Back when I started the GoFundMe for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE back in early June, it felt like November 2-3 was a million months away. Now I’ll be getting on a plane for Atlanta this Friday, and I’m feeling a dozen different emotions all at once: excitement, anticipation, dread, abject terror…it runs the gamut, folks!
Y’see, I watched all of those livecasts from the first AXANAR shoot four weeks ago, saw all of those moving parts—the 80-plus volunteers, the costumes, the sound and computer-monitoring equipment, the lights, the cameras, the action, the caterers—and I got totally overwhelmed. That’s a tough act to follow!
Granted, Interlude isn’t nearly that big of a shoot—we’re expecting about 30 people a day, not 80-plus. But make no mistake: there are still a LOT of moving parts to my project, too…and I’m smack in the middle of most of them!
I naively thought that, after the crowd-funder reached its $19.5K goal, that I’d just be able to slide into the proverbial back seat and let my Directors, VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN do the driving the rest of the way. Oh, sure, as Executive Producer, I’d pay the bills for things like patches, plaques, equipment rental, wardrobe, travel expenses, catering, etc. And I’d be supervising my friend LEWIS ANDERSON on the CGI effects. But aside from that and showing up at the shoot, running a few errands, and taking lots of photos and videos for the blog, I figured that I was essentially done.
Boy, was I wrong!
You might have noticed a slowdown in my blog coverage of fan films over the past several weeks. This is mainly because I’ve been doing a boatload of work on Interlude! This doesn’t mean that Victoria and Josh have’t been working their butts off, too. But they haven’t let me sneak into the back seat yet. I am still VERY much in the thick of things!
If you’re a fan filmmaker or, more precisely, are thinking of becoming one, then this blog is for you. I’d like to share my journey, my “trek,” with folks who might be curious to see all of the things a complete novice like me is doing and learning along the way…
If you’ve been reading my previous Interlude blogs, you already know about many of the “little” things I’ve been doing besides raising money—like designing and printing patches and plaques for the USS Artemis, getting Ramirez’s tunic made and finding a guy to play him (DAVID BUTLER AGRINSONIS), and getting a background image of the Golden Gate Bridge for Admiral Slater’s office at Starfleet Academy.
Oh, and I almost wrote a blog about my search for a caterer! The guy that ALEC PETERS hired for the first Axanar shoot was fantastic, but he was waaaaay out of our price range for just 30 people. (With 80 people, you get more of a per-person amortized discount.) Ultimately, I found a great local caterer within our budget who will supply breakfast and lunch for the cast and crew…while I drive to Costco for beverages.
But lemme tellya, that is just the TIP of this fan film iceberg!
Up until now, I’ve only told you guys about a handful of our team. Along with the folks I listed above, there’s also KEVIN CROXTON composing our music and MARK EDWARD LEWIS doing post production sound-mixing. But the team has been growing fast and furiously since I kicked off the crowd-funder.
And let me say one thing before I begin introducing people and explaining what they’ll be doing: thank the Great Bird of the Galaxy that Alec shot first (just like Han Solo!). Alec and his team blazed an amazing trail, and many on his team are now on my team, too. And frankly, I”m not sure what we would’ve done without that head start. In fact, one of the first folks that Alec recommended we chat with was CHRIS MILLS, his Producer. Producers do a LOT of things and shouldn’t be confused with Executive Producers (like me), who really just raise the money…although it looks like I’m doing the job of Producer, too.
What is that job? Well, it involves making sure the production has the things it needs without going over budget—like food, costumes, equipment, props, and people (all of which I’ve been helping to get). The Producer manages the whole team and keeps things on schedule (or tries to!). There can be many producers on a show or film (just watch the opening credits of Star Trek: Discovery!). And for Axanar, this person was Chis Mills.
Although Chris didn’t have the time available to be an full producer on our project, he did offer to consult. This has included helping us find that caterer I mentioned (in our price range) and getting us in touch with certain of the volunteers who worked on Axanar since he has all their contact info. Thanks to Chris, we were able to get ahold of AARON, who plays the bridge communications officer Lt. Caine on the USS Ares as well as ROBERT, who plays the Ares helmsman, Lt. Deville. Not everyone who was on Alec’s shoot was be available on the days we’ll be shooting, but Aaron and Robert are confirmed…so we’ll have some nice continuity besides just having Alec as Garth.
