JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)

This is what I get for going to Colorado instead of Las Vegas!  I wind up taking an antique train ride through the Rocky Mountains to visit an old silver mine with my son and my brother and his family…while at the same time, JAMES CAWLEY makes a HUGE announcement about fan films and CBS licensing!

It’s amazing the kind of cell coverage you get on a train in the middle of mountain wilderness, but it seemed like everyone was coming to me for answers about Saturday morning’s big news from the creator of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and the officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour in the small and lovely town of Ticonderoga, New York.

Of course, I had no answers.  Yes, I knew the announcement was coming a few days earlier and that it involved James Cawley and his sets—but I didn’t know the details.  My news Saturday came from Carlos Pedraza’s Axamonitor blog site and TrekMovie.com.  And for those that haven’t heard yet, here’s the basic info…

After a year of being a CBS licensee and running a clean and respectable franchise venue with no complaints that I know of (most people rave about the experience of visiting, and I would like to go at some point myself!), James Cawley  was able to expand his license to include a new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY where fans would be able to take a week-long course in how to make a Star Trek episode.  James explained during his Saturday morning panel at the Las Vegas Creation Con:

You are going to go from script to stage over a six to seven day period and you are going to work with people who actually made Star Trek episodes.

You get to feel and experience what it is like to work on Star Trek…We’re going to pretend it’s 1966 and you’re an employee of Desilu Studios.

Doug Drexler in the captain’s chair, Michael Okuda at navigation, and Denise Okuda at helm in Ticonderoga, NY. Photo by TrekCore.com.

Also on the panel were Star Trek production alumni Michael and Denise Okuda, Doug Drexler, and Daren Dochterman…all of whom intend to be part of the week-long course which will launch sometime in the spring of 2018.  No specific schedules or prices were shared.  James also mentioned that he plans to ask other Trek veterans like Jonathan “William Riker” Frakes to participate and perhaps teach a bit about directing.  Another Trek production alumni already confirmed to me that James invited him out to upstate New York next month to discuss involvement in the Film Academy, and I can only assume that James is reaching out to others, as well.

The week-long curriculum will culminate in fans being able to shoot their own Star Trek vignettes on the TOS sets and walk out of the course with their own fan films to show.  It wasn’t confirmed, but one would assume (and I plan to ask John Van Citters at CBS Licensing next week) that the studios will look the other way with these short productions, as they otherwise will be violating fan film guideline #5 that says no one who was previously employed on Star Trek can work on a Trek fan film.

Okay, that was the NEWS part.  Now for the EDITORIAL…


THIS IS A GOOD THING!!!

While I was hoping that the news would include the fact that CBS was allowing James Cawley to complete and release the remaining two or three unfinished Star Trek: New Voyages episodes (including “Torment of Destiny” guest starring the late Richard Hatch), I was still very pleased with this news.  Although I donated my money to fund more NV episodes, I actually don’t mind that my contribution helped to create a licensed set tour and fan film school instead.  And yes, I know that some people have a problem with the cancellation of the New Voyages fan series and the diversion of funds to other endeavors, but I’ve always maintained that once you donate to a crowd-funder, that’s no longer your money, it’s their money.  And that goes for New Voyages, Axanar, or any fan production.

So yes, I’m VERY happy about this, folks.  It’s not just that it’s something new for fan films, it shows that CBS (with the help of James Cawley) isn’t just writing off fan films or hoping they eventually go away.  It also presents some hope that someday we might see the easing of the dreaded guideline #5…maybe sooner rather than later.  (Hey, I can dream, can’t I?)  And of course, I’m very curious and eager to see what this Film Academy actually teaches, how it teaches, and what the students ultimately produce.

This isn’t just a good thing, it’s a great thing!  Which brings me to my second point…

LET JAMES CAWLEY HAVE HIS MOMENT, DAMMIT!

The first blog site to break the news Saturday morning was Axamonitor.  And so, as I rode the bumpy rails over a trestle bridge, I read Carlos Pedraza’s report on the big news.  Everything seemed fine until about halfway through when Carlos suddenly spent six paragraphs talking about Axanar and Alec Peters and the lawsuit.  SIX paragraphs!

Now, I understand that Axamonitor kinda has a raison d’être to hate on Alec Peters and Axanar or risk vanishing into a puff of irrelevance.  But come on…SIX paragraphs???  Really?

