It was actually CHEAPER for AXANAR PRODUCTIONS to BUILD a studio than to RENT one!

NOTICE: THERE IS AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF INCORRECT INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS EDITORIAL.  SOUND STAGE RENTAL IS NOT $15K-$30K/DAY BUT RATHER PER MONTH.

A FOLLOW-UP BLOG CORRECTING THIS ERROR APPEARS HERE.

One of the most controversial decisions made during the three-year saga (so far) of AXANAR was the choice to build Ares Studios (now Industry Studios) rather than to just rent a local sound stage in Los Angeles.

In a recent Fan Film Factor interview, ALEC PETERS said that the original plan was NOT to shoot Axanar in Los Angeles but rather to film in upstate New York on James Cawley’s Star Trek: New Voyages sets:

I certainly wish we had done what I had originally planned on and shot Axanar at the Star Trek: New Voyages sets. Instead, Christian Gossett–our former director–felt he couldn’t shoot at those sets because of the limited space and the volunteer crew. Ironically, Rob Burnett did a beautiful job when we shot the “Heroes” vignette there. You’ll see his work as an “extra” when we release Axanar.

If we’d done that, we would be finished with Axanar by now and probably avoided the lawsuit.

Now, I don’t claim to know the details of whether the decision not to film on the New Voyages sets was made solely by Christian Gossett or solely by Alec Peters based on Christian’s reservations or as a team decision.  But I do know that it changed everything about Axanar and immediately turned it from a fan film that could be made for potentially a couple of a hundred thousand dollars into a fan film that would cost between a half million and a million dollars (or more)…

…even if they’d rented a sound stage.  In fact, BUILDING a studio instead of RENTING one actually saved them money!  Let me ‘splain…

As we await the release of the Axanar financials and Review Committee report (which I am now told will happen next week!), I wanted to share an editorial that I initially wrote as part of the comments section on Part 1 of Alec’s interview.  I had just approved a post that said the following:

Actually, Christian said that flying and housing actors and crew in Ticonderoga would be prohibitively expensive when there is plenty of existing studio space to rent in LA. He never recommend renting a warehouse and converting it to a studio. He also recommend that Alec bring him or some other experienced professional along to evaluate the different spaces and instead Alec came back with a signed lease.

And that got me thinking about what it would have cost to rent a sound stage rather than building out an entire studio.  And before I knew it, I’d written a 1,300-word response!  (Yeah, I tend to do that.)

A few people have since asked me to re-publish the response as a full blog, and so I am…


There are three basic kinds of Trek fan films (at least live-action as opposed to animated).  There are the ones with the ship scenes filmed almost entirely in front of green screens (like Star Trek: Hidden Frontier or Intrepid or Horizon); the ones that use modest, low-cost sets (like the stuff from Potemkin Pictures); and the ones filmed on actual high-quality sets (like Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut, Renegades, and of course, New Voyages).  And sometimes there are hybrids…for example, Renegades uses both practical (physical) sets as well as green screen compositing.

Axanar was always intended to be part of that final category: high quality practical sets plus some green screen work.  But folks need to understand the costs that are associated with a production that’s to be filmed on high-quality sets.  Obviously, many of those costs could have been mostly avoided by choosing to film on the existing New Voyages sets in Ticonderoga, New York.  Those sets had already been constructed and would have needed only relatively minor adjustments to make them look like the bridge and corridors and transporters, etc. of an older-but-similar starship.

Now, whatever the reason for the decision NOT to shoot on the existing sets in the upstate New York studio, it created a whole new set of challenges and additional costs, including:

1) Building sets from scratch in Los Angeles
2) Paying for a large 5,000 sq. foot warehouse to store the sets while they’re being built
3) Storing the sets during the months between the Kickstarters for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, etc.
4) Transporting the sets from storage to the filming sound stage and then back again
5) Rental of a sound stage large enough to hold all the sets
– Add in extra days to set up the set pieces and properly light them before filming can even begin
– Add in an extra day or two to strike the sets and get them loaded into trucks for the trip back to storage
– Remember to find a sound stage with good air conditioning so all of that Klingon, Vulcan, and Andorian make-up doesn’t melt while you’re filming
– Also remember to find a studio with a solid electrical grid that can run all of the monitors lining the bridge set and the computers running the various read-out animations (plus all of the lights, sound equipment, and anything else that needs to be plugged in).


