Hoist with his own PICARD? (editorial)

Earlier this week, someone played a practical joke on CARLOS PEDRAZA of axamonitor.com.  Many think it was ALEC PETERS or perhaps one of his associates (not me, people!), although it’s looking like a “he said/she said” situation.

In short, here’s what we know happened…

Axanar Productions is moving to a new studio in Atlanta.  Carlos Pedraza, for some reason, was pushing hard for any information he could find out about the new facility.  I was sent screen captures of the following two Facebook posts from Carlos, although there may have been more…

I’m not sure why it was so crucial for Carlos to get information about the new studio, but that’s not really important.  What is important is that, apparently, he found a “mole” willing to funnel him information from Alec Peters (despite Alec’s request to volunteers not to share information yet about the new facility).

I’ve since been told by a few detractors in comments posted to Fan Film Factor that the name of this mole is Brian Hartsfield, and on Wednesday at 1:46PM, he received an e-mail (allegedly) from Alec Peters saying the following…

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MELBOURNE – Interview with VANCE MAJOR OWEN, Part 2

Last time, we took a closer look at the new fan series MELBOURNE, shot at STARBASE STUDIOS and produced by VANCE MAJOR OWEN.  This low-budget production has guest cameos from and shout-outs to SEVEN other fan films and series, tying a fair portion of the fan film community together with some shared continuity.

In Part 1 of our interview, Vance talked a bit about his own background as a fan and a filmmaker, and how his experiences with other fan productions led him to create his own.  In the conclusion, we discuss more about the Melbourne project itself—its cast, production and post-production, and plans for the future.

So let’s get right to it…

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ALEC PETERS discusses the new ATLANTA location for AXANAR! (interview)

Yesterday, I was told by several folks to look at this posting from CARLOS PEDRAZA’s Axanamonitor.com blog site. In it, he had had the “scoop” on where the new AXANAR PRODUCTIONS studio would be located, how big it was, the amenities it offered and didn’t offer, and even photos of the outside and inside.

There was only one problem: that WASN’T the new studio.  It wasn’t the right building; it wasn’t even the right city!  Carlos listed the new location as Gainesville, GA: “…about 55 miles northeast of Atlanta, actually a bit closer to the South Carolina border than to Georgia’s capital.”

Now, I’m not sure where Carlos got his information from, but for the last two weeks, I’ve been preparing an interview with ALEC PETERS about the new Atlanta facility, and I already had a whole bunch of information and photos…and they didn’t match what Carlos had posted at all.  This seemed, to me at least, both curious and a bit troubling.  One of us had the wrong information…and I really hoped it wasn’t me!

So I contacted Alec.  I asked him if he’d made any last-minute changes to the location of the space that he’d be leasing.  He said no, he was still leasing the same place—the lease was signed, sealed, and delivered—and no, it was not the same one that Carlos was reporting on Axamonitor.com.

Then I asked Alec if he would mind moving up our interview so I could get the correct information disseminated before people started thinking that Axanar was moving into some dumpy building in an economically depressed town more than an hour away from Atlanta.

DON’T BE FOOLED!!! This building shown on the Axanonitor blog site is NOT the building that Axanar Productions will be moving to. The correct image is the red brick building featured at the top of this web page.

Originally, I was planning to publish my interview with Alec sometime next week when the moving trucks are supposed to arrive.  But I heard that Alec has a whole slew of local volunteers lined up to help unload the trucks and unpack things, and to be honest, I was worried that some of the volunteers might get confused and think they’d accidentally shown up at the wrong building…as the one in Carlos’ photo isn’t even the right color!

Anyway, Alec agreed to expedite his answers to my interview questions, and I just received them. So here is the CORRECT information about the new facility in Atlanta…

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DS9 show-runner IRA STEVEN BEHR discusses the FAN FILM GUIDELINES! (audio interview)

Last year, Justin Lin and J.J. Abrams both went on record as being supportive of Star Trek fan films and that the fans should be encouraged to make them.  A month later, CBS and Paramount issued a set of fan film guidelines that shocked many fans and angered others with their restrictions on length, shutdown of continuing fan series, and moratorium on participation by anyone who had previously worked on any studio-authorized Star Trek project…from movie and TV series to video games and even package design.

On the one hand, it was nice to finally have a set of guidelines that clearly defined what the fans would be allowed to produce without the fear of getting sued.  On the other hand, a good number of fans familiar with fan productions felt that certain of the guidelines (like the ones I just listed) had overshot the mark, landing in a place of being too constraining and unnecessarily Draconian.

