It’s been a looooooooooooooooooong road…getting from there to here. “There” was back in 2014 when the first Kickstarter for the full AXANAR project, ignited by the release of PRELUDE TO AXANAR, managed to generate over 638,000 from 8,548 backers. A subsequent Indiegogo campaign the following summer pushed that total over over $1.2 million. The planned feature-length Axanar movie promised to be one of the most impressive fan film productions ever.
And then they got sued for copyright infringement. The rest of that story would take another 65 blogs to tell (and it did!), so let’s jump ahead to 2023.
Back in January, Team Axanar held the its first shoot in over a year, delayed due to moving the Ares bridge set and all studio materials to a smaller, less expensive facility about five minutes away from the previous location. The shoot prior to that one had been delayed nearly two years due to COVID. It’s always something with these guys…but at least they don’t give up!
Coming into this previous weekend, footage was “in the can” (filmed and completed) for 10 out the 17 actors/characters who will appear in the two settlement-approved Axanar sequels (each limited to 15 minutes as per the guidelines). Actually, one of those 10 actors needed more time to finish up their scenes, bringing the number of remaining actors to 8. Of those, most were going to portray aliens (Andorians, Klingons, etc.), which is why those specific actors were reserved for a final weekend shoot where there could be a make-up/prosthetics team present.
That shoot, three days in total, took place this previous weekend at ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA. Seven of the eight remaining actors were filmed. One actor was not able to make it and will need to be rescheduled. Of those seven who were there, three were shot on the bridge set (which had some computer graphics adjusted to turn it into a starship other than the U.S.S. Ares), and the other four were filmed in front of a green screen. Footage captured included both “interview” segments for the mock documentary format of Axanar as well as dramatic sequences.
Approximately 40 actors and production crew were on set during the entire 3-day shoot, although the main actors only showed up for one day each, of course. All of the action was overseen by co-directors TED BRUNETTI and MARK EDWARD LEWIS. Ted is coaching the actors on their performances while Mark is handling the technical aspects of direction. Mark made a video before shooting began on the first day…
Mark was very upbeat discussing it. “This being my third shoot as a co-director with Ted, what I’m discovering is a geometrically amplifying effectiveness amongst the crew. Since our director of photography GEOFF FEIGEN and I have thrice helmed the production and visual aspect of Axanar, we find the ability to create stimulating and creative shots of the great performances coached by Ted easier and faster to record on our RED Komodo cameras (shot at 6k) with each production.”
Executive Producer and lead actor ALEC PETERS described the shoot as “…a 10 out of 10. Everything we shot looks amazing. Awesome job on make-up, lighting, all of it.” According to Alec, with the exception of filming the final 17th actor, all that remains at this point is post-production: compositing the green screen actors against digital backgrounds, completing the VFX, editing, scoring the music, and sound design. Some of this has already been worked on, but the majority of the post-production tasks still have a way to go.
However, with 16 of 17 actors filmed, 95% of the footage now exists, and Axanar is now closer to completion than ever before. Post-production will be supervised by Mark Edward Lewis, who had this to say about an estimated date of completion: “Now that we have all but one actor ‘in the can,’ I’m excited to be placing the lion’s share of performance into the timeline and see the transformation of our “assemblies”—which have, thus far, been storyboards with reference voice-overs—into the engaging story we have been waiting to realize for nearly 10 years. Once the last actor is shot and in the can, we should have no trouble hitting our release of Comic Con 2024.”
Assuming the film is completed by next summer (yeah, I know some of you doubters are thinking: “I’ll believe it when it happens!”), Alec says that, in addition to screening in San Diego, plans are also being considered for a red carpet premiere in Los Angeles, possibly at the historic TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, as well as at the big Trek convention in Las Vegas.
Mark summed up his feelings about the project, “I’m so very excited to share the finished film with everyone: the performances, the surprises, and, finally, a telling of the end of the 4-Years War which I believe honors the franchise (including the FASA games which augmented the TOS episodes upon which the lore is built), RICHAR HATCH, the donors, and all the energy Alec and the team have put forth being ‘first to the fight.’”