Now, by making the decision to film in Los Angeles instead of Ticonderoga, Axanar was obviously now accepting the reality that they would have a much more expensive production.  And they were subsequently able to generate over a half million dollars (after fees) during their second Kickstarter.

But now the question became: what was the best way to spend that half million?  Do you rent a sound stage or build a studio of your own?  I’m going to price out both options for you…

OPTION 1 – Rent a Sound Stage

Let’s assume you can rent a warehouse for construction and storage of your sets for about $3K a month, and it takes 3-4 months to build them. That’s about $10,000 in rent total.

The sets will cost about $150-200,000 to build. (James Cawley’s sets cost $125,000 back in 2003, and he only built half a bridge, a transporter, and part of Kirk’s quarters.  So my cost estimate here seems reasonable.)

Let’s assume continuing storage costs while Part 1 is edited and then a Kickstarter is run for Part 2 (say, 9 months), and then again for the down time before Part 3 (another 9 months). That’s an additional $54,000 for 18 months ongoing storage.

The sound stage will likely cost $15,000/day (probably twice that for a decent facility, but I’m going to give you the lower price so you don’t think I’m just trying to high-ball this). Anything less, and the studio will either be:
1) too small
2) have no A/C
3) not have sufficient electrical to properly light and power all the bridge monitors, and/or
4) not be close enough to Los Angeles (35 mile radius) to avoid extra costs for union actors and crew. And the main actors are, in fact, all part of the Screen Actors Guild.

Let’s assume the moving costs for getting the set pieces from storage to the studios and back again is $10,000 for trucks and labor. That’s $30,000 total for the three parts.

(I know what you’re gonna say: just use volunteers instead of professional movers! Two problems with that. First, it took volunteers two months and five trips to move the Starbase Studios sets from Oklahoma to Arkansas last December…and all they had was a bridge, transporter, and sickbay. Axanar was building TWICE as many sets. So that would be ten trips to get all the sets from storage to the sound stage. One truck and ten volunteers can’t do all that in a single day…not with L.A. traffic! And remember that you’re still paying $15,000/day for that sound stage rental…and that includes moving in and moving out time. So you’re gonna want to use professional movers with multiple trucks who can get those sets from point A to B…asap! And of course, you don’t want to worry about your volunteers dropping the helm console or breaking their foot when the science station accidentally rolls over it. Better to have movers who carry liability and worker’s comp insurance.)

And how long will we need the sound stage for all together? Well, there’s the day the sets arrive from storage and the day they’re moved out. That’s two days. Once the sets are in the studio, they have to be properly assembled, all the computers and monitors turned on and tested, and the lights have to be placed to properly light all the sets and get them ready for filming. Best case scenario, it’s another two days before we’re ready for the actors to arrive. So we’re up to four days at $15,000/day for rental. That’s $60,000 and we haven’t filmed a single word yet!

How many days does it take to film a 30-minute segment of a science fiction movie? Well, that depends on a lot of things. The folks at Desilu used to wrap a 48-minute episode of TOS in eight days. So let’s say we need five days…that sound fair? So another $75,000 in rent right there.

Okay, let’s add up the cost of renting a studio and building and storing our own sets…

$175,000 – set construction costs
$ 10,000 – storage during set construction
$ 54,000 – set storage between filming three separate segments
$ 30,000 – transportation and labor (moving sets between
storage and the sound stage)
$405,000 – sound stage rental (for three separate segments
at $135,000 for each part filmed)

$674,000 – TOTAL


You could argue that Axanar would be cheaper if it were filmed all at once. Just rent the studio for three weeks and save all that extra moving and storage. In fact, the numbers come down to just under a half million dollars if you do that (I can show you the math if you’d like, but your eyes are probably glazing over already).

