I am pleased to announce that the second Star Trek fan film I co-wrote has now been released online. It’s a brand new story with new characters set within The Next Generation era of the show.
The Holy Core (Parts I & II) finds Starfleet assisting on VITA II, a planet which is recovering from half a century of war. Attempting to clean their atmosphere of harmful radiation begins a chain of dramatic events which explore the very nature of science, faith and religion.
THE HOLY CORE
CAST & CREW
Director: Gary O’Brien Editor/FX: Gary O’Brien Producers: Paul Laight, Gary O’Brien, Alexander Mayer Writers: Paul Laight, Gary O’Brien Cast: Hannaj Bang Bendz, Alexa Brown, Rachel Dobell, Drew Elston, Arjun Khera-Bhullar, Paul Laight, Philip Wolff
Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights of copyrighted elements will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.
FIX FILMS PRESENT: CHANCE ENCOUNTER (2017) – A STAR TREK FAN FILM
If you didn’t know, as well as being a wage slave and film blogger, I am also a screenwriter, producer, caterer, florist, dead body and whatever job comes up during the low budget filmmaking process. The production company I set up over ten years ago is called Fix Films and our work can be found here.
Myself and my filmmaking partner – director, editor, cinematographer, visual effects dude – Gary O’Brien have worked on nine previous shorts and our tenth is now being released TODAY!
It is called Chance Encounter and is a gentle and heart-warming narrative set in the Star Trek Universe. Yeah, that’s right – Star Trek! We had a successful Kickstarter campaign and raised the £2,000 plus-some-change budget ourselves and made the film with professional actors and crew, plus I was involved too. The original Kickstarter video can be seen here:
Having written the screenplay myself with Gary and worked on the shoot I am very proud of the film and feel our intention of respecting the sci-fi and romance genres, as well as the Star Trek universe itself has been achieved. Indeed the trailer here really captured the mood of our intentions.
This has especially been a labour of love for Gary; and his work directing, creating the sets, editing and designing all the visual effects himself is an incredible achievement on such a small budget. So well done to him for doing the screenplay justice. I also thank the brilliant cast and crew for their professionalism and efforts. We could not have done it without you.
So it is with great pleasure I present Chance Encounter (2017). This is our short film – please watch it!
Another indulgent look back on works of yesteryear and Fix Films 4th short movie was a cheeky comedic chamber piece starring two excellent actors Chris Crocker and Phil Wolff. Technically speaking it’s very lo-fi with basic sound, natural lighting and a simple story of two cops on a stakeout chewing the fat over a possible adultery. In some ways it is more of a first draft film demo and was not intended for festivals and competitions. However, there is much to enjoy.
“And you wanted to extend that bone to her sister.” – JACK
Our intention was not to make another short as Gary was in the midst of post-production on Elephant Trunk (2008), but for reasons which elude me that was taking a while. Then we needed some urgent dialogue re-recorded with Chris, thus, I came up with the idea of shooting a quick short over a few hours AND getting the dialogue done at the same time. My flatmate had just moved out too so I had a free room too.
The idea came from an internet story which was doing the email rounds in the office and was called The Love Test. The characters are clearly archetypes seen on a thousand cops and robber shows but as I say we were going for direct and simple here. Phil played Jack, a jaded older cop who “coaches” the younger more sensitive Chris on the nature of what is or isn’t infidelity. Safe to say his advice isn’t particularly sage-like. This, the opposition of the characters and chemistry between the two actors is what drives the comedy.
“Love is natures’ way of conning you into the act of pro-creation!” – JACK
Looking back it’s certainly a funny script with great performances from Chris and Phil and it shows that with a couple of decent actors, some funny characters and a single room you can make something worthwhile. I had a lot of fun writing and filming this with the director Gary and cast. What it lacks in technical gloss it makes up with in humour, performance and some humorous lines. Here is the film:
‘CHANCE ENCOUNTER’ UPDATE: STAR TREK TRAILER REVEALED
Greetings. As you may or may not know I have been working on a Star Trek fan film with my movie-making partner Gary O’Brien. It’s a non-profit fan production which we have made on a shoestring. Having written an original screenplay and shot the brilliant script, we have now reached the post-production stage.
This is where Gary’s editing and F/X skills now take over and I am now proud to announce the release of a website – www.startrekshortfilm.com – plus the trailer below:
We have a lot of work to go but the shoot was an absolute blast and I thank the actors and crew for their brilliant work. Here are some stills of the production days where, amidst the hard graft, creativity and endeavour, a fantastic time was had by all.
This is our 9th short film to date – for all our productions do check out our website: www.fixfilms.com. Further updates to follow. Live long and prosper!
Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film intended for recreational use. No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.
Having successfully hit our Kickstarter target for funding our latest short film goes into pre-production. And we have some exciting news in regard to casting!
If you didn’t already know Chance Encounter is the 9th short film from Fix Films. The film itself is a 15 minute romantic drama, with a gentle and life affirming tone to it. Essentially it is a love story, dealing with the decision between spending a life with a devoted partner, or embarking on a dream career. There is also some intrigue, as two key characters investigate, pursue and attempt to make sense of the unusual actions of the leading man.
Our first actress – Ayvianna Snow – has been cast in the leading role of Rose Tennant and very talented she is too.
We are very excited about the project – please do check out the latest update video the director Gary has made. Expect more updates to come.
The traditional capitalist Hollywood machine model that has dominated the moviemaking industry remains in place like a fiscal contagion. Indeed, the money-people, financiers, studio bosses and banks that control the higher end of the cinema market are mostly beyond the reach of the struggling low-budget filmmaker. Some indie filmmakers battle the snakes and move up the ladder but more often than not they fall to their death into a pit of deathly vipers.
In the past there was purity to raising funds for the independent filmmaker. David Lynch made garden sheds when making Eraserhead (1977). Rebel filmmaker Roberto Rodriguez, allegedly, sold his body to science to raise the money for El Mariachi (1992) and the Coen Brothers shot a no-budget trailer for Blood Simple (1984) before approaching the Hadassah, the Zionist women’s charity, for production monies. Meanwhile, Terence Malick’s classic Badlands (1973) was funded by his own money and by doctors and dentists he had pitched the film idea to.
Oh, how times have changed; sort of! Aside from using bank loans, inheritances, student loans, government grants and maxing out credit cards there is an alternative to raising project budgets. Because now artists, filmmakers, writers, dancers, jugglers, mimes, comedians and authors in general can now reach out to the internet with their “begging” bowl via the plethora of online sites such as: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Crowdfunding and many more.
As an independent filmmaker with eight films produced I personally like the romantic idea of working and saving and, on occasions, asking friends for loans to make my films. However, my attitude has shifted – because I’m broke – therefore me and my filmmaking partner Gary O’Brien have begun a Kickstarter campaign for our latest production called: Chance Encounter: A Star Trek Short Film. Click for the LINK:
CHANCE ENCOUNTER: THE STAR TREK STORY!
This is a universal love story set in outer space within the Star Trek television series world circa Next Generation era. It concerns two characters that randomly meet and have a big impact on each other’s lives. While I love sci-fi stuff with aliens and ray-guns this is a gentler story which favours character interaction and themes of loss, love and fate over special effects and monsters. We are not asking for massive donations and believe this to be a fantastic film to invest in.
Please watch our video and invest in our film; any amount will help us achieve our goal. Failing that I may be forced to sell a kidney or lung in order to hit the target.
IMPORTANT: “Star Trek” and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. The videos, the promotion thereof, and/or any other materials created by us are not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made film, intended for recreational use. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
In no case is the use of said copyrighted material, with or without identifying symbols, intended as a claim of ownership or infringement of those copyrights/trademarks by the maker of these videos or their content providers.
FIX FILMS RETROSPECTIVE #3 – THE TWO MINUTE SILENCE (2007)
Once again I look back nostalgically on the production process of one of the shorts I made and the creative decisions around it. Indeed, in 2006 the Fix Films bandwagon continued with abandon; well, I’d managed to get some money for our next low-budget short somehow; and it was to be known in Internet-land as The Two Minute Silence!
After the arduous creative endeavour of A Far Cry (2006), for our next short film, me and Gary decided it may be better to stick to something slightly more contemporary. Thus, I pitched an idea for a group of office workers and their behaviour during a “Two-Minute Silence”. I assume everyone knows what this is but basically the whole nation contemplates a tragic event or international loss; IN SILENCE. Quite rightly the companies or organisations put this convention in place in order to respect those who have lost their lives due to a terrorist attack or some other horrible tragedy. It’s an interesting and important part of the bereavement process and used to be a minute but when writing the script I’d noticed they’d been increased to two minutes; possibly due to grief inflation or some such reason.
My idea stemmed from a couple of situations that I felt could be rinsed for comedic and dramatic purposes. Firstly, from personal experience I recall a number of “silences” in the office environment I worked in. As awful as this sounds my mind wandered quite quickly from the tragedy to my own mortality before moving swiftly on to what I may be having for dinner later. Consequently I felt if I had that thought then others must do too. Secondly, I also had a sketch idea that during some pursuit or chase it may be funny or suspenseful to have the criminals and cops have to stop, out of respect, while a silence is occurring. So rather than something serious, that was the tone and angle I was going for.
