INTERLUD is finally out and the reviews are flying! On YouTube, the video was viewed 15,000 times in three days, with 97% ‘thumbs up’. If you haven’t seen it yet, to quote Chekhov: It’s about time…
The praise and recognition are enormous and very rewarding for all team members. And, of course, there are critics. Inevitably, we can’t please all Trekkies all the time. The trick to surviving bad reviews is to focus on the good ones. If you give too much weight to your criticism, the negativity will pull you down like an anchor. It is the positive and encouraging comments that give us courage. If you want to keep breathing, use it as a handy levitation device.
Or you can just do what I do and respond to the negative YouTube comments: I’m really sorry that so many people disagree with you.
Some said the interlude was too short (is that criticism or praise?) or that Ares and Artemis should have fought back. The Klingons disabled the weapons systems on both ships – listen carefully to some of the background conversations on the bridge – and, as you’ll learn in the Axanar episodes, the new D7s were almost invulnerable to blasters and photon torpedoes.
Some said Alec Peters played better in the first half, others said he played better in the second half. Some felt he couldn’t play at all, but then again, most fans couldn’t have done better and probably a lot worse. You have to be confident to be in front of the camera for the lead in a fan film….. Let alone a movie that probably has hundreds of thousands of viewers. On the day of filming, Alec worked hard for ten long hours and a few more hours to finish the interview for the epilogue. I wasn’t expecting to see Laurence Olivier or Tom Hanks and I was very pleased with Alec’s performance.
Oh, and for those complaining about Gowron Alec’s bulging eyes, watch the TOS Who Gods Destroy episode again. I can see that Garth’s appearance is more than a mistake …..
On the other hand, the praise from newcomers to fan films and other WARREN HAWK geek fans was almost universal. Everyone loves Warren as Captain Jacand, and so they should! Warren gave a wonderful, passionate performance… …and I love her deep, velvety voice.
(And think about it: In the Avalon universe, Captain Jakand might not be dead. So, guys, start saving the viewers’ money, because maybe in a few months you can help bring him back to the fan films 😉
A number of people, including former DC Comics Batman editor JORDAN GORFINKEL, have asked me why Artemis didn’t escape from the pods to save some of her crew. My answer: If Artemis is destroyed and Ares is deformed, all escape gondolas are at the mercy of the Klingons… and Klingon mercy is clearly an oxymoron. These crew members will either work away from the targets or be quickly captured, tortured for Starfleet secrets, and then killed. Better to die quick and clean.
Many people gave their opinions and made suggestions on what we could have done differently. You could, you should, you should… It’s too late to change it now. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s too late to change anything. Interlude is finished and published. As they say on Earth: That’s life.
The folks at Axamonitor call Interlude everything from a disaster to words I refuse to post on an adult blog. But I stopped paying attention to them a long time ago (like most fans). Half a decade is a long time to hold a grudge and not move on, right?
But there is one person who went, CHRIS CONDON, who did not resort to the predictable reaction of all things Axanar or Alec Peters. Instead, he wrote a very thoughtful (and polite!) response and review on Facebook. It was so refreshing compared to most of what I’ve seen from the rest of the Nuss gallery, I decided to respond to Chris’ three main criticisms with author/producer explanations. It was not an attempt to be defensive or dismissive. I just wanted to explain where my team and I stand and why I/we made this decision – for what it’s worth.
The other party’s response and my response were so interesting that I decided to reproduce both responses here in blog form. So let’s read what Chris said first:
Congratulations on that.
There’s obviously a lot of baggage surrounding Alec and Axanar, but I’ve tried to look at things impartially and give a fair assessment. I am not a director and, at best, an amateur actor, which of course qualifies me as a critic.
I think that’s a good thing. I don’t think he’s as good as he could be, and I only say that because I know what they did to Horizon and STC.
So my criticism may be evasive or worthless, but I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it was formulated.
First, a little familiarity. Great special effects. Change enabled. The assistant actors are very good. Captain Artemis is brilliant. They managed to get a good performance out of Alec (at least in the first half). He’s not stunning, but his facial expressions and tone match the text he’s speaking, which has been a problem for him in the past.
As for the criticism:
1. The story itself. Maybe it’s because we’ve already read the comic, but the story of this victim has been done so many times in so many genres that I wonder why it was repeated here. It would have been nice to see a different approach to explaining Ramirez’s loss, or at least a creative captaincy from Garth that allows both crews (if not both ships) to survive.
2. The bridge scenes are very static compared to the outdoor shots. There is no sense of movement, no sense of urgency, no sense of struggle. It’s kind of a thrill.
3. Documentary. Apart from numerous interruptions where Alec tries to evoke emotion (a bit ten years after the battle), he basically explained what we just saw. A little more dialogue or narration in the first half would have made the documentary unnecessary and made the film more enjoyable, in my opinion.
Again, I don’t want to complain. These are my honest impressions and I hope you will accept my congratulations.
Well, my friends, that’s how you write a good review! And my sincere thanks to Chris for putting so much thought and fairness into his comments. Of course, I appreciate the positive words, and I thank him for them. Let’s look at his three main criticisms: …..
1. Remember, the whole interlude was created to build on an abandoned line in the first version of Alec’s 15-minute suite:
A squadron of the Federation First Fleet, with Admiral Ramirez aboard, has been ambushed by three Klingon D7 battlecruisers deep in Federation territory. In the first major battle since its introduction, three D7s destroyed an entire Starfleet squadron. Admiral Ramirez is badly injured, and Ares’s Artemis-class ship is lost at every battle.
