The Melbourne Files – Part Four – Forrest Nelson

This week as part of the Melbourne files, we speak to Forrest Nelson about his time role in Melbourne.

Not only does Forrest share his experiences about his double roles in Melbourne in both playing the role of QELLAR but his role as the productions CGI artist.

Along with finding out about Melbourne, We also find dig deeper into his background in the filmmaking world as he tells us about some of his experiences in being a CGI artist and what it is like being an actor.

I remember meeting Forrest at the first Promenade-acon I hosted. We took pictures of some of the cast and crew of the Melbourne on the bridge there and gave everyone a first look at the ship that day. Everyone thought, from his “Heath Ledger Joker” cosplay, that we were going to have the joker in our film. Lol, I loved that it got people talking, but more than that, I loved that this was a cat that really got into being a geek as much as I am. In addition, this was just as my CGI guy lol months later when I needed to recast my main villain, I could think of no one better than him, because I knew he could act, and I knew he threw himself into the roles of cosplay, he would be great. In addition, boy was he. He was perfect for the main villain in the film. This person is honestly a good catch for whatever you need him for and a really good friend.

Vance Major, Executive Producer, Melbourne

James) Hey Forrest, Firstly I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions about your role in the Star Trek fan film Melbourne.

Forrest) Hi James thanks for taking the time to interview us all.

James) It is my pleasure to do so. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

Forrest) My name is Forrest and I am not a Star Trek fan. Well, not in the traditional sense. I have seen all the films at least once, from the original motion picture through the latest JJ films, but that is the extent of my Trekkiness. Vance and Jeremy are being very patient as they explain their universe to me.

James) Hey no one is perfect hahaha, but one thing I have learnt about Vance and Jeremy is that you could not want for better teachers in all things Trek, they are pretty knowledgeable guys on the subject.

So what else would you like to tell us about yourself? Where did you grow up and if you do not watch much Trek what else do you find time to watch?

Forrest) I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and grew up on other classics like Back to the Future, Terminator, Blade Runner, and of course Star Wars. Recently, I have loved the superhero streak with the Marvel films and several of the shows, both Marvel and DC. Gotham is one of my favourites right now, but I am also working through Agents of Shield, Flash, Arrow, and a few others.

In addition, I kind of an anime fan. Still new to that scene, but I have found a few that I really enjoy like Sword Art Online, Full Metal Alchemist, and Ergo Proxy.

James) Agents of shield, I watched the first few episode of that but never went back to it but I find the Marvel TV universe lacking in comparison to DC I have no idea why as I prefer Marvel films to DC go figure.

Do you play any Star Trek related games?

Forrest) As far as games go, I have never once played a Star Trek game. I have heard of Star Trek Online, but that is it. I have the Starfarers of Cataan if that counts. Most of the games I play are single player, story rich, often sci-fi and open world.

James) So taking into account that you are not someone who lives and breathes Trek, what does it mean to you, is there any other Sci-Fi shows and movies that you prefer?

Forrest) Honestly, it really does not have any meaning to me, as I have never considered myself a fan. Not that it was bad, necessarily, just did not catch my attention as much as Star Wars or Battlestar: Galactica.

I do however really respect those it does have meaning for and I believe that Jeremy and Vance can really touch those people with this story. They know this universe and they know how to make it work and the team they have selected can make it powerful for people who have that deeper connection with Trek.

James) Star Trek does have vast meaning to people myself included, but I see the same in other fandom’s I am a part of like Star Wars, Transformers, and so on.

Forrest, you not only act in Melbourne but you did the VFX for it, when did you first realise that you wanted to become a CGI artist or at least work within that field?

Forrest) I guess you could say my interest in CGI goes back to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Now, before you judge me, the story itself had nothing to do with the inspiration. I know I am dating myself here a bit, but I was about seven years old when that movie came out and I had developed an understanding that movies were not, in fact, real.

That got me wondering how they put the actors in places that did not exist. How did they blow things up without hurting people? Namely, how did Darth Maul stab Qui-Gon Gin and not actually kill Liam Neeson? After all, we see the red lightsaber pierce his sternum quite clearly.

It was then that I decided I would discover the secrets, which eventually lead me to Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) and Visual Effects (VFX).

James) One thing the “prequels” are known for, other than the dire story lol (sorry personal opinion) is the VFX, I remember reading ages ago that Ewan McGregor hated the whole green screen aspect of it, however, I can see why it inspired you one thing I love about the Star Wars franchise is its VFX it is outstanding.

What is it you like most about being a CGI artist?

Forrest) What I like most really is the ability to make the impossible merely absurd or even, if very briefly, believable. Being able to create imaginary locations or objects that would otherwise be grossly expensive or unrealistic to create in real life is really what completes it for me.

Do not get me wrong, I really do appreciate practical effects (objects and locations in the physical world), but when budget and skill are an issue, CGI really comes in handy, for low-budget films especially.

James) You said that you got bitten by the bug at a young age, what steps did you take to enter this field?

Forrest) My training and experience come from a great community of users called the internet. I actually have no formal training to date, just the creative application of tutorials from knowledgeable users and professionals like BlenderGuru and VideoCopilot. I have spent countless hours watching, learning, and recreating their projects and applying it to the necessary projects.