The chase sequence was the most interesting idea for me, but I kept coming back to an ensemble idea of eight or so characters in one room with their thoughts projected by voiceover to the audience. Thus, I set about writing the screenplay with archetype characters in the first draft simply named: the Romantic, the Bitch, the Penitent One, the Actor, the Slob, the Boss and so on. The key was to establish the characters quickly and give them each a recognisable situation with which to bounce the humour and pathos off. Indeed, I went for punchlines such as: the easy humour of a guy needing a shit; a romantic couple; the slimy Boss deciding who to give a promotion too; a religious person praying; someone actually respecting the silence; and a more complex situation of a potential madmen planning on killing his colleagues.
Once the script had gone through a number of drafts and I was satisfied there were enough pay-offs in the brief slice-of-life structure I started the casting process. Now, this is something I am very proud of as a producer because, as the film was self-financed, I pretty much handled all the castings and location scouting and worked really hard in my own time to find the right people and places. In terms of location we needed a conference room that could be used WITHOUT any interruption thus I paid for an expensive meeting room in Holborn, I think. The casting wasn’t so simple though. Thankfully there is so much acting talent out there I whittled the forty or so candidates I individually met down to these brilliant people: Faye Barber, Richard Cambridge, Chris Crocker, Enid Gayle, Chris Polick, Suzanne Rabia, Animesh Rawal, Joel Stubbs and Philip Wolff.
Ironically, for a film which intrinsically dealt with a specific two minute period it actually ran for ten minutes, and the two-day shoot was fantastically helmed by Gary with me on board as Production Manager, runner, caterer, cigarette wrangler etc. It’s always our rule that we pay the actors and while it certainly wasn’t big bucks we got so much hard work from the cast I was very proud of everyone. Ensemble casts could arguably be fraught with egos or prima donnas but we had none of that and the filming was a joy. The added bonus that it wasn’t outside in the pissing rain and mud, miles from civilisation in a field – like A Far Cry (2006) – also sweetened the whole deal too. Special mention to the brilliant sound guy Oli Cohen and simple but precise camerawork of James Abbott.
What I learnt most from this experience was that if you cast your film right then you will have a positive product. I don’t necessarily mean just good acting but decent people too who understand the script and work well as part of the ensemble. Pretty much 96.7% of our castings have been right on all our short films and The Two Minute Silence especially benefited from a good premise, a witty script, professional direction and quality actors. We had a mild drama when filming at the Cenotaph for one scene as we did not have permission and the police moved us along. However, looking back the project was an utter joy and we would get some great feedback and screenings in film festivals and on TV including: Angel Film Festival, The Big Chill Festival, Eastnor, Blue Light District, London Filmmaker’s Convention, Non-Multiplex Cinema Film Group, Portobello Film Festival, Propeller TV/Sky Channel 195, Reading Fringe Festival and Rotoreliefs.
Looking back on it now I think it stands the test of time as a decent character comedy that holds an honest mirror up to the nature of humanity. It’s economical and punchy and still makes me laugh. Plus, I had a wonderful experience making it too. Thanks to all involved; here’s the film:
FIX FILMS RETROSPECTIVE #2 – A FAR CRY (2006) By PAUL LAIGHT
And thus I continue my look back to the past short film projects I have made with Gary O’Brien under the Fix Films umbrella.
A FAR CRY (2006)
A FAR CRY (2006) was our second short film. It was also our most expensive. I admit I got myself into some debt on a credit card/overdraft for this film. I’d finished my Master’s Degree a couple of years before. I had hope that if I made a great short film I could possibly ignite a career as a writer or producer or both within the British Film Industry. At the very least I had hope I would have a show reel piece and even if I started at the bottom I could work my way up within a reputable production company. I was wrong. But I was naïve and ambitious and that drove the whole production. I have no regrets though as A Far Cry is — despite its many faults — is a brilliant short film.
It all started one drunken evening in Ascot somewhere and myself and Gary had enjoyed the process of making our first short film — the revenge comedy Getting Back Mr Hunt (2005) which you can read about HERE — SO much we crazily thought let’s do another one. What followed was a crazy, stupid and wholly memorable experience as we put A FAR CRY into pre-production. I cannot quite recall why we chose to do a war film. I guess because we both love war films; and didn’t think it through properly in regard to the amount of work that it would entail.