However, shooting Axanar all at once means raising a LOT more money up front.  In addition to set and studio costs, there’s costs for actors, production crew, visual effects, music, editing, etc.  (Remember, this was all BEFORE the guidelines said you can’t pay anyone.  And Axanar wasn’t the first or only fan production to pay actors and crew.)  So while you can be a true optimist and hope that enough can be raised to shoot the whole film at once, a reality check would lead you back to assuming at least two and most probably three parts, each with their own crowd-funding campaign.

OPTION 2 – Build a Studio

Ares Studios (now Industry Studios) costs about $15,000/month to operate. Assuming 21 months (just as I did above) to make all three parts of Axanar, that’s $315,000 in rent sand utilities.

Now look at that $674,000 number above. Let’s take out the $175,000 for set construction costs, since sets would need to be built no matter where you chose to film.

So, just comparing the apples-to-apples costs, we have:

$315,000 – Cost of using Ares/Industry studios for 21 months

vs.

$499,000 – Cost of renting a sound stage and shooting in three parts over 21 months (includes storage and transportation)

In other words…

ALEC PETERS SAVED DONORS $184,000 BY BUILDING HIS OWN STUDIO!!!

Now, that’s not entirely accurate. There were costs associated with converting a warehouse into a functional studio: construction of a custom sound stage floor and offices, installation of a special lightning grid and electrical power system, permits, insurance, etc. And rent had to be paid during those months of studio conversion. In the end, it probably came out to be pretty close to the cost of renting a sound stage. (And remember that I low-ball-estimated the daily rental for the hypothetical sound stage at $15K/day. It would more likely have been double that for what was needed.)


So in the end, as a donor, I think two things:

1) It was a VERY expensive decision NOT to film in upstate New York at James Cawley’s facility–a half-million dollar decision any way you add it up. But since that choice was made…

2) I find the decision to build Ares/Industry Studios–rather than rent a sound stage–to have been the more financially responsible one to make. And in the end, it would pay even more dividends to donors, as those sets could be stored indefinitely in the studio, eliminating the cost of storage, transportation, and future studio rental.

In other words, the longer the sets remained at Ares/Industry Studios, and the more fan films that were shot there, the more the donors and Axanar Productions would benefit financially. Sure, if the sets were just sitting around unused for months, the rent on Ares/Industry Studios would be higher than the cheaper storage rent would have been. But the plan was to frequently have that studio and those sets in use making more fan films and renting out to film schools for students to use. It would have been glorious…

And if not, it was only a three-year lease. As a donor, I wholeheartedly believe Alec and the team made the correct choice to build out their own studio.

47 thoughts on “It was actually CHEAPER for AXANAR PRODUCTIONS to BUILD a studio than to RENT one!”

  1. Jonathan, thanks for writing this with this level of detail. I’ve been saying this same thing over and over on social media only to be shouted down by trolls.

    But the thing that had me really excited about Ares/Industry Studios, from the very first moment I read about it, was its potential to bootstrap the quality of all manner of fan productions, not just Axanar and other Star Trek fan films. There are many advantages to shooting in LA: there are many more equipment rental places here, and competition means cost savings as well as a larger variety of available gear; there is a very large pool of actors here, both working pros as well as newcomers trying to break in; there are lots of expert professionals, from make-up artists, to production designers, to costume designers, to say nothing of gaffers, electricians, key grips, etc., who are also fans and, while they might not work for free many of them *are* willing to do small projects for nominal pay or, at the very least, come in and advise non-pros on best practices; and, last but by no means least, there is an army of potential crew members who are trying to break into the industry and will definitely work at a discount. Believe me, I know these things from personal experience as these are the reasons why film students thrive in LA.

    But there is a very large drawback to shooting in LA: studio space, and locations in general, can be terribly expensive. Film schools have studios for their students but fan films have been left out in the cold. Until Ares/Industry Studios. Now all manner of fan films could potentially have a fantastic place to hang their hats that allows them to take advantage of everything LA has to offer their productions.

