Major AXANAR news! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 2)

Click here to read Part 1.

ALEC PETERS is pretty much a man who needs no introduction…at least in the fan community.  But if you’ve only just landed on this planet, here’s a quick run-down.  Alec has been the driving force behind the fan production AXANAR for half a decade, writing, producing, and appearing in the widely popular Prelude to Axanar fan film.  He worked ceaselessly over three crowd-funding campaigns to raise more than $1.3 million in fan donations to build out a studio and sets and begin filming a 90-minute Star Trek fan film detailing the final battle of the Four Years War with the Klingons at the planet Axanar.

And then Alec got sued by CBS and Paramount for copyright infringement.  He fought back, and after a year of legal proceedings, the lawsuit was settled just days before a trial was set to begin.  While the specifics of Alec’s settlement with the studios aren’t public, we do know that Alec is now allowed to make two 15-minute Axanar fan films with his original cast (if they choose to return) as well as other entertainment industry professionals.

That settlement came nearly a year and a half ago, and still there is no completed follow-up Axanar fan film or films.  With that in mind, let’s pick up where we left off yesterday as I ask Alec a question that both Axanar supporters AND detractors have certainly been wondering about…

JONATHAN – Alec, 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???

ALEC – There’s a bunch of reasons. But first, I want to make sure everyone understands something: Prelude wasn’t made in just three or four months. Yes, it was just over three and a half months from the end of the Kickstarter to the finished film. But we had been working on Prelude for almost a year before the Kickstarter. The cast was already selected, signed up, and scheduled. We had a director chosen, a production team in place, make-up people, costumes, even CGI. Tobias [Richter, of The Light Works in Germany – Jonathan] and I had already worked out the designs of the ships you see in Prelude, and he created the most amazing models and finished most of the VFX…all months before we ever launched the Kickstarter.

After the settlement, while were weren’t starting over again completely from scratch, we did have to go back and rework a lot of stuff, most importantly the script to make 90 minutes fit into 30. We also had to move the sets and all the studio resources across the entire country to Georgia and get the new studio set up. The sponsorship agreement with OWC Digital had to be hammered out to help us be able to continue being in the new location. The bridge set still needed work. There was a lot of stuff that had to get done.

JONATHAN – But still…a year and a half, Alec? And you’re only just now looking to start production “later this year”?

ALEC – Well, this leads to my second point. Back when we were creating Prelude and doing crowd-funding and pre-production on the main Axanar feature film and setting up Ares Studios, I was working on this FULL TIME. So were Rob Burnett and Diana Kingsbury. And things moved pretty quickly. If the lawsuit hadn’t hit in December of 2015, we had scheduled principle photography to begin in January 2016. Things moved fast back then.

Now, however, no one is working on Axanar full time…not even me! I’ve got a LOT of other things going on at the moment.

JONATHAN – Like what?

ALEC – Well, I’ve been auctioning off a lot of my personal collection of screen-used props and costumes through my company Propworx and in partnership with Heritage Auctions, the third largest auction house in the world.

Students came to film on the Axanar bridge set

I’ve also been working with Pasha Souverin, the head of the Gwinnett County schools video production team. The program serves the 28 high schools schools in the county, and we’ve been working on a program to open OWC Studios to high school students. We even had our first student film shot at the studio! Georgia is a big film-making state now, and there’s a lot of people to meet with…who want to work with us! I’m meeting with two production entities for projects after Axanar. One of the guys is a huge Star Trek fan—we met after he read an article about us in the Atlanta Business Chronicle—and we’ve become good friends. We’re working on ways to monetize OWC Studios after Axanar is done.

JONATHAN – Wait a second, pal! Isn’t monetizing your studio one of the things that got CBS and Paramount so pissed off?

ALEC – We’re not monetizing Star Trek! What we do with the studio and my own productions has nothing to do with CBS or Paramount. After Axanar, it’ll all be about original sci-fi projects, and CBS and Paramount don’t have anything to do with any of that.

JONATHAN – Okay, cancel red alert. Anything else taking up your time?

ALEC – Yeah, I’m helping a few friends with a new business, helping them raise start-up capital. When I lived in Atlanta many years ago, I raised about $9 million for two technology companies that I started. So I offered to do the same for my friends. That’s been taking a up a LOT of my time, but I think they have a really great business model, and I want to help them succeed in any way I can.

JONATHAN – So that’s a pretty long list. Is there anything else delaying Axanar, Alec?

ALEC – Yeah, I had to sell my house!

JONATHAN – What does your house have to do with producing a fan film?

