Dreadnought Dominion is set just after the third season of the original series set on a Federation-class starship that was originally seen on a display in the Starfleet Academy‘s training simulation in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The display was a page pulled directly from Franz Joseph‘s Star Fleet Technical Manual.
Its unique style not only makes this series a breath of fresh air from the standard TOS series based upon a Constitution ship but also original in its concept using a non-conical ship.
This new series chronicles the voyages of the U.S.S. Dominion NCC-2115 and her crew, commanded by Commodore Samuel Tobias Grissom, later by Captain Jason Brousseau. The mission is one of deep space exploration, visiting Earth colonies, patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone, and the first contact with new civilisations.
Dreadnought Dominion has also been a part of a recent crossover with Starship Valiant in a short written and directed in a joint venture with Gary Davis and Vance Major of Starship Valiant and Vance’ own series Melbourne If you haven’t seen the short yet check it out HERE.
Through a mutual friend, Gary Davis reached out to me recently to ask if I would be interested in finding out more about Dreadnought Dominion, Of course, I jumped at the chance not only to find out myself more around this exciting series but also to get to know more about Gary himself.
James) Hi, Gary Thank you very much for this opportunity, not only to talk about Dreadnought Dominion but also to let me get to know you as a person better I would really like you to tell me a bit about yourself what you do in life.
I want to start getting to know what Trek means to you and your history with the franchise I think it is important to know why you decided to move into Star Trek Fan Productions.
Gary, What does Star Trek mean to you, do you have a favourite episode or series?
Gary) WOW. That is like asking which is my favourite child! If I had! To pick ONE, I would be “The City on the Edge of Forever.” This episode is like most Classic Star Trek episodes. It is a story that is character and story driven. It has a lot to think about which was what attracted me to Star Trek the Original Series, to begin with, it was not mindless “stuff” for an hour… You watch it, then watched it again and went “Ohhh. THAT is what that was about.”
This story of friendship, Kirk and Spock crossing time itself to help a friend, Kirk falling in love, yet not only have to give up that love but allow her to DIE for the greater good, and the timeline he knew.. Was POWERFUL. The Guardian of Forever was just a mind-blowing concept, to say the least. I also, NOW as an adult who has done filmmaking, respect HOW that episode was made without a great deal of “stuff,” but rather focusing on story, characters, and drama.
James) That episode is one of my favourites as well, It really makes you think about what IF you had to choose between the one you love or the greater need of others. Do you have a less favourite episode I have one or two but everyone is different, I am interested in what yours would be.
Gary) ACK. Again, like asking WHICH one of my kids behave the worst! I would have to say “Spock’s Brain”.
James) HAHA I was thinking you might say that I am yet to find anyone! Who likes that episode; it seems to be the fan favourite that has been named the worst episode in the TOS by almost everyone I have spoken to about TOS.
Gary) The concept of the whole thing was just ludicrous. Brain surgery to remove Spock’s brain, and not a hair out-of-place. Put it back… check… HAIR intact… Beyond that… There was no heart in that episode. It seemed to be something that they just had… Then they filmed it and put it out.
James) It really is one of them episodes that you watch and when it ends you’re like WTF!, Dominion is set in TOS is this your favourite time for Trek?
Gary) I would have to go with what started it all. Star Trek: The Original Series. Who does not remember their first love with great fondness? It is what got me started. and now that the series focusing on the 24th century as well as the prequel 22nd-century Enterprise are gone, I found my way back to the Original Series and am now MAKING fan productions in that venue.
The Original Series just has it all, and the folks who made it did it with heart, souls and more.
James) With your love for TOS, do you have a series you do not hate but rank the worst that the rest?
Gary) OH, That is HARD. I love all my children. Err. Star Trek series I dislike…
If I had to rank them to where I say this one is my least favourite, it’d have to be Deep Space Nine. While I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the series, I just enjoyed TOS, TNG, VOY, and Enterprise a LITTLE more…
James) You like Star Trek series’ Do you ever play any Star Trek Games?
Gary) Oh… to have time to play games!
Ack.. I used to play anything that came out back in the day. Now, I am excessively busy “making Star Trek” as our director of our second production “Haunted” kept saying when we shot a truly satisfying take. The rest of my time is taken with work and family.
James) I get that, sometimes I binge on STO or Timelines but now I am way too busy to play anything. Other than Star Trek, what other TV shows you watch like B5, Walking Dead, and the Flash.
Gary) I enjoy those shows as well as anything that is good Sci-Fi. Time Travel shows are especially interesting to me.