James) I am like that, I have taught myself a lot of applications, as I honestly do not find the need to go and get a bit of paper to say you can use it. I am not knocking those who do but personal opinion is you learn best doing it yourself.

So when you started out in what were the main obstacles you faced?

Forrest) When I first began my journey into the CGI/VFX world, it was difficult because I had no idea what I was doing. I was just a teenager with an interest in film, a cheap laptop, and no one to teach me. I had done several free trials of every program I could find, but I could never afford the full versions. Then, one day, a family friend introduced me to Linux and open source software. It is one of those programs I still use to this day Blender 3D.

James) What is Blender 3D for those who have no idea what it is (people like me LOL, I have no idea what it is)

Forrest) The software I use is called Blender 3D it is free and open sourced bit of software which is always being updated and improved on.

There are plenty of add-ons and downloads that make some of the work much easier and more practical. In addition, it has a great community of people sharing their work and knowledge to help and teach each other. My favourite part, other than it being completely free, is that it really can stand with programs like 3DS Max3DS Max or Maya and hold its own.

Blender was not always the program that it is now but it was a good thing to use when I started. Growing up and getting familiar with the features and changes, following the best instructors on YouTube, I would blow people away with my creations while I was still in high school. I used it on one of my earliest (now completely lost) Star Wars fan films. I created an A-Wing fighter, made it fly to a planet, and land on the ground. My TV Productions teacher was very impressed. My best application to date, though, is probably a virtual set I built for a BioShock short that I made called BioShock: Origins. The entire scene takes place in a virtual office room, overlooking the city of Rapture.

James) Tell me about your experiences as a CGI artist what gives you the most pleasure when rendering ships, environments, and such.

Forrest) The most rewarding part would have to be when it all works properly. Ships themselves are not super difficult, as long as you have good reference images or concept art, but there are so many factors in general that go into the final render, anyone gone wrong can ruin the image.

However, if you place a texture wrong, the animation is jarred and awkward, the mesh is not deforming properly, the subdivision count is too high, the program crashes…elements and atmospherics are the worst. However, when it all comes together and you get a sharp, photorealistic image or animation, it can really make your day.

James) What elements of VFX/CGI do you find the most difficult?

Forrest) The most difficult part of the job is the waiting. When you are modelling, designing, or working out kinks, you are actively involved with the project and you are making things happen, and you can feel proud of that. However, when you are baking a simulation, or you are rendering a final image or animation, there is nothing you can do except make sure the program does not crash halfway through. Depending on the scene, it could take anywhere from a few minutes to several days.

James) What other VFX/CGI Artists out there have inspired your work?

Forrest) I cannot really name a specific CGI artist that I admire, but I know what I like in movies. I like to see how directors approach the subject and what their final results look like. As much as I protest to paying to watch any Michael Bay film, he really pushes his CGI teams to the limit and his films look absolutely breathtaking and I always strive to get my work to that level. Alternatively, close to it, anyway.

James) Michael Bay is responsible for a custom built the BAYHEM which is ”the lightest, most advanced hand-held motion picture camera in the world”, according to   

So I can see why many see him as a leader in the field and an example to follow.

If you had to choose one which one of your CGI Renders which one are you most proud of and why?

Forrest) Currently, other than Melbourne (as I am still working on it and am always improving it), I would have to say my virtual set from BioShock: Origins. It was simple, but it was the first time I really grasped and applied the concept of photorealism, and it was the first time I had used CGI in a film like that since high school. It was also the first time anyone had utilised the green screen in my college film course because they did not have a CGI/VFX program.

James) Apart from CGI what other aspects of Filmmaking do you have experience in and can you tell me more about your experiences in these areas.

Forrest) I have a fair share of experience in all fields of filmmaking, really. Except maybe in producing things. In high school, I took TV Productions, where I learned how a green screen works and how to edit (more or less), and then in college, I studied everything I could get my hands on.

Such as Screenwriting, acting, directing, digital filmmaking, all while teaching myself CGI and VFX at home.

Mostly, though, my focus was acting. I starred in several scene studies and had roles indie short films shot here in the Seattle area. I’ve done competitions, I’ve had voice acting training, I’ve done a few stage productions…it’s really been my life goal to do this for a living, so I try to take every opportunity I could find.

James) Talking of Acting, you have a role in Melbourne, When did you first realise that you wanted to Act?

Forrest) Acting is a similar story, but maybe not quite as exciting. From my first church Easter play in grade school, I thought how much fun it is to pretend and to be someone else. Growing up, my sister and I were notorious for role playing and creating our own characters and stories in the backyard, on our own or with friends; it did not matter to us.

When our family got our first video camera, we created all sorts of scenes and funny shorts that are now lost to the ages. I also joined the drama club in high school, where I found a natural talent for acting. Many of my classmates and even the instructor mentioned at least once, how natural I looked on stage and how believable my characters were.

James) What is it you like most about being an Actor?

