MELBOURNE Interview – Vance Owen Pt 1

Melbourne a new and exciting fan production from a little and unknown production company called Stormshadow Studios, its owner Vance Major started in fan productions back in 2013 where he was just a volunteer at Starbase Studios.

After spending some time in his capacity as a volunteer it did not take him, long to make the transfer into fan films.

Michael King from Starship Valiant saw potential and wanted to cast him in a role he thought that was suited to him. The role that Michael King cast him in was the role of the Chief Engineer this would lead to Vance starring in other productions such as it ignited his hunger for acting.

Over the last few years, Vance has helped make several shorts and films and has done several Star Trek fan films gave his voice to commentaries and starred in a comedy film all this he says was drawn from the chance he got when being cast in Starship Valiant.

I reached out to Vance to discuss his new Trek Production Melbourne and learned a lot more about the person many should take inspiration from in his outlook on Fan Productions.

The cast and crew of Melbourne between takes

James) Hey, Vance thanks so much for taking the time to sit with me and discuss Trek, Melbourne and more.

Vance) Thanks for having me. I appreciate any opportunity to geek out with good people.

James) you are welcome it is my pleasure, so tell me a bit about what got you started in Fan Films.

Vance) Well I was visiting Starbase Studios in Dec 2013, and after I got back, I got a message from Michael King.

He asked if I wanted to be part of his film. He had seen me and thought I had the look of an engineer I was so honoured. I mean, I played Star Trek as a kid, but here I was, as close to the real thing as I could get.

It has been a helluva ride being in STARSHIP VALIANT. I cannot wait for you guys to see more of what we have coming.

Michael is a great person. One of the most genuine people you will ever meet every time I visit the studio to film, Scott Johnson, Michael and I always have fun times. Those two are my most favourite people in the fan film community. I honestly could not imagine the last 3 years without fan films in my life.

James) It must be great working alongside such great people who not only inspire you but have become great friends as well. 

Being that you found being in a Trek Fan Film as close to the real as you could get what drew you to the Trek franchise then.

Vance) I first got hooked on TNG as a kid and just fell in love with the show.

Each of the characters was just so interesting to me. A blind guy flying the enterprise. A Klingon on the bridge and an Android to this was a cool crew to an 8-year-old. I also loved Star Trek 4, it was such a fun movie, and I could not help but fall in love with this universe.

I grew up with a vivid imagination, so my outdoor adventures on my ranch turned into a new planet each day creating my own characters. In addition, with my closest neighbour 2 miles away, I had nothing but these playtime adventures to keep me occupied during the weekend.

James) This sounds like what I used to do as a child I even remember making my own consoles and uniforms one thing Trek is to all of us is a way of using our imagination, You must have loved all that free space to run around in myself I had a back garden    😀

Vance) Oh yeah that is the thing man it was so free, just to go out and play all the time. I think that is something that many people these days do not get, they are so close to electronics that they do not go outside and play.

James) So moving on to your new fan production can you tell me a bit more about Melbourne and how it came about.

Vance Major and Gary Davis

Vance) Well, it came about because Jeremy Minard and I were working with another production, and that rather fell apart. However, what did not fall apart was the history that Jeremy and I had. He and I had grown up since 5th grade knowing each other.

We found each other again on Facebook. Therefore, it was easy to work with someone that I trusted and knew since childhood. In addition, our banter back and forth it was a lot of fun.

He is my best friend and we have many discussions on many things, and we actually spent three months working on just the characters their motivations and where we wanted their story arcs would go.

That is how much attention to detail that Jeremy and I both put into our products. A couple years back we decided to start our own studio called Shadowstorm Studios (link), and this was something that we wanted to do to give back to Star Trek, was make Melbourne.

James) So what makes Melbourne different from other fan productions out there.

Vance) I would say Melbourne is a different type of fan film in the fact that it focuses completely on the characters; the story itself is a story that almost gets pushed into the background.

The characters themselves are interesting when you see them in the film and act alongside one other, it makes sense that the story takes a backseat that is something that many fan films do not do a  lot of them are cardboard cutouts and that was something that did not appeal to Jeremy or me.

I think the thing that makes Melbourne work is the fact that all of our characters feel very realistic, and I think that is when Star Trek works best. You could take our story, change the setting, and put it outside of Star Trek and it would still be a great story. Star Trek is just the wrapper, the story will always work, just tweak the setting a little bit. The problem I see with most fan film Productions is there just so happy making Star Trek; they are rather lumped in with being a cardboard cut out of Star Trek.

We want to make a great Star Trek film, but we want to make an awesome film in itself.

James) This is a great rundown on how you feel that Melbourne will be different thank you and it is great that you could hook up with an old Friend and make Trek. 

When Casting Melbourne what were you looking for and did anyone in the film ‘world’ give you ideas on how to cast it.

Vance) I kind of feel like Kevin Smith, just as he does I kind of just want to put my friends in my movie LOL.

Some people go out and they want to get professionals to do their fan film with them as if they are trying to make this the top-notch Hollywood Story for their fan film like they make this as the way to make their career.

That never interested me, the way I see it is if your story is good, the acting doesn’t have to necessarily be the best, but if your passion is there, and it has a lot of heart, people are very forgiving on what is not going to be the best.

In addition, they love it anyway and the point of a fan film is to do it with the fans. Therefore, I am not going to have “A” list calibre people in it, but you are going to see everybody that has a lot of heart behind the camera and in front of the camera.

We do not care if you are the best because we are all having fun LOL.

James) So, talk to me about the Idea for Pen Pals.

U.S.S. Melbourne

Vance) Well Pen pals came out of my desire to do something because I film in Starship Valiant, and I wanted to do something that kind of links that shows with Melbourne. That is why I figured since our fans have many questions about the ship what better way than to use those questions “in the universe” between my character on the Valiant who is an engineer, and the engineer of the Melbourne.

I figured these people would both do letters in the form of like pen pals, that would be kind of nice fun quirky way to do something that no other fan film it was done. In addition, it would be a way to kind of highlight my character and display the engineer’s character on the Melbourne. In addition, it would just be fun.

The point-of-view shot that I got it from was something also that had not been done in fan films before. It gave it a very gritty, realistic vibe. So it was short that did many things first. It was not perfect by any means LOL but it was a lot of fun. In addition, I do not think anybody really complained about it, even though there were obvious imperfections to me.

Again, it is one of those things where people are very forgiving if they see the passion in your project. Moreover, this is one of those times when passion outranks Perfection LOL and I am always thinking five steps ahead to try to figure what would be best for everybody’s production. Like in Melbourne, we have seven references to other fan films, not sure warning them they are in there, but I put them where they were appropriately needed. Most fan films May reference one. However, usually, they are looking out for their own production.

With Jeremy and me, we always looked out for other fan film Productions trying to do nods to them. Because is not that what fan film should be about, Unity and Family!?

James) That is great I feel all fan films are a family and it is nice to see this trend continue with your new production.

Watch Pen Pals below…


Well, that is part one, in part two I look forward to sharing what else Vance had to say about his amazing upcoming Star Trek fan project Melbourne, the new “Fan Film Guidelines” and more…

Therefore, keep your eyes peeled for part two coming soon. . .


You can fins Melbourne at the following links