(And before anyone asks, no, we won’t be able to feature the Efrosian character. There’s two reasons for this. First, we can’t afford the make-up (aliens are expensive…even with volunteers!). And second—and this is a small spoiler—but at the time that Interlude takes place, that Efrosian character isn’t yet a part of Garth’s grew. We watch the details, folks!)
I have to say that finding people is tough when you’re hoping folks will say, “I am willing to work for breakfast/lunch, some swag and a credit.” In fact, that’s a direct quote from an email I received from CAROLYN SHIPMAN, now our Key Production Assistant, offering her services. Alec recommended her, and when I asked Carolyn what she did on the Axanar shoot, she said, “I have helped to organize Alec’s studio tools/props/auction items and helped build the bridge set. For his last shoot, I was the project volunteer coordinator so I am a demon with paperwork, assistant to Crysstal during the shoot and was even a stand in for one of the actresses. Bachelor degree in tv production – Univ. of Georgia.”
She had me at “paperwork.”
I’ve been dreading the paperwork, folks! Apparently, we have to get everyone on camera to sign talent/photo release forms and everyone on set to sign liability release forms. There might also be Non-Disclosure Agreements to sign (although I’m not all that secretive). And someone actually WANTS to keep track of all of that paperwork from 50 people…for FREE (well, meals and a few patches)??? Carolyn Shipman, where have you been all my life?
And there’s a LOT more to do on set. In fact, Josh suggested we try to see if we could get in touch with Alec’s 1st Assistant Director, Jenna. What does a 1st Assistant Director do? Think of her or him as the Riker to the director’s Picard (or Chakotay to the director’s Janeway). The AD runs the show and oversees all the little details so the director(s) can concentrate on the big picture. The AD makes sure everyone is rowing in the same direction, standing or sitting or working or waiting wherever they’re supposed to be at any moment. Apparently, it’s one of the most important and stressful jobs on set!
Unfortunately, Jenna wasn’t available, but thanks to Chris Mills and all of his contacts, we were able to obtain the services of JOSH WILCOX. So yes, both our Co-Director and Assistant Director will be named “Josh.” That won’t be confusing at all. (I’m already planning to call one of them “Joshua” and the other just “Josh.”)
Speaking of Joshua (Irwin, that is), he’s bringing people down from Arkansas, too. Along with Victoria, who will be sharing the 750-mile drive, Joshua is also transporting their colleague EARL HALE to help with carpool karaoke. Just kidding! Earl has worked with them on a number of projects, including their Avalon Universe Star Trek fan films. Earl will be handling our sound-mixing on set, one of the most important elements of filmmaking that can often be overlooked by novices (like me). Bad sound can ruin even the best footage.
Meanwhile, back in Georgia, the “Miracle Worker” known as DANA WAGNER was always going to be a part of our team because he is the Set Manager for Ares Studios. He’s the guy who finished construction of that incredible bridge set, and having Dana on board is like having Scotty: you can’t fly the Enterprise—or the Ares or Artemis—without him.
And speaking of guys named Scott, I can’t forget SCOTT LYTTLE. If you’re a Pakled, this is the guy you want to kidnap! Scott builds things, strong things, things that make your fan film go. For the upcoming fan film FIRST FRONTIER, he built an 11-foot Enterprise! For Axanar, he built a much-needed platform to elevate the turbolift level with the Ares bridge. He’s been working hand-in-hand, hammer-to-hammer, and paintbrush to paintbrush with Dana. Having them both is like having Scotty and Geordi…without that annoying Dyson sphere!
There’s also a second Scott, who likewise volunteered on the Axanar shoot. This Scott did a bit of everything, including helping to run the various computer monitors that displayed on the bridge. He flicked the bridge lights on and off when the ship got “hit.” He moved stuff, lifted stuff, carried stuff, held stuff, and was the go-to guy for all of the “little” things that, had they not been taken care of, would quickly have turned into big things. I’ve already given him his first task: drive to the rental place to pick up the chairs and tables we’ll be using for meals. It sounds like a small task, but it requires an SUV or pick-up truck (or trailer) and someone fairly local. And without the chairs and tables, 30 people will be eating cross-legged on the floor!
Come back tomorrow to meet the rest of the team…starting with my favorite volunteer of them all! (Well, they’re ALL my favorite, but…well…you’ll find out tomorrow.)