Forrest) I enjoy acting for many reasons, but mostly because I get to be someone else for a while. I get to live in another world in another life; I often find it very cathartic. As a person, as Forrest Nelson, I do not often emote anything other than happiness, except around my closest friends, because I know it spreads and people enjoy being around happy people. Nevertheless, when I act, I can let out anger or sadness or arrogance any other array of emotions and it feels good to let it out.

James) Are there any parts of Acting do you not enjoy?

Forrest) There are only downs to acting if you’re working on a crap project. You have a poor director, other actors are putting in their two cents on your scene or your performance, or you just cannot seem to get into the moment for whatever reasons. Sometimes, too, you can let your mind get into a set idea about a scene and it is hard to change it up.

For Melbourne, shooting my scene, it took me a moment to get past the fact that I did not know Trek. It prevented me from making the character my own as if it were in any other universe, but that is why it is important to have a good director. I talked to him, he helped me look past it, and we were able to get something that he really enjoyed.

James) Like CGI was there any formal training you partook in to enter the field?

Forrest) The best way to get into any field is to pursue it every chance you get on every level. For acting, it was stage plays in church, then drama club and stage production in high school, a community play, or two, and finally acting for the camera in college. It saddens me to know that many of these programs are being taken away from schools, too. If I had not had a drama club or stage production team in school, I doubt I would have had the courage to pursue it as I have.

James) Is Melbourne your first time in front of the camera, if not can you tell me what other productions have you acted in?

Forrest) My biggest film productions include “Ugly Life,” written and directed by Eduardo Gonzalez, I played a bully named Fergus, and in “Family Tied”, written by Christina Bonney and directed by Aaron Williams, I played a mobster named Tony. I also have several scene studies, both original and “reimagined.” I was even cast in a few short films that were either never completed or my character was cut entirely. Each time it happened, it was by the same director.

I have done so many stage performances; I do not even remember all of them. The one that sticks out in my mind most was George Gibbs in “Our Town.”

James) Tell me, when you audition for a role how does it make you feel when you land the part you want?

Forrest) I have always gotten a great response as an actor. It is not always easy, having to compete with other people for a role, but it is real. And! When you do land a role that you want, it is probably the most satisfying feeling ever. In addition, when you get to perform with other very talented actors, you really get to feel in the moment, and the rest of the world melts away for a while. It is a beautiful thing.

James) I have heard many things from people about being an actor/actress what makes the whole experience worth it from your point of view?

Forrest) I often get pleasure from playing roles I do not get very often, like the antagonist or nerdy support character. For a long while, I was usually cast as a hero type or the lead protagonist.

I auditioned for the antagonist/villain role in Family Tied (and very nearly got it), which is something I have always wanted to try. I was glad to hear that I had been chosen to play the villain in Melbourne because it was different. Nevertheless, I think the most pleasure I get is after the director calls cut and, if it was a good take or everyone was just so engrossed in the moment, that people actually start applauding. That is a real morale booster.

James) What elements of acting do you personally find most difficult or things that make you think is it worth it?

Forrest) Sometimes getting into character is rather challenging. The director may want a specific emotion or mannerism that you are not used to, and that can make things difficult because the director is not getting what he needs and now you have to work harder.

James) Lastly then I would like to move on to more Melbourne-centric questions, Are you inspired by any famous actors?

Forrest) I am inspired by many actors and actresses at any given time. I will always be a fan of Ewan McGregor, Will Smith, Emma Stone, Johnny Depp, Ron Perlman, and a myriad of others.

James) That is a wide variety do you fancy narrowing it down for me :p

Forrest) If I had to narrow it down, though, I would have to say, Ewan McGregor and Johnny Depp. Both are excellent actors, if for different reasons. Ewan does really well with gritty realism and performs with a quiet strength in his characters. Johnny Depp’s strength, however, lies in the mystical and far-fetched.

I love the whimsy in his characters. However dark they may appear, there’s always a sense of other-worldliness to them.

James) OK moving on I mentioned before that you are the CGI artist and have a role in Melbourne was this an easy task or did you find the roles lead to many challenges in making things fit taking on two roles in the production?

Forrest) The nice thing about my two roles in Melbourne is that they exist in separate stages of production. There are three stages in the production process, Pre-production, Production, and Post- Production.

Acting exists only in Production, and CGI/VFX exists only in Post-Production, so it is actually very easy to separate and balance the two. That said, being on set during Production does help me consult with the director on Post-Production issues, and it does mean my job never really stops. It just changes.

James) Having that “joint” role in the production of Melbourne and how a typical shoot played out from your perspective?

Forrest) Shooting is not unlike a lot of other jobs. You show up on time, you are where you need to be when you need to be there and in the right uniform, and you do what you are told by your superiors. Sometimes there is a good deal of waiting around if the director is discussing things with the producer or the director of photography, or if you are an actor and you’re not in the scene it’s a good time to take a quick nap. Alternatively, a long one.

James) Ahh sound like my dream job lol sleep I love it HAHA!, sorry go on. . .

Forrest) However if you are the director, boom operator, director of photography/camera operator, or a production assistant (PA), your job never really stops. Since we were a small production, and my character was absent for most of the episode, I was often running sound or running errands. They were long days, but they were fun.

