful and that song is awful lol.
Do you play any Trek games?
Ron) I play Trek Trivia but that’s about all I play in the Trek world.
James) So, Discovery, now we have seen more info leaked on the new series, are you looking forward to it?
Ron) I’m waiting to see it, yes, but they keep pushing it back which is making me less interested. Although a guy I buy my electronics from for the props I build knows the lead modeller and he gave them all my info so I’m waiting to see if they call, that would be way cool.
James) when the first trailer landed there was a LOT of disappointment, were you worried at all at what we saw and what it may mean for the series?
Ron) Oh yeah, it looked bad the CGI was way off and they really had nothing to show but that damned ugly ship. I still keep hoping they will not use it.
James) I have to admit I had my giddy Trek moment, then when I saw it a few times I was like hmm, I am not sure how this ship will fit in with “canon” as even the NX – 01 looked more advanced but I guess we will see.
We have been told who has been cast thus far have the recent castings alleviated your concerns a bit, as we have some damn good actors lined up now?
Ron) Well, I only know of 2, Michelle and that other guy his name eludes me LOL, but you really can’t give an opinion on who they have picked until you watch a couple of episodes.
James) Yeah, this is true, however, with all the actors lined up I do think I am starting to warm up to the idea of Discovery.
Look, everyone, you must have hopes for the series, what are they?
Ron) That it stays with the original timeline and the stories are similar to canon and the Roddenberry concept
James) Well, one thing that worried me from the moment they announced it was what the timeline was it to be set in which I am glad we know now is the Prime timeline.
With the exception of the worries you have over the Discoveries main design are there any other areas you hope they do not touch or should I say DO NOT GO THERE lol.
Ron) Try to bring in much of the Kirk timeline of people in I mean they already are bringing Sarek in and I think it’s too early in the setting for that.
James) Yep, even if I think they try to hard it will just be a mish mash of rebooting meets why bother,
Are you concerned with the sudden yet not surprising departure of Bryan Fuller?
Ron) Yes, now I hope that the others have the passion for Trek and can descent episodes and the filming crew is good.
James) Aye, although I was not overly shocked I have to admit he was one of the main reasons I was excited as he is like the Ron Moore of Voyager, however, I am still curious to see how they follow his vision now he is not around.
Are you as shocked as I was about the sudden move to put it on all access, something that I was not expecting as no Trek has even been on a pay per view channel?
Ron) it’s a bad idea and they know it.
James) Is this from a USA standpoint as it being sold to Netflix around the world means it is already extremely profit-making do you think they should have put it on Netflix in the USA as well?
Ron) I think they should run it on the main channel and quit being greedy. But sure, why not accept that Netflix is pricier
James) I have to admit I am a bit, huh with why Netflix everywhere, but the USA, but hey it’s their show so…
So the last question in this section, then I would like to move on to your Modelling which BTW I am so impressed with they are amazing, With the exception of Trek, are there any other TV shows you watch?
Ron) I really enjoyed BSG Battlestar Galactica I like pretty much all Marvel, superhero movies and I also enjoy disaster movies.
James) Ok, I would like to move on to your role within Melbourne, but first, have you ever done anything apart from this role?
Ron) Until this year I have never been in a film so it was a learning experience I will never forget and I’m looking forward to doing more episodes of Melbourne.
James) Ah ok, so can you tell me more about your role in Melbourne, Describe a typical week at work in Melbourne is it a full-time endeavour of one for the love and fits in around real life?
Ron) Melbourne for me was not a full-time thing as a matter of fact before this happened, I was actually trying to get on the crew of the Farragut, I knew a couple of people who were involved heavily with it and they invited me to the studio in GA in 2014 and it has been almost a complete set just like Cawley’s and it was my first time on a set and when I walked through the door the first thing I saw was the corridor of the Enterprise and right then and there I was a kid fulfilling his dream and I felt like I was back in 1966 it was awesome.
But unfortunately this never happened and I suddenly was disappointed, but later I don’t remember how but I met Vance Major on Facebook and he was going to make a fan film called I think Defiant it’s been awhile, I had asked him if he had anyone designing the insignia and he said no. But later all plans changed and the film had a new name, USS Melbourne and I turned in two designs for the patch and the one that we use was the first one I had drawn and behold, I was part of a fan film then later as we talked, he asked if I would be interested in playing the first officer and of course I said yes and behold first officer CMDR Tony Tate was born and I found myself fully involved with this film I was the first cast member signed for this film as well and very honoured to have been asked to play the role. It never messed with my Real Life at all since I’m retired.
James) That is a shame you could not get a chance to star in Farragut however, as they say, all things happen for a reason and! You got the Melbourne role so it worked out in the end.
So can you tell can you tell me more from your character’s perspective about the story, and how Melbourne is different from other Fan Productions?
Ron) All I can say about the story is that it’s still being written I don’t know any more than anyone else at this time. Melbourne is different from other Trek fan films because we do not follow the usual episode path that everyone else does and it’s more about the people than the Federation. So this is what I can say stay tuned for more Melbourne. Some of us stand on our own… Together.
James) Interesting, and very secretive 😛 What about your Character in general?
Ron) I am the first officer and I’m really very timid or shy, I feel more comfortable with the ship kind of a scared cat. I don’t know why, but Vance thought that I could take and do this character, and I said I like a challenge because if you knew the real me I am nothing like my character by any means.
James) so you’re more of an”I like to be in the thick of things personally” then?
Ron) Yes, I’m also very nosey I have to see and know what’s going on, I like to explore and I will talk with anyone.
James) Did you research your role and how Jeremy & Vance perceived the part to be so you could make sure you’re part fitted how they envisioned it to be or was this totally your own style and you made the character your own?
Ron) There was a little discussion between Vance and me about what he was looking for, something like a Mr Barclay but not totally, so there was my own style. I hope everyone likes the way I portrayed Tate.
James) That sounds an interesting mix! I look forward to seeing it 🙂 How would you describe your acting style?
Ron) I would say that I really don’t have a style I just take it as if it were my real job so I guess you could say natural.
James) That is a really good outlook and a great way of approaching it So, How do you memorise your lines?
Ron) I read the script over and over then have my wife play the parts that I’m involved in and I keep the script close by when doing a scene so I can glance at it.
James) How did your wife feel about doing that for you lol?
Ron) She did not really like doing it.
James) I do not think my other half would be too thrilled either lol, how do you prepare so that you will bring the right amount of realism and emotion to a scene?
Ron) I imagine what it would look like and I also feel the mood of the scene and the other characters.
James) When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
Ron) Getting some water and talk about the next scene with the other actors involved.
James) What other, Star Trek Fan Productions would you like your character to do a cross over with?
Ron) I would like and have talked about being in Starship Valiant and still would love to be in an episode of Starship Farragut, but if any crossovers can happen for me I would not turn them down.
James) Last few in this section now, if someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you? & If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next? (Any not just, fan films)
Ron) John Malkovich and Star Trek of course, but I would also do Battlestar Galactica.
James) Oooh quickly can you tell me more about who did the Wardrobe?
Ron) The makeup was done by Danielle Craft and the patches were designed by me and made by Chrissie Harvey along with the tunics except for mine because I have my own uniform to use I just changed the patch and turned it from a Capt to a CMDR and on that note I actually have a total of six uniforms 4 are TOS and 2 TNG. The camera was operated by Matt I don’t know the last name.
James) That is cool, so do you own many Star Trek uniforms then?
Ron) Yes, I do, I own 7. 1 velour for 1st & 2nd season 1 Double Knit for the 3rd season a green wrap around and the Dress green and I’m having the mirror universe Captains vest made as we speak now that was all TOS. I also have the 2nd season command, red tunic from next-gen and the Captains dress whites and that is all at this time.
James) That is so cool, I own a T-shirt lol, Ok moving on, I would like to discuss your passion for making Models, tell me how did that start with you was it just one or two here and there or was this a passion from a young age?
Ron) I started building Models when I was like 7 with my dad, then I just went on my own. But as I got older and was doing stupid things I got away from it for a long time. But when I moved up here in the mountains I started again and found I still haven’t lost the passion for it.
So I built the 34 inch TOS Enterprise with lights it took about six months when I was done I showed it off on Facebook and that’s when people started asking me if I would build for them and bam RPS Custom Models was born.
James) How many models would you say you have built?
Ron) In my life or just here recently?
James) Well, tell me how much you would say in total then tell me the ones you’re most proud of?
Ron) A few hundred lifetimes and 10 I’m most proud of but I’m proud of all my builds because they won’t leave this house until I feel they are perfect.
James) What were the 10 you were most proud of?
Ron) Well when I was like 13 or so I built a Budweiser Tractor with Trailer this was my first attempt at customising a model I put a 70’s pair job on it and I used felt as carpet and really detailed the interior. Then TOS Enterprise then I built a full TOS Enterprise bridge and lit it up and built an exterior dome from scratch it was published in two internet modelling magazines modelgeek.com and modellers miniatures and magic and Starling Technologies these are just a couple I’m not going to write on all.
James) Are you working on a model atm?
Ron) Yes, I am actually working on two rights now and I have my third coming next week. First one is a client build 1/350 scale Enterprise-A with a full startup sequence and shuttle bay landing lights the next one is a TOS Enterprise for a friend of mine that makes Trek costume as well as Anovos with the same material as well. The third one is a client build USS Voyager with lighting.
James) If you lived in the same country as me, I would so get you to make me a few models, it was one thing I was never very good at lol.
Just out of curiosity, how would someone get in touch with you about models do you have a website?
Ron) You may go to Facebook and go to my page RPS Custom Models and there is contact info there, but it’s either by messenger, email or phone
James) OK, moving on when we spoke a while ago you had a very clear stance on this, but in recent weeks things have changed and I wanted to ask you, how do you feel the fallout from the Axanar lawsuit is going to affect everyone from this point forward both fans and fan Trek?
Ron) That is a hard one to answer, but I guess it’s really up to how the individual perspective on it might be. And as far as Trek there are so many Trekkies out there that had no idea what Axanar is let knowing about fan films so it will be fine and in time CBS might relax the guidelines.
James) This next one is a recent addition, due to it being something I want to know how people feel on it due to the fact it was something I thought that it is very relevant to the topic of the Axanar fall out
How does this statement make you feel?
Ron) Actually, the fan film industry didn’t turn on each other, but Axanar and Alec Peters did throw a couple of the more established ones under the bus and I know that made those people angry. This all really ends up on Alec’s shoulders, although we all know he doesn’t give a rats ass about anyone else just himself. But there are still plenty of films out there that are going to try and Melbourne is one of them.
James) Thank you for your reply to that.
Ron) You are welcome
James) With the release of the “Fan Film Guidelines” has this influenced how much you want to do fan films?
What are your feelings on them, as I know to start with everyone the reaction was different, but many people were angry how did it make you feel when they came out?
Ron) On the fan film guidelines that were put out last year I think that CBS and Paramount really shot themselves in the foot with these and let down a lot of loyal fans that have kept Star Trek alive throughout the years, since they came out several fan film productions have gone down in the likes of Star Trek New Voyages/Phase II and several others because they made it to where it was going to be too difficult to make an episode that was only 15 minutes long hen most episodes run around 1 hour, and it was going to be a lot to ask of the people in them to make the trip to make them.
They are just way too restrictive, to begin with I mean most productions run on a very small budget unlike the larger ones like STC and New Voyages and Farragut. I’m very pleased that Vance and Jeremy did not fold under these guidelines and I hope that we can prove to people that you can still make a good episode in two 15 minute sections for not a lot of money I think Melbourne had a budget of maybe a total of $3,000.00 don’t quote me on that. But it is with high hopes that after the deal with the lawsuit is done that they will t more relaxed with them and brings some of the guidelines where they were before.
James) Can you tell me what about them you feel are a hit and miss or is it all of them that makes you feel that CBS Paramount went too far with?
Ron) The episode time allotment is the biggest it is hard to ask people to come and film 2 15 minute pieces since most of us don’t live close and have to spend money on hotels and flights or gas. The other is the props and uniforms they say no aftermarket stuff only official. Plus not being able to continue with a story arc you must have a story title for each if I remember that right. Crowdfunding that’s kind of ok except I think that perks should be allowed it gives people incentive to send money for the production and the amount is fine up to 50,000 that’s plenty. I would have to go and read them all again to give you a complete answer.
James) The prop and uniform one.
In the Engage podcast, this one was cleared up and the explanation was expanded this rule is merely saying do not buy counterfeit stuff (from many people online selling them) and if you want to buy official uniforms please do so from Davos or on their licensed company.
Nothing stops you from making your own props, costumes, etc. Just don’t buy knock off ones from people who knock them out and sell them.
I know you were not the first person to be upset about this one, but now we know you can indeed make your own etc. I find this one not so bad.
Ron) OK, great and the Anovos thing that is, official, but there is a guy I know and actually got my uniforms through that makes them just as good for half the price, Anovos is overpriced on this I mean a green wrap for $600.00 is way too much I had one made for about $165.00 and I forgot about that podcast.
James) Thanks for this, Ron, we are coming into the home stretch of the interview now, and I would like to go back to the fan films you watch if you had to what would you class as your top five?
Ron) I have watched pretty much all of them at some point. But my favourite ones are in this order and I hope it doesn’t make a couple I know well upset.
Star Trek Continues Starship Farragut New Voyages Starship Valiant Starship Exeter
James) And the ones you would class as your bottom five?
Star Trek Odyssey Star Trek Phoenix Star Trek Intrepid Potemkin
I can’t think of a fifth one. These are the worst due to horrible CGI and costumes, plus scripting I mean I know that not everyone can have sets to work with but some of that green screen stuff should not even be allowed to be called Star Trek.
These are the worst due to horrible CGI and costumes, plus scripting I mean I know that not everyone can have sets to work with but some of that green screen stuff should not even be allowed to be called Star Trek.
And the best ones because of the accuracy of the series and script writing, plus they have better budgets than most.
James) You have been to a lot of conventions and even on the cruise, what would you say is the best and worst parts of the Trek fandom from your experiences?
Ron) My favourite part of fandom is the camaraderie of the people and the way they will dress and act when at cons. Plus, it is fun to dress up in uniforms and believe that you are part of Starfleet. I have never had a bad experience in Trek fandom as of yet.
James) Do you have any regrets in doing Fan Films?
Ron) I have no regrets on this at all it was a chance to live out my childhood dream.
James) As someone who has wanted to get into the fan film world for a while now, what advice would you give to someone who wants to do the same?
Ron) Well if you want to get involved with fan films you need to get to know the right people or you can just contact one that you would consider and see what they say like my mum used to say a closed mouth never gets fed. Or if you have the resources to go and make your own, but try to stay in the realm of it and try not to the green screen too much.
James) What would you like to say to the people who think Fan Films are on the way out?
Ron) Well or you fans out there don’t give up on Trek fan films yet they are still being made, and as far as the fan film I’m involved with Melbourne please keep your eyes and ears open the first episode is on its way and there will be more to follow.
James) Well, Ron, that is it and I would like to extend my thanks to you for taking the time to sit down with me and answer some questions.
Ron) Thanks James for having me on your blog and everyone take care LLAP.
Reshelle Warren is a model, actress, and competed to be the 2014 Miss Washington, USA. Reshelle also has a keen interest in modelling and acting.
As a component of the Melbourne file, we talk to Reshelle about her experience and her role in Melbourne the upcoming Star Trek Fan Production.
I met this wonderfully energetic woman on the set of Melbourne and instantly fell in love with her level of professionalism she brought with her. When watching her character, it was truly amazing to see what was on paper come to life in ways I had not imagined. I got to laugh with her a bunch. And we shared a moment or two. Especially in a weekend, things like this are why fan films are so cool, it takes ppl you didn’t really even know existed, and makes them real to you. Oh….and one more thing. The most important thing.
#oatmeal Lol only the Melbourne crew will get it lol good times
Lol only the Melbourne crew will get it lol good times
Vance Owen, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hey, Reshelle thank you for taking the time to speak to me about your experiences and your role in Melbourne, tell me a bit about yourself, what kind of things do you love?
Reshelle) I’m Reshelle Warren Model and Actress, I was a different kind of person, but at the same time I’m similar to some people. I love to cook, bake, colour, hang out with friends, I love to go camping, swimming, and fishing. I love to do a lot of different things. I have a dark look at life, I guess that’s one of the ways I’m different.
James) Except Star Trek, what other TV shows do you find yourself drawn to?
Reshelle) Other than Star Trek I love watching the walking dead; I mean blood, gore, and zombies what’s not to love!
James) The Walking Dead Was one of my favourite shows, but I find that it has become somewhat a chore to watch now, they seem to re-hash ideas every season so I haven’t watched it since Glen went bye-bye…
Being in a Star Trek Fan Production, Can you tell me what Trek means to you, as you must have more than a passing interest in it to be in fan trek?
Reshelle) Star Trek was my first Sci-fi, the reason I became a nerd and loved sci-fi since
James) Do you have a favourite series and episode based within the Trek universe, you know one that you watch more than the rest or one that keeps drawing you back far more than the rest of them?
Reshelle) My favourite episode is The Trouble with Tribbles, why cause Tribbles LOL, my favourite series well The Next Generation, season three is where it gets good but I really connected to the cast more in Next Gen.
James) Do you have an episode or series that you think of as your least favourite one to watch
Reshelle) I can’t really think of one I deem the worst right now, I really like the series, not sure which I could consider the worst episode either.
James) Because I am nosey LOL, I one thing I ask everyone else have you met any real life Trek actors, you know like at conventions or just on the off chance?
Reshelle) Unfortunately not, I haven’t met any Trek Characters in real life unless you count the cast from Melbourne LOL
James) Well to some they would be Trek Actors hell, in fact, they are anyone who has starred in Trek regardless of its “Official” standing.
James) Moving on to your acting experience, what is your history with the dramatic arts and when did you first realise you had been bitten by the acting bug?
Reshelle) I’ve been acting for 6 years now, I first realised I wanted to be an Actress in 14 when it just clicked in my heart when I heard the word actress, I had always been a drama Queen so I was already a natural lol
James) People would call me a “Drama Queen” for other reasons LOL, but it sounds like you have had a keen interest in acting for a long time, so with that what is it you like the most about acting?
Reshelle) What do I like most about an Actress, I love the attention and feeling accomplished and smart when I give the director the character they saw in their head.
James) Are there any parts of acting you have taken a dislike to?
Reshelle) I’m not too fond of memorising the script, memorising has always been difficult for me.
James) I have no idea how people memorise their lines, to be honest, I can remember long
Streams of numbers with relative ease, but things like a script, Ha! No chance LOL. You said you were acting on/off since you were 14, have you taken classes?
