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Thursday, October 5, 2017

From The Captain's Chair

STAR TREK CONTINUES started as an idea years ago, the realization of a dream “playing STAR TREK” as a child.  It’s been five years since we laid out the recreation of the TOS soundstage at our Georgia studio, and since then our first nine episodes have drawn more than 7,000,000 online views.

While our on-set shooting finished months ago, we’ve been working hard on post production and putting the finishing touches on the last two episodes of our series – an exciting two-part conclusion to STAR TREK CONTINUES entitled “To Boldly Go.”

We just wrapped up a weekend of recording a full orchestra made up of more than 40 student musicians from New York’s Empire Film Music Ensemble in Rochester as well as several professional instrumentalists. Their amazing work interpreting Andy Farber’s compositions will soon be heard.  Sound design and visual effects, along with the original music, really are the “icing on the cake” that give STC the look and feel of vintage STAR TREK.

Recently, our cast and crew accepted another half dozen awards for our work from both the Burbank International Film Festival and the International Independent Film Awards.  Such recognition from our industry peers is truly gratifying, and it’s good to have so many people enjoy the good work that we’ve created together.

Here’s the plan for the release of our final episodes this fall.

We’re excited to offer a special “sneak peek” of Episode 10 “To Boldly Go: Part I” on Sunday, October 8 at the New York Comic Con.  I will be on hand for that event and will be available for a question-and-answer session after the teaser screening.  The full episode will be released publicly on Wednesday, October 18, on our official STC website as well as YouTube and Vimeo.

Then finally, we look ahead to the end of October where attendees at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con will get “sneak peek” of Episode 11, “To Boldly Go: Part II” on Sunday, October 29.  There will be a red carpet arrival and also a question-and-answer with cast and crew.  I’ll also be attending that event, along with many of the faces of STAR TREK CONTINUES including Todd Haberkorn, Chuck Huber, Chris Doohan, Grant Imahara, Kim Stinger, Michele Specht, Kipleigh Brown, Cat Roberts, Tim Vittetoe, James Kerwin, Lisa Hansell and more!

Our final episode will be online for all to enjoy on November 13, as we wrap our “love letter to STAR TREK” for the enjoyment of fans worldwide. It’s been quite a ride… thanks for taking it with us!

Vic Mignogna

Film Festival Honors for STC

Makeup supervisor Tim Vittetoe, producer / makeup supervisor Lisa Hansell, actress Michele Specht, producer James Kerwin, and actress / episode writer Kipleigh Brown were on hand to accept the award in Burbank.
A series of industry awards brings new recognition to STAR TREK CONTINUES.  “What Ships Are For” (Episode 9) won the “Best New Media” category at the 2017 Burbank International Film Festival.

Rod Roddenberry saluted the series in recorded comments at the event, saying “I genuinely love what you’ve done and I think if my father were here he would want to, by all means, not just shake your hand but give you a hug for the phenomenal job you’re doing with STAR TREK in STAR TREK CONTINUES.”

“Still Treads the Shadow” (Episode 8), directed by Julian Higgins, also won five awards from the International Independent Film Awards, including Best Webisode.  Other honors go to Vic Mignogna with Best Actor in a Leading Role, and recognition for Production Design (William Smith and Scott Grainger), Sound Design/Editing (Ralph M. Miller), and Make-up (Lisa Hansell and Tim Vittetoe).

Elizabeth Maxwell Relishes Timely Story That Attracted Her to "What Ships Are For"

In the role of “Sekara” in “What Ships Are For,” Los Angeles and Austin-based actress Elizabeth Maxwell believes STAR TREK is again telling a story that needs to be told.

Maxwell says she got involved with STAR TREK CONTINUES because she and Vic Mignogna “run in the same professional circles,” with both doing extensive voiceover work for the same companies.  “I attended Paradise City Comicon, and Vic and Michele Specht and I got to know each other over the weekend.  He said there was an episode coming up that he thought I would be good for, and he suggested reading over the script and sending over a taped audition.  Of course, I was immediately game to do so!”  Maxwell had seen a couple of the previous STAR TREK CONTINUES episodes, so she was certainly familiar with the web series.