James) Can you tell me more from your perspective about the story. How is it in your opinion different from other Fan Productions?

Forrest) I like the story so far, and I think it has a lot of promise. I have not watched many Trek fan films, but Vance was sharing a few with me some of his favourites and least favourites. Ones he used for inspiration and ones he used as a warning label, and I think this is definitely going to change the game. The crew that Jeremy brought on board has skill beyond anything that Vance shared with me, and the cast that Vance put together has a passion for making it hit home for Trekkies everywhere.

James) You were a part of the team who designed the Melbourne Did you have any issues in designing the Melbourne?

Forrest) Absolutely! I had one reference photo to work with, and could not tell the difference between a Romulan and a Klingon (let alone the different ship classes), so Vance was actually very much against bringing me onto the production.

Especially after, I sent him some concept images. We have hence referred to the original designs as the “Doomsday Machine.” It was awful. However, Jeremy vouched for me, and Vance gave me another shot. They broke down the terminology for me and sent more reference photos, and we slowly built the Melbourne you know and love today.

James) Every Star Trek ship has its own look (well 90% of the time) How did you design the look and can you tell me more about the inspiration behind it?

Forrest) The look and the design, honestly that is really more a question for Vance and Jeremy.

They knew, more or less, what they wanted coming into the project. I would send them progress images from time-to-time, and they would suggest a change or two rinses and repeat for two or three months. Once I got the feel for what they wanted, it was a lot easier to understand what they wanted, but I had very little actual contributions to the design of the ship itself.

James) I ask everyone this as I think it is very! Important to gauge as much feedback on this as possible from the variety of people who work in fan films what are your feelings on the new “Fan Film Guidelines”?

Forrest) The fan film guidelines caused a lot of hate and discontent throughout the Trek community.

My initial thoughts were that it sucked, but that is what happens when you abuse someone else’s intellectual property. When I started reading the rules and I was worried that Melbourne might not get made. Luckily, it hasn’t changed much. Vance and Jeremy have done their research and I think even got legal advice regarding their story, so I think we’re set.

James) Do you think they are fair?

Forrest) I do believe that some of the rules are fair and should not need listing, but there you have it. A couple of the rules, however (such as limiting character use to two 15 minute episodes maximum, and putting a time limit on episodes), are a bit absurd and unfair.

James) Being involved in Melbourne I am sure you have seen some of the other stuff to come out of Starbase Studios, What other Star Trek fan productions do you watch/listen to etc (Podcasts, YouTube shows etc)

Alternatively, as you mentioned above your not all that into Trek, are there any other Fan films out there you have seen.

Forrest) I do not watch many fan films, but there are a few I have really enjoyed. The Brother’s Rapture was a BioShock short that somewhat inspired my short script and is absolutely fantastic. Another of my favourites is Portal: No Escape. Probably my introduction to fan films, it is a silent film with excellent visuals and cinematography.

More recently, too, a really good Star Wars fan film called Hoshino was released. The brilliant story very focused and flowed like the Force through a Master Jedi. The worst fan film I have ever seen (other than my own Star Wars short that was mysteriously destroyed) was a certain Super Girl fan film. I have since blocked the name from my memory. Ask Jeremy about it, he will know what I am talking about.

However, Star Trek-wise, I do not watch, listen to, or otherwise follow anything Star Trek, save for Melbourne. Not out or spite or some fully founded belief of being “better” than they are, I have just never had the interest.

James) Just a couple of more questions then, unfortunately, we are done L but, you have a wide range of experience what advice would you give to others who are looking to enter the filmmaking world, be it acting, CGI etc.

Forrest) If you want to make movies, do it. Research how to do what you want to do. If it is your passion, you will know it when you do your first Google search. How because you will keep coming back.

Find ways to meet people with similar interests and collaborate. If you want to act, make it known. Practice do not be afraid of critiques, they can help you if you let them. If you want to be a CGI/VFX artist, research it. There are plenty of free resources just waiting to help you make the creatures and environments you always dreamed of.

If fan films are your thing great! However, do not be afraid to create something entirely new. If you have trouble creating, maybe a fan film is a good place to start. How you go about it is largely up to you, just so long as you go.

James) Lastly is there anything else you would like to tell me from your perspective with someone of your experiences.

Forrest) Fan films are fun. I am enjoying being a part of Melbourne, and I have a Star Wars fan film or two planned and I am very excited for it. They give people a chance to be a part of something they love in a unique way and they can help inspire creativity, and they’re excellent practice for budding filmmakers.

Nevertheless, I think people put too much weight into them sometimes and forget that they are not allowed to make money that way. Some people hope they are noticed with their fan films, and sometimes they do, but I feel like I watch so much more original short films on YouTube and Vimeo than fan films of any genre.

James) Well Forrest, I want to thank you again for your time and hope that your plans for your Star Wars Fan films go according to plan and you have to let me know if and when you release them.

Forrest) Thanks again, James!

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CHANCE ENCOUNTER – “The Ultimate Trekker.”

