The Fan Film Guidelines Breakdown – Part One

It has been nearly a year since the release of the vaunted “Fan Film Guidelines” and it has taken time for many to be able to fully digest them and dissect them enough to understand what they may mean for fan films.  Furthermore, personally I wanted to understand what the fallout was from them, was this the end to ALL fan films or was this just a hiccup and then things would carry on as normal but with some alterations.  As history has presented us with all big changes to the status quo the landscape does change and there are always some casualties, as a result of their implementation a few fan films decided to shut up shop or retool to remove the Star Trek aspect altogether, however for the vast majority things carried on but as expected they had to alter things to enable the productions to move forward.

From the “about section” of Project Small Access

However, unlike the Borg some fans did not adapt and as a result a very small yet vocal group of fans have banded together to express their dislike for the guidelines, on the same day the guidelines were announced a group on Facebook calling themselves “Project Small Access” popped up with the goal to semi-boycott the new Star Trek series due to air on CBS All Access, they plan to achieve this by hosting “Viewing Parties” to hurt CBS “in the wallet”.

Admins and Moderators Of “Project Small Access”

Nevertheless after looking through the group seeing it’s Admins and reading its post history the group seems to be just another Axanar group due to the Admins being Axanar’ PR rep Mike Bawden, Known Axanar Surrogate Jonathan Lane who is joined by three other very loyal Axanar supporters but the strong pro Axanar vibe you get from its posts it is clear to see that there is an ulterior motive to the group and its goals. the timing of the group’s appearance is extremely suspect as not only is the group run completely by loyal Axanar supporters its inception was less than six months into the Axanar lawsuit.

An example of the hate directed towards CBS

Although the group started out with a somewhat ill-advised ethos in thinking that a disgruntled group of supposed fans (less than 1300) could try to somewhat hold CBS to ransom with the notion that they could influence change to the guidelines by using the tactics they use or they will not sub to All Access is misguided at best, diluted at worst. However, the worst thing is the group now stands, for the most part, as a group that has just descended into a free for all of venom towards other big named fan film productions and a strong dislike towards CBS in general, this is not only worrying but it tarnishes what Star Trek is all about, the acceptance of all things and the ability to adapt and change. Alongside this worrying facebook group there have been several petitions set up and a lot of extremely vocal folk saying on social media saying they will boycott all officially sanctioned CBS work or even pirate it as a result of the guidelines.

So enquiring minds want to know why have the guidelines been met with a very small but strong vocal opposition by fans and not by the fan films themselves, The answer is anyone guess, to date I have spoken to over 60 independent fan film productions about this and other fan production related issues and, while all of them have their own views on the guidelines varying from they love them too, they hate them, one fact that is undeniable is they all respect the need for them and more importantly respect CBS as they own the Star Trek IP and belongs to them so it is up to them how to they choose to protect it. But here is the thing, these guidelines are here to stay and they are not going to change or even go away overnight, and as it stands we have to work with them and show CBS we can play by the rules.

One thing that was passed along to me in so many conversations is until CBS handed them down, no one had any real idea of the boundaries that were acceptable to CBS for a production to operate within, before the guidelines there had always been the “unwritten” rules that pretty much everyone followed and many knew but unfortunately things started to escalate to the point even these unwritten rules were being ignored by a few and by one in particular. It took one production to push CBS & Paramount to the breaking point of what is acceptable even to them and with this the good old days of semi-unrestricted fan film production into the ground to a halt.

So why a blog series about the guidelines

Well, the principal reason I decided to do this is that almost everything you see online regarding them is so negative and, to be honest depressing, YES! They changed the playing field for fan films, but did they kill them NO! And that is important to communicate not only to whoever wants to read this blog series. So with the negativity and calls for action that surrounds the guidelines, I reached out to some fan film producers of varied experiences to see if they would like to take part in forming these blogs with their own views and commentary, I was extremely honoured and excited that the guys I reached out to decided to accept and have their voice added to these blogs. One key thing we all felt is it is very important to share our knowledge with the next gen of fan films.

These blogs will be split into sections as not to overwhelm you all at once and will be released as and when we have pulled our resources together for each section.

So this is part one of what may! Be ten parts, WHY? Ten parts the idea of these blogs is to break these guidelines down in an easy how-to for ALL fans to be able to make their own fan films without the all the negativity and misunderstanding and that is why I have teamed up with various people from different fan productions as these are the people who know more than others on what is involved in bringing a fan film to life.  

It should be noted the Fan Film Guidelines DO NOT effect anything but Fan Films, this means Audios dramas and alike are not bound by them.

CBS and Paramount Pictures are big believers in reasonable fan fiction and fan creativity, and, in particular, want amateur fan filmmakers to showcase their passion for Star Trek.  Therefore, CBS and Paramount Pictures will not object to, or take legal action against, Star Trek fan productions that are non-professional and amateur and meet the following guidelines.

