ARES STUDIOS launches new PATREON! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 1)

It’s been hinted about for the past few weeks, but on Friday night, it became official. ARES STUDIOS (formerly OWC Studios) in Lawrenceville, GA—home to the amazing USS Ares bridge set—has launched a new PATREON campaign to help cover the monthly costs of rent and utilities (about $4000/month).

For those of you unfamiliar with what a “Patreon” campaign is, it’s somewhat different than crowd-funding using Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe. In the case of those three, backers pledge a one-time donation of $25 or $100 or $500 or whatever amount, and they’re done. With a Patreon, donation amounts are much smaller, but they are MONTHLY and ongoing. That’s why, if you look at the Ares Studios Patreon, you’ll see perks listed for levels of only $2, $5, $10, and $20. By the end of the year, those amounts would total the equivalent of a one-time donation to a Kickstarter.

The new campaign was announced on Friday night during the first episode of what ALEC PETERS intends to be a regular YouTube livestream broadcast called REEL TREK, produced by Ares Studios to discuss all things Star Trek live with fan viewers. During the broadcast, fans donated about $120 as they posted their comments, but that was just the beginning. Toward the end of the program, Alec announced the new Patreon to about 200 live viewers, and a few folks started signing up to the campaign.

Only 24 hours later, however, the views of the archived live discussion had jumped to 4000, and Patreon sign-ups grew to more than 60 pledging about $535 per month ($6,420 per year)…meaning that the campaign passed 1/8 of the way there in just a day, with little fanfare or marketing so far.

Some detractors have predicted (hoped) that this initial surge would quickly fade to a trickle, with Carlos Pedraza reminding people that a crowd-funding campaign back in 2017 tried to raise $200,000 to keep Ares (Industry) Studios in California and only made it to $22,000. On the other hand, if the Patreon can get to that same number, it covers half the monthly expenses…and Paatreons don’t come with ending dates.

Anyway, this sounded like a good time for an interview with Alec about not only the Patreon but also those two 15-minute fan films he’s supposed to be working on…

Alec Peters on the bridge of the USS Ares

JONATHAN – Okay, Alec, let’s cut right to the chase.  You just launched a Patreon to pay the rent on Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA.  Isn’t that crowd-funding?

ALEC – Yes, it is.

JONATHAN – And doesn’t your legal settlement with CBS and Paramount forbid you from crowd-funding the two remaining Axanar fan films?

ALEC – I’m not crowd-funding AXANAR; I’m crowd-funding ARES STUDIOS.  Those are two VERY different things…and they are completely separate corporate entities.

JONATHAN – I’m not sure I follow.  Isn’t that beautiful bridge set currently sitting in the middle of Ares Studio?  And isn’t it going to be used for Axanar?

ALEC – Okay, let me go over this thoroughly so you and your readers both understand what’s happening right now…

First, the Axanar films are going to be shot at a studio in Los Angeles with a green screen and another studio in Atlanta that also will have a green screen.  If we do shoot at all on the bridge for the two 15-minute films, it will be for some flashback scenes. 

JONATHAN – But how are you keeping Ares Studios and the Axanar films separate?  Won’t CBS and Paramount just see them as one and the same thing?

ALEC – I’ve created a totally separate legal business entity for the studio.  That’s where the Patreon money will go to.  The fan film, on the other hand, will be made by Axanar Productions.  Once the Axanar films are completed, Axanar Productions will go on to make other independent sci-fi films. But the settlement only applies to Axanar, and once that fan film is done, it’s done.

The studio itself, on the other hand, doesn’t end once Axanar is completed.  Ares Studios will continue to be offered as a filming location to other productions, including Star Trek and other sci-fi fan films, commercial and independent film producers, and we’re also working with the Gwinnett County High Schools in support of their Academy Program, allowing video production students to work in the studio and film on our sets.

JONATHAN – Earlier this week, Carlos Pedraza reported (in a 1,500-plus word blog, no less!) that the warehouse space that you’re currently trying to raise money to fund has been listed by your landlord as available for lease at $4,250/month.  Are you being kicked out?  Is this Patreon a desperate “Hail Mary” pass?