ALEC – A lot! As you said, we made Prelude for about $125K. That was one 20-minute fan film. Now we have to produce two 15-minute fan films. We estimate the cost will be about $150,000. As you know, the money that came in from the Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns is long gone. It went to things like building the bridge, transporter, captain’s quarters and Klingon bridge sets, rent and utilities for Industry Studios and other production expenses. Just keeping the studio open while we were being sued took a lot of money.

JONATHAN – Don’t forget the sushi and tires!

ALEC – Don’t be a smart-ass, Lane! Anyway, I’ve now put in, I estimate, well over $ 150,000 of my own money to keep Axanar alive, including paying $9,000 for the move across country and $26,000 in legal fees.

JONATHAN – Hold on. Weren’t you getting FREE legal representation from the Winston & Strawn law firm?

ALEC – Yes, but I still had to cover incidentals like travel and lodging, court filing fees, printing and postage…there’s a long list. Anyway, I know we’re gonna need over a hundred thousand dollars to film Axanar (possibly more), but I’m not exactly living high on the hog right now. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been selling a lot of my collection. But that’s covering living expenses. I also want to put some of my own money in Axanar…especially if I’m going to ask others to help. So when I had the opportunity to sell my house in Florida, I jumped at the chance.

JONATHAN – Wait, don’t you live in Georgia?

ALEC – I wasn’t living in that house in Orlando. I bought it back in 2013 for my very dear friend and her two sons, both of whom are my godsons. We’re really close; I’ve known them since they were three and a half, and I visited them every few months even when I was living out in Los Angeles.

JONATHAN – And you bought them a whole house??? You’re, like, the best godfather ever! (Well, maybe Brando was better.)

Damaris and her sons

ALEC – I’ll explain. Their mother, Damaris, was going through some hard times back then, and Ethan was getting chemotherapy (he’s fine now, thank God). But she wasn’t going to make it financially, and I really love those kids. It was a big decision for me, but I decided in 2013 to sell half of my prop and costume collection at the time and buy her a house that was being constructed about a mile from the kids’ school. I paid cash, so I owned it outright.

Last year, Damaris told me she wanted to buy the house from me. She’s back on her feet in a really great job where she’s thriving. And she wants to own the house herself. That was great news, since it allowed me to take the proceeds and buy a house of my own and still have money for Axanar. I don’t want to ask donors to pay for everything without being willing to put in money myself.

JONATHAN – Oh, wait a minute! WAIT A MINUTE!!! Back to red alert, Alec. I thought your settlement with CBS and Paramount doesn’t allow you to raise any more money from crowd-funding.

ALEC – Well, first of all, you haven’t seen the settlement, Jonathan. I have. Without going into specifics, I can tell you that we are not permitted to use public crowd-funding services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And we won’t be. But the settlement does not prohibit us from approaching fans for donations privately. And that’s what we intend to do.

JONATHAN – So you bought yourself a house with the proceeds from selling your other house. Why not just rent a small apartment and then fund Axanar completely yourself?

ALEC – Well, I could just say to f–k off and that my financial decisions are none of anyone’s business…because they aren’t. However, as any tax adviser will tell you, when you sell a house for profit (and there was a profit), that money is taxed…unless you use it to buy another house, which I did. So if I’d rented, I would have lost a ton in taxes. .

And it’s not like I bought a mansion. I’ve got a nice house next to a big pond (I call it a lake!) with a large basement for a man-cave and extra bedrooms for guests. If you and Jayden and Wendy ever want to come to Atlanta, you don’t need to pay for a hotel. You’re welcome to stay here. And I’m sure I’ll be hosting a lot of friends and fans in the future. But I’ve got a mortgage and there’s some things that need improvement. The house was something that I could afford close to the studio…and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

I mean, some people think I should live like a pauper and give everything to Axanar until it is made. Well, I have spent 4 years of my life and spent well over $ 150,000 of my own money on this project. When all is said and done that number will likely be over $ 200,000! So if any fan thinks that isn’t enough, well, I am sorry.

JONATHAN – Hey, I’ve got no problem with it. I’ll probably throw in another $250 myself when the time comes.

ALEC – Thank you.

JONATHAN – Anything to get this thing made, dude! Speaking of which, I know one reason for the delay that you forgot to mention, Alec.

ALEC – What’s that?

JONATHAN – The 2018 midterm elections and J.G.’s hair!

ALEC – Oh, that’s right! I did forget to mention that.

JONATHAN – You want to explain it to the readers?

