These questions and so many like them pour into comments, IMs, and emails to me almost weekly. (In fact, the “fallen apart” one came in just last week.) I’ve so wanted to share what I know, but I’ve been asked repeatedly by ALEC PETERS to please keep things under wraps for the time being.
A few weeks ago, I finally started asking Alec in earnest when we could do a proper interview and announce some of these big news items publicly. Believe it or not, it’s actually been well over a YEAR since my last full interview with him! Anyway, it took some prodding and nagging, but I finally convinced the man behind Axanar to sit down with me for an extended interview and update.
Let’s dive right in…
ALEC – Yes, and it’s really exciting news: the final two Axanar episodes officially have a director.
JONATHAN – And that would be…?
ALEC – PAUL JENKINS.
JONATHAN – Now, for people who don’t know, Paul is a very big name in the comic book and video game industries. He’s one of the writers credited with helping to rescue Marvel Comics from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 1990s with the introduction of the “Marvel Knights” series of titles. Since then, Paul has written everything from Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk to the ground-breaking Wolverine: Origin (which served as the basis for the feature film with Hugh Jackman).
Sorry for the interruption, Alec.
ALEC – No problem. You just saved me from having to say the same thing! Anyway, late last year, Paul came on board to help rewrite and complete the Axanar scripts. He’ll be listed as co-writer in the film credits. It was really fantastic working with him on that, and now he’ll be directing, too. It’s a huge pick-up for us, and we’re really excited about Paul. He has very specific visions for what he wants these next two episodes to be and how he can make them better than Prelude.
JONATHAN – Did you ask him to direct, or did he ask you?
ALEC – He asked me. He’s right here in Atlanta, so we get to work closely together on the project, and he’s really psyched about it.
Originally, after Rob [Robert Meyer Burnett -Jonathan] stepped aside, I had offered the director job to Bing Bailey…such an amazing, amazing talent. But he’s so busy with other projects that he just doesn’t have time to commit to doing justice to Axanar. He’ll still be staying on with us as a producer and DIT/colorist, but when he wasn’t able to direct, Paul approached me, and that seemed like a perfect fit. I can’t begin to tell you how energized Paul is by this project.
JONATHAN – I know Paul is a great writer, but has he done any directing?
ALEC – Yeah. You can check his credits out on his IMDb page. But he’s directed a bunch of shorts, including one with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Nickelodeon. And of course, he’s worked on major motion pictures like Wolverine: Origin, and he knows a ton of people in the filmmaking industry here in Georgia. He’s even an advisor to the governor on how to expand and encourage more independent filmmaking in the state.
So yeah, Paul knows the in’s and out’s of directing. Axanar is in really good hands. We’re incredibly happy to have Paul on board.
JONATHAN – So when did Paul Jenkins officially become your director?
ALEC – It was a couple of months ago when we made the decision to give him the reins.
JONATHAN – And you’re just announcing it now instead of back then because…?
ALEC – Because YOU wanted me to announce it!
JONATHAN – Touché, touché. But that does bring up a question that I and a lot of other people are probably wondering about. I know you make the occasional update on your blog on the Axanar website (like this one showing the new uniform variant that Garth will wear, created by costumer Claude Dozière). But there’s not nearly as much or as frequent news as there used to be back in 2015 when you were first heading into production before the lawsuit. Why is that?
ALEC – Mike Bawden, who is our PR director, and I discussed this and decided that, at least for now, less is more. We don’t want to create unrealistic expectations or have a bunch of haters belittle anyone who they learn is involved with the production…’cause they’ve done that a number of times. So we just don’t see any advantage to giving away too much information this time around. There will be some updates, of course, but for the most part, we’ll just go and make the two “Four Years War” episodes and let the haters wonder what we’re up to.
JONATHAN – Well, you’ve just announced Paul Jenkins and Bing Bailey. Are they prepared for the wrath of the haters/detractors?
ALEC – Well, as Paul said in that interview he did with you last year, he’s already had some hassling from the haters, which I personally think is disgusting. At the time, all he was doing was helping me to clean up the Axanar script. What possible reason does anyone have to get on his case for doing that?
JONATHAN – I couldn’t tellya, Alec. So how about Bing Bailey? Can he handle the detractor onslaught?
ALEC – Well, Bing has been involved since way back on Prelude. He was our DIT, which is Digital Ingest Technician. He took the data chips from the cameras and got them downloaded onto the computer and converted them into a usable format for editing. And he was our colorist, as well. He’s done that for a lot of fan projects. He’s done that for Renegades, for Star Trek: New Voyages, for Blade of Honor.
He’s really good. Bing is just one of the most brilliant people I know…and super-nice. I love him.
JONATHAN – So we’ve got Paul Jenkins as co-writer and director, we’ve got Bing Bailey returning to work with you again as DIT and colorist. Is there anyone else officially committed to the upcoming production whose name you’d like to share?
ALEC – Mark Edward Lewis is our editor. Mark was originally going to be the editor on Prelude until Rob took over that job. But Mark stayed on as our sound editor, and he really is responsible for a large chunk of what Prelude is. All those wonderful starship sounds are Mark.
Mark is also the one who taught me how to edit. Mark was originally the one responsible for editing the Prelude to Axanar “ask” video for the first Kickstarter. I hired him and said, “Look, I’ll pay you $500 to edit this quick little video.” And he said, “Well, instead of paying me to edit it, why don’t you pay me to teach you how to edit it, and you can do it?” And that’s what we did in 2014. We sat down for three days, and he taught me how to edit, and we edited the “ask” video for Prelude. Obviously, I’m nowhere near his or Rob’s level, but I got a basic introduction to the process.
Mark’s a great guy. He’s worked on Star Trek: New Voyages, Blade of Honor, a bunch of other stuff; he’s a real consummate sound professional. So he will be handling both editing and sound design on the Axanar project.
JONATHAN – And he doesn’t mind you mentioning his name right now for the detractors to pounce on him?
ALEC – Well, obviously, we all just wish they’d mind their own damn business and let us finish this project. It accomplishes nothing to come after anyone on the team. Just let people do their jobs. If fans like the films we release, great. If they don’t, then criticize them later on when they’re finished. Why try to sabotage the thing while everyone is still working on it? It doesn’t make any sense.
JONATHAN – Anyone else you’d like to name?
ALEC – Oh, there’s a lot of other people working on things. I’ve got a producer lined up. We’re talking to a lot of people right now. But until I get sign-offs to make their names public, we’re gonna keep most of those names private rather than inviting the haters to try to make their lives miserable.
JONATHAN – What about the actors? People already know the names of Gary Graham, J.G. Hertzler, and Kate Vernon. Are they back on board officially?
ALEC – I don’t want to say anything until I announce them, but we’ve been talking to everyone. We’re in negotiations right now, but I really can’t say anything until I’ve got signed papers.
JONATHAN – Do you know yet when you’ll be able to start filming?
ALEC – Nope. We had our first big conference call yesterday [June 13 -Jonathan] with me, Paul, Mark, our Director of Photography, and Mike Bawden…and we talked about when we’re gonna shoot and where we’re gonna shoot. But we’re still a little ways away from that. But it’ll be this fall.
JONATHAN – You just said “where we’re gonna shoot.” Aren’t you going to be filming at OWC studios in Lawrenceville, GA?
ALEC – Possibly. We might also shoot in Los Angeles. It depends on a lot of things, including where and when the actors are available. We can also rent out a studio in L.A. with a green screen and film there. There’s a lot of details to consider.
JONATHAN – But you’ve got this incredible bridge set sitting there in Georgia! Aren’t you going to film on it?
ALEC – I honestly don’t know yet. It depends on how much money we end up having available to film with. The bridge still has to be finished. We have a crew of volunteers who met this week to break down everything to be done and get it done by the fall. Alexander Richardson, our main artist for the control panels, has been knocking out the panels, which look great. It’s 85% done, but that still leaves 15% that needs to be paid for. Then we’ve got to light it, and that equipment costs money. There’s a lot of things that have to happen in order to be able to shoot on that set.
Look, we would LOVE to film on the bridge. We’d love to! But right now, that could end up being a luxury we can’t afford. We’ll have to see. Right now, the script is written in such a way that there aren’t any bridge scenes.
JONATHAN – I am so bummed right now, I gotta say!
ALEC – But hey, that could still change. Or maybe we can shoot some special edition footage on the bridge later on. It’s still up in the air right now.
JONATHAN – Okay, let’s move on to a question that both Axanar supporters as well as detractors are gonna want me to ask. Back in March of 2014, Prelude raised $101,000 in a Kickstarter. Three and a half months later, you premiered a completed fan film in San Diego during Comic Con. Now, you settled with CBS and Paramount back in January of 2017. It’s nearly a year and a half later and you haven’t filmed a single line of dialog yet.
What is heck is taking so long???
Oh, you are so gonna want to come back tomorrow to hear the answer to THAT question, right? See you then!