And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! (Well, at least some of you were probably waiting for it.) AXANAR PRODUCTIONS is finally answering that oft-asked question: what the heck did you spend $1.4 million on??? Obviously, it wasn’t all tires and sushi! But did it really all go to turning a warehouse into a studio, building some sets, fulfilling a few (thousand) perks, and filming a 4-minute Vulcan scene plus 15 minutes of other visual effects? Well, now you can finally find out for yourself.
Axanar has also released an update on its plans for the future–what the now 30-minute Axanar movie will look like, how the full Axanar story will manage to get told, what’s going to happen to Industry Studios, and whether Axanar Productions will be producing other Star Trek fan films after Axanar (and will they be following the guidelines…well, of course they will!).
There’s a full DONOR MEMO that’s been published on the Axanar website with the headline “Lay in a course for the future.” I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Here on Fan Film Factor, I am just going to present some of my own insights on those announcement plus a screen cap of the financials themselves at the end.
I have also been approved by ALEC PETERS to open up the blog comments section to collecting QUESTIONS FOR ALEC for him to answer. But there are a few ground rules before you start feverishly typing:
Questions must pertain to the contents of the donor memo: the Axanar financials and the plans for the future. Questions about the lawsuit and what happened in the past just aren’t relevant to the topic(s) at hand.
Not every question will be selected to give to Alec. Rest assured that I’m not just going to cherry pick the “easy” ones, but I am going to pick the best ones that I think will give us all the most important information and clarifications.
Don’t be a jerk. Your question has a MUCH better chance of making it into the “finals” if you’re polite and don’t treat Alec like a swindler, con-man, liar, and rogue.
Post your question(s) in the comments section below, and in a few weeks, I’ll publish Alec’s answers to the questions that I select.
And now, here’s my take on the plans for Axanar Productions (from the memo) and the financial report…
At the end of Part 2, I said that, in order to move forward with our goal of getting CBS and Paramount to revisit and revise the fan film guidelines, some of us more–shall we say–passionate fans are going to have to face a very unpleasant, inconvenient truth. And here it is:
CBS owns Star Trek.
I’m sorry, they just do. And yes, I’ve heard all the arguments that it was the FANS who saved Star Trek and supported it all these years. It was the FANS who spent billions of dollars keeping the franchise commercially viable, watching it on TV and in movie theaters, and buying an endless parade of licensed merchandise. We fans MADE Star Trek what it is today!
You know who else made Star Trek what it is today?
If you read Part 1, you know that I want to keep fighting for a change to the fan film guidelines issued last June by CBS and Paramount. I’m not ready to give up.
You might remember that when those guidelines were first announced, they were met with cries of panic that the world of Star Trek fan films was doomed. These guidelines would eliminate, destroy, even obliterate fan films. (Yep, I used all of those words.)
And you know what? I was wrong.
Rather than killing the medium of Star Trek fan films, the guidelines didn’t seem to have had much of a curtailing effect at all. In fact, do you know how many Star Trek fan films have been released in the eight months SINCE the guidelines were announced last June?
When CBS and Paramount jointly announced their new fan film guidelines last June, most of us in the fan production community (both filmmakers and viewers) were horrified, furious, indignant, grief-stricken, and depressingly convinced that these ten Draconian rules would spell the end of world for Star Trek fan films as we knew them.
And few out there felt more strongly about this than yours truly! I used words like “carnage,” “eliminate,” and “destroy.” I proclaimed in a blog I posted on June 23, 2016:
In short, these new guidelines would obliterate the majority of fan films…
And I quickly moved to set up a new protest campaign, Project: SMALL ACCESS, endeavoring to use the threat of fewer subscriptions to CBS’s new All Access paid video streaming service to try to encourage the studio(s) to revise and revisit these overly-restrictive guidelines.
SMALL ACCESS quickly grew to over a thousand members in a group on Facebook, and we examined the guidelines one-by-one. Through polling and discussions, we determined that about half of the guidelines were actually just fine as they were and didn’t cause much angst. Another quarter of them could benefit from a little tweaking of the phrasing to explain them better. And the final quarter of them, well, they pretty much pissed most of us off completely.