And frankly, I felt bad for James Cawley, forced to share the “spotlight” with Alec Peters on this day which should be all about James Cawley.  This was his achievement, and Carlos was spending nearly half his announcement blog talking about that “other guy”…with the detractors following suit.

It just left me scratching my head that so many detractors on Saturday were imagining Alec Peters furiously ranting and raving, sobbing, or any manner of frustrated reaction to hearing the news of the Star Trek Film Academy. I just can’t understand why there needs to be a “loser” in this story.  Can’t we all just be happy for James Cawley and for fans in general?

AND SPEAKING OF ALEC…

A little later on, Alec made the following public statement:

Hey, good for him! Of course, we thought up SciFi Film School in 2015! 🙂 I guess Discovery isn’t the only thing taking inspiration from Axanar. 🙂

And Axanar director Robert Meyer Burnett tweeted this, as well:

The STAR TREK FAN FILM ACADEMY is a great idea…just another example of how the fallout from the @Axanarfilm case benefited all fandom.

Even though they were both praising James and his new endeavor, everyone seemed to zero in on Alec taking credit for the idea.  And while it’s true that Alec announced the Sci-Fi Film School back in 2014 (not 2015, Alec!) during the big Axanar Kickstarter, my take on this “controversy” is simply…

WHO FRICKIN’ CARES???

It’s not like Alec Peters was the first person to think up the idea of a film school!  He simply wanted it to specialize in sci-fi.  His plan was to have experienced Hollywood sci-fi filmmakers from different disciplines come in and teach classes on writing, film editing, visual effects, directing, lighting, sound, etc.  So yeah, it’s a lot like what James Cawley is planning to do.  But James is focusing primarily on Star Trek veterans and producing Star Trek fan episodes rather than branching out into general sci-fi.  Both ideas are great!

I asked Alec if he’d like to say anything here on Fan Film Factor.  And his statement says a lot about what I think we all should be doing right now…

We congratulate James Cawley, Doug Drexler, Daren Dochterman, and the Okudas on this tremendous announcement.  Anything that contributes to high-quality Star Trek fan films should be salutes and supported.  We look forward to seeing and enjoying the results of their hard work in the future.

So how about we all just follow that example and congratulate James Cawley, wish him well, and let him, Doug, Mike, Denise, and Daren have their moment in the sun?

After all, this really is good news for Trek fan films!

64 thoughts on “JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)”

  1. And your “thoughts about carlos pedraza’s report, we’re exactly my complaint in the fan film production group.

    This is huge for trek fan films, and Carlos could have left it with ” learn more when I post my interview with James Cawley later today”. Instead he went off on an unnecessary tangent.

    Most fantasy “camps”(baseball, rock and roll etc) charge between 2 & 3 Grand and up to attend, I would hope his pricing is more reasonable, but we shall see.

    As big as this news is, you made the right choice, antique train ride with your family, wins hands down.

    1. Jayden did have a great time with his cousins.

      As for pricing, James Cawley said he envisions this experience as similar to the Trek cruises…spend a week up close and personal with the Trek veterans. Granted, there’s no boat, but there is a ship: the USS Enterprise. I would anticipate the ultimate pricing to be comparable. We’ll see what happens.

  2. As a Donor to Star Trek New Voyages (I Donated Posters not Cash),
    I am very happy that they are going to do the Film School,
    It keeps the amazing sets that were created in place and maybe allows for improvements.

    I have a friend that work on building the Original Star Trek Sets, he never imagined at the time that anyone would want to recreate them, it was just a nice summer job.

  3. How will this affect the fan film guidelines? Easy. It doesn’t. Cawley was granted a license by CBS that he must adhere to and follow. The terms of the license is between CBS and Cawley. So he is not bound by fan guidelines and it illustrates how happy CBS is to work with folks who respect the property and what it represents.

    1. No argument there. James has done a wonderful job nurturing and developing his relationship with CBS. But yes, James is still bound by the fan film guidelines, as he said himself in his recent interview on TrekZone. I was hoping CBS might allow him to finish the uncompleted New Voyages episodes (and that such news might have been a part of his Saturday morning announcement), but alas. At least for now, New Voyages remains a retired fan series.

  4. This is a licensed production so the guidelines don’t apply at all. Only thing that applies is their deal with CBS and what is in that agreement.

