Now that the SMALL ACCESS campaign has grown to nearly 1,300 members and 85 packets of the Focus Group Report have already been mailed out to CBS and Paramount executives, it’s time to try to spread the word far and wide…or at least try my best to do so.
And thus was I pleasantly surprised and excited to get the following e-mail from Matthew Miller of Trekzone in Australia:
Hi Jonathan, just wondering whether you’d like to join me on a Trekzone Spotlight podcast to discuss Project Small Access?
I’ll admit that I wasn’t too familiar with Trekzone. I’d listened to the Mike Bawden/Carlos Pedraza interview (hardly the “smackdown” I’d expected) and I’d checked out the “controversial” interview with Christian Gossett (and again, I couldn’t figure out what all the hubbub was about on that one), but I’ll be honest that I haven’t had time to view much more than that. Nevertheless, I certainly appreciated the opportunity to talk up SMALL ACCESS and get the word out. I responded:
I’m always up for a good podcast, Matt! Is it live or recorded? And what day and time would you need me?
Matthew promptly wrote back:
I run ‘live to tape’ which is technically a pre record. Would you be able to make it into my LA studio to record? Let me know your thoughts then we can look at times.
Yeah, I live close by.
I’ve got a 6-year-old in school during weekdays, and my next week has only two open days. I’ve got Wed from 10-2:30 open and then Friday 9-2:30. Most weeks I’m not as crazy.
Alrighty, we could look at 1.30 Wednesday your time? (that’s 06.30 Thursday for me…) I’ll send an email to the studio to check availability.
Two days later, he confirmed, and I showed up at the studio for my first international interview!
The reason I’ve included that thread of e-mail exchanges is because, apparently, there has been some controversy in the past with accusations that Matthew had accepted interview preconditions. And there might be some question whether that had happened this time with me. As you can see, the above exchange of e-mails didn’t mention any preconditions. In fact, I had no idea what to expect!
Naively, I kinda thought this would just be a fluff piece, where I’d get to discuss SMALL ACCESS and the guidelines and whether or not I thought we had a chance of succeeding. After all, what else was there to talk about?
Oy, was I ever wrong!
Apparently (and I wasn’t aware of this until very recently), there’s a bunch of people who aren’t all that happy about the SMALL ACCESS Letter Writing Campaign
…and I don’t just mean at CBS and Paramount! 🙂
Some believe the campaign is some kind of conspiracy to help Axanar. Truth to tell, I personally think Axanar is pretty much screwed and we won’t get to see the Axanar movie in the way it was originally planned (and the way I donated for). We might not get to see Axanar at all in any form…and that would make me sad. But the Letter Writing Campaign, even if wildly successful, won’t change anything for Axanar. Alec Peters’ ass is being hauled into court, and that has nothing to do with the guidelines. Heck, the guidelines didn’t even exist when Prelude to Axanar was created and released.
Although Alec supports what SMALL ACCESS is trying to do (along with a few other fan producers like Camren T. Burton of Equinox and John Sims of Exeter Trek), it’s because we’re trying to help ALL fan films…not just Axanar. Frankly, when I first came up with the campaign, it was because I wanted more Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, Farragut, Intrepid, and Pacific 201! I want more Axanar, too, but that’s completely out of my hands.
In addition to the theories about me being some kind of Axanar lackey (just wait’ll you see the upcoming blog I’m writing up about the case, folks!), there’s also apparently all sorts of challenges to the content and conclusions contained within the Focus Group Report itself! Really?
Oh, was I in for an awakening!
Sitting in the TV studio, just as I got my earpiece in and the camera guy was framing the shot to show my spiffy FAN FILM FACTOR T-shirt (never waste a free marketing opportunity, my friends!), Matthew said that he was going to ask me some questions where we might have a slight difference of opinion, but that’d just make for a livelier interview, right?
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure I heard him correctly. My earpiece had a lot of static, but it was the only way to hear Matt from the other side of the planet. (If/when you watch the interview, if it looks like I’m straining to hear and kinda clueless about what was just asked…it’s because I barely heard the question in my ear.) So when Matt gave me this little “heads up,” I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right, and hey, even if this was going to be some kind of ambush, well, it was too late to back out now. We…were…ROLLING!
Matthew let me start the interview with the softball, “So tell us a little about SMALL ACCESS…” Oh, that was easy. I’d studied for this part of the quiz! But after I answered, Matthew steered the conversation to the individual guidelines and the conclusions we’d reached as a group. And suddenly I was playing defense! I really hadn’t expected that going in.
I won’t go into specifics. You can watch the interview when it debuts this weekend. But I will say that it was 50 minutes of needing to be on the ball, thinking on my feet, trying not to get flustered, and resisting any urge I had to use a lifeline and phone a friend. (Some of you will get that joke.)
None of this is meant to imply anything negative about Matthew. He’s actually a very nice guy, and he was extraordinarily polite, respectful, and professional during the entire interview…despite grilling me. He had every right to ask the hard-hitting questions that he did, and I’m glad I had an opportunity to address them. And not just because there’s fans out there questioning the Letter Writing Campaign, but because the studios are probably thinking a lot of the same things!
Hopefully, I came across clearly, confidently, and competently. If not, well, at least I tried! And I now have a completely new appreciation for all those pundits I hear being grilled on cable news channels! It was a fascinating and enlightening experience for me, and one I am thankful to Matthew Miller for letting me have. Anyone can do a fluff piece podcast (and I’ve done a few), but this was a true intellectual workout! Thank Sargon I was wearing a black-colored shirt because my armpits were probably drenched by the end of the interview!
That said, not everyone believes that Matthew was truly challenging me with hard-hitting questions (even though the interview hasn’t been posted yet!). And apparently, one person in particular was irritated enough to make a pretty big stink. But that’s another blog, and it’s located on the Trekzone page. Feel free to read it here.
I just wanted to go on record with what I’d experienced. There were no preconditions to the interview, and it was, by far, not just an “open mic” opportunity for me to wax poetic about SMALL ACCESS. Matthew Miller had very tough questions that had me digging deep for answers that not only defended the group and our recommendations to the studios but also were clear, concise (oh, who am I kidding? I am NEVER concise!), and respectful to others while still conveying my own passion and conviction. Not an easy thing to do!
So there you have it. If/when you watch the interview, you can decide for yourself whether the questions were hard-hitting enough. But just know that, for 50 minutes, I really felt like I was on the hot seat…and I walked back to my car afterwards feeling like I’d just run a marathon. I’m not sure if I won or not, but at least I made it to the finish line without falling flat on my face (or at least, I hope so!).