J.G. Hertzler as Mark Twain

ALEC – J.G. Hertzler, who plays Sam Travis and will be in the two Axanar films, is currently running for Congress in upstate New York in the 23rd District. He’s running as an independent, but he’s also running as author Mark Twain. Well, he’s not REALLY running as Mark Twain. The ballot will say “J.G. Hertzler.” But he’s campaigning in character as Mark Twain, coming out at J.G.’s rallies and speaking appearances as a “special guest” to share his thoughts. The thing is, though, that in order to keep up the Twain persona, J.G. grew his hair out REALLY long. And Sam Travis has short hair. I’m not gonna make him cut his hair and torpedo his congressional campaign just so he can appear in Axanar. So we’ve gotta wait until after the November 6 elections to film his scenes.

JONATHAN – Can you film everyone else’s scenes earlier and just wait till November to do J.G.’s scenes?

ALEC – Possibly. But there’s budgetary issues to consider. We need a production crew at the studio for filming. That costs money to set up. If we shoot everyone’s scenes over the course of a few days or a week, that means we only set up once. If we have to do it twice, that makes things more expensive.

JONATHAN – Yeah, I can see that. So when will you start looking for donations? $150,000 is a lot of money to raise quickly..especially without Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

ALEC – Not sure yet. I am really trying to get the Indiegogo patches shipped first. Plus we have a bunch of cool stuff we are giving donors that they didn’t expect. I just found several hundred Battlestar Galactica Presidential ballots. These are screen used props from the third season episodes where Gaius Baltar beat Laura Roslyn because she tried to fix the election!  I am going to be giving these out to donors, with Certificates of Authenticity, just as a gift for being patient.

JONATHAN – And what happens of you don’t reach $150,000?  Will you be selling more of your collection or taking out a second mortgage?

ALEC – Well, we will just have to be smarter with our money!

JONATHAN – Should fans expect another Annual Report like the one that caused so much controversy last time?  I’m guessing not.

ALEC – Then you guessed wrong.  We recently hired one of the top accounting firms in Atlanta, which handles a lot of big film industry clients in Atlanta, to handle our taxes and all accounting moving forward.  We intend to be completely transparent with everything we do and every dollar we spend.

JONATHAN – Then I shall look forward to my eyes glazing over as I review yet another endless spreadsheet!

<we laugh>

JONATHAN – Is there anything else you’d like to say before we sign off?

ALEC – We do want to thank our donors and supporters who have stuck with us through some major challenges.  Things are definitely on track, and we’re really excited about having Paul Jenkins as director, Bing Bailey back again to do DIT and color, and Mark Edward Lewis doing our editing.  The team is shaping up fantastically, just as it did for Prelude.  Be patient for a little while longer, and you’ll see two really spectacular fan films that are going to be as good if not better than Prelude.

In the meantime, there will be some updates along the way, but not as many as last time.  We want to focus ourselves on getting The Four Years War produced and finished.  But keep checking out the Axanar Productions website for my Captain’s Logs and other important information.

JONATHAN – And don’t forget Fan Film Factor!

ALEC – How could I ever do that, Jonathan?  You won’t let me!  <laughs>  But seriously, you do an amazing job and provide an important service to the fan film community.  Keep it up.

JONATHAN – I will, Alec.  Thanks.

ALEC – Thank you.

21 thoughts on “Major AXANAR news! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 2)”

  1. Hello there if you will keep this on for everyone to look for the old pdf of this of 2014 of this and also look for a older:

    WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA

    2014

    THEATRICAL AND TELEVISION

    BASIC AGREEMENT

    EFFECTIVE
    FROM MAY-2-2014 thru may-1 2017
    This is over 687 page’s
    You also need to look at the west writers guild of America
    You will see every thing that you see to make films from cartoon to regular films?.

    1. That very funny, Kenny. Thanks for the laugh.

      Naturally, you don’t really expect anyone to read through 687 pages to find something that you only vaguely describe.

      And for the record, Kenny, the next time you try to post this same message or anything similar, it will be deleted. If you want to read through those 687 pages yourself and pull some specific quotes that are relevant to fan films, I’ll be happy to publish those along with your explanation of exactly WHY they are relevant. But no more comments on Fan Film Factor asking others to do your homework for you in hopes that they’ll be able to somehow find something that most likely is not anywhere in those 687 pages.

      You have posted this message and other incoherent messages like it dozens and dozens of times. It’s enough, Kenny. You need to move on.

  2. I might be tempted to vote for J. G. depending on his stance about Klingon immigration quotas. Personally they’re so good at head-butting that they would dominate the House and Senate and that might not be a bad thing.