What would you do if you were bestowed with the honour of the title of “The Ultimate Trekker?” we ask Gary O’Brien who recently won The UK’s Ultimate Trekker Boldly Goes as he is Awarded The Best Job In The Universe

Recently Manpower, UK in association with PARAMOUNT HOME MEDIA DISTRIBUTION held a recruitment event in LONDON, the UK asking Trekkers nationwide to apply for what they touted as the “Best Job in the Universe” that best job was to become the Vice Admiral of Yorktown (The amazing Starbase in Star Trek Beyond).

Watch the original job advert >HERE< or read about it >HERE<

A temporary Starfleet Outpost popped up at Manpower’s Liverpool Street, offices in London, and over 300 applicants applied for the position with the hope of beating out the competition and winning the prize of being named the “The Ultimate Trekker.”

Not only is the winner granted the title of “the Ultimate Trekker” but they take command of Starbase Yorktown, will receive an official uniform recently used in the production of Star Trek Beyond and a VIP visit to Paramount Studio Lot in Los Angeles.

Well, we are so pleased to announce that the winner of this amazing prize is none other than Gary O’Brien, Gary answered toughies like listing the full registration numbers, classes and captains of all seven ships to have bared the name Enterprise; as well as recalling the lengthy Borg name of Voyager’s Seven of Nine.

As you know, we recently interviewed Gary about his upcoming fan production “Chance Encounter.”

So we would like to say Gary congratulations this is truly amazing.

You can read all about his win >HERE<

And read the “Chance Encounter” interview >HERE<

We reached out to Gary yesterday to wish him our best and ask what winning this prize meant to him.

“Yeah, it is a pretty cool prize. I feel very lucky!

There were a lot of very smart people at the interview – I’m very fortunate to have got “the job”. I am sure there were many others there that it could have gone to – I just got lucky on the day I think! A friend of mine, David Combe who kindly helped with some 3D modelling advice on Chance Encounter is also a powerhouse of Star Trek knowledge and makes great work himself.

Like me, he also got his work featured in the 2016 Ships Of The Line Calendar. He is a really nice guy, and how he didn’t win over me I’ll never know! Check out some of his great work over at Deviant Art:

Anyway – I suppose now that I have been awarded the symbolic “Ultimate Trekker” title, no-one can question whether Chance Encounter has been made by a true fan or not!

The early part of 2017 should be an exciting time for me, as we will be aiming to release Chance Encounter, and I will get a trip to Paramount studio and a tour! Stay tuned to as our release date is getting ever closer!”



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“Chasing the Infinite Sky” – Interview – With Albert Martinez

A few months ago I came across this AMAZING, (There is no other word to describe it) little short “Chasing the Infinite Sky” video on YouTube and I was simply blown away, not only in its VFX but also in its concept.

With sharp visuals and great sound effects and even if it is less than 6 minutes long, it has story concept that is interesting and could go in so many ways. “Chasing the Infinite Sky” is not only unique in the fact it is the ONLY Kelvin Timeline based Fan Production (that I know of) but also that in the space of fewer than 6 minutes I found myself wanting MORE!

After I started this site, I made a list of whom I had! To interview and get to know and the guy who made this video was one of them, in fact, he was number three on the list.

So leaving a comment on his YouTube vid not really expecting much back as hey a random comment rarely leads to anything. However, in less than 24 hours I had an email in my inbox from the man responsible for the short his name is Albert Martinez. His Email was what I hope for; he would love to discuss his short with me.

In the last week I have gotten to know the man who made this short and not only is he humble in the way he talks about “Chasing the Infinite Sky” but in the way, he is just like the rest of us a Trek fan. and asking for an interview with him for Trekfanproductions I found that not only was the short really good but the man behind it is just as humble.

This short is one of my all time favourite fan productions to date, and this is coming from someone who is not a major fan of the Kelvin Timeline.

Watch “Chasing the Infinite Sky” Below or click links above 

James) Hi Albert, Thank you very much for giving me some of your time to ask you about your amazing short.

Albert) Anytime Sir!

James) Tell me a bit about yourself I your short is one of a kind in fan films (as far as I know) and It is amazing, introduce yourself to anyone who has not heard about you personally?

Albert) I am just a regular family guy who loves my family, art, music, sci-fi and VFX.

James) You mention you love VFX what is your history in filmmaking?

Albert) I got into amateur video production back in 2004 to try to earn a living between jobs.

I have filmed weddings and making slide shows and such. After getting pretty good at editing, I tried my hand at special effects.

James) If “Chasing the Infinite Sky” and some of your other shorts are any indication, you are very good at what you do.

What else have you produced?

Albert) Just some simple CG animations over the years. I am trying to get better at it.

James) Making a Trek Fan Production What is your history with Star Trek what does Trek mean to you. Do you have a Favourite Trek Episode or a movie?

Albert) Space Seed (TOS). The Wrath of Khan was my favourite Star Trek Movie. I saw it countless times at the movies as a child. I can still act out almost the entire movie from memory.

James) What about a favourite Series

Albert) I liked them all. They all shared the same dream and vision of what makes Star Trek great.

James) Have you ever met any Trek Actors in real life if any?

Albert) Interesting story, many years ago I worked as a valet for a hotel.

