AXANAR debuts its first TEASER-TRAILER!

It’s been less than two weeks since the first shoot for AXANAR wrapped, and ALEC PETERS just released the first teaser-trailer for what will be called THE GATHERING STORM. PRELUDE TO AXANAR was episode III of “The “Four Year War” multi-part documentary series from the 23rd century. The first two episodes will need to remain left up to fans’ imagination. But the two Axanar sequels will be episodes IV and V, completing the series. It has not yet been revealed what the title of the final episode will be.

The 1-minute YouTube video quickly went viral, with thousands of views in the first hour alone. You can check it out below…

Prior to the release of the above video, nearly 1,400 Axanar supporters gathered for a live premiere party at 9:00pm Eastern time. Then they waited about 5 minutes while Alec dealt with a technical glitch. But once the clip debuted, the reactions were very positive…judging by the 841 likes and only a handful of dislikes (less than 10 while it was still live). The only complaint was that fan wanted more-more-MORE!

Indeed, the actual amount of Axanar footage was only 25 seconds, but it was enough to give a tantalizing first taste of the quality of the video production, lighting, camera tracking, make-up, costumes, VFX, and look and feel of the sets and actors. Alec assured everyone that more and longer trailers would be coming soon.

Believe it or not, this was actually a lot of footage considering that editor BING BAILEY has a day job that exploded with a crisis this past week and took up most of his time. Remember, folks, that the Axanar team is made up of volunteers with real-life commitments along with their love of Star Trek and fan films (one fan film in particular!).

A question that came up was whether the superchat donations that came in during the livestream could be considered public crowd-funding (a no-no under the legal settlement with CBS and Paramount). Alec assured all viewers that any money collected through YouTube would be applied to Ares Studios (a separate legal entity) and NOT to Axanar Productions in any way.

Speaking of crowd-funding, Alec and his girlfriend CRYSSTAL HUBBARD were very careful during the 75-minute discussion following the premiere NOT to discuss Axanar crowd-funding in any way. The closest they got was suggesting that people sign up for the Axanar newsletter or go to Ares Digital…which is not the same as soliciting donations. Alec and Crysstal made certain not to say, “If you want to help crowd-fund, then go to Ares Digital where you can make a donation.”

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SHORT TREKS: The trouble with “THE TROUBLE WITH EDWARD” (editorial review)

SPOILERS…LIKE TRIBBLES…ARE EVERYWHERE!

I’m not sure I can forgive the creators of SHORT TREKS for eternally inserting a connection in my head between actor H. JON BENJAMIN and tribbles. I will never again be able to watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers or another ARBY’s commercial without wondering if those small, furry creatures somehow made it into their food menus. And if I’m ARBY’s, I am not happy right now.

But all kidding aside, I really wish this episode had put all kidding aside…or at least a good deal of it (tribbles do invite comedy, after all). But they didn’t. Short Treks is an experimental medium for CBS, and they’re to be admired for at least trying some new things. But as a fan, I felt the jokes landed as flat as a tribble falling off a desk and dying (something the episode actually mentioned!). And it does make me a little more wary about what kind of content we’ll be seeing from the upcoming new LOWER DECKS animated Star Trek series. If this is the level of humor we’re in for, well, I might be writing a bunch more critical blog reviews. Time will tell.

As with my review yesterday of the first of this season’s Shorts Treks, “Q&A,” I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this episode…although sadly tipping more into the latter emotion this time out. For anyone who hasn’t had a chance to see the episode and wants to know what the heck I’ll be talking about, here’s an excellent review that includes a summary…along with some of the same annoying points that I’ll be kvetching about.

First, however, I’ll list the positives. I loved seeing Anson Mount‘s Captain Pike, even for just a few seconds. I also found it cool to glimpse a Trill. And it was nice to see the costume department finally getting a chance to create some Starfleet uniforms without the weird single collar.

Um, what else, what else? Let’s see…well, the lighting was lovely. The music was good. The acting was quite decent. And the tribble vacuum cleaner was a nice touch. Oh, and I did like them showing how your generic detractor of just about anything might be created, even two and a half centuries in the future…

But yeah, aside from that, this episode was hard to love….

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“Q&A”: Are SHORT TREKS just elaborate studio-produced FAN FILMS? (editorial review)

SPOILERS A’PLENTY!

On October 5 and five days later on October 10, CBS released the newest two 15-minute episodes of SHORT TREKS to All Access subscribers in America (sorry, rest of the world): “Q and A” and “The Trouble with Edward”…or as I like to call them: the latest two fan films from CBS.