    1. My worry is that J.G. will syphon off votes that would otherwise have gone to the Democrat challenging the Republican incumbent, Tom Reed. That district is a tough red nut to crack. While Ithaca with Ithaca College and Cornell University tends to be a very liberal academic town, the surrounding farmland is very conservative. Reed was first elected to Congress in 2010, and so this is his fourth campaign building on an unbeaten streak. So he’s gonna be a strong opponent, already well-funded and well-known. It will likely be a blue wave year across the U.S., but “All politics is local,” said Tip O’Neil (who was not wearing a dress!). So even if, nationally, Democrats are feeling energized, there might simply not be enough of them in New York’s 23rd District to unseat the incumbent. And having a progressive independent as a voting option just means splitting the vote on the blue side.

  3. Honestly Jonathan, I’m not a detractor, far from it, and don’t wish to sound negative, but the two-part interview doesn’t seem to have delivered anything truly significant concerning the future Axanar films.

    We’ve read an interesting (in a way) story of event’s in Alec’s life, but in the end we still have only promises or assurances, nothing specific about product. Certainly, some names have been given as signed up for the project, but they haven’t really started yet and people have pulled out before. There’s no telling when Alec might raise the money (and I wish him well in doing so – he certainly shows his commitment in the amount of his own money involved) and who knows what could happen in the interim?

    To me, the interview is essentially peripheral – none of the firm, direct Axanar revelations I anticipated from your intro to Part 1. Sorry. [I think this makes a first – I’ve been critical of one of your blogs!!]

    1. Hey, I don’t make the news, Bryan. 🙂

      But this is, indeed, news. The names signed are officially signed. Can they back out? Anyone can back out. Lukas Kendall just raised $30K for Sky Fighter, which announced that Robert Meyer Burnett would be editing. Should I not have included his name in the blogs about the Indiegogo campaign because Rob might back out later? Heck, the world could end, too (I really hope it doesn’t.) But writing blogs based only on everything that can go wrong just seems so…well…pessimistic.

      As for part two, we did learn a few things about what’s been taking so long with Axanar, which has been a complaint by donors and a criticism by detractors. Alec hasn’t really spoken on the subject publicly–except mentioning J.G.’s hair on a recent podcast–so I gave Alec a chance to explain. In in doing so, we also learned that Alec is still planning to donate more of his money to Axanar to help get to that $150,000. How much remains to be seen, but we also know he’ll be using a top accounting firm and issuing yet another annual report (hopefully done right, this time!), so that will likely show how much of his own money Alec will have put in.

      And if and when there’s more production news to bring you, I will. But in my mind, having a director in place is a major announcement.

  4. I guess I’m dissapointed at all the vagery in his responses. He says all the efforts in the Atlanta studios for the two parts were worth it. In part 1 he announces that a good deal of the two parts would be shot in LA and makes reference to a studio and green screen but doesnt acknowledge the old facility as the place for the work. Flying actors cross country to the Atlanta area and hosting them for several days will cost quite a bit.
    Seriously needs to be more definitive on a timeline. I don’t see this happening anytime soon until that timeline firms and starts to produce items of completion. I will support only after I feel positive, as of now I do not.
    Thanks for trying to tease out answers from him. I see Alec as in a dilemma and frankly the CBS lawsuit and some bad decisions got us here. Being 67 I don’t know if I’ll ever see Axanar in a completed 2 15 minute segments. I do hope so.

    1. “I guess I’m dissapointed at all the vagery in his responses.”

      Didn’t seem too vague to me. Did you want to know exactly how much Alec’s mortgage is? 😉

      “In part 1 he announces that a good deal of the two parts would be shot in LA and makes reference to a studio and green screen but doesnt acknowledge the old facility as the place for the work.”

      It’s a possibility but not a definite. Alec’s former landlord passed away last year. It’s unknown whether his agreement with Alec will survive him or even if his family will be keeping the studio as is or tearing down the giant green screen and converting it back into a warehouse.

      “Flying actors cross country to the Atlanta area and hosting them for several days will cost quite a bit.”

      J.G. Hertzler lives in upstate New York. He would have to fly no matter what. Alec and the director, Paul Jenkins, both live in Georgia and so would have to fly to L.A. if the filming happens there.

      “Seriously needs to be more definitive on a timeline.”

      Just curious: why? Since the actors and several of the production crew are still in negotiations, can there be a definite timeline yet? Also, Alec will be trying to raise $150K. What happens if he can’t? Look, I’d like a solid timeline for Pacific 201, too…for Starship Farragut’s final episode…for Star Trek: First Frontier…for The Circuit: Urbiessa. But I understand that, with big, ambitious productions being done by people in their spare time, that’s not always possible.

      “I don’t see this happening anytime soon until that timeline firms and starts to produce items of completion.”

      You’re probably right. But define “soon.” 🙂

      “I will support only after I feel positive, as of now I do not.”