Guidelines for Avoiding Objections:

1) The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.  

RANDY LANDERS – Potemkin Pictures

  • What is your interpretation of this guideline?

A single, self-contained story cannot exceed 15 mins or 2 15 min segments.  It does NOT prohibit characters or setting from being used to create another single, self-contained story.

  • Do you think that you can make follow up episodes as long as they are “self-contained stories” and not “part 2 or 3” of the same story?

We no longer can refer to them as episodes. They are fan productions. Captain Walker and the crew of the Tristan can appear in any number of self-contained stories/productions providing that they’re not more than 15 mins in length (or two 15 segments).

  • Are there any links you think would be of benefit to add to this section such as lists to strong short stories or links on “how to make a short in 15 – 30 mins”

Only 4 of our 48 productions to date are more than 15 mins in length.  You have to be willing to avoid “beauty shots” or lingering on a character’s reaction or melodramatic pauses. Life doesn’t include those anyway. You don’t have to start the story in the beginning. Start it in the middle and let the audience figure it out. For heaven’s sake, they’re not stupid.

I’d recommend not relying on the two-parter as a crutch. Give us a short story!

Nick Cook – Intrepid

  • What is your interpretation of this guideline?

I think this is very intentionally worded to prevent people trying to market themselves as a series. That said, I also think there’s some room for interpretation. The time limits are pretty black and white but there’s nothing that specifically precludes using recurring settings and characters, as long as you’re not doing story arcs or direct sequels.

  • Do you think that you can make follow up episodes as long as they are “self-contained stories” and not “part 2 or 3” of the same story?

Yes, I do. See above.

  • Are there any links you think would be of benefit to add to this section such as lists to strong short stories or links on “how to make a short in 15 – 30 mins”

Not specifically, but I think if you look at the films Randy Landers’ Potemkin Pictures are producing, or the last couple of films we’ve released, you’ll get a fair idea of what appears to be tolerated. Which is not to say that couldn’t change.

Vance MajorMelbourne

  • What is your interpretation of this guideline?

Well, honestly I’ve already played the same character over several shorts, and no one’s come knocking at my door or taken down my films. I think ppl can look at the things I’m doing and see that what little bending I am doing is in good faith, these are just guidelines, not rules. It’s the spirit of the law, not the letter. Hell, it’s not even law, like I said it’s a guideline.

  • Do you think that you can make follow up episodes as long as they are “self-contained stories” and not “part 2 or 3” of the same story?

If they are made with passion. You watch um, no one’s going to mistake what I do for what’s on tv or compete with the big guns. If they do, they don’t get out much lol but I do bend that rule to some degree while respecting it somewhat. I had an idea when I started doing my stuff and I’m compromising on it because it is not my franchise. However, it’s my time to do with it how I choose. So I can compromise to some degree and respect the guidelines. But as I said, no one’s going to mistake me for what CBS is doing. And I think I have been very creative with the things I’ve put out, and what I’m waiting to put out. So….spirit of what’s intended. Even if not the letter.

Justin Burton – Former member of the Lexington production. 

  • What is your interpretation of this guideline?

Just exactly that, however, I would allow for a 30-second intro that would lead into the opening act.  Most Tv shows do not carry long intros anymore

  • Do you think that you can make follow up episodes as long as they are “self-contained stories” and not “part 2 or 3” of the same story?

Yes, But you have to follow the formula exactly and not make it look like a story arc.

Ray Tesi – Republic

  • What is your interpretation of this guideline?

Having had the opportunity to contact John van Citters and CBS directly, they seem adamite that it’s basically one story and you’re out, meaning no follow-up episodes using the same “crew.” On our Indiegogo page, we stated that we were looking to do a total of 6 episodes of Starship Republic. Of all of the questions I asked CBS about the crowdfunding campaign and its perks, this was the only item they indicated was “out of line.” The good news is that CBS is still allowing fans to play in their sandbox.

  • Do you think that you can make follow up episodes as long as they are “self-contained stories” and not “part 2 or 3” of the same story?

I think there are ways around the guideline, and I don’t think CBS will be “lawsuit happy” if you do, but I think it’s treading a fine line.