Eventually, we created a 38-page Focus Group Report, and members mailed 115 copies to various executives at both studios. Yes, it was a stunt, and no, it didn’t work. Eight months later, the guidelines are still in place, and the studios don’t seem to be inclined to make any changes.
So what in the name of James Tiberius Kirk do we do now?
On September 23, 1999, the Mars Surveyor Orbiter crashed into the red planet because of a very simple (some say “stupid”) error. According to the NASA.gov website:
…one team used English units (e.g., inches, feet and pounds) while the other used metric units for a key spacecraft operation.
One little mistake…
The result was the loss of a $125 million satellite.
In early February 2017, I was IM’ing with one of my local producer friends, asking how much it costs to rent a decent studio/sound stage here in Los Angeles. He IM’d me back: “About $15-$30K per day.”
That number intrigued and excited me. It wasn’t long before I’d done the math and determined that–lordy lordy!–it was actually CHEAPER for Alec Peters to have built out Ares/Industry studios than to have RENTED an existing sound stage! And the savings difference was in the six-figures!!!!
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…
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…
Some deaths really hit you hard. This one did for me. I’d been working on site at a client this afternoon when the news came down that actor Richard Hatch had passed away at the age of 71 from pancreatic cancer. I didn’t find out until hours later when I sent a response to a friend’s IM. Instead of continuing our debate, he wrote me back: “Richard Hatch passed away. Not long ago. He’s an old friend.”
At first I didn’t believe it. “THE Richard Hatch???” I typed back. Then I looked through my e-mails and almost immediately found this from Alec Peters:
It is with great sadness that I report to all Axanar fans that Richard Hatch has passed away. 3 weeks ago I found out he had stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. We knew he had little time left, but this is quite more sudden than we thought.
Richard was in good spirits when I visited him 2 weeks ago. He knew his time was short, but was comforted by the fact that his son would be taken care of.
Richard was a dear friend and a staunch supporter of Axanar. Kharn was literally one of his favorite roles from his 50+ year acting career. We will all miss him a great deal.
I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. Just weeks after the Axanar legal settlement allowed Richard Hatch to appear in a 30-minute version of the main fan film, I was so looking forward to seeing him reprise his role as the Klingon Commander Kharn, truly some of his best work in a career that also featured two other beloved sci-fi characters: Captain Apollo and, later, Tom Zarek from both the original and the rebooted Battlestar Galactica.
Richard also did a number of independent sci-fi and fan film roles recently. He appeared in an episode of Star Trek: New Voyages that was never completed, “Torment of Destiny” (perhaps now it might finally be edited and completed; we’ll have to see). He was also slated to appear as a major character in the independent sci-fi web series Blade of Honor as Admiral DiCarrek.
Of course, for most readers of Fan Film Factor and millions of YouTube viewers, Richard was known most recently for his captivating performance as the introspective, intense, and haunted Klingon Commander Kharn from Prelude to Axanar.
I realize it’s both cliche and a little egotistical to say, “I knew the deceased”–especially when it’s a celebrity who has passed away. And to be certain, there are many, MANY people who knew Richard Hatch far better than I did. But even though I only met Richard a few times at conventions where Axanar had a table, interviewed him via e-mail for the STARFLEET fan club newsletter, and had dinner with him just one time, he did leave an indelible impression on me. And that is what I’d like to share with you, if you don’t mind.
It was after that dinner in late 2014–which consisted of three volunteers (myself, Derek Allen, and Martin Horowitz) plus Alec Peters, Diana Kingsbury, and Richard himself–that I realized how much Richard Hatch truly didn’t look his age. Derek, Martin, and I were trying to figure out how old Richard was, as he didn’t look older than his mid- or, at most, late-50s. He was nearly 70 at the time.
Richard was just so full of life…like a puppy who just wanted to explore everything the world had to offer. Before dinner, while still at the the convention for eight straight hours, he was talking to everyone who walked by his table, never for a moment looking bored or exhausted or uninterested in the person talking to him.