Of course, this should explain the absence of actor TONY TODD in both sequels, but it was really all I had to work with, and my original version of Interlude was just a short three-page opening sequence for my alt-Axanar review of Alec’s script (which he won’t use, but I’ll post it somewhere after the sequels are released).
You are right that there is nothing particularly new or innovative in the history of heroic sacrifice in battle. It’s a trope, and I know it. As in kabuki theatre, the pleasure is not in being surprised by the ending (which is already known to every member of the audience who enters), but in seeing the performance itself and how the actors’ version of the story progresses towards the inevitable denouement.
However, there is another part of my plan that most people don’t know about. This film is not only about Yakanda’s sacrifice, but also about Garth’s reaction to not being allowed to make this heroic sacrifice himself. Like Kirk, Garth is the perfect martyr for the Don’t Take Me Instead program! who wants to be a noble hero. In this case, he is denied that opportunity and actually has to do what he considers cowardly and let his friend (brother) die while Garth and his team run for their lives. It is clearly Garth’s duty to save Admiral Ramirez, but in his mind and heart, Garth will think forever: I should have died that day, my team, not Jakanda. Survivor’s guilt.
I’ll be exploring Garth’s PTSD in a new Axanar, Why We Explore, which I’ll post for Axafans after the two sequels come out. I’ve already explored another brick in Garth’s traumatic wall in my previous novel, Axanar Why We Fight (recognize the pattern in the titles?).
Click to read this story by Axanar.
In my opinion, Garth comes from a broken war… but inside, not out. Eventually he decides to move on, to explore the universe again (his first and best destination, if you will), but he will always carry the emotional wounds of war with him.
In my personal canon, Garth lost his mind two decades later, not only because he learned cellular regeneration, but also because this new ability to become someone else triggered a long-standing trauma of powerlessness in the war to stop the pain, loss, and carnage (Harnage?). Garth had power now and wanted more. He wanted to rule the universe so there would never be another war. He would kill in the name of peace. Crazy, yes, but based on the trauma he’s been carrying for decades. Interlude is part of that trauma.
2. The choice of photos and coasters was up to Josh and Victoria, but I fully support what they did. The interlude was meant to give an impression of TOS, and TOS never had a shaky camera. Space battles, even the most epic in the early films, featured long rest periods between advances. In fact, even TNG and other modern pre-CBS and pre-JJ treks were filmed this way during their fight scenes.
Josh felt that too much shaking of the camera could distract from the important parts of the dialogue. (Also, there would probably be complaints about being too restless all the time. Remember what I said about being happy all the time as a Trekkie). Well, to be fair, we had a big quake that completely messed up Garth and Jakande, and several other smaller quakes. But in the end we decided to let the inertial dampeners do their work while the deck officers concentrated.
Besides, it was also a practical choice. While TOS had some of these iconic flying moments, they can be dangerous for the actors (and often the TOS parts with big falls in the 1960s were done by professional stuntmen). We didn’t have any stuntmen. Alec’s insurance probably wouldn’t have covered the injuries from an intentional jump over the bridge either. And of course, despite the strength of the structure, the bridge wasn’t exactly positioned for people to throw themselves onto the supports, railings and walls. Not to mention the cost of replacing panels or digital screens when they break!
3. We have to agree to disagree. I felt like Garth and Slater had to unpack this for us at the end. In fact, we lost a little focus during Battle Football, which you’ll see in an upcoming blog called The Cutting Room Floor. So part of the exhibition had to return at the end so that the interlude would make sense and fit into the whole. You see, part of the untold story of Axanar, as the Klingons discover that new heavy cruisers are being built in orbit around the planet Axanar. There’s another line in Alec’s script that gets thrown out:
They had spies, we had spies. That’s the nature of war. It was brave, but you didn’t have to be a scientist to know we were compromised.
But for me, the HOW was a potentially fascinating story in itself! How did the Klingons lure a spy into Starfleet? How did Starfleet know who this spy was without warning him? And most importantly: How could Starfleet give this spy information about Axanar to leak to the Klingons, and did this spy not realize he was passing on false information to trap Harn’s forces? These questions were a big part of my alt-axanar version of the script.
Another reason for this documentary was to better integrate Interlude into the PRELUDE TO AXANAR format and its two upcoming sequels. For me, Aksanar’s story benefits from the format of hindsight….. like documentaries about the Civil War or World War II. The interviews with talking heads offer insight and the opportunity to go beyond what is simply shown in the dramatic sections. I think using both formats together gives you the best of both worlds, allowing for a more complete experience of the fan_™s movie. At least in this case. I don’t recommend presenting all fan films this way.
And without the documentary’s epilogue, there would only be 6 minutes of real fan_™ film. People already thought it was too short!
And finally, I did it for Slater. Part of the reason the afterword to the documentary exists is that I wanted to give Steve Jepson a chance to be heard, not just seen, and I wanted to establish (with Alec’s help) that Slater has gone from commander to director of the Academy since Starfleet. There is a whole story behind it, which I will also go into in Why We Explore.
Anyway, I knew the interlude wouldn’t be for all fans. Could it have been better? Yes, of course. It could have been worse. But this is a fan film with a writer/producer who has never done anything like this before. I started Interlude in the first place to get the experience of producing a Star Trek fan film with a top crew, to learn all kinds of things along the way, and to share this (Trek) journey with all of you.
So I’d say we accomplished what we set out to do ….. to a great extent. As for whether Interlude was decent or terrible, or somewhere in between – in a dream, isn’t it the dreamer who has to feel good in the end? Yes, of course!
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