MELBOURNE Interview – Vance Owen Pt 2

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.

Howdy, and welcome, back for the second part of Trek Fan Productions Q&A with Vance Major the producer of Melbourne the new and exciting Fan Film Project.

If you have not had the chance to read yesterday’s Q&A Part 1 then stop NOW!

As you will have missed the first part… Read Part One Here

We left the last part talking about the “Pen Pals” shorts Vance had produced.

James) So, let us about the Idea you had for Pen Pals.

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-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 a 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. In addition, this is one of those times where 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.

The shorts you made for many showed that you do not have to have a 45 -190 min run to showcase what can be done to tell a story in the 15 – 30 mins yours told a story in a lot less than that and as you know Jon Van Citters liked it.

Vance) That was the thing that I was surprised at the most that he enjoyed it.

I think it was one of the first ones after the guidelines, so I think that helped. So many were trying to paint the guidelines in such a negative light the fact that this was me and a few other people actually saying “hey, we can do this.”

It was heartbreaking to see so many fan films cancelled. It was a virtual Wolf 359 to me. In addition, it does not have to be. Pen pals rather nicely proved that point.

James) {{controversial Question next}} with the release of the “Fan Film Guidelines” has this influenced the story of Melbourne much or is it business as usual just with some minor tweaks here and there.

Vance) Actually a bit of both the way the guidelines read, everything had to be self-contained No sequels, No Continued Stories etc.

However, there is a lot of wiggle room. Even Jon Van Citters said so in the “Engage” podcast. Their intent is never to sue unless you pretty much disregard all of them. Therefore, the way I am going into it is the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. I am not looking to make a profit. I am following the guidelines as close as realistically possible. Nevertheless, I will have six self-contained films about the Melbourne crew.

Originally, we were going to have it be cut off so you had to watch the next one see what happens next but with each of our films, we are naming them each a different title for each part and will be almost a very self-contained story. Therefore, if you do not know what one came before, you do not need to watch it to understand the part you are watching.

However, if you have seen it, it will, of course, make more sense. Jeremy and I have a very specific story that we set out to tell, and we have no budget I think if I remember correctly part one of the story cost around $2000 and most of this came out of our own pocket, and the rest out of our friend’s pockets. We are no threat to anyone. No one is going to mistake us for an official Star Trek film or a production out to make a profit off CBS and Paramount’s IP. If some people do, then, to be honest, they have the issue we are just in it for fun.

Nevertheless, some people may have an issue with my interpretation of the guidelines. However, if they do, I am already in violation, because pen pals are using both Starship Valiant characters and Melbourne characters. Bottom line is, we are not crossing lines from fan film to an indie film. Despite my networking ability, when I started Melbourne I intentionally never setup a website, never set up a Facebook fan page our production is clearly done for our fans out of passion. All of our hearts are legit. I think people will see that in everything we do.

James) You are right, The guidelines are just that, not Fan Film Laws. My interpretation although some will no doubt disagree with me very vocally is that they have been put in place is to stop anyone getting out of line again however that said as Jon Van Citters said each production will take on its own merits and judged individually

Which means one fan film may be fine but another may not but from what I have seen of Melbourne, you guys are not going to ruffle any feathers as it is clear you are in it for the love of it not to thumb your nose at CBS or Paramount.

Anyway, lol moving back to Melbourne, so you said you worked on the characters for three months did you write the script or was someone else involved.

Vance) Jeremy and I did yes; we worked on the characters for three months. He was

The one who wrote the script we talked every day, though, about Melbourne. We spoke about what we liked, what worked, and what needed changing. We talk now everyday lol we have a very good working relationship that gels well. I think people saw that on set.

James) It is always good that you can have that relationship when working with someone as I find it adds to the production and shows when people do not get along in the finished production.

Vance) That’s the thing, relationships are key to any film, whether it’s fan films, low budget, or a big budget. Many people forget that. All they see is “money” or “professionals” and you have to remember if people do not enjoy themselves, it will show in the production.

At the end of the day, we all just had fun, and it is such a serious film. We HAD to cut loose. I think the key to any good project is you take the material seriously, but you do not take yourself too seriously. Think that is why Melbourne works on so many levels.

James) Can you describe a typical working week at Melbourne.

Vance) A typical work week for me on Melbourne, outside my regular 60-72 hours a week driving a forklift, is pretty much on the phone networking with the people behind the scenes. Discussing aspects of the film, I speak to Jeremy the most.

So much goes into our production besides running a camera. Many long hard hours many things pop up that you have to figure out at the last minute. That is why most films are not made you have to be flexible as much as humanly possible.