Reshelle) I took a few acting classes, but I prefer to learn stuff on set.
James) Cool, cool, so what else have you started with them?
Reshelle) I’ve been in a few shorts YouTube shorts and I’ve helped out in 24, 48 and 8-hour film festival competitions.
James) What gives you the most pleasure about being an actor, is there anyone you love to impress or just enjoy making happy in a production?
Reshelle) I love acting, in general, it pleases me, but I love when the director is happy with what I have done
James) Would you say you are inspired by anyone famous?
Reshelle) I’m not really inspired by any famous actors more just inspired by Tim Burton LOL I love His work and would love to collaborate with him eventually.
James) In your year of acting, what would you say is your hardest role you have played yet?
Reshelle) Alice from Alice in Wonderland for a theatre class in high school, I got the character with the most movements and lines and I was terrible at remembering I did it perfectly and passed the class but it was nerve wrecking lol
James) What role have you done that was the most fun for you?
Reshelle) That would have to be Ali from Star Trek Fan Film Melbourne Or any short film I’m in that involves blood, 1 because I have always wanted to be in Star Trek and I’m a weapons officer and I adore weapons and things that make loud noises anyway lol and 2 because I love blood and I love making my own special effects edible blood lol
James) Ewwwww, LOL! I could not think of anything worse than eating blood, even if it was fake. Back when you started out what was your first performance if you can remember that is.
Reshelle) My first performance was with Josh Lusk in Washington state, My little sister’s friend was in the TV show he was working on in Wenatchee, and I was told they need extras so we drove about 4-5 hours to get there and one of the leads didn’t show he gave a quick audition gave a cameo role and asked me to come back the next day, after the weekend he asked me to come back for season 2 as the main character and I also signed up to start modelling with him. Unfortunately, Some things happened to cast and the Show was cancelled but we have worked together as a model and photographer for more than 6 years now and I love working with him and can’t wait to do another photo shoot 🙂
James) WOW! So you have had some professional experiences, then that is so cool. In the middle of takes and when you get on the set and you those important five-minute breaks what do you find yourself doing?
Reshelle) When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing? Checking my texts or talking and making relationships with the other cast and crew members on set 🙂
James) What do you do when you are not doing Fan Productions?
Reshelle) Working, Modelling, colouring, Baking, Photography and other stuff lol
James) What tricks do you have for learning your lines?
Reshelle) To be honest, I write them down a thousand times and cross my fingers that I don’t screw up!
James) LOL that is a good trick! If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next? (Any not just, fan films)
Reshelle) Ooh Tough one if it’s just a show It would be a tie between Galvant and Reign love them both so much!
James) What is the last thing you do before you step out and the camera starts rolling, some people do a chant or sing a song is there anything you do?
Reshelle) Take a deep breath, mime pulling out all anxiety or nervousness into a ball and throwing it across the room, I know it sounds weird but it works!
James) That is really cool if it helps then hey why not. How do you prepare so that you will bring the right amount of realism and emotion to a scene?
Reshelle) For me, it’s a little easier being empathic, I read the script and put myself there and then boom, I am that person reliving that scene until we move on, it can get tiring really quick but Is always worth it.
James) Finally, for this bit, then I would like to move on to your role within Melbourne, How do you stay in the moment?
Reshelle) Depends on the character sometimes I step into their shoes and stay there until the end of the shoot
A day or I make sure to constantly remind myself of their situation and how I need to do the script justice, someone wrote it for a reason.
James) So moving on to Melbourne, talk me through a typical day on set, you fulfilled two roles, Actor and adding notes to the script, can you tell me what it was you did on set.
Was fulfilling two roles an easy task or did you find the roles lead to many challenges in making things fit taking on two roles in the production?
Reshelle) Being the Script Noter and Actor in Melbourne was this an easy task or did you find the roles lead to many challenges in making things fit taking on two roles in the production? It was pretty easy since I’ve worked with this Director before and have done more than those two, The only minor thing is when I was getting ready for the scene I felt bad for not being ready already but I knew they were ok with it seeing as I was doing a crew job too.
Script Noter: Describe how this was important to the production and how your notes influenced the script in any way. It’s very important because it makes it so the director remembers what’s already been done and it helps hugely in the editing because I make a note of which scene was the director’s favourite, you would not believe how many hours it saves in general.
James) When you turned up on set what did you find yourself doing first?
Reshelle) I show up fully rested, hopefully with a coffee say hi to everyone, rehearse my lines and work together as a team with the actors and all crew to get this dream accomplished.
James) Did you research the role you were cast in or did you just go with the flow.
Reshelle) Actually the funny thing is I had got one thing from them, pretty much be like the little sister and let people fall in love with you, I decided that I had a best friend based off of the script and they didn’t think of that at all lol
James) Awwww hehe. Looking at that and the role you were cast in, do you see any similarities between you and your character?
Reshelle) I feel like I and Ali could be twins, we are very similar in a lot of ways 🙂
James) That is really cool, and probably easier to play her than if you had to be angry etc all the time, Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story is there anything about it you think makes it distinctly different to other fan productions?
Reshelle) I can already tell that this is going to be a different kind of fan films, my gut tells me things are gonna happen that we don’t expect.
James) What drew you to the role you are playing in Melbourne.
Reshelle) I really wanted to be in Star Trek and I knew I could do this role justice.
James) Lastly for this bit, who is the funniest person in the cast in real life?
Reshelle) Fador for sure, he is super fun to talk to also.
James) So with everyone I interview I get nosey lol! I have a few questions about some interesting things I found out about you hehe, do not worry they aren’t bad.
You model as well how did that come about and is this a hobby or something you do for more than fun?
Reshelle) It’s more like a stepping stone I’m just good at it, it’s a stepping Stone to acting because models end up doing commercials and then used in acting.
James) Cool so you are in this for the long haul then, I also found this hehe, I see you entered miss Washington 2014 tell me about that?
Reshelle) I overheard the announcement that they were having auditions for that Contest and I was bored and entered to run to become Miss Washington for the Miss United State Pageant, I didn’t win, but it was fun but yes I Competed in a pageant because I was bored, they are expensive apparently lol
James) That is cool, Yeah from seeing some of the shows on them the parents, etc. do seem to spend a small fortune on them. So do you have anything lined up acting wise?
Reshelle) Yeah, my parents said I’m on my own next time lol. Acting wise not yet, just Melbourne for now
James) The last question, what advice would you give someone who wanted to become an actor?
Reshelle) Make sure it’s what you want to do, it’s a lot of hard work and dedication also release the actor can be replaced it’s important to be kind to everyone, also you won’t be famous overnight lol
James) Well that is it, Thank you very much for taking the time doing this for me
Reshelle) you are welcome.
So this is this part six, of the Melbourne Files.
The next blog will be out at some point next weekend as I am away from Tuesday until Friday.
From Salt Lake City, Utah Carly is new to the fan film scene; however, in this short time she has already starred in not just Melbourne but also had a small role in Renegades.
” I always have a soft spot in my heart for engineers, playing one on STARSHIP VALIANT. I always go out of my way to meet the other engineers from the other fan films and get pics with um. To me, not many can say they were the chief engineer of a starship lol I created the 2 shorts of Penpals as a glorified Q&A for the Melbourne fans that had questions. But I wanted to do a fun little crossover between the two “shows.” Something not many fan films do. When I came to her with the idea, she loved it. I’ve yet to meet a person so eager with so little. But she really helped make pen pals a great fun little thing that kinda stands on its own. I’d have to say on the fan film world, Carly is probably one of the first ppl I’d go to if I needed something, she has one of those hearts. Just a great person. And I really respect the hell out of my penpal. “
Vance Owen, Executive Producer, Melbourne
James) Hi Carly, Thank you for agreeing to sit down with me as part of the Melbourne files and answer some questions about not only your time starring in this production but also what Star Trek means to you.
For the people out there that are not lucky enough to know you can you tell me a bit about yourself.
Carly) I like so many things, mostly coffee, cats, Sci-Fi, reading, and music of all kinds. I cannot say I dislike much unless it is hateful and unkind people. I love all things positive and always try to share it.
James) Tell me about what Star Trek means to you, is there anything the sticks out as to why this franchise drew you to it?
Carly) I can imagine that would be hard.
What drew me into Star Trek is the fact that you never saw human barriers. There was no racism, no judgment on another person (minus the villains, of course). It gave me hope that we would keep evolving to reach space, and beyond.
James) In five series, 1 animated and 13 films, can you tell me what your favourite Star Trek Episode is and Why?
Carly) This is not a question I can answer easily I have so many.
One that does stick out is “Death Wish,” which is the first time you see Q on Voyager. The episode deals with the side of depression and suicide that many do not want to address, so it is a very deep one to me.
James) One thing I personally love about Star Trek is the fact it has never been afraid to push boundaries, some may think they push it too far sometimes but not me.
Do you have a Star Trek Episode you regard as bad?
Carly) I do not feel like there were any truly bad episodes of Trek, but there are a few that are not great, either. One that comes to mind is “Threshold” from Voyager; there were a few too many cheesy moments.
James) LOL! Ahhh the Janeway Paris Babies, I wonder what ever happened to them, this episode started out not so bad yet ended as one that I will watch if it is on TV but it is certainly not a “Go To” episode.
We have covered Episodes do you have a “Best” and “Worst” series?
Carly) Voyager was, and always will be my favourite. Not sure why, but I connected to the characters the most.
I used to say Enterprise, but I had not had a chance to enjoy it as I have in these later years.
James) Enterprise, was a good series if you tried not to compare it to the ones that came before, it had many good episodes but some dire! Ones like the rest of Trek.
Star Trek has a vastly expanded universe and one of these are gaming, have you played many Star Trek games?
Carly) I do not play many games, but I have played the Star Trek Trivia game a lot!
James) That is fair I have many Trek games for the PC and a few board games I think gaming is like marmite, you either love it or hate it.
You have starred in Renegades so you must have met some real life Trek Actors can you tell me what ones you have met other than people like Tim Russ and Mr Koenig.
Carly) This list is excessively long so I will name the few I have been the happiest to meet.
Kate Mulgrew, Robert Beltran, Terry Farrell, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Nana Visitor, George Takei… plus so much more
James) Lastly in this section, other than Star Trek, what other TV shows do you watch?
Carly) I like many shows, mostly Sci-Fi, but usually, watch things like; Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13, X-Files, Venture Bros, OITNB, and much more I cannot think of.
James) I think BSG, OITNB and X-Files are prerequisites for Trek fans lol, So moving on I want to ask you about your acting background. When did you first realise that you wanted to Act?
Carly) I think when I was a little girl, and my dad explained what stage acting was while watching musicals.
James) Can you remember when did you first perform?
Carly) A first actual performance in anything public was in 6th grade, I played a mermaid in Peter Pan.
James) What do you like most about being an Actor?
Carly) I love being able to pretend you are in another world, even if it is only playing a character in another person’s world.
James) What would you say are the parts of acting do you not enjoy?
Carly) I do not enjoy the nervousness that still comes with it, but it is always a part of acting.
James) To some acting is natural and to others, it is something the learn what steps did you take to enter this field?
Carly) I have not had any formal acting courses, but I did take dramatic arts throughout all of Junior High and High School.
James) Other than the fan films you have done what other productions have you acted in?
Carly) Other than the few school productions, I have not been in anything recently until I did a background character in Renegades: The Series.
James) Out of all the productions you have starred in, what would you say is the hardest role they have ever played, and why?
Carly) Hardest role I have played was actually Melbourne, as I had to tap into anger, and that was new for me.
James) The most fun role they have ever played, and why?
Carly) Most fun I have had was working on Renegades, the character had no speaking lines, but it wasn’t easy to play a drunk alien with a large head!
James) That is hilarious lol! I am now going to keep an eye out for that If someone was going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?
Carly) My hope is to find someone who can portray many emotions on their face, so a few come to mind, and are Sci-Fi related. If I were to choose out of 3, it would be Mary McDonnell, Kate Mulgrew, or Gillian Anderson All extremely amazing actresses.
James) I have to agree everyone you have picked there are actresses I love! To watch even in some of the low budget stuff I have seen they excel in the parts they are cast in.
Is there one actor, director or producer that you look up to as someone of inspiration?
Carly) This list is quite large; Kate Mulgrew is always a big icon for me. Some other notables would be, Quentin Tarantino, Tim Burton, Stanley Kubrick, Bette Midler, Tom Hanks, David Tennant… the list goes on.
James) You really do have great taste in people all of them are great examples and a vast array of talent.
When you have a five-minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?
Carly) I have not been in this situation in some time, but normally I would try to relax, and go over lines and motions.
James) What do you do when you are not doing Fan Productions?
Carly) Mostly, I work at Overstock as my day job, but I also love writing, reading, and doing a lot of social media marketing for another fan, and independent films, which now includes helping to run the Melbourne Fan Page.
James) Carly if you had a magic wand, what show would you do next, not just, fan films.
Carly) I would absolutely LOVE to work on the new Star Trek series. Otherwise, I love any new, independent films, I love seeing stories never portrayed before.
James) What is the last thing you do before you step out and the camera starts rolling?
Carly) Take a few deep breaths, and maybe drink some water, so I don’t have to worry about scratchy voice.
James) What gives you the most pleasure as an Actor?
Carly) For me, I love being able to be someone else for a minute and to know I am helping create a new character.
James) Is there any elements of acting you find difficult?
Carly) As I get older, I realise a difficulty I run into is memorization of lines. Otherwise, fighting the giggles is not always easy.
James) How would you describe your acting style?
Carly) Still new and constantly curious I absorb as much as I can because I am definitely not as experienced as I’d like.
James) I would be so bad at this but how do you memorise your lines?
Carly) The only thing that has helped my memorization over the years, is trying to put them into song, or poem form.
James) That is really good advice probably some of the best I have ever heard to remember a script. When are you faced with a scene that maybe challenging how do you prepare so that you will bring the right amount of realism and emotion to a scene?
Carly) Since this is still new to me, I’ve tried to pull emotion from past experiences or memories, to help outwardly display what the scene calls for.
James) How do you stay in the moment?
Carly) I’m still figuring this one out.
James) Ah so you do not pull a Picard in Insurrection then lol :p .
What have you seen lately that has inspired you? – Film or Fan production related?
Carly) I recently watched an independent horror film, done by a friend of mine. The inspiration is seeing how much he could do, with a limited set, and a total cast of 3. If you get a chance to see Occupants, by Russ Emanuel, I highly recommend it.
James) So what was it like working on Renegades? In addition, what character did you play?
Carly) Working on Renegades was a dream come true! It was amazing to see people I have adored for so long in action. The role I played was a small one to cover someone who could not handle the makeup I was Pat the Arachnid.
James) Can you tell me how you got involved with Renegades?
Carly) I had heard about it being filmed through Facebook and had talked to Manu Intiraymi a lot about it, as he is the one I heard about it from specifically.
I had gone to the premiere in Vegas during the Trek convention in 2015. I met Ryan T Husk, who is one of the producers for Renegades, and over the next few months, he asked me to help market the next episode and funding. From there I just continued getting into the films and met Vance, who got me into Melbourne.
James) That is so cool, and it sounds like if it was not for Renegades then you would most likely not have been in Melbourne.
I want to move on to your role in Melbourne, describe to me your role in Melbourne. How a typical shoot played out from your Perspective?
Carly) It’s hard to say, I was running around a lot, and trying to stay cool. Most shoots went about average for a film, some scenes were easier than others.
James) Did you research your role and how Jeremy & Vance perceived the part to be so you could make sure your part fitted how they envisioned it to be or was this totally your own style and you made the character your own?
Carly) I discussed it a lot with Vance over the months leading up to the shoot, and it definitely helped to see things a bit more from the writer’s angle.
James) I have to admit that is why I like talking with Vance he has a way of making you see things from angles you may not have considered. Do you feel that you are much like the character that you played? (Physically, personality, etc.)
Carly) I definitely do. My character has a lot of emotional issues, which I can relate to in more ways than I care to admit, but also the moments she has when it comes to other crew members can be very relatable, too.
James) Tell me more from your perspective about the story, and how it is different from the other fan films you have seen?
Carly) My perspective on this story is still evolving, as the story is going to continue. I think it’s different in the fact that it shows the diversity, and challenges of your ‘not-so-average’ crew.
James) Melbourne is from what I have seen and read it is different than most of the other fan films I have seen, what research did you carry out in preparation acting in Melbourne, what challenges and responsibilities did this present in making it something unique?
Carly) Since there haven’t been many films being done like this one, my research was more limited to how to portray emotions well, by facial gestures alone.
James) What drew you to the role you are playing in Melbourne?
Carly) Vance told me about the role before I had gotten it, due to possible casting issues with the previous woman they had chosen. When he described the role to me, I was immediately intrigued, the character has a lot of deeper issues than what she shows.
James) Lastly, Who is the funniest person in the cast in real life?
Carly) Hard to say, so many of them are just silly, but Vance and Jeremy can really make you giggle sometimes.
James) June 2016, was a month that many in fan films see as a black month, with the “guidelines” being released has this influenced the way you feel towards making any Star Trek Fan Productions?
Carly) It definitely has, the ability to tell a true fan story has been taken away from the fans who had such passion.
Seeing Renegades make it through the first day of shooting as Star Trek, was amazing, and just as quickly, I saw a lot of the passion and light go right out of the shoot after that news. It was depressing, especially for Walter Koenig, who wanted to tell his final story of Chekov.
James) “It was depressing, especially for Walter Koenig, who wanted to tell his final story of Chekov”
Can you tell me more about this did you interact with him when you saw this?
Carly) Yeah, I feel bad that he was cut down; he wanted Chekov to have a glorious ending.
I did get to talk with him during the shoot, but it was all on the first day before the guidelines came out. From what I I heard on set, I gathered he was not happy about the changes but still wanted the story told.
James) How did they make you! Feel when they came out?
Carly) Just plain angry and sad that it had to come to this conclusion
James) Do you think they are fair – if not what ones and why.
Carly) I do not think they are completely fair. I get why they were made, but taking so many possibilities away from the fans, made things so much less enjoyable.
James) Have you seen this regarding the “guidelines” I think this is a great reference tool regarding the guidelines,
I am not asking you to change your viewpoint I just want to see if they affect how you see them is all.
Carly) I have already read the interview with Van Citters and the guidelines.
I have some solid views on the guidelines so most of what I said would stand, regardless.
James) It is the comments by Patty White that I saw as useful but as I said, I am not trying to alter your views etc I am just seeing who has read it and who has not and what they think of it.
Carly) Ah, yeah I looked at the comments. I mostly try to keep an even balance with the fan film knowledge, as I am involved in Renegades, too.