I am trying to get into “Timeless” on NBC. All the CW Superhero shows. And I’m a sucker for a tried the tried and true Police, Fire and Hospital dramas. I joke to the wife that we spend Mon-Tue-Wed-Thur night on CW-watching all the Superhero shows. as well as on NBC watching all the “Chicago” series of shows, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med.
They just need to get Chicago Law off the ground, and then they will have a weekday “four” as well!
James) Sounds a lot like me, I love crime dramas even if they are a little obvious in their outcome lol.
Lastly in what I call the “get to know you” section have you ever had the chance in real life to meet any of your Trek idols?
Gary) I was fortunate to live in Florida during the 90’s during the “hey-days” of Star Trek conventions. I worked security for Creation Conventions as well as the Vulcans that frequented the south during the 90’s.
I got to meet Marina Sirtis, Jonathan Frakes, George Takei, the first lady of Star Trek, Majel Barrett, James Doohan, Terry Farrell, Ethan Phillips and René Auberjonois, who schooled us on how to pronounce his name. He joked its pronounced just how it is spelt!.
JUST recently, I got to meet Nana Visitor at a convention where our Dreadnought Dominion episode was featured in a film festival, DOUBLE treat there…
James) OK so you have met way more than me lol, and I am a tad jealous 😛
James) So moving on now, I want to know about Dreadnought Dominion and some history about your experience in the Film-making world.
I am going to start with the obvious one, what is your history in filmmaking?
Gary) I started out with Fan Films in 2014. We journeyed down to Kingsland, GA to what was at the time, Farragut Studios to film a short film, then a little longer one. I was just acting in these two productions and that got me a taste of how things are “done” in filmmaking. Setting things up, lights, props, camera angles, the works.
It was REAL eye-opening and I was so glad to be just someone who could be there to ABSORB the “corporate knowledge” these folks had. Everyone, there was involved in the production of “Starship Farragut,” the director, the crew, and most of the cast had experience. I was a wide-eyed dough just amazed at being on the set in the first place. We had one day that lasted fourteen hours, and about SIX of those hours, I was in the Command Chair doing two different scenes. It was amazing…
James) Going to Farragut Studios did this allow you to use what you learnt there has this enabled you to bring that knowledge to Dominion?
Gary) Yes after we had shot all the footage, we needed an editor to help with the sound effects. I got my first experience in post production and helped with my now Dominion Media partner, David R. Wrenn, in placing sound effects and video editing. I even did some green screen placement of footage, which was a GREAT learning experience.
Eventually, over time, I have schooled myself in editing raw footage, placing dialogue, sound effects, video correction, and adding music to the footage. On our current production “Chain of Command,” my editing skills are tackling a new role, that of rendering CGI footage of the space scenes for a space station, and starships orbiting. We are fast becoming a totally in-house production company to include writing the scripts, shooting the production, post-production editing, then adding CGI graphics…
So literally, from inception to release, Dominion Media is handling it…
James) That is amazing and must cut down costs that would be involved outsourcing, it also allows you to really stamp the look you want on things.
For anyone who does not know, what is Dreadnought Dominion and how you got involved in the series?
Gary) I was approached to play the First Officer on Dreadnought Dominion by Frank Parker, the creator of the show. He also asked if I had any short stories that could be turned into a script for the first production.
I was an avid Star Trek short story writer in my high school and early Navy days, I had a story of a captain whose ship is devastated by an attack, and the ship has been repaired and ready to be re-launched. During their shakedown cruise, they encounter an alien ship, which turns out to be haunted. I called the story “Who Haunts This ship?”.
Frank took my short story and gave it to David R. Wrenn, who turned it into a script. The new script “Haunted” in the end, bore very little resemblance to the original story, but it served as a foundation for David to build on and he crafted a very good story!. When you look at both stories, I turned my original story into an “illustrated audio production.” When you watch both, you see the elements that they share. It is pretty cool!
James) With the exception of Dreadnought Dominion, how many Fan Films have you done or have planned to do?
Gary) I have done two “Dreadnought Dominion” episodes and this crossover with “Starship Valiant.” I am involved in an audio production called “Star Trek Outlaws” and I did my own Star Trek audio production using computerised voices. “Excalibur Logs”
James) The Dreadnought Dominion episodes how long are they?
Gary) We have done two episodes. One a “short,” the other a bit longer. We have since edited them together into a “Producer’s Cut” into one nearly 35-minute episode.
James) You mentioned you have done a Valiant crossover how far away is that episode from being seen?