I know we definitely wanted to do something involving a moral dilemma where the main protagonist had an impossible decision to make. We wanted the audience to ask themselves: “WHAT WOULD I DO IN THAT SITUATION?!” Moreover, as it’s a war film it obviously had to be bad. Really terrible. A decision that would haunt the character and the audience. I think with THAT ending we achieved that. So, eventually we spent months on the screenplay batting it back and forth until we’d moulded something we were happy with. Only then did we dip our toe into the casting and crew side.
This, for a small group of creative and deluded fools, was a massive undertaking. We were making a 15 minute short film set in World War II which involved: a big opening battle scene; a baby; marauding German soldiers hunting down our protagonist; AND it was set in FRANCE!! To put it in perspective the budget for Saving Private Ryan (1998) was $70 million; ours was a one-hundred-thousandth of that. Did that stop us? No! We managed to source a baby via Gary’s great mate Toby and to him I will be eternally grateful as we could not have made the film otherwise. Likewise, we needed a massive location somewhere in the middle of nowhere where we could recreate the big opening battle scene and others. Sometimes in life opportunity just comes knocking and we were at a party on a farm in Watlington, Oxfordshire and the owner — who I only ever knew as Murray — said we could use his land for a bottle of booze. So, for free we had a baby and for some scotch we had a farm and a few acres with which to continue this creative folly.
Next stop was sourcing some Germans. I was sure the whole venture would collapse. But DID YOU KNOW there are groups who recreate WWII battles as a hobby! I didn’t but we met some cracking guys from the WW2 Re-enactors Group led by Mark Craig and Jason Lavene and they were incredible. They loved dressing up as Germans and rather cheaply gave us the use of all their guns, uniforms, props and most importantly themselves and their time to make it happen. We had some ups and downs while making A Far Cry but when I look back I think that through sheer will and hard work everything went amazingly well. The WW2 Re-enactors were brilliant and I had to laugh on the first day of shooting when they woke up in the morning expecting their to be a Catering Truck serving hot food only to be told that there wasn’t a budget for that. Did they complain? Not at all. We had a laugh about it; well me and Gary did. While I imagine they were cursing us they soldiered on and gave their all in the production.
Filming of A Far Cry was done over a couple of weekends. One in Watlington, Oxfordshire. The other in Ascot, Berkshire. We shot quickly and economically and looking back at the film now I have to say Gary did a brilliant job of crafting some very memorable set-pieces throughout. As the producer it was my job to keep things steady and moving along and manoeuvre all the units into place. Oh, and I made A LOT of sandwiches. I think the whole project worked because everyone was pulling in the same direction and enjoying the experience. The opening battle was a lot to take on and we did overrun in regard to timing but due to Gary’s excellent storyboards and a script we knew back to front we were able to keep on track on the whole.
The pouring rain on the Sunday, I think, really put us back but we managed to pick up the scenes we lost during the first weekend when we shot in Ascot. Often we had to improvise and compromise but we did it inventively to make the story work. I recall the filming process being one of very long days and buzzing urgency with all manner of friends and family helping out on different days. It was incredible feat to make this film for so little money. Even stuff like recreating the barn in a garage in Ascot came off; Gary actually hired bales of hay from some random rural folk who then came and collected them the Monday after shooting. Of course, our cast were awesome and special mention for our lead actor Phil Delancy who gave a great performance and anchored the film with gravitas, physicality and emotional depth. Without him the film would be nothing.
Once the shoot was over we had a hell of a lot of sweat, time and insanity in the can and it was down to Gary to edit it into a cogent whole. That he did with tremendous endeavour as the film flows brilliantly with a fine combination of action and suspense. We had a great script in our view with a brutal subject matter and even darker ending. I was very happy with what we had and when I started seeing the footage I was elated. I was, by day, an office clock-puncher with a dead-end job but over those two weekends I had lived the dream of being a filmmaker. I WAS a filmmaker; albeit on a budget that wouldn’t pay for Robert Downey Jnr’s on-set beard stylist.
I re-watched the film again yesterday for this little piece and it stands up very well as a story. I also think Jasper Drew’s score is wonderful. I think we clearly aimed high with this production and it’s the lack of budget shows, however, everybody involved with this film worked REALLY hard to make it work and I think we did the script justice in the time we had. I thank everyone who assisted in making the film become a reality. What started on a crazy, drunken night in Ascot became one of the biggest projects I’ve worked on. You may say I’m and idiot for following a dream. But I’m a very proud idiot. No one can take that or this film away.