Robin –  Dark Armada:

“The guidelines set by CBS are just what they are…….. Guidelines, as it was explained in the podcast they’re not supposed to be rules and CBS, isn’t going to inspect every single fan film about these guidelines. The Star Trek Fan Film community used to live by a certain code or ‘unofficial rules’, until some decided to break that code and all hell broke loose. But it’s really just common sense: making a fan film means you play with someone’s intellectual property and in our case, CBS and Paramount have graciously allowed us to do that for over a decade. The risk that they would ask you to stop is always present, so do you think it’s wise to sell DVD’s, ask for money/donations, build a studio, pretend to be official Star Trek? Only a few thought it was. Most fan productions followed a few simple rules: don’t make a profit, don’t sell DVD’s or similar merchandise and make clear it’s a fan production. The only difference today is that these rules are now officially presented as guidelines by CBS. Follow them and you’re safe from any legal action. Most important about these guidelines are that your intentions are good (the common sense stuff I mentioned before), that it’s a production by the fans for the fans out of love for Star Trek (and of course…. don’t pull an Alec). My advice would be not to try to desperately work around the guidelines, but realise that they are a way for CBS to allow us to play with Star Trek as fans. Some of these guidelines weigh heavier than other. I think I don’t have to explain that collecting more money is a worse guideline to ignore than the one about the length of your film. Whether your film is 15, 30 or 45 minutes long, make sure your intentions are good and put a lot effort, a lot of work and a lot of love into it”

More Producer Analysis is on its way. 

Vic Mignogna from Star Trek Continues on Fan Films and CBS/Paramount

Vid Credit:

  • One thing this does not say is you cannot use the same characters to tell further stories. Ref: 

For example, DS9: “In Pale Moonlight”, TNG: “Eye of the Beholder”, TNG: “Face of the Enemy”, ENT: “A Night in Sickbay”, VOY: “Message in a Bottle”, VOY: “Life Line”

All these episodes focus on one! Character from each series, yes there are one or two scenes with other cast members but the story revolves around one centric character.


There are so many fan films out there that have managed to stick to the run times as set out in this guideline it has been done and can be done.

Some examples are:

Animated Examples:

Live Action Examples:

Potemkin Pictures



Starship Valiant

Dreadnought Dominion

Melbourne –

Other examples see here –

= So making films within 15 mins IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE =

Ref: Engage Podcast – Full Transcript HERE 

Time Index – 00:35:30 – Time Length

{} Jordan {}

“There was somebody else that asked  uh 15 minutes for the film does that  include the credits and tell me if the  answer is right the answer is yes but  now like if you’re if it comes to minutes and  seconds  fine but go for  minutes right I mean  like these are doing shave it down”

{} JVC {}

These are guidelines there they are intended to be something that gives structure and lets people know that these the limits they can operate within where they know they’re not going to get a knock on the door well we don’t we don’t go house to house anyway there they’re not going to hear from us they’re not going to get a phone call they’re not going to get an email  they’re not going to get anything that is going to ruin their day one way or another and in and make them you know feel bad or like they’ve done anything wrong that they’re guidelines we’re not we’re not going to be able to provide the level of feedback that’s like you know I got this really great scene but if I include this scene or  this one really cool shot  I don’t want to cut anything else from  it’s going to make the film 15 minutes and 30 seconds what do I do that’s up to you and your you know  creative decisions were not looking to get into that, were not approving any material we don’t want to get involved in your script choices your costume choices”

Time index – 00:59:55

{} JVC {}

and what I’m what I’m honestly  hoping will happen with the with these  guidelines with a  15 minute or 30 minute limit on this and a  fifty thousand dollar crowdfunding limit  I think it’s going to be easier for people to hit their goals quickly and  easily and get their projects underway  I think with the 15 minute limit I think with some of the things that are here is it’s going to make it easier than ever for more people to pick up cameras everybody’s walking around with a  high definition video camera in their pocket now which is it’s amazing  that that’s where we’re at you buy  computers and there’s a capable video editing software preloaded on it’s an amazing time for that what we want to do is we want to drive more films forward more fan voices not fewer we want more we want we want to see more people express their creativity for Star Trek and hopefully out of that will be able to find new ways to take advantage of this and see  Star Trek continue to grow and evolve.

I’ve definitely had people express their concerns about what this means it’s a big adjustment there’s no question people have gotten people have gotten used to full like 1960’s length episodes of you know 50 minutes  plus 90minute feature films but that’s what we do we’re producing full-length episodes within and Paramount’s producing  amazing amounts of I mean they did the  budgets that are involved in a Star Trek motion picture now are beyond  anything I could you know possibly have  believed  years ago that that kind  of budget would be available to Star Trek

How to make a short film in fewer than 15 mins here are some tips on how to make a short film:

Ref Links:


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Even though this is their third annual Star Trek Convention under the name TREKLANTA, officially Treklanta was launched back in 2011 under the original name, “TrekTrax Atlanta.” it was in late 2014 they changed their name to the easier-to-pronounce, easier-to-remember and less confusing “Treklanta” so while many will only recognise the Treklanta name for the last three years this convention was actually its seventh annual convention.