ALEC – Hardly.  The space has been listed by the landlord for months because we optioned a smaller space in a new building that’s being completed by the landlord literally next door.  If we don’t bring in enough to fund the $4K/month in rent and utilities to stay in the same location, we have first dibs on the new building at a cost about half of what I’m paying now out of pocket.  Already, the Patreon, PayPal, and YouTube revenue on our new channel is bringing in about half of what the new space would cost….and it hasn’t even been a week yet.

JONATHAN – So what happens if you raise enough to cover the costs for the current building?

ALEC – Then we stay put.  I’d rather be in the larger space, of course.  But I simply can’t afford to keep spending $50K per year out of my own pocket.  If the fan community can help us pay for our current location, that’s great!  But I needed a Plan B so we’re not stuck with no studio at all. So I spoke to the landlord about taking one of the smaller spaces once the new building is completed.  If that happens, we just roll the bridge out of the old building, across the street, and into the new one.

JONATHAN – The Patreon lists February 15 as a deadline.  Is that when you’ll make the decision whether to move?

ALEC – No, February 15 is just an incentive date for supporters to aim for in order to get a special patch.  Actually, I’ve already built in some extra time, even though we’re off to a great start.  If we don’t get to $4,000 a month by May, or we are not close, then we will move to the smaller location.

JONATHAN – Okay, let me ask you about changing the name of the studio to Ares. Weren’t you sponsored last year by OWC Digital?  What happened to end that relationship?

ALEC – I can’t thank OWC enough for all that they’ve done for us.  They gave us free equipment, they were one of our biggest cheerleaders, and they helped us afford to pay rent for a year, which allowed me to focus my own money and efforts into getting the bridge set completed, and putting on Axacon.  And I’ll explain in a moment why that’s so important.

But the sponsorship contract was only for one year at a time (which isn’t unusual for a corporate sponsor).  During that time, the OWC marketing director, who was a big fan and supporter of Axanar, left the company.  I approached the new marketing director to ask if they wanted to renew their sponsorship for another year, and he declined…politely.  It just wasn’t something he wanted to pursue, and I didn’t push him.  We got a lot of help from OWC when it was most important, and I’ll always appreciate that.

JONATHAN – So why was it so important to get the bridge set completed if you might not even be using it (or only using it in a very minor way) in the final fan films?

ALEC – It wasn’t just completing the bridge set that was important; it was being able to hold Axacon.  There was a long-term plan in place, even if most people didn’t know there was.

JONATHAN – I certainly didn’t know there was a plan!  So what was the plan?

ALEC – Have you wondered why we haven’t started filming Axanar yet?

JONATHAN – I think there are tens of thousands of people who are wondering THAT, Alec!

ALEC – Well, here’s the reason…

You are so coming back tomorrow for the answer, right?

In the meantime, click here to visit the Ares Studios Patreon.

20 thoughts on “ARES STUDIOS launches new PATREON! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 1)”

  1. Sorry, but who does have 50K$ per year out of his own money to spend? Where does Alec get that kind of money from? (it’s not that it’s the first thing he’s been bragging about, it’s up to several 100K$ now, IIRC). But he certainly has balls in making that Patreon, I’ll leave him that 😉

    Still waiting anxiously for the final 2 installments, though! 🙂

    1. Alec has sold many prized pieces from his collection of screen used props and costumers in order to “keep the lights on” with Axanar. I applaud him for that–not only for being willing to part with such valuable collectibles but for having such a valuable collection in the first place! I mean, if I liquidated my “prized collection” of Trekkie stuff, I doubt I’d even break a thousand dollars on eBay…probably a LOT less.

      Anyway, the resources that Alec has to pay the bills is dwindling. Hence, the Patreon. Alec is also working a regular job now (and NOT as an executive producer), but it’s enough to pay the mortgage and the insurance and stuff…not self-fund a $50K/year studio plus a $100-200K fan film.

  2. The key phrase by Lane in his one of his Facebook postings on the Fan Film Factor page is: “Everything I report about Axanar is cleared first with Alec Peters.” This means that Lane is unable to write about anything that Peters would object to and therefore Lane and the information he can state is controlled by Peters. Why does Lane not understand this simple concept?

    In Lane’s sworn deposition from the CBS lawsuit. He states: “I am a writer for Axanar Productions, Inc.” This clearly demonstrates a lack of objectivity.

