Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 1, 2005

Second Starship Exeter film available soon

By Heidi Stutelberg
Correspondent

The second sci-fi adventure of the Starship Exeter crew – produced by Lester Prairie resident Josh Johnson and his brother, Jimm Johnson of Austin, Texas – will soon be available in its entirety.

Fans may currently download the teaser and credits with an original musical score of the new release of “The Tressaurian Intersection.”

The second episode continues the back stories of the character featured in the first episode, “The Savage Empire,” but it is not a sequel.

In “The Tressaurian Intersection,” the Exeter crew is asked for assistance by the USS Kongo, discovering an unidentified alien presence on a star base.

The Johnson brothers’ second retro Star Trek flick was filmed entirely in Austin, Texas, instead of mostly Minnesota, as was the first episode. Filmed in July 2004, with help from approximately 50 volunteers who are professionals in the film industry, “The Tressaurian Intersection” displays more advanced special effects and full-scale bridge of the Starship Exeter.

When Johnson and co-star Michael Buford of Minneapolis flew to Austin last July for the two-week filming, Johnson presumed the 50 people at the studio were mostly observers. But when they stayed and started to tend to their production duties, he realized they were part of their crew.

A few volunteers even flew to Austin from the east coast to assist in the film production, including Dennis Bailey, who wrote the screenplay. He is also credited as one of the key people for the episode’s special effects. Bailey had previously written a few episodes for “The Next Generation” Star Trek series.

Film production is rarely without incident, as Johnson recalled. “A couple of weeks before we started filming, the carpenter hurt his back,” he said.

They then got behind schedule. Dave Weiberg, of MNFX in Minneapolis, “drove through the night” and finished the sets and transporter room, volunteering his time for a week.

Weiberg was able to build the transporter room in a 24-hour period. “He was a huge help,” Johnson said.

A good friend of Johnson’s brother, Joel Sarchett, built the impressive Exeter bridge, which can be viewed on the teaser.

“Joel played a big part in making it happen,” Johnson commented.

They did not have an actual bridge for the first episode, but used special effects with a green screen, filming bridge scenes inside a garage.

The person responsible for the miniature ship models is Tom Sasser. He has also built actual starship models for the model company, ATM.

Johnson also credits Scott Cummins for directing the production, and Holly Guess for returning to co-star in the second episode.

With donations of $4,000 from “The Savage Empire” episode, and an additional $7,000, the budget for the second episode was actually less than half of the first one.

“We had so many people who saw it (“The Savage Empire”), and wanted to be a part,” said Johnson. “This time, we were able to do more things than the first show.”

After the film is completed, another “Making of Production” DVD will be available on its website. Fans may again donate funds toward the production of the third episode.

In the future, Johnson’s brother hopes to produce original movies so they will be in complete control of marketing, as well as production.

Currently, they are unable to profit from their “Star Trek” episodes, due to Paramount copyrights on many aspects, such as the starship models and costumes.

The Johnson brothers’ production company, Exeter Studios, is a non-profit organization in the state of Texas.

“The whole thing has gone from me and my brother and video camera and a group of friends, to getting off a plane, going to the studio and putting on makeup,” Johnson said.

For more information, go to www.starshipexeter.com


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