    I also believe that, as more and more fan productions use Industry Studios, there will be this growing collection of flats, set dressing items, costumes, props, etc. And there won’t just be a growing collection of items, there’ll be a growing collection of how-to knowledge, hacks, and best practices for making fan and low-budget films.

    Industry Studios could become a hub, not only for fan films, but for an entire DIY indie film movement.

    This, for me, was always the end game. It was my hope that a great Axanar feature film would be the seed of a new Hollywood business model where creatives and their fans no longer needed the studio middle man.

    It could still happen.

    1. yes do build your set and make the both studio see what you can do for the low cost, if they want to play dirty well let them as long you give out the truth about what CBS did to you, you can stop them cold by just give the people the truth.
      I also know that CBS with the sag, and amptp you all should look at the 650 pg basic agreement for may-2-2014 thru may-1-2017, and they are the same rules that writers half to go by.

  2. It be a financially sound decision but in the end, what do you have to show for it, a twenty-minute beginning of a film and a two minute scene. While countless fan films like Phase II, Intrepid, Farragut, Valiant made their films with the spaces they’ve found for a lot less and made several films within their budgets and their time frame.

    If there were other fan films that were shot at Industry/Ares Studios, where are they?

    I am very curious to know how you got your numbers for the first option. I would like to see a deep breakdown based on the official actual time for Axanar to complete its film with actual numbers of renting a studio in let’s say Glendale, CA. Then add the actual costs of set construction costs, storage during set construction, set storage between filming three separate segments, transportation and labor (moving sets between
    storage and the sound stage) & sound stage rental and I can ask my friends who actually do work at various mainstream and independent features how much it will actually cost?

    I feel that your numbers are inflated given that many fan films have done the exact same thing for a whole lot less.

    1. “While countless fan films like Phase II, Intrepid, Farragut, Valiant made their films with the spaces they’ve found for a lot less and made several films within their budgets and their time frame.”

      – Intrepid films on green screen, so that’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.
      – Phase II still has three unreleased episodes (including “Torment of Destiny” with Richard Hatch) that remain in limbo. And even though James Cawley turned his sets into a licensed tour last summer, those three episodes completed filming years before that ever happened. Also, NV/P2 took years to get their sets built. Once sets were built, it was much easier to film episodes. Additional sets were added along the way as space and funds became available. Axanar was starting with no sets and building everything right out of the starting gate.
      – Farragut also took years and years to build out their sets. Engineering was only just completed last year (after Farragut had moved out of the Georgia studio and sold it to Star Trek Continues). But Farragut has experienced delays of its own over the years. Their final episode “The Homecoming” funded in late 2015, and it’s still not out yet in mid-February of 2017. I don’t begrudge them that; it can take a year or more to finish production and post-production. But don’t single out Axanar as the only fan project to have delays in production/post-production.
      – Valiant released their first episode in July of 2014 and their second episode two and a half years later. I’m not sure throwing them into your list helps you make your point, David.

      “If there were other fan films that were shot at Industry/Ares Studios, where are they?”

      The Guinan pilot, “The Listener: Spectral Awakening,” is currently in post-production. If you’d like an update, feel free to contact Aliza Pearl.

      “I am very curious to know how you got your numbers for the first option. I would like to see a deep breakdown based on the official actual time for Axanar to complete its film with actual numbers of renting a studio in let’s say Glendale, CA. Then add the actual costs of set construction costs, storage during set construction, set storage between filming three separate segments, transportation and labor (moving sets between storage and the sound stage) & sound stage rental and I can ask my friends who actually do work at various mainstream and independent features how much it will actually cost?”

      So many questions to answer! All right, let’s jump in…

      – Rental costs for sound stages can vary greatly. A small sound stage with limited resources can be rented for as low as a couple of thousand dollars a day. A larger sound stage with extras can be a lot more. Most of these places won’t quote you prices over the phone unless you’re a real production, so I just asked one of my friends in the industry who works on music videos. If those numbers are off, my apologies. I did hear that Sky Conway paid $60,000 for two weeks of shooting Renegades (don’t ask me to share my source of that information, please), but I believe that was a smaller facility than the one Axanar would have needed.
      – As for knowing how long it was going to take to shoot Axanar, I was pretty much guessing. I estimated five days. Maybe it would have been two or three weeks. I didn’t contact Alec first, as this was simply an editorial (in fact, it started out as just a response to a comment). If Alec wants to give me an interview later on with more accurate cost projections, he’s welcome to do so.
      – Cost of set construction was estimated based on James Cawley having spent $125,000 on his original three sets (half-bridge, transporter room, half captain’s quarters, and partial corridor) back in 2003. Axanar was constructing about twice as many sets, but some were simpler. So I doubled James’ total and then trimmed away $75,000. I might have low-balled that cost a bit.
      – Storage during construction was based on contacting a public storage facility here in L.A. Unfortunately, they don’t offer that much space in a single unit, and their multi-unit cost would have been astronomically higher. However, they suggested contacting a warehouse leasing company (which I did not do because I was simply writing a response to a comment), but they gave me a rough estimate of what they thought it might cost. I’ve since discovered that you can’t lease most warehouse spaces that large month-to-month and would likely have to take on a 2 or 3-year lease (like Alec did).
      – Transportation, well, I just used the cost from the last time I moved homes with professional movers (which was 10 years ago when Wendy and I moved from her old condo to our current house). Distance was about the same, but rather than having lots of small boxes that could be stacked into a single truck, there would be larger pieces that would require either multiple trucks or more people and more trips. Anyway, I just doubled what we paid and multiplied it by 6 (two full moves per filming segment with three total segments).
      – And feel free to ask your friends, David. I’m curious how closely they jibe with what my friend and the public storage guy told me. I’m happy to include your estimates here.

      “I feel that your numbers are inflated given that many fan films have done the exact same thing for a whole lot less.”

      Hey, they might be. But be careful not to compare apples-to-blueberries. Yes, other fan films did theirs for less, but Axanar was always, from day one, aiming higher. The donors knew this. That’s one of the reasons I’ve given $300 to Axanar over the years but only $150 to Star Trek Continues and only $50 to Farragut and also to Pacific 201. (I can’t remember how much I gave to Renegades or other fan projects.)

      And they haven’t spent THAT much less, David. James Cawley and Vic Mignoga each pay about $5,000/month in rent for their facilities. (Actually, I think STC’s rent doubled to $10K when they added the extra 9,000 square footage to build Engineering.) Alec pays $12,000, but he’s not located in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York or a 45-minute drive from the closest major airport in Jacksonville, Florida. Ares/Industry Studios is a half-hour north of Los Angeles, where most of the best industry talent lives and can commute to easily. It costs more for rent. Also, while most other fan series don’t share their financials, we do know that STC spent $775,000 over three years. Yes, they released five one-hour fan films in that time, but they did not need to build sets from scratch, and they were not being sued. Axanar Productions was advised by their attorneys to suspend filming until the resolution of the lawsuit. Now that the lawsuit has been settled, production can begin again.

      And I, for one, am very much looking forward to it!

      1. Really… in 10 years, Farragut has produced over a dozen hours of content… For maybe total, a couple hundred grand.
        Axanar in three years, has produced 20 minutes.

        20 Minutes. For 1.6 million dollars…
        20 minutes.

        Give me a break.

        1. Here’s a question for everyone:

          With the advent of music CDs and now digital mp3 downloads, is the phrase “You sound like a broken record” still valid anymore? If not, what should I replace it with?

    2. The funny thing is about comments like this is when they something along the lines of “in the end”. Simply put, we’re NOT at the end. If Alec had caved and walked away when the suit was first filed, then this would be a valid argument, because then it would be the end, and there would never be anything else to come.

      But that’s not what happened. Alec now has a chance to make the movie, and has the infrastructure in place to make the movie. So, saying we’re at the end, and this is what we have is simply NOT the truth.

      1. Yepper… there are so many more donors to beg for money and not produce anything!
        Many more flights to upgrade with cupcakes, girlfriends to buy gas for, and sushi to eat!

