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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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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SOME PERSPECTIVE: a “BIG WIN” for AXANAR or “GAME OVER”? (Part 2)

In Part 1, I outlined the dire situation that ALEC PETERS and AXANAR PRODUCTIONS were in regarding INDUSTRY STUDIOS.  The dream had turned into a nightmare as money was running out.  A new Indiegogo campaign had pretty much stalled far short of its goal, and it was looking like all the work and donor money that had gone into creating a very impressive film studio and really awesome sets might end up having all been in vain.

It was a dark time, and I’ll admit that I was actually way more defeatist than Alec.  But Alec couldn’t afford the luxury of self-pity or panic.  He had a problem to solve, and he wasn’t giving up.  In fact, Alec actually did his best to lift my spirits as he tried to navigate a course forward…despite the odds stacking up against him.  Say whatever else you want about the guy, but you can’t deny that he’s a fighter.  Alec refuses to go gently into any good night.  Where other people (including me) would have thrown in the towel and given up long ago, Alec Peters has always pushed on.

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SOME PERSPECTIVE: a “BIG WIN” for AXANAR or “GAME OVER”? (Part 1)

Reality is not always kind or fair, and sometimes life hands you a Kobayashi Maru.  Over the past few days since ALEC PETERSannounced the departure of AXANAR PRODUCTIONS from INDUSTRY STUDIOS, there have been discussions, debates, and some knockdown/drag-out arguments.  Was money squandered?  Should Alec have just rented a studio or filmed the Axanar movie on the New Voyages TOS sets in upstate New York?  (Even Alec himself looks back and wishes he’d done that.)

But hindsight is a gift we are usually given way too late to act on it.  I should have bought Microsoft and Intel in 1991.  Hillary Clinton should have campaigned in Michigan and Wisconsin.  NBC should never have canceled Star Trek.

However, all the Monday-morning quarterbacking in the world doesn’t change the fact that there is an unpleasant reality right now for Alec Peters and Axanar Productions that must be dealt with, and it boils down to these four things…

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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…

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An interview with AXANAR attorney ERIN RANAHAN

Right after the settlement in the AXANAR lawsuit was announced, rumors were flying that the reason for this unexpected development was because the Court had lifted the confidentiality designation on Alec Peters’ financials.  According to some detractors (well, most of them), Alec suddenly panicked that the jig was up and hastily rushed to settle so as not to let those financials become public.

You know me and rumors, right?

So I e-mailed Axanar lead defense attorney, Erin Ranahan, to see if these rumors were true or not.  And she gave me a surprising answer.  And then I asked her a few other quick questions, and she answered those, too.  “Geez, if only I could get an official interview with you!” I e-mailed back to her.

A few seconds later, she responded: “Send me a list of questions and I’ll let you know which I can answer.”

Whoa!  Did Erin just agree to do an interview with Fan Film Factor???  I didn’t even know that lawyers in big cases like these were allowed to give full interviews.  Usually, all I see are quick sound bytes that don’t really say much.

And so I put together a list of questions, and Erin actually answered most of them.  The couple that she didn’t dealt with items like the specific terms of the settlement, which are confidential.

So, is that rumor about Alec’s financials true?  Read on…

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ALEC PETERS discusses the AXANAR LAWSUIT and SETTLEMENT (Interview – Part 2)

In Part 1 of my interview with AXANAR executive producer ALEC PETERS,  we covered the past and the present.  We discussed what led up to the copyright infringement lawsuit from CBS and Paramount, what happened during the 13 months the lawsuit was progressing toward trial, and what led to the unexpected (to most of us, at least) settlement.

Now it’s time to transition toward a look into the future.  What exactly is Axanar allowed to do going forward, and what plans are there so far.  But first, there was one really important question that I think a lot of people–donors and detractors alike–wanted to know…


JONATHAN: Okay, remember when you said I could ask you any question?

ALEC: Oh, boy…

JONATHAN: How much personal blame do you accept for the lawsuit and the delay in producing Axanar?

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ALEC PETERS discusses the AXANAR LAWSUIT and SETTLEMENT (Interview – Part 1)

ALEC PETERS, the executive producer of AXANAR PRODUCTIONS) has arguably become one of the most controversial and polarizing figures in the world of fan films.  Having worked on the fan series Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II, Alec ultimately set his sights on producing a Star Trek fan film of his own: Axanar.  Using the relatively new crowd-funding tools of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Alec was able to go where no Star Trek fan filmmaker had gone before: past the $1 million mark in fan donations to build a studio and produce his dream project.

He also became the first-ever Star Trek fan filmmaker to get his ass sued simultaneously by two major Hollywood studios.

Rather than turning into a mass of quivering jelly and accepting a potentially multi-million dollar judgment against him, Alec was able to find a top intellectual property law firm to represent him pro bono (for free), and “David” took on “Goliath” in a case that I’ve analyzed extensively here on Fan Film Factor.  It was ugly, surprising, frustrating, amusing at times, full of twists and turns, and even covered by the mainstream media.  The case carried the potential of settling huge precedents in copyright law that could affect all fan films…for good or ill.  And thousands of fans and donors watched eagerly to see what would happen next.

But fandom was not united in their opinion of this case nor their feelings about Alec Peters.  Some fans (like myself) were huge supporters and proudly proclaimed, “I Stand With AXANAR!”  Others felt just as strongly that an arrogant and overconfident Icarus had flown far too close to the sun and deserved to plummet to a painful, smashing oblivion far below.

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Listen to JONATHAN’s radio interview discussing the AXANAR LAWSUIT!

Last Saturday, your sometimes-humble blogger, Jonathan Lane, appeared live on the SHANE PLAYS geek talk radio show to discuss the AXANAR lawsuit and surprising last-minute legal settlement.  Since then, folks who weren’t able to listen when it first  aired have asked me when and how they can listen to the entire broadcast online.

Wonder no more!

The recording was just posted to  iTunesGoogle Play Music and Stitcher.

There’s also a direct MP3 download:
http://traffic.libsyn.com/shaneplays/Shane_Plays_1-28-17_podcast.mp3

Or you can just listen below (the Axanar discussion begins at 15:50 point):


AXANAR clarifies some additional questions about the SETTLEMENT

While we wait for my interview with Alec Peters for be reviewed and approved by the AXANAR legal team (yes, they’re taking the confidentiality aspects of the settlement agreement quite seriously…as they should), there was a posting made yesterday morning addressing some of the questions many Axanar fans (and detractors) have been asking.

ALEC PETERS answered four frequently-asked questions and also provided a link to a special blog about the Axanar financials (coming really soon…right, Alec???).

Here is yesterday’s post in its entirety…

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