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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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…

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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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…

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

FAN FILM GUIDELINES – Have you voted yet?

Last week, I invited folks to vote on just one of the fan film guidelines that they thought the SMALL ACCESS group should focus our energies on trying to convince the studios to revise.

Initially, we set out to encourage multiple changes simultaneously from CBS and Paramount and pretty much got nowhere.  And while we still have a veeeerrrrry steep mountain to climb, we might end up with a better chance of success asking for just one change rather than many.

And so we set up a survey over on the Small Access Facebook Group, and so far, we’ve had just under a hundred votes.  Two-thirds favor a focus on the second half of the first guideline: “…With no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes.”  And with about a quarter of the vote, the notorious 15-minute limit is currently in second place.

But there’s still time to vote because, to be honest, I haven’t had a chance to work on the next entry of my “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check” blog series yet.  And since I’m on vacation next week (heading up the California coast with the family and my camera), there might be a solid two weeks left to vote.

Here’s the link for the poll if you haven’t voted yet or want to encourage others to:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/smallaccess/permalink/465593603781344/

And in the meantime, if you want to help me write the next entry in the blog series, how do YOU think we should proceed from here?  We’ve got 1,300 in the Small Access group…92 of which are bothering to vote.  We’re not exactly a “movement,” but we’re not entirely invisible either.  A full-on boycott with just 1,300 people is pretty meaningless, though.  And I doubt we’re going to convince every fan filmmaker out there to simply ignore the guidelines and risk getting sued.  So what else is there?

I have a few ideas, but I’m curious first to see what other people think.  Feel free to comment on this page or, if you’re a member of SMALL ACCESS (and if you aren’t–why not???) on that Facebook group page.

FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 5) – Betcha can’t choose just ONE…continued!

Last time, we began looking at all of the fan film guidelines one at a time, wondering if we could choose just one to present to the studios with a request for reconsideration.

Why choose just one?  Don’t we hate all of the guidelines?  Don’t we want everything to go back to what it was when the only rules were “Don’t charge to see your fan film” and “Don’t make any profit”?

Well, actually, no…at least I don’t feel that way anymore.  Actually, I never wanted to get rid of all of the guidelines, and I only ever thought that maybe four of them were truly problematic for fan films.  As I discussed in Part 2, the guidelines didn’t kill Star Trek fan films.  In fact, since the guidelines were announced last June, more than SIXTY Trek fan films have been released…some of which did not follow the new guidelines but many did.

And then in Part 3, I discussed how the guidelines weren’t a completely bad deal for fan producers.  By providing a safe harbor, much of the guesswork, uncertainty, and outright fear could be avoided by fans wanting to ensure they would not answer the door one day to a person holding a subpoena.  Of course, the guidelines are still very restrictive, but they are far from impossible to follow.

However, I still believe there is room left to improve the guidelines to make them less constraining for fans while still protecting the interests of the studios.  But the reality is that the more changes we fans try to get made to their guidelines, the less likely the studios will be to cooperate.  So last week and this week, I’m looking at all the guidelines in an attempt to choose just one to focus on—one little compromise.  If we can adjust just a single guideline, it’s still a win for fans…and we go from there.

But which one?

Last week, we quickly eliminated nearly half of the guidelines because they weren’t really problematic.  Then we began looking at the second group of guidelines, a category I called…

Continue reading “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 5) – Betcha can’t choose just ONE…continued!”

It’s my party, and I’ll reply if I want to…

If you tend to read the comments sections of my blogs, you know that I get quite a lot of posts from Axanar detractors looking to accuse Alec Peters or Axanar of this or that crime or incompetence or atrocity.  Seldom do I trash any of these comments, and I usually provide some kind of response because, well, isn’t that what a blogger is supposed to do?

But lately, it just seems like I’m spending hours and hours each week just reading and responding to all of these angry and challenging posts, leaving me less time to focus on fan films and even my family.  Granted, I still prioritize the latter two over doing any kind of response writing, but that just means I write most of my responses really, really late at night.  Or sometimes I have a little time during the day and try to sneak a few responses in.