    1. James explained in greater detail that he will be writing one or two 15-minute scripts for the students to produce. So all productions from the Film Academy will be the same story that fits into the guidelines. The only exception being made, it seems, is that Guideline #5 will be suspended for any fan film made by students who take the course…which seems reasonable.

      That said, I still think Guideline #5 is unenforceable under California labor law. Of course, the Film Academy is in New York state. 🙂

      1. Disagree for two reasons. First, on the 15 minutes he said they would probably keep to 15 minutes due to logistics how much you can actually expect to get done in a week.

        Second, in a record post, Cawley was tried to clear up that this was the “Film Academy” and not a “fan film acaemy” and that while fans will be there making films that these are NOT fan films.

        Bottom line though is that since this is licensed by CBS and the guidelines are only there to make sure you don’t get sued, CBS can allow or not allow this film academy to anything they want because since it is licensed there is no danger of a lawsuit (as long as Cawley follows the contract and licensing agreement he has with CBS).

        1. Yeah, I don’t think CBS will be suing anyone taking this course. And realistically, there won’t be a lot of room to move outside of what James will be writing for the students to film and produce. James compared it–rightly so–to the old Universal Studios “star Trek” ride where people put on costumes and recorded scenes in front of green screens that were later composited and edited together with existing footage. At the end, the participants walked out with a video cassette of their short film, and they were allowed to do whatever they wanted with that. Some are still posted on YouTube:

          Granted, James’ students won’t produce anything quite so campy, but the idea is similar. But no, I doubt any lawsuits will be filed. Just the opposite, in fact! My hope is that, by finally embracing the concept of a fan film by licensing this concept (fans making a short Star Trek episode), CBS might finally be taking some welcome steps in the right direction to acknowledge the value of the concept. That’s quite the change in attitude! Two years ago, CBS and Paramount were cringing at the idea of fan films, not knowing what to do about them, and realizing their “don’t ask/don’t tell” approach was only resulting in an ever-accelerating “space race” between productions like Axanar, Renegades, Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, Horizon, and some others still in production. To go from that concern and consternation to licensing a Film Academy in just two short years, to me, that’s an amazing leap[ forward! It’s like gay marriage being legalized less than a decade after a whole slew of conservative states had rushed to amend their state constitutions to define marriage as between one man and one woman. To go from that to federally permitted same-sex marriages in so short a time was extraordinary. And while two Hollywood studios and a genre of fan-made productions is hardly the equivalent of a national shift in a controversial policy, it was still a similarly fast transition that none of us would have thought possible back in 2015.

          1. Slightly off topic, but I’m not sure how else to bring this to the group’s attention…my husband just happened to discover a neat Trek film because he noticed a mention of Axanar… and knew of my interest in both. This may be “old hat” to other fans and those in the know in the Trek world, but was totally new to me. On youtube is an 8/4/17 posted 90 min. video entitled (for some mysterious reason) “Star Trek Discovery – the Captain Sulu Series You Never Got to See” – 25 min of interesting background explanation from writer Marc Scott Zicree as to why this pilot didn’t turn in to a full-fledged series and then the rest is the film…a whole hour of pretty good Trek! I felt the story, music and special effects were great, the core TOS crew characters perfectly respectable, and George Takei, reprising his role as Sulu, downright fantastic! Christina Moses has a significant role and is also very good. Check it out, if you haven’t seen it yet! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4197h-lJxBk

          2. This was the fourth episode of Star Trek: New Voyages, entitled “World Enough and Time,” and was made in 2005-2006. It was the first fan film to be produced by a combination of amateurs and professionals in a fairly even ratio (the previous two episodes of New Voyages also featured some professionals but not nearly as many). It was also the first fan film where nearly $100,000 was paid to some of the people who worked on it, including the writers, director, editor, and of course, to George Takei himself (although he worked as cheaply as he could manage).

            I’ve got a really good 2-part interview with Marc Zicree here on Fan Film Factor where he shares some information that wasn’t in his intro to the video…if you’re curious to learn more:

            https://fanfilmfactor.com/2016/07/08/marc-zicree-discusses-his-episode-of-star-trek-new-voyages-and-professionals-working-on-fan-films-part-1/

  5. Yes indeed! Great news. Congrats to this fan team. Sounds like a lot of fun! Hope the cost won’t be prohibitive to many folks.