      That’s fine. Stay tuned, Edward.

      “Thanks for trying to tease out answers from him.”

      He really did want to keep this all quiet. Mike Bawden drilled it into him that discussing anything will only serve to feel the trolls…and apparently, it has. I’ve even heard that one of the detractors took the “” from my interview and put it over a photo of Hitler and Goebbels. Considering that I’m a Jew and my wife’s grandparents were on the run from the Nazis in France during WWII and Wendy’s grandfather was actually in a freight car bound for a concentration camp when the train broke down and the Jews escaped, well…classy meme, guys. Real classy.

      “I see Alec as in a dilemma and frankly the CBS lawsuit and some bad decisions got us here.”

      We all make our fair share of bad decisions, right? And not everyone is always on our side in life.

      “Being 67 I don’t know if I’ll ever see Axanar in a completed 2 15 minute segments. I do hope so.”

      Having spoken with Paul Jenkins, I do think you’ll see at least one of those two parts in 2019…possibly both. But hey, I’ve also rooted for the New York Jets for three decades…and we all know how that turned out. Talk about living long enough to see something! How about another Superbowl win??? 🙂

  5. So I see OWC is going to be ultimately used as a profit making entity much like the LA based studios. Peters would do well to ensure none of the money from fan donations in any way pays for OWC and is used strictly for the fan film as otherwise it’s going to again look like he’s using Axanar as a backdoor for starting a profit making business. His mistake the previous time (among others) was redirecting donor funds to build the original studio and he needs to be squeaky clean this time if he is to rebuild his reputation and fight against the obsessives waiting for him to fail.

  6. Jonathan. Your enthusiasm is to be applauded, as is Alec’s (along with his dedication and perseverance, commitment, willingness to put in so much of his own money, his fortitude in withstanding so much in the way of reversals and horrendous flak – his resilience is truly amazing, and rare). And yes, positive comments are needed wherever and whenever pertinent. But don’t you see that, coming from a different direction, Edward’s comment contains much the same message as mine – the interview didn’t give us what we might reasonably have expected from your enthusiastic intro to part one – or from its teaser ending.

    What was expected? Something concrete with impact and showing definite progress – like announcing a date had been set to commence shooting. OK, that’s asking a lot at this stage, but there are many other milestones prior to that which will also have impact when announced. Despite your reply to me, I don’t believe that announcing a director when so much is as yet still vague (to echo Edward) and uncertain has very much impact. It doesn’t appear to bring us any closer to a commencement date (although I note you now mention 2019 – did I miss that earlier? – if so, that does weaken my response here).

    Apologies Jonathan, I don’t mean in any way to diminish the very tangible contribution made by your sustained great enthusiasm and wide-ranging support for both Alec and Axanar..

    1. hey, I thought it was major news. You’re welcome to disagree. “Major” is one of those relative adjectives…means different things to different people.

  7. They bark, Sancho, that means we ride.”
    That’s what Don Quixote said to mean that the more noise your detractors make, it means that you’re doing something
    Mr. Peters is very quixotic, he already faced the mills and has risen after the blow, so a few dogs barking only means he is still at work and there seems to be no lack of Sanchos to help him.
    Courage and forward

  8. You were good to your word, Axanar update as promised and, wow, only 50% of the comments are vaguely negative so far 🙂 (as to the others: 1 relies on more knowledge of US politics than I possess and, as to the first one, in the words of Dr MCoy in ST VI, “He’s definitely on about something Jim”)

    Anyway, seems reasonable enough to me. As far as I’m concerned, surely no one would persevere with this for 4 years with no intention of creating an end product. It will happen, it just sounds like there’s an awful lot of things to bring into alignment before you can hit the go button. Particularly, if you’re attempting to do this in your spare time and you can only afford one shot at it.

    Fingers crossed we will see it finished in the not too distant.

    1. It’s interesting that I’ve gotten so few negative comments from the detractor peanut gallery this time aorund. I suspect it’s because, in order to comment, they need to visit the blog, and that gives me ad commission money to the tun of about a tenth of a cent per visit. The detractors certainly don’t want that! If all the detractors came here to comment, I’d have, like, 15 or 20 cents! As it is, I’ve made about $4 in the last two days. It’s raining money here!!! 🙂

  9. Good interview. I really appreciate hearing some updates.
    For those of us backers not on Facebook, I feel like we’re left in the dark sometimes and don’t know whats going on, which is unfortunate. But on the other hand, I know that time spent responding to people is time not being spent working on the project in any constructive way.

    After everything Alec has been through at this point, I hope Axanar is still leaning towards “labor of love” than “begrudging fan obligation” on the motivation scale.

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