AXANAR finally WRAPS principal photography!

It’s a moment that many Star Trek fans thought would ever happen. This past weekend, AXANAR finally wrapped filming for ALL 19 actors set to appear in the two upcoming Axanar sequel fan films!

After a seven-year delay from the originally-scheduled start of principal photography back in February of 2016—interrupted by a year-long copyright lawsuit that ultimately settled, a move across country from California to Georgia, the departure of two directors, the passing of cast members RICHARD HATCH and (very recently) GARY GRAHAM, a pandemic lockdown that prevented filming for over a year, a second move to a smaller and less-expensive studio space, an 8-month cancer treatment and recovery by studio manager DANA WAGNER that delayed reassembly of the bridge set, and simply synching the schedules for more than 50 production crew, cast members, and extras —all the necessary filmed footage of the actors for Axanar is now “in the can,” as they say in the business.

This final shoot was intended primarily to film just two actors, one of whom offered to return to redo their lines while the other had been unable to attend the previous full studio shoot at the end of September 2023. That was an all-hands-on-deck, 3-day production weekend filming scenes involving 7 different actors, a number of whom required significant amounts of prosthetic alien makeup. Compared to that, this final shoot was a much smaller affair, with “only” about 20 people there making up the cast and production crew.

Reports from folks in attendance at ARES STUDIO for this past weekend’s shoot said that it went off without a flaw. MARK EDWARD LEWIS (co-director) and GEOFF FAGIEN (director of photography) oversaw the visual aspects of the shoot—lighting, shot framing, camera motion, etc.—while TED BRUNETTI (co-director) coached the actors through their performances. Alec is keeping the identities of these final two actors confidential for the moment, their names to be revealed at the premiere later this year.

There was also time available for Alec himself to do a few pick-up lines as Captain Garth, lines that were shot previously, but it was felt they could be delivered better (which, reportedly, they were). I actually have some behind-the-scenes footage of some of Alec’s time in the command chair, complements of JEFFERSON KELLEY from BEYOND TREK PODCASTS. The video below doesn’t show either of the two “mystery” actors, but it does give a flavor of how Mark and Geoff collaborated behind the camera while Ted worked with the actors. There’s also a quick 30 seconds at the beginning showing the green screen setup…

Some fans have wondered: is this REALLY the last, final, ultimate Axanar shoot? The answer I’ve received is a very confident “yes.” Filming even one actor means assembling over a dozen production crew members traveling from a myriad of states who each have to clear their schedules for the same weekend. It’s a logistical challenge at best, and it also requires spending money on travel, food, and lodging. So unless something is horribly wrong with some of the footage (and everything shot so far has been checked over carefully), no further Axanar shoots are needed.

The other question asked by fans and supporters is: how certain is it that Axanar will actually get released this summer? After waiting TEN YEARS from the first 2014 announcement of the project and initial crowd-funding campaign, it’s taken longer for Axanar to reach the finish line than it did for Voyager to travel 70,000 light-years from the Delta Quadrant back to earth! The answer to that question is slightly more tentative at the moment. Plans are still being made for a red-carpet premiere at Hollywood’s Chinese Theater sometime this summer, with potential showings at other venues like the Las Vegas Star Trek convention in August.

What could derail that plan? The simple answer is three letters long: VFX. While all of the footage of the actors now exists, along with many of the completed effects sequences, a number of those CGI shots are not yet finished, and the bar of quality is set pretty high for Axanar VFX!

In the meantime, Mark Edward Lewis is selecting the best takes, color-correcting them, and cutting them together into the perfect edit that fits into the time constraint of the fan film guidelines and the legal settlement with Paramount and CBS. Once there is a picutre-locked edit, the two 15-minute films will go out to the composer for musical scoring, and Mark will then adjust the audio levels so the music and sound effects don’t overwhelm the dialogue and vice-versa.

So there is still quite a bit remaining to do…and less than six months in which to do it! That said, Axanar is definitely in the final sprint to the finish line.