I am really in the middle in my views, I see who guidelines must be set, but they were never an issue until the lawsuit happened.
I have serious misgivings towards CBS/Para for the hammer they threw down, but I also see why they felt the need to do so.
James) So with what you just said do you think Axanar is to blame?
Carly) I think they were the catalyst, for sure, but “blame” can go to a few people I’m sure, it’s just not my place to say, only my opinions.
James) I have to admit I think things were heading this way but it is hard to tell if that button would have been pushed had it not been for one production.
James) So moving on to more Fan-centric questions, do you watch other fan films, do you have a top 5?
Carly) I cannot rank them, as I haven’t seen all of the series of films yet, but I have enjoyed Farragut, Valiant, Continues, and New Voyages.
James) What other Star Trek fan productions do you watch/listen to etc (Podcasts, YouTube shows etc)
Carly) It’s all random mostly; I catch anything I can when available.
James) Favourite parts of the Trek Fandom.
Carly) The fact that Trek can open minds, and show people a better way of life
James) Worst Parts of the Trek Fandom have you had any bad experiences.
Carly) I have not had much in the way of negative with Trek; the only situation I can think of was meeting Michael Dorn, who was not as nice as you would hope him to be.
James) REALLY! He always seems so nice, what happened when you met him?
Carly) A few years back at the Vegas con, we (my best friend and I) had a photo op with him and Terry. We were excited, as we have been big fans of both of them. When we got to them finally, Terry was a sweetheart and talked to us for a minute. Dorn only looked at us, and said, “Can we take the photo, now?” Even Terry looked at him oddly just a very cold and negative interaction.
James) Wow that is not good.
Carly) Yeah, it felt like a slap in the face Ruined Worf a bit for me.
James) I am not surprised, I do not know how I would react if that were me, well Carly we are moving into the last leg of the interview now, in this bit I ask people to part with some advice on people who wish to pursue making their own fan films.
So what advice would you give to someone who wants to?
Carly) Don’t be afraid. It is one thing I still fight with and it can keep anyone from achieving their dreams.
James) Make their own fan film – from your perspective as someone in the fan film community.
Carly) Again, don’t be afraid is the biggest thing I can say. Past that, in filmmaking, the one thing I’ve seen that helps, always keeps your word, and choose your cast and crew wisely.
James) And Lastly, Is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world? The good, the bad, how you see the current world of fan productions
Carly) I can’t think of anything I haven’t already said, and yet there is so much I could say from my opinion.
The biggest thing I can say is, I’ve loved getting into fan films and would suggest it to anyone who has the passion for joining in. No matter what, keep yourself focused, and don’t get over excited about any one detail, as things change so frequently. Patience is an extremely important virtue in this world. My hopes now are that the current chaos involving the lawsuit and guideline changes will come to an end, swiftly, and justly, without killing off fan films altogether.
James) Thank you, Carly, for your time and sharing your experiences with us.
This week as part of the Melbourne files, we speak to Forrest Nelson about his time role in Melbourne.
Not only does Forrest share his experiences about his double roles in Melbourne in both playing the role of QELLAR but his role as the productions CGI artist.
Along with finding out about Melbourne, We also find dig deeper into his background in the filmmaking world as he tells us about some of his experiences in being a CGI artist and what it is like being an actor.
I remember meeting Forrest at the first Promenade-acon I hosted. We took pictures of some of the cast and crew of the Melbourne on the bridge there and gave everyone a first look at the ship that day. Everyone thought, from his “Heath Ledger Joker” cosplay, that we were going to have the joker in our film. Lol, I loved that it got people talking, but more than that, I loved that this was a cat that really got into being a geek as much as I am. In addition, this was just as my CGI guy lol months later when I needed to recast my main villain, I could think of no one better than him, because I knew he could act, and I knew he threw himself into the roles of cosplay, he would be great. In addition, boy was he. He was perfect for the main villain in the film. This person is honestly a good catch for whatever you need him for and a really good friend.
Vance Major, Executive Producer, Melbourne
James) Hey Forrest, Firstly I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your role in the Star Trek fan film Melbourne.
Forrest) Hi James thanks for taking the time to interview us all.
James) It is my pleasure to do so. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
Forrest) My name is Forrest and I am not a Star Trek fan. Well, not in the traditional sense. I have seen all the films at least once, from the original motion picture through the latest JJ films, but that is the extent of my Trekkiness. Vance and Jeremy are being very patient as they explain their universe to me.
James) Hey no one is perfect hahaha, but one thing I have learnt about Vance and Jeremy is that you could not want for better teachers in all things Trek, they are pretty knowledgeable guys on the subject.
So what else would you like to tell us about yourself? Where did you grow up and if you do not watch much Trek what else do you find time to watch?
Forrest) I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and grew up on other classics like Back to the Future, Terminator, Blade Runner, and of course Star Wars. Recently, I have loved the superhero streak with the Marvel films and several of the shows, both Marvel and DC. Gotham is one of my favourites right now, but I am also working through Agents of Shield, Flash, Arrow, and a few others.
In addition, I kind of an anime fan. Still new to that scene, but I have found a few that I really enjoy like Sword Art Online, Full Metal Alchemist, and Ergo Proxy.
James) Agents of shield, I watched the first few episode of that but never went back to it but I find the Marvel TV universe lacking in comparison to DC I have no idea why as I prefer Marvel films to DC go figure.
Do you play any Star Trek related games?
Forrest) As far as games go, I have never once played a Star Trek game. I have heard of Star Trek Online, but that is it. I have the Starfarers of Cataan if that counts. Most of the games I play are single player, story rich, often sci-fi and open world.
James) So taking into account that you are not someone who lives and breathes Trek, what does it mean to you, is there any other Sci-Fi shows and movies that you prefer?
Forrest) Honestly, it really does not have any meaning to me, as I have never considered myself a fan. Not that it was bad, necessarily, just did not catch my attention as much as Star Wars or Battlestar: Galactica.
I do however really respect those it does have meaning for and I believe that Jeremy and Vance can really touch those people with this story. They know this universe and they know how to make it work and the team they have selected can make it powerful for people who have that deeper connection with Trek.
James) Star Trek does have vast meaning to people myself included, but I see the same in other fandom’s I am a part of like Star Wars, Transformers, and so on.
Forrest, you not only act in Melbourne but you did the VFX for it, when did you first realise that you wanted to become a CGI artist or at least work within that field?
Forrest) I guess you could say my interest in CGI goes back to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Now, before you judge me, the story itself had nothing to do with the inspiration. I know I am dating myself here a bit, but I was about seven years old when that movie came out and I had developed an understanding that movies were not, in fact, real.
That got me wondering how they put the actors in places that did not exist. How did they blow things up without hurting people? Namely, how did Darth Maul stab Qui-Gon Gin and not actually kill Liam Neeson? After all, we see the red lightsaber pierce his sternum quite clearly.
It was then that I decided I would discover the secrets, which eventually lead me to Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) and Visual Effects (VFX).
James) One thing the “prequels” are known for, other than the dire story lol (sorry personal opinion) is the VFX, I remember reading ages ago that Ewan McGregorhated the whole green screen aspect of it, however, I can see why it inspired you one thing I love about the Star Wars franchise is its VFX it is outstanding.
What is it you like most about being a CGI artist?
Forrest) What I like most really is the ability to make the impossible merely absurd or even, if very briefly, believable. Being able to create imaginary locations or objects that would otherwise be grossly expensive or unrealistic to create in real life is really what completes it for me.
Do not get me wrong, I really do appreciate practical effects (objects and locations in the physical world), but when budget and skill are an issue, CGI really comes in handy, for low-budget films especially.
James) You said that you got bitten by the bug at a young age, what steps did you take to enter this field?
Forrest) My training and experience come from a great community of users called the internet. I actually have no formal training to date, just the creative application of tutorials from knowledgeable users and professionals like BlenderGuru and VideoCopilot. I have spent countless hours watching, learning, and recreating their projects and applying it to the necessary projects.
James) I am like that, I have taught myself a lot of applications, as I honestly do not find the need to go and get a bit of paper to say you can use it. I am not knocking those who do but personal opinion is you learn best doing it yourself.
So when you started out in what were the main obstacles you faced?
Forrest) When I first began my journey into the CGI/VFX world, it was difficult because I had no idea what I was doing. I was just a teenager with an interest in film, a cheap laptop, and no one to teach me. I had done several free trials of every program I could find, but I could never afford the full versions. Then, one day, a family friend introduced me to Linux and open source software. It is one of those programs I still use to this day Blender 3D.
James) What is Blender 3D for those who have no idea what it is (people like me LOL, I have no idea what it is)
Forrest) The software I use is called Blender 3D it is free and open sourced bit of software which is always being updated and improved on.
There are plenty of add-ons and downloads that make some of the work much easier and more practical. In addition, it has a great community of people sharing their work and knowledge to help and teach each other. My favourite part, other than it being completely free, is that it really can stand with programs like 3DS Max3DS Max or Maya and hold its own.
Blender was not always the program that it is now but it was a good thing to use when I started. Growing up and getting familiar with the features and changes, following the best instructors on YouTube, I would blow people away with my creations while I was still in high school. I used it on one of my earliest (now completely lost) Star Wars fan films. I created an A-Wing fighter, made it fly to a planet, and land on the ground. My TV Productions teacher was very impressed. My best application to date, though, is probably a virtual set I built for a BioShock short that I made called BioShock: Origins. The entire scene takes place in a virtual office room, overlooking the city of Rapture.
James) Tell me about your experiences as a CGI artist what gives you the most pleasure when rendering ships, environments, and such.
Forrest) The most rewarding part would have to be when it all works properly. Ships themselves are not super difficult, as long as you have good reference images or concept art, but there are so many factors in general that go into the final render, anyone gone wrong can ruin the image.
However, if you place a texture wrong, the animation is jarred and awkward, the mesh is not deforming properly, the subdivision count is too high, the program crashes…elements and atmospherics are the worst. However, when it all comes together and you get a sharp, photorealistic image or animation, it can really make your day.
James) What elements of VFX/CGI do you find the most difficult?
Forrest) The most difficult part of the job is the waiting. When you are modelling, designing, or working out kinks, you are actively involved with the project and you are making things happen, and you can feel proud of that. However, when you are baking a simulation, or you are rendering a final image or animation, there is nothing you can do except make sure the program does not crash halfway through. Depending on the scene, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to several days.
James) What other VFX/CGI Artists out there have inspired your work?
Forrest) I cannot really name a specific CGI artist that I admire, but I know what I like in movies. I like to see how directors approach the subject and what their final results look like. As much as I protest to paying to watch any Michael Bay film, he really pushes his CGI teams to the limit and his films look absolutely breathtaking and I always strive to get my work to that level. Alternatively, close to it, anyway.
James) Michael Bay is responsible for a custom built the BAYHEM which is ”the lightest, most advanced hand-held motion picture camera in the world”, according to
So I can see why many see him as a leader in the field and an example to follow.
If you had to choose one which one of your CGI Renders which one are you most proud of and why?
Forrest) Currently, other than Melbourne (as I am still working on it and am always improving it), I would have to say my virtual set from BioShock: Origins. It was simple, but it was the first time I really grasped and applied the concept of photorealism, and it was the first time I had used CGI in a film like that since high school. It was also the first time anyone had utilised the green screen in my college film course because they did not have a CGI/VFX program.
James) Apart from CGI what other aspects of Filmmaking do you have experience in and can you tell me more about your experiences in these areas.
Forrest) I have a fair share of experience in all fields of filmmaking, really. Except maybe in producing things. In high school, I took TV Productions, where I learned how a green screen works and how to edit (more or less), and then in college, I studied everything I could get my hands on.
Such as Screenwriting, acting, directing, digital filmmaking, all while teaching myself CGI and VFX at home.
Mostly, though, my focus was acting. I starred in several scene studies and had roles indie short films shot here in the Seattle area. I’ve done competitions, I’ve had voice acting training, I’ve done a few stage productions…it’s really been my life goal to do this for a living, so I try to take every opportunity I could find.
James) Talking of Acting, you have a role in Melbourne, When did you first realise that you wanted to Act?
Forrest) Acting is a similar story, but maybe not quite as exciting. From my first church Easter play in grade school, I thought how much fun it is to pretend and to be someone else. Growing up, my sister and I were notorious for role playing and creating our own characters and stories in the backyard, on our own or with friends; it did not matter to us.
When our family got our first video camera, we created all sorts of scenes and funny shorts that are now lost to the ages. I also joined the drama club in high school, where I found a natural talent for acting. Many of my classmates and even the instructor mentioned at least once, how natural I looked on stage and how believable my characters were.
James) What is it you like most about being an Actor?
Forrest) I enjoy acting for many reasons, but mostly because I get to be someone else for a while. I get to live in another world in another life; I often find it very cathartic. As a person, as Forrest Nelson, I do not often emote anything other than happiness, except around my closest friends, because I know it spreads and people enjoy being around happy people. Nevertheless, when I act, I can let out anger or sadness or arrogance any other array of emotions and it feels good to let it out.
James) Are there any parts of Acting do you not enjoy?
Forrest) There are only downs to acting if you’re working on a crap project. You have a poor director, other actors are putting in their two cents on your scene or your performance, or you just cannot seem to get into the moment for whatever reasons. Sometimes, too, you can let your mind get into a set idea about a scene and it is hard to change it up.
For Melbourne, shooting my scene, it took me a moment to get past the fact that I did not know Trek. It prevented me from making the character my own as if it were in any other universe, but that is why it is important to have a good director. I talked to him, he helped me look past it, and we were able to get something that he really enjoyed.
James) Like CGI was there any formal training you partook in to enter the field?
Forrest) The best way to get into any field is to pursue it every chance you get on every level. For acting, it was stage plays in church, then drama club and stage production in high school, a community play, or two, and finally acting for the camera in college. It saddens me to know that many of these programs are being taken away from schools, too. If I had not had a drama club or stage production team in school, I doubt I would have had the courage to pursue it as I have.
James) Is Melbourne your first time in front of the camera, if not can you tell me what other productions have you acted in?
Forrest) My biggest film productions include “Ugly Life,” written and directed by Eduardo Gonzalez, I played a bully named Fergus, and in “Family Tied”, written by Christina Bonney and directed by Aaron Williams, I played a mobster named Tony. I also have several scene studies, both original and “reimagined.” I was even cast in a few short films that were either never completed or my character was cut entirely. Each time it happened, it was by the same director.
I have done so many stage performances; I do not even remember all of them. The one that sticks out in my mind most was George Gibbs in “Our Town.”
James) Tell me, when you audition for a role how does it make you feel when you land the part you want?
Forrest) I have always gotten a great response as an actor. It is not always easy, having to compete with other people for a role, but it is real. And! When you do land a role that you want, it is probably the most satisfying feeling ever. In addition, when you get to perform with other very talented actors, you really get to feel in the moment, and the rest of the world melts away for a while. It is a beautiful thing.
James) I have heard many things from people about being an actor/actress what makes the whole experience worth it from your point of view?
Forrest) I often get pleasure from playing roles I do not get very often, like the antagonist or nerdy support character. For a long while, I was usually cast as a hero type or the lead protagonist.
I auditioned for the antagonist/villain role in Family Tied (and very nearly got it), which is something I have always wanted to try. I was glad to hear that I had been chosen to play the villain in Melbourne because it was different. Nevertheless, I think the most pleasure I get is after the director calls cut and, if it was a good take or everyone was just so engrossed in the moment, that people actually start applauding. That is a real morale booster.
James) What elements of acting do you personally find most difficult or things that make you think is it worth it?
Forrest) Sometimes getting into character is rather challenging. The director may want a specific emotion or mannerism that you are not used to, and that can make things difficult because the director is not getting what he needs and now you have to work harder.
James) Lastly then I would like to move on to more Melbourne-centric questions, Are you inspired by any famous actors?
Forrest) I am inspired by many actors and actresses at any given time. I will always be a fan of Ewan McGregor, Will Smith, Emma Stone, Johnny Depp, Ron Perlman, and a myriad of others.
James) That is a wide variety do you fancy narrowing it down for me :p
Forrest) If I had to narrow it down, though, I would have to say, Ewan McGregor and Johnny Depp. Both are excellent actors, if for different reasons. Ewan does really well with gritty realism and performs with a quiet strength in his characters. Johnny Depp’s strength, however, lies in the mystical and far-fetched.
I love the whimsy in his characters. However dark they may appear, there’s always a sense of other-worldliness to them.
James) OK moving on I mentioned before that you are the CGI artist and have a role in Melbourne was this an easy task or did you find the roles lead to many challenges in making things fit taking on two roles in the production?
Forrest) The nice thing about my two roles in Melbourne is that they exist in separate stages of production. There are three stages in the production process, Pre-production, Production, and Post- Production.
Acting exists only in Production, and CGI/VFX exists only in Post-Production, so it is actually very easy to separate and balance the two. That said, being on set during Production does help me consult with the director on Post-Production issues, and it does mean my job never really stops. It just changes.
James) Having that “joint” role in the production of Melbourne and how a typical shoot played out from your perspective?
Forrest) Shooting is not unlike a lot of other jobs. You show up on time, you are where you need to be when you need to be there and in the right uniform, and you do what you are told by your superiors. Sometimes there is a good deal of waiting around if the director is discussing things with the producer or the director of photography, or if you are an actor and you’re not in the scene it’s a good time to take a quick nap. Alternatively, a long one.
James) Ahh sound like my dream job lol sleep I love it HAHA!, sorry go on. . .
Forrest) However if you are the director, boom operator, director of photography/camera operator, or a production assistant (PA), your job never really stops. Since we were a small production, and my character was absent for most of the episode, I was often running sound or running errands. They were long days, but they were fun.
James) Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story. How is it in your opinion different from other Fan Productions?
Forrest) I like the story so far, and I think it has a lot of promise. I have not watched many Trek fan films, but Vance was sharing a few with me some of his favourites and least favourites. Ones he used for inspiration and ones he used as a warning label, and I think this is definitely going to change the game. The crew that Jeremy brought on board has skill beyond anything that Vance shared with me, and the cast that Vance put together has a passion for making it hit home for Trekkies everywhere.
James) You were a part of the team who designed the Melbourne Did you have any issues in designing the Melbourne?
Forrest) Absolutely! I had one reference photo to work with, and could not tell the difference between a Romulan and a Klingon (let alone the different ship classes), so Vance was actually very much against bringing me onto the production.
Especially after, I sent him some concept images. We have hence referred to the original designs as the “Doomsday Machine.” It was awful. However, Jeremy vouched for me, and Vance gave me another shot. They broke down the terminology for me and sent more reference photos, and we slowly built the Melbourne you know and love today.
