The story of our not-so-normal quest to explore the undersea caves of the Avanion Universe is available here: http://blog.avalon.com/2015/10/avalon-universe-cave-adventure-why-the.html
This week’s blog here at cinephilia will be a little different. We asked you, the readers, to post a question in the comment section here on the blog. We received hundreds of great questions and have chosen the following ones to look into.
To accomplish what we do, you might argue that fan filmmakers need to be a bit insane at times. But this…this was insane!
JOSHUA IRWIN, PIXI NEREID, and NEAL BILBE climbed into Josh’s SUV at Neal’s house in Farmington, Arkansas, at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, August 1, and drove for five hours straight to the middle of nowhere in southern Oklahoma.
Then they walked for a mile and a half, going over sheer rocks with precipitous cliffs and gaining more than 200 feet in elevation (the height of a 25-story skyscraper) to reach this cave…
They spent approximately 30 minutes recording there, capturing video that would appear in the final fan film for LESS THAN 15 SECONDS(!!!). They then walked 1.5 miles back to their vehicle and drove 350 miles back to Farmington, arriving about 11:00 p.m. at Neal’s home. Josh resides in Fayetteville, but Pixi lives in Little Rock, which is three hours away. She arrived at her house about 3 a.m.
WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THIS? And this is for a FAN film?
This photo was taken on a previous journey to the middle of nowhere!
You may recall that in May, I reported about Josh’s 1,800-mile round-trip journey from Fayetteville, Arkansas to Phoenix, Arizona for a professional shoot. In that blog, I also reported a production team of a dozen individuals driving 270 miles (either way) on July 23 to film two actresses at Gloss Mountain State Park in western Oklahoma.
This blog isn’t one of those journeys. This was the THIRD time I’d gone!
I know I’ve been writing a lot about the people in the AVALON UNIVERSE as they attempt to achieve their $20K target on their current GoFundMe campaign (which is presently little over 1/4 of the way there). And if you’d like to contribute, please click the link below…
Even if I wasn’t attempting to assist them with their crowd-funding, I’d write about this experience because it amazes me how dedicated these people are to a “small” Star Trek fan film. Josh Irwin, of course, has no concept of the term “small” when it comes to filmmaking!
But, really, who is responsible for this?
It’s not like Arkansas is devoid of caverns. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, Their entrances, on the other hand, are lush and forested. Josh’s previous video was taken in harsh desert landscape, thus anything shot in Arkansas would be inconsistent with the rest of his work.
In Arkansas, a common cave opening.
So why not shoot Pixi in front of a green screen and combine her with a picture of a desert cave Josh found on the internet? Why the 10-hour round-trip journey, 3-mile round-trip trek, and hazardous 200-foot ascent?
It’s obviously time to speak with Josh and Pixi! (Neal was unable to attend.)
Josh Irwin and Pixi Nereid
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Why do you need all this desert wilderness footage, for those who aren’t acquainted with this newest fan film project you’re working on?
JOSH – AGENT OF NEW WORLDS centers on two main characters. The first is Ahyoka, a young ensign fresh out of Starfleet Academy who, like Chakotay, is descended from Native American ancestors and has landed on an arid and rocky alien world. Lt. Commander Allenby, played by Pixi, uses a shuttlecraft to locate her. As Allenby looks for this ensign on foot, he does a lot of traveling.
PXI – After traveling for days, I eventually locate Ahyoka inside a cave, seeking refuge from the heat.
JOHN – As a result, we have a lot of stunning video taken in the deserts of Arizona and Oklahoma. In terms of natural cinematography, I don’t believe any fan film has ever looked as stunning as this one will.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Granted, it isn’t entirely outside. You’re shooting a lot of things inside as well, and many of those inside sequences were filmed at WARP 66 STUDIOS towards the end of July, right?
PIXI – It was a lot of fun.
JOSH – At the studio, Glen Wolfe constructed us a fresh new “cave” set, similar to the “planet hell” set from Next Generation.
JONATHAN – So Glen now has his own “man cave”!
PIXI – I really like it!
JONATHAN – So, JENNIFER RADER, the Ahyoka you recently cast, traveled all the way from Oklahoma City to Flippin, Arkansas for this shoot?
Pixi is working on Jennifer Rader’s make-up on the left. Team Avalon gathers in Glen Wolfe’s “man cave” on the right.
JOSH – Yes, and we can’t thank her enough! She and Pixi both did an amazing job filming those cave scenes on Saturday. On Sunday morning, we shot on Glen’s transporter set and in the ship’s corridor, and then we shot green screen footage in the afternoon. Then Jennifer headed back home to OKC, and everyone else headed home, as well…except for Pixi, who drove back to Farmington, where Neal lives, and she stayed over at a local Air B&B, so we could all drive together the next morning to the cave.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you That’s a LOT of driving you people do! So, how did you come upon this “ideal cave”?
JOHN – I discovered it while searching for cave pictures on Google. Nothing in the area resembled the landscape we had been shooting on in Gloss Mountain State Park in Oklahoma. However, this one stood out because it resembled a desert cave.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you What is the location of this cave?
JOSH – It’s called “Spanish Cave,” and it’s situated just outside of Indiahoma, Oklahoma, in the Wichita Nature Preserve.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you So you left Farmington, Arkansas at 5:30 a.m. and arrived at what time?
JOSH – We arrived about 10:30 a.m. and had a hard time finding the cave. The cave’s location was not shown on the map at the park. It was described as a.9-mile walk from a path on Google. However, none of the paths seemed to go there.
We finally decided to return to civilisation in order to get additional information. So we went to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, for lunch and to see if anybody knew where we might locate it.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Only to turn around and go back for instructions after all that driving and hiking?