    1. Cost will be a very key part of this. Charge too much, and there’s not enough students to cover expenses. Charge too little, and there won’t be enough spots available for everyone who wants to take the program. Of course, waiting lists are a good thing! But remember that the teachers have to be scheduled, and someone like Jonathan Frakes, for instance, might not always be available for a week each spring and fall…unless he’s paid handsomely. And with prices set too low, there might not be enough to cover “generous” salaries and stipends for the instructors. Of course, just as the same Trek celebs aren’t always at the same conventions year after year, so too might the instructors rotate. If Frakes can’t do a fall course because he’s directing an episode of “The Orville,” then maybe Levar Burton is available.

      But hey, these are all business decisions for James and his team to make, and there’s always room for fine tuning. I’m sure they’ll do their best to make this a really good experience for the fans who choose to participate.

  6. 2 things 1. Maybe you could ask John Van Citters if CBS could allow James Cawley to complete and release the remaining two or three unfinished Star Trek: New Voyages episodes 2. Carlos Pedraza is not a nice guy I’m sorry to tell you this but he’s not he just not we’re all Star Trek fans here but his obsession against Alec Peters is a little unhealthy .

    1. Back to 1. Then again it could be above Van Citters pay grade for such a question still though worth a thought .

      1. John would bring the issue to Bill Burke, and the two would discuss it. John’s opinions carry a lot of weight when it comes to licensees, believe it or not, and James Cawley is a licensee. John is a huge fan, and as such, he is a valuable asset to CBS. Back when I worked with Paramount’s licensing department, few people in the Marathon Building knew Trek backwards and forwards–which is why so many of them used me for several years. Once JVC came on board, though, I did less work directly with the licensing department and more work with the licensees themselves. John became the go-to Trekkie on the third floor and rose through the ranks through hard work and an ability to effectively and efficiently manage and service licensees.

        I realize that this always sounds disingenuous when people know I’ve fought so hard against the guidelines, but I truly love and respect John Van Citters and am really glad he’s been in charge of Trek licensing for all these years.

    2. I don’t feel comfortable negotiating with John Van Citters on behalf of James Cawley. That’s his decision to make whether or not to broach the subject with JVC.

      As for Carlos, well, I don’t really need to waste any more time discussing his obsessions. I imagine, years down the line, Carlos on his death bed typing a blog about the purchase of the rights to the Star Trek franchise by Jeff Bezos and mentioning the lawsuit of decades past and how Alec Peters ruined fan films forever. The nurses find Carlos’ laptop with the half-completed sentence:

      “Three-quarters of a million dollars of fans’ money was covfefe “

      1. Covefefe Lol

        Though in all honesty I understand what your saying as Cawley made his position perfectly clear . Honestly I think we’ll see the episodes one day we just we have to be a little patient and have faith .

        1. I hope so. It’s not like the episodes are finished and ready to upload to YouTube. There’s raw footage, but lots of post production remains. I know at least one fan film editor approached James with an offer to do the editing, but he hadn’t received any interest when last I spoke with him. Does James want to put the time, resources, and potentially even money into post production (music, sound, VFX, light balancing, ADR, and scene editing)? It’s quite a commitment, and now James is focused on developing the Film School. So yes, maybe one day…

  7. Stop deflecting, Slow Lane. Carlos is not the story. He never was.

    The story here is that CBS just flipped Alec Peters the Great Bird. “You want a film school? Here’s your film school. Choke on it.”

    I still can’t stop laughing.

    1. Not entirely sure what you’re laughing at, though. Alec was happy for James and had nothing but well wishes for him. I know because I talked with Alec while I was on the train coming back from the mine. (A mine is a terrible thing to waste!) In fact, Alec was the first person to say to me, “Did you see that Carlos spent half his blog talking about Axanar??? Why isn’t he talking more about James and Mike and Denise and Doug and Daren?” By the time I got back to Boulder and had time to start composing my blog, a half dozen other people had e-mailed or PM’d me to mention the awkward and out-of-place Axanar-bashing on Axamonitor. With that many people noticing the same thing that Alec and I did, a portion of the blog was practically written before I ever began typing!