However, unlike a year ago when big names like Abrams and Lin spoke out on the fan film issue, no major names in the world of Star Trek have commented on the new guidelines other than John Van Citters (who was one of the people responsible for writing them).

But now that has changed, as I was able to interview Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Executive Producer STEVEN IRA BEHR and ask him directly, on the record, how he felt about the guidelines.  Granted, I don’t expect Ira to rush out and rally for the guidelines to be revised and loosened.  But I was curious if we fans who feel so negatively toward some of these guidelines are justified in feeling that way or not.  Would Ira agree with us….or would he think that we’re just being petulant (or crazy!) to have any problems with these reasonable studio rules?  You can find out below…

And for anyone curious how a small-time blogger managed to score an interview with Ira Behr and get him to speak on the record, I donated to the Indiegogo campaign for his Deep Space Nine documentary “What We Left Behind,” which blew through its initial $150,000 goal to reach nearly $650,000!  (Click on the above link to learn more about this exciting project.)

The perk I donated for was a 10-minute call with Ira Behr where I could ask him anything.  I cleared with his assistant beforehand that I’d be able to record the call and post it on my blog site, and last week, we spoke for more than 15 minutes.  It was a really great conversation.

And here’s what we talked about…

A FAREWELL TOUR of INDUSTRY STUDIOS! (editorial and video)

This past Saturday, my son Jayden and I drove to Industry Studios in Valencia to help pack up the Axanar Productions items for a move east to a new production facility in Atlanta, GA.

It was a sad day for me because I really loved Industry Studios.  I’d loved watching it evolve from a stark, gutted building with no individual offices and a huge, echoing warehouse with loud concrete floors…into what looked like (to my eyes, at least) a high-end Hollywood studio and sound stage.

Jayden and I had watched for months with excitement as piles of stacked wood were cut, molded, and sculpted by industry professionals, slowly morphing into a starship bridge, a turbolift, a transporter, captain’s quarters, and a Klingon bridge.

Even though my visits weren’t particularly frequent, I still felt as though I were a part of Ares Studios (later renamed Industry Studios)—helping to fund it, volunteering to do everything from carrying carpet rolls up the stairs to assembling IKEA furniture, and even sorting and packing perks.  I watched all the work that went into making the dream of a studio dedicated to Star Trek fan film-making (not just Axanar) grow and take shape from basically nothing into a facility that fans could be truly proud of.

I can already hear the detractors typing feverishly about the hubris of starting a “for profit” studio based on donations obtained from unapproved use of copyrighted material owned by a Hollywood studio.  And I’m sure others out there are already halfway done with comments about the folly of signing a 3-year lease on a location with a $12,000 monthly rent when all Alec Peters ever needed to do was make a simple fan film, not build a full sound stage!

All are fair points when viewed with 20/20 hindsight—and all are arguments made and countered hundreds of times over.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.  Instead, I want to give you a tour of Industry Studios…

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MELBOURNE – Interview with VANCE MAJOR OWEN, Part 1

At the end of March, a new Star Trek fan production titled MELBOURNE (just that, no “Starship” in front of the name) posted its debut fan film: “Storm Front, Part 1.”  One of several fan series shot on the sets of STARBASE STUDIOS (while they were still in their previous Oklahoma City location), Melbourne initially released two ultra-short vignettes, “Pen Pals” and “Pen Pals 2”.)  But fans were really waiting for their first full episode to see what this new fan production would be all about.

Most successful Star Trek fan projects have a driving force behind the production, and in the case of Melbourne, that driving force is show-runner/producer/writer VANCE MAJOR OWEN (his friends call him “Vman”), who lives in Kansas with his wife of 17 years and his newborn son, Royce.  I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Vance for a very friendly interview.  In fact, “friendly” is one of the best adjectives I could use to describe this warm and humble film producer from the Sunflower State.  Since having our interview, we’ve actually become good friends, have spent hours on the phone talking Trek and swapping “Daddy” stories, and he’s invited me to appear on camera in an upcoming episode of Melbourne anytime I can get myself over to Arkansas (the new home of Starbase Studios).

So here’s what Vance had to say…

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ALEC PETERS answers READER questions about the AXANAR FINANCIALS!

Last month, I published a blog where I provided a copy of the AXANAR financials, along with reporting on the go-forward plans for AXANAR PRODUCTIONS and INDUSTRY STUDIOS.  Obviously, those plans have changed quite a bit over the past few weeks—as Tuesday’s blog pointed out—but the financials remain constant because they’re now a matter of public record.