As always the TREKLANTA Star Trek Convention, kicked off in its normal geek filled style a weekend filled with famous faces and Trek fans alike celebrating the one thing that brings us all together in the mad universe we call Star Trek.

This year’s convention had its normal celeb panels and guest speakers, Miss Klingon pageant and even a Star Trek themed wedding,

Although it is not every day you see a Star Trek themed wedding this was not the only thing that was spectacular to occur this year. The 2017 Treklanta also had something rather unique planned in it being the first time they held their Bjo Awards ceremony.

In 2016 following another successful run of its well known Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards, which were presented by Carel Struycken, Tracee Lee Cocco and Jack Stauffer but also by the famous husband and wife duo, Bjo Trimble and John Trimble. Bjo and John were responsible for the letter writing a campaign that helped save Star Trek. During her time helping to present the awards, Bjo revealed to Eric L. Watts that she was so overwhelmed with how well the awards went, upon hearing this Eric asked Bjo if she would endorse the awards by allowing them to be renamed in her honour, and she modestly agreed. So going forward the Star Trek Independent Awards will now be known as “The Treklanta Star Trek Fan Film Bjo Awards”.

Although it has only been about a week The Bjo Awards have already earned their own moniker the Bjo’s, however In much the same way that the motion picture industry’s “Academy Awards” are sometimes referred to as the “Oscar Awards” the Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards has renamed itself as “The Treklanta Star Trek Fan Film Bjo Awards” and the physical item that is presented to each winner will be referred to as “the Bjo Award.” Personally, I have to admit I was brought up to date by Eric himself in the correct terminology for these prestigious awards and the official name is a much more fitting name for such an Important person in Trek history, and I do hope the Bjo’s is not a term that becomes too widespread.

Like previous years the awards are sponsored and this year’s awards were sponsored by none other than Larry Flemming the man behind so many Star Trek Fan Film roles, I reached out to Larry just to ask him how he became involved in sponsoring this year’s awards and he had this to say.

“Hey, NP. I have been a Star Trek fan from the beginning. I have also been in a number of fan films, so I know what they go thru. I met Erik when he was wanting to get a fan group together and helped get Treklanta going. I continue to support him and all the great groups making fan films. In our new era of CBS monitored fan films, it’s even harder. I’m resting up after a long weekend helping Axanar move to Atlanta, so I support everyone making films. LLAP”Larry Fleming

A complete history of Treklanta can be found > HERE < and a complete list of its previous winners can be found > HERE <

In addition, if you want to find out all the goings-on at this year’s Treklanta visit their Facebook and website for a full rundown of its guest and the panels they held.

The 2017 Independent Star Trek Fan Film Awards, a.k.a. The Bjo Awards were presented at and by Treklanta on April 30, 2017, in Atlanta, Georgia.

You can watch the awards ceremony above or skip the video and scroll down to the list of names and categories.

The panel of judges included Diana Dru Botsford, Keith R. A. DeCandido, John DeSentis, Matthew M. Foster, Andrew Greenberg, Robert Greenberger, Cheralyn Lambeth and Archie H. Waugh. The Masters of Ceremonies were Eric L. Watts and Brian Holloway. The presenters included David Gerrold, Gary Graham, J. G. Hertzler and James Horan. The award plaques were sponsored by Lawrence L. Fleming.



  • Red Shirt
  • Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Star Trek Dark Armada “Out of Time”
  • Star Trek: Horizon
  • Star Trek: New Voyages “The Holiest Thing”



  • Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  • Star Trek Dark Armada “Out of Time”
  •  Star Trek: Horizon
  • Star Trek: New Voyages “The Holiest Thing”



  • Needs of the Many
  • Red Shirt
  • Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Star Trek Dark Armada “Out of Time”
  • Star Trek: Horizon



  • Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  •  Star Trek: Horizon
  • Star Trek: New Voyages “The Holiest Thing”
  • Starship Farragut “The Crossing”



  • Needs of the Many
  • Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  • Star Trek: Horizon
  • Star Trek: New Voyages “The Holiest Thing”
  • Starship Valiant “Crosses to Bear”
  • USS Danubia “Force Contact”



  • Gigi Edgley as Eliza Taylor – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Jacy King as Dr Carol Marcus – Star Trek: New Voyages “The Holiest Thing”
  • Clare Kramer as Commander Garrett – Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  • Erin Gray as Commodore Gray – Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  • Jason Carter as The Priest – Project: Potemkin “Room Service”



  • Matthew Trammell as Dr Matthias – Project: Potemkin “The Last Child”, “The Talinar Incident”
  • Michele Specht as Dr Elise McKennah – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”, “Embracing the Winds”
  • Grant Imahara as Sulu – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”, “Embracing the Winds”
  • Cat Roberts as Palmer – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”, “Embracing the Winds”
  • Kim Stinger as Uhura – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”, “Embracing the Winds”
  • Tim Kaiser as Admiral Gardner – Star Trek: Horizon