James) Every Star Trek ship has its own look (well 90% of the time) How did you design the look and can you tell me more about the inspiration behind it?
Forrest) The look and the design, honestly that is really more a question for Vance and Jeremy.
They knew, more or less, what they wanted coming into the project. I would send them progress images from time-to-time, and they would suggest a change or two rinses and repeat for two or three months. Once I got the feel for what they wanted, it was a lot easier to understand what they wanted, but I had very little actual contributions to the design of the ship itself.
James) I ask everyone this as I think it is very! Important to gauge as much feedback on this as possible from the variety of people who work in fan films what are your feelings on the new “Fan Film Guidelines”?
Forrest) The fan film guidelines caused a lot of hate and discontent throughout the Trek community.
My initial thoughts were that it sucked, but that is what happens when you abuse someone else’s intellectual property. When I started reading the rules and I was worried that Melbourne might not get made. Luckily, it hasn’t changed much. Vance and Jeremy have done their research and I think even got legal advice regarding their story, so I think we’re set.
James) Do you think they are fair?
Forrest) I do believe that some of the rules are fair and should not need listing, but there you have it. A couple of the rules, however (such as limiting character use to two 15 minute episodes maximum, and putting a time limit on episodes), are a bit absurd and unfair.
James) Being involved in Melbourne I am sure you have seen some of the other stuff to come out of Starbase Studios, What other Star Trek fan productions do you watch/listen to etc (Podcasts, YouTube shows etc)
Alternatively, as you mentioned above your not all that into Trek, are there any other Fan films out there you have seen.
Forrest) I do not watch many fan films, but there are a few I have really enjoyed. The Brother’s Rapture was a BioShock short that somewhat inspired my short script and is absolutely fantastic. Another of my favourites is Portal: No Escape. Probably my introduction to fan films, it is a silent film with excellent visuals and cinematography.
More recently, too, a really good Star Wars fan film called Hoshino was released. The brilliant story very focused and flowed like the Force through a Master Jedi. The worst fan film I have ever seen (other than my own Star Wars short that was mysteriously destroyed) was a certain Super Girl fan film. I have since blocked the name from my memory. Ask Jeremy about it, he will know what I am talking about.
However, Star Trek-wise, I do not watch, listen to, or otherwise follow anything Star Trek, save for Melbourne. Not out or spite or some fully founded belief of being “better” than they are, I have just never had the interest.
James) Just a couple of more questions then, unfortunately, we are done L but, you have a wide range of experience what advice would you give to others who are looking to enter the filmmaking world, be it acting, CGI etc.
Forrest) If you want to make movies, do it. Research how to do what you want to do. If it is your passion, you will know it when you do your first Google search. How because you will keep coming back.
Find ways to meet people with similar interests and collaborate. If you want to act, make it known. Practice do not be afraid of critiques, they can help you if you let them. If you want to be a CGI/VFX artist, research it. There are plenty of free resources just waiting to help you make the creatures and environments you always dreamed of.
If fan films are your thing great! However, do not be afraid to create something entirely new. If you have trouble creating, maybe a fan film is a good place to start. How you go about it is largely up to you, just so long as you go.
James) Lastly is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective with someone of your experiences.
Forrest) Fan films are fun. I am enjoying being a part of Melbourne, and I have a Star Wars fan film or two planned and I am very excited for it. They give people a chance to be a part of something they love in a unique way and they can help inspire creativity, and they’re excellent practice for budding filmmakers.
Nevertheless, I think people put too much weight into them sometimes and forget that they are not allowed to make money that way. Some people hope they are noticed with their fan films, and sometimes they do, but I feel like I watch so much more original short films on YouTube and Vimeo than fan films of any genre.
James) Well Forrest, I want to thank you again for your time and hope that your plans for your Star Wars Fan films go according to plan and you have to let me know if and when you release them.
Starship Republic is one of the many fan productions to come from the renowned Starbase Studios, a home where anyone can make a fan film using their sets.
Ray Tesi a fan of Star Trek heads STARSHIP REPUBLIC that in their own words “is a Star Trek fan-film project aimed at recapturing the excitement and morality of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision. Our series follows the intrepid crew of the USS Republic (NCC-1371) in the same timeline as The Original Series. We hope to bring you quality thought-provoking stories with a new set of heroes in the Trek universe.”
Recently I had the privilege to sit and talk to Ray about Republic, what Star Trek means to him and his experiences in the filmmaking world.
James) Hi Ray, Thank you for taking the time to sit with me and answer some questions about not only Republic but allowing me to get to know the man behind this production.
Ray) Thanks again for the opportunity
James) Ray, Tell me a bit about yourself.
Ray) I grew up in the Bronx in the early 1960’s and did not always fit in with the kids in school or the neighbourhood. My parents used TV in place of a babysitter, so I have been in love with television for as long as I can remember. I have wanted to be involved in movie making since I picked up my grandfather’s 8mm Kodak camera and made short films in my backyard way back then. I developed a love of science fiction (not sci-fi), horror, model making and dressing up as my favourite characters (before it was called cosplay).
I have been a fan of Star Trek for all fifty years that it has been on the air. I can tell you where I was 12 on Sept 8, 1966, when “Man Trap” premiered — and I was immediately hooked. No longer were spacemen the “shoot ’em up” Buck Rogers characters, but they were evolving into role models. They were still human, but suddenly they were dealing with human emotions, human frailties, and everyday human problems. In addition, inside of an hour’s time, they taught us how to deal with those problems — and sometimes taught us that problems have no solution except that of acceptance. Big lessons to a small person.
There were not too many fans to be found in those early days, but I eventually found a life-long friend in Don Horan when I heard him talking about Trek in high school with other classmates. They were as knowledgeable as I was, they were as insightful as I was, and we shared the same enthusiasm and engaged in marathon debates. These guys goofed off in school, played baseball, loved the Yankees, lusted over high school girls, knew all the TV action shows I did and had crushes on movie starlets. I had arrived.
In 1972, a group of us went to what would become the first annual Star Trek convention at the Statler Hilton Hotel in Manhattan. It was a different time. Guests were accessible, Memorabilia was not mass-produced, and it was hand-made. Don and I had the opportunity to meet and talk to Gene and Majel and shared an elevator with Isaac Asimov. How many people can say that?
In the 1980’s, Don and I had a brief brush with success, having several TV movies under consideration with William Morris, but never got the brass ring. I guess when an agent suggests a different ending to a story, you say, “Yes, sir, may I have another” instead of writing, a dissertation on your ending is the best ending. Live and learn. I almost pushed myself into the writing staff during the first season of Next Generation with a story entitled “The Human Factor,” but that too never panned out.
I held my own anime and sci-fi conventions in South Florida in 2008 and 2009. They were actually successful, but quickly learned you cannot do it as a hobby. You have to be in it to win it.
However, through it all, I never lost my love for Star Trek and television.
This all makes me a bit older than most folks venturing in the fan film world, but there is no time like the present.
James) I remember what my mum once said to me, “with age comes wisdom and experience” so yeah you may! Be a bit older than some but that brings a viewpoint that many will not see, and one of those will be the entire 50 years of fandom experience you have.
Tell me a bit about your history with Star Trek what does Trek mean to you
Ray) That is about as loaded a question as you could possibly ask me. As I said previously, I was 12 when Trek premiered in living colour on NBC, and I was immediately hooked.
I have lived it and breathed it for 50 years. I have evolved along the way to understand some of the undertones on the episodes and the social mores they reflected. I understood that characters and was able to apply their emotions to my life…and suddenly I did not feel alone. There is too much Star Trek in my history to adequately answer that question here.
So what does Trek mean to me?
It is about a hopeful future. It is about people from a multitude of races, creeds, and colours working together for the betterment of not just humanity, but life itself. It is about duty and responsibility. It about unrequited love.
It is about living with who you are.
All of the things that seem to be missing in today’s society.
Many people have tried to express the philosophy of Trek. Some have written books. I am sure someone somewhere has given this explanation before, but I have never seen it. I believe the philosophy has been right in front of us the whole time in words written by Roddenberry himself.
In “City on the Edge of Forever,” Edith addresses the derelicts of the 21st Street Mission. She tells them: “Now I don’t pretend to tell you how to find happiness and love when every day is just a struggle to survive, but I do insist that you do survive because the days and the years ahead are worth living for. One day soon, man is going to be able to harness incredible energies, maybe even the atom. Energies that could ultimately hurl us to other worlds in some sort of spaceship.
The men that reach out into space will be able to find ways to feed the hungry millions of the world and to cure their diseases. They will be able to find a way to give each man hope…and a common future, and those are the days worth living for…”
THAT is the philosophy of Trek and what it means to me.
James) Do you have a Favourite Trek Episode & Why?
Ray) I would be hard pressed to list only one episode overall without acknowledging all five series, so I think it’s only fair to list one from each:
TOS: Let us take “City on the Edge of Forever” out of the mix and go with “The Naked Time” – great character development story, great insight on Kirk and Spock, the terrific interaction of the crew, great drama, and music.
TNG: “The Inner Light” – Touching story of two men’s lives affected by a doomed man’s planet and the affection he has towards his family and friends, and at losing those people closest to him. Patrick Stewart’s final scene is as touching and moving. (Honourable mention: “Yesterday’s Enterprise”)
VOYAGER: “Year of Hell” – Great sci-fi premise about a man who is seemingly hell-bent of wiping out his enemy, but his real goal is to bring back his wife from the dead. Let us add in a wonderful performance by Kate Mulgrew.
James) Out of all five! So to be six! Series what is your Favourite & Why?
Ray) TOS, not just, because I grew up with it, but simply put, if it was not for TOS, we would not have everything else.
James) Worst Series?
Ray) DS9: I know I will get some dissension on this, but my problem was that I would watch three or four great episodes in a row followed by a Quark episode. I just did not buy into that character. Then the whole Sisko / spiritual thing was a bit over the top.
James) What Trek Actors have you met in real life if any?
Ray) Lots and Lots, I met Shatner with my son at an Orlando con at an 80th birthday celebration. Shatner went to every table and spoke with everyone. He was just charming. I told him that growing up, he was my hero. His answer got me too flustered to tell him why. He said to me, “Really…? Why…?” And I just lost it.
Met Nimoy on the street in NYC in the late 1970’s. Nobody else recognised him so I thought maybe I was wrong. However, as he approached me, it was obvious that he knew I knew who he was. He stopped in front of me (probably because of my dumb-founded look) and smiled. All I managed to say was “Weren’t you…?” To which he replied, “I still am” and kept walking.
I first met Nichelle at a con in NYC in the mid-1970’s. I was walking down a crowded aisle in the Huckster’s Room (that what they called the vendor area in those days) when the crowd parted revealing Nichelle at a table just in front of me. I recall that there was bright sunlight streaming in from the windows like heaven. There might as well have been a choir in the background. I stopped dead in my tracks when she looked over a saw me gawking, and smiled at me. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I crapped my pants and ran away!
Also met many people from all of the different series. However, meeting and speaking with Gene and Majel at the first con was priceless. Much much more on that later…
James) I am jealous, Lenard Nimoy was someone I ALWAYS wanted to meet.
Do you play any Star Trek Games?
Ray) Ha! I’m a gamer from way back and have played lots of Trek games in my life.
My favourite was Elite Force, so that’ll give you some idea of my ancient past. I think at this point in my life, I need to concentrate on that pesky thing we call reality. Ew! LOL
James) Other than Trek, what other TV shows you watch like B5, Walking Dead, The Flash?
Ray) I am a fan of episodic drama. I was a huge fan of shows like the Galactica reboot, Fringe, LOST and back in the day shows like Millennium and The Night Stalker. Television is different today. I love streaming, but it leads to binge-watching shows like Daredevil and Stranger Things. Network TV has really changed. Used to be you would get 26 episodes a year and reruns in the summer.
Now, you get into a show and it goes on hiatus for 12 or 18 months. Who remembers what it was about when it comes back on? Currently, I watch shows like Pitch, Supergirl and Chicago Fire. I am a huge fan of The Last Ship, but alas, it is on hiatus. I loved The Strain, but it was off the air too long to get back into it, and I AM looking forward to ST Discovery. In addition, new shows like Frequency and Timeless — well, they just do not make sense. And BTW, I’m a huge fan of Whose Line. I could talk about shows all day. LOL
James) What do you feel about entertainment today, I mean gone are the days of 20+ episodic seasons is there anything you feel is missing?
Ray) I have been watching television since the late 1950’s. It was much different then. Just three major channels and a few local stations.
With the advent of cable plus sites streaming content, the choices are too proliferous. There is no way to know what is good and what is bad and what else you could be watching in this new sea of content.
Another issue is originality. There are some very fine original series and movies playing today, but there is a lot of rehashing going on. I am not sure I have ever seen a remake that was better than the original. Just be original.
Lastly, it used to be that you got 26 episodes a year and then reruns in the summer. Now you get 8 or 10 episodes of a series and then it is off the air for a year or more. It is sometimes impossible to get back into it. Just bring it on, dammit!
James) WithDiscoveryshowing on CBS all Access in the USA and Netflix elsewhere, do you think this future of televised series and films, just as you use YouTube etc. now? Is TV on the way out?
Ray) I have seen many changes in broadcast television in the last 50+ years that I have been watching. I think network television is in flux because of streaming and on-demand technology. New organisations are finding newer, better and cheaper ways to create and send us content, so it’s impossible to predict what the landscape will be even 2 or 3 years from now.
However, it still needs to be a profitable medium. Yes, TV will change and evolve, but I do not think it will ever die.
James) Ray, what is your history in filmmaking, apart from Republic is there anything you have made or are proud of.
Ray) Two children and a 36-year marriage.
Actually, Starship Republic is my first attempt at filmmaking. I have studied the craft for decades, and always believed if an opportunity came along — take it! Starbase Studios presented that opportunity by allowing Don and me to take a decades-old story of ours and translate it to the screen. In a big way, I have Vance Major and Scott Johnson to thank for guiding two novices through the process.
One thing I have learned from all the years that I have been in business that I was able to carry through to the production of Republic was to surround myself with good people — and I believe that effort is going to make Republic a success! To be successful, I believe you have to become an orchestra leader: you need to assemble the best musicians you can find and then do your damnedest to have them play in sync and make the most moving music that they can. I have not surrounded myself with good people — I have surrounded myself with great people! Every cast member, every crewmember, and every person that cheered us on.
As we begin to release info on Republic, look for names like Gabriel Morgan, Kent Edwards (“Words”) and Jim Von Dolteren amongst a multitude of others. We — they — are making Republic a fantastic Star Trek production! Kudos to them!
James) So Republic… Tell me about it,
When and why did you decide to create a fan film series based upon Star Trek?
Ray) I always have had a need to be a part of the Trek universe in some way, shape or form, and when the opportunity to film at Starbase Studios presented itself, I had to take advantage of it. That is the “why.” By date, that would have been September 2015 when I would learn about Promenade-action.
James) Before you could move forward, did you have to win over anyone to get the series off the ground?
Ray) No, not really. My writing partner Don Horan and I have been doing this for a long time, so we were in total agreement with the entire written production. We pitched our concept to Vance Major and Scott Johnson at Starbase Studios, and I think it was my enthusiasm that won them over.
James) Where does an idea for an episode usually begin for you?
Ray) Everywhere and nowhere, Most times, it is predicated on current events. We hope to use Republic going forward in the same capacity as Gene did 50 years ago: to reflect social and moral issues going on in our world today. That is not the case with every idea, but many times that is where it starts.
James) So, you are the Writer and Director of Republic was this an easy task or did you find the roles lead to many challenges in making things fit from script to film?
Ray) Being the writer, I was intimate with the story and dialogue. If I needed to make changes to either, I was able to do that knowing what the eventual outcome would be and make those changes within the confines of the characters’ back-stories. That was the easy part.
Directing was a bit trickier. As I have said previously, I was a novice coming in. I had never directed any production of any kind previously. Having said that, after the first two takes, the butterflies were gone and I seemed to slip right into the role. Good support people (Gabriel Morgan and Kent Edwards) allowed me to do that. There were several scenes along the way that were not going as planned, but I seemed to have the presence of mind to stop and collect not only my thoughts but everyone else’s as well. At one point, I came to the realisation that I could do this and I could do this well.
James) Being the head of Republic, what is the best thing about your role?
Ray) I like being in control to a certain extent. With my experience with Republic, after I settled in and understood my role and the responsibilities of our production staff, I felt right at home and at ease. I was a novice but learned by osmosis from two great people that stood side-by-side with me: Gabriel Morgan and Kent Edwards (aka “Words”).
Gabe came on board as our Director of Photography, but almost immediately became my co-director. He had a great eye for the camera and shared the same vision I had for Republic. When released, you will see that his work is outstanding. Many good things will be coming from Gabe.
Words were our production coordinator. I had no idea what the production process was all about until he stepped in. He immediately gave the set a professional atmosphere and put us on the road to a great production. I get chills when I think about the first time he yelled, “Quiet on the set!” I could not have done it without these two guys!
James) Ray, Can we break down your role in Republic into stages so the guys who read this can get the info on all aspects of your production.
Let us talk about your screenplay experience. When did you first realise that you wanted to become a screenwriter?
Ray) I was a junior in high school in 1970. I took a Creative Writing course and sat next to my friend Don Horan.
Don and I were both Star Trek fans we would remain life-long friends. I went into the class green, but he had written some spec scripts that were really good. I suggested a few changes, he asked me to edit them, and the rest is history!
James) When you started out can you remember what were the main obstacles you faced where?
Ray) Attitude and sophistication, I had a multitude of ideas but had trouble getting started and my style was rather childish.
I asked the copywriter at the job I was working at to read some material I had written. He gave me the best advice I ever received about dialogue. He said, “Keep it simple and short. Why are you answering a question with 3 sentences when the answer is ‘yes’?” Words to live by!
James) How many scripts have you written?
Ray) Way! Too many to count, but most have yellowed with time in a dusty file cabinet. No regrets, though.
James) Where do you write is there any places you find easier to write than others?
Ray) It depends, I have a small office area that is somewhat cosy, but I write when I feel it. Sometimes it is longhand on a legal pad if that is where I am.
James) Tell me out of all the scripts you have written have you ever been in a position where it could lead to something further?
Ray) In the 1980’s, Don and I had a brief brush with “potential” success. We had three spec scripts under consideration with The William Morris Agency. They seemed to really like one of our stories in particular called “Tram.” We had three criminals high up the Roosevelt Island Tramway in NYC holding its passengers for ransom.