The film was very well received by many of those who saw it. A lot of people were shocked by the ending but in terms of the war-is-hell theme we feel we were justified and while it is heart-wrenching I think it is in context and not gratuitous. The film was screened at many film festivals and short film nights and on the whole we got some great feedback online and by word-of-mouth. For a list of screenings and film details please visit my website: http://www.fixfilms.co.uk/a-far-cry
Aside from being a humble clock-puncher by day and semi-amateur comedian and film blogger by night, since 2005, I have been involved in the making of a series of amazing short films that should by rights have seen me rise to top of the Hollywood food chain. But since I left my job at Blockbuster at the end of the 1990s I have found employment in the movie industry hard to come by. Still, I hang onto the hope that success eluded many geniuses in their lifetime notably Van Gogh, John Kennedy Toole, Vermeer, Kafka, Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville. To ensure my legacy is assured I am revisiting all the short films I have been involved in order to bring them to the attention to a whole new audience of unfortunates who may have missed them first time round. In order of production:
GETTING BACK MR HUNT (2005)
Revenge is a dish best served hot!
This is Fix Films Ltd first short film and was entered in some Channel Four competition but got nowhere. It’s a simple story of one man’s revenge on the boss who done him wrong; a situation I imagine a lot of wageslaves wish they could enact. It’s really about the naivete of ambition versus the real world of office drudge.
A FAR CRY (2006)
War is a far cry from home!
This is Fix Films biggest budget movie to date and their 2nd short film. It’s a heart wrenching WWII drama featuring a soldiers’ attempt to escape from behind enemy lines with an orphaned baby. It’s an ambitious short done on a low budget with a stunning ending. It was screened at some pretty big festivals; well, Sutton film festival.
THE TWO MINUTE SILENCE (2007)
Penny for Your Thoughts
This is Fix Films 3rd short film and was successfully received at several short film festivals throughout the country. It’s an incredible ensemble comedy centring on the thoughts and desires of a set of office workers during a two minute silence. While they should be respecting the silence and the lives lost the characters find their minds wandering to more selfish contemplation. Essentially, it points out the inherent self-centredness of human beings in an amusing and compelling way.
ELEPHANT TRUNK (2008)
The night before the morning after. . .
This is Fix Film’s 5th short film written by Paul Laight and directed by Gary O’Brien. Produced by Robert Ward and Paul Laight. It stars Tom Frederic, Lucia Giannechini and Chris Crocker. Matt suffers the hangover of a lifetime following a night of drunken celebration. Only a chance meeting with the beautiful SOPHIE offers a ray of light, on an otherwise dark, dark night. A hilarious contemporary black comedy – this is probably our most entertaining film with laughs and humorous twists similar to After Hours (1986) in structure and style.
JACK & DANNY (2008)
Two Cops: One Dilemma
Comedy featuring two cops on a stakeout. Young DANNY’S head is all over the shop about his upcoming marriage. Reluctantly, he seeks advice from his partner, the older world-weary, JACK. Jack and Danny was inspired by an email which did the rounds at the office I was working at and concerned the story of a man’s possible infidelity. We shot it in one day and what it lacks in budget it makes up in great writing, characterisation and performances with fine chemistry between the two leads.
THE CHESS GAME (2012)
Not all of us are destined to be Kings.
Lonely Russian, Viktor Korovin, wiles away his retirement playing chess and drinking at his local village pub. When a stranger offers to play chess for money it sets in motion a game of cat and mouse; forcing Viktor’s bloody past to confront a deadly future.
Fix Films 6th short film is an ambitious thriller focussing on themes of guilt, revenge and war. It starts simply with the offer of a ‘friendly’ chess match culminating in a deadly endgame. It’s the first Fix Films short to be shot on HD and like many of mine and Gary’s films it is brilliantly cast with Bill Thomas excelling in the role of Viktor. Phil Delancy, Tyrone Atkins, Andy Davies, Gary Colman, Bobby Freeman also provide sterling support in another low budget gem.
HELL IS… (2014)
Welcome to the Neighbourhood
Influenced by Kubrik and Polanski it concerns a career criminal who while on the run must contend with the “neighbours from hell!” Holed up in a ‘safe-house’ a career criminal’s sanity is questioned and tested by the behaviour of the couple upstairs. Unable to act he begins to unravel mentally culminating in violence. It’s really about urban existence and proximity to other humans who have no awareness of how their actions may impact on others.
This is arguably Paul and Gary’s most mature work cinematically speaking. Critics are already describing Fix Films’ latest short epic as “Kubrikesque” and “an incredible vision of hell!” Well, they would if they’d seen it.
Fix Films are the dynamic duo of Paul Laight and Gary O’Brien. They don’t do cat videos – they do brilliant stories with proper characters. It’s not about the quantity but quality. Check it out http://www.fixfilms.com.
They are currently working on new short film and feature projects plus a comedy sketch show.