  • Harriet Fettis as Elisabeth – “Needs of the Many”
  • Aaron Jay as Ben – “Needs of the Many”
  • Christopher Doohan as Mr Scott – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”, “Embracing the Winds”
  • Vic Mignogna as Captain James T. Kirk – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”, “Embracing the Winds”
  • Paul Lang as Captain Harrison Hawke – Star Trek: Horizon



  • Aaron Vanderkley – “Needs of the Many”
  • James Kerwin – Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  • Julian Higgins – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Tommy Kraft – Star Trek: Horizon
  • Wayland Strickland, Scotty Whitehurst – Starship Farragut “The Crossing”



  • Aaron Vanderkley – “Needs of the Many”
  • Greg Dykstra, James Kerwin, Vic Mignogna – Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • James Kerwin, Vic Mignogna – Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  • Tommy Kraft – Star Trek: Horizon
  • Dave Galanter, Paul Sieber – Starship Farragut “The Crossing”



  • “Needs of the Many”
  • Project: Potemkin “The Last Child”
  • “Red Shirt”
  • Starship Valiant “Crosses to Bear”
  • Trek Isolation “Out of the Fire”



  • Star Trek Continues “Come Not Between the Dragons”
  • Star Trek Continues “Embracing the Winds”
  • Star Trek: Horizon
  • Star Trek: New Voyages “The Holiest Thing”
  • Starship Farragut “The Crossing”

Below you can find a complete rundown of each award and its winner along with a table of all finalists that were considered.

 Release Date & IMDb LinkSeries Name & Web Site LinkEpisode Title & Online Video LinkRun Time
11/17/2016Needs of the Many“Needs of the Many”0:06:28
21/31/2016Star Trek: New Voyages“The Holiest Thing”1:03:53
32/26/2016Star Trek: Horizon“Star Trek: Horizon”1:42:35
43/9/2016Starship Deimos“The Lucky One”0:07:05
53/12/2016Starship Farragut“The Crossing”1:12:37
63/16/2016Red Shirt“Red Shirt”0:24:31
73/28/2016Battlecruiser Kupok“Sanctuary”0:07:56
84/2/2016Star Trek: Natures Hunger“The Darkside of Starfleet Justice”0:15:42
94/3/2016Star Trek: Intrepid“Nemo Me Impune Lacessit”0:11:10
104/10/2016Starship Tristan“Relics and Regrets”0:07:14
114/17/2016Project: Potemkin“The Last Child”0:20:53
124/21/2016Starship Deimos“Aftermath”0:06:09
134/27/2016Project: Potemkin“The Talinar Incident”0:08:11
145/4/2016Project: Potemkin“The Hunt”0:10:31
155/28/2016Star Trek Continues“Come Not Between the Dragons”0:42:20
165/31/2016Project: Potemkin“Inquiry”0:05:39
176/9/2016Star Trek: Revenge“Star Trek: Revenge”0:02:00
186/28/2016Starship Tristan“The Chronicles of Lanclos”0:08:59
197/17/2016Project: Potemkin“All in a Day’s Work”0:08:27
209/1/2016Assignment: Earth“Boredom”0:04:28
219/3/2016Star Trek Continues“Embracing the Winds”0:43:56
229/11/2016Starship Tristan“The Greater Good”0:06:27
239/20/2016Project: Potemkin“Destinies”0:07:37
249/27/2016Trek Isolation“Out of the Fire”0:06:41
2510/12/2016The Federation Files“His Name Is Mudd”0:47:25
2610/18/2016Starship Tristan“Be Careful What You Wish For”0:15:00
2710/21/2016Star Trek: Raven“Voyager Continues”0:32:03
2810/24/2016Project: Potemkin“Room Service”0:07:37
2910/26/2016USS Danubia“Force Contact”0:28:50
3011/3/2016Dreadnought Dominion“Chain of Command”0:07:38
3111/10/2016Starship Deimos“Pas de Trois”0:14:51
3212/9/2016Starship Valiant“Crosses to Bear”0:22:33
3312/10/2016 “Out of Time”0:31:20

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The Melbourne Files – Part Nine – Michael Sylvester

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 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 was 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, Martin have you ever met any Trek actors in real life?

Martin) 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.

And I have also met Mikki Val who been an extra in a few STNG, she is a wonderful dancer.

James) What Fan Films do you watch?

Martin) Too many to list,

James) Do you have a top 5?

Martin)  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?

Martin) Cannot get into the computer graphic fan films.  They just loose 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. 

Martin) 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.

James) What are you working on now?

Martin) Right now I am part of Shadowstorm Studio, involved with Melbourne.