CORRECTION – I incorrectly reported that one of the two actors had offered to redo his lines from what was filmed in September. This was incorrect. The footage was reshot with a new actor after the previous actor’s footage, although good, did not produce the right result for the character, as the actor appeared too young for the age the character is supposed to be.

36 thoughts on “AXANAR finally WRAPS principal photography!”

  1. What fantastic news. I’m so very happy for all involved. I helped out back in 2019 and was so excited to be there and witness some of the filming. I have no doubt this movie will be well worth the wait. Congratulations!!!!!!

    1. That’s the thing about Axanar. It’s not simply that the fan film has taken ten years to finish, but it’s how challenging those ten years have been. Some detractors think this all could have been done in a couple of weekends. Even Interlude took two years to complete after a year of preparation. That’s three years for a 10-minute fan film that used a bridge and sickbay set that were built by other people, and costumes supplied by someone else. Axanar is a thirty minute fan film where the sets had to be built from scratch, the costumes made by hand, and much more challenging prosthetic make-up had to be applied to multiple actors. Add to this the year-long lawsuit, the move cross country, the second move, the pandemic delay, Dana’s cancer recovery, and using mostly real actors and other professionals, and yes, there was every reason–on multiple occasions–to simply abandon this project and quit with a “well, at least we tried.”

      Even now, I just had to reject a comment to this blog by someone trying to piss into the punchbowl who suggested that CBS and Paramount might come and seize the hard-drives with all of the footage on them. (I almost spit out a mouthful of water onto my keyboard when I read that, I was laughing so hard!) It’s like there’s people out there so incomprehensibly damaged emotionally that they can’t simply be happy that a long-awaited fan film has finally reached a huge milestone. They seem to feel a pathological compulsion to try to diminish and ruin what is inarguably a very good thing celebrating the hard work and dedication of several dozens of people over a span of time that has lasted years.

      Does Alec Peters still have legal issues to deal with? Sure. But Axanar isn’t just Alec Peters. It’s Mark Edward Lewis, Ted Brunetti, Geoff Fagien, JG Hertzler, the late Gary Graham and Richard Hatch, Dana Wagner, and so many, many others who have given their talent, experience, dedication, and passion to this project. I have always celebrated the good of Star Trek fan films, which is why people enjoy my blogs and videos. Heck, my YouTube channel has 3.28K subscribers and several hundred people a day come to read my blogs. I don’t say that to brag so much as to point out that there is a marekt in fandom for positivity. I don’t get mired down in the conflicts and the negatives. I don’t complain unless I’m complaining about complainers. If others want to be Debbie Downers, they’re welcome to do it elsewhere. I’m here to make people feel good!

      1. Plainly, you are referring to my comment that you rejected. Your blog, your rules, of course.
        But I’m disappointed with your reds under the bed approach. You published a blog about the great impediments to completion. We need to be intellectually honest here, rather than deluding ourselves. Suggesting otherwise does a disservice, and certainly doesn’t encourage engagement from anyone other than yes-men.
        Speaking with some experience here, if I were Paramount, and trying to get $ out of Alec, this is exactly what I would threaten. That’s not a value judgment, it’s a legal expectation.

        1. I made certain not to identify you by name, Nadav, but your fantasy is ludicrous on so many levels, including legal. Your contention that the hard drives on which the footage is currently stored are the property of Alec or Axanar Productions and not of Mark Edward Lewis and/or the two Axanar investors is mere conjecture and factually unsupported. Lawyers should never assume facts not in evidence.

          As such, Paramount doing anything to attempt to confiscate any equipment from a private citizen of the U.S. residing in Tennessee at this point without a clear path of title and proof of ownership by either Alec or Axanar Productions could and would constitute attempted theft. No law enforcement entity would make any effort to seize private property without a very clear subpoena, and the process of obtaining one would bring such efforts to the attention of all involved. Copies of all the footage would quickly be made, allowing the production of Axanar to continue.

