PAUL JENKINS and AXANAR part ways!

Well, I certainly had an interesting Saturday morning! Before I get into the news and the statements from PAUL JENKINS and ALEC PETERS on the subject of the termination of their relationship, I’d like to start this blog with something that happened on Friday night…

Several weeks ago, just prior to Alec contracting COVID-19, I’d offered to help edit a new trailer for AXANAR. Normally, the trailers are cut by the editor, MARK EDWARD LEWIS. But post-production funding is only just starting to trickle in, and I’m willing to work for free patches. So Alec agreed to send me all of the raw footage from the Axanar shoots and let me have at it. Cool, I thought.

Then Alec got sick and couldn’t leave the house. So the hard drive with the files on it didn’t arrive here in California until Friday afternoon. I took a look through everything—hundreds and hundreds of video and audio files—and thought to myself: which of these takes are the ones that the director (Paul Jenkins) wants to use? I watched through nearly everything until about 2:30am, and then went to sleep, expecting to (hopefully) set up a 3-way call with Alec and Paul sometime over the weekend or in the coming week to figure out which takes they wanted to select for the trailer.

Then I woke up Saturday to this…

Click to enlarge

Honestly, the first thing that went through my head as I considered my previous plan of going through selects with Paul and Alec was Lt. Kevin Riley’s line from “The Naked Time”: No dance tonight…

But seriously, folks…WTF???

A week earlier, I reported on the departure of actor GARY GRAHAM from Axanar. However, that “break-up” seems to have been amicable and done in a friendly, non-confrontational way. Paul’s statement, made through a press release from his production company META Studios, seems to be filled with a significant amount of acrimony and was claiming to have copyright and control over all of the recent Axanar footage filmed so far.

This puts me in a difficult place as a blogger, as a supporter of Axanar, and as a fan because I consider both Alec Peters and Paul Jenkins to be personal friends. I’ve known Alec since 2014. And Paul and I became friendly this past year, specifically after he came by to check out the INTERLUDE shoot last November. Over the ensuing months, we’ve spoken often (and not just because my team had accidentally destroyed his $4,700 green screen…which we were able to reimburse him for with the generous emergency help of our Interlude donors). Paul has provided me invaluable insight and advice on being a producer and how to work effectively with directors, and I can’t thank him enough for that. In many ways, Paul has been a taller, British-accented Yoda for me.

So I’m going to try very hard NOT to get in the middle of what looks like a bad break-up. I reached out to Paul for a comment, and in a friendly response yesterday, he told me that he’d like to let the above press release speak for itself.

As for Alec, here is the brief statement that he published on his Axanar blog Sunday evening…

On June 18th, Axanar terminated Paul Jenkins as director of the next two Axanar episodes. We hoped to have an amicable separation, but Paul chose to release a false and insulting public statement which does a disservice to our great team and all the fans and donors who have supported this project. Due to Paul’s legal threats, we will not be discussing this matter further on advice of counsel.

I am happy to say we have a new director, with 30 years of Hollywood experience working with some of the top names in show biz, to handle the last two shoots.   We will be making an announcement soon.

Rest assured that Axanar will continue to boldly go where no fan production has gone before.

Oy, legal threats…

Via Facebook, I am getting a LOT of questions from Axanar donors and supporters asking if this will be the end of Axanar and whether Paul Jenkins can really prevent Alec and Axanar Productions from using the footage that’s already been filmed (footage that cost well over $70,000 in fan donations so far to produce). Obviously, having to re-crowd-fund and re-shoot all of those scenes would likely cripple the project.

But as I said, I don’t want to get in the middle of this. Therefore, I won’t be opining publicly on the question of legal rights of a co-author and/or director and/or producer in regards to copyright ownership of filmed footage.

For anyone wanting to learn more about what the law says on this issue, I would recommend reading this web page explaining the Joint Authorship Doctrine and this web page explaining the recent federal court case 16 Casa Duse, LLC v. Merkin. Then you can draw your own conclusions.

29 thoughts on “PAUL JENKINS and AXANAR part ways!”

