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 on-line 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 tossup 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.