          But what makes your contention even more preposterous (I also considered the adjectives ridiculous, naive, fanciful, unhinged, and whacko) is your assumption that anyone at Paramount would ever approve of such actions when the company is in the process of trying to be sold to another entity. Is attempting to seize a Star Trek fan’s personal property going to produce good PR or bad PR, do you think? If your answer was anything other than bad, awful, horrendous, destructive and potentially irreparable, you really need to consider another line of work, Nadav, as I would never want you as MY attorney with such myopic perceptions of real world consequences and what priorities that Paramount would likely have at the moment.

          And just in case you don’t have any idea what Paramount’s priorities might be right about now, please allow me to clarify for you: the LAST thing the studio wants to do at this point is make ANY waves in terms of perception by the general public and/or a potential buyer. Such a Draconian move against any Star Trek fan for a “mere” $300K (barely a rounding error for a billion-dollar franchise) and the media frenzy that would accompany it would get a “What the f*ck were you thinking from both any potential buyer as well as from the superior of whoever’s dumb idea it was to even suggest such a move let alone implement it. Remember that a good portion of the worth of Paramount at the moment is the Star Trek brand and I.P. and, along with the existing and potential fan base. Anything that risks upsetting that applecart in even the smallest way would potentially impact the attractiveness of a sale that will, most likely be in the 12-figure range. Is your job worth hurting that deal? I’m pretty sure no one at the studio is thinking, “Seize that Trekkie’s assets and make a name for myself!”

          However, Nadav, you are always welcome, to cling to your fantasy, just as I cling to mine: that you read this response and feel terribly embarrassed as a lawyer for even imagining such a thing is a “legal expectation”…let alone putting such childish thoughts into something that could be read by others and would remain publicly accessible in the future by anyone potentially wanting to hire you.

          1. Jonathan,

            I’d be perfectly happy if less people wanted to hire me- thank God, we’re doing just fine.

            I think the first problem with your assessment is that you’ve made an assumption- which I don’t believe I’ve given you cause to- that my reference was to the physical storage of Axanar IP. ‘Assets,’ as you know, goes much further than that. The question will be ‘what is owned by Alec and/or Axanar Productions.’ I suppose it’s POSSIBLE that, all evidence to the contrary, that the current Axanar movie is being produced by some other entity altogether, in which case IP, such as it is, would reside there. But that seems vanishingly unlikely- not least because Alec has said the opposite. If Marc Edward Lewis or Ted Brunetti or someone else were to take Axanar’s footage and decide to make their own film, well, I imagine that that would violate copyrights, work for hire agreements and more. But, sure. It could happen.

            Where I think you and I part company most fundamentally (aside from the pejoratives) is in relation to what CBS will and won’t do. The uncontestable facts are that:
            – CBS sued Alec before- and spent a ton on the litigation to protect its IP, despite the risk to goodwill and risk to its Star Trek brand;
            – despite CBS seeking to sell itself (and earlier seeking a merger), it DID pursue Alec, again, spending nearly $300k in the arbitration process;
            – it has taken the step of suing, again, in California to enable the judgement to be registered; and
            – at the same time, Alec has his OWN lawsuit filed on his and Axanar Productions’ behalf against CBS, in California, such that CBS doesn’t get to just ‘walk away.’

            So, the assumption that CBS won’t enforce either its original terms of settlement or its judgement against EITHER of the defendants is, respectfully, belied by the fact that they were doing exactly that a fortnight ago. Clearly, the massive eruption of PR on the topic- I think two articles in very minor online publications?- didn’t deter them over the last year, any more than it did during the re-merger between Paramount and CBS.