Trouble was the Tram was dangling over the East River with no apparent way to get our thieves off, so we had seen an exhibition on real jet packs and had our characters escape in an air chase through NYC. The agent hated the ending and suggested alternate ideas. When you are young and arrogant, you need to learn to say “yes” sometimes. We did not.
Don and I also submitted scripts to Barney Miller and to Next Generation, but it never happened.
James) What gives you the most pleasure when writing, and what elements of the craft do you find most difficult?
Ray) Author Dorothy Parker once said, “I hate writing, I love having written.” It is kind of like that. When it is going well, it is great. However, when it is not (and most often it is not), the struggle is unbearable. However, when you finally type, “THE END,” it’s all worth it!
James) Which script of yours do you most wish you had a do-over on?
Ray) None really. I was always happy with the work that I, or Don and I, put forward. It was all good stuff, usually well thought out, good dialogue, plausible situations, and brisk pace.
In the end, we were really writing for ourselves and were happy with the work.
James) If you had to pick one which other writers have inspired you?
Ray) That is a tough question. I like different genres, so different authors. Asimov, John DF Black, Harlan Ellison come to mind right away. Throw in Stephan King, George Orwell and John Grisham and you have a well-rounded and eclectic group! On the Star Trek front, I am a big fan of Judith and Garfield-Reeves Stevens.
James) So, which one of your scripts and films are you most proud of and why?
Ray) Starship Republic — our current effort.
It has IMHO all of the elements of a good drama — conflict, tension, character development, action, pathos — and it’s the only one to ever get in front of the camera! I love it!
James) What in your opinion, is the most important aspect of building a great character?
Ray) Depth. A character needs a great back-story, even if it is not apparent on screen. It defines who that character is, how they interact with other characters, and how they react to given situations. If you do not have strong characters, you cannot make good stories. Look at Kirk and Spock.
In season one, we learned all kinds of things about their back-stories and personal lives that lead to great drama. It is you are character’s defining moments that either draw in the viewer or have them change the channel.
James) What is the most enjoyable thing about screenwriting?
Ray) When dialogue just seems to flow.
Republic is a great example. Don and I had written a terrific treatment. Once we starting putting dialogue to paper, the story took some very different twists that made for a better storyline. It does not always happen, but when it does, it’s gold!
James) What sort of stories excite you (other than Star Trek)?
Ray) I am a big fan of all types of stories so long as their well-paced and logical. By logical, I mean that there are not elements in the story just to get the characters to do something for no apparent reason. Make the situations real and the solutions believable. It just has to all make sense.
However, I will take science fiction, drama, classics, comedy — I love them all! Two of my favourite movies are classics: Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca” and John Wayne in “The Horse Soldiers.” Nevertheless, you can give me “Animal House,” “Unstoppable”, “Galaxy Quest” — you name it!
James) When do you write?
Ray) No good answer to that. It is best when the mood is right and the dialogue and narrative are flowing. Sometimes I write because I have to. Sometimes because I need to. I like it best when I am just writing for myself. Everyone else is a bonus.
James) With your experience in screenplays, did you have any issues in writing the script of Republic?
Ray) Actually, none. My friend and writing partner Don Horan conceived the story and almost immediately wrote a treatment for it. After that, the story and dialogue took on a life of its own. There have been several changes along the way, but for the most part, we were very happy with the outcome and stayed with it.
Funny story, back in the late 1970’s, Don, and I had an idea for a TV series we called “The Sea Hawks” loosely based on the classic Errol Flynn movie. We decided we wanted to take Kirk, Spock, and McCoy and put them on a 16th-century frigate as outcasts fighting for Queen and country. We wrote a pilot with 13 subsequent episodes — that of course never sold. When we learned of the opportunity of making fan films at Starbase Studios, we took our characters from “The Sea Hawks” and put them on a starship and the rest is history.
James) What if any research did you carry out in the preparation of writing the Republic script, what challenges and responsibilities did this present in making it something unique?
Ray) Don and I had been writing partners for over forty years, so we just decided to be true to ourselves. While never having a professional credit, we were skilled at the craft and confident in our ability. We knew these characters, we knew the story we wanted to present, and we knew the kind of production we were looking for. The research we did do was finding the right starship for the crew. Two ships that had been mentioned in canon, but never seen.
We felt the Republic offered a better opportunity and it had a significant back-story in TOS. In the TOS episode “Court Martial,” the USS Republic was a 23rd century Federation starship operated by Starfleet. In 2254, James Kirk served as an ensign aboard the Republic, along with his friend Ben Finney. During a duty shift, Finney accidentally left a circuit open to the atomic matter piles, which could have resulted in the destruction of the ship; Kirk logged the incident, and Finney was denied a promotion — and it became the basis for the episode. The choice was easy.
James) With the release of the “Fan Film Guidelines,” has this influenced how much were you able to write the script you wanted to.
Ray) We actually got pretty lucky. We had a 1-hour script written before the guidelines came out. As our story goes, we take a “right turn” at the end of act 2 and our crew is sent off in a very different direction. Under the new format of no more than two 15-minute parts, it was actually easy to break the story into two 30-minute episodes.
James) Did you have to alter it a lot when they came out or is it pretty much the same?
Ray) Nothing needed to me altered. It is exactly the same as originally written.
James) What are your feelings on them, as I know to start with everyone the reaction was different but many people were angry how did it make you feel when they came out?
Ray) When the guidelines were introduced, I have to admit I threw a hissy fit. However, cooler heads prevailed. I read them at least a half-dozen times to make sure I understood them, and the listened to the Star Trek Engage Podcast with John Van Citters of CBS. I look at it this way: if the 30-minute format worked for “The Twilight Zone,” it’ll work for Republic!
James) Do you think they are fair?
Ray) Absolutely, they allow for crowd funding, perks, original content – all the things that fan films before the guidelines either did or should have been doing. IN ADDITION, THEY STILL ALLOW IS TO PLAY STAR TREK!
James) What another aspect of Filmmaking do you have experience in and can you tell me more about your experiences in these areas?
Ray) Actually, very little. I have studied the craft for decades, but Republic is my first foray behind the camera.
James) OK so moving on to Directing, What did you love about the Directing of Republic?
Ray) The responsibility and control, and the ability to have to think on my feet.
Sometimes it has to change a scene, sometimes it has to elicit different emotions from the characters, and sometimes it has to move actors around on the set to make the scene more plausible. As an example, our climax scene from the trailer has our captain, played by Jim Von Dolteren, to give a devastating command order (that is all I will say about that!) Gabe and I were not satisfied with the captain’s reaction, so I stopped the scene and said to Jim, “Let’s change your motivation.
Let’s try this.” and boom, we got the shot! What a feeling it was to yell, “That’s a wrap!” Good good stuff!
James) What was the best thing that happened to you while shooting Republic?
Ray) The overall experience, no kidding not just one thing. The ability and privilege of being on a set and filming — filming a quality story with quality actors by quality people and knowing that you had a hand in bringing them all together. It was just great! Exhausting but great!
I could not sleep for days afterwards.
James) In your time as the Director, how did you encourage people and processes to achieve the best?
Ray) Comradery, you need to establish that at the outset and if you do, the rest comes easy.
James) With so many factors shaping a film’s success or failure, and so much required going into a film just to make it, and even more to make it well, what do you do so it does not ever feel not worth the effort?
Ray) The rapport with your cast and crew is the key. Much of the answer to this is “trust your gut.” All of us behind the camera knew we were doing something special. When it was not going quite right, we knew that too and instinctively were able to change it. I think instinct is 90% of the battle.
James) How did you handle being challenged about something that you decide but someone else really disagrees with. Was this something you had to deal with on the Republic shoot?
Ray) No, That did not happen. I welcome input on the process from anyone and everyone, and if it is sound, I take it. If I do not agree, I let people honestly know why not.
However, we have assembled a great group of professions who are passionate about making good cinema, and we hope that it shows.
James) Tell me, from your perspective about the story, and how it is different from other Fan Productions?
Ray) Of all the questions, you have asked so far, this is the most difficult and perhaps the most unfair. Let us put the big guys aside: Phase 2, Continues and Renegades.
There are a plethora of fan films out there and an equal amount of talented people. People like Vance Major, Michael King, David Whitney, John Broughton, Glen Wolfe, Tommy Kraft — just to name a few. I have respect for ANYONE who has a dream and pursues it. Ours happens to be in the world of Star Trek, but kudos to everyone. Some of these fan films are terrific, some are painful. However, they are all made with no less enthusiasm than Republic.
I would have to say that what makes our production is 2-fold: our characters and our vision.
Our characters are deep, complex people. Every one of them. They are heroes with flaws, conflicted, just like all of us. They can fail just as easily as they rise to the occasion, but they persevere. And that makes for great storytelling.
As for vision, we look at this as playing in Roddenberry’s universe. There was not only a definite look and feel to the original series; it was used to reflect the moral issues of the day. You may not see that in the first episode or two as we get off the ground, but trust me — you will.
James) How much influence did you have on the casting of Republic?
Ray) I share the responsibility of casting with my good friend and co-producer Vance Major. I was very green when I first met him and the crew at the studio. Vance pointed me to both several resources for actors and pointed some my way. He is responsible for getting be demo reels of Jim Von Dolteren who was eventually cast as our captain. I also held open auditions online and we ended up with several people cast in various roles such as Greg Teft, Gerald Griffin, and Da’Neille Bishop Roy.
A good team effort.
James) Moving on to other aspects of the production, who did the makeup and wardrobe did they manage to capture the image you had for the film?
Ray) The brilliant Nate Bright did the make-up. I had conceived a look for a new alien. Vance Major who is friends with Nate and used his work of Starship Melbourne and Valiant recommended Nate. I sent Nate some simple sketches and some makeup I had bought for effects and damn if he did not create the most different and realistic, alien I have ever seen! Brilliant! However, Republic would put him to the test. Unfortunately, the actress who was slated to play our alien had a family emergency and had to bow out just hours before the production started. I recast the role as we were powering up the set. Nate took a completely different actor and recreated the look and feel on here to the point where you would never know he had to do it. Frankly, he saved the day.
I looked for a long time for a costume that would bring the same look and feel to the uniforms as you saw in the original series. I honestly was not completely happy with some of the fit I saw in some other productions. I found Stephanie Mann who is on the west coast. I explained what I was looking for and what was needed, and she worked with me to get it done just-just in time (like everything else, it seems) and they looked great on camera!
Even some of the production staff admired her work and were going to order costumes from her. It made it all worthwhile. You can find Stephanie on eBay as the username murraymousie. She is really good!
James) Who has the best costume?
Ray) Our characters are all dressed in the TOS uniforms, but I looked high and low for a costume to give us a more authentic look and feel to Roddenberry’s version. I think we found that, so everyone looks great in costume!
James) Who in the show is most like their character?
Ray) Probably Jim Von Dolteren as our captain. He is more Picard than Kirk, but he is in command none-the-less and everyone knows it.
James) Who’s the least?
Ray) Probably Da’Neille, Bishop Roy as our resident alien science officer. Da’Neille was thrown into the mix only hours before filming, and we were trying to go over her character’s back-story, but we were on tight deadlines. While she may not have known all of the motivations that went into her character, she delivered.
James) How does Republic bring something new to the genre of Fan Films?
Ray) From what I have seen, much of what has come out of fan film is Trek first and film second. Sometimes this results in a film that is difficult to watch because of many factors including sound, script acting, visuals, etc. Sometimes it can also result in a hodgepodge of elements put together to create a video for posting. Yes, the film was made with passion and a love of Trek.
In addition, yes, there are many throwaway moments in the production because the production was done without the film experience being a main driver of the process. We are a drama first and Star Trek second. We do take advantage of being in the Trek universe, and our characters, story lines and outcomes hinge on people knowing what we’re talking about, but we are bringing a cinematic edge to our production.
James) How about the score, was this something you handled or did you bring someone else into over sea this. Did you find it easy to score the film?
Ray) Sound is being done by Gabriel. He is a professional and has done a great job of recording and enhancing the spoken word.
The Score: It is and is not easy. With Star Trek, you can sort of look at the scene and hear what music is playing in the background in your head. Comes easy after hearing it over and over for 50 years. However, Gabriel Morgan, my cinematographer and editor, has a real good ear as well. He has previewed some rough cuts for the group with an outstanding score. It is part of what drives the action.
The hardest part for me was finding an appropriate theme that was dramatic, orchestral, dignified, and represented Star Trek. It took several months or searching, but I think we have it.
James) What was the toughest thing about getting Republic done?
Ray) We were on a time constraint, but we had a situation where several of our cast members were unable to join us. One of those people was a principle character, but unfortunately had a family situation that needed her attention. I was firmly convinced — even as close to an hour before we were supposed to start filming — that it was not going to happen.
Nevertheless, there were other cast members and production people that were travelling long ways to do this and there was no way I was going to turn them away. You know: the show must go on. However, frankly, I thought it would go on very badly. VERY badly! I had a young woman, Da’Neille Roy, who fell out of a tree and into my arms out of nowhere.
She was not part of the original cast, I asked her to step in as one of our main characters with no reading time whatsoever, and she rose to the occasion. In addition, she was able to get some other folks to fill in for our other missing actors and they could act! The result was far better than I would have imagined just hours before! And the show DID go on!
James) How do you not waste time? With the time restraint, you were on how you make sure you kept things going?
Ray) You have to keep moving. There is a lot of downtime moving from set to set and redressing sets for a specific scene. It is all is scheduling and taking appropriate breaks. Luckily, perhaps, we were able to use our time efficiently.
James) What do you think the biggest surprise about the process would be to an outsider like myself who has ZERO experience in making films.
Ray) Having been an outsider when I stepped on set, I can tell you that the biggest surprise was the amount of time you need to get quality shots. Yes, I knew there would be several takes before getting the right scene, but Gabe would reset the shot 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 times from different angles with different lenses in order to get a cinematic look to the scene. Lots more work, lots more time, lots more down time for the cast, but in the end, this will be spectacular.
James) How important is social media for promoting your project, do you think you would have had the interest you have had without it?
Ray) In my opinion, it is imperative. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, YouTube, Crowd Funding.
They are immediate. If you can get your word out and have some skilled people get it to go viral, you can have it made! I am good, but I am not skilled enough to manage and distribute content properly. Michelle Guerra is our Marketing Coordinator. She brings to social media what Gabe and Words bring to filmmaking. She is making it happen!
James) What sort of person is going to love Republic?
Ray) Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages! However, seriously, we are trying to create good drama with characters the viewer will care about that just happens to be set in the Star Trek universe. Therefore, we hope this will appeal to both Star Trek fans and non-star Trek fans alike.
James) What’s going to surprise people about this show?
Ray) The professionalism and passion that our cast and crew have for this production. Many of us are NOT professionals and some of us (me included) are novices. However, we are professionals in our own right. We are using film and sound to tell a great story that just happens to reside in the Trek universe.
Fan films are usually divided into 2 groups: the big guys (Phase 2, Continues and Renegades) and everybody else. Big budgets and big talents do not necessarily equate to cinematic greatness. Even with small budgets (or no budgets), fans can still make great cinema. That is our goal with Republic.
James) Last few questions about Republic and then I would like to move on to your experiences in the fandom and other fan production you listen to.
What will the audience be thinking about after they see Republic?
Ray) When can we see the next episode, damn it!
James) Do you ever take a step back and appreciate what you have made thus far?
Ray) Oh yeah, We are still in post-production, but I have watched the rough cuts umpteen times I find it hard to believe that I had a hand in this.
It is an outstanding feeling!
James) What do you know now that you wish you had known in the beginning?
Ray) I am a person who loves immediacy. I was not ready for the time needed from inception to completion. There were many variables to consider: the script, characters, motivation, sets, props, costumes, makeup – to name only a few. Now that I know that, I can live with it.
James) What would you change if you could?
Ray) After my experience with filming the Republic, trailer: nothing.
James) OK so moving on to the last segment of the interview, What Fan Films do you watch?
Ray) I watch the big 3 when they have new content: Phase 2, Continues and Renegades. The other fan films either do not have multiple episodes, or have run their course, or were halted because of the fear of not conforming to the guidelines.
But there’s some good content out there. Starship Valiant is well done, I am looking forward to Melbourne, and multiple others by folks like Glen Wolfe, David Whitney and Tommy Kraft.
James) What other Star Trek fan productions do you watch/listen to etc (Podcasts, YouTube shows etc)
Ray) Quite a lot. Engage, ComicPop Library quite often.
James) Ray, you have a rather wide experience pool to draw from
What are your:
Favourite parts of the Trek Fandom?
Ray) The history and comradery. As I’ve said, I’ve been there since day one and I’ve seen Trek’s evolution. And now I’m part of it. It’s been a lot of fun!
James) Worst Parts of the Trek Fandom (any bad experiences)?
Ray) A few things: the commercialism of the franchise from the fan-based conventions of the 1970’s, but that was bound to happen.
The lost opportunity for CBS and Paramount to do something special for the 50th Anniversary.
That never happened. In addition, some fan films trying to use the medium for personal gain.
James) Ahh Yes that person hmmm.. OK, last few questions Ray, What advice would you give to someone who wants to? Act, Direct, write a script or make their own film?
Act: Do not recite your lines from a piece of paper. Believe them! If the ship is going to be hit by a photon torpedo, stop, take a dump, say your line, and look worried!
Make their own (fan) film: It’s harder than you think, but find good actors and support crew. And above all: have fun with it!
Direct: As a first time director, be encouraging but firm. Have a vision and help the actors and crew achieve it. And bring comradery to the set.
Write their own screenplay/script: Belief in it. Tell your story swiftly and succinctly. Read it out loud and see if it flows and make sense, and have some else you trust read it also. And accept criticism.
James) Is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world? (The good, the bad, how you see the current world of fan productions)
Ray) Fan films are changing and evolving. Places like Starbase Studios are making sets accessible to many folks who would otherwise have no ability to do this. Video and editing are becoming increasingly easier. Above all, have good content.
Whether it is drama or comedy you want to offer, do it well. Do not have 5 minutes of dialogue and 25 minutes of special effects. Develop a crew. Tell a story. In addition, do it the best you can.
James) Lastly, take yourself back to when you first started out… If there were a piece of advice you could tell your younger self when starting out, what would it be?
Ray) Concerning writing: do not change anything!
About life: you are going to screw up — a lot! Just roll with it!
James) Ray Thank you so much for your time and I can NOT! Wait to view Republic when it comes out.
Ray’s enthusiasm for Star Trek is infectious and it has been an honour to interview him for Trekfanproductions.
Follow Republic at Facebook or their Website to keep up to date on their latest news and gossip regarding the production.