CBS was actually rather quiet about marketing the debut of these two Short Treks, releasing the first on the same Saturday they announced it would be available (during a presentation at New York Comic Con) and the second during Thursday Night Football later that week. In fact, the rest of the Short Treks will also be premiering during Thursday Night Football (as will STAR TREK: PICARD) because that’s when the majority of All Access subscribers are watching (don’t ask me how I know that). Here’s the schedule for the remaining new Short Treks:

  • Ask Not” – Thursday, Nov. 14
  • The Girl Who Made the Stars” – Thursday, Dec. 12
  • Ephraim and Dot” – Thursday, Dec. 12
  • Children of Mars” – Thursday, Jan. 9

Because CBS is targeting the sports viewers of All Access with these “15-minute commercials” more than they are the hard core fans, many folks weren’t even aware that Short Treks had already debuted. In fact, I took an informal poll on the Fan Film Forum Facebook group and discovered that 40% of our responding members had no idea any new Short Treks were available….

But since these two episodes have, indeed, been released, how about we do a good ol’ editorial review? Or rather, let’s make it a two-parter since there were two Short Treks

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AXANAR raises $15.7K in first ten days of private crowd-funding!

The big news in the fan film world a week and a half ago was, of course, the wildly successful first shooting weekend for AXANAR. If you haven’t already, you can take a look at the many, MANY online streamed videos of the exciting shoot here, here, and here.

A week later, the biggest news is how much ALEC PETERS has managed to raise in just ten days of private crowd-funding for the production of the two Axanar sequel fan films. As of the publication of this blog, that number stands at nearly $15,800!

And what’s most amazing about that total is that those donations are almost exclusively from existing donors…with no public marketing or advertising of the campaign thus far. (In contrast, my GoFundMe for INTERLUDE took six times that long to raise that amount.)

You might be wondering why Alec is trying to raise money AFTER the shoot rather than before it. The answer is simple. Alec paid for the first shoot entirely out of his own pocket…about $75,000, according to him. This brings the total money that Alec has personally put into funding Axanar over the last five years well over a quarter of a million dollars.

“While I don’t mind fronting money for the remaining production,” Alec told me, “and I’ve certainly been doing quite a lot of that, Axanar was never intended to be funded by just one person. And honestly, I no longer have anything left to put into this project…much as I’d love to.

“So now we have to go back to our existing donors as we return to our roots of being a crowd-funded fan film. And that means we need $70,000 right now to fund the costs for our first two shoots. That’ll cover some of the expenses I already paid, although not all. Considering that our second shoot is going to cost another $20,000, even when we reach the full goal amount, I’ll probably still be left having put about $25,000 of my own money into these first two shoots. I don’t mind that, but I simply can’t afford $70,000 or more.

“So that’s where our existing donors need to step up. And they’re already starting to—which is fantastic!”

The next question I had for Alec is one that many people are asking right now: is Alec actually allowed to crowd-fund Axanar anymore? What does his legal settlement with CBS and Paramount let him do and not do when it comes to fundraising? Does he have to abide by the $50,000 limit imposed by the guidelines, or does he get a special waiver to exceed that limit (just as Alec has a special exemption allowing him to use professional Star Trek veteran actors like J.G. HERTZELR and GARY GRAHAM)?

Alec answered my questions for this blog with a blog of his own that he just posted on the Axanar website. You can read it below…

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THE HUMAN ADVENTURE has just begun! (interview with DAVID CHENG)

At the heart of every Star Trek fan film is…well…heart. The drive to create fan-produced stories emanates from a deep love of Star Trek. And few Trekkers love the series more than cosplayers. So what happens when a bunch of cosplayers get together to make a Star Trek fan film?

And not just any Star Trek fan film!

While there are a plethora of productions that take place in the TOS era, in the “monster maroon” movie era, the TNG and Voyager and late DS9 era, and even the NX-era…there are almost none that hit that brief window in time that was Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And there’s a few reasons for that…among them the obvious challenge of creating those intricate movie-era sets.

But the biggest challenge would always be those crazy 1970s “pajama” uniforms. Unlike TOS or TNG tunics, TMP-era uniforms aren’t commercially available and require not only expert tailoring but also don’t let you get away with store-bought black pants and boots. Done wrong, TMP uniforms could look like a mess and be quite awkward for a fan to wear. But in the hands of an experienced cosplayer…well, that’s a whole different story.

And so it was when writer/producer DAVID CHENG and his team debuted THE HUMAN ADVENTURE, a TMP-era vignette focusing on the “meeting” Admiral Kirk had with Admiral Nogura convincing the Starfleet commander to give Kirk back the Enterprise to investigate the giant cloud approaching earth.

On the surface, The Human Adventure is a fairly simple and straightforward fan production—minimal VFX, no custom-built sets, basic sound, etc. But below the surface, there’s a lot to be said for this effort. And that’s why I’m interviewing David Cheng today, to fill us all in on the things that might not be so obvious from a simple viewing. But first, let’s take a look at this unique fan production…

And now, here’s David Cheng…

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INTERLUDE update: How do you solve a problem like Ramirez?