            Hence my original comment, which you’ve declined to share with your readers- that the greatest threat to Axanar’s completion isn’t issues with VFX, it’s CBS, the 8.1 billion dollar gorilla that already has a judgement. In my experience- and though I’ve acted for a number of NASDAQ listed entities, I admit I’ve only done one NASDAQ listing and merger, given that my practice is Australian and Israeli- the number one rule is that until the deal goes through, it’s business as usual. CBS has been enforcing the terms of settlement and arbitral award. The assumption that a possible merger means that they will stop their normal practices isn’t in line with normal corporate practice. Maybe, paradoxically, if this was tens of millions. But not for a small debt, where they will look to recover assets to meet the liability.

            To conclude- it seems pretty far-fetched to suggest that I’m a fantasist for pointing out that CBS can pursue Alec and Axanar Productions- when they went to court to do so as recently as THIS MONTH, and have to deal with Alec’s lawsuit anyway. This is plainly a bigger threat than VFX timelines.

          2. Paramount attempting to prevent Axanar from being released would essentially just reset the DeLorean back to December 28, 2015 and create a time loop. Blocking Axanar is what started this whole mess in the first place. And remember that CBS/Paramount offered the settlement immediately after the judge issued a pre-trial ruling in December of 2016 that was appealable, threatening to keep this lawsuit in the news another 2-3 years. CBS executives were already beginning to question the wisdom of suing a Star Trek fan, and when the PR risked extending out to and likely past the launch of Discovery in 2017, word came down from above to reach a settlement asap. Otherwise, CBS and Paramount were no more than two months away from shutting down Axanar completely, as they would have certainly won the lawsuit without Fair Use being permitted as a defense argument.

            Going after Alec these past couple of years was, at least from the cheap seats, a pretty small affair, not worthy of media attention. However, were the studio to try to block Axanar’s release in any way, essentially violating the terms of a settlement that is still in effect (just because an arbitrator ruled that Alec violated the agreement doesn’t mean CBS/Paramount is allowed to violate it, as well), I have no doubt that Alec would make any such settlement violation a major news story…and this time it would be. Axanar would still “leak” out onto YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, and a host of other platforms. Paramount would be playing an endless game of whack-a-mole AND still get negative PR…a lose-lose proposition and 100% avoidable and unnecessary.

            And all of this right in the middle of trying to sell their company!

            One would assume that Warner Brothers or whichever company acquires Paramount will have its own law firm. As such, any further legal action on the part of Loeb & Loeb against Alec and/or Axanar Productions might very well not survive the transition to new ownership. It is wholly possible that whoever buys Paramount might want to start with a clean slate, especially if the judgment is a meager $300K and the fans seems to be mostly behind this Alec Peters guy and his fan film (which, based on YouTube subscribers, is a pretty easy argument to make).

  2. Despite what a certain group would have you believe I always had faith Axanar would be completed.

  3. I’m not sure why I didn’t know that Mark Edward Lewis was co-director until just now, but he was the director for the NEW VOYAGES episode “Mind-Sifter” and I thought it was outstanding. I’d say that these two AXANAR episodes are in very good hands under his co-direction.

  4. We are lucky Angela and me to be part of this fantastic project, we are into a great team. A special thanks for Alec Peters, he gives us the opportunity to make The Cage Era tunics for the production of the two episodes of Axanar.

  5. So, excited that principle photography is done and now the next phase(s) are about to get going. All admit to some concern about the project being completed this year–but never that it wouldn’t complete. I’ve trusted Alec’s determination and professionalism to get the job done. He and all involved over time that have stuck-to-it with their “not giving up” attitude have been why I figured that Axanar would come to fruition.

    My concern was not with that aspect. It has been with other obstacles interposing themselves and again preventing these hard working people from doing what they’ve dedicated themselves to doing. There have been travails, their have been issues that caused angst and anger and “interference” (to be polite about some circumstances!), and yet…everyone has forged ahead. I believe strongly that this perseverance has been because the “leader of the band,” Alec has steadfastly fought to get this done; both for those that supported Axanar and for his own satisfaction, to say: “You did not defeat me. I did what I set out to do.”