One night I remember retrieving a car for Ricardo Montalban and his assistant. His assistant was driving that morning and when they drove off, I said to myself “KHAAAAN!” That was pretty cool.

James) So moving on to your Fan Production, What is “Chasing the Infinite Sky,” Is it a one-off or a planned pilot of sorts for a series of shorts?

Albert) To be honest, I am not sure. With fan film guidelines.

James) So the new Guidelines have influenced how you plan to move forward with a potential series?

Albert) It is hard to say. I would really like to.


“James commentary:

With the short you did being 5:23 long under the new rules you have about 25mins left on this one “story” nothing stops you making more based on this “Pilot” One story, told in a maximum of two 15-min. parts for a total of 30 mins. You can raise up to $50,000 per 15 mins.  

In addition, the important thing to bear in mind is that the guidelines prohibit “series.” That is why it is important for each film (or pair if you are doing 2×15 episodes) to be standalone. That does not mean you cannot re-use characters but it must not feel like a continuation of any story you have done previously. So simply put you cannot make a 90 min film then split it into six parts if that makes sense.

A prime example is another fan series like Potemkin Pictures. They do 15 min per story and feature some of the same and some new cast per episode.

Jon Van Citters (Vice President, Product Development at CBS Consumer Products) was interviewed in the official Star Trek podcast Engage (if you have not listened to it seriously for peace of mind I would).

He said the guidelines are just that and are not rules and they do not form a contract with you and every fan film will be taken on a 1 by 1 basis. so as long as you do not take the piss lol with millions of dollars and setting up a studio with perks etc and keep it low-key not low quality just do not raise eyebrows which your short hasn’t bar being known as totally original”

How do you feel about making more stories following the Albatross now you have read this? 

Albert) It is hard to say. I would love to expand on the story.

James) What are your feelings on them everyone the reaction was different but many people were angry how did it make you feel when they came out?

Albert) Well they rather scared me when I heard about them. Because I was thinking, I was not going to be able to complete and share my mini-movie with anybody without getting in trouble.

James) With the short you did being 5:23 long under the new rules you have about 25mins left on this one “story” nothing stops you making more based on this “Pilot” One story, told in a maximum of two 15-min. parts for a total of 30 mins.

Did you scrap anything you had planned?

Albert) Fearing I would be sued for using Vulcans, Romulans or any Star Trek references.

I decided to make the project about the passion and yearning to answer the calling of the open road, putting the pedal to the metal and push the limits of space travel. In addition, of course, the Quantum warp drive, which is supposed to be a quantum leap in experimental warp capability. It is just part of this story and not actual Star Trek canon. I just wrote it into the storyline


“James commentary:

“From –

The content in the fan production must be original, not reproductions, recreations, or clips from any Star Trek production.

 If non-Star Trek third-party content is, used, all necessary permissions for any third party content should be obtained in writing”

I just want to touch on this just to clear some things up, as I want to put your mind at ease on some things. Using Trek species is not going to get you into trouble unless you use “Spock” “Kirk” etc.

That means should you use characters from other IP you need to ask permission and not just use them. 

So now you have, read that does this make you feel more at ease and that you can now add Vulcans, Andorians etc to your fan production?

Albert) Perhaps! 🙂 I would have to get a decent makeup artist.

James) I am sure you would not problems with that, there are so many Trek fans out there that if you asked I am sure they would help you.

Moving away from the subject of the guidelines, Who had the idea of the story for “Chasing the Infinite Sky,”

Albert) I did a couple of years ago. It started with some animations I strung together with sound effects and some music.

James) Even though the cast was small, did it take a take a lot of forwarding planning to get everyone in one place? 

Albert) The cast consisted of my friends and family who were willing to support my project.

For voice over work, I gave each person some lines to say and they would record the lines from their home and send them to me through email or sometimes lines would be recorded at my home. It did take some time to collect all of the voice over recordings.

The green screen work was done the same way. The two characters in the shuttle were played by me and my cousin Dave. He actually speaks Klingon He took classes for Klingon language a long time ago, I believe. I played Captain “Benjamin Storm” due to the fact that my dad and one of my older brothers are both named Benjamin.

James) Even though the cast was small, they delivered their lines with a natural ease that is one thing I liked about it.

Who did the makeup and wardrobe? 

Albert) The two female characters who are good friends of mine did their own makeup. The wardrobe was simple; everyone wore a black shirt with an authentic looking Star Trek badge on it. Yes, very low-budget I know! We did not raise any money for this so it had to be simple.

James) The costumes looked the part to me they did not look out-of-place. You mention costs and you did not raise any funds  Did it cost a lot out of your own pocket, to do your production?

Albert) No, not at all since I was putting it all together myself. It did cost a lot in the way of time spent on putting it together, though. In some cases, it took days to get the look right on some of the CGI shots.

In the way of the music score, YouTube has a creative commons section where artists and composers allow free use of their music as long as they are credited for the music they have created. I searched for months and was lucky enough to find several marvellous musical gems to tell the story through music and give it a certain feel. Almost all of the music I showcased was from YouTube creative commons.

Scott Buckley from Australia is a musical genius. Two of his creative commons tracks were showcased in my mini-film.