      Now, if you want to try to convince people that this licensing decision had nothing to do with the hard work and careful planning by James and his team that went into crafting a well-developed proposal to submit to CBS licensing….well, you’re welcome to do so. I’m sure some people who don’t spend much time thinking about reality will be happy to agree with you. But I worked with John Van Citters and Star Trek licensing for eight years, and I know what it takes to get a license for a new idea. You don’t just submit the proposal; you spend weeks or months going back and forth with the licensing folks to refine and perfect the plan both before and after the license is granted.

      So your argument is that none of that mattered, and this was all simply about sticking it to Alec> Yeah, if I’m James Cawley, Mike and Denise Okuda, Doug Drexler, and Daren Dochterman, I’m feeling pretty insulted by you right now. Or more likely, I’m just ignoring you. I should probably do the same, but I wanted to blast your theory into sub-atomic particles first before moving on to the thinkers of the world. 🙂

        1. You mean this blog:

          http://www.axanarproductions.com/cbs-announces-star-trek-film-academy/

          He is happy for James: “And to this we say Bravo!” And yes, he’s also taking credit for the idea, if this is what you are referring to:

          Because when I was working with producer Gary Evans to help James find his new studio location, I wound up talking to the economic development people in Ticonderoga about the landlord’s desire for the location to offer something that would be a positive influence to the community. A film school was part of those original discussions (as I was reminded by one of James’s former crew members the other day). It was part of what that studio was meant to do from the beginning and kudos to James for tenaciously seeing it through.

          Frankly, it doesn’t much matter to ME whose idea it was, and Alec doesn’t seem to spend much time on the “origins” story. Instead, he begins talking to his readers about the evolution of the Sci-Fi Film School, which apparently is still going to happen, and how it will differ from James Cawley’s Star Trek Film Academy (since some people seem to believe that CBS is somehow trying to “stick it to Axanar” or rip-off Alec’s idea or whatever). The two schools are very different in concept and can very likely co-exist and possibly even complement each other.

          But of course Alec is happy for James! Take a look at his last sentence: “Congratulations James and good luck!” Alec even included an exclamation point (but forgot two commas)! 🙂

    2. Well, you Sir your problem, and the problem with all you haters, is you seem to forget the lessons of Star Trek. I m not sure how you can call yourself a Star Trek fan when all you do is spend your time obsessing over me.

      For the record, I think it is good that James and CBS took my idea and ran with it. Good for them! It doesn’t compete with what we want to do, as our idea is to teach fan film makers about how to make a professional quality film, while James school will be about teaching fans how to create a CBS Guidelines compliant 15 minute fan film, most likely with a set script, kind of like the old Star Trek ride at Universal. Both ideas work well.

      I think it is good James has turned his donor-funded studio into a profit making operation. A rising tide lifts all boats.

      Alec

      1. Just FYI, James says that he and the New Voyages team had the idea to do some kind of film-making course on his sets early on (like 2004 or 2005). That’s why I said that it really doesn’t matter who thought of the idea first. As you say, Alec, it’s a very good idea–no matter who thought of it first.

        And yeah, if and when you start up the Sci-FI Film School, there’s more than enough room in the world for two such programs–especially if they’re not identical and are located 1,000 miles apart. Let’s root for BOTH schools (as you seem to be saying, as well). What’s wrong with that? Who knows, maybe some fans will even start with James’ Academy and then go on to take Alec’s program. The best of both worlds!

  8. Or how CBS is methodically reusing Alec’s projects as if they always intended to develop that way and Axanar would ruin it. I do not call for conspiracy, but if CBS had such projects in mind, why not stopping Alec even with false reasons ?
    Hard not to think CBS just took the ideas when Alec presented them and found a way to get rid of him. The process has been more expensive than expected but was successful in the end.

    After all this time, I am still mitigated on what to think about the New Voyages sets under tour license. I Think I would have no problem if the last episodes were duly released and the show ended properly. I worked on most episodes translation of subtitles and was very fond of the show, so I am really disappointed by this poor ending for several episodes that are certainly excellent. I am still committed to finish the translation job if the series were to be completed one if these days.

    In the meantime, I am really glad that James has a ressource to preserve the sets and everything they represent. The school project is interesting in itself but has flaws: while it is easier to keep the same story for all training sessions, it lacks of interest for those who would like to develop their own stories. It is not teaching but selling contents (natural for licensee but probably not what trainees would expect). As I understand it, this is only a shooting and editing experience and the writing is eluded. Seems light for an alleged film academy compared to some festivals that have week-end long contests of amateur teams that must present a short film from writing to public airing in less than 48 hours…
    Sorry to say that (based only on what I read here), but if you withdraw the famous instructors and the Trek environment, you don’t get much. Thus it remains a dedicated tour attraction, far from what Alec intended to do, so there is room for both concepts.