During dinner, Richard spoke excitedly and knowledgeably about a flurry of topics…eventually landing on Klingons and how Kharn might be influenced by other Klingons who had appeared in Star Trek. This led to an energetic and passionate discussion among all of us geeks on the best Klingons to research…and why they were important. Alec had always seen Kharn as cut from the same cloth as Kang from “Dave of the Dove.” I thought it would be good for Richard to look more closely at Martok from Deep Space Nine. Everybody had an opinion!
And rather than just zoning out at this cacophony of Klingon comparison and contrast, Richard was right there in the thick of it all. He challenged us to connect what this or that Klingon did that could tie into how Kharn might think or act. Richard brought into this discussion the philosophies of The Art of War, World War II history, elements of Eastern spirituality, and a collection of other facts and experiences from his life..
For me, this was a total geek-gasm, chatting about Star Trek for over 90 minutes with the star of Battlestar Galactica and giving him potentially valuable insights into how he might play his newest Klingon character more effectively. And Richard really wanted to know! This wasn’t just some lip service for a bunch of Trekkies he was trapped with in a P.F. Chang’s in Long Beach. Richard questioned, drilled down, challenged us a few times, and in the end even asked if we could send him a list of the most informative Star Trek episodes to watch and examine. I went home and composed an e-mail list of a couple of dozen episodes to check out and why they were important. (I think I still have that e-mail somewhere…)
So no, I wasn’t close to Richard Hatch, and I doubt he could have picked me out of a police line-up. But that didn’t matter. Richard inspired me…with his thirst for knowledge, his positive attitude, his energy, and his lust for life and experiences…even at the age of almost 70. Twenty years from now, I can only hope to come close to that kind of optimism and spiritual awareness.Farewell, Richard. Thank you for touching our lives with your wonderful characters, your graciousness, and your limitless energy and optimism. You will be truly missed…
If being an Axanar detractor were an Olympic event, MICHAEL HINMAN would have to change his last name to PHELPS. He is the administrator of the CBS/Paramount v. Axanar Facebook group where detractors of Axanar and Alec Peters go to…well…detract.
I visit the group occasionally when I feel my blood pressure has dropped too low, and I usually realize within about a minute or two of reading the comments there why I usually hit the “Back” button on my browser after about a minute or two of reading the comments there.
So imagine my surprise when I popped over there a few minutes ago to find a message from Michael Hinman that I actually AGREED with! In fact, I need to APPLAUD him for posting it!!!
I’ll reprint the post in its entirety in a moment, but first I need to explain a few things. If you’re a reader of the blog comments here on FAN FILM FACTOR, you’ve probably seen at least a few detractors doing their “thing” when I post blogs that discuss Axanar. And some of those comments can be a little–shall we say–intense, passionate, heated, crude, indignant, insulting, ranting, raving, vitriolic (the list goes on). And that’s only a taste of what you’ll see on their Facebook group. Trust me; it’s not pretty.
I can deal with all of the above–my only real pet peeve (aside from obscenity) is straight-out misinformation. It bugs the shat out of me, and can, at times, border on libel. I’ve even gone so far as to issue warnings a few times in the comments section and state that opinions expressed by the readers of Fan Film Factor do not necessarily reflect the views of the blog owner (me). Well, today it was Michael Hinman’s turn to issue the warning to his members…
Dave Heagney, Jr. is a fellow blogger and Facebook friend of mine.
Actually, I should correct that to say that Dave WAS just a Facebook friend and has since become an actual friend whom I speak with on the phone and look forward to meeting in person the next time I get up to the San Francisco Bay area. Dave is also a fellow Axanar supporter and has helped me immeasurably in serving as one of my moderators over on the Project: SMALL ACCESS Facebook group.
Yesterday, Dave wrote a blog entry for his site that was, quite frankly, nearly the exact same blog I was planning to write next week. I was gonna call mine “The AXANAR SETTLEMENT – Win, Loss, or Draw?” But Dave still hit on the same main points that I was going to. So rather than reinvent the wheel and just write a longer blog (’cause that’s what I do!), I asked Dave if I could reprint his editorial here–and he graciously agreed.