AXANAR locks in START DATE for filming: October 4-6, 2019!

Yes, my friends, AXANAR is really (finally!) happening. And before some of you say, “Ha! I’ll believe it when I see it!” ALEC PETERS has now put out a call for volunteers the weekend of October 4-6, 2019. J.G. HERTZLER is confirmed to be in Lawrenceville, GA for that weekend, the bridge set is 99% complete, costumes are being made, and actors and extras are being cast. This is for real, folks.

The last time that Axanar was scheduled to start filming with actors and crew and volunteers confirmed, it was supposed to be the first week of February, 2016. I had blocked off time to be at the Valencia, CA studio the morning of the second day of shooting. Unfortunately, a few “minor” snags came up (like a hundred and fifty million dollar lawsuit!), and no footage for Axanar beyond “The Vulcan Scene” was ever shot.

Well, it’s been a long road…getting from there to here. The studio moved across country from California to Georgia in 2017; Axacon happened last November; Ares Digital 1, 2, and 3 were all started (and version 3.0 is about to launch…finally!); and most recently, the first fan film of a fan film, my Axanar Universe project INTERLUDE, was announced and began crowd-funding (donate here…we’re nearly 38% of the way to our goal!).

But now, shooting on Axanar is officially set to begin in just 15 more weeks! Amusingly, Alec had scheduled his shoot to happen the weekend right after my shoot for Interlude. That would potentially allow us to utilize the same actors and extras on the USS Ares bridge (and also lower my costume manufacturing costs if I could use those same tunics for my production). But a scheduling conflict for one of my directors popped up unexpectedly for September, and so I rescheduled my shoot to the first weekend of November…four weeks after Alec’s shoot. With luck, his actors and extras will still be available for Interlude, as well. Fingers crossed!

On Wednesday, Alec published a blog outlining the three locations where filming and sound recording would be happening: Ares Studios, a nearby professional studio for green screen interviews, and a sound studio for the audio drama version of the full Axanar script. He also went on to list the various people who are already assigned to tasks (like PAUL JENKINS as director) as well as volunteer positions that are open for supporters (local and non-local) who wish to participate and help. These jobs include production and personal assistants; staffing, location, and transportation coordinators; drivers and security personnel.

The full text of the blog appears below…

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ALEC PETERS chokes up at a panel from AXACON…

In the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy,” Kirk mentions that Garth’s exploits were required reading at Starfleet Academy. Well, if you’re a fan of AXANAR and ALEC PETERS, then the video below should be considered “required viewing.”

AXACON took place last November in Atlanta, and about 30 people attended. However, knowing that there were thousands and thousands more supporters of Axanar who wouldn’t be able to make it, Alec hired a video crew to film every panel—along with several interviews with the guests—through the 3-day weekend event. About ten of these interviews have already been released for early viewing to ARES STUDIOS Patreon donors, with about half of those now posted publicly to YouTube. (You can view all of the public Axacon videos here.)

The latest video to be released to the public debuted on Friday evening as a livecast on YouTube. Since then, it’s been viewed nearly a thousand times…and with good reason. It’s a really FANtastic panel…especially if you love Axanar. And for me, it was probably my favorite panel of the weekend. Why, you ask?

Well, it was an exhausting weekend…three days of non-stop fun mixed with hard work and little sleep (or was it hard work mixed with fun and almost no sleep?) where I conducted countless interviews and led seemingly endless panels. And honestly, I totally don’t know how to lead panels! I’m not sure if there are classes in it, but it there are, I never took any of them. So for most of the weekend I was flying by the seat of my pants and getting terrorized by J.G. HERTZLER and GARY F-ING GRAHAM. (You’ll need to watch my interviews with them to get that joke…and some haven’t been released yet.)

By the time we got to the “Elite of the Fleet” panel—the next-to-last of the weekend—I was totally spent. You can tell it from watching the video below. But now I had to lead STEVE JEPSON and Alec as we discussed Admiral Slater and Garth. I’d already interviewed Steve about Slater a few hours earlier, and Alec had already spoken on another panel about Garth. So I just kinda winged it…as did Steve and Alec.

To my utter surprise, this exhausted trio managed to have a fascinating and lively discussion—just three obsessed Axanerds chatting about their favorite fan film. It’s the kind of geeked-out conversation we fans love to have from time to time, and it was totally engaging and fun. Each of us got ample time to talk, and everything was SO interesting.

And then a very unexpected and special “moment” happened.

Continue reading “ALEC PETERS chokes up at a panel from AXACON…”

To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!

Among the more annoying and often-ignored fan film guidelines is number 6e: “No unlicensed Star Trek-related or fan production-related merchandise or services can be offered for sale or given away as premiums, perks or rewards or in connection with the fan production fundraising.”

Boo. Hiss. Expletive.

And as I’ve said elsewhere, a number of post-guidelines fan film crowd-funding campaigns have ignored that one…offering posters, patches, and a bunch of other perks. Thus far, CBS hasn’t seemed to mind. In one case, the production even got permission from CBS to offer perks!

However, I’d be naive to believe that CBS won’t have me and my production under a microscope. So I’m taking great pains to keep INTERLUDE completely separate from Alec Perets’ Axanar sequels (other than having Alec play Garth) and to establish very clearly and publicly my intention to follow ALL of the guidelines.

And that means…no perks!

Man, it’s a huge risk. Perks are exciting! Perks are cool! Perks make people think they’re getting something tangible for their donation (which, if you think about, isn’t that different from simply buying that perk…which is probably why CBS doesn’t want fan productions to do it).