  1. For the record, Pauls comments about copyright are total fiction. A director has NO RIGHTS in a film he directs. Also, a co-writer (assuming Paul could prove that he in fact was a co-writer in fact, not just in title) cannot dictate what the other co-wriiter does with the work. Paul has ZERO ability to tell us what to do.

    And his stating he does, created a legal liability, as do his defamatory comments about Axanar. I am sure his business person or lawyer urged him not to post that, but not being a professional film maker, Paul didn’t know that the # 1 unwritten rule in Hollywood is NEVER BURN A BRIDGE.

    My lawyers have advised me not to publish what I was going to, detailing all the reasons why we terminated Paul Jenkins this past June.

    1. I think you’re the one burning bridges. There are no personal attacks in the press release, but there are many in your many posts here and on facebook. There is a bashing campaign going on on social media against Jenkins by a couple axanar supporters. Paul Jenkins is well known and is indeed a professional in the industry. He has not many, but more IMDB credit than you do, he’s been working professionally for years. Same for Robert Burnett, he’s *actually* directed films, films and documentaries that I have seen on television. These guys are as professionals as the word means. Anavar is not “a Holywood bridge” to burn, it is supposed to be a fan film, made by fans, it’s not a coveted studio and is it not part of Hollywood. It’s just a fan film project.

      1. I don’t know what “Anavar” is but Axanar is a very professional production. No fan film has been so good that its been sued by major studio. When you put together a project this damn good come back and talk to us. Until then shut your damn mouth.

        1. Shane, you’re not addressing any of the points I wrote, you just attacked me to “shut my damn mouth”. I don`t even know how Jonathan allows that language to be posted now.

          1. Unlike the s-word and f-word and c-word and n-word and most other words that have qualified as worthy of one-letter abbreviations, there is no accepted “d-word” abbreviation in use. So I tend to allow it.

            That said, Shane, you were purposefully rude, and I would like for this particular thread of conflict to end. So Shane, unless your next post includes an apology, I’m not going to approve it…simply because, at this point, you both have said your peace, and neither of you will change the other’s mind.

  2. Paul is full of crap if he thinks he has any rights to anything Axanar. I thought he was a decent guy. Now I know better.

  3. Odd that the same thing keeps happening. If everyone involved keeps “turning on you”, maybe the problem isn’t everyone else……..

    1. To be fair, it’s far from “everyone.” The vast majority of the team–dozens and dozens of production crew and actors–are still very much involved with the project.

      1. That’s a very good point, which should be verifiable. Perhaps a ‘cast and crew’ comparison between now and Prelude? Might be good to interview some crew who have ‘stuck the course.’
        I’ll admit to a little surprise, though, given the change in location.

        1. Most of the Prelude crew and the Vulcan scene crew weren’t going to come down to Georgia anyway. And a few, like the make-up team, had priced themselves out of being a part of Axanar going forward anyway. And of course, Paul Jenkins didn’t join the production team until long after Prelude and the Vulcan scene. So the comparison of Prelude to Axanar in terms of team members is apples and oranges. Those are two different productions.

          Since setting up in Georgia, nearly everyone associated with the Axanar production has stuck with it. This includes producers, DPs, gaffers, grips, actors, make-up people, costumers and seamstresses, VFX people, composers, cameramen, sound mixers, lighting people, on-set medics, security people, even caterers. In fact, since setting up at Ares Studios in Georgia back in 2017, the only folks who are no longer on the production team or still in the cast are Paul Jenkins, Robert Meyer Burnett (who left just before the move), and Gary Graham…unless I’m forgetting someone. Sure, those are three “big” names, but none is irreplaceable or fatal to the project because of their departure. And the dozens and dozens who are left are all important members of the team, as well.

          1. Oi, I was still around through Heroes and Vulcan (and the Phoenix interview, though heck if I can remember what year that was). But yea, as you noted, replaceable.

          2. Gary may have standing to challenge the portion of the CBS guidelines that prevented him from being paid what he thought was fair since CBS violated California employment law in the way they crafted both the guidelines as well as the settlement.

          3. CBS didn’t prevent Alec from paying Gary. Such a lawsuit would be quickly dismissed. Also, Gary wants to be HIRED by CBS. Suing them frivolously is not likely to lead to Gary’s desired result.