The whole reason INTERLUDE exists (will exist) is because ALEC PETERS wanted to explain why Admiral Ramirez won’t be appearing in the Axanar sequels. In reality, actor TONY TODD left the production and declined to play Ramirez again. Actors J.G. HERTZLER, GARY GRAHAM, and the late RICHARD HATCH, on the other hand, decided to stick with Alec and see it through.

And while the loss of Richard hit us all very hard, it turned out that losing Tony Todd, even though he is an amazing actor, wasn’t as devastating a set-back for the Axanar script as was the loss of Kharn. In other words, it was fairly easy to write out Ramirez and replace him with a different Starfleet commanding admiral. In Alec’s original draft, Ramirez gets wounded while being escorted back on a convoy from a secret meeting. His injuries are serious enough that he has to sit out the rest of the war, turning over his duties to Admiral Threl of Androria.

My Interlude script took that quick “oh, by the way…” bit of exposition and expanded it into a 10-12 minute fan film (or so I hope!). The only problem is: now I need to show Ramirez!

Granted, he only needs to be wounded, so he won’t have any spoken lines. In the comic book version, it was easy to show him—as the artwork in the panel above illustrates him lying in the Ares sickbay covered in blood. But what about the fan film?

Of course, I could simply take the easy way out and just not show Ramirez in Sickbay at all…and instead have the doctor call up to the bridge, “Captain, Admiral Ramirez is in critical condition down here!” But that would have been such a cop out.

Also, I was kinda looking forward to filming a scene somewhere other than on the Ares Studios bridge set. Granted, it’s a AWESOME set, but I really wanted one or two other locations for the action, as well. Initially, that Sickbay scene was going to be filmed at Neutral Zone Studios in Kingsland, GA on the TOS sets previously used for Star Trek Continues and Starship Farragut. But that offer was rescinded. Fortunately, GLEN WOLFE stepped up and volunteered his WARP 66 Studios in Arkansas for the Sickbay scene.

Now we just needed to find someone to play Admiral Ramirez…!

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AXANAR completes its first shoot – WHY IT MATTERS…!

It's nothing to do with what we got today.  That's great.  It's the next piece...and the piece after that...until we finish the work.  And at that point, we can be judged on our finished piece of work.  That's how it works.  So we had a great time; we did some really great stuff.  The trick is to finish it, not to start it.

- PAUL JENKINS, Axanar Director

For the past almost-four years, I’ve been asked the same question over and over again: “Why do you stick with ALEC PETERS?” The reasons they give for me turning my back on him are numerous: he’s a con-man, he’s incompetent, he’s not a nice person, no one will work with him, he’ll stab you in the back, he’ll never make AXANAR, you’re wasting your time on this loser…the list goes on and on.

Earlier this summer, someone even offered me actual money to walk away from Alec (and pretty decent money at that!) in the form of an “investment” to help take Fan Film Factor to the next level. All I had to do was stop defending Alec Peters, make Interlude without him, and stop providing coverage of Axanar on my blog. It was a serious offer from someone with the funds to make good on it, and sincerely proffered. I refused. (And no, I won’t tell you who made the offer, so don’t ask.)

When you believe in something—a person, a thing, a dream—and someone else doesn’t, it’s hard to connect with them to convey just how important it is to you…how deeply you love it and are committed to it. It happens all the time with religion and politics…and with me, it happened with Star Trek, with fan films, and most deeply with Axanar.

I fell in love with Axanar, with the pocket universe within Star Trek that it created. It didn’t matter whether or not it was “canon”; it was canon to me. And I wanted to see more. CBS and Paramount almost took that away from me and from other Axanar supporters, but we never lost hope. We believed—we KNEW—this weekend would someday arrive. And now that it did, everything has changed.

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Highlight videos from DAY TWO of the first AXANAR shoot…

On Friday, I was able to post video updates and features throughout the day from the first day of shooting for the long-awaited AXANAR sequel fan films. But on Saturday, I had to drive down to (and back from) San Diego to appear on a fan film panel at a Dr. Who convention there.

I wish I could have been down in Lawrenceville, GA for this amazing event. But alas, I can only afford one trip across country, and that’ll be in less than four weeks to shoot my fan film INTERLUDE! However, when Alec brings the Axanar shoot back to Los Angeles to film GARY GRAHAM’s scenes as Soval, along with other aliens like Threl and Mor’o, you’d better believe I will be there…camera in hand!

Now, when I say “event,” I really have no better word to describe what is happening this weekend at Ares Studios. There’s 80 people working on set each day! And yes, they are all doing something important—from director PAUL JENKINS to MARK EDWARD LEWIS doing sound and editing, to all of the actors, to the lighting guys, the assistant director, DP, construction people, the script coordinator, set security, to the guys recording interviews for the Blu-ray/DVD extras, to the caterers serving chicken cordon bleu, fresh trout, stuffed ravioli, and vegetables.

