It’s been more than five months since I’ve published a blog regarding AXANAR, ARES STUDIOS, or ALEC PETERS…and that might be some kind of record for Fan Film Factor! The previous blog covered the moving of the U.S.S. Ares bridge set to a new, smaller facility (with lower rent) down the road in Lawrenceville, GA. But since then, there hasn’t been much Axanar news worth covering (I don’t bother with the non-production-related drama anymore).
That said, this past weekend finally featured some Axanar news definitely worth reporting on. For the first time since before the pandemic and lockdown, new footage for the two Axanar sequels was filmed. The shooting location was NOT Ares Studios, however. The bridge set still sits disassembled, awaiting the return of DANA WAGNER (whom I call “the miracle worker” because he’s basically Scotty when it comes to that set and studio) from medical treatment. We all wish Dana the best of outcomes and a speedy recovery…we love you, Dana!
Instead, the shoot took place in a nearby Gwinnett County high school video studio with ample green screen space available. Because Dana’s wife Allison teaches video for the school district and Alec had previously allowed students in the school video program to film on the bridge set at Ares Studios, the school was all too happy to return the favor and allow Axanar to be shot at their campus facility.
Alec reported in a blog on the Axanar website that the shoot was a “HUGE success” (I’m glad my use of ALL CAPS is catching on!). Unlike the first Axanar shoot back in October of 2019 that had 80 people (cast, crew, volunteers) present over three days, last Saturday’s activities were much smaller in scope, lasting for a single day with only about 15-20 people present. The main reason was COVID, which is still a major consideration for all SAG union shoots—so at present, only the most essential personnel are allowed on set…any set.
The scenes being shot this past weekend were of actors J.G. HERTZLER (who flew in from upstate New York), ROBERT HAYES (who recently appeared on The Walking Dead and plays helm officer Deville), and RAJ KALA (an Indian Sikh who plays Commodore Singh). All three of these actors had filmed their lines previously during the first Axanar shoot, but for various reasons, their footage wasn’t usable (which I can personally confirm, having seen it), and in one case, the original footage was completely lost to a damaged memory card.
Of course, the biggest change other than venue was a new director…or rather TWO directors. After the departure of former Axanar director PAUL JENKINS last year, TED BRUNETTI was brought in to replace Paul…and so was MARK EDWARD LEWIS (who was already serving as film editor). The idea was to let Ted, a professional actor and acting coach (he’s coached GEORGE C. SCOTT, JACK LEMMON, and JAMES GANDOLFINI, among others), direct the actors while Mark handled all the technical stuff. From what I’m told, the division of labor worked out extremely well, providing efficiencies that allowed for some top quality footage to be shot in the limited time available.
Normally, after a successful shoot like this, I’d interview Alec. But let’s face it: he’s been interviewed tons of times and even has his own podcast(s). But you know who hasn’t been interviewed? Mark Edward Lewis. And that’s kinda puzzling, since Mark’s been with the Axanar project since 2013. He did the post-production sound editing on PRELUDE TO AXANAR (and more recently on my Axanar universe fan film INTERLUDE), but he also worked on multiple episodes of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES/PHASE II, directing a couple of them, as well as directing the late RICHARD HATCH in his final performance in BLADE OF HONOR. If you look at Mark’s IMDb page, you’ll see it’s filled with productions both within the fan film community but also professionally in the Hollywood entertainment industry.
So who is this Mark Edward Lewis guy? Why has he stuck with Alec and Axanar for so long? And while Alec says the sequels will be finished and released by next summer, since Mark is now in charge of both production AND post-production, when does HE think Axanar will be ready?
Get ready for a FANtastic interview, folks (and if you don’t care about Crypto currency and Bitcoin, fast forward to the 8-minute mark—LOL)…