  4. FYI, contrary to comments on your FB page, that statement was posted on the META Studios Facebook page and Twitter account as well as Paul’s personal page. Exactly what you would do with a press release. It was also clearly signed by the CEO of the studio. This shows it’s not just Paul who strives for transparency, accountability, and integrity but everyone at META.

    Also odd that Mr. Peters talks about defamation and never burning a bridge when he has bad mouthed every single person who has left the production, except Gary but it’s still early days.

  5. This continuing saga is much better than Lower Decks!
    Just curious, this is what director 4 that has quit the project?

    You honestly think there will ever be an Axanar production from Alex? If a regular movie production had the trouble Axanar has, how would you respond?

    1. Christian Gossett and Robert Meyer Burnett left the project by their own choice. Paul was told to the leave the production by Alec. That equals three directors, one of them terminated.

      Look, Edward, in the end, “it is what it is” (to quote Donald J. Trump). Most of the Axanar footage has been shot (I know because I now have it right in front of me). One major live-action shoot remains, and there is an actor’s director on board to handle that. It’s just a bunch of green screen talking heads, so an actor’s director is all that’s really needed to finish getting the remaining footage in the can.

      The VFX team is still in place, just waiting for the crowd-funding to come in. The editor, Mark Edward Lewis, can certainly put together the existing footage without a director looking over his shoulder. In fact, it’s not uncommon in Hollywood for an editor to be given mostly free rein. Mark also will be doing the sound-mixing as he edits. The composer is still on board, as well.

      In other words, losing Paul Jenkins isn’t fatal. It’s unfortunate and, for me personally, somewhat depressing because I really do like Paul and Alec both, and it’s hard when two of your friends are bickering with each other. But as regards Axanar, there are more pieces in the can than there are pieces still missing, and those that are still missing aren’t rocket surgery. Axanar certainly CAN be completed. Now we just have to see if it WILL be completed. I personally believe Axanar will still happen. The footage that I’ve seen so far looks amazing…and I’d hate for fans not to be able to enjoy it all.

  6. There are two take aways from this. One is that no matter what the production keeps going. And two all you haters have no lives and you’re still going to bash it even after its finished.

  7. I think I count myself fortunate that I only stumbled across fan films when STC was in full flow. I therefore have nothing invested in Axanar, have kept away and have no axe(anar) to grind. I do worry about the money it consumes and the endless merch that seems to be produced, BUT, it’s not my money and I know some people like to blow it on things like this so let them if it gives them pleasure. I would love Axanar to be finished, I might even contribute to the stray dog charity if it’s ever completed, but I wouldn’t place a bet on this being so (I’m no gamber so no surprise 🙂 ). Therefore, I will remain Axaneutral, hard as it may be to continue to do so. I feel for your situation Jonathan. I’ve enjoyed your interviews with Paul and Alec. The former (a fellow Brit) ‘seemed’ very together and him and Alec appeared to be a good, odd couple type of match – it’s a pity. Prelude was terrific, at no point a struggle to watch, in fact it was down right exciting. Very much looking forward to Interlude and then… maybe…?

  8. Axanar will probably hold for long the record of piling up bad luck, mishaps and feuds.
    Lawsuit, actors death or simple withdrawals, technical and financial issues, long distance move, team rebuilds…
    And now antoher withdrawal probably due to pressures, a personal conflict and a Youtube channel hacking !
    From distance it really looks like someone is pulling strings, or putting needles in a doll.
    A few weeks ago I informed Alec that the Axanar entry in Google led to a defaced page asking for visitors ID, so it is not the first attempt to harm the project.
    When all is done, Alec would at least desserve the award of most enduring and brave producer.

  9. Assuming that Paul Jenkins and Meta Studios were to file a frivolous lawsuit the donors may have standing to sue Paul Jenkins and Meta Studios.

    1. There’s tens of thousands of donors. I doubt any lawyer would take a case with that many plaintiffs and so little upside. Ever a verdict in factor of the donors would hardly bring each donor more than 70 cents.

  10. It would likely qualify as a class action and the class members would likely have receipts to establish how much they are owed.

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