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An Interview with Frank Zanca, Writer and Producer of Renegades: Ominara

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2021

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Your upcoming movie Renegades: Ominara - in a few words, what will it be about?


Itís a backdoor pilot that tells the origin of Ominara (Nichelle Nichols) and her lifelong battle with Prof. Steiner (Walter Koenig) and her rise to the head of the galactic underworld. Steiner created a technology called ďThe LinkĒ that will connect the minds of people together, but he has an ulterior motive. Ominara was the first successful test subject, but when she escapes after the surgery, he spends his life tracking her down. Itís a cat and mouse game, but as time goes on, they both become more powerful within their element.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Renegades: Ominara?


We wanted to do a send-off production for Nichelle, who is heading into retirement. What would Nichelleís character be like in the Mirror Mirror universe? Is the question that got this started.


What can you tell us about your co-writer Sky Douglas Conway, and what was your collaboration like?


Sky and Ethan Calk were the original writers on Star Trek: Renegades and Renegades: Requiem, and they came up with the story about the Link and Steiner. I took that idea and created Ominara and her friends and then built the story around that. Ominara grew up on the streets and combined forces with two other homeless girls. Alex TíLorn, an alien (played by Jackie Jacobson), and Shane, a teenage human (played by Chalet Lizette Brannan).

Iím also an award-winning screenwriter and novelist.


Now how did you become attached to the project, and how did you get involved with the Renegades universe as such in the first place?


I was line producing a film in Arizona when I got a call from Sky about line producing Star Trek: Renegades. Someone had referred me. I agreed and we produced the film. Then I produced the next two projects, Cozmoís and Renegades: Requiem. Requiem was in the middle of shooting when the new guidelines came out, so we had to shut down production to rewrite the script to remove all Star Trek elements. So, when we started development on the next piece of the Renegades mythos, I asked if I could take a crack at writing the script, and the rest is history.


Do talk about your collaboration with Renegades: Ominara's director Tim Russ so far?


This will be the third time working with Tim. Weíve been friends for years now. I actually first met him during one of his bandís gigs at a local show. Tim works very quickly, so we lay out the shots and camera moves well ahead of time. Like all film and television projects, itís a collaborative effort, and during the times we live in now, we also have to pay extra care to safety. We are also working with AJ Raitano as DP, who also worked on Avatar with James Cameron.


Where do you see the challenges of bringing Renegades: Ominara to the screen?


It wonít be coming to a theater and will only be made available to our backers. This is a pilot presentation that we will be pitching to networks as a series. The biggest challenge is, of course, money and time. Our budget is extremely small, which goes hand-in-hand with all sorts of challenges forcing us to think outside the box on many occasions.


Renegades: Ominara sees Star Trek-icons Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig in unfamiliar roles - so what's the idea behind that?


This is a whole new storyline, but like Walterís role in Babylon 5, his character is the cunning antagonist, while Nichelle is playing the Queen of the Galactic Underworld. Sheís tactical and manipulative when she needs to be, but she loves her friends and will do anything to protect them, while Walterís character, Steiner Ė his only goal to reach his objective of mass producing ďThe LinkĒ.


Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?


Jason Faunt, one of the red Power Rangers, is joining us as the current Galactic Underworld King, prior to Ominara taking over the position. We are excited to be working with him. For Ominara, we needed someone that looked like Nichelle Nichols during her Star Trek years. We chose Loren Lott from The Young and the Restless and American Idol. Like Nichelle, sheís an amazing vocalist. Johnny Jay Lee is playing a younger Walter Koenig. For Ominaraís two young friends we cast Chalet Lizette Brannan, who is also a singer, and Jackie R. Jacobson, who I worked with on Six Gun Savior when she was ten years old. Now, eight years later, she is 5í10Ē and helms her own Netflix show called Malibu Rescue. Iím excited to work with her again as well.


Renegades: Ominara is as we speak still in its fundraising stages - so what can you tell us about your campaign?


Thereís all sorts of great perks and products you can get. The official campaign has ended, but fans can still get in on it, with a Late Pledge. Thereís a blue button on the Kickstarter page that will take you to the Late Pledge area. This will only be up for a short time, so get in while you can. Fans can get everything from producer credits to limited edition Ominara figures signed by Nichelle to cast photos and more.


Once the budget's in place, what's the schedule, and do you have any idea when and where it might be released?


We are preparing to shoot the beginning of March. Then there will be months of post. We are hoping to have it completed by the summer.


Any future projects beyond Renegades: Ominara?


Not at this time. We are focusing on Ominara.


What got you into writing in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


Yes, Iím an award-winning writer and novelist. I have over half a dozen novels out, including a 4-novel sci-fi series called Destiny Aurora, which has been made into a graphic novel and board game. Iíve also written a Holocaust biography, called Escape from Berlin: The Diane Jacobs Story. You can see all of my novels on Amazon.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Renegades: Ominara?


We did 2 Renegades installments prior to this, Star Trek: Renegades and Renegades: Requiem. Iíve also done a multitude of projects including a feature film thatís currently on Prime called Six Gun Savior. I wrote and produced a Greatest American Hero project as well.


Besides your fair share of screenplays, you've also quite a number of novels to your name - so what can you tell us about those, and how does writing prose compare to writing for the screen, and which do you prefer, actually?


I actually write my novels by writing a screenplay first. Then I do a read-through. By doing this I go through the first few drafts by tweaking story, characters and dialogue. Itís easier to rewrite a screenplay than to rewrite prose in a novel. This structure allows for the knowledge that the story and dialogue work before I sit down to write the actual novel. Of course, I can write a screenplay in a couple of months. Writing a novel takes just about a year, including rewrites.


It seems that most of what you write is of the science fiction variety - coincidence, or is that a favourite genre of yours, and why (not)?


It is my favorite genre, but I have written other genres as well. The Holocaust biography mentioned above, Six Gun Savior was a supernatural Western, I won an award at the New York Film Festival for a romantic comedy, and my newest novel is fantasy.


How would you describe yourself as a writer?


Iím definitely a writer that relies heavily on my characters carrying a story. With sci-fi most characters are tropes, but how they interact and their motivations are what makes them different and able to connect with readers. I like plots that twist and take those characters out of their element. So I spend a lot of time developing characters with backstories that are mostly not even revealed, but this helps me to develop their ďvoiceĒ. When a character says something, the reader should know whoís speaking without even reading who the speaker is. I will be giving a writing course through Outschool in the near future.


Writers, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?


Like many people of my generation, I was influenced heavily by Star Wars. I grew up watching Star Trek in syndication as well as Mission: Impossible, and Batman and Wonder Woman. I loved the adventure genre where the good guys were good, and the bad guys were bad. Everything is so politically polarized now, that characters and stories have gotten lost under the muck. I hope we can get back to storytelling again in the near future.


Your favourite movies?


Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie of all-time. Heathers, Wrath of Khan, Aliens.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


I really hated Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.


Your/your movie's website, social media, Kickstarter, whatever else?

Twitter: @fzanca


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Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Check out my books on Amazon as well as the products on and look for my new fantasy series Tales of the Five Reigns coming soon to KS. Definitely late pledge to Ominara. Itís going to be great.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


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Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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screenwriter and film reviewer
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Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD