Every so often, just for a shats and giggles, I head over the the Axamonitor blog site to see the latest “news” CARLOS PEDRAZA has to “report.” It’s funny because, while some people like to see the AXANAR glass as half-full (if not more so), Carlos does his best to convince folks that the Axanar glass is 99% empty. I noticed, in one of his latest updates, that Carlos included such catastrophic sub-headlines as…
- Axanar Could ‘Take Years’
- Failed California Studio
- Indiegogo Failure
- Hemorrhaging Money
- Abandoning Nonprofit Plans
- Bait and Switch?
- No More Axanar
And that’s just ONE blog update, folks!!!
Sheesh, with “news” like that, it’s hard to imagine any reason to smile in the land of Axanar fandom. So why am I and so many others still smiling?
Despite naming his blog site “Axamonitor,” Carlos seems to be very—what’s the word?—selective in what he actually “monitors” and chooses to include. So if there are any positive things to say or good news or report about Axanar, you’re unlikely to find it there.
Fortunately, there’s other places on the Internet to get the rest of the story…including here. And so that’s the subject of today’s blog: all the GOOD news that’s happening right now in the world of Axanar….
I should begin by reporting that there was no water or wind damage to the new Axanar studio in Lawrenceville, GA, nor to the sets, when the tropical storm remnants of Hurricane Irma blew through the metro Atlanta area on Monday. By the time the destructive storm began moving across Georgia, it was no longer a hurricane and just dumped mainly rain.
The move to Atlanta
Admittedly, there’s no way to sugarcoat the Axanar production and team having to leave Industry Studios in Valencia, California. That studio was taking shape into something very special and impressive, as this video that I shot just before the move shows…
But when you consider how much stuff had to be transported across the country from California to Georgia—including disassembling and reassembling that amazing bridge set—the relocation went about as smoothly as one could have hoped for. Alec and Axanar Productions maintain a good and healthy relationship with their former landlord, who is now the manager/owner of Industry Studios. So when it comes time to shoot the green-screen scenes for the 30-minute Axanar fan production, they will be able to film the mostly L.A.-based cast at a soundstage only a half hour drive from downtown Los Angeles at a very inexpensive cost.
When Alec and the three fully-loaded trucks arrived in Lawrenceville, GA, in early May, they were joined by nearly THIRTY enthusiastic volunteers who helped unload and get all the costumes, set pieces, props, furniture, perk merchandise, artwork, filing cabinets, printed records, and lord knows what else into the new studio in record time. You can read more about that here.
There was also good news about the new studio itself, which was christened OWC Studios when the multi-million-dollar Other World Computing (OWC) Digital, which had supplied editing hardware and software for Prelude to Axanar, became an official corporate sponsor for the studio, providing financial resources that will help the new studio get onto its feet and establish itself in the rapidly-growing metro-Atlanta film-making market.
Finishing that incredible bridge set
As you can see from the above video, the Axanar bridge set is a marvel to behold. But it left Los Angeles only about 80-85% complete, and suffered some unavoidable damage during its 2,500-mile trek across the continent.
“When you break apart an almost 1,000 square foot set and transport it across the country,” Alec told me in a recent interview, “you are going to have damage. Most of it was small, although one of the sections fell off a fork lift, and the railing had to be rebuilt. Most was puttying, sanding, and repainting…then putting everything back where it belonged and getting it fully painted. Plus, we finished and upholstered the command chair. That came out really well.”
You can see some of that work in the photos below…
I was a little shocked. “Really?” I asked. “But you did so much work!”
“Well,” replied Alec, “most of what we did was just getting the bridge back into tip-top shape. Remember that the set pieces were just sitting around for a year, collecting dust, while we were fighting the lawsuit. Plus there was damage from the move. Most of what we did was repairing that damage and giving everything new coats of paint.
“The new stuff we added was the captain’s chair—now fully upholstered—and painting the helm and tactical consoles, which hadn’t been painted at all before we left California. And they look amazing!”
“So what is there still left to do?” I asked.
“Well, we still have to make all the plexiglass for the station consoles. One of our biggest fans, Alexander Richardson, will be working with me designing and creating the buttons for all of the bridge consoles, including sciences, communications, and engineering, plus the helm and tactical stations, which still need to be cut to insert the plexiglass. All of the buttons will have unique labels, so our director will have the option of doing tight close-ups. When it’s done, those console buttons will be lit from below and will look incredible.
“After that, we have to install the electronic components that will show the screen animations at each station. We have all the equipment already; we just need to get everything into place. We’ll also have to deal with little touches, like creating the optical viewer for the science station. And then, last but certainly not least, everything will be carpeted. That’ll help muffle the sound as people walk across the bridge.”
Organizing the studio
When the trucks first arrived at OWC Studios back in May, the main goal was to simply unload everything and get it inside. Organizing was not the priority yet. Alec then spent the next three months going back and forth between Georgia and California getting the rest of his life in order, since he and and girlfriend Crysstal Hubbard (and her mother) would all be moving east, as well. Alec’s apartment lease in California extended through August, so that’s when he completed his move to the Peach State.
Now in Georgia full-time, Alec set up a second big volunteer event for the weekend of August 26-27. This time, even more people came out to help: 35 over the weekend, with about five of them staying through the following Wednesday to help with all the bridge repairs and painting and getting the studio ready for an open house on Thursday, August 31.
Some of those 35 volunteers drove five or ten hours just to be there, and some even flew (the aforementioned Alexander Richardson came all the way from the U.K.!). Now, 35 people might seem like overkill, but trust me, having been one of the volunteers to help prep everything at Industry Studios for the move east, there was a LOT of stuff!
As you can see from the following three photos, this wasn’t some minor task of just throwing things on a few shelves and then eating pizza. They actually used a forklift to move and store equipment. In fact, some set pieces and other larger collectibles that wouldn’t be needed immediately were lifted up onto the ledge above the office area to keep them out of the way and leave more space available in the large warehouse area (see second photo).
Palette shelving was also set up to store an abundance of items, including all of the perks. Remember that many of the perks for the later crowd-funding campaigns can’t be fulfilled until the final Axanar movie is completed, since one of the perks is a DVD/Blu-ray of the finished fan film.
“We had to organize the studio so you could move around and make sure everything was in an efficient spot for working,” Alec told me. “The perk area was fully organized, and every single patch, poster, and perk was inventoried.”
So compared to what it looked like three months ago, OWC Studios is now set up and ready for action. Of course, you can’t yell “Action!” until you have…
Ah, I’ve heard so many people moaning, “Why isn’t the script done yet??? It’s only a 30-minute fan film now! Alec should be able to whip out a 30-minute script in a weekend…a week at most!”
I personally know some scriptwriters in Hollywood, and scripts can often take months or even years to complete and polish. And even though Axanar is “just” a fan film, Alec has always wanted to do it the right way.
In this case, there’s an extra challenge. Not only does there need to be a 30-minute script written, there also needs to be a 90-minute script, as Alec still intends to release the full story of Axanar in script form. And so the shorter script needs to “match” the longer script.
Robert Meyer Burnett and Bill Hunt were assigned to revising the longer script. Anyone who bothered to read the leaked version 7.3 script a few months ago needn’t have bothered. I’ve now read both versions—the latest one being 10.9—and they’re pretty different. They’re structurally similar, but the later script is much tighter with better pacing. And that’s what’s supposed to happen with script revisions; they get progressively better and better. It was a very enjoyable read for me.
As for the shorter script, which Alec wrote, I’ve read that one, too…at least the first draft. The challenge for Alec was in choosing only 30 minutes worth of scenes from the longer script to include, adapting them to the “mockumentary” format of Prelude, and still keeping the shorter script properly paced. Alec told me that the script “…has been reviewed by our entire team and a small group of fans to see their reaction. I can tell you the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.”
Final tweaks and revisions are being done right now based on feedback. I even gave Alec a few friendly suggestions of my own.
Whatever the final script ends up looking like, it will feature some new characters not seen before, recounting the events at Axanar from a period ten years later…just as in Prelude to Axanar. So the production requires more of those Captain Pike-era tunics…eight in fact (and that’s just for the Starfleet officers–not counting a new admiral character!).
Costume Designer Kate Bergh is working with a team in Italy, Claude Doziere (a huge Axanar fan) and his tailor Angela Avino, to create the tunics…and they are working diligently to ensure that the fit is both comfortable and attractive for the actors wearing them.
Between these two folks in Italy, Alexander Richardson in the U.K., and Tobias Richter in Germany, the final Axanar production is looking to be one of the most international fan films to date!
Will Axanar Productions still be a non-profit corporation?
The short answer is “yes.” The more important question is: does Alec still intend to file the paperwork to become a 510(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable corporation?
A number of people following Axanar don’t understand that a corporation can be a non-profit WITHOUT also being a tax-exempt 501(c)(3). The former designation simply means your business is organized for purposes other than generating profit, and no part of the organization’s income is distributed to its members, directors, or officers. That doesn’t mean it can’t pay salaries, by the way. It simply doesn’t distribute profits.
The latter designation means that you’re doing something charitable and/or something to help the community (even the fan community), and therefore people can give you donations that are tax deductible. And the organization itself does not have to pay taxes on income.
Alec was in the process of filing the 501(c)(3) paperwork in California when the move to Georgia happened. Going forward, Axanar Productions will be a Georgia corporation, and that new paperwork is in the process of being filed. Once Axanar Productions is re-incorporated in Georgia, Alec says that he intends to re-file either for 501(c)(3) or a 501(c)(7) status…the latter being for a fan club kind of organization. Since the Axanar film won’t be making a profit either way, both designations are possibilities, although Alec is still looking into the specific requirements and pros/cons of each option.
Will Axanar “take years”?
In a recent e-mail exchange with Carlos Pedraza, Axanar PR dude Mike Bawden wrote: “I’m guessing it will take years to produce and eventually release the segments.” (Man, did Carlos have fun reporting that one!)
It’s true that Alec, who was at one point hopeful that the finished Axanar fan film would be released in 2017 is now aiming to have it ready for the San Diego Comic Con in 2018. And who knows, maybe it will take longer. Maybe not. Remember that Alec still has to raise money privately, as he is not allowed to do any further public crowd-funding using fast-turnaround services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
So, yes, there’s still lots of work to do, but it’s certainly being done…perhaps not as quickly as some might like, but that’s just the reality of the situation. Alec had to relocate an entire studio across the country along with himself. And there’s a lot of moving parts to this production.
Remember that Alec and his crew get only one shot at this, one chance to make a Star Trek fan film where CBS and Paramount have suspended some of the guidelines for just this one project (as per the legal settlement). And team Axanar doesn’t just want this 30-minute fan production to be good, they want it to be GREAT and blow people away. And if that takes a little extra time (or even a lot of extra time), I for one am willing to wait for such a high-quality fan film…and of course, to report on all the progress along the way.