  3. I could actually understand how building the studio instead of renting it would be cheaper without even reading this article – If you build something from the ground up on your own, then, you own it, but if you have to rent it out, then, your paying constant monthly/annual payments – whatever – to whomever owns the property your renting – At least that makes enough sense to me anyway… P 🙂

    1. But Alec doesn’t own, he leases. He pays rent. He simply pays rent on a warehouse, not on a fully loaded production facility. Because he turned the warehouse into a production studio, he gets the benefit of a Ferrari at the cost of a Honda.

      1. lol Actually, I think I knew that and just forgot – Anyway, better deal for him either way, right?… P

        1. Possibly not. Apparently, either I goofed or my producer friend goofed or the detractors are pulling my leg. But there’s now a 2-out-of-3 chance I might have been working with incorrect numbers. If so…you might be seeing a retraction or revised math article.

          After all, if I’m going to come down hard on people for getting their facts wrong–that’s gotta apply to yours truly, as well…or else I’m just a hypocrite. So stay tuned!

          1. Alrighty Jonathan, keep the news coming then – Appreciate cha and your blogs, man… P 😉

    1. Sounds like the creators of the alt-facts are accusing me of creating alt-facts!

      (Well, at least there is symmetry.) 🙂

      Obviously, if you can rent a studio for $1-2,000/day, that changes the math significantly. So I’m going to need to seek out my producer friend and figure out where he got his numbers to see if I need to print a retraction or revision. I do have a pretty confident source on that $60,000 that Renegades spent for 15 days…and that’s $4,000/day (more than the $1-$2,000/day but less than the $15-30,000/day).

      Redoing the math with those numbers takes the rental cost down to $330,000 (including set construction, storage, and transport) versus $490,000 for building out Ares Studio and constructing the sets on-site…placing the rental option at about $160,000 less than the build-out option.

      So give me a few days to get back in touch with my producer friend and pin down the correct information. Unlike many detractors, I don’t simply make stuff up and then argue till my fingers are hoarse that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. If I screwed this up, I’ll fix it publicly.

      1. You don’t need a producer friend, you just need to Google studio spaces in the LA area. There are tons with various sizes and rates. Also, the way the Axanar sets have been built in sections, they could have been made and stored in a cheaper space and brought in for the shoot.

        Add to this by renting Alec wouldn’t have to worry about the ongoing obligation to keep paying the rent and utilities on a three year lease. Unless of course the studio really was the endgame.

        1. Well, yes, the studio was part of the endgame. It was never the plan to make Axanar and just pack everything up and go home. James Cawley didn’t stop at one fan film. Neither did Farragut and Star Trek Continues. Only Starship Exeter ever built a studio and then was “one and done.” (Exeter’s first episode didn’t use a studio.)

          So yes, like the other studio-based productions, the idea was always to keep the studio open to make more fan films after the first one was completed.

          1. Funny you mention James Cawley, Farragut and Star Trek Continues because everyone single one of those productions produced multiple episodes for a fraction of what Axanar has rasied INCLUDING the leasing the facility. In fact, if you totaled up ALL of those productions; what they have spent combined is STILL far less then the money Axanar has raised and spent. Looking forward to the forth-coming financial information that Axanar fought in court NOT to be made public so we can see how the self professed “transparent” Axanar really is.