Jim Von Dolteren as Captain Terrance St. James
Greg Teft as First Officer Nuno da Silva
Da’Neille Roy as Science Officer Debrya Vr’Nai
Martin Bennett as Doctor Jonathan Todd
Gerald Griffin as Chief Engineer Baines
Pamela Ivy Bell as Communications Officer Kaheel Norah
Josh Stientz as Ensign Richard Hawkins
April Chamberlain as Yeoman Stania Mitchell
Mark Galbraith as Commander Henry Drummond
Helen Costas Tesi as Science Officer T’Shar
Vance Major as “Minard”
Created by Ray Tesi and Don Horan
Written by Ray Tesi and Don Horan
Supervising Producer: Kent Edwards
Associate Producer: Don Horan
Executive Producer: Ray Tesi
Directed by Ray Tesi and Gabriel Morgan
Assistant Director: Kent Edwards
Director of Photography: Gabriel Morgan
Sound and Editing: Gabriel Morgan
Visual Effects: Samuel Cockings
Make-Up Artist: Nate Bright
Costumes: Stephanie Mann
Best Boy: Scott Johnson
Gaffer: Kent Edwards
Prop Master and Sets: Glen Wolfe
Set Design and Construction: Scott Johnson
Set Construction: Owen Mills, Kat Spaulding, Robert Serrano, John Hughes
Key Grip: Scott Johnson
Grips: Kat Spaulding, Robert Serrano, John Hughes
Electricians: Kat Spaulding, Robert Serrano, John Hughes
This week we catch up with Lawrence Fleming, the man who plays Science Officer Ray Dora.
Lawrence has enjoyed films and filmmaking since he was young and since then he has had a distinguished career acting in various different genres including many Star Trek fan films and he has produced almost a hundred productions.
Lawrence (Larry), is not only an actor and produced he in his spare time likes to ride motorbikes, go climbing and has been an NRA instructor for many years, with his firearm safety training it adds to his already vast range of experience as this makes him an asset on any set that uses guns for its production.
As part of the Melbourne files, I found myself talking to a wide range of people and when it came to talking to Larry, I found myself thinking about someone with Larry’s experience how do I conduct and interview and not come off and a rank amateur. However, with Larry, I found him extremely approachable and he welcomed my questions like a true gentleman and not what I expected at all from someone with his experience.
Therefore, without further a due let us move on to the interview itself.
We caught up with Larry while he was on set shooting
Jumanji – (YES the one with the Rock)
Therefore, his answers are a little shorter than normal.
“It’s Kind of a sequel. They enter a video game. You know there will be some funny moments with Jack Black also in the film. “
James) Good Afternoon Larry, First, I would like to thank you for your time for agreeing to answer these questions for me.
WOW! I just looked at your IMDB I am a little speechless, I have to admit I am nervous writing up a Q&A for you now lol
Larry) Ha, it just means I have worked a lot no big deal.
James) LOL, Well for anyone who does not know you or has read your IMDB, can you tell me a little about yourself?
Larry) I like doing different things. I get bored doing the same thing repeatedly. During my lifetime, I have flown planes, raced motorbikes, climbed mountains, and repelled down. I go to concerts, rock, jazz, and opera. I am ultimately curious about the world and want to see and experience as much as I can.
I dislike people that are uncaring about others. I also dislike large crowds as if I am stuck in one and cannot get around that also includes being sat in traffic. I do not mind speaking to a crowd just hate being stuck. I guess it is because I am a bit claustrophobic.
James) With your hectic schedule other than Star Trek, what other TV shows you watch if you get the time that is?
Larry) I love the Big Bang Theory mainly because I relate to the characters. I grew up in a house where both parents did not go to High School. I like all hero movies, from any source, Marvel, DC, anything. I also like Detective shows, I love puzzles and like to try to figure out Who Done It.
James) I have to admit that is one of my favourite things about “Detective Shows” the who done it thing is one thing that draws me to watch them, If they are too easy it drives me nuts lol,
With the history you have in Star Trek fan films, tell me a bit about your history with Star Trek what does it mean to you
Do you have a favourite Episode?
Larry) I like the Cage or Menagerie. It was the first and left an impression on me.
It is hard to imagine the world where you cannot tell what really reality is and what imagination is.
James) I have to admit I have only seen the Cage and what I guess what would be called its follow up to it The Menagerie a hand full of times, so I am not up to speed on them. I am going to have to take the time to revisit the TOS I think, TNG onwards I have seen so many times I can tell you the episode name from just the first few seconds. Yes! I am that sad lol.
With those episodes being your favourite ones, do you have one you would class, as your “Worst” episode?
Larry) I do not remember the episode, but they had hippie like characters playing music. They brought too much of reality into the show. I also thought the hippie movement was stupid too.
James) I think that episode is The Way to Eden yes I had to Google it lol. I am feeling rather bad here not knowing my TOS, as I should L
Do you have a “favourite” and “worst” series?
Larry) If we are talking Star Trek, it has to be TOS. I grew up watching this series. I like all the other versions, but I really like the original.
James) A lot of people I think either find the TOS as their fave or are on the fence like me, I like it but for me and like you I guess it is because I grew up with it TNG will always be my fave.
Because you like to go and Cosplay and attend conventions a lot, have you met many Star Trek Actors?
Larry) All the TOS actors except, Deforest Kelly also most of Next Gen crew, I have met most Star Trek actors over the years because I go to as many Cons as I can.
James) That is one thing I wish I had more time to do I have only ever been to one Con and that was years ago the last question in this segment do you play any Star Trek games like STO etc.
James) I have never seen the appeal of WOW many people I know play it. Moving on to your experience in filmmaking, you have been in a lot! Of fan films, can you tell me what ones you have been a part of?
Larry) I have appeared in six or seven different Star Trek fan films. It is amazing being on the set of the Enterprise or whatever the production ship name is.
James) Can you tell me what ones you have been a part of?
I am in Exeter Trek too. It is stuck in post hell trying to get finished. It has been so long I forgot.
James) OK a lot then lol, Is there anything you are currently working on?
🙂 I retired from all the hard work jobs and am only acting.
James) From your IMDB, you have worked in multiple areas: film, television, web, what is it that makes you pick the projects?
Larry) I work in all three. Mainly whatever script idea I like.
James) How easy has it been for you to move between areas?
Larry) They are all the same as far as filming goes. It is just the format that changes.
James) What do you see as the appeal of the various formats?
Larry) Everyone has a method of watching. We try to offer what people want.
Fan films cannot make money, so free sites like YouTube work best.
James) Was there a particular event or time that you recognised that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
Larry) When I was young, I grew up in Hollywood and wanted to be a part of it.
When my family moved away, I thought I was through with that dream but I found that I could raise funds as a producer from anywhere and started doing that over 15 years ago. Then when Georgia passed the film-friendly tax laws, filming began moving here. I prefer acting to anything I have been involved in thus far.
James) What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you personally?
Larry) Empathy for the characters if you care about them, then their conflicts in the film seem more real.
James) What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and how do you feel about Hollywood atm as they seem to reboot or rehash a LOT Of work.
Larry) I love old movies even black and whites. There were not so many films back then so I think they had to be better. We have become cookie cutter in the industry now, remake after remake.
James) I have to agree, I have been saying it for years that all these reboots just seem lost to me gone are the days of the new films that inspire many, it seems to reboot or just a rework of a classic that ends up being rubbish (YES! Ghostbusters I am looking at you)
When watching a film and you get angry at it, what sets you off? Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike? Is there something you try to subvert, avoid, or rebel against in your work?
Larry) I like drama and suspense. I hate when they use standard methods to create the suspense. Like “Let’s split up”. Be creative and come up with something unexpected.
James) When inspiration is waning, like when you feel creatively sapped, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?
Larry) I watch movies I choose a film for the way it will make me feel. I love happy conclusions or at least when the heroes save the day and all seems good.
James) What is harder: getting started or being able to keep going?
Larry) I find keeping going is harder. Starting is easy.
There are so many distractions along the way that can interrupt your progress. Stay focused.
James) How do you know when your story has finished and when to walk away?
Larry) It has never finished. You try to get it to a stopping point where the conflict seems to stop. That is why we have sequels.
James) That is so true, going back to the reboot and rehash in Hollywood at the moment, we all hear so often about the lack of original stories in the world. How do you stay fresh in the face of an idea like that?
Larry) You have to really look for fresh ideas and have the courage to work with them. It seems that the money people and controlling content. If it worked before, we will try it repeatedly and again.
James) Have you done your own stunts in many films? In addition, were they hard to do?
Larry) I have a Black Belt in TAEKWONDO, so basic stunts are easy. I like doing them. I have only done stunts in my independent films.
The Big guys want you in SAG so that their insurance will cover you.
James) I am going to quick fire some questions at you about your acting history and experience, tell me the first thing you think of
When did you first realise that you wanted to Act
Larry) When we had, the main character hurt (offset) and needed to be replaced. I stepped in and had a blast.
James) What do you like most about being an Actor?
Larry) I get to be someone different all the time. I get to be on set and once I know my lines, the rest is a simple direction.
James) What parts of Acting do you not enjoy?
Larry) Being on camera
James) What steps did you take to enter this field? – Training etc
Larry) I took some classes; the rest was just getting in there and learning. I learn best by doing.
James) Tell me about your experience as an Actor?
Larry) I tend to take now leading parts. I like helping the scene takes place with only moments of leading it. It takes a team to pull it off and I enjoy watching the Teamwork.
James) What gives you the most pleasure as an Actor?
Larry) Completing my scene and hearing wrap a great job. 🙂
James) What elements of the craft do you find most difficult?
Larry) Emotions When you method act you have to become the character.
James) The hardest role you have ever played, and why
Larry) Working is a sub-freezing environment and trying to act like it’s warm.
James) The most fun role you have ever played and why.
Larry) Getting to have something (not real) explode in front of you and act hurt and injured.
James) What sort of person is going to love this character?
Larry) I hope someone that likes what I like. I try to imagine the character and perform the way I would like to see it.
James) Is it easier to play this character or to be you?
Larry) All characters are I, in a way.
James) What makes a good scene partner?
Larry) Someone that can connect as an actor we are not all working by ourselves.
James) That was great thanks, Along with acting, I see you have produced many films. Can you tell me more about that?
What does an Assistant/Exec Producer do?
Larry) Exec Producers are money getters. If the name is big, people want to be a part. If you are lesser know, then you have to knock on doors, so to speak.
James) Describe to me, how you’d run a project from beginning to end.
Larry) Each project has basic steps. I could write a book on the exact steps.
Find a script – I am always reading scripts
Put a production team together – get with friends
The cast for the film – find a ringer to attract funds.
Start raising money – which and be from day one and last throughout
Put together a filming schedule
Put the pieces together – Post-production
Market and release
James) With your resume being as extensive as it is, have you ever had a time when you had to deal diplomatically with different personalities?
Larry) Every time we film. Creative people are a different breed, need to be encouraged, and complimented all the time no favouritism either…
James) Do you ever take a step back and appreciate what you have made thus far?
Larry) For a short while, it is soon on to the next project.
James) Has there ever been a time where you needed to change your producer-style to accommodate a team or team member have you ever been really challenged by a cast member?
Larry) Early on when I was getting started I was not leading, but letting the project lead me. We ran out of funds a few times and everything would stop.
I prefer to lead now.
James) What kind of routines do you tend to keep for filmmaking to keep you organised or do you even have one.
Larry) I keep folders of past work that aid in the next one. Budget plans, lists of equipment and workers location ideas etc.
James) Many people either have a main job or never stop working on new films all the time with like no time to enjoy what they are doing. How do you earn a living and sustain the career you love,
Larry) I had a Day job working as a consultant in IT. I never really liked that work, but I was good at it. I am retired now and my basic needs are met from retirement funds.
James) Do you think social media is the future of televised series and films, just as you use YouTube etc now is TV on its way out.
Larry) In some form, yes, but we have too many options right now and it is harder to make money.
The pool is too diluted.
James) How do you find the right music for a scene?
Larry) I leave that to the creative sound producers. It is amazing what they can do.
James) What do you know now that you wish you had known at the beginning?
Larry) You can do this on your own. It is not a weakness to get help. It is actually more fun working with those you know.
James) How do you handle being challenged about something that you decide but someone else really disagrees with it?
Larry) Choose your battles. It is not always important to win. If it is wrong, let them fail and learn. I liked helping young filmmakers get started. They all started with grand ideas that I knew would not work. Let them learn.
James) How do you not waste time. How do you get everything you need to get done, done in an allotted time scale?
Larry) It is OK to waste time sometimes. We all need to take a break. Once the project is underway, you just keep at it. The harder you work, the greater the reward.
James) How do you encourage people and get them achieve the best they are capable of?
Larry) Compliment them. Listen a lot. It is like having a spouse or children – Especially children.
James) How do you encourage people and processes to move faster when on a tight time scale?
Larry) Help them to stay focused and be prepared. Downtime is time to go over your lines, not to always socialise.
With so many factors shaping a film’s success or failure, and so much required going into a film just to make it, and even more to make it well, what do you do so it does not ever feel not worth the effort?
James) How does a typical day (for you) begin when you are in full swing production?
Larry) Arrive on set and check the schedule, if you do not already have the updated copy. Exec producers do not do the daily work once the funds are raised.
James) Moving on now to Melbourne, Being an actor in many other fan productions was Melbourne an easy task or did you find the role lead to many challenges in making things fit from script to film?
Larry) I enjoyed the role from start to finish. The direction was well thought out and helpful.
James) Describe your role in the production, how did a typical shoot play out from your perspective?
Larry) I did not produce this film but would have treated it like any other production. Let us get this done.
James) Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story. How is it different from other Fan Productions you have been in?
Larry) It has a Star Trek feel, which makes it the same, but the story was unique. The writing was great and that is what made it work and fun to do.
James) What research did you carry out in the preparation of this role, what challenges and responsibilities did this present in making it something unique?
Larry) Memorise the lines, read the script multiple times standard procedures for this really. I already had years watching Star Trek under my belt.
James) So with your experience in the Star Trek Fan Film world, I want to ask you about the “Fan Film Guidelines,”
What are your feelings on them, as I know to start with everyone the reaction was different but many people were angry how did it make you feel when they came out?
Larry) CBS is running scared they want the franchise, but do not understand it as well. When they saw a production as good as they could make for a lot less, well it is hard to swallow. I hope reason will win out.
James) Can you expand on that a bit? We have seen in recent court filings that the guidelines are a result of Axanar; do you want to see Axanar made?
Larry) I want to see all fan films made including Axanar.
James) Do you feel they crossed any lines?
Larry) I think that CBS thinks they crossed the so-called line. CBS kept quiet for years and only complained when they wanted to make a new series. It is unfortunate that they picked the anniversary of Star Trek to cause problems.
James) Do you feel that the guidelines are a direct result to Axanar and Alec Peters?
Larry) I think that the suit and guidelines are a direct link to Axanar, BUT if it were not them, CBS would have picked on someone else. They are flexing their muscle and are trying to eliminate all work better than their own. CBS should have purchased/bought into the fan film (s) of choice and put their logo on them. Go with a winner instead of an unknown that their new series will be.
James) Do you think they are fair?
Larry) No – The guidelines are stupid and CBS painted themselves into a corner. I hope that reason wins out, but I am a Star Trek fan regardless of who makes what…
James) Thanks for that, I appreciate your view on this since you have been involved in as many fan films as you have, so moving on What Fan Films do you watch?
James) What would you say are yours? Best and worst parts of the Star Trek Fandom,
The best part – The people
The worst part – CBS/Paramount
James) lastly Larry, What advice would you give to someone who wants to?
Larry) Get out there and do it. Learn and get better each performance.
James) Make their own fan film.
Larry) Get help for the first one or two, mistakes cost money.
Larry) Enjoy what you do the rewards are often missing.
James) Larry, Is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world? (The good, the bad, how you see the current world of fan productions)
Larry) To summarily, Enjoy what you do, that may be your best reward. Do not be afraid to ask for help, we all need it from time to time. Do not be too proud to take a lesser role. Do not get discouraged.
You will be turned down after your best audition, simply because you do not fit the role in the eyes of the casting team. Make and act the way you would enjoy watching.
James) Thank you, Larry, for taking the time to answer these for me.
Larry) Thank you and my best.
So, guys, that is part three, and although I started off scared with the prospect of interviewing Larry BUT! I enjoyed it a lot, I feel I have gotten to know the man who has acted in so many Fan Films a lot better, and it makes me want to watch Melbourne even more!
Hurry up Vance lol 😛
As always thank you for reading and your continued support with the blog.
This week’s blog is about getting to know the DP and Editor of the upcoming fan production, Melbourne.
Matt Esteron is Founder and creative director, of Mozaic Studios created in 2013. Since then, he and his team have produced a multitude of media from local television commercials to varying films, documentaries, and online content. Mozaic has also assisted in productions ranging from web series’, to corporate videos, PSA’s and more.
Find more information about Mozaic at the following links.
“Matt Esteron joined the crew a bit later than some, but what he lacked in time, he more than made up with ingenuity. He has an enthusiasm for the camera and a way to see things most people don’t. His work with Jeremy behind the camera is second to none”
Vance Major, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hey Matt, thank you so much for taking the time to sit and talk with me about your role in Melbourne.
Matt) Hey James! Thanks for the opportunity to interview! Me as part of the Melbourne Files
It is somewhat rare to find interviews of DP’s and editors ha-ha! I find that most of the people that are interviewed are actors and directors, sometimes writers.
James) Well the whole Idea of the Melbourne files is to show that it is not just the people in front of the camera that play an important role in making the fan productions we see.
It is a group effort from the actors to people like you behind the scenes who work just as hard bringing up the final film.
So, Matt, I would like to start as I always do and ask about you and who you are, can you tell me a bit about yourselves what you do in life?
Matt) Ummm… I would say I am a huge sci-fi nerd! Does not matter the media (shows, movies, games), I like them all! I am somewhat a workaholic, but most of my friends are in some way related to film, so I guess that works out haha! Speaking of, I love cinematography, directing and editing, more specifically, colouring.
If someone were to tell me to choose any job out of that four…it is a tie between directing and being a colourist.
James) What is your history in filmmaking?
Matt) I started watching YouTube videos in junior high and found this channel called Freddiew, and since then I wanted to be a filmmaker.
I started making stop motion videos with my cousin, inspired by the video “Tony Vs, Paul.” I later enrolled in my high school’s video program and won two student news awards at NATAS. The class was heavy on making news stories, which was fun, but that did not stop me from wanting to make narratives. I enrolled at Olympic College and started making short films there, along with a few commercials for my local TV network.