James) Have you had any other experiences you’d like to share?

Martin)  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?

Martin) 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 go 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.

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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…

Martin) OK  :-?

James) When did you first realise that you wanted to Act

Martin) The first day in Melbourne

James) What do you like most about being an Actor?

Martin) Helping telling a story

James) What parts of Acting do you not enjoy?

Martin) Have not had one yet.

James) What gives you the most pleasure as an Actor?

Martin) I can be anyone and not be myself.

James)  What elements of the craft do you find most difficult?

Martin) Sometimes finding that moment that the producer or director is looking for.

James) Do any famous actors inspire you?

Martin) Too many to list but on top, Robin Williams.

James) The hardest role you have ever played, and why?

Martin)  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.

Martin)  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?

Martin)  Be more like hating him in the first film.

James) How is this role like you is it similar of different?

Martin) 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?

Martin)  Wow, either one is easy

James) What do you love about this character?

Martin)  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?

Martin) Oh watch the first film, you will see.  LOL

James) What is the biggest challenge about taking on this role?

Martin) Becoming a jerk.

James) Besides yourself, what celebrity would you like to see tackle this character?

Martin) John Barrowman.

James) Without giving anything away, what is your favourite line of dialogue?

Martin) That piece of junk… all I am going to say.

James) Besides you, which actor in this production is going to blow people away?

Martin) 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?

Martin) The Doctor.

James) What makes a good scene partner?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) The flow of the story and needs to make sense.

James) What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

Martin) Nothing really comes to mind right now, mostly 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) Work on Star Trek Renegades.

James) Describe what it is you look for when doing a photography shoot – Using Renegades as an example?  

Martin) 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? 

Martin) 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?

Martin) Started off as a hobby than a business.

James) What is the key of lighting techniques and how to achieve them

Martin) 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?

Martin) There were a few challenges but overall, I seem to fit right in for Cooper.

James) How would you describe your character in Melbourne?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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?

Martin) 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, Martin, 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?


Martin) 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

Martin) Do it do it, then sends me a link or shoot me a message.  If possible would love to see or be involved.

James) Co-Produce

Martin) Be careful what you ask for,  LOL

James) Become a Principal Photographer

Martin) 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)

Martin) 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.

Martin) 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 Martin 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. 

As always 

LLAP everyone.

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The Melbourne Files – Part Seven – Ronald Seipel

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 brought 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 was 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 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 start-up 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 make 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 knockoff 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

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.

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Starbase Studios – ON THE MOVE Pt 2 – With Dan Reynolds

Starbase Studios moving to its new home in Harrison Arkansas, I wanted to touch base with one of the new owners Dan about how things are progressing. I sent him a quick IM on Facebook and asked if he wanted to write a guest piece to update everyone.

So I now hand over to Dan for him to fill you in on what’s been going on at the studios new home.

Initially, when I stepped on and offered my TV studio space as the new home for Starbase Studios, I had no inkling that the day we were loading up the trucks in Oklahoma City that I’d get a call offering to by my building. Which, by the way, had been on the market for 7 years. I was in a compromising position for sure. But, as divine luck would have it, I found a much bigger facility close to my hometown of Harrison, AR and the remaining sets, including the bridge are now housed and erected In the new building.

Glen came down and early Friday morning he and I did the impossible and erected the entire upper, lower consoles, turbo lift section, railing, view screen and captain’s helm and navigation console in just 2 days.

From communications to the end of stocks station.

The upper console work begins. This part was a challenge. For those who know the bridge construction, nothing is square and no piece will stand without falling over.

The upper console work begins. This part was a challenge. For those who know the bridge construction, nothing is square and no piece will stand without falling over.

End of Friday. The captain’s island, turbolift, railing and view screen set for Saturday

Saturday morning starting with the overhanging facade. Forgot about this. Amazingly this took a very long time to complete. Nothing seemed to want to fit although every piece was numbered.

You can see the facade with the iconic red/orange stripe above each console.

Finished and leaving Saturday night. Glen Wolfe and I are tired but exuberant.

And as the last light is turned off, this was so fitting of our last photograph of why we do what we do and why the love of Star Trek continues day after day after day.

GUEST BLOG BY Dan Reynolds

WOW! this is amazing! thank you so much for this, Dan.

If you want to continue to follow the story of the rebuild of one of the most iconic fan film sets out there then follow Starbase Studios on Facebook and I will continue to touch base with Dan and bring you updates as often as I can.

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Randy Wrenn + Gary Davis – ConCarolinas Short Film Festival

Well, it’s 2017 and what could come as better news for fan films in the Star Trek community than one being entered into a short film festival.

The crossover short “Chain of Command” a joint venture from Dreadnought Dominion and Starship Valiant has been submitted to the 2017 ConCarolinas Short Film Festival.

