Back in April, we premiered a version of my AXANAR Universe fan film INTERLUDE with PAUL JENKINS playing the chief engineer of the ill-fated U.S.S. Artemis. At the time we shot those engineering scenes, Paul was still directing the Axanar sequels and had been a great help behind-the-scenes advising my directors JOSHUA IRWIN and VICTORIA FOX along with myself on ways to work collaboratively on finishing up the production. Giving Paul a small role in Interlude seemed like a fun way to acknowledge his generous help, and Paul was happy to appear in our film.
Then things soured between Paul and Axanar producer ALEC PETERS—Paul was no longer director, lawsuits were filed, fire and brimstone came down from the skies, rivers and seas began boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria. (Wait, that was Ghostbusters…who here loved Afterlife?)
Anyway, just as we were about to release our just-completed Interlude fan production on April 5, Paul informed us that he no longer wished to appear in the film and demanded we remove his footage. There wasn’t time to replace his scenes before the big premiere (he contacted us just a couple of days prior), but thanks to some scrambling and about 22 hours of round-trip driving from Arkansas to Georgia and back by Josh and his good friend TYLER DUNIVAN, we were able to get Interlude version 2.0 out just two weeks later, with Tyler replacing Paul as the engineer. You can watch that release here…
A couple of months later, while I was making a video about the editing process of Interlude, Josh asked me if I’d be okay if he created a special version of Interlude just for himself using a different transition between the first portion of the film (the battle sequence) and the epilogue documentary. You can watch the transition that we used at the 6:37 mark in the above video.
But Josh had always wanted to do a different transition using an alternate take of Garth where the camera slowly zooms out from a close-up. Victoria, as director, wanted to go a different way, but now that Interlude had been released, Josh was curious how the other transition would have turned out.
And so was I!
Truth to tell, I was never all that crazy about the transition that we ended up with and never even knew that we had an alternate take available. Josh said the new transition would be closer to what I’d initially had in the original comic book version of Interlude…a direct cut from the younger Garth to the older Garth as though he were emerging from a recollection of a haunting memory.
“Make it so!” I told him. A few hours later, I watched the new alternate transition for the first time.
My friends, it looked amazing! Such a small change, and yet it felt so much more impactful. And then I had a thought…
“Josh, let’s do this right,” I said to him over the phone. “We can ask Kevin [Croxton] to redo the background music under the transition, and then we’ll re-release Interlude v3.0 because that’s the version that I want to enter in film festivals!”
And yeah, I realized that it seemed a little ridiculous to re-re-release your fan film multiple times with minor changes. But as I’ve said previously: these are just FAN films. With the exception of the guidelines, there’s no real rules for what we do, and no “fan film police” who will arrest us for making tweaks and uploading new versions to YouTube. So why not make Interlude a little better?
“Well, Jonathan, as long as we’re changing the transition,” Josh replied, “there’s a few other things I’d like to adjust if you’re on board.” The first thing Josh suggested, which was pretty much a given, is that we needed to do a little shuffling of Garth’s interview commentary, as some of what he says in the new zoom-out take is the same as stuff he says later on. Ultimately, this would shorten the entire film by about 30 seconds, but Josh felt that the Garth commentary went on a little bit long anyway.
Along those same lines, Josh’s second suggestion was to drop in some B-roll clips of Jakande and other visual elements from the film over Garth’s longer dialog segments. Just looking at a single take of the same talking head for long stretches can start to feel a little monotonous for the viewer. Breaking that up by interspersing visual cutaways can make the sequences more interesting and even more emotionally impactful.
For this same reason, we also decided to chop the second clip of Admiral Slater in his San Francisco office into two sub-clips in order to give the last part of documentary portion a more back-and-forth feel.
The final change Josh suggested was adding in a bit more shaking during the battle sequence at the beginning, since one of the only consistent criticisms we received on Interlude was that things felt a little too “calm” during that part. You’d think this sort of thing would be quick and easy to do, but adding shaking is kinda like adding lens flare, and we didn’t want to J.J. ABRAMS this thing to the point of making our audience car sick!
So Josh and I spent a few weeks carefully trying to figure out where in the film to add shake, how much to shake, when to stop each shake, and whether or not to add rumbling underneath a shake—each new iteration requiring a from-scratch re-render of the entire film from Josh!
We didn’t always agree, but we did ultimately reach some nice compromises, and we’re both very happy with the final result. So no one out there complain that there’s now too much shaking…Josh and I will virtually smack you!
In addition to thanking Josh for all his hard work (this has taken nearly four months because it’s not like Josh isn’t busy earning a living and making other fan films at the same time), I’d also like to give a very special thank you to KEVIN CROXTON for putting in the time (also four months…for free, no less!!!) to recompose the transition and all the epilogue music and also rebalance the sound mix. This took way more work than anyone (except another musical composer) would ever imagine. Kevin came through for us despite having to deal with a parent whose health is failing and who has been in and out of the hospital for the past couple of months. So Kevin earns a HUGE shout-out of gratitude for getting this done for us.
And now, my friends, I am so proud to present—for the third time ever!—the newest version of Interlude…