James) Before we move onto Melbourne and more about you can you tell me more about, mozaic-studios.com
Matt) Sure thing, ha-ha!
MozaicStudios started out as a small “Production Company” around where I live. It was not anything big. My cousin and I made a few local commercials after I graduated high school, then we kept going from there. He eventually pursued other career alts. While I continued making video content. Eventually, as I pursued more narrative videos like short films, I wanted to make MozaicStudios less of a “Production Company” and more of a reflection of who I am, what I can do, etc.
It should be more of a blog or a real spot, maybe I can get rid of the “studios” part and just have Mozaic ha-ha
However, for now, that is what MozaicStudios is: a mosaic of departments coming together to make a motion picture.
James) I see you have three awards can you tell me about each of them and what you have been awarded them for.
Matt) So the Runner up for best film was for my first competition submission. The competition theme was Hollywood remake, and I remade a movie that no one there has ever heard of before ha-ha!
It was a lot of first for me, so getting any recognition was cool. The Best Editing award was from another competition, a film festival. At this point, it would have been maybe my 3rd time trying out a film festival, this time directing and partially editing one.
The NATAS awards, probably the biggest awards, were huge!
Just getting out of high school, I submitted a few of my news stories to NATAS through my class and I was awarded for two stories of mine. It was a huge confidence booster to be able to have your content is shown on screen in front of another high school, college, and professional video/news companies!
They sort of stand to be career highlights projects as well.
James) Are those the only three or have you won more?
Matt) Those are three that I have won that have also been “my” projects. I have been a part of a LOT of other projects, some winning awards and other just for online content, but similar to Melbourne, I was not the leader of the project.
A great friend of mine, brilliant filmmaker, Micah Fusco, made a Victorian era web series called Thornbrook. His first two episodes won a Webbie award! I helped in lighting and post work. Melbourne, for example, is one I am going to be personally proud of for a multitude of reasons!
Thank you for answering these it was something I stumbled across that I thought I want more info on
Matt) No problem!! I always love answering questions.
If you need extra content, I have got a short of mine coming up soon called Drone. Jeremy was the sound guy for half of it.
James) Sweeet tell me more about this.
What is it about?
It takes place in a retro sci-fi world. Ridley, the “first” sentient robot, is accidentally stranded in a desert and he has to escape while looking for his memory drive.
It is a short film I am making and leading, starting all the way to last year. However, through budget restraints and scheduling, and especially weather issues and locations, it has taken a long while to get it done. Nevertheless, as of now, 95% is shot and being edited and I could not be more excited for it and another project that had many ‘firsts’ for me.
James) Is it going to be an ongoing series or just a short?
Matt) Just a short.
I would not mind a series or a feature spin-off/remake/whatever if I got the budget to do one, however!
However, the original intention was to make an impressive short film that I want to see
James) For budget have you ever thought of crowd funding?
Matt) I did! I actually went to Kickstarter! However, the next challenge from there was learning how to advertise yourself and your project.
One thing I have noticed however is how one small project could lead to finding an audience and therefore making crowd funding much easier!
Depending on how successful Drone is received, along with Melbourne, who knows.
James) I see, It will be worth it though if you can get it off the ground, Many people do tend to throw money at larger series affiliated projects like Star Trek Fan Films.
Matt) Yeah, Star Trek fan films are a little bit easier to crowd fund since the audience is already there and inside some sort of collective (not a Borg joke hehe)
James) That is true but like you said a small project sample like a short can lead into more so it is worth keeping it as an option.
Neil Blomkamp (I think that is his name), director of District 9, to my understanding, was given a budget by Peter Jackson after Peter saw Neil’s short film Alive in Johannesburg. It was pretty much the same theme as District 9, but on a much smaller and indie level.
Hearing that was pretty inspiring.
James) That’s the thing Bout filmmaking you never know who’s watching and where it can lead….
Matt) Absolutely, Strive to make every new project impressive, something that will stretch what you know or what you are capable of doing. Be bold or be super boring to the point that it is still entertaining. Know your limits, but see if you can stretch those limits, etc
All those quotes yadda yadda
James) OK, Moving on to the main interview, other than Trek, what other TV shows you watch like B5, Walking Dead, The Flash?
Matt) Some of my favourite shows include:
Battlestar Galactica (2003), Firefly, Netflix’ Daredevil (does that count?), Transformers Prime, and maybe Doctor Who.
James) You said you love gaming what Trek themed games do you or have you played?
Matt) I will be honest and say I have not played many Trek games…! I have played Star Trek Legacy on the PC and Xbox 360 though! I loved being able to play as each ship from each ST series.
James) So being a DP and Editor….
Has a director ever asked you to do something that just goes against your idea of what good cinematography is? What do you do in a situation like that?
Matt) That is a good question!
Sure, there have been multiple times where I have a shot and they will not use it, or I sort of do not think one particular shot would work as well as what is in my head with any production. However, in the end, it is up to the director.
He/she has the final say in what is in the frame, and sometimes the idea that they have is better than yours is! The best thing to do is to swallow your pride, it is not about how cool you can get a shot (I mean, try to if you can), but it is about the story. Best-case scenario, you insert your own style and cinematic quality that fits the stories needs, and it is one that the director really likes.
James) Can you tell me a bit about your role in Melbourne?
Matt) On Melbourne, I am the cinematographer and editor.
I shoot the pretty stuff and edit said stuff to make it even prettier. I work directly under Jeremy and Vance to make sure their vision is met while also impressing them.
James) How do you as a Cinematographer want the director to communicate to you what he wants, assuming he/she does not know that much about cinematography, I know Jeremy was the director on Melbourne were there any challenges on his vision being communicating so you could interpret without misunderstanding?
Matt) Oooh, that is a good question, Jeremy luckily likes my style and believed I would make for a good DP for this project.
Therefore, that helps! Jeremy also had a few overheads and shot lists prepped, so I could easily interpret them. Storyboards would be nice. A lot of the pre-pro work really helped me understand Jeremy’s vision since I am not great in interpreting verbal stuff. Nevertheless, in the end, Jeremy and I loved the stuff we got! I would say the biggest difficulty was not having a real roof above us ha-ha alternatively being confined to shooting almost 30 pages in just 3 days.
I would have loved to mess with lighting some more since lighting is such a huge component in a film, but we have some great stuff anyway.
James) That is a good thing then that you two had a good way of understanding each other visions and wants when shooting Melbourne,
The Cinematographer has a huge influence over many of the working practices in a film: it is his or her responsibility to continue to serve both Production and the Director in the best possible way how much input did you have in the end product of Melbourne?
Matt) How much input did I have.
Luckily, Jeremy is the type of director that likes to leave other jobs to the person of that position. He trusts me enough that I could have a say in how the lighting looks, or how the set looks, but I was also extremely open to his input.
James) Describe a typical week at working in Melbourne is it a full-time endeavour of one for the love and fits in around real life?
Matt) Ha-ha it is DEFINITELY a full-time job! I think I got the least amount of sleep during that production, waking up around 6 am and sleeping around 1 is or 2 am.
However, it is all worth it. To be able to wake up and work on something fun, to pursue a passion is worth any lack of sleep! Nevertheless, right, typical work week wake up and have breakfast. Never skip breakfast! Then head to the set (sometimes still eating breakfast). I like to start things with a goal, “What are we going to accomplish/how many scenes are we going to finish today?” Then as momentum picks up and we start shooting, the rest is history.
James) I have been lucky enough to speak to almost everyone involved within Melbourne, and I know it is something special and not quite, what we always see in fan films.
However, for yourself Why tell this story, what made you think you wanted to DP this fan film?
Matt) Jeremy was really passionate about this project, that’s a big reason why I wanted to be the DP.
Usually when I hear “fan film,” I instantly am turned off by the idea mostly because the people I imagined I would want fan service more than an actual film. Which, sure, let us have some fun to make fanservice videos? But if the intention of this project is to stand out, show people how good a filmmaker we are with a subject like Star Trek, then let’s not get carried away being fanboys/girls.
Jeremy was passionate about it and with him leading, I trusted his judgement and I am glad I did. In addition, the story that was written was dark for Star Trek, and I really dug that! Not saying it needed to be dark, but it was new. On top of that, I got to work with an amazing crew, most of which have never worked on a film set! Some were cosplayers, which helped.
James) This is what I hear from a lot of people I speak to on Melbourne, That the people involved are a great bunch this from my perspective is AMAZING! I tend to be turned off when I hear bad things from cast and crew.
Since we are on the topic of how Melbourne differs from other fan films, can you tell me more from your perspective about the story, and how Melbourne is different?
Matt) Melbourne’s extremely different from other fan films mostly because of the crew.
Jeremy and I have a film background, therefore, aimed to make a story that just so happened to take place in the ST universe. Jeremy has a lot planned for future episodes, some dark stuff that will really push the audience in a positive but shocking way.
Everyone on set was really excited to be there! Even my friend who was on set, who had never seen Star Trek, loved being there because of the attitude! Everyone who was there was passionate and wanted to make the best film we could produce.
James) Is Melbourne the only “Fan” film you have made, or have you any plans to make further fan productions after Melbourne?
Matt) Ha-ha funny how I said fan films have a negative connotation with me and yet here I am I have made a lightsaber fighting video when I was in middle school! Nevertheless, I would not count that as a fan “film.” I am in talks with one of the actors of Melbourne, Kristian, to make a Star Wars short film! That will happen around springtime.
James) Is that the only fan film you have planned.
Matt) I’d love to make a Mass Effect fan film!! A friend of mine and I wrote a pitch for it, and I am thinking about expanding it to do a full episodic series of it if I ever got the budget (and the rights).
That would happen way into the future, but it is a goal!
James) I love Mass Effect it is second on my list of all time Favourite series (yes I know it is not a series like Trek but playing all 3 games, I fell in love)
As a DP and Editor of Melbourne did, you find that getting the cast together when needed was an issue.
I do know that some do not live close by, how did you get everyone together when required?
Matt) LOTS of forwarding planning! The entire crew is made up of, err, well everyone around the US. Jeremy, Kristian, Reshelle, Justin, and I are from the Seattle area.
I know a few people are from Atlanta, some from Alabama. We are everywhere! Reshoots were not an option. A small story, we actually had 4 days to shoot the whole script, but I wanted that 4th day to be for any emergencies. We ended up meeting our goal in shooting everything in 3 days, and had the 4th day as a vacation!
James) So it really was all hands on deck when shooting then if no reshoots could be done this is impressive.
Matt) The only reshoot that was needed was done here in WA with Kristian luckily. However, that could have been on the 4th day easily.
James) A topic I ask people is about the new Fan film “Guidelines” and how they affected the shoot of their fan films, not a great topic but It is an important one nevertheless.
So did they influence you in any way being the DP/Editor of Melbourne?
Matt) Luckily for me, I was not that heavily influenced by the Fan Film Guidelines. I have only heard about what happened. Unfortunately, Jeremy and Vance were the ones that had to deal with the release. However, we managed to make it work still.
James) How do you feel about them? From your perspective, are they as “bad” as people make them out?
Matt) After Jeremy told me the story as to why there was a guideline, I was disappointed. I see why the franchise had to release the film to a certain degree, and hearing about how another fan production abused their rights, causing the guides to happen, I felt like an opportunity was lost. However, Jeremy has high hopes, which helped.
His and our goal was to show the Star Trek community that we could create an amazing film with the guidelines without a budget!
James) I would like to move on to and ask more about you and your history with Trek and your experiences with the fandom.
Therefore, easy question tells me about your history with Star Trek.
Matt) I grew up with the Star Trek movies (along with Star Wars mind you) and really loved them!
The Voyage Home was always a favourite of mine then, and still is to this date, next to First Contact! Star Trek means to me what I think the show intended, to be a better version of yourself. Be kind to everyone; collaborate with one another, to think about the better of everyone rather than being selfish. I think that is pretty cool.
James) The Voyage home tbh is up there with Final Frontier as my pet hates of Trek Movies lol, What about your favourite Star Trek series, easy to some hard for others since there have been as many series as there has been butter?
Matt) My favourite series would be either TNG or Voyager!
I watched all of Voyager when it was on TV, same for TNG. Deep Space 9 rather has a disadvantage since it was never on, but I am trying to catch up on Netflix. TNG was cool since it was another “exploration” show with some drama and cool sci-fi theories, while Voyager was different. That show still had some exploration stuff, but its end goal was different. It still felt like “Star Trek” even though the goal was different.
James) YES! Someone who likes Voyager lol, so many hate that series yet to me yes it was BAD! In the start but by the time Season 3 came about it found its footing and made me want more of it.
Ok, so what about your favourite Episode, so you have one?
Matt) My fave episode…I have a few, from the Voyager episode where 7of9 goes back and forth in time to stop Braxton, (I think that is his name).
Matt) But if I had to pick one; it would be the last episode of TNG, where Picard is being tested by Q while the episode takes place in three time periods. One, the whole three different time periods was cool, how they were connected.
Two, you can sort of place yourself in Picard’s shoes and ask yourself the same questions that Q had asked. It was an episode that made you think, and it was just enjoyable to watch. In addition, Lt Yar was back!
Ok so these are your favourites but what about the worst series and episode?
Matt) Worst series…I hear Enterprise is bad. I watched some of it, and it was all right. Cool ideas! I liked how it took place before the Federation! However, I did not watch it with my critiquing eyes.
James) Enterprise is really underrated I like it, But then I have yet to see anything “Official” Trek I hate (bar Into Darkness that film is BADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!)
What about your “worst” episode?
Matt) Worst episode…I am not sure, to be honest.
Any episode that bore me I guess. In addition, I do not mean, “It’s Star Trek, all of its boring” but I mean any episode that was boring ABC family drama stuff childish drama or yeah, just boring ones.
James) I get that I have many I will watch because it’s Trek but I will not go out of my way to repeat it unless I find myself binge watching the series or it is on TV.
James) Have you met any Trek Actors in real life?
Matt) I have not met any Star Trek actors in real life, unfortunately…
James) I am going to see a play with Sir Patrick Stewart in this weekend (http://www.nomanslandtheplay.com/) and I plan to find a way to meet him lol he is on my list of “must meet” Trek Royalty.
Moving on, what are your experiences with the Trek Fandom?
Tell me, what have been your best and worst experiences?
Matt) The best part of the fandom, I would say is the passionate fans! Everyone who is a fan that I have met was always so nice and had good morals, and was just fun people! Some of which, you would not expect to be fans.
I have not had any bad experiences myself, but I hear Trekkies are a bit “too” passionate sometimes, maybe obsessive. Nevertheless, who can blame them; some would say I am obsessive over Mass Effect. Maybe they smell bad at cons. Idk.
Someone compared them to being passionate sports fans, though less loud.
I would say the power rangers fan film starring Katee Sackhoff,
James) Do you watch other fan productions? What would you say are the best ones you have seen thus far?
Matt) Hmm, in no particular order,
James) That one was AMAZING!
Matt) There is an interactive Mass Effect fan video; there were two good Star Wars fan films! One was about Boba Fett, and another was about a surviving force user and a rebel pilot on vimeo!
James) Do you, have any you have seen that would come under the OMG how bad category?
Matt) For the worst…it is hard to judge. Firstly, I will say that I do not really have a list.
Maybe you can count that one person ((Alec Peters)) who ruined the ST community resulting in that guideline thing. ((Axanar)) It is hard to judge fan films since a lot of them come with different backgrounds; maybe some have a film background, but most just want to make a fun project.
James) Yeah when I saw Prelude I was in awe but now I cannot watch anything that has that man’s fingerprints anywhere near it.
Anyway, do you watch listen to other Star Trek Fan Productions?
Matt) Sorry…I have not watched or listened to hardly anything else…
James) We are moving into the last segment of the interview now but one last question regarding Fan Productions, Do you have any regrets doing Fan Films.
Matt) Nah, no regrets, I have learned a lot on this production! In addition, I hope the following films, fans films or original, are the same!
James) So with your experience in the “Film Industry” if you were to impart your wisdom on someone who wanted to:
Edit and become a DP in filmmaking and Make their Film. What would you tell them?
To edit and DP.
Know that they are two very different jobs. Both have artistic values, but for one, you are standing a lot and holding heavy expensive gear, while the other, you are lounging and sitting at a monitor.
Both take up hours to work on, though. If you want to direct DP, being an editor is actually a good route since you will see everything the crew captured, what they did not capture/wish they could capture. Editing is like deconstructing and reconstructing a film. You will learn the importance of pacing, how audio and visuals go hand in hand, and it is a good way to test your patience hehe.
For becoming a DP,
Try watching b-movies. Alternatively, study how films shoot their scenes deconstructs them. See how some directors will have a certain look to their stuff (Steven Spielberg compared to Ridley Scott compared to Edgar Wright compared to etc).
Also, note that lighting is key to good cinematography. You are shot is only as good as the amount of light hitting your camera’s sensor. Lastly, go out and practice. Notice how movies are shot and try them out you. Just keep your ego low enough for the director’s input if he wants something different.
James) Only a few Questions left what would you like to say if anything to the people who will be reading this?
Matt) To fans, I would like to say, you guys are awesome! I love how passionate you guys are, and hopefully, we’ll see each other at cons and screenings!
Always strive to be a better version of yourself! Also, I like the 2009 JJ Abrams movie, and Beyond! (Into Darkness was ‘meh’)
James) Lastly, Matt is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world. (The good, the bad, how you see the current world of fan productions)
Matt) I would like to say, keep things fun, be open minded, but stay focused as well. Do not make fan service videos (especially if you want to be a legit movie maker), unless you are not aiming for quality.
The worst movies are not the ones with crappy visuals or bad sound FX, but the ones lacking story and characters. That is the “bad” stuff (if you were to consider anything “bad”). However, if you are aiming for quality, you have a good story and characters, a dedicated crew; the product is always the best part! The film is art, but it is also a collaborative effort between people and mediums.
James) Well, Matt that is it, Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.
Matt) No problems, Let me know if there is anything else, I can do. In addition, thanks again for the opportunity!
That is a wrap to Part Two, tune in next week, “Same place and Time!”
Well if my Computer doesn’t decide to cost me yet another small fortune 😛 and break down on me.
Trekfanproductions has been lucky enough to team up with the Vance Major and the Cast and Crew of the fan film Melbourne to present your in-depth knowledge of the people behind the cameras and the actors involved.
We start our spotlight series with the Director and Co-writer of Melbourne Melbourne a new and exciting fan production from the production company called Stormshadow Studios, its owner Vance Major started in fan productions back in 2013 where he was just a volunteer at Starbase Studios.
“Jeremy Minard comes to Starbase Studios all the way from Washington State to deliver this fan film. A lifelong Star Trek fan, his knowledge of the camera and understanding of how things go are clearly shown on the screen.”