  4. This might be one of the best twists yet in the Axanar mess, when you attempt to justify spending a majority of the crowdfunding funds to construct a makeshift studio in a high rent warehouse and somehow try to persuade the donors that it’s a good business decision…
    When you consider the hundreds of available possibilities for studio production in Los Angeles, all of which could and should have been utilized to film this fan film – – afterall that’s what these blindsided donors coughed up money for, the fan film Axanar, not to finance someone’s delusional goal of owning a production studio !
    If this project would have been handled by someone with some actual creative abilities and basic understanding of how real production works, the fans of Axanar would be enjoying their fan film now! As it is, the money has been exhausted foolishly and there’s nothing on the horizon which indicates that Axanar will ever see the light of day …
    Granted that these wiz brains of Axanar are meeting to discuss the future of the film, without funds now, and a cast which is dwindling down, the center of the discussion now is simply attempting to generate funds to maintain the warehouse expenses, the movie now secondary, does that sound like a positive for the donors – not hardly! With that said, whatever figures are loosely tossed around about the costs of renting a warehouse and attempting to convert it into a workable studio are moot ! This is comparable to someone coming into money, squandering it by purchasing a lot of land in a high rent zoning development, lacking the experience of developing the land, and months later with no money remaining, trying to justify the purchase or construct something viable ! To put it simply, there sets a rented $12,000 a month warehouse with an enormous investment of furniture, green screen, soundproofing floor, and whatever other foolishness spending thrills, and nothing with substance has been produced yet in over 2 years – nothing ! So, if you were an investor in something like this wouldn’t you begin to question the competence of the idiot running this show, obviously yes!
    So, should Axanar have rented a viable studio in Los Angeles or wherever and filmed the movie, distributed to their fans who supported and trusted them to do it, and already moved on to another adventure – yes! However; in doing what was right, there wouldn’t be any future financial gain possible for someone looking to use donor funds as a stepping stone to advance their stagnant lifestyle or career, so it’s
    abundantly clear as to the motives of the project creator !

    1. So let me get this straight…you’re saying that Alec Peters spent TOO MUCH on building a studio while he was simultaneously trying to siphon off the “extra” to personally profit off of donor funds with a lavish lifestyle that included trips to conventions, cr tires, and all you can eat sushi?

      That sounds like a stupid plan.

      After all, why not spend LESS on the studio and then have MORE money left over to embezzle? Wouldn’t that make more sense? Unless Alec WASN’T siphoning off funds for personal gain. So if it turns out that building the studio cost more, then I think it’s time to retire the “Alec used donor funds to pay for all his personal expenses” fantasy.

      But as I said, I’ll be looking into this and seeing if my math is wrong after all. I’m even going to try to contact Alec this time (should have done that sooner).

  5. Just Google “Hollywood soundstage rental”. It’s NOT $15,000 a day. You’re off by a factor of ten! It was NOT cheaper for Alec to build himself a studio, how absurd.

  6. It’s intellectually interesting to learn about the numbers, but seriously I’m in the “hindsight is 20/20” camp. At best, lessons will be learned about what happened and applied to the future.

    I will make one comment, though. LA was not the only possible location. If SF had been the site, I would have had a much better chance to try to sign up to be an extra since I live in the SF area. And we have lots of airports up here! See, without any trouble I did at last find something to grumble about:-)

    1. If it were located in SF, then SAG travel rates would have kicked in for all the actors, raising their costs. Most of the infrastructure for making films is here in L.A. (or in Vancouver, Toronto, New York City, and Atlanta). Other cities are doing their best to play catch-up, but L.A. is Hollywood, after all. 🙂

  7. Something else Jon, I saw on a previous post of yours that someone claimed Industry Studios didn’t have a/c but you replied it did. According to Terry on a post in the AxaMonitor FB group he said that only the offices have a/c but the shooting space does not.

    Lack of a/c in LA would make the space less competitive than ones that do, or there would be additional cost to bring cooling trucks in. Make sure you add that to your figures.

    1. Actually, I’ve since discovered that most studios with large sound stages don’t offer AC in the large area itself but rather in the dressing room areas. The reason is that the A/C blowers in the shooting area make a discernible hum, even if there’s sound-proofing. And large A/C systems usually cool the entire building, not just the sound stage area. So turning them off and on over and over just results in the entire facility heating up, lessening the effectiveness and efficiency of the A/C.

      What’s usually done instead (as low-tech as it sounds) is to put large fans in the doorways to the sound stage and blow cold air from the office space into the sound stage and then turn those fans off and shut the doors before the director calls “action.” This keeps the dressing room areas cool so the make-up lasts longer before melting. (I’m learning so much about movie production!)

      But the main point is that anyone who said Industry Studios did not have any A/C was, as Terry has now confirmed, incorrect. There is A/C at the facility. The fact that the sound stage itself isn’t air conditioned is not unusual in the industry.