Gary) We’ve completed and have now released our first crossover episode with “Starship Valiant”. called “Chain of Command”
James) Do you have any plans to do more cross over’s?
Gary) We have spoken to the producer of “Starship Saladin” and with two cast extras from the old “Starship Farragut” show who may come to our 2017 Dreadnought Dominion shoot and do a short crossover episode. It is exciting to see actors from other fan films. These folks paved the way for us to do what we are doing, and it is just great to appear on-screen along with them!
James) Speaking of the cast do they live close by or does it take a lot of forwarding planning to get everyone in one place?
Gary) Wow, We are ALL over the place I live in Columbus, OH. David Wrenn and a few other actors live in the Charlotte, NC area and folks in Jacksonville, FL.
It takes a GREAT deal of planning. We were fortunate that our first studio was in Kingsland, GA, which was a short distance away in Charlotte… The new studio we were going to shoot at is in Oklahoma City, OK, however, they are moving and we could now be possibly shooting in Arkansas!
James) Dreadnought Dominion is a totally different take on the TOS, why tell this story, what made you think of this instead of another “run of the mill” TOS series set on a Constitution class ship.
Gary) Well, I would love to be in any other “run of the mill” TOS fan film. However, not being in the “group,” or “clichés” that are out there, we just rather had to start our own.
I am by no stretch of the imagination an actor, so no invitations out there to be involved in any other production. However, with Dreadnought Dominion, it was a chance for a bunch of folks who had NO idea what they were doing to give it a go. We did have the GREAT fortune to have two VERY patient guys direct us amateurs in our two outings.
Scotty Whitehurst and Mike Bednar who were involved in Star Trek Continues, and Starship Farragut. They took a bunch of amateurs and again we were “making Star Trek.” I think the hardest job on the set is the director. They are there for EVERY take, every second of shooting. They are sort of like the pitcher on a baseball team, directing the play on the field from every angle. They are the cornerstone, the lynchpin that makes the magic…
James) From your perspective can you tell me more about the story, and how Dreadnought Dominion is different from other Fan Productions?
Gary) Well, Our one major difference is the class of ship that Frank Parker chose He chose the Dreadnought from the Franz Joseph Technical Manual published in the 70’s.
He also took a departure from most ST Fan Films and instead of “Starship Dominion”, he called it “Dreadnought Dominion”. What also set us apart was again, we are a bunch of amateurs, and learned things along the way with the help of some hand holding from those who had done this in the past.
The story itself is a multi-part story that deals with loss, rebirth, new relationships, and mystery. We do not know who attacked the ship in the first episode, it is finally revealed in the second, and we introduce another mystery that is developed for a third episode.
Now, the new guidelines for Star Trek fan films do not allow for “episodes,” so we are just doing “bite-sized” shorts for some elements of our story, and full-sized productions, which are self, contained, but each will “link” of sorts to the previous ones…
James) That is a great idea and one I think not many will think of, it enables you to continue to tell the story you wanted but within the guidelines. Bringing up the subject and it is one of contention with so many now.
When the “Fan Film Guidelines” were released did this change anything for you personally or for Dreadnought Dominions plans?
Gary) My resolve to make fan films did not change with the release of the guidelines…
While I feel they are slightly restrictive, I understand the need for some sort of guidelines to prevent abuse of the CBS/Paramount copyright. We are just thankful that we can still play in their sandbox.
James) So many are angry and being very vocal about them, Although I am yet to find anyone directly involved in the Fan Productions side of things feeling this way. How do you feel about them?
Gary) I was not angry at all, I was a little disappointed with some of the guidelines, especially the time limit and the fact that they were wanting to dissuade “episodes.”
It is tough with the guidelines, but that has not spoiled or dissuaded the ones who set their mind to things. I saw a lot of folks throw in the towel when the guidelines were released. They may have had other challenges that were standing in their way, and the guidelines were just the final straw that broke their back. To me, however, an obstacle is just something to go around, under, or over, not something that makes me turn around or just give up.
James) Like I said I have yet to find anyone who does not understand the reasons for them and seeing people just Quit made me think why? Yes, they are not great but they could have been so much worse.
James) Gary, tell me what a typical week working on Dominion is like, it is a full-time endeavour of one for the love and fits in around real life?
Gary) Oh wow, we have only shot twice and those were over long weekends we had to drive 14 hrs to the studio…The next day, we were in costume by 8 am and were shooting almost to 11 pm. THOSE were TIRING, but EXCITING days. Post-production takes a life of its own…
When I get home from my day job, I would spend a few hours before dinner editing footage, then some family time… Then back to editing before bed. That would be Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday, were work-a-thons throughout the day and into the night obsessing over the footage. Sometimes, I would spend hours focusing on mere minutes of footage to get it just right.