“When I read the script, it was like something discovered from Gene Roddenberry’s lost archives.  I have this strong, intuitive connection to Sekara.  "I immediately understand where this character’s mind and heart are. After sending in the audition I got the call.  That was a very good day.  They say in this industry that you do two projects for the money and one for you, paraphrasing Clint Eastwood.  Well this one was for me,” Maxwell said.

“I grew up on STAR TREK: Deep Space Nine and STAR TREK: The Next Generation, so I was very familiar with the universe.  But I remember a good friend’s dad watching The Original Series on TV.  Actually, watching the first couple of STAR TREK CONTINUES episodes made me curious enough to go back and watch more of the original episodes.”

“I am so impressed with writer Kipleigh Brown’s teleplay for Episode Nine.  I literally got chills when I finished reading that script.  I couldn’t believe how in alignment with the STAR TREK universe it felt.  It was smart and topical.”

The actress says the STAR TREK CONTINUES production team helped her feel at home.

“It felt like joining both a family and being part of history.  It was one of those really special projects that you come out of it and you feel like you’re a different person because of it.  One of the things that was so special about this project is that everybody who was involved with it – from directors and producers to the production crew handling make-up, sets, and lighting -- everyone was there because of a shared passion and belief in what we are doing.  Everyone working on STAR TREK CONTINUES has a true conviction that the show is really special.  That created a kind of bond that I found to be unique and rare in the entertainment industry.  There was so much love and respect and passion from every person involved.”

Alien Encounter
“We shot the episode in early February in Georgia.  There was a lot of work to figure out Sekara’s makeup, such as painting my entire body yellow with specific makeup on top of that.  As I recall it took about three hours of makeup in the morning to get ready each day.  And it took about 90 minutes every night to get scrubbed clean,” Maxwell remembers.

“I have been accused of being ‘too method,’ and the scene in the transporter room where I see color for the first time was a challenge.  I was told to be careful, and I was in heels on the transporter platform.  But, of course, I got way too into it and ended up stumbling down the stairs and falling.  So I was left with twin scars on my kneecaps.”

One perk of working on STC’s Episode Nine was acting alongside John de Lancie.  “Getting to hear John talk and do his monologues meant getting goosebumps going up and down my arms.  He is very charismatic.”

 “My character, Sekara, represents a lot of the positive potential of humanity.  She is optimistic and curious and intelligent. And I guess innocent is a good word, but not na├»ve.  There’s an endearing level of curiosity about her.  She came from a hermit race.  And then she was exposed to a lot of things at once, as an adult.  It was really refreshing to view the world through her eyes.”

“I have my own little tricks as an actor, to kind of create a backstory for myself and to get into the character’s head.  It involves a lot of journaling and playing ‘make believe’ when I’m alone.  Of course, I watched all of the STAR TREK CONTINUES episodes that have been produced.  And I did watch as many of the The Original Series episodes as I could get my hands on.  It gave me a good grasp of more of the style of the acting that would fit into the universe.”

Maxwell notes there are differences between acting for the TV screen in the 1960’s and today.
“It’s a very different style than what is common today.  It’s more theatrical – almost even operatic.  If you look at Sci-Fi shows and movies, there are a lot of different ways they communicate the story and the intensity – visual effects, music, and other elements.  With STAR TREK and other shows from the 1960’s, they didn’t have the benefit of sophisticated, computer-based special effects.  So the actors had the responsibility of carrying more.  They had to communicate both the intensity and the direness of the situation.  I think that modern acting tends to be more subtle.”

Maxwell grew up primarily in northern California, and then pursued acting in college in Los Angeles.  And she says it’s her older brother, Hampton, who is most excited about her appearance in a STAR TREK CONTINUES episode.