    By the way, as a steam locomotive owner, I appreciate peoples that help old trains to survive simply traveling on board. Thanks Jonathan, keep doing so !

      1. Yes, and I am still hesitating to replace coal by dilithium crystals, I do not think warp speed is good for early 20th century “railships”. Linkages are delicate, you know…
        I would love to have Charles Root (the New Voyages’ Scotty) play in a vignette where he is dreaming he is back in time on a steam loco with enterprise colors and markings and is frightened by the primitive, noisy and dirty technology, asking Spock to beam him up.
        🙂

        1. If you can make the locomotive fly, insert a flux capacitor, and accelerate it to 88 miles per hour, you could travel forward in time to let Scotty experience the old-time steam locomotive for real!

          “For real”…ah, the flights of sci-fi imagination!

    1. I still stand by my blog. The importance of Axanar is minuscule in this story. I think this other article spends way too much time on Axanar. That said, I think Carlos Pedraza could learn a LOT about how to cover the Axanar lawsuit objectively and journalistically from the example of this article. on the other hand, Carlos isn’t a journalist; he’s a hit man (as opposed to a Hinman) who writes nothing but hit pieces. And worse, he writes hit pieces only against one single target that casts doubt on nearly everything he says because of his one-sided reporting and skewing of the details to serve his distorted and biassed predispositions. It’s like reading Donald Trump’s tweaks. Sure, there are some people who believe everything Trump says. But 70% of the nation knows he’s not objective and tends to only throw punches at people he doesn’t like. That’s the way I see Carlos and most of the detractors. Just my opinion…

      1. Carlos did a crap job of representing what Rob Burnett actually said when he asked his “controversial” question.

      2. Considering that Carlos has a journalism degree and has written for the Associated Press I would submit that DOES make him a journalist.

        His wiki is called “AxaMonitor” so of course every article he writes would explain its connection to Axanar. He may or may not be objective, but at least every claim he makes is footnoted back to the original source in correct journalistic style. This way the reader can see the source content and make of their own mind.

        I do find it funny that you talk about bias when your bias is clearly showing.

        1. Saying “Carlos has written for the Associated Press” is mostly misleading. It’s like saying, “Jonathan Lane has written Star Trek books for Simon and Schuster.” That’s technically correct. I co-wrote “Starship Spotter” in 2001 with Alex Rosenzweig with artwork by Adam “Mojo” Lebowitz and Rob Bonchune. However, I was paid just $5,000 (which I split with Alex) and we were under a deadline and wrote the whole thing in just 18 days. And that was that. I never wrote a Star Trek book for S&S again.

          In the case of Carlos, he wrote one article about a local Seattle singing group called Uncle Bonsai (I love those guys, by the way–check out their albums!) that got picked up by the Associated Press on September 15, 1988:

          https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=266&dat=19860915&id=GO8wAAAAIBAJ&sjid=3N8FAAAAIBAJ&pg=2914,1671441&hl=en

          But nothing beyond that. Just google “Carlos Pedraza Associated Press” and you can confirm that. So yes, Carlos wrote one article about a local Seattle musical group that the Associated used 29 years ago. But to say “He used to write for the Associated Press” is a misleading and distorted presentation of a minor fact. It doesn’t misstate the fact, but it leaves so much to the imagination and assumptions of the reader as to be almost a lie (while not technically so). Notice that I don’t typically bill myself as “a published Star Trek author,” even though it’s true and could probably earn me some extra “street cred” in the fan community. I simply don’t need the ego boost.

          As for being biassed myself, I never claimed not to be. I’m a blogger who supports all fan films, including Axanar. As for a degree in journalism, it’s not necessary to have one to be a good writer. I got a $300,000 advance from Gotham Books (a division of Penguin publishing) in 2012 for “Being Santa Claus.” Again, I typically don’t mention that. The book came and went…as many book do. Again, I don’t need to mention my resume in doing this blog. It’s just not my priority. I’d rather let the blog speak for itself. As for Carlos having the journalism degree, that’s fine. I’ve got a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. That doesn’t mean I’m going to set up a practice treating the mentally ill.