James) That is cool and something I was not aware of and I think that is a great idea for anyone who wants to get their music heard. Was there any sets made or was this all green career?

Albert) There was no physical set; it was all done using green screen and the CG interior of the 3D shuttle.

Very low-budget, just carefully blended.

James) The Albatross is a good-looking ship along with the Kelvin design of a Miranda class who designed the ships?

Albert) The U.S.S. Texas was an altered model of U.S.S. Reliant 3D model by Ricky Wallace at Madman’s

Using the Reliant model as the basic ingredient and inspiration, I made a custom hot rod re-vamp version of it that became the Albatross. Kind of like a reimagined car with a body kit on it. I wanted the Albatross to look simple yet graceful and fast with a massive nacelle to hull ratio.

James)  Did you do all the VFX or was it a joint effort?

Albert)  I did most of the raw animations in Blender 3D and all of the VFX compositing using Adobe after Effects.

I had some help with some of the visuals from my good friend Ricardo Elliott. A lot of time and attention to detail went into the visuals. I really wanted it to look as good as possible for a fan made attempt. 

James) As I mentioned, “Chasing the Infinite Sky,” is the only Kelvin timeline fan production I know of this timeline, what made you think of this instead of another one from the PRIME timeline?  

Albert) I went with the Kelvin timeline since it has never really done as a fan film and I wanted to put some originality into the mix as well.

James) One thing that many didn’t get was myself included the Warp calculation you used how far did the ship actually travel can you explain this to me and anyone else who was confused lol

Albert) I know it is somewhat funny. I did go overboard with the calculation; it was more of a poetic figure of speech that was meant to relay a push beyond our universe, really, really far, a distant realm almost.

That is why there was rain at the end of the story; some physics did not apply in the last place the Albatross dropped out of warp.

James) Ah I get it now a bit like the episode of TNG where the Enterprise-D goes way beyond the realms of the Milky Way. I think that is another thing that just drew me to “Chasing the Infinite Sky,” it was a true let’s go to explore the final frontier I liked it.

James) Being in the fan production community do you watch or listen to any other Fan Productions?

Albert) I have watched and I would say some of my favourite ones are:, New Voyages, Star Trek Horizon, Prelude to Axanar and a Star Wars one called Kylo Ren-The awakening,

And I really like Trekyards, those guys are very devoted to all things Trek. I truly appreciate that.

James) Do you have any you have seen that are not as good?

Albert) I think they are all good. Seeing how much work goes into one. I will not judge. I think it is awesome that people are having fun and showing appreciation for something they love.

James) Could not agree more some of them are not as flashy as others but the dedications and love that goes into them show on-screen.

Do you have any Favourite parts of the Trek Fandom so many have good and bad experiences what would you say are yours?

Albert) Alec Peters from Axanar contacted me and commended me for the work on my project.

Tobias Richter who is a VFX hero of mine commented on my work and said that it was exceptionally done. Getting to correspond with Ricky Wallace from Madman’s shipyard has also meant a lot to me.

James) I know this may be somewhat of a controversial question, but because some people have not had this experience with Alec could you expand on what he said to you?

Albert) He said that my project was a masterpiece and wanted to congratulate me on my effort. He was also kind enough to share my mini film on his website.

James) That was a nice thing for him to say and offering to put it on his site was a nice gesture from him to get it seen by a lot of people.

What would you say is the worst Parts of the Trek Fandom?

Albert) The guidelines CBS and Paramount which are very strict. I guess they have their reasons. I am still a trek fan anyway.

James) That is a shame that something like this had such a negative impact on you, what ones do you think are so strict? Obviously, some people do not like the time limits or the fundraising limits what are the ones you think are too strict?

Albert) The time restrictions seem to be the worst. Time is often needed for character and story development.

James) Yeah that one is one I have to admit is not ideal L, are there any others you do not care for?

Albert) Having to buy official merchandise. Some people cannot afford to buy costumes for an entire crew. People should not be forced to buy something in order to make something they love.

Fans should have the right to make homemade uniforms if they simply cannot afford official ones, it should not have to be about money.

James) This one was cleared up and the explanation was expanded a bit In the Engage podcast, many now see this guideline 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 Anovos their licensee.

Nothing stops you from making your own props, costumes etc. I know you were not the first person to be upset about this one but now we know you can indeed make your own this guideline is one many have no problems with now.

Does that help you feel a bit more at ease with that particular guideline?

Albert) Wow, that’s sounds pretty good to me! Making the uniforms would be more affordable! Thank you for taking the time to explain that one a bit more.

James) You are very welcome, I feel that there is still a lot of misconception about many of the rules. I have to ask many people who have expressed a dislike for the guidelines have called for boycotts how do you feel about that will you be joining them?

Albert) No, I am too curious to see what the new series will be like.

I think boycotts are sometimes necessary for something’s in life, but not Trek. I think that eventually, the studios will realise that fan films help expand the universe of the franchise and spark curiosity for new fans.films help expand the universe of the franchise and spark curiosity for new fans.