“He’s kind of been my geek mentor for my entire life.  He introduced me to all the geeky things -- video games, anime, and science fiction.  He was the person who held my hand and introduced me to this genre.”

Former Church Reborn As Planet Set for Two Very Different Worlds

Local Hardware Store is Source for Otherwordly Sets

As episode directors Vic Mignogna and James Kerwin surveyed the remaining stories that would round out the STAR TREK CONTINUES tale, they identified two opportunities to take advantage of a Planet Set envisioned for the southern Georgia warehouse that is home to the sets of the series.

“Our fans provided the resources to build a Planet Set, and once again we are following through with our promise – to deliver a spectacular set that will look and feel just like those great worlds they had on Stage 10 — at Paramount, fake rocks and all.  And I’m pleased to say that you’ll see this same, new set dressed completely differently in our remaining episodes,” Mignogna said.
“After we agreed on a story for Episode Nine, I decided to add a scene at the beginning that takes place on our new set.  But it would be a much different world than the one already planned for our last two episodes.  I don’t think it’s a big spoiler to mention that our two-parter will include a barren, rocky planet.  But first, Episode Nine takes place, in part, on a lush and heavily forested site,” said Mignogna.

But the warehouse housing the STAR TREK CONTINUES production only had a limited amount of space not already dedicated to standing sets of the Enterprise.  Makeup, Wardrobe, Prop, and Construction spaces were already committed, and so attention turned to a large room formerly used as a weekly gathering space and vacated by a local church.

“Our answer to the small size of the space was to build two permanent, strategically-placed rocky ridges out of styrene foam, up to 12 feet high, and combine that with a ground plane that sloped up as it neared the green screen back wall.  The ground surface was coated with something I formulated to give it a natural rocky desert look without us having to haul in dozens of tons of shifting, dust-cloud prone dirt. Also, the coating contained plasticizers to make it less painful when our actors had to do stunts on it.  There were also more exotic materials we had to order from far away, such as high-volume polyurethane insulation foam sprayers and large quantities of liquid latex,” said Greg Dykstra, who served as Art Director for Episode Nine of the series.

“Volunteer Scott Grainger and I largely worked out the plans and execution.  The planet set crew consisted of over a dozen people (not all working together at the same time) that also included Brandon Sharpe, Joseph John Roberts, Royal Weaver, Sam Rooks, Jay Pennington, Adam Dykstra, Molly Dykstra, Natalie George, Heather Grace Young, myself, and of course Vic, who had a vision about how we could make the Planet Set work in our available space,” Greg said.

“It was completely different from any other set we had built for STAR TREK CONTINUES.  All the sets for the Enterprise are based on the original.  There are photos to compare to, detailed measurements, exact colors that need to be in the final sets.  With the Planet Set, we had a blank canvas, so to speak.  We knew it would need a massive green screen to add the depth we would need for the shots,” explained John Roberts, who put his construction skills to work on the Planet Set project, plus served as Art Director on the final two episodes of the series.

“About 90% of our sets came from Lowe’s Hardware!  Who knew you could build homes and space ships and planets from a hardware store?  The big foam pieces came from a shop in Jacksonville, Florida, and that was the same place that did the foam work for the warp core and ceiling of Scotty’s Engineering Room,” Roberts said.

“The rocks for the planet are interesting.  Most were sprayed with an expanding foam.  Foam isn’t cheap and we used a ton of it!  But, we knew we needed another big, movable rock and used up any spare foam and boxes.  Once those items were taped together, they were sprayed with the expanding foam.  It took a couple of layers before the lines of the boxes disappeared, but it worked perfectly.  The rock was probably 10 feet tall with an eight foot wide base. Since it was mostly hollow, three people could move it for different shots and camera angles,” Roberts explains. “It was hard, messy physical labor” to create the Planet Set, which also had to be designed to be removable after production ended.

For Episode Nine, the barren planet had to look like a national park, with stately trees and a rolling landscape.