I am a detail person. I want every button to have a BEEP, every door to have the correctly timed WOOSH, every sound that wasn’t meant to be heard muted, and every word spoken clear as possible. Every bit of footage needs to use to its fullest, and the best angle for every actor used. It definitely is a labour of love.
James) What about costs, did it cost a lot to set up Dreadnought Dominion?
Gary) It helps when costs are spread over the cast and crew of the production. I personally invested several hundred dollars in travel, lodging, and food when I participate in a production, I have spent a great deal on costumes as well. I have costumes for myself and some for extras, again, though, it is great that everyone pitches in and no one person have to incur the total cost of producing the series…
James) With the new guidelines saying you can raise up to $50k per 15 mins have you ever tried crowdfunding to help with your costs?
Gary) We tried to do crowd funding, but we are not very well-known. We had some token donations, but we are just relying on self-funding for the future. It is just easier and a lot more fulfilling when we pay for things ourselves. That way we are not indebted to anyone and we are truly doing this out of love for the show.
James) That is, on one hand, a shame that you have not been able to offset the costs from donations but on the other hand, I think it shows just how much you guys LOVE doing what you do.
James) So moving on to more of the, behind the scenes of Dreadnought Dominion. I would like to ask some questions about things like Wardrobe, Makeup etc.
Who writes the scripts?
Gary) David R. Wrenn writes our episodes, he is a very talented writer. For our upcoming crossover episode with “Starship Valiant,” I needed some dialogue written for my character as well as David’s. I asked him on a Monday I had four pages of script on that Tuesday, and he shot it against a green screen and was emailing it to me on Wednesday! That shows you his dedication to his art and his work ethic. Simply amazing…
James) WOW! That is dedication, how long does it normally take him to complete one?
Gary) David seems to have the next four episodes already written! I cannot speak for how long it took him to do write them. However, As It did not take long to do four pages. In addition, he is amazing on rewrites, reworks, and changes. Very quick and the end result is not rushed.
James) Who does the makeup and wardrobe?
Gary) Our first productions, we had the service of a makeup lady who worked at Farragut Studios. She made us all look beautiful for the camera.
We also had the great fortune to have John Broughton from “Starship Farragut’ makes many of the uniforms himself for our production. I can’t say enough good things about “Starship Farragut” They not only let us into their “home”, their studio, to shoot our production, but they gave of their free time, lent us their years of experience, and made us feel downright welcome to play in their sandbox to make our show.
James) I have had nothing but good interactions with the guys from Farragut, Jon is a good man and very straight forward which is what I like about him.
Whom does your camera work?
Gary) Again, we had the use of talented folks at Farragut Studios lend us their expertise and we had FIRST rate camera experience.
The director of our first episode served as the Director of Photography for our second longer episode. While the acting may not have been first-rate, the footage, in the word of the editor who put it together, “looked gorgeous.” The camera work and those sets made us shine so much that folks were able to look past our imperfections in our performance.
James) So have you ever shot on location?
Gary) We shot in Kingsland, GA at what was Farragut Studios at the time. We also just filmed our crossover episode with “Starship Valiant” in Columbus, OH, Charlotte, NC, of course in Oklahoma City, OK.
We have some pickup shots that were taken in other locations so this will be a truly varied geographical shoot for this latest episode…
James) What has been your favourite Episode to shoot?
Gary) The second one, we weren’t afraid of our own shadows as we were on our first episode. We were much more comfortable in the skins of our characters, we were able to remember our lines, act more natural, and we had much more fun!
James) When you have shot the episodes and then edited, do you watch your own complete episodes after?
Gary) OH yes, I watch them before they are released repeatedly to catch any “errors” or things that I can correct prior to release. After release, I will watch them again to agonised over what I did not fix and to vow to do better in future episodes.
James) OK, we are almost running out of time, so moving on to the last set of questions.
Being in the Fan Film world, do you watch any of the other series out there?
Gary) I watch Star Trek Continues and when they were still making them Star Trek Phase II/New Voyages and Starship Farragut.
I also am looking forward to more Starship Valiant and the release of Melbourne, a production that we share a Producer with, Vance Majors.
James) Do you a Top 5, there are so many fan series out there, but it is something I ask many people, mainly because I have a curious nature.