      1. Actually, from a producer that I know:

        “Silent Air (that’s what it’s called) HVACs are pretty common on sound stages. Those that don’t have those units will pre-chill a stage before shooting, then crank it back up during breaks. Even if you are carting in a portable unit, you wind up doing the same thing.”

        So again, if you’re figuring costs you should probably add that in since the Industry Studios website says it can be available upon request. Can you imagine having Klingon makeup melting in the heat? Wouldn’t be pretty.

      2. After all this decision about the warehouse studio air conditioning, I decided to fact check with other independent studios in Los Angeles, as you should have done Jonathan.. Anytime your delivering information to the public it is ALWAYS a good idea to double check the source to make sure the information is correct, and with Axanar that’s a full time job!
        After contacting several of the more popular rental studios in the surrounding LA area, they ALL have central AIR CONDITIONING:
        Green Screen Studios LA
        (323)907-2044
        The Aresenal Film & Creative
        (323) 892-4286
        Production Rental Facility
        (917) 279-1395
        Source Film Studio
        (323) 463-5555
        Atomic Studios
        (323) 751-3825
        Digital Film Studio
        (818) 771-0019
        While discussing with them about not having air conditioning in a functional studio, they did confirmed that several smaller (“fly-by-night” as it was put) studios use rental units supplied by an outside source, however all actual production facilities with credibility have central controlled air conditioning.. Most of them all identified it as “silent air” and has been used since the early 2000’s, most mentioned they were NC17 or NC18 compliant – whatever that noise level means, however I would assume it’s extremely quiet ..
        However; just a heads up that a majority of the substantial rental studios in LA are in fact air conditioned facilities!

      3. Why are you writing about something you obviously know nothing about? This may be one of the most worthless articles trying to justify absurd spending that I have ever read. It’s obvious to anyone that the lease for 3 years of a warehouse was a terrible business decision; not sure why you are trying to justify it (without accurate facts no-less). I thought you were suppose to be impartial but it sure does not come across that way.

        1. I never said I was impartial, boychik. If you can find somewhere that I said that, let me know. But I’ve always maintained that I am, have been, and likely ever shall be…an Axanar supporter.

          If you’re looking for impartial, well, I actually can’t think of anyone who writes about Axanar who is impartial. Sorry.

          1. Oh, my mistake: sorry. I thought you were offering a balanced opinion; thank you for clarifying. I truly want facts not spin so I will continue to look (elsewhere).

            Good luck!

  8. AQs per usual – Jonathan Lane’s ‘analysis’ leaves a lot to be desired and is mostly Fantasy. If people want to see what the going rental rates for a studio/soundstage (many with a greenscreen and other equipment included ibn the price – there’s a website that lists such prices for the Los Angeles area:

    http://www.affordablesoundstages.com/

    (And in general it’s WAY less than what Mr. lane believes – but hey, it seems Axanar surrogates like to live in fantasyland.)

    1. “but hey, it seems Axanar surrogates like to live in fantasyland.”

      Milk just shot out of my nose when I read that…and I’m not even drinking milk!

      Thanks for the good laugh, my friend! 🙂

  9. Well Jon, from the follow up comments about air conditioning and the clear evidence that your figures for day rates are way off I really hope you stick to your word and either edit your blog or post a retraction.

    When you do I really hope you also have Alec post a new link since it’d be a shame if he used you to mislead Axanar donors.

    1. Alec never linked to that blog. In fact, he one one of the first to criticize me for writing it.

      But the correction and apology is now posted. I finally got in touch with my producer friend late last night and confirmed I got incorrect information from him.

      1. He in fact endorsed it on the Axanar Twitter account Jon which makes your claim that he corrected you dubious, unless of course he did it without reading it first.

        1. Possibly. I don’t subscribe to the Axanar Twitter feed. But I haven’t seen Alec link to the blog from anywhere else. Usually, he’ll mention it on the Axanar FB Fan Group and/or in his Axanar blog. I didn’t see it there.

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