“A couple of our volunteers went to Wal-Mart and found a bed sheet set that had a print of fall leaves and twigs.  So we emptied that store of their camouflage sheets and stapled those sheets to our latex, dirt ground.  Then, our team filled many trash bags full of dead leaves and twigs and we covered that set with actual foliage.  Thankfully, wintertime in southern Georgia produces lots of dead leaves.  We used the leaves to break up the pattern of the bedsheets.  And it works like magic.  It looks so real, and so good onscreen.  And then we dug up or cut down small trees near the studio and made criss-cross wooden bases so that we could strategically place the trees wherever they were needed,” Mignogna said.

The crowning touch was an old theatrical trick that worked wonders.

“We needed a look that suggested a heavily forested world.  We couldn’t use a greenscreen for this episode, because the trees — as well as Kirk’s command-variant uniform — are green as well, and would ‘clip’ when adding a background in post-production.  We couldn’t use a bluescreen either, because McCoy and Spock’s tunics are blue.  So out of necessity, a wonderful solution was born.  I went online and looked up theatrical backdrops.  That’s what you rent if you’re doing a stage play and need to be in the middle of a forest – a mural filled with pine trees and redwoods.  You’ll be surprised how realistic it looks on camera.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


The cast and crew of STAR TREK CONTINUES finished principal photography on our series a few months ago, and we are working at warp speed to put all of the finishing touches on Episodes 9, 10, and 11 – which will complete our salute to The Original Series.

And while we are all sad to see STAR TREK CONTINUES come to a close, we have committed to our supporters that these last three chapters in our story will be finished and released this year.  That means three more upcoming premieres of the continuing voyages of the Starship Enterprise.

Episode Nine is in sound design and will have a debut screening at the end of July at Florida Supercon in Ft Lauderdale.  We’re so honored to announce some very familiar names in guest starring roles for Episode 9, including John de Lancie and Anne Lockhart.

Of course, John needs no introduction.  His character will be among the first to appear on our Planet Set (constructed with support from our crowdfunding campaign).

Anne Lockhart may be best known to science fiction fans for her role as “Sheba” on the original Battlestar Galactica, but she has also been in hundreds of other productions and commercials – including a recurring role in Chicago Fire on NBC.  (And, of course, her Mom was June Lockhart, the matriarch of Lost in Space!)

John de Lancie, Chuck Huber (McCoy) and I will each be guests at Florida Supercon.  So we hope you might plan a trip to Fort Lauderdale to enjoy the world premiere screening of “What Ships Are For,” at the end of July.  Details about the screening will be on the Supercon website.

Keep this comm channel open for more info about our final installments. And again, thank you to all of you for your enthusiasm and support for this "love letter to Star Trek".

Vic Mignogna

John De Lancie Beaming In To STAR TREK CONTINUES

With Episode 9, STAR TREK CONTINUES adds another feather to its cap -- versatile actor, comedian, singer, director, and producer John de Lancie.  Well-known to fans for his strong Trek background, de Lancie met STAR TREK CONTINUES founder Vic Mignogna on the convention circuit, and Mignogna offered him a role in the production.

“Vic asked me if I’d be interested in appearing in STAR TREK CONTINUES, and he told me a little bit about the show.  I asked him to let me read the script, and I was immediately impressed with it.  It’s definitely classic STAR TREK, because it’s a secular moral story and one that I think is particularly poignant in our current times.  I believe the material is the most important thing, and this is really good material.”  Episode 9 is penned by Kipleigh Brown, who appears as Lt. Smith in the series.

De Lancie says he’s “also very sympathetic to people who put together their own projects.  I know how much work it is.  And in this case, Vic has his hands in every element of the production.  It was an easy choice to say yes because I knew I could be somewhat helpful in a modest sort of way.  And I knew I would be acting in an interesting story.”

Strange New Worlds

De Lancie said he didn’t really have any preconceptions about STAR TREK CONTINUES, since he had not seen any of the series’ episodes.

