As I mentioned in Part 1, these two blogs are intended primarily for those folks interested in fan filmmaking, whether they’re already making fan films or if they’re thinking of taking the plunge for the first time…as I’m doing right now.
Granted, fan films range from super-cheap where there’s only a handful of people (or even as few as two or one) to the super-large productions like STAR TREK CONTINUES and AXANAR where 50 to 100 people might end up being a part of the production. If I had to place our INTERLUDE project on this sliding scale from, let’s call it, one to ten, I’d say we’re a solid seven.
So this blog might not apply directly to every fan project. But if you’re smaller, it might help with a step up to a more ambitious level. And if you’re bigger, then you’d probably just be amused at all the stuff the “newbie” is going through. I’ll simply say that I wish I’d been able to read a blog like this before I started tackling Interlude!
Okay, let’s get back to discussing our rapidly-expanding team who will all be descending on Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA this coming weekend. (EEEEP!)
One of my favorite volunteers is a mother and son team coming up from Tampa to Lawrenceville—an 11-hour drive one way. KAREN SHUEY is a seamstress, and she was one of the folks tailoring and sewing uniforms for the Axanar shoot. In fact, it was her adult son, STEPHEN, who brought her up with him when he volunteered to be a part of “Team Axanar.” Stephen is on the autism spectrum, but he so loved Axanar that he saved his vacation money to pay for travel and hotel expenses. He brought Karen along to sew while he handled wardrobe. Together, I’m told, they made an amazing duo, and Stephen felt such pride in this accomplishment that he desperately wanted to be a part of “Team Interlude,” as well.
Karen contacted me to offer their services but asked if we could help out this time by paying for their gas and lodging. Nearby hotels are fairly inexpensive, and she and her son can easily share a room. I looked at our budget, and we already had a line item for a seamstress. We just figured it’d be someone who worked in a nearby tailor shop. But frankly, I’d rather have two fans on set who are already familiar with the quirks and nuances of the Axanar-era tunics. Karen and Stephen are actually driving today and planning to spend all day Thursday and Friday at the studio tailoring so the uniforms are ready in time.
Of course, in order to tailor them to fit perfectly, Karen needs measurements. And to have measurements, we need actors. Granted, we already have Alec and Aaron and Robert, who were fitted previously. Also, Alec’s girlfriend CRYSSTAL HUBBARD has offered to be an extra, and she was already on the Hercules bridge crew with J.G. HERTZLER. This time, she’ll be on Ares, possibly in a black wig to make her look like her brunette “sister” serving on another starship (y’know, just like Number One and Christine Chapel?—kidding!…well, sorta).
Even though I’m not the Casting Director (Victoria gets that credit), I’ve actually lined up a few of the extras myself. A couple of these folks are members of the fan film community who live in Georgia and offered to come by to help for the weekend. And since both have reasonably Starfleet-shaped body types (unlike me, who has more of a Santa Claus body), I asked if they’d like to appear on camera. JOSE CEPEDA is the show-runner of the STAR TREK: NATURES HUNGER fan series, and LEZLIE SAWYER (who also came to the Axanar shoot), has quickly become the female “Where’s Waldo” of Star Trek fan films (“Where’s Wilma”?). Both will be serving on the USS Ares.
When TREY McELWAIN informed me that he and his wife NICOLE were going to come from Austin, Texas for the shoot—come hell or high water—I offered them both parts as extras. After all, if it weren’t for Trey creating Axanar Comics, Interlude would likely never even exist! (Interlude was a comic book story first, drawn by Trey’s illustrator, DANIEL FU.) Trey is ecstatic, and he and Nicole will be serving on the USS Artemis.
Also on Artemis will be RAY MYERS, our $3,000 donor who gets his name on the paper coffee cup somewhere during Interlude…along with an Associate Producer credit and a invitation to the shoot. “Well, Ray,” I told him, “as long as you’ll be there anyway, would you like to wear a tunic and press some buttons on camera?” He’s totally on board with that!
The last extras I signed up were the result of Alec chatting with the folks making his and my uniform chest patches. PAIGE works at the shop and told Alec she’d be happy to show up and help us out. Even better, Paige invited her friends JEZZA and CRYSTAL to come along—three more lovely ladies to put on Garth’s bridge (along with Crysstal and Lezlie)…and Alec thought J.G. HERTZLER had a harem on the USS Hercules! Fortunately, we’ve also got Jose, Robert, and Aaron…and possibly one other male.