This happened yesterday afternoon as I was having a marathon session of dealing with detractors like Rand Johnson saying things like this:

Let me remind you that it was you who FIRST started being a condescending, egotistical, pompous, self-righteous, conceited, ego maniac, holier-than-thou, hotshot, puffed-up, self-centered, snobbish and stuck-up blogger who defends a man who made outlandish claims he was going to make a fan film then spent all the money on crap he did not need to make a fan film. Then you attacked anyone who criticized that man and your hero worship of that man. Or criticized you for promoting and defending that man who took donor money and used it as personal income to financially benefit himself and his associates.

Man, just reading that again exhausted me!  And that’s just one comment, folks.  I get so many.

But then I received a call that has changed everything…

Continue reading “It’s my party, and I’ll reply if I want to…”

FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 4) – Betcha can’t choose just ONE!

In Part 3, I acknowledged a very  inconvenient truth for many fans: CBS owns STAR TREK.  This is the reality we live in, and if we want to continue in our quest to change the Star Trek fan film guidelines, we need to accept that fact and strategically move forward from there.

Project: SMALL ACCESS began as a protest campaign to convince CBS and Paramount to revisit and revise their new guidelines for Star Trek fan films.  And we had a plan.  After several weeks of discussion and debate about all of the guidelines, employing surveys and gathering suggestions for possible changes/improvements, we came to (mostly) a consensus that only about a quarter of the new guidelines were really troublesome to the 1,200 members of our Facebook group who were involved in the discussion.  Another quarter only needed minor tweaking to make them less ambiguous, and nearly half were fine as is.

Our plan involved creating and then sending out copies of our Focus Group Report to CBS and Paramount executives as a sort of “letter-writing campaign” to begin a conversation with the studios in an attempt to create a better compromise of rules that still protected the studios but allowed fans more flexibility in creating their films than the guidelines were permitting.

The plan didn’t work.  Although we know the studios received and were aware of the 115 copies of the 38-page report that was sent (they acknowledged receiving them during questioning in the Axanar lawsuit depositions–so we know the printouts weren’t just thrown out unread), there has been no mention by the studios of revisiting or revising the guidelines at all.

Over the past few months, I’ve done some deep soul searching about what to do for “Plan B” (assuming there even is a “Plan B”…which I would still like there to be).  And then I realized something, and again, a number of you aren’t gonna like hearing it:

The more guidelines we try to convince the studios to revise, the less chance there is that they’ll want to change any.

Here’s why…

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“Think of the children!” – Why I still believe in AXANAR!

Fan Film Factor has sorta become an unofficial meeting ground where Axanar supporters can get together, kick back, relax, and then tear into each other like rabid dogs.

Actually, we try to keep it mostly civil (with varying amounts of success and failure), but once every so often, a post comes along that just gets me a’typin’ and speakin’ my mind!

Such a comment came in early Friday morning from a detractor by the name of JO MOINE.  I had published a blog on Wednesday providing coverage of the recent donor memo issued by AXANAR PRODUCTIONS outlining their future plans and finally releasing their financial statement.  While some of the detractor comments were (not surprisingly) snarky, Jo Moine took it one step further.  She wrote:

Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better. Can’t actually put my finger on why, though. Oh wait – Alec blew $1.4 million with little to show for it, and is asking for more money. Why would anyone think he would manage more money wisely at this point? If you are thinking of giving him more, Jonathan – please don’t. Think of the children!

“Think of the children!” she said.  Perhaps the comment was simply meant to be flippant, but having a six-year-old son myself, I seldom take any call to “think of the children” lightly.  And so I took a good, long look at myself…because what Jo was asking me to do had produced such a profoundly visceral reaction that I wondered why I felt so strongly.  Am I really just following a leader with my blinders on into financial oblivion?  Was I duped.  If I can’t justify my loyalty to this project and put the reasons into words, maybe I should just follow Jo’s advice…

So I asked myself: why am I still so loyal to Alec Peters?  Why am I and thousands of other Axanerds still so supportive of this project when there’s dozens and dozens of detractors out there badgering us to just walk away and belittling us almost constantly for refusing to do so?

It didn’t take long to come up with my answer.  And if you’ve been having any doubts of your own, or if you just want some reassurance that the detractors are, after all, completely wrong in their disdain for this project, this is what I wrote back to Jo Moine…

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