“I have to say legitimately that I was really impressed,” once he joined the production crew on set in southern Georgia.  “There is a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of love went in to all of this.”

He said that he was surprised and “got chills” as he walked the halls of the Enterprise.

“I had the feeling that I was on a historic set, even if it is a facsimile of the original.  These were the identical colors to what was used in the 1960’s, when they were trying to sell color TVs.  And the other thing that struck me is that these sets have a certain 1960’s look, from the gadgets to the crew quarters.  This had the same look of all the shows that I used to watch as a kid.”

Growing up in the 1950’s, de Lancie said that he didn’t watch that much television, and in fact his parents had taken the TV away.    “I had a real problem with reading, so my parents just took the TV out of the house.”  De Lancie’s escape was Saturday afternoon science fiction movies at the theater.

For Episode 9, de Lancie is careful not to reveal any plot details when describing his character, except to say that there are elements of the character that are revealed as the story unfolds.

“He is a character not unlike many of us.  He has recognizable human traits and deep-seated prejudices.”

De Lancie came prepared for his role, just as he is for any acting assignment, and spoke his first lines on the Planet Set that had just been dressed into a lush forest environment.

Convention Capers

A frequent guest at conventions throughout the world, de Lancie had just returned from FedCon in Germany when he spoke to STAR TREK CONTINUES.

“I really do enjoy meeting the fans at the conventions.  I enjoy being up on stage and answering the questions.  And I enjoy having drinks later with the actors.  But what is becoming wearisome is the travel – especially if you go overseas.  It takes your body about three days to adjust to a new time zone, and then the event is over and you’re heading back the other way.”

Travel has certainly been on his agenda of late for another reason, since the entire de Lancie family recently returned from a big journey.

“My wife was in Burma, teaching.  So I went with her.  Then we went to Vietnam, and then our kids joined us in Japan and the whole family took a boat trip.  I was back for a couple of days, did a convention in Phoenix, and then it was off to Bonn, Germany,” for FedCon.

Ponies, Dragons, and Video Games
The busy actor has another fan base, far different from those who appreciate his Trek credentials.  For the past six years, de Lancie has been the voice of a dragon named Discord on the cartoon series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

“Yes, there are conventions for My Little Pony.  But it’s a very different fan base.  I like particularly talking with the little kids.  They have a hard time imagining that they’re looking at someone their grandfather’s age who plays a mischievous dragon.  It’s also an unusual fan base, in the adult world.  I did a documentary about that.  I like the show very much, because it also has a sort of secular morality attached to it.  You don’t need to have a religious text to be the source of a moral lesson.  There are a lot of unusual people involved with My Little Pony.  I talk to a lot of people in the military who just like looking at something bright, happy, and upbeat,” de Lancie says.

In addition to the My Little Pony TV series, de Lancie has also voiced his character for a Pony video game.  And he’s worked as a voice actor for games like World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, and others.

“While I don’t play video games, I was asked a few years ago to do voices for one.  I’ve watched my kids over the years play a lot of games.  I’m a big history buff, so one thing I really liked about the game Assassin’s Creed was the fun way they went back in time with very detailed representations of Florence and Constantinople.

“I like the fact that doing video games keeps me current in the minds of people who are 20 years old,” he adds.

Guest Star Anne Lockhart Comes Full Circle with STAR TREK CONTINUES

An actress and voiceover artist with literally hundreds of credits to her name, veteran performer Anne Lockhart will be a guest star in Episode 9, which will have a debut screening in late July.

Lockhart is best known to science fiction fans for her groundbreaking role as Sheba in the original Battlestar Galactica in 1978.  Now her travels take her to another science fiction universe.  An invitation to join the cast came from STAR TREK CONTINUES creator Vic Mignogna.