My directors Joshua and Victoria have brought on their colleagues JAY and WHITNEY, who have actually appeared in some of Josh’s non-Trek independent films. Jay will be playing one of our speaking roles on the USS Ares. Jay helped us find three more extras for the Artemis bridge: DEBBIE, LEISA, and CHRISTY (more women!). Jay also put us in touch with the person we ultimately cast as Captain Jakande, an actor named WARREN.
(Note: I’m leaving out the actors’ last names because I don’t want everyone going to look them up on IMDb yet. You’ll get the chance to see them soon, folks.)
Anyway, back to Warren. Josh and Victoria had already narrowed down the candidates, but when they saw Warren’s audition read—done on the fly delivering lines from the script over a cell phone, no less!—they knew they’d found our Jakande. Warren has a deep, commanding voice, a powerful look (and a really cool beard!), and best of all, he’s a total Trekkie! In fact, he’s a huge fan of Avery Brooks…who happens to play my personal favorite Star Trek captain, Benjamin Sisko (well, Anson Mount‘s Pike is now also up there). Warren is super-excited to be able to play a starship captain.
Of course, I should also include STEVE JEPSON, who will be playing Admiral Slater, but he won’t be down for our Georgia shoot this weekend. His scene will be filmed at Josh’s studio in Arkansas in front of a green screen. We’ll also be filming a short sickbay scene at WARP 66 Studios at the TOS sets of GLEN L. WOLFE, who is going to get Associate Producer credit in appreciation for his coming through for us when Neutral Zone Studios unexpectedly closed their doors to us.
Last but not least, there’s hair and make-up. Apparently, I’ve learned, many folks do one OR the other…at least in the Atlanta area. Axanar‘s main make-up person wasn’t available (booked elsewhere), but she helped us find two other folks. ASHEY will be doing our make-up on Sunday (not Saturday ’cause she’s booked), and INGRID will be doing hair all-day Saturday and half of Sunday (when she will have to rush over to the airport to get to her next gig). So we still needed a make-up artist on Saturday. Fortunately, Ingrid is bringing along a make-up artist on Saturday. Got all that?
Man, I’m sure I’m forgetting someone (or many someones). Please forgive me if I’ve left your name out, but things are moving a mile a minute leading up to our weekend shoot!
I’ll tellya, folks, it’s so intimidating to be doing all of this as a film industry novice, but I’m channeling all of my Project Manager experience from my previous occupations. And for any fan filmmakers out there reading this as a “how to” primer, trust me: you need to be organized. You need to plan as far out as you can. You need to keep your eye on every moving piece and never assume something is being done until you know it is being done. Always ask to make sure…even if you annoy the living daylights out of people (as I do with my directors). Because the one thing you forget to check is going to be the one thing that bites you in the rear regions.
My own current, “Holy frack, I almost forgot!” moment came when I realized I’d ordered the caterers but we had no tables or chairs. Sure, people could have sat on the floor or on the curb outside, but instead, I found a local event rental place, reserved 8 six-foot tables and 30 chairs, and arranged to have volunteer Scott pick them up on Friday while I’ll be in transit from Los Angeles to Atlanta. The rental and gas money for Scott (he needs to drive an hour with his trailer) will be about $115…just another nibble out of contingency.
For this reason, I’ve decided to leave the GoFundMe up just a wee bit longer. I might need to request just a few more donations once the budgeting dust settles after the shoot. It won’t be much, most likely, but best to at least have the option to ask for a little bit extra to cover overages.
I’d like to finish up this two-part blog by sharing something that MIKE BAWDEN said to me recently during a call. “Jonathan, whatever happens with Interlude—and I sincerely hope it all goes fantastic for you—this entire experience will be invaluable to you as a blogger. You’ve been a staple of this community for years now—liked and respected—but up until now, you’ve written about fan film production from an outsider’s perspective. This experience will open your eyes to so many things you didn’t even know you didn’t know…and it’ll make you an even better and more effective blogger for fan films. I couldn’t be more excited for you!”
Mike’s supportive words and encouragement mean the world to me. And he’s right in that this experience really is opening my eyes to so many things I didn’t even know I didn’t know. And that’s why I’m blogging about almost everything that happens with this production…because I want you not only to share the destination with me when we finally release Interlude, I want you all to share the journey (the TREK!), as well.