          Look, when push comes to shove, Carlos can call himself anything he wants–journalist, bricklayer, engineer, mechanic, escalator, moon shuttle conductor, tinker, tailor, doctor, or spy. It doesn’t make it true. His words and deeds are what counts…and his biassed, obsessive, and distorted “reporting” are what determine how people see him. A few might see him as a “journalist,” but in my mind, he isn’t even close.

          1. As to whether Carlos is a journalist or not, I offer just one insight on this latest kerfuffle … when writing his “story” on the Star Trek Film Academy for Axamonitor, Carlos never contacted Axanar Productions for a statement on the academy’s announcement at STLV.

            If he were interested in factual accuracy in the slightest, as he has claimed in the past, you think he would have asked for a statement – something he’s done time and again.

            But the lack of interest in even the appearance of objectivity, in my book, disqualifies any claims of being a journalist.

          2. I’d be curious to hear the Carlos defenders argue against that logic. After all, you’ve always been very easy for Carlos to get a hold of, and you’ve almost always given him statements on the record regarding Axanar when he’s asked.

          3. in 2012 for “Being Santa Claus.” Again, I typically don’t mention that.

            You mentioned that everyday in December in the SA group!

          4. Again, a distortion that creates a false impression. I did NOT mention that my literary agent sold the manuscript in less than two weeks for $300K after starting a bidding war between two major book publishers. Instead, I simply shared a series of fun Santa facts (one per day) covering such interesting trivia as the origin of the name Santa Claus (it was actually a typo in a New York newspaper!), the difference between Santa Claus and Father Christmas (it’s not just a different name for the same guy…at least it didn’t start out that way), and the first appearance of the red suit (decades BEFORE Coca Cola even existed!).

            The Santa facts each had a link to the Amazon page to buy the book, although my purpose was mainly to share a good holiday read with my friends. The advance was so large that I doubt that Santa Sal and I will ever make any further royalties on sales. So instead, it was just spreading that word that the book was out there. And you’ll notice that, on the FB posts themselves, I never once mentioned that I co-wrote the book. I simply provided the link. If folks didn’t click on the Amazon link, they’d probably never even realize that Jonathan wrote a book at all! In fact, some people did, in fact, ask why I was posting all these daily Santa facts in a Star Trek fan film group.

            Anyway, as with Sandy and Carlos themselves, Lyndsey, you can make people believe anything if you create a false narrative and twist facts into such pretzel shapes that they no longer even come close to resembling the truth. Nice try, though. (Well, actually, it was kinda weak and pathetic and pretty embarrassing for you. But I didn’t want to say that, so I said, “Nice try,” instead.) 🙂

    2. At least ars technica had the good grace to play it down the middle, as opposed to Carlos’ “We interrupt this article about James Cawley’s licensed film school to bring you yet another screed on Axanar.”

  9. Eschewing the side-issues, I hope the effort is successful. I’ve been a student of acting for many years including acting, watching a director work, filming rehearsal videos and more. It can be great fun.

  10. Carlos also claimed we raised $ 1.7M, which is a bold faced lie, and he knows it. That makes him a liar. Something we have known all along. Just wait till next year and I am sure it will grow to $2M.

    I love how much of his life is spent on me. He really needs to learn that saying “Don’t let someone live rent free in your head.” So basically, I have a whole condo in Carlos’ head!

    Alec

  11. Perhaps we could require the entire production crew of Star Trek Discovery to take the first course?

  12. Wait.. I thought in the blog above the story should have ONLY been about Cawley and the new studio. If so, why should carlos have contacted axanar for a statement about a film academy they had nothing to do with?

    1. I’d think the answer to your question would be obvious, Brian. Carlos himself (and those defending his choice to bring up Axanar) said he spent those six paragraphs ragging on Axanar for “journalistic” reasons. If so, then getting a statement from Alec Peters or Mike Bawden on behalf of Axanar Productions would seem to be pretty much a given…for a real journalist, that is. If Carlos didn’t bother to reach out to Axanar, then Carlos’s decision to include a mention of them was merely self-serving propaganda and not true journalism. Even I, who am not a journalist, don’t claim to be one, and don’t “hide” behind the label, reached out to Alec for a statement and also included quotes from James himself from his panel presentation.