The ConCarolinas Short Film Festival is dedicated to the art of the short films and the expression of independent filmmakers. 2017 will be its seventh year; the ConCarolinas Short Film Festival has created a location for filmmakers local and international to highlight artists from various different genres such as Science Fiction, Fandom, Fantasy, and Adventure.

NB: 2016 winners can be found here: > HERE <

Dreadnought Dominions Fan Film Blog can be found > HERE

I grabbed Gary and Randy for a quick interview about their entries and just a general catch up….

James) Hey guys can you tell me a bit more about the entry into the film festival, what does the entry en tale I would love to hear more about it. 🙂

Gary) It is a GREAT convention they hold and they a film festival.

James) Was this something that “Chain of Command” was picked up and entered for you or did you enter it?

Gary) I entered it.

Randy) Last year I entered “Haunted” which won “Best” Set “Haunted” the first episode we released of “Dreadnought Dominion”

This year we have entered a general sci-fi anthology series called “Long Harvest” but we decided to both enter separately…

James) Which set was it that you used that won “Best Set”?

Randy) It was the same sets that they use in “Star Trek Continues” although we only used the Bridge, the captain’s quarters, the shuttlecraft, and the corridor from the shuttle bay hanger to the turbo lift.

James) Cool! Are you planning to enter anything else this year?

Gary) We are entering the third entry a Zombie Film! Therefore, we will have a Star Trek, Sci-Fi, and Zombie film all from Dominion Media

James) That is brilliant, obviously, I know what “Chain of Command” is about but can you give me a snippet of what each one is about, is there an underlying story to them or ??

Gary) Randy would you describe What Lies Beyond as:

A Sci-Fi Anthology Series in the style of “Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits”

The “story” evolves and by the end, you get the “A-HA” moment

Randy) Absolutely It is anthology series, each episode will be Sci-Fi, or Fantasy or Horror usually with a twist at the end.

The “story” evolves and by the end, you get the “A-HA” moment

Gary) The Zombie 1 is told in “Blair Witch” style format the “hero” is running from Zombies and holes up in an abandoned trailer His cell phone is recording his last words waiting for the battery to end as Zombies are searching for him it is pretty cool.

James) I loved the twilight zone some of them were a tad strange button they were still fun, where can we see these are they already or are they still in production?

Gary) Well, The Sci-Fi one is in post-production they will be releasing on YouTube VERY shortly

It is done, but he has not released it yet.

Randy) We will be releasing “Long Harvest” on February 7th

Gary) And The Zombie 1 was fun It is done and ready to go

James) So “Long Harvest” is this a planned series or a one off?

Randy) It is a little confusing, but Long Harvest is the first episode of “What Lies Beyond”.

Yes. I plan to release many episodes of “What Lies Beyond” eventually I am working on the script for the second episode now.

James) What is the premise of the show to be a running story arc or separate stories per episode?

Randy) “What Lies Beyond” is an anthology, so every episode is a completely separate story.

James) As a writer that must be easier to write for than having to keep story lines consistent almost like a blank page per episode.

Randy) It is a lot easier. In addition, we do not have to worry about stepping on any corporate toes, or getting called out for messing with canon…. (As Trekkies will happily do)

James) Lol well original IP is always a better direction to go as it means you do not have to worry about such issues. 

You guys are still planning on continuing with the Trek Fan Films though yeah? 

Randy) No matter where this leads us, we will always have a warm spot in our heart for Star Trek Fan Films. And we plan to keep doing them as long as we’re allowed.

We have no plans to stop.

Gary) Well… At least we’re not shut down entirely and they keep stressing GUIDELINES, not RULES.

James) Exactly, they aren’t Rules which is what so many just keep saying you can’t break them blah blah blah CBS are Evil lol you guys are some of the few who have just closed up shop and that is so nice to see tbh 

So going back to the film festival what are the potential prizes if you were to win? 

Randy) Well, Concarolinas awards prizes for Best Script Best Leading Man Best Leading Woman Best Horror Best Suspense Best Animation.

*Additional awards may be given at the discretion of the Film Festival Judging Committee*

I think our “Best Sets” award last year must have been one that they added on especially for us… “At their discretion”

I feel like between all our entries we could sweep the awards… but then, I am slightly biased.

James) you have three entries across the genres so I would say you have a good stab at it. 

Gary, how would you feel if you won for letting us say Dreadnought Dominions short? 

Gary) Winning this would be a great honour. However, overall it’s all about just being there amongst all the fellow filmmakers. Just to have our production shown and considered is a great honour.

Randy) Creating something is always a reward in itself, but when you get recognition from somewhere else, it gives you a sense accomplishment beyond that.