    Lane has also mentioned in another posting on Facebook that he has signed a Non Disclosure Agreement with Alec Peters. This means that Peters can control what Lane can and cannot disclose in public. This is an obvious conflict of interest.

    At the very least, Lane should have a disclaimer on any “story” he publishes about Axanar or Peters that discloses his status as a writer for Axanar Productions, Inc. and that he is currently subject to a Non Disclosure Agreement with Axanar Productions or one of Peters’ other business concerns. Not disclosing these obvious influences is UNETHICAL at the very least. The fact that Lane doesn’t acknowledge this or seem to understand is troubling.

    1. You’re talking as though I’m writing for CNN, “Sean.” I’m just a blogger. If you don’t like what I write, then don’t read it. I’m fine with that. Really.

      Look, over the years, I’ve signed NDAs with other fan producers, as well…not many, and I don’t recall which ones at the moment. And I’m happy to do so–as I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t trust me to keep a secret. Heck, if you only knew all of the secrets I’ve got in my head! But you won’t because I can keep them! 🙂

      All an NDA means means that I can’t share insider information about their projects unless I first get their permission. It does NOT mean that they approve everything I might ever write about their productions as though they were my editor. Anything that is public and newsworthy is open for publication.

      Let me give you a “for instance” regarding Axanar. Let’s say that I find out from Alec that he has just signed a contract with a certain really well known actor to play Mor’o. And it’s someone people will recognize and go, “Hey, that’s really cool!” Do I report it? No, I check with Alec first if he wants that information released yet. If he says no, then I sit on the information…no matter how much I might want to break the “hot” story. (It’s quite possible that I’ve been sitting on this story already since late last year. I’ll never tell!) 🙂

      Now, let’s say instead that Alec sues Rob Burnett and Rob files a counter-claim. Does this mean that I can report ONLY Alec’s side of the story? Of course not. Were I to choose to cover the story, I would present both of their sides. In fact, each of them has submitted statements for me to publish on FFF, and I haven’t shown Rob’s to Alec for “approval” nor vice-versa.

      I also haven’t decided whether or not to cover this lawsuit (if it gets filed). Why? Because I don’t really cover the “dark” side of fan films. Sure, when the “David” of a small fan project like Axanar or the Dr. Seuss/Trek mash-up is going up against the “Goliath” of a CBS or DSE, I’ll cover that story. But when it’s fan “brother fighting brother,” that’s just not something I want to waste time on.

      Look, I know you detractors think you’ve got a juicy piece of red meat here, but the fact is, I write what I write. I don’t need to include a disclaimer any more than Carlos needs to say, “I can’t stop obsessing about Alec Peters” or Matt Miller needs to say, “I’m still hurting from getting schooled by Jonathan and really need to re-establish my street cred with the cool kids.” We all just write what we write without explaining ourselves to our readers.

      In my case, I choose to write the positive things about ALL fan films. Find a blog where I report on something that a fan production is doing wrong (other than the one blog I wrote trying to constructively criticize a failing crowd-funder…and that was an editorial, not a feature). You won’t find any blogs like that because that’s not what Fan Film Factor is all about. The closest I got was when things broke down with Starbase Studios…and even then, I didn’t share most of the ugliness that was happening behind-the-scenes–and there was a TON! Axanar gets the same positive treatment as any fan project—STC, Renegades, Potemkin, Convergence, The Romulan War, The Holy Core, Deception, Intrepid…the list is seemingly endless.

      If you want a blog that tries to attack and destroy a fan project, then you’ll need to look elsewhere, kids. I can’t help you.

        1. There are worse things I’ve been called in my life. 🙂

          Speaking of which, can someone please explain to me if there’s supposed to be something insulting about being called “Precious.” If so, I just ain’t gettin’ it. I mean, “precious” is a good thing, right? My mom calls me “precious.” I call my wife “precious.” I mean, I get the whole “Slow” Lane thing. Not very inspired, but at least it carried its water in terms of trying to be insulting. “Lois” Lane worked, too…except, of course, that Lois Lane is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at a great metropolitan newspaper. And if calling me by a woman’s name is supposed to be insulting, then someone isn’t living in 2019.