Truth to tell, I’m both a little jealous and kinda nervous that we’re looking at less than HALF that number of people on set when we shoot Interlude! But then again, we’re only making one 10-12 minute fan fan while ALEC PETERS is creating two full 15 minute films plus Blu-ray extras. Also, I’ve crowd-funded only $20K. He’s trying to crowd-fund (privately through e-mails) $50-70K…just for this one shoot! To each his own.

Anyway, the most amazing thing about this shoot is how much of it has been livestreamed and/or quickly posted to the Internet in real-time. Never before have fans been able to get this much coverage of a fan film shoot as it is happening!

I’ve collected the videos from Day Two below. There’s a LOT worth watching…

Continue reading “Highlight videos from DAY TWO of the first AXANAR shoot…”

AXANAR filming is now underway!

WARNING!!! If you are an AXANAR detractor, do NOT read this blog! If you have spent any or all of the past four years confidently predicting that ALEC PETERS would never get his act together enough to start making his ambitious fan film a reality, look away now. If you think that nobody will work with Alec anymore because he’s incompetent or nasty or whatever, then you really do NOT want to watch the six videos below.

If you were gullible enough to believe CARLOS PEDRAZA’s nonsense when he wrote that CBS’s lawyers “…could interfere with this weekend’s scheduled shoot for Axanar” or cheered because you naively believed that Alec Peters had received some kind of “cease and desist” letter (he didn’t), then you absolutely, positively shouldn’t expose yourself to the videos on this blog page…especially the fifth one!

Detractors, you have been warned. Look away now!

Of course, if you’re like me and have been keeping the faith, waiting patiently but eagerly for this moment since CBS and Paramount first filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Alec Peters and Axanar Productions at the very end of 2015 and then settled at the beginning of 2017, then this blog and the events of this weekend will feel like a dream come true.

And if you’re one of those people who’s been on the fence wondering why it’s taking so long to make a “simple” 30-minute Star Trek fan film when others can seemingly do it in a fraction of the time, well, the videos on this page will hopefully give you some idea of how complex and challenging this particular fan film is to produce.


For the past week, Alec has been live-casting updates from Ares Studios as the bridge set is being completed, the lights are being assembled, cameras and computer monitors adjusted, costumes fitted, and all sorts of last-minute details that show just how many moving parts are…well, moving! These live-casts have been going up primarily in the Axanar Donors Facebook group…meaning most folks out there (including the detractors!) have no clue how much has been going on and how exciting it’s all getting. You can feel the rush of energy and enthusiasm from Alec as he watches all of the hard work from his team come together.

For the next three days, the entire Axanar shoot will be live-streamed from the Axanar YouTube Channel. But if you want to see the flurry of activity leading up to the big event, I’ve collected the various video prep updates all here for you. And I even “flipped” them horizontally, since Alec’s phone always reverses everything (which drives me nuts!).

So assuming you’re not a detractor, please enjoy the following magic…

Continue reading “AXANAR filming is now underway!”

INTERLUDE update: logos and patches and plaques, oh my!

It’s time for another look behind the INTERLUDE curtain, my friends! Last week, I showed you the secret origin of the photo of the Golden Gate Bridge that will appear behind Admiral Slater for about 20 seconds at the end of the fan film. This week, I’m going to shine the spotlight on how we came up with the ship’s logo for the USS Artemis. The process was much more involved than I thought it would be!

Our story begins over a year ago before Interlude was ever going to be a fan FILM and was simply going to be a fan COMIC BOOK. It was time for my illustrator, the amazingly talented DANIEL FU, to draw Captain Imari Jakande of the USS Artemis for the first time, and he needed to know what kind of insignia to put on his chest.

Hmmm…

By this point, three of the Ares-class starships had logos designed for them: Ajax, Ares, and Hercules:

They each featured some kind of weapon (I consider a lightning bolt thrown by a super-strong demi-god to be a weapon). So what kind of weapon was Artemis known for? Well, as goddess of the hunt, she was often depicted with a bow and arrow. The problem was, bows and arrows are very thin and don’t typically have enough room to fit a command star symbol in the center…let alone a sciences planet or an engineering comet.

But Daniel did a little research to discover that Artemis was also the goddess of the moon. Sure, the moon isn’t a weapon (usually), but it’s still a nice celestial outer space thingie. So I gave Daniel a green light to do a moonish insignia. Here’s what he came up with:

As I said, this was long before Interlude the fan film became a possibility. But once it did, I realized that we were going to need an insignia for the USS Artemis tunics in the film…and suddenly there was a problem again. (Isn’t there always in these blogs?)

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