PIXI – We really went above and beyond!
JOHN – Pixi downloaded a map that showed us where the cave was once we were back in an area with mobile service. The path was overgrown but passable, according to reviews on the map app she used.
PIXI – It’s known as a “bushwhacker” path.
JOSH – We returned to the park about 1:30 p.m., and we utilized the map to locate the route, which was badly marked. We quickly learned that the word “trail” was being used about a little loosely, since there was no true trail…just a designated route with ribbons and rock cairns that was basically the path of least resistance through the elements.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Cairns are small piles of rocks about a foot high used to mark a trail on rocky terrain when there isn’t an obvious worn path on the ground. For non-desert hikers reading this, cairns are small piles of rocks about a foot high used to mark a trail on rocky terrain when there isn’t an obvious worn path on the ground. You should be able to see the next cairn from one cairn, however this isn’t always the case.
JOSH – It all came to a head with a freestyle rock climb up the side of the mountain over a slew of stones. We were worried that we’d get lost and never locate it. But the spirit of the warrior washed over us, and we forged on. The difficult aspect was that we had to scale boulders. There wasn’t much of a “trail” left; it was simply a matter of following the route of least resistance through nature.
PIXI – IT WAS EXTREMELY EXTREMELY EXTREMELY EXTREMELY EX We jumped two more boulders like a video game jumping challenge, and there she was! Just when we thought we were lost, I spotted the “trail” sign (one rock with two smaller ones on it), and there she was!
JOSH – You betcha. We topped the stones and instantly spotted the cave, just as we were ready to give up.
Finally, they get a peek of the Spanish Cave!
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you So, when you eventually came, how late were you?
JOSH – We arrived to the cave about 3:30 p.m.
PIXI – Getting there was a 200-foot scale and 1.5-mile walk, according to the trail app. For roughly 80 feet, the highest slope was 58 percent.
JONATHAN – Wow, that’s a tough climb!
PIXI – But it was such a big deal! That trek to the ideal cave was the most difficult and gratifying thing I’ve done this year!
JONATHAN – What happened when the three of you arrived?
PIXI – First and foremost, I had to change into my uniform since I wasn’t going hiking with it!
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you I don’t believe so! I’m guessing you were able to go away and change in peace?
PIXI – I simply put on the blue tunic over my regular outfit.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you What were the shots that you ended up filming?
JOSH – We filmed five frames: outside establishing images of the cave with Pixi in the foreground going up to it, an inside shot of her entering it, and background plates for chroma-key shots.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you What type(s) of camera(s) did you use to capture the footage? I’m assuming you didn’t take the priciest items.
JOHN – We didn’t bring any serious gear since the walk was too tough, and we didn’t have to worry about sound because we didn’t have to, which is why just Neal, our Director of Photography, and not our audiographers, went.
We used my smaller Mirrorless B-Cam, which we carried in a backpack, to take the pictures in the cave. I used a VANCE MAJOR and shot with my phone for the shots inside the cave entrance.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Why not shoot from the inside looking out with the more professional camera?
JOHN – With the phone, I was able to obtain a broader shot. However, I have an iPhone 12 Promax with three lenses that can capture 4K at 24 frames per second.
Unfortunately, the majority of the original Native American cave drawings have been replaced with more modern and less respectful graffiti.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you At that time of day, how was the lighting? I’m aware that the cave isn’t that deep.
JOSH – I thought the lighting was really nice. The cave entrance was bathed in sunshine. The footage turned out fantastically.
JONATHAN – How long will this video that you drove, hiked, climbed, and risked your life for really be on screen in the finished film?
JOSH – Maybe 15 seconds…at most. We watch Allenby discover the cave and then enter it, before cutting to the set video.
JONATHAN – For just 15 seconds of film… sheesh! Was it simpler to return down?
JOSH – No, returning was a LOT more difficult than getting there. I sprained my ankle after slipping twice. It was much more difficult to locate the route on the way back. We had to retrace many times, and as the night became darker, I became concerned. I have no clue how we would have made our way back to the road if we had lost our light! It took us almost an hour to walk a mile and a half as it was.
Around 5 p.m., we returned to the truck and arrived in Farmington around 11 p.m. Pixi then drove back to Little Rock, arriving at her house about 3 a.m.!
JONATHAN – Pixi, because Josh and Neal didn’t have to travel the additional distance to and from Little Rock, you win the “Fan Most Traveled” award—at least for this fan video.
Such a long journey for ONE film!!!
JOSH – True, but Neal was unable to go to Phoenix, and Pixi was given the opportunity to fly there and back. I was the one in charge of everything!
JONATHAN – All right, Josh is the winner of the frequent-driver miles! But this leads us to the most crucial and apparent of all the questions: WHY??? There were alternative, less time-consuming methods to film Pixi’s character discovering and entering a cave. You (Josh) had previously driven more than 4,500 miles, according to my calculations based on the map above, before embarking on this 700-mile journey to the Spanish Cave and back!
Honestly, dude, I’m in awe of you. What exactly were you thinking?
JOHN – To be honest, I did it for the thrill of it. Making movies allows me to accomplish things I wouldn’t usually be able to do. And, to be honest, I felt it would improve the film. When you really care about a film, you go the additional mile, and as Pixi put it, we did just that in this instance.
It’s days like this that make us want to make movies. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go on a memorable trip with your pals.
JONATHAN – I’m Jonathan, and I’m here to tell you Let’s take a look at some of the incredible footage in your most recent trailer, which was recently released:
And it’s at this point that I urge everyone to consider contributing to the Avalon Universe crowd-funding effort. For the purchase of three fan films, you get three fan films (or one, back when we did INTERLUDE).
If you want dedication from a fan film crew, however, Avalon is the place to contribute…!