          Anyway, calling me “Lane” or “Jonny” (my boss at NASA, Mike Garcia, used to call me “Jonny”) or anything is just fine. I did the whole “sticks and stones” things back in elementary school and moved on long ago. My satisfaction comes from seeing scores of people still giving Alec Peters money despite all of the efforts made by the detractors to stop that from ever happening again. The more they complain about me and my blog, the more triumphant I feel. 🙂

          1. I think it’s a Gollum to The Ring reference. The Alec is to you what The Ring is to Gollum.

            I can ask him if you’d like. Lol

      1. “But when it’s fan ‘brother fighting brother,’ that’s just not something I want to waste time on.”

        Wrong. You cover “brother fighting brother” drama in the Star Trek fan film community all of the time. Here are a couple examples:

        Nobody is asking you to go only negative all over fan films. However, and I know this is insane before I write it: You should at least try to show some kind of objectivity with Axanar and not paint potentially losing yet another location, failing to film on a bridge they spent thousands of dollars on and losing a corporate sponsor as “everything’s peachy!”.

        If Axanar was something like Starbase Studios, you would have most definitely dug much deeper into the troubles they’re going through in an even-keeled manner. You have definitely covered peer-to-peer fanfilm lawsuits before, yet you won’t cover the lawsuit and counter-suit between Alec and RMB? Why?

        It’s transparent you have a bias.

        1. “It’s transparent you have a bias.”

          Of course I have a bias! I spent three hours “schooling” Matthew Miller by taking the side of Axanar Productions and Alec Peters. Didn’t THAT give it away?

          I’m a supporter of Axanar. I donated lord-knows-how-many times. I volunteered. My son volunteered when he was five! I’ve stayed in Alec Peters’ guest room! He bought me a friggin’ burrito and fed me Drake’s coffee cakes! We call each other a few times a month, shoot the shat, occasionally argue, occasionally agree–he asks for my advice and then completely ignores it. We’re friends. He took me to dinner once with Richard Hatch. When Axanar films in L.A., I fully intend to be there (with my son, if the timing works out; Jayden would love to see how a film is made).

          I was a guest at Axacon, and I interviewed people on video for three days while there. I’ve created logos and graphics that Alec has used on his website and for social media. I write a weekly blog for I designed and printed my own Axanar T-shirts! I created a 2016 Axanar wall calendar and paid to print 30 copies of it (no, it never sold; it was a proof of concept–totally cool!). I prepared a 70-page executive summary of all Trek fan films produced and released up until 2016. It took me about 45 hours to complete that task (again, as a volunteer).

          I have a little USS Ares pewter model sitting on my desk, a stack of patches somewhere around here, and I’m even in the process of creating an Axanar mini-comic book. Oh, I also wrote an Axanar short story just because I love the universe and the characters and the storyline so much. I’m friends with dozens of people who will either be working on the production, supporting the production in some way, or are simply fans who want to see the final two installments look as good as possible.

          So yeah, I’m totally biassed. Never said I wasn’t. 🙂

  3. Problem is that Alec’s again thinking big and doing things that the general public neither expects of him to do nor neccessarily condones. Who is forcing him to keep that bridge in a $4K rent building, if he’s not even going to use it for Axanar? Sure, it’s cool and I’d love to have one of those myself, but I couldn’t afford it, not even for a month, so either sell it, rent it out or I don’t know. And that whole Ares digital stuff – you know what? Get those 2 Axanar episodes filmed and released and you’re a free man. Free from all the donors, detractors, etc. Then you can do whatever you want, and as big as you want 😉 JMO (and I’m not even a donor, so I cannot and don’t complain, but still I notice things ;-))

  4. I wish Alec would keep his output in one place. Having just written a comment I find an answer in a question I posed. Thus I am most interested in his part two. In my opinion I just want the original Axanar project (the two segments approved) completed. The rest is fine if thats what Alec wants to do. I had hoped to see the end of Axanar while I stall can. Being 68 I’m running out of time to enjoy this program. As far as a studio is concerned not what I signed up for at this point. Ambition is great. Often reality crushes it.

  5. Maybe it’s referring to that whale from Ice Age, which was named Precious? Or it’s to belittle you, I don’t really get it, either. Just don’t care (but you don’t, I know you that well ;-))…

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