Archive for the ‘Spotlight Series’ Category

Seeing is Believing – Spotlight on Kurt Carley

06/05/2013

For those that have seen Starship Farragut’s “The Price of Anything,” you will definitely remember the cloaked Romulan super-soldier in the film.  That memorable, yet “unseen” character was played by Kurt Carley.  Kurt is no stranger to the fan film genre, having played Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek New Voyages, as well as Lex Luthor in “World’s Finest.”  I first saw “World’s Finest many years ago and thought it was a real movie trailer!  For those that may not be familiar with it, here it is:

Anyway, some more information on Kurt:

Kurt Carley started playing monsters in the original off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horror’s in 1986 and knocked around doing various puppets for a NYC based puppet company. In 1997 he moved to Los Angeles where he played Godzilla for the film of the same name for Roland Emmerich. Kurt has played numerous creatures and what not for films and television since then including: Lethal Weapon 4, Underworld 1, 2, and 3, The West Wing, Lady in the Water, Land of the Lost, Jack and Diane, The Today Show, various commercials, and the upcoming film Flight 7500.  Here is Kurt’s demo reel as a Suit Performer in Hollywood:

http://www.kurtcarley.com/kurtcarley.com/Home.html

The Starship Farragut shots with Kurt on the planet were filmed in Calico, California.

The Invisible Man - Kinda, Sorta

The Invisible Man – Kinda, Sorta

Michael Struck of NEO f/x who leads up special effects and post-production efforts for the webseries, spent a considerable amount of time defining how shots would work.  To ensure that the live action shots of Kurt would work effectively by the special effects team at NEO f/x, Michael came out on location.  He worked closely with the Director, Vic Mignogna, the Director of Photography, Matt Bucy, and Line Producer, Kasey Shafsky during the two-day desert shoot , and was able to direct the monster’s and camera’s actions to allow for easier effects creation.  Surprisingly, giving life to an invisible creature is not a simple task.

“While we could have shot the movements of the creature in a studio, it was better to have Kurt on-site and interact with the other actors.  However, that presented challenges of its own, considering that the creature was not supposed to have a shadow. Overall, a challenge, but one of the more ‘fun’ effects we have worked on in a while!”

Vic, Matt Bucy, Michael Struck and Kasey Shafsky prepare for FX shot

Vic, Matt, Michael, Kasey and Ralph Miller prepare for FX shot

I recently interviewed our Invisible Man on his work with us…

For “The Price of Anything”, you played quite a different role donning a green-screen outfit from head to toe and running in the Californian desert. What was that like?  I recall it being hard to see, perhaps breathe, and very cold out in the Californian desert.

I have done a lot of similar work for video games, films, and television over the years and it was an absolute pleasure to work with the director Vic and the entire cast and crew. Working in the suit was quite easy for me as I am accustomed to wearing much more ‘restrictive’ costumes and so the simple green-screen suit for “The Price of Anything” was a vacation.

Referring to the previous question, did you find it difficult being directed?

I did not find it difficult at all being directed as my ‘performance’ did not need to be as modulated or subtle as the real actors. I was there to be a reference for the actors and the FX people working in post-production. I did tell Vic my standard rule, which I tell every director I work with, which is: If I don’t understand what you’re TELLING me to do, SHOW me what you want and I’ll do that.

When you received the DVD and saw the completed film, what did you think?

I am always impressed with the quality of the product… especially when you realize that these are being produced with very little money. Of course I hated what I did, but I always do!

Overall, how would you describe your overall experience working with Farragut Films?

After we were finished I sent John Broughton a message and told him how much I enjoyed working with them and if the opportunity arose again, I would love to be a part of their work in some way. I love their passion and commitment and it really shows in everything they do.

What are some of the other film projects you’re working on?

I am working on some ‘top secret’ projects right now and I have hopes of doing an independent feature with my friend Sandy Collora, the director of Batman: Dead End later this year.

"Make a wish!" - Kurt, Todd Haberkorn and J. Broughton

“Make a wish!” – Kurt, Todd Haberkorn and J. Broughton

Look for more of Kurt’s distinctive voice and commanding presence on-screen and upcoming TV segments.  Who knows, Kurt may return in an upcoming Starship Farragut or Star Trek Continues episode, but certain that we’ll see his face next time.  Thanks from the entire cast and crew of Starship Farragut!

Spotlight Series: Jack Marshall

07/18/2012

It’s been awhile since we showcased someone – let’s shine the spotlight on Producer Jack Marshall!

Jack Marshall came aboard Farragut Films last fall.  Shortly after coming aboard, he was quick to bring value-add contributions as Assistant Director and Line Producer handling production management.  I recently chatted with Jack:

So, how does it feel to be working on a Star Trek webseries again?