And it never hurts to be able to add the words “Award-winning” in front of your film. LOL

James) Thanks guys for the catch-up and I wish you both luck with your entries I have my fingers crossed.

Watch the trailers for the entries

  • What Lies Beyond – Episode 1 – The Long Harvest > HERE<

Watch the entire episodes of

  • “Chain of Command” > HERE
  • “Dead Inside” > HERE

If you want to check out the festival information just visit their Official Site.

And! Do not forget to keep an eye on Dreadnought Dominions Facebook page HERE or visit for the latest updates.

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STARSHIP REPUBLIC – Interview – Ray Tesi

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 everyday 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.

DS9: “Trails and Tribble-actions” – a very nice tribute episode with the same sparks and humour as the original.

ST: ENTERPRISE: Just about all of season three, culminating with “Zero Hour.” I loved having a mission that the actors could sink their teeth into, and the portrayal of the Xindi was well played.

Honourable Mention: “World Enough and Time” by James Cawley and ST: Phase 2. If you have never seen it, watch it! It gives all other Trek episodes a run for their money.

James) What about your worst Trek Episode Why?

Ray) TOS “Way to Eden” – it just sucked.

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) With Discovery showing 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.

The USS Constitution and the USS Republic.

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 out 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
  • Slate: Charley England
  • Boom Operators: Robert Serrano, John Hughes
  • Promotional Art: Michael Schuh
  • Brand and Digital Manager: Michelle Guerra
  • Filmed at Starbase Studios

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The Melbourne Files – Part One – Jeremy Minard

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.

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Dreadnought Dominion – INTERVIEW – Gary Davis

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 behaves 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.”

I listened to the Podcast with the CBS/Paramount where Jon Van Citters spoke at length about the guidelines. It went along way to help alleviate fears that we would all get cease and desist letters.

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.


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 are 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 seem 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 basically 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.

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Starbase Studios – ON THE MOVE

Starbase Studios are on the move.

Back in October, the guys at Starbase Studios the home of many fans created productions such as Starship Valiant, Starship Ajax, Melbourne, The Federation Files, Starship Republic, Dreadnought Dominion, and Starship Grissom have been asked to move out of their current location and need a new home.

This came as a shock after being in their current location for such a long time however, nothing lasts forever, and now the epic task begins.

After talking to Starbase Studios they have told me apart from moving, they have also restructured their management team in order to become more efficient within the studio and to be more structured when dealing with the productions that will use the studio.

Therefore, the good news is they have narrowed down locations to two possible places to call “home.” However, they require our help to achieve this task; recently they have set up a gofundme to raise enough capital to achieve this task to hire the equipment to facilitate this move such as Trucks, Fuel and manpower to get things moved.

The money raised will not be used to pay for rent, utilities, or construction; this is all about the move this fund-raising drive is to offset the actual moving costs and getting not just the sets but also the lighting, sound equipment, costumes and everything else into its new home.

They have until the end of December to get this move done and dusted so time is not on their side and really do need our help if we are to continue enjoying the productions they have made thus far.

So what can we do, well donate is one thing but if you want to donate some time in helping with the move even if it is to provide some refreshments while the move happens then contact them on the Facebook page

= UPDATE = As things steam ahead with the move, the guys at Starbase Studios are making good headway of moving to their new home in Arkansas, they have dismantled the transporter room and the next step is to dismantle the bridge sets.Starbase Studio

The Gofundme is well over halfway towards their goal it currently stands over $2000 of their $3500 target.

Nevertheless, they still need our help to reach their goal of $3500 to enable them to move hassle free and let us all continue to enjoy what makes them so special.

I caught up with Vance Major quickly today to see how things are progressing with the move.

James) Hey, I want to update the blog on Starbase Studios move, what is new?

Vance) We are having the first big haul today and in 2 weeks the next one.

James) How goes the fundraising is it on track or you still short by a lot?

Vance) We are over half way, but we could be doing better Lol.

James) But it is going OK it is not going to hamper the move?

Vance) ….IDK. Lol, we will figure something out, we always do.

James) Well although I cannot help due to my geographical location I will do what I can to help any way I can.

Therefore, we can all help in a few ways, and it does not just mean parting with your cash.

1) Go help them dismantle the sets and load them up in the trucks.

2) Go down and lend support just helping with refreshments will mean loads to them.

And if! you can

3) Donate.

For us all to continue to enjoy what these guys do for the fan community we need to help them as at STARBASE STUDIOS, they support every fan film that wants to go and film using their sets, no matter the idea this is what makes them so special as they are the only production that allows this.

Please help them get to their new home, either with a donation, a helping hand or by sharing the link, so they can continue to take you to strange new worlds.

Do not forget the links at the below to either Donate or Contact them if you want to give them your time and lend a hand.

No help will go unwanted.


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