James) I could not have said it better myself, Boycotts do not work unless you have the power to effect mass change, and I like you cannot! Wait for the new series to drop, Roll on May 2017 😛

We are nowcoming to the end of the interview only a few more questions to ask, do you have any regrets in doing “Chasing the Infinite Sky,”

Albert) Yes, spell checking. After realising the errors, I decided to leave as is since video already had several hundred views and comments.

I did not want to discredit any comments that had already been posted by viewers. Another regret, with no real money for official uniforms or sets story, was way too short.

James) With the fact you can raise $50k per 15mins does this make you think we will see the Albatross again?

Albert) Well since this was my first attempt at something like this, I do not know the first thing about raising money for a fan film.

However, since this was my first attempt at a short film and was a learning experience for me. It gave me some confidence to continue and possibly expand on the journey of the Albatross. I would like to get some money together for some nice uniforms and maybe build a small set. You never know.

James) Is there advice would you give to someone who wanted to create something like your short or even specialises in VFX work?

Albert) I would say follow your passion, heart, and dream. Fan films are an awesome way of expressing one’s love for a franchise.

If you want to specialise in VFX, with a little practice, it is always possible. There are plenty of awesome tutorials on YouTube one can learn from.

James) the Last Question and it is a shame as I have enjoyed chatting with you. 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)

Albert) It feels pretty good to have a lot of positive feedback from fellow fans. This was my first attempt at something like this. I am overwhelmed sometimes and surprised with the number of views it has received. Of course, there are some negative comments as well too. I am just thankful either way.

James) I want to thank you for this Albert, You are not only humble in what you have done but you are a really nice person and talking to you has been a pleasure.

Albert) Thank you for taking the time to do this James! Your willingness to do this for us is very much appreciated! Live long and prosper!


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“FAIREST OF THEM ALL” By Timothy Ebicilio

I love Star Trek. It has always been in my life one way or another. Unfortunately, like anything in life you phase out of certain books, movies, or music.

In my case, I lost touch with Star Trek. Then in 2009, J.J. Abrams‘ big-screen reboot of Star Trek rekindled my interest for the franchise. I started to go back to the original movies featuring Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the beloved crew. Once I went back to the original series, I absolutely fell in love again with these characters. The writing holds up, the themes were and in some cases still are poignant and despite its limited budget and clunky sets, it had its heart in the right place.

Having finished the third season of the original series, I felt a bit lost. I wanted more adventures of this crew. Then it was as if the Talosians themselves had captured me and given me the illusion of what I wanted. While looking up for anything TOS related on YouTube, I stumbled upon this fan created series called Star Trek Continues.

As its title suggests it is indeed a continuation of the original series. An “unofficial season 4” if you will. Helmed by Vic Mignogna, he and his crew successfully ran a crowdfunding campaign for their first episode. So far, they produced seven episodes.

It looks like Star Trek, sounds like Star Trek but does it have the heart? Let’s ahead one-quarter impulse power and take a look at the third episode, “Fairest of them all”.

This third episode is a direct sequel to “Mirror, mirror” and takes place entirely in this parallel universe where The Federation is now the Terran Empire. It leans more towards fascism and the subjugation of other worlds instead of missions of peaceful exploration and aid.

After Kirk (Vic Mignogna) destroys the Halkan Council and its planet, Spock (Tod Haberkorn) now realises that the fall of the Empire is an inevitability. The fact that the Andorians started to openly rebel against the Terran Empire strengthens Spock’s sentiments for change and peace.

Together with Lt. Moreau (Asia De Marcos) and a small group of insurgents, Spock must overthrow the murderous and psychotic Kirk and take control of the I.S.S. Enterprise. A deadly cat and mouse game ensues and Spock must be that one man with vision in the revolution to come.

I have been very impressed with the writing of this show. In some of the other episodes, they actually show the repercussions of what happened in the previous seasons. The losses and many extreme experiences Kirk and crew had to mean something now.

There is no reset button anymore. They masterfully continued the story that started with “Mirror, mirror.” You see the doubt in Spock as Kirk becomes more erratic and psychotic. They also show you that the “evil” counterparts are not as villainous as you may think. They are very many victims of their circumstances and most of them begin to reject the ways of the Terran Empire.

Only the ones set in their old ways are doomed to go down with this fascistic system. It’s not done in an overly blunt way but the message hits home through excellent acting and dialogue. The point this episode tries to make is simple, poignant, but timeless. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Star Trek continues does a tremendous job of capturing the feel and look of the original series. At times, it can be a little too slavish to the somewhat clunky visual effects of the sixties. This, however, is just a very minor gripe. The performances are top notch. Mignogna channels just enough Shatner without it turning into a parody. Haberkorn’s Spock is excellent. He exudes a calm and cool without losing that same twinkle in the eye and charm that Leonard Nimoy had.

So, yes, it looks like Star Trek and it sounds like Star Trek and it definitely has its heart in the right place. It pays homage to that wondrous show of the 60’s but brings that same charm and wonder into the 21st century without tongue in cheek or parody. This is a labour of love and I felt every minute of it. Go watch the show now and you will too.


  • Guest Blog Author: Timothy Ebicilio  
  • Video Credit: Star Trek Continues
  • Blog layout: James Hams

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