    I eagerly await the final product. I will cheer, again, when I have heard that the film has made its successful debut. I believe it will get the same reaction that Prelude received; it most certainly deserves it just for continually pushing onward “upstream” against the many obstacles put in its path.

    Congratulations to the cast, crew, directors, producers. For some of you its time to take in the work done and take a well deserved break. For others, this project is not complete, but the finish line must feel close!

    1. Actually, Rick, the next phase isn’t “about to get going,” it’s been going! An assembled edit has already been created with the best takes from the already-filmed 17 actors and already-completed VFX and/or animatics. Imagine a puzzle with 70% of the pieces already assembled. Another 10% of the pieces are now in the can (the new footage from this past weekend) and need to be placed, and then the final 20% is a combination of VFX shots that haven’t been started yet and VFX shots that have been animated in rough form (animatics) but still need final rendering.

      Once all of that is done, there will be a picture lock that will be sent to the composer for scoring. Actually, the VFX doesn’t even need to be completed yet for that to happen. As long as the director and editor know the exact duration of each shot, they can insert placeholders, and the composer can time his music to those beats.

  6. I do hope AXANAR has been worth the wait and the long work…It’s gonna have to be spectacular to shut up the detractors…

    1. Let me just put this out there: what if it totally sucks?

      Seriously. I mean, most people aren’t expecting it to suck, but what if it does? Does the world end? Do fan films end? Does anything end? Nope. Axanar will still exist, having been completed after ten years against all odds and adversity. This is a case of the journey AND reaching the destination. What is there at the end isn’t nearly as important for me.

      That said, I totally hope it doesn’t suck. 🙂

  7. I see there’s been a recent judgement against Alec Peters and he’s having to pay $300K to Paramount for violating some terms or something. Will this have any effect on the release of Axanar?

    It’s a real shame Paramount couldn’t get onboard with this and even help get the film made.

    1. There are a myriad of reasons why Paramount would never help a fan film get made, and I might blog about it some day. But in short, it would be like Wolfgang Puck offering to help your Aunt Betsy cook a dinner for your cousin Lyle’s fourteenth birthday. 🙂

      As for Alec’s legal judgment, you can see my answer to Nadav above. But in short, Paramount has just laid off 800 people with salaries likely totaling $80 million. I doubt they are planning to spend any more money trying to acquire a $300K judgment from a single Trekkie living in Georgia. Just my opinion…

  8. I’ve continued to have faith ever since I made my contribution in 2014 so I could be included as a casualty of the Four Years War in Axanar: Heroes. (I hope I died well….)

  9. I would genuinely like to see this finished, so here’s hoping it doesn’t slip again. But, based on Interlude, and the number of past slippages in this project, it seems highly unlikely that VFX and music will be done by summer. By all means prove me wrong though Axanar. And, yes. I’ll admit I’m a sceptic by nature! 🙂

    One question, I thought an LA shoot was needed? When did the need for that go away? I expect it’s probably the case that I’ve missed something somewhere….

    As, always thanks for all your blogs. I love hearing the back stories as much as viewing the films themselves.

    1. Keep in mind that many of the VFX for Axanar are already completed. But yes, it will be a bit of a race. However, I still feel confident, even by Interlude standards, that 2024 will see Axanar finally released.

      As for the L.A. shoot, there was an initial logic for it based on the actors who were being cast at the time and the make-up people who were being hired that most were located in the Los Angeles area, so all that would be needed was to fly a few people out from Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee to Southern California.

      However, a number of things changed, and with Ares Studio having a perfectly decent green screen, changing room, makeup room, and of course, the bridge set itself, it began to make more sense to use the studio where rent was already being paid rather than renting a facility in Los Angeles for 2 or 3 days. Then things began to shift to hiring actors based in Atlanta (the “Hollywood of the southeast”) as well as sourcing production resources locally, as well. The cost savings was, I am told, significant over filming in Los Angeles. That said, Alec still wanted to do an on location outdoor shoot at The Japanese Garden in Van Nuys, the filming spot for Starfleet HQ from TNG, DS9, VOY,, and ENT. Not sure if that’s still in the pipeline for an “extra” or not.