In that same blog from last month, I also invited readers to submit their own questions for Alec via the comments section and received dozens of inquiries.  It was a mix of questions from supporters and detractors, some about the financials and some about other things, but I submitted every one to ALEC PETERS, requesting that he try to respond to as many participants as he could.

It’s been a busy few weeks to be certain (with the Indiegogo campaign and finding new studio space in Atlanta).  But a few days ago, Alec submitted his answers back to me.  And so, without further ado, let’s see what he had to say…

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STAR TREK CONTINUES releases new BLOOPER/GAG REEL!

Bloopers.  Gag reels.  Behind-the-scenes flubs.  Call them what you will, but they’ve been a part of the Star Trek fan experience since the 1970s when Gene Roddenberry first began bringing his TOS “blooper reel” to conventions to show hilarious outtakes by Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, and the rest of the original cast to fans in the audience.

The tradition continued with The Next Generation, and I recall owning bootlegged copies of both blooper reels on VHS tapes that I bought at cons in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The reason these outtakes are so special and treasured isn’t simply because they’re funny but because they give fans a glimpse into who these beloved actors and producers were as people…people who make mistakes and can laugh at themselves, cut loose sometimes, and have fun.

Not all fan films collect their bloopers and release them.  Some don’t even have time to do multiple takes of the same scene.  Others simply have collections of goofs and flubs.  But the best of the gag reels contain just that: gags.  It’s not just the missed cues and forgotten lines.  Sometimes the actors know they’re going to have to do another take, and so they just go with it and have fun playing with the scene.  And if we’re lucky, hilarity ensues while the camera is still rolling.

Such is the case with Star Trek Continues.  They have edited together and released hysterically entertaining gag reels for all but their second episode.  (You can view all seven gag reel videos at the bottom section of this web page.)

It’s no secret that I love this particular fan series and lament its impending conclusion in the coming  year.  But I don’t love STC only because of the great episodes it produces.  I love it because of what I see on their gag reels.

I’ve worked on fan films, and it can be tedious, mind-numbing, stressful, exhausting, frustrating, irritable, and even confrontational.  But it can also be a lot of fun.  In fact, if it weren’t for the FUN, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever do it!  STC‘s gag reels show us the camaraderie that can exist at the core of fan productions.  Sure, the actors and crew work hard—incredibly hard!—but they play hard, too.  They laugh at themselves, play practical jokes on each other, and keep their sense of humor through the seemingly endless late-into-the-night hours when shoots can shift between moving at a snail’s pace to a manic sprint in the span of seconds.

So I invite you to join me and others in celebrating Star Trek Continues in that most special of ways: sharing their laughter…

AXANAR PRODUCTIONS is moving its sets to ATLANTA!

As I reported previously, ALEC PETERS of AXANAR PRODUCTIONS worked out a deal with his landlord that was unexpectedly positive in that it allowed him to vacate the Valencia, CA studio (where he has been paying $12,000/month in rent) eight months early with no financial or legal penalties. And the landlord has even offered some partial reimbursement for the donor funds that were used to improve the facility and convert the warehouse into a studio and sound stage.  Industry Studios will continue, and Axanar Productions will still be allowed to film in it, but the landlord will now be in charge, and the sets will need to be removed.

Ah, the sets.  Nearly complete, they really are quite gorgeous and very well constructed.  They are also quite large and can’t simply be stored in someone’s living room or garage.  So Alec has been forced to find another home for them, and apparently, that home has been found in Atlanta, GA.

Axanar Productions just released the following statement to donors…

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FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 6) – The CARROT and the STICK

First I should mention (in a follow-up to our previous post) that the survey results are in.  I invited members of the SMALL ACCESS protest campaign to vote in an online Facebook poll: which ONE if the new fan film guidelines feels like it is the most problematic for fan filmmakers?  This would be the guideline that Project: SMALL ACCESS will focus on convincing CBS and Paramount to revisit and revise.  And there was a clear winner: Guideline #1.

However, Guideline #1 is actually a two-part guideline made up of the following:

#1a – The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total…

and

#1b – …with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.

It’s possible for us to request a revision by CBS to one part of this guideline without necessarily changing the other part.  And so I divided Guideline #1 into two options, and together these were, by far, the highest vote-getters, taking more than 95% of the nearly 140 submitted responses.  So which one got the most votes?

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