That’s a tough question right out of the gate!  The last time I worked on a fan film was in the fall of 2005.  By February of 2006 I was working on Battlestar Galactica out in Los Angeles.  I mean, I was floored – I made it to Hollywood!  Cut to the fall of 2011, and once again I’m walking the decks of a Starship (and a Romulan Warbird as well)!  It’s nutty!!  The experience I had when I was asked to help out with Farragut during the filming of their newest episode was phenomenal.  At first, I was hesitant to get back into the fan film genre, but within a few hours of landing in Kingsland, Georgia, I knew I’d come home.

Star Trek is the main reason I work in television today.  When I was a kid, I read the famous “Making of Star Trek” and I knew, somehow, I would do that – I would be involved in this wonderful medium in some way.  So each time I’m on the sets, it’s like coming home to my childhood dream; the place where I received my inspiration.

I’ve often said that when it comes to any Star Trek webseries, there are two trains of thought: those that re-imagine the iconic characters and those that take a more original approach of a different ship and characters. Do you have a preference on these two approaches?

During the creation of the first web series I worked on, my party line was that the characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, etc were greater than the actors who played them.  I felt those characters had moved into folklore like Batman, James Bond, Superman, and more.  As a result, anyone could play them.

Now, many years later, I admit I was saying that as much to convince myself as I was to those who were following us.  We now have an official Paramount cast who are “replacing” the original cast onscreen.  It seemed to work for them.  But what they fail to realize, as others do, is that you can recreate the characters, but the spirit of those characters live within the actors who created those roles.  The characters we fell in love with are intrinsically tied to the actors that originally played them.  We just didn’t fall in love with Uhura, we fell in love with Nichelle (and Bill and De and Jimmy and all the rest).

In doing an Enterprise based series, you’re setting yourself up for the inevitable comparisons to the original actors and stories, to which you can never measure up.  So right out of the gate you’re at a disadvantage.  I think you get a lot more leeway if you’re creating new characters on a new ship and allow yourself to be led by the examples of TOS but not tied to any certain canon.  We know the history of the original characters as well as we know our own.  You know Kirk isn’t going to die in a fan episode, because you see him in the films for the next 30 years.  But take a character like “Tackett” and put him in a precarious situation and he COULD die – his history hasn’t been written yet, so the dramatic impact is greater.

I couldn’t agree more about the love we fans share for both the character and actor [being one].  While working with you, I’ve noted that you have excellent production management skills – an incredible skills set that is crucial to having a successful film shoot. Handling wardrobe, I often feel slighted in contrast to sets or operating the camera. Do you feel that your work is often overlooked?

As a preface to those who aren’t aware, what I do on set is run the daily schedule (and shepard each episode from pre through post production).  I stand in the eye of the hurricane and make sure each department is ready to go, knows what to do and is ready for what’s to come.  In the case of Farragut Films, I often feel like the conductor of a great orchestra surrounded by world class musicians who really know their stuff.

In the grand scheme of things, people aren’t all that interested in how the sausage is made, but rather how it tastes.  What matters to me is being respected by my peers; my film-making family.  Recognition off the set is the farthest thing from my mind.  In fact, I’d never do an interview like this for anyone but you Mr. Broughton – it’s goes against my nature of being happily anonymous!

I hope that each department feels “loved”.  I spend a lot of my time on set jumping from person to person just checking on how they’re doing, and letting them know they’re awesome.  That’s my other job – head cheerleader.  While the outside world may never know of each persons contribution to the show, I hope each person that works with us is aware at all times how valuable and loved they are for all they bring.

I will say this, I’ve never worked on a set, fan or professional, where so much love and joy in the work and in each other was so present.  The Farragut Films experience was utterly incredible.

“Let’s keep things moving folks, we’ve got a busy day.”

“…a conductor of an orchestra surrounded by world class musicians…”  NICE phrase!  When it comes to the magic of Star Trek, is there anything specific that you appreciate or gravitate more? For example, is it the chemistry of the characters, the stories, or that look and feel of 60’s TREK?

I think when I explore what turns me on about Trek, I usually find myself strongly drawn to its underlying philosophy.  I really wish we could become this “greater human” we grew to know in Star Trek.  This show shaped much of my own philosophy in life and I find it very satisfying to pay that forward and in a small way help to keep the original Star Trek alive.

Is there anything that you liked to see developed on Starship Farragut?

