I need a Christmas miracle.
My heart sank last Friday morning when I got the call from Axanar director PAUL JENKINS. I immediately wished I could shift the blame to someone else and cover my ass in some way.
But no, that’s not what Star Trek taught me. Kirk always took responsibility for the actions of his crew, whether or not the captain himself had personally been the one at fault And as executive producer on INTERLUDE, the buck stops with me…or rather, the 4,700 bucks stop with me.
That’s what it’s going to cost to replace Paul’s 100 ft. x 20 ft. professional-quality, custom-made green screen that was accidentally ruined during the November INTERLUDE film shoot at Ares Studios.
Paul owns a production company, META Studios, and the giant portable green screen belongs to him (not to Alec Peters or Ares Studios). Paul brought the green screen to Ares Studios to use for the October AXAANR shoot and left it there to use again in December for last weekend’s shoot.
In November when we filmed the scenes for Interlude on the Ares bridge, we wanted to be able to shoot toward the view screen and composite in shots later using a green screen. It would (and probably still will) look really cool. But we needed a green screen to do it.
Fortunately, there was one on site, and we assumed it was okay to use it (Paul wasn’t there at the time; he visited the following day). And by “we,” I mean my Interlude team. And as a team, I am not singling anyone out for having screwed up. It was my team, and as such, I’m responsible for what happened next…
Now, when it came to setting things up on the set itself, I was mostly trying to stay out of the way. So I don’t know who did what (so don’t ask me). But here’s what ultimately happened. Paul’s green screen was way too long to hang horizontally (think of a really huge unrolled scroll) and still be kept “tight” for even lighting. So instead, it was hung vertically.
And this is where it gets bad, folks.
With hundreds and hundreds of square feet of extra green screen material, the team members let it all just clump on the floor. And worse, because there was so much fabric, they pushed most of the clumps of canvas under the raised floor of the bridge set to keep it out of the way so no one tripped on it or accidentally ripped it. In other words, they meant well.
Unfortunately, the floor under the set—which hasn’t seen the light of day since the move-in back in mid-2017—isn’t what you’d call “clean.” In fact, it’s not only covered in dust, it’s got some lubricating oil and grease mixed in.
Did I mention the word BAD???
When Paul and his production team arrived at Ares Studio on Friday morning to prepare for the weekend’s filming, Paul discovered to his HORROR that the majority of the green screen was now speckled with droplets of oil and grease that had saturated both the green and white sides of the screen….
When lit, the splotches became translucent, rendering the majority of the $4,700 canvas unusable for filming…
To Paul’s credit, he didn’t yell at me, even though he was quite understandably livid. And I didn’t try to throw anyone under the bus. I simply said, “I take full responsibility, Paul—how much is this going to cost to fix?” I was hoping for a number in the hundreds (which I could afford). Unfortunately, I was off by one important zero.
Paul said that he was going to make some calls to see if it was possible to clean it in some way. A few hours later, he called me back. The oil had been completely absorbed, staining the fabric permanently. It couldn’t be saved. He’d called his manufacturer, and they quoted him a price of $4,760 to replace the custom-sized item. YIKES!
I’ve anticipated a few of the questions you might have right now…
Why so much?
It’s 2,000 square feet of a high quality fabric custom matched to a specific digital Pantone color value. It’s made for professional industry use.
Can Paul split the replacement cost with you?
Why should he? He left a perfectly good green screen at Ares Studio. He came back and it was ruined. Had Paul loaned me his car and I totaled it, would it be appropriate for me to say, “I’ll split the cost with you for replacing your car…”? Nope. Paul will need to spend more than $4,700 (plus tax!) to replace his equipment because of our screw up. NONE of that should come out of his own pocket.
That said, Paul did tell me that META Studios will absorb the sales tax (likely hundreds of dollars) as his donation to the cause. I would have ordered it from out-of-state here in California, but the green screen company is also based in San Diego…so that totally screws up that idea.
Did you get production insurance?
No, but it wouldn’t have helped anyway. Production insurance costs $2,500 and has a $2,500 deductible. So the cost for replacing the green screen would have been the same even with production insurance. Alec Peters has insurance on Ares Studios (which is why I didn’t spend money on production insurance), but it only covers liability for injury, not damage to equipment.
Can Alec Peters chip in because it’s an Axanar green screen?
But it’a NOT an Axanar green screen…nor an Ares Studios green screen. It belongs to Paul Jenkins and his production company. Also, all of Alec’s money right now (personal and donated) is going into the Axanar project.
Can you make the person responsible pay for it?
No one who volunteered to work on Interlude is independently wealthy. They don’t have $4,700 lying around any more than most people do. Even if I did try to force them to pay for the replacement, they couldn’t. In some cases, I actually needed to help pay for people’s gas in order for them to come to the studio to volunteer. So, no…this isn’t a realistic or even compassionate option (especially at Christmastime). And keep in mind, it wasn’t done maliciously. It was an accident.
So what are you going to do now?
Unfortunately, the funds raised for Interlude are now almost entirely spent, with the exception of paying for the hotel room for the fellow who’s flying from Cleveland to Arkansas to play Ramirez and the money for materials I’ll be giving to GLEN WOLFE of WARP 66 Studios for all he’s been doing to get his sickbay set ready. Beyond that, there’s a little less than $200 left from all donations.
I have about $500 of my own money that I personally can afford to put in to reimbursing Paul. And I’ve spoken with some of our bigger donors, and three of them are each willing to match what I put in, taking us to $2,200. So that leaves us with another $2,560 to cover.
We have about 250 total Interlude donors. If each of them can give just $10 (and a few can give $20 or a little more because not everyone will give $10…and there are service fees), then we’ll come close enough to make it adding in the $200 we have left.
So I’ve increased the goal for the Interlude GoFundMe to $25,000 and put my $500 in. And I’m now asking everyone to help create a Christmas miracle.
Ironically, I usually tell people who are thinking of crowd-funding a fan film: “Never crowd-fund during the holiday season!” Money is usually tight, and there’s not much left to donate to Star Trek fan films.
And yet, here I am, asking for help during the holiday season.
“Let me help.” In another ten years or so from now, I believe, a famous novelist from a planet circling the far left star in Orion’s belt will write a classic using that theme. He’ll recommend those three words—even over “I love you.”
If you can help, please click on the link below to donate a little something…
I thank you in advance, everyone, and happy holidays.