“I’ve known Vic for a couple of years.  He called me one day and said that he had an idea to talk about regarding STAR TREK CONTINUES, which was a guest starring role in an upcoming episode.  And I asked him what took him so long!  It’s such an honor to be in an episode, because I’m a fan.  I love the whole look and the concept of it.  And the fact that I got asked to be part of that universe is amazing,” Lockhart says.  “I was there before I’d even read the script!”

Lockhart loved working with fellow guest star John de Lancie on the episode, and it was actually the second time that both had worked together.

“We did the first two-hour episode of EMERGENCY, a long time ago.  I don’t think he remembered being in that one with me.  He played a doctor, and I was his patient – rescued from a burning building.  I remembered him because he was so dear.  Working with John is joyful.  There are so many actors who just show up and do it in their sleep.  But not him.”

Lockhart has built an impressive resume over several decades of TV, film, and commercial work.  Her first series was Lassie in the late 1950’s, as a child actress.  Years later, Glen Larson, the creator of Battlestar Galactica approached Lockhart about a role in proposed series.

“The role of Sheba was written for me.  I knew Glen Larson because I had done episodes of the The Hardy Boys for him.  He sent me the barebones pilot script for Battlestar Galactica.  And basically it was about a bunch of guys and a girl who came in every few pages and said ‘don’t forget your laser gun.’  I turned it down,” Lockhart explains.  She was recovering from a fire that had burned down her house and was living with her mom (TV actress June Lockhart) at the time.

“Glen said he could always rewrite the character, and the script went through several re-writes.”  Lockhart loved the revised script and came aboard the Battlestar.

“Jane Seymour didn’t want to do a series.  So they killed her character.  The character of Sheba was so strong and so wonderful to play – and it was nothing like the original script.  I ended up with a better character.”

Being in space was nothing new to the Lockhart family.  Lockhart’s real mom played Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space, the mother to a family traveling the stars.  Some days, Anne and her sister were dropped off at the 20th Century Fox lot to wait for their mom to finish her work and do homework in her dressing room.

“I remember one day there was a chunk of time when Billy Mumy (who played Will Robinson) had nothing to do.  We just took off and wandered the Fox lot for two hours, exploring the sets of shows like Peyton Place.  And then we finally wandered back.  My mom was panicked.  And so was Billy’s mom,” Lockhart laughs as she recalls the memory.

Currently, Lockhart stays busy with the recurring role of a dispatcher on Chicago Fire, a role that she has to reprise at the drop of a hat.  “There are some times when they’ll call me over the weekend and say that I have to be in Los Angeles on Tuesday.”

She worked out the schedule to come to southern Georgia and the new planet set of STAR TREK CONTINUES for her role in Episode 9.

“We worked our tails off.  Vic shot over twenty pages in three days.  That’s just insane.  But that shows how good he is.  It shows how good the crew is.  I was just so overwhelmed with the commitment and the people who were there volunteering their time, just out of love.  It was really a wonderful experience.”

Like William Shatner, Anne Lockhart has a fancy for horses and has raised thousands of dollars of the years with rodeos benefitting autistic children.  And she serves on the board of directors for the Thousand Oaks, California Kingsmen Shakespeare Company.

“It’s been several years since I’ve appeared on stage with Kingsmen.  It was started by my friend Lane Davies, and literally it started with a dirt stage and two lights.  Now it’s one of the premiere Shakespeare companies in the country.  My children have grown up performing with me.  It was so cool to go there, thrown down your blanket, and see Shakespeare presented in a very contemporary way.  We did Julius Caesar, but set in a city like New York.  It was like The Godfather.  We did The Merry Wives of Windsor as if it was the swinging London scene of the 1960’s.  It’s not just a bunch of people in togas,” says Lockhart.

While she has seen some rough cuts of the episode, Lockhart says she’s looking forward to the public release of Episode 9.

“This was kind of like a dream come true for me.  Being part of the STAR TREK universe is something I’ve looked forward to doing.  I adored STAR TREK.  And Lost in Space, to be honest, kind of became a comic book.  STAR TREK was always just my favorite.”