Vance Major, Executive Producer, Melbourne.
James) Hi, Jeremy Welcome and thank you for taking the time to sit down with me to answer some questions about Melbourne and share your experience in the world of filmmaking.
Tell me a bit about yourself
Jeremy) I work as an on-set sound guy working on getting more directing gigs that are where my passion is.
I am a geek so most anything geek related. I love to listen to music and I love to read. Some TV shows I like are Supergirl she is my favourite hero followed closely by the Shadow. I also love to watch expedition unknown and mysteries of the museum Agents of Shield is good too.
I play some Trek Games they are Trek online but it has been awhile since I have played it though LOL. One of my favourite Trek games is Armada that was a blast to play
James) You mentioned that you have experience in Screenwriting and Directing, I would like to start the interview by focusing on your filmmaking experience.
When did you realise you wanted to become a screenwriter? In addition, can you tell me what experience you have in script writing?
Jeremy) I really don’t want to be a scriptwriter per se, I do have several scripts that I have written and want to film but it’s not my goal in life it’s more of an if I have something to write, I’ll write it.
I started out at my church writing stupid little skits then I wanted to make them improved and wound up writing three plays. With each script, I write I get better at it, which is a mark of an artist wanting to stretch and improve on your past works.
Maybe not on your past works but improve your craft and move past your current level
James) How many scripts would you say you have written and what would you say is key for contrasting a great character?
Jeremy) I have four scripts that were written and have been filmed I have 2 scripts ready to be shot, I that needs some re-working and 7 in my head that I need to write including five Melbourne episodes not including the three plays and several skits.
As far as making a great character, well do they feel real. Does what they say and what they do (which is what a character is) make sense for that character.
James) In your opinion, what would you say is the most enjoyable thing about screenwriting?
Jeremy) This might sounds a little weird but when it’s be filmed and people are watching it for the first time, I’m not paying attention to the screen I’m watching and listening to the audience, when they laugh when they are supposed to if all gasp at the same time and at the right time that is my crack!
That’s when I know they understand what I’m trying to show them I’m not really able to do that with the short we recently released called Hidden Fear and it’s kind of a bummer I don’t know how they reacted to the film when they watch it.
James) I think fear is one thing we all share when people like you or me do something that is put in the public eye, critics can be harsh and in some cases evil in what they say, I do find that even the worst critic can make you up your game if you are willing to that is. When writing your screenplays is, there anywhere you find easier to write than others do like a certain place or time.
Jeremy) Sometimes I’ll write when I’m taking my walk its quiet its calm I can be in the head thinking, then when I get home I write in my room sometimes with music sometimes without it, It just depends on the scene and what I need at the time.
James) What about certain times, I know so many writers who find certain times of the day harder to write than others do, when do you write.
Jeremy) I write in the afternoon to evening when I can I am a bit of a night Owl I am the most awake and inspired at that point alternatively when I am inspired. I have had several nights where I am up writing at two in the morning because I have my inspiration and direction and I will go for it!
James) That sounds like a good Idea, one thing I find hardest is to find the right time for myself, I get inspired sometimes when I am half asleep and I find it annoying lol When writing what gives you the most pleasure and what aspects of it do you find harder.
Jeremy) I would have to say one of the most pleasurable moments would be, being in the moment and constructing my world and the characters.
The most difficult parts sometimes you run into a problem, either the story starts to fall apart or you write yourself into a corner and have to find a way out. The hardest part if deleting my favourite scene, I was working on a Supergirl fan film and I had a super cute and fun scene it was my favourite one of the whole show. Nevertheless, after looking at it I realised it did not really serve the story it just did not fit, so I took it out, it sucked and I can use it as a promo later on but it was hard to kill that scene.
James) I agree, when I am in the “Zone” I find the words just flow. I do have to proofread what I write thou lol as sometimes I go off on a tangent and my words become nonsensical.
When you first started out, what were your main obstacles?
Jeremy) Sometimes, it is finding the motivation to sit down and write. Sometimes it is figuring out the story, what the story it is really about.
I have a film I want to make called Relentless. It is a person with a superpower that is electricity. Now it is not really about their superpower or what they do with it, that is just the wrapper of the story itself is about him being bullied so much he becomes the villain.
James) With the screenplays you have written, is there one you wish you had a chance to do over?
Jeremy) This is an easy one “The Heist” However, I am lucky on this one, we have not shot it yet so I can go back to it and fix it including that terrible name LOL.
James) Is there one screenplay you are most proud of?
Jeremy) So far the script I am the proudest of is Scent, it is an Original Indy film I had to stretch as a writer and I’ll have to stretch as a Director on that on. I am working on the budget for that one and we will be doing a Gofundme for it later on.
James) Is there any other writers that inspire you. In addition, what type of story excites you other than Star Trek or Superheroes?
Jeremy) Hmm, Writers I would say Joss Whedon, but other than him I don’t pay attention to other writers I have no idea who wrote some of my favourite shows, films, or games but when I get inspired from a show I go home and wind up throwing out my script and starting over from the ground up.
I love it when that happens I will watch a movie and sit there for a few minutes thinking about my script and I will say I can do better this is part of the reason why my Supergirl script is not complete yet.
As for the type of stories that excite me, it is interesting you brought up Star Trek, Star Trek is not a story it is a wrapper for the story. I love stories that make me invest in them, where they have some mystery or some sort of quest. Stories that make me fall in love with the character and make me want to take the journey with them.
James) Moving on to your history in Directing, when you look for a project what aspects do you find compelling, in addition, what would you say is the best thing about Directing a production?
Jeremy) When I look for something to direct, I lean towards something that talks to me, something that captures my attention and imagination. Reshelle sent me a short story, as I was reading it I could see all the shots the location everything that I wanted to make Hidden Fear.
As far as being a director, I Think the best part is working with some really awesome People, Like Matt if I can swing it I will have him shoot every film I make. I am very precise about who I work with, picking the wrong person can crash a production or make it very miserable. With Melbourne, most of the cast was already in place before I was attached while we had some recasting to do I think we picked the right group the chemistry between the actors and the crew was pretty amazing!
James) What is it that draws you to directing something?
Jeremy) Wow there is so much I love about directing, I love coming up with the camera angles. One place in Melbourne I was working a bridge scene and I disappointed in the way it was playing out very still nothing moving then a shot came to mind. I started giggling like a mad man (wait can you giggle like a mad man?) it was such a cool shot, then getting to the set and seeing it happen like I hoped it would it’s kind of like magic.
The other thing I love is the people I get to work with if I had to work with a bunch of Diva’s I would hate my job. But the people I get to work with are all in they want to make this film they want to do their best and if given the freedom they need to work they will give you ideas you don’t have to take them. Nevertheless, I would say a good chunk of them is good and sometimes even better than what I had come up with in the first place.
The best part is when the film is finished, I get to sit with people who have not seen it yet, and I get to watch their reactions that are the best.
James) When you are knees deep in a project, In your opinion what is the toughest challenge to make sure you get your work done in time?
Jeremy) There is always going to be people and problems standing in your way. Be it is a building manager not wanting you to shoot a scene in his building even if it, unfortunately, would be perfect for your film or an actor that has to drop out at the last minute or even money not being available when you hoped it would be. A broken promise of a set that was supposed to build that was not. These normal things happen the question is will your attitude stop you, or are you going to keep pushing through it.
James) With today’s life becoming more and more focused on social media interactions, how important would you say it has become to use things like Facebook or Twitter to promote your upcoming work?
Jeremy) It’s super important if I don’t have an audience to watch what we do then what’s the point it’ll just sit there on YouTube not getting any views it the only way at the moment where we can get out stuff advertised.
It is also the best way for us to help raise funds to keep making films the team I work with have been pretty amazing and to keep them around. I want to start raising money to pay them they are trained pros and should be paid, But none of it happens without social media and the audience who sees the films!
James) Just a few more questions about Directing then I would like to move on to your participation in Melbourne.
For someone like me, an “outsider” what would you think would be a big surprise about directing?
Jeremy) I am not sure what would be the biggest surprise, In Ron’s interview that he did for Melbourne he was surprised that we did not shoot in order of the script.
James) I have to admit when I found that out myself, I found it perplexing and not to mention it is not only the order of the shoot but the fact in TV you can sometimes be shooting scenes from other episodes. That for me was a big erm OK lol.
Since you started out in the “business” what would you say, has been a big change in directing?
Jeremy) The biggest change I am seeing now is VR stuff that is coming out I am seeing more and more posts looking for people who can shoot that.
James) Lastly, what do you feel that in the industry is missing in today’s world?
Jeremy) Depending on what level of entertainment you are looking at if you are looking at Hollywood, I think a good story is what is missing. They tend to rely on big explosions and fancy effects, At the Indy level all we have is a story they may not look as pretty as what the big studios put out, but we do not have the money to dump into it as they do.
James) So, moving on to Melbourne, Being the Co-Writer and Director of Melbourne was this an easy task or did you find the roles lead to many challenges in making things fit from script to film?
Jeremy) So the cool thing about writing and Directing is I know the vision I had when writing so it was really easy to shoot what I had written. Sometimes though things work better in my head than they do in actual practice, that’s an easy fix when I walked on the set I just had to tweak a few things.
James) Describe your role in Melbourne how does a typical shoot played out from your Perspective?
Jeremy) As the writer Vance and I worked on the characters and their arcs. Then after that, I started to write the script coming up with the scenes that move the story forward.
As the Director, I get to plan all the movement where I want the actors to stand and where they move and I get to plan the camera angles and moves. But it always good to listen to your people sometimes they come up with a shot that’s better or the actor moves at a different time than you wanted but it looks better than when you had planned. Sometimes it is better and sometimes it is not you, you just have to give it a fair chance to see if fits your vision or not.
James) Did you and Vance have any issues writing the script?
Jeremy) Not to many problems we took a 3-month break from our script to help another fan film polish theirs which they didn’t use, so that was annoying and wasted time that we could have used on our own production.
The other problem that came up was getting a scene to fit, that might take me a couple of days mulling it over in my head, sometimes it a minor tweak to fix sometimes the scene would need a major re-write and sometimes it needed to be deleted and start again from the beginning to make it work.
James) What research did you carry out in the preparation for writing the Melbourne script, what challenges and responsibilities did this present in making it something unique and not a carbon copy of something else?
Jeremy) Growing up with Star Trek I did not have to do a lot of research for that when talking to Kristjan about how we wanted a ship to look we needed to find reference pics for him.
For when we do our transporter effect we’ll give Matt our editor a clip to show him which one we want, now for episode 2 I’m looking up some Starfleet General Orders for a little guidance for one of our characters.
James) Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story, and how it is different from other Fan Productions?
Jeremy) One thing we wanted to tell a good story and put it into a Star Trek wrapper. We also wanted a more realistic take on Trek bad things to happen to good people and sometimes you just can’t fix it sometimes you just have to deal with the consequences and sometimes people get hurt in the process!.
James) Who did the makeup and wardrobe for Melbourne, did they capture the look you had in mind?
Jeremy) Nate Bright and Daniel Craft did our makeup and Chrissie Harvey did the Starfleet uniforms and Kristjan ( Our Villain) made his one costume for the uniforms there were pre-established so no problem there.
With Kristjan’s we had a basic concept of what we wanted and didn’t want but in this case, we just left it up to him he took what we had and ran with it I got to say I love what he came up with. now for the makeup we knew what we wanted and we told Nate and he gave us some other ideas that we are going to use, He and Vance went back and forth on it for a while throwing ideas back and forth till we came up with what we had. That is the biggest reason why this production succeeded teamwork if any of us said no it is my way or the highway you will wind up burning your production down around you.
James) Tell me one thing that stands out for you during your time Directing Melbourne?
Jeremy) On Melbourne, some of the actors have not acted before. The coolest thing was to see them grow right in from of you. From going from wooden and stiff to being relaxed and digging down deep and showing us what they were capable of it was amazing to watch that happen!
James) Did you have to alter much due to the release of the “Guidelines”?
Jeremy) No not really, for the most part, our story, and script remain intact there are a couple of places where we had to move a piece but we do not have to take them out, so for 99% of the story, we are good to go!
James) I have to ask as so many people shouted Doom or shut down their productions due to them, how do you feel about them were you angry and in your opinion do you think they are fair?
Jeremy) I was annoyed more than anything was, but it is their property and they have the right to say what happens with it, I am just glad we did not have to stop. We had planned on two episodes to make cliffhangers to hook people for the next episode, now we cannot do that, and that ok we can still do the scenes that we wanted to do it just will not take so long for the audience to see them.
As far as them being fair, the thing is they do own Star Trek and they can do whatever they want with it, I think it is very awesome of them to let us play with their toys.
James) So moving on to the last segment of the interview I would like to touch more on the subjects of what Trek means to you, how you see the fandom and what words of wisdom you would like to share with the people who will be reading this.
So what does Star Trek mean to you?
Jeremy) I watched Trek growing up before “The Next Generation” was a thing! It taught me that brains were better than brawn but sometimes you have to fight your way out of a situation.
James) What about your favourite series, I know it may be a bit of an ask due to there being five! Live action series and an animated one but….
Jeremy) That is a toss-up between Next Gen and Voyager (I know more hate LOL) I think Next Gen was my Star Trek something I could relate to a bit more it was a modern take on an old classic without destroying TOS and me kind of had a crush and Dr Crusher.
James) What about your least favourite series?
Jeremy) To be honest, this one is hard I enjoy them all I am not sure if I could choose a “worse” series.
James) OK then name your best and worst episodes
Jeremy) Favourite episode has to be “Trials and Tribulations,” they did such a good job recreating the TOS world and bringing the DS9 characters in it. I loved the story and the humour that was in it.
Worst episode hmm, “Inner Light” that will probably get me a tonne of hate LOL it was ok but I think it was overplayed every time there was a marathon it was on I just started to hate it.
James) I am not sure I can agree on your worst episode, although it is not one of my faves it is not as bad as some of season 1 TNG or season 1 of Voyager lol or even the entire 3rd season of TOS lol.
Have you met any Trek Royalty (Actors) as I call them?
Jeremy) I was able to meet Walter Koeing at a Comic-con a couple of years ago not for long just long enough to get my picture taken with him.
James) I find conventions a bit of meh in regards to the picture taken aspect it is like a conveyor belt I find that a lot of money for something like that, yes I could be called a cheapskate lol butt…
In regards to other fan productions, I tend to think of the fan community as a family as such do you watch or listen to anything else?
Jeremy) I Don’t really watch fan films, to be honest, I have seen a few episodes here and there of Valiant, Dominion, Grissom, Exeter, Romulan Wars. I have been meaning to watch Farragut though.
James) Out of the ones, you have seen do you have any ones that stick out to you as ones you would recommend to others?
Jeremy) Out of what I have seen I think Valiant and Exeter were the better ones. However, when I watch other fan films it is hard for me to watch them a fan and not a filmmaker.
Usually, something takes me out of the moment early on in the film. normal its audio quality or a bad cut, it throws me out of the moment, and instead of watching as an audience member I’m watching as a filmmaker at the end of the day, they made a film whether it’s good or bad they started and finished a film you would be surprised how many films don’t get finished.
James) What would you say is the best and worst bits of the fandom in your eyes?
Jeremy) I think my favourite parts of the fandom is just sharing the passion with people I have never met being able to go to comic con and say I love your take on the uniform and not be looked at like I’m weird LOL
As far as the worst bits, for me, that would be, The Jackasses that have! To be right all the time whether they are or not. Or even the guy that jumps all over the smallest inaccuracy I once said that Shatner was the last minute replacement as in Hunter was cast in another show and they needed to find someone new, not as in they went outside and grabbed the first person they found and stuffed him into the captain’s uniform. He rather flipped out it was stupid, people like that just suck.
James) You will not get an argument from me there, I have had so many run-ins with people over the last year I have started to think that certain aspects of the fandom are so toxic it’s so sad.
We are moving into the last section of the interview and I would like to ask you what words of wisdom you would give others in things like acting, directing and writing their own scripts.
Therefore, what advice would you give to someone wanting to start acting or starting his or her own production?
Jeremy) I cannot stress this enough write your script first, do not waste your time getting actors and crew first I see so many fan film doing it that way and then wonder why half their cast disappears.
In addition, do not forget that star trek is not a story it is a wrapper, do not be so wrapped up in making trek you do not have a story that people want to watch!
Remember that Acting is recreating emotion if you are in a scene that you need to be angry in, replay in your head a moment when you were that angry then do the scene, acting looks bad on the camera you have to recreate.
James) What about following your example and becoming a screenwriter or director?
Jeremy) So to be a good writer there are some things you can do watch movies to help learn story structure. Read film scripts they will not only help you learn story structure it’ll also help you learn script formatting!!
Directing is so much more than telling the actors where to stand and the camera placement. You have to know how to talk to your actors, if you talk to them wrong they have a tendency to shut down and not give you their best, you have to earn their trust so you can pull out a great performance and make them look good. also remember that you tell just as much of a story with the camera as you do with your actors, but you have to know what the camera movement means and how it affects your audience.
James) OK random question, Time travel is a reality and you had one bit of advice to give your younger self, what advice would that be when starting out in the world of filmmaking?
Jeremy) Get into film sooner you are going to love it you will not feel like you are wasting your life on other jobs.
James) Excellent 😀
So, Jeremy, we are at the end of the interview, Is there anything else you would like to tell everyone from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world?
Jeremy) The funny thing is I am into the Indy scene I work professionally in the film industry. I am only making six episodes because I do not want to be known as the fan film guy.
I have several films that I hope our fans will like and support as we move forward into content that is more original. Here is what I have seen from the fan film’s they, for the most part, all feel the same the look the same they sound the same.
That is part of the reason I really don’t follow them too closely I see a post that says watch my new film and I’m like why it looks just like everyone else’s there is nothing that draws me in and makes me say I want to see this.
There is a fan film out right now that I had high hopes in but they are so wrapped up in 3rd season TOS they won’t make a story like that would grab my attention. It is somewhat sad to me they could do something amazing but it is not TOS so they will not do it, and they will continue to look like everyone else. I hope that the fan film will learn how to be better filmmakers and make better films; stretch themselves really explore the stories and the characters and do something amazing.
James) Well Jeremy, that is it, I would like to thank you for your time in answering my questions and sharing your knowledge with me I cannot express how much this means to me.
Jeremy) You are very welcome!
Well, that was part one of the Melbourne Files.
The next part will feature Matt Esteron the DP and Editor of Melbourne.
In the meantime check out the trailer for Melbourne below and keep an eye out for the next part.