Keep growing!  The improvements you’ve made each year are amazing.  The new episode really knocks it out of the ballpark.  Take risks – use your characters in ways we could never use the TOS cast.  I’m not really suggesting you kill someone, but you can shake up the ship anytime and keep your audience on the edge of their seats.

Having worked in the industry doing film production management, how does what we do compare to Hollywood productions?

There is no doubt that what we do in the fan film genre is no different than the grind of a Hollywood production.  We employ just about every device used in the making of a Hollywood production from call sheets, travel coordination, catering and so on, except without a budget!  But being on set in Georgia is not very different from a wroking set in Hollywood.

The biggest difference is that in Hollywood, there can be competition between departments, with each blaming the other for a delay or problem.  In your shop, we all are there working together as a team, no one more important than another – each helping to make a dream come true.  If something needs done, no one hesitates to volunteer.  I’m constantly amazed at the quality of people you’ve assembled.  Each as eager to sweep a floor as don a costume.

The best thing you can do if you’re making a fan film is make it with people you love.  This is your free time and you certainly don’t want the experience to feel like a full time headache of a job!

Follow-up question – since you have worked on a SCI-FI production (Battlestar Galactica) and other Hollywood-backed productions, as well as Star Trek webseries – is there an original concept or idea that you’d like to see materialized?

In terms of Sci-Fi, I’d like Hollywood to move away from the dystopian future and back to a vision of the future that offers hope.  That’s something I’d like to work on.  Personally, if I could have my pick of projects, I’d LOVE to do a western in the form of the great western half hour dramas of the 50’s and 60’s.  I miss TV shows that had a simple message.  A lot of people seem to have forgotten the simple lessons (and joys) of life.

Thanks Jack – on behalf of everyone, thanks for your hard work and commitment. 

Jack hard at work with Kasey Shafsky on “The Price of Anything”

Tailoring to Starfleet 1701st’s Steve Thomas

06/07/2010

For this blog, I’d thought I’d direct some focus on the costuming aspects of Star Trek and Starship Farragut.  Much of what Farragut Films does with respect to producing the online series, Starship Farragut could be considered a “period piece.”  Just as American Revolutionary War reactors take pride and attention to detail with their military uniforms, so do we with the Starfleet uniforms of 1960’s TREK.  We’re talking about a TV show that is over 40 years old and we’re going for accuracy of the same patterns, fabrics, and colors of the 3rd season of Star Trek.  No detail is overlooked – whether having the fabric professionally dyed to match uniform swatches dating back to the original series, having the exact pattern of the rank braid embroidered, or having each costume tailored fit for each actor and background actor – every painstaking detail is applied to making this production as accurate to the exact look and feel of CLASSIC TREK.  After all, we pride ourselves on making, “CLASSIC TREK NOW.

We strive for authenticity with our Starship Farragut productions for a couple of reasons.  One, we’re fans ourselves, which means that we’re meticulous about details of Star Trek just as other fans are.  It is out of great respect and homage to the show itself.  Second, we know that if we don’t make every effort to go for the same look and feel – regardless of costumes, but including the sets, props, ships, etc. used, we will get pinged on this by the fan community.  Despite not having a Hollywood budget, we are committed to doing all we can realistically do make quality new episodes of Star Trek.  However, after almost five years now, I tend to think of ourselves as our own identity.  Gene Roddenberry often described Star Trek as “Wagon Train to the Stars” – I think we’re more like “Space Gunsmoke!

Anyway, I digress – getting back to the topic of costumes; I thought I’d interview someone who has been key to me in terms of providing support to me on the costuming front.  I should quickly point out that there are several other people have been instrumental on this front, including James Cawley, the Executive Producer of Star Trek New Voyages/Phase II, Tony Lawrence of the Star Trek Uniform Guide – an online resource that I became acquainted with years ago, Kathy Pillsbury who supplied me with my first few Star Trek costumes in the late 1990’s prior to me learning how to sew and make them myself, and lastly – the private collectors of original Star Trek costumes that allowed me to document/picture their collectibles for reference.  In time, I hope to also interview these folks for a future blog post.

Steve Thomas runs the Starfleet 1701st forum, dedicated to Star Trek fans desiring accurate replicas of Star Trek uniforms.  This website covers the entire gamut of Star Trek – from the uniforms in the initial two pilots, the original series of Star Trek, the movies, and other TV spin-offs, his forum provides a clearinghouse of information of folks exchanging information to assist each other.

Its good to speak to someone who appreciates the costumes of Star Trek.  You’ve truly taken an active stance managing the Star Trek 1701st forum with countless hours researching information and providing to the public.  Why do you think you’re enamored by the uniforms of Star Trek?