  10. Jonathan,
    most of what you’re saying is entirely POSSIBLE, though hard to think that it is PROBABLE.
    The current scenario is that CBS have a judgement against Alex and Axanar Productions. Very few corporations are in the business of obtaining debt judgments and then NOT enforcing them. Again, if I were CBS, I’d take the obvious steps to recover assets- which would certainly include pressing Alec to cough up by enforcing the judgement against the corporation as well. That’s not preventing the film being made- that’s enforcing a debt. Given the years of investment, would CBS decide it didn’t care about getting its money, or compliance with the settlement just because Axanar is nearly ready? Seems unlikely to me, but of course, anything’s possible.

    But put all that aside for a second- you’re forgetting that Alec is suing CBS to set aside the judgement, and as a result, CBS don’t get to just ignore it- the action is on foot. Thus far, it doesn’t appear that there has been ANY media interest in Alec’s attempt to assert that CBS violated the terms of settlement. That argument hasn’t been upheld so far- not by the arbitrator, not by a court. But who knows? Maybe someone will decide its newsworthy. Possible, not probable.

    As so Loeb & Loeb being replaced, I would be surprised if that happens on existing matters. Especially because they already count Warner Bros as a client…
    Either way, I come back to the same, simple point- CBS represents the biggest risk to Axanar’s release. Wishing it away, or assuming CBS’ corporate strategy, seems a wholly possible strategy, but more one based on hope than experience. After all, they haven’t gone away thus far…

    1. Rather than responding (knowing that you seldom if ever allow others to have the last word), I’ll let Alec know about this back-and-forth and see if he’d like to chime in.

      1. That comment makes me laugh out loud. There’s a reason we all call you “LAST WORD LANE”

        You just can’t ever shut up. I suspect you were seriously bullied as a kid, and probably rightfully so with that big mouth.

        1. I’m posting this comment only to show the kind of people that are still out there who are too weak to resist the pathological urge to try bully others. This comment damns the detractors more than anything I could possibly add.

  11. Nadav:
    I am not suing CBS to set aside the judgement. You clearly, as always, don’t understand our courts. I filed a brief against CBS’s claim for the arbitration award. That was denied. End of story.

    You also have no clue as to how judgements can, and cannot, be enforced. But you keep up your fever dream of CBS coming after me. (Hint, they can’t come take anything, especially things that are not mine).

    But you keep spewing your nonsense.


    1. I really don’t believe Nadav WANTS to believe what you or Jonathan are saying. He just seems more interested in moving the air around.

  12. Alec, I’m always happy to learn something new.
    But it sure LOOKS like you’ve filed a proceeding- Case number 23STCP04388, filed 30 November 2023 in the LA County Superior Court, with a petition to vacate the arbitration award. The petition appears to be digitally signed in your name. As I understand it, that matter is still open, and is set for a case management conference in April. The court certainly lists you as the plaintiff in that proceeding. Again, very happy to be corrected about any of this. Was this proceeding also disposed of in the 23STCP03830 proceeding? Genuinely keen to be corrected if I’ve misunderstood something here. Did someone else file something in your name?

    To the judgement proof point, though- if I were CBS, and I had two defendants, ONE of whom claims to have structured his assets to be judgement proof, and the OTHER of which- a corporation- appears to have both assets and digital resources, what would I do? Would I say that ‘because Alec says he is judgement proof, I won’t go after Axanar Productions?’ Would I take Alec’s word for it? Or, if I’ve gone so far as to spend 300 large to obtain a declaratory judgement, would I take the available steps to enforce it?
    But, as Jonathan said, it’s ‘wholly possible’ that CBS do any one of a number of things.

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