James) So you work 60 plus hours a week AND are doing Melbourne WOW! Your dedication to this project is amazing and you obviously have a passion for what you are doing with Melbourne and wanting to let the fans see your vision.

At what stage is Melbourne at now?

Vance) The first film, titled Stormfront is done and is in the editing stage. We are currently writing the second film. I can say with full confidence that we will be filming it soon.

James) When can we expect the release?

Vance) We are actually releasing the casts’ teaser trailer at the promenade-acon this weekend.

Then the following Monday to the world. We plan to have it ready by the end of the year. With luck lol, however, I am very big on “real life comes first” so if an emergency comes up, Melbourne is put on hold, and I am fine with that.

James) Is this the same trailer I had a sneaky look at the other day hehe?

Vance) Yeah

James) From what I have seen the fans are in for a treat :-D, I want to address something I saw the other day about Starbase Studios having to move how does this affect, Melbourne.

Vance) It does not I am not concerned. I will put my support where it needs to go. When it is needed and where is needed. I have been with Starbase Studios for three years, it will continue. The show is not over we have so many smart and creative people and some are my closest friends.

We will not put things in storage and let things to rot away. One way or another, we will film with these sets. All I can say is trust me. I am not stressed about the future of Melbourne, Starship Valiant or the honest to goodness fan films like Dreadnought Dominion, or the future ones like Starship Republic.

James) That is brilliant news and glad to hear one way or another the guys yours associated with will continue.

Being involved in other fan films and now going on to produce your own what is the best piece of advice you can give anyone who is thinking of shooting his or her own production?

Vance) The best piece of advice I can give for anyone thinking of doing his or her own production is, to be honest with your own vision, but be prepared to kill it if you need to.

You have to know when to listen to criticism and change something even if you do not agree with it completely. That is the sign of a good leader they take lead from you. That is trust you cannot buy.

Everything you do will be criticised in one way or another, and that is ok. Not everyone will like what you do, that is ok too. That is where you have to learn what worked, and what did not, and grow as a producer.

Some people are so locked into what they want to do they do not grow. Melbourne is produced by Jeremy and myself, yes but it is very much everyone who worked on it that is something I will say right now and that is something I think every one of my cast and crew would vouch for we all contributed to Melbourne it was a group effort.


Ignore the trolls, not honest critics but the ones who just troll because they can. You cannot do anything right with them and People will either like what you do or not. Constructive criticism is one thing. It helps us. Trolls do not. So learn to know the difference.

James) Great advice and advice worth listening to, Well we are coming to the home stretch now only a couple of question to go

What other fan productions do you watch?

Vance) I have watched pretty much all of them I believe. No joke lol Jeremy and I both on Skype have watched hundreds of hours of um. You have to watch for the good in the bad, and the bad in the good. Therefore, you can see not only what works, but also what works for you. Therefore, I think I have seen them all.

Watching them all as we were you can very burn out lol but it’s so worth it. It is easy to clown on people and say, “Oh that’s no good” but to sit thru out and say “this is what WAS good, that takes a true eye for filmmaking. In addition, you learn. My favourite though would have to be Starship Exeter. It was honestly ahead of its time.

I am not a big fan of the big guys who have the budgets and what not, that’s easy to make a movie then. However, some people who have nothing yet pull off stuff like this, which is incredible to me. Not to knock anything the big guys have done, it’s just not as appealing to watch. I love to figure things out if it is all done for you, where’s the challenge.

We had to improvise and make four different rooms out of the transporter room.

We made the captain’s quarters, a cargo bay, an admiral’s office, and a walk around corridor on the camera you never even thought it looked like the transporter room. We also redressed the bridge three times. We shot a four-day shoot in three days and had three other vignettes shot. To me, there is so much to be proud of, because I was inspired by these low budget productions. I had to think my way out of things. In addition, we did I hope we inspire others in a similar way.

James) so lastly is there anything you would like to say to the fans who are watching fan films and are looking forward to seeing yours?

Vance) Yeah go for your dreams. I know that sounds very cliché, but it is what I did. People talk trash about me. People say things about me. I will be honest, I am not perfect, and some of it might be true. I do not know. However, do not let anything stop you from accomplishing what you want in life. Surround yourself with good people, and do not go it alone. Even if you want to some of us stand on our own…together.

James) That’s sound advice and something we should all do.

I want to offer my sincere thanks for taking the time to talk to me about Melbourne and answer the questions I have asked you today; I cannot wait to see Melbourne.

Vance) Hey brother, it is my pleasure. Honestly.

James) You are very welcome and when Melbourne drops or is about to I am sure I will hound you for a follow-up.

Vance) I love chatting and doing stuff like this you ever want to do it again I am available anytime.

You can fins Melbourne at the following links