Post-production work on INTERLUDE is continuing, with our third rough cut edit currently being worked on. I love seeing it all take shape, and I adore watching actor WARREN HAWK playing USS Artemis Captain Imari Jakande. I can’t wait for you all to see him on screen!
Warren was the final actor we cast, and it happened only four days before before our November shoot! I was biting my fingernails down to the nubs, but VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN assured me that everything would work out. Sometimes actors are cast very late in the process; it’s just the nature of the industry. Turns out they were right.
Casting the rest of Interlude, by comparison, was relatively simple. Our other main character, Fleet Captain Kelvar Garth, would be played by ALEC PETERS (of course!). The rest of the speaking parts were pretty minor. Two of the actors who played bridge officers on the USS Ares for the AXANAR shoot in October—AARON ROMANO as Comm Officer Caine and ROBERT HAYES as Pilot Deville—returned to play those same roles for Interlude‘s November shoot. Also on the Ares bridge was Science Officer Franklin, and Joshua got one of his friends, JAY PLYBURN (who lives in the area) for that part. Jay is also a trained actor, and Josh has directed him in the past.
Admiral Slater will appear at the end of Interlude, and STEVEN JEPSON agreed to play him. The two remaining on-camera speaking roles are the Ares doctor, a role which Victoria is filling, and the Artemis chief engineer, being played by an actor whose name we’re keeping secret for the moment (but it’s a person with some fan film experience). Then there’s two voice-over roles, plus all of the background actors who won’t be speaking.
And that left Jakande…
The fan film guidelines put sometimes-frustrating constraints on what a fan production can do when it comes to bringing on actors. We fan filmmakers have to rely mainly on word-of-mouth, know-somebody-who-knows somebody, grass-roots recruiting. So naturally, Josh and Victoria put out feelers via Facebook groups and other online tools trying to find actors in the Atlanta area (or farther away—I was happy to pay for gas) who matched the description we needed of a middle-aged, fit, black male with a commanding presence. For a while, the only response we received was from an actor of Indian (the one in Asia) descent, but that wasn’t going to work. Jakande needed to look African. Josh, Victoria, and I were all on the same page with that.
By the time we were a week away from filming, I’ll admit that I was sucking down the Tums, worried to death that we’d hit Saturday morning with no Jakande. But as I said, Josh and Victoria remained completely calm. Late Monday, I heard from Josh that one of Jay Plyburn’s (the guy playing our science officer) friends from the Atlanta area was going to read for the part of Jakande. Two days later, after both Josh and Victoria (who live in Arkansas) had watched Warren Hawk audition via a cell phone and spoken with him, they called me up to say: “We found our Jakande!”
Not only did Warren look and sound the part (they told me he had the most commanding deep voice), but he was also a fan. Of course, this is supposed to be a FAN film, and the rest of our actors and extras and crew certainly qualified. But with four days left until filming, even if our perfect Jakande had never watched a single episode of Star Trek in his entire life, I wasn’t about to kick him out of the center seat!
Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue at all. Not only does Warren love sci-fi in general, he’s a big Star Trek fan, particularly of Deep Space Nine and the character of Ben Sisko. In fact, he’d always hoped to be able to play some kind of sci-fi leading role at some point in his career. He just never imagined it’d be a Starfleet captain just like Sisko himself!
As I learned later from Warren when we chatted on the set, he’d had no idea before being contacted that fans were making their own Star Trek productions, let alone that they were building such elaborate sets. (You can see Warren’s reaction when he first saw the USS Ares bridge on the video that appears below.) He’d never seen any Trek fan film, and so I gave him my iPhone and let him watch PRELUDE TO AXANAR. He was totally blown away.
Shortly before being called to the set, Warren confided in me how important it was to him that he do a really good job. “This isn’t just any role for me,” he said. “This is something really special, and I want to get it right for you…not just because you’re the writer but because you’re a fan. I’m a fan, too, and I’m doing this for all the fans. This is an important new character, and I want them to believe in him. I want to add something significant to the universe of Star Trek.”
I edited together the following video from footage I shot before filming began on the Artemis bridge during Saturday’s shoot (we shot the Ares footage on Sunday). The video also includes, toward the end, a montage of still photos taken during filming itself. I also have video footage of that, but that’s going to wait until AFTER Interlude gets released.
In the meantime, folks, meet Warren Hawk…
After ten hours of filming (plus a one-hour break for lunch), Warren’s day as Jakande was done, and all of his footage was “in the can.” As he walked off the bridge, I ran up to Warren and gave him a great, big hug. I have no idea what the proper etiquette is concerning writer/executive producers hugging their lead actors, but I didn’t care. I’m a hugger, and this man had spoken my words and brought the character that I’d created to life. He had provided a top caliber performance that would help make our fan film one of the best ever!
After turning off all the computer consoles and monitors and lights and locking up the studio for the night, about 20 of us drove over to a local Italian restaurant for a very late dinner (just before they closed the kitchen at 10:00 pm). I insisted on treating Warren, Victoria, Josh, and sound-mixer EARL HALE, who had traveled twelve hours (each way!) with Josh and Victoria from Arkansas. This wasn’t from donor funds but from my own pocket (which is why I couldn’t afford to treat all 20 people who came). But I couldn’t imagine not picking up the tab for those four people as a special “thank you” for working so hard to make Interlude a success.
After dinner, I gave Warren one last hug before we all headed off. I just couldn’t help it.
We had indeed found our Jakande.