AXANAR needs only two more shooting days and the production phase will be complete. Just…two…more…days.
Seems so simple, and yet, because of COVID-19, it’s proven to be just out of reach. And it’s not just Axanar that’s been stopped dead in its tracks. Because of concerns from the various Hollywood trade unions, television and motion picture production has been brought to a standstill throughout the entertainment industry. Don’t binge-watch too much too fast because your favorite shows aren’t coming back in September…and probably not even this year!
But there is finally a ray of hope.
Actors, directors, writers, camera people, hair & make-up, grips, gaffers, and pretty much everyone in the film industry are dying to get back to work. They just don’t want to be dying BECAUSE they went back to work (man, that sounded morbid!). As such, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers recently formed a task force to put together this 21-page white paper providing guidelines for “safely” restarting production. I put “safely” in quotation marks because it’s hard to be 100% safe when actors often have to be up close to other actors and not wearing face coverings, and lighting and camera and sound people have to lean in close to each other, and hair and make-up people can’t do their jobs if they’re 6 feet away from the actors and aren’t able to powder noses and put on lipstick because of face masks and…you get the idea.
But the white paper does its best to provide a reasonable “cover-your-asses” approach to restarting film production…and both the unions and the studios are on board with it. After all, people need to get back to work! And the recommendations are pretty obvious, all things considered:
- Crews should consist of as few people as possible.
- Have production meetings virtually or at least with social distancing.
- Everyone wears PPEs on set except for actors when they’re filming.
- Wash hands frequently; clean every piece of shared equipment as often as is practical.
- Regular, periodic testing of the cast and crew; social distance as much as possible on set.
- Use electronic scripts and call sheets on personal handheld devices (or if you need print things out, make sure no paper is shared).
And the list goes on and on. But the idea is to minimize the risk factors on production sets as much as possible.
Because Axanar is a union project, no new filming could be done until a set of guidelines was issued that Axanar Productions could follow. But now that the white paper is available and being slowly adopted throughout the industry, the Axanar project can begin moving forward again, albeit tentatively at first.
Here’s the plan as it stands right now…
TWO SHOOTS – AUGUST AND OCTOBER
As I mentioned, Axanar only requires two days of shooting to completely wrap up production. Those two days will happen in October in Los Angeles with green screen interviews of two Andorians, two Vulcans, one Klingon and two humans. The make-up team will consist of three people plus one person for hair. The crew will be minimal, the actors staggered one at a time on set, and all of the guidelines of the white paper followed.
But it’s still going to be an expensive shoot. Between renting out the studio, renting the equipment, hair and make-up people, prosthetics, production team members (camera/sound/lighting/electrical/etc.), costumes, catering, and lots of little things that will be needed, estimates are roughly $24K. If that sounds like a lot, it’s pretty close to what I paid for two days of shooting INTERLUDE if you take into account that Alec is paying waaaaay more in studio rental that I did.
On the other hand, it IS a pretty penny, and it would be a shame for something to go wrong unexpectedly and shut down the shoot because they hadn’t prepared properly or didn’t think of something important. And so, in August, there will be a “practice” run-through shoot at Ares Studios in Lawrenceviile, GA to work out any kinks and make sure the team is prepared for the big, expensive shoot in October.
Along the way, the entire August shoot will be documented with behind-the-scenes video to show how a production can be compliant with the Alliance’s white paper, giving Ares Studios something valuable to share with and distribute to other studios and productions if they’re interested.
The August shoot will still produce some important footage, even if it’ll be mainly for extras on the DVD and Blu-ray and not part of the two Axanar sequels. The first day of the shoot will take place on the bridge and will feature actor ROB PRALGO, who is playing Captain Robert April in both Axanar and the upcoming FIRST FRONTIER fan film (scheduled to premiere September 8, 2020…fingers crossed!).
The short sequence will be the first of a series of Axanar vignettes titled “Letters From the Front” where participants in the Four Years War record letters home to their loved ones. In the case of Robert April, he is sending a letter back to his wife Sarah, telling her he has been recalled to oversea the construction of the Enterprise.
Initially, the plan was to film the scene in the Captain’s Quarters set with April speaking into a small monitor. But the Captains Quarters would need canvas hung outside the “window” for either space or a green screen, the latter option requiring digital composting…both of which would cost money. The goal is to keep costs as low as possible, and using the existing bridge set (which looks amazing) adds no significant costs to the shoot. So instead of recording the letter in his quarters, April will be sitting in the command chair while the recording plays as a voice-over. Rob Pralgo loved the idea.
The second day of filming will take Rob and ALEC PETERS on location to a nearby bar to film a scene where Garth has just been promoted to fleet captain and has his doubts about being able to make the decisions that will cost so many their lives. April talks Garth through it. The scene was from the original full Axanar script but, like the Vulcan Scene, will have to exist outside of the two Axanar 15-minute sequels.
While the October shoot will likely cost about $23K, the August shoot will be closer to just $4K (again, rough estimate at this point). So that’s a total of $27K remaining to complete production.
After that is post-production, which includes sound, music, and editing. That’s been estimated at about $23K.
Visual FX, while being worked on during post-production, is actually a separate line-item because, like PRELUDE TO AXANAR, the VFX are being done at a top-quality level. Similar CGI shots for television or movies could easily cost well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (and sometimes not even look as good…sorry, Discovery). Alec is getting the VFX for the climactic Battle of Axanar for just $30K.
So let’s see, that’s $27K + $23K + $30K = $80K
But fear not…in the current private fundraising campaign $22K has already been donated. So we’re down to $58K that’s still needed to finish Axanar.
NOW, BEFORE ANYONE STARTS COMPLAINING ABOUT SCOPE CREEP…
Alec said publicly going into production on the two sequel fan films last year that the entire cost would be between $150K and $200K to finish Axanar. Thus far, about $77K has been raised from fans (counting the $22K in the current fundraiser), and Alec initially put in an additional $20K out of his own pocket. So as of now, about $97K has come into the project since it started up again in Georgia after the lawsuit.
If there’s still $58K still left to raise, then $97K + $58K = $155K (which is actually on the low side of Alec’s initial estimate). So no need for sticker shock, folks—this was all foretold in the prophecy.
Of the $22K that is in the current campaign, $5K has been reserved to ramp up post-production, leaving $17K available for the upcoming shoots. So at this moment, Axanar needs $10K from fans in the next month or two to pay for the two shoots. After that, a final campaign (or two, if Alec splits post-production and VFX into two campaigns) will attempt to raise the remainder. But one step at a time.
SO LET’S DO SOME DONATING!
Tragically, these are tough economic times. So if you’re not in a place to give anything right now, no pressure and no problem. Take care of yourself first!
But if you do have anything to spare—even a little—this is the time to donate. You can do it by logging into Ares Digital (creating a new account if don’t you already have one), and then choosing your donation level when you see this page…
It’s as simple as that! And with luck, those drops of water will turn the mill and provide the funds for the last two Axanar shoots to finally happen.
And hey, whether or not you can donate, you can help just by passing on the link to Ares Digital and letting your fellow fans know that Axanar is nearly complete and is entering the final phase of crowd-funding:
For more information, read Alec’s blog on the Axanar.com website.