- Star Trek Continues
- Starship Farragut
- Star Trek Phase II/New Voyages
- Starship Valiant
- Dreadnought Dominion (of course)!
James) Some people, like to label some fan films who are not on par with the big hitters the “Worst” of them all how would you respond to that.
Gary) Worst? There are some that are not as “good” as others are, but I would never slam someone else’s creativity.
While some are not up to par with Star Trek Continues or Starship Farragut, the makers of fan films put their heart and soul, and most of the time, their own wallets, into producing a fan film and want nothing more than to offer it free for all to enjoy. It takes a special kind of crazy person… err kind-hearted soul :-D To put themselves on the line like that.
We want nothing more than to entertain. We do not want money, or awards, or accolades, we just want to share our vision of Star Trek and let others enjoy it. I often read the remarks from left by others who watch fan films and while it may not be their cup of tea, the feel the need to criticise with some comments that are just plain hurtful. I subscribe to the “Thumper” philosophy… if you do not have something nice to say, do not say anything at all.
James) I agree some people just tend to slam things without giving the good, the bad, and the ugly of it. Calling something the worst or crap is not helpful or even tbh a nice way of saying they do not like them.
We have covered what Fan Films/Series you watch what other Star Trek fan productions do you watch/listen to etc (podcasts, YouTube shows etc)
Gary) I just have time for few Star Trek shows out there. I just finished “Federation Files: His Name is Mudd” by another very talented producer, Glen Wolfe. GOOD STUFF!
James) in your experience not just as a fan film producer but also as a fan what do you think is the best part of our fandom?
Gary) My favourite parts of Trek Fandom are just the fans themselves.
I have been involved in two major fan clubs over the years; I was part of fandom to meet like-minded folks. I started my own Star Trek club some years after getting into fandom. I was the president for a decade! It taught me a lot about how to deal with people, problems, and be part of an organisation with the goal of providing something for all to enjoy.
James) Have you ever had any bad experiences with fellow Star Trek fans?
Gary) Just like my favourite part is the fans, the worst part is the other side of the coin, those folks who forget what Star Trek is about, the dream of Gene Roddenberry. His vision of a near utopian level society where it’s OKAY to be different.
The philosophy of IDIC, the Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. I mean … wow. being a Star Trek fan makes us different on a common level, to begin with. However, there are those in fandom that seems to bring out the worst in folks and they bring aboard the attitudes that we wish to escape when enjoying Star Trek. I imagine it’s basic human nature to conflict, and those elements of fandom who just thrive on trying to belittle others in order to elevate themselves, to make themselves feel better by making others feel worse. THAT is what I dislike above all.
James) Is there anything you would like to say to the fandom?
Gary) NEVER CHANGE. ENJOY what you want, keep the dream ALIVE!
James) One thing I have found this year is that many fans (not ALL) but many tend to just be nasty and that honestly makes me angry but also really sad, Trek means so much to everyone but when Fans act this way I just think “you do not get it”
James) Anyway lol moving on… Do you have any regrets in doing Fan Films?
Gary) NONE. Absolutely NONE. I wouldn’t trade a MINUTE of the time I’ve invested.
If I never get to make another film, I will have the moments I spent on my first endeavours and have them to enjoy always…
James) What advice would you give to someone who was considering entering the fan film world?
Gary) Listen to those who came before you. Talk to those who come after you. Never think you are better than anyone else is, and never let anyone tell you that you NOT to follow your dreams.
Be prepared for everything to be your fault, and nothing right will be your victory. Just shrug your shoulders and have FUN. Depend on yourself and your friends, no one else can help you achieve what you want. Keep striving. Keep reaching.
James) What about someone thinking I want to act in a Fan Film?
Gary) TRY IT. It is FUN! It’s HARD work and you may look SILLY doing it but HAVE FUN, BE SILLY.
James) Lastly Gary is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective of someone involved in the fan film world?
Gary) For those who want to continue or start fan films. All I can say is watch other fan films, learn from them, ask questions, and ask for opinions. Take all of that, sprinkle in your own experience in whatever background you have, stir well, bake it for a while, and what you will have may not be the best you’ve ever seen, but it will be YOURS, it will be an effort that no one can take away from you.
Sometimes the journey is the best part of a trip, not the destination. The friendships you make, the experiences you gain are the reward. In the end, your product may also surprise you and you make one, two, or a hundred folks enjoy it, and THEN. You have arrived, you have made something that not only you enjoy, but they do as well.
James) Gary I thank you for your time and I am so honoured to have this chance to speak to you about Dreadnought Dominion but also the opportunity to get to know you better.