And thank you for your interest! First though,  I must correct you in that; the forum is an aspect of the “club” “Starfleet 1701st”. Inspired by the Star Wars club “501st Legion”, the Starfleet 1701st is helping members and fans make accurate recreations of the Starfleet uniforms, for gatherings, clubs and events! I believe our board is the first dedicated solely to Star Trek “Starfleet” uniforms!

As to the uniforms, I wouldn’t say “enamored” but appreciative of the work and thought that went into (most of) them. When I joined “Starfleet International” which was prior to the release of TWOK, I knew I wanted to have a uniform of some type. With that club, chapters are “starships” and the members “crew”. Thus we usually dress for the part which means “uniforms”. When the TWOK uniforms were revealed, at first I recoiled because they were so radical to the TOS design, even the TMP design. After seeing the movie, I decided I liked them! So was the start of my journey into Star Trek “Starfleet uniform” fandom!

I’m always fascinated by the fandom of Star Trek!  So, do you consider yourself a fan of the original series or all things TREK?

“TOS” very much so! It was the first that fired the imaginations of so many. I do appreciate the other incarnations, but I’m most fond of TOS. The other Treks, even TNG, don’t have the magic that TOS did. Of the other series, I liked “DS9” best. It showed another aspect of the Star Trek universe not seen before. “Voyager”  had an anthological aspect to it that I liked.

Do you own any original costumes?  If so, what are they?

I do not possess any as of yet. Actually re-creating the outfits has been more of interest. I’ve had opportunity to examine some of the actual outfits, but really have no desire to own one… unless if I can wear it in addition to displaying! It’s one thing to have it, another to wear it! Of course with Anovos preparing to commercially offer accurate recreations of these outfits, I will be happy with those too, but mainly, I’ve been keen on recreating the outfits as so many of us do.

I do collect mostly toys and memorabilia. I have about a $10-12K collection from over the years.

Some of Steve's Costumes (TNG-Style)

I learned that you do not sew, which surprised me.  You have a wealth of information through your forum, so I have to ask where you get your own costumes made?

No, I don’t sew but am fortunate and wise enough to find people who do and can assist. I’m like the “mission commander” of the club. I am president of the club and maintain the board, but it’s our “mission specialists” (our “Quartermasters”) who have specific sewing and/or uniform knowledge.  I have been fortunate to know a couple of folks in my area who are quite talented when it comes to these outfits.

Shoreleave 1987, Steve in Front & Center

You’ve seen episodes of Starship Farragut – what are your thoughts on our series overall and in costuming specifically?

For Farragut specifically, I like that it’s the stories of another ship of the fleet versus just the Enterprise; same for Exeter. It would be nice if all the original 12 could be represented! Your uniforms are quite well done! They fit well and it’s nice to see the Farragut insignia in addition to the familiar Enterprise. I’ve always liked that concept of each ship having its own distinctive insignia, just as each aircraft carrier has its own logo. Those field jackets were a nice touch too!

As I am a TOS fan, I really like and appreciate “Starship Farragut”, as well as Cawley’s “Star Trek Phase II”! I was sorry that “Starship Exeter” went under, though I understand “Star Trek Excalibur” is making a comeback after their misfortunes of past. With all your productions, I especially like the faithfulness that you’ve put into these productions. It’s what I call “heart”, something the Hollywood productions lack, even though they had fans working them.

And John, you must tell me who makes your unis! I can certainly send business their way if they’re amenable!

Thanks for the compliments – I’m the main costumer, but do have a couple of costume assistants that help me.  I’m not interested in taking orders – filming Starship Farragut adventures is a full-time job!

With last year’s JJ Abrams film of Star Trek – how did you like the homage to Bill Thiess’ original uniform design?

What I didn’t like was the mish-mosh of styles that didn’t really make sense (especially those butt-ugly Academy staff outfits!), though I understand Kaplan was paying homage to what went before. I hope that the ’12 movie will be more consistent concerning those uniforms.

The duty uni is not bad. Just little changes I would’ve made: using gold iron-on braid instead of silver and placing the ranking higher on the sleeve like TOS; blousing the pant leg over the top of the boot; tucking the shirt in when wearing the equipment belt.

I appreciate your time Steve; thanks for your hard efforts in providing a resource outlet for Star Trek costuming.

You’re welcome John! I’m happy to do what I can to help folks make the best-looking and most accurate Starfleet uniforms possible; getting away from “good enough”. Because so many now own the actual outfits from auction, there’s no need or excuse for “good enough” anymore.  I invite folks to look our board over and if they like what they see, to join the “Starfleet 1701st”club and help us in our on-going mission!

http://starfleet1701st.yuku.com/