    2. If you check Carlos’ story, there’s an entire section dedicated to Axanar’s (meaning Axanar Productions) reaction to the announcement. Yet, no effort was made in the slightest to get a statement from Axanar Productions. Carlos includes statements made by Alec, Rob and Alec’s girlfriend – but not an actual statement on behalf of the production company.

      At best, it’s sloppy work (assuming the lapse was unintentional). But given there was no pressing deadline or pressure to publish a “scoop” – and given the fact that Carlos has yet to correct or amend the story to fix his factual error on the amount of money raised by Axanar Productions or our public statement concerning the Star Trek Film Academy – I don’t think it’s accurate to call what shows up in Axamonitor “journalism” or its author a “journalist.”

      It’s story-telling with an agenda. And that agenda is to publicly embarrass and humiliate anyone who has had anything to do with Alec or Axanar. It’s pretty toxic stuff and, personally, I think it has exposed many Star Trek fans as terrible hypocrites and bullies – on both sides of the argument.

      I can’t believe people can look at what they say (and the way they say it) and feel good about the example they’re setting. I’ve had to step back myself from time to time and re-think the point I want to make and the way I want to make it. I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion if it’s really worth it.

      And the answer, many times, has been “no.”

      So I’m not going to debate this. There’s no point to it. Let’s all just wish James and the others associated with this film academy the very best of luck and good fortune. I hope it’s a fun experience for fans and a money-maker for James. If it’s handled prudently and with the best of intentions, I have no doubt it will benefit the Star Trek brand and create more new fans in the process.

      And when it comes to the Sci Fi Film School concept that Alec has been considering while working on Axanar, I think it makes sense for us all to wish him the best with that, as well. Who isn’t for more well-made, sci-fi storytelling? Of course, I’d expand it to include other genre storytelling, too, but hey, it’s not my project.

      Best of luck to them both.

  13. So if it is inappropriate for carlos to have 6 paragraphs about axanar in the film school article, is it also inappropriate for the axanar blog about the film school to only have 1 paragraph about the school and the rest of the blog being all about Alec and how they stole his idea?

    1. As I commented to Bill, your summary of Alec’s blog is way off the mark. Alec was spending most of his blog discussing the evolution of the Sci-Fi Film School and looking at the differences between that as James’ Sci-Fi Film School. In fact, Alec specifically said that James did NOT steal his idea.

      Maybe you and I read different blogs? I read the one that Alec wrote. 🙂

  14. Thanks, Jonathan. I guess if I’d gotten it together to watch the New Voyages series, I’d have known that. (I was seduced by the recent date on youtube into thinking it *might* be something new. lol) However, since “meeting” you , I’ve learned of so many ST fan films, that I haven’t had a chance to catch them all yet. I’m slowly working my way through them. I tend to be a reader, vs a film watcher and there’s been a lot of good books too this last year!) Anyway, thanks again for the info .

  15. Just read the two-part interview. (Guess I didn’t find Fan Film Factor until later last year. Think I need to go trolling the archives. Who knows what other cool stuff I’ll discover!) Marc sounds like a cool guy. I was so glad to read about how “World Enough and Time” was received. I thought Takei was dynamite!

    1. If you’d like to see more, check out the button on the upper nav bar that says “LIST OF FAN FILMS.” You can view the blogs by newest first, alphabetically by fan film title, or highest to lowest rated.

      And yes, Marc is a very cool guy. We chatted for nearly two hours about the project!

  16. This is an interesting path though, because it might be some beginning breach in the position of CBS about fan films. In licensing James Cawley for his experimental school, they actually license a fan film (yet another credit to James for that premiere, even if he doesn’t consider it as a fanfilm but as a “product”). I do not think it will be representative of a fanfilm business model because we are in a specific context here, but at least CBS is now experimenting with fandom outside the classic DVD, comics and novels they usually handle.
    I hope the experience will succeed and would make CBS realize it is possible to go beyond that. I still believe there is room for an intermediate level of licensing that can solve the problem of projects exceeding the guidelines limitations. The door has been slightly open…

    In an interview for Trekzone, James tells about a hundred “students” split in two groups, so it is not just a small affair for a handful of privileged peoples. The cost will depend on who will be there as instructors, but with so many peoples attending the session, it could be affordable aside the travel and stay expenses.

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