But perks also cost money to make and to mail. In addition to the patches or posters or T-shirts or mugs, you’ve got to buy shipping materials and pay for postage. And heaven help you if you’ve got backers from places like Asia or Australia. That $10 donation is likely gonna cost you $25 just to mail them a frickin’ patch!

So I’ve obviously got a pretty good reason NOT to offer perks. I’m already trying to raise about $20K. Add in perks and packaging and postage, and you can increase that number easily to $22K or $23K!

So instead, all I am going to be offering as a “perk” is getting your name in the credits. But are people going to want to donate simply to see their name at the end of my fan film??? Granted I do have some fun categories for listing the names:

  • Ensign – donate up to $10
  • Lieutenant – $11-$50
  • Lieutenant Commander – $51-$100
  • Commander – $101-$250
  • Captain – $251-$500
  • Commodore – $501-$1000
  • Admiral – $1001-$2500
  • Associate Producer – $2501 and up
    (no Fleet Captain…that rank’s reserved for Garth!)

The idea is that, the larger your donation, the higher your rank and the larger your name in the credits. And for the Associate Producers (assuming I get any), they will also be invited to join us at ARES STUDIOS for filming. They’ll have to pay for their own transportation and lodging—but I figure if they can afford thousands of dollars to donate to a fan film, they shouldn’t have a problem with a plane ticket and a Holiday Inn Express.

And there’s one more fun thing I wanna do…!

Continue reading “To perk or not to perk (or percolate) – the BIG RISK for my INTERLUDE crowd-funder!”

ALEC PETERS announces first shooting date for AXANAR sequels!

It’s the announcement fans have been waiting more than three years to hear!

Production on AXANAR (the sequel to PRELUDE TO AXANAR) had originally been scheduled to begin in early 2016. I had even cleared my schedule to drive to Valencia, CA to visit the set on the morning of February 2 and then drive a contest winner from there for a quick trip to nearby Vasquez Rocks in the afternoon. Fans were so excited to see this highly-anticipated full-length Star Trek fan film finally begin shooting.

You know what happened next.

A copyright infringement lawsuit filed by CBS and Paramount forced ALEC PETERS to suspend production, and a year-long legal battle finally ended in a settlement that allowed Axanar to be made with the same actors and professional crew…but only as two 15-minute short films rather than a full 90-minute feature, and with no public crowd-funding allowed (although private donations are permitted).

The subsequent loss of Industry Studios in mid-2017 resulted in a move from California to Lawrenceville, Georgia, and additional delays…during which time the amazing USS Ares bridge set has been nearly completed.

The delays in the start of production have confounded fans and supporters. Shooting had initially been announced (in an audio interview I did with J.G. Hertzler) to begin late last year, but Alec didn’t officially confirm the dates, and 2018 ended with no cameras rolling and the bridge still unfinished (although very close to completion).

In January of 2019, a new Patreon campaign was started to help fund the monthly rent for Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, renamed after the 18-month sponsorship of the studio by OWC Digital ended. Four months later, the Patreon is 55% of the way to its $4,000/month goal and still growing…currently at an impressive 229 backers contributing $2,184 each month.

For most of 2019 so far, Alec had been hinting at an unnamed fan production, in addition to Axanar, that would be filming on the USS Ares bridge set. Then earlier this month, I announced that the mystery project was my fan film, INTERLUDE, and would take place in the Axanar Universe…separate from Alec’s sequels and intended to fit in between them and Prelude (hence my title). But still no official word on when Axanar itself would begin filming.

This past weekend, the word was finally given. Production on the first of four shoots for Axanar will kick off during the first weekend of October, 2019…one week after I complete my two-day shoot at Ares Studios (plus one day at Neutral Zone Studios in nearby Kingsland, GA). The timing is not entirely coincidental, but I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog.

Right now, however, I turn the spotlight over to Alec Peters himself and a video update from Saturday that’s already garnered several thousand views…

I will appear LIVE TONIGHT with ALEC PETERS on a private YOUTUBE Q&A stream exclusively for ARES STUDIO Patrons!

If you haven’t signed up to be a backer of the ARES STUDIOS Patreon campaign yet, to quote Chekov: “Now vould be a good time!”

Patrons at all levels (even as low as $2/month) get access to a monthly PRIVATE livestream YouTube Question & Answer session with ALEC PETERS. The link isn’t posted publicly but rather is emailed directly to anyone who is part of the Patreon.

Tonight (Thursday, May 16) at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time, I will be joining Alec to discuss BOTH of our upcoming fan films…and there’s a lot of news about each! You can be among the first to learn what the budget will be for my fan film Interlude, who will be working on it, and when we expect to film. As for Axanar, well, I’ll let Alec share his big news himself…and trust me, it’s BIG news!

There’s another perk to being part of the Ares Studios Patreon—which is already over halfway to its $4,000/month goal, having now reached an all-time high of $2,164 from 225 patrons. In addition to the private YouTube chats with Alec, each month backers at the $5 level and above get early access to exclusive videos from last November’s AXACON.

Although only 30-40 people were in attendance at the 3-day event, Alec hired a professional camera crew to record pretty much every panel and guest. So far, seven interviews have been released exclusively to patrons. The general public has only gotten to see two of these videos so far. The first, an interview with ALBERT MARTINEZ—a fan filmmaker guest at the con who created Chasing the Infinite Sky and will be part of the upcoming Axanar VFX team—was released publicly three months ago. It included a special HD remastered version of Albert’s breathtakingly beautiful fan film.

And earlier this week, the second Axacon video was released. It’s a lively discussion I had with STEVE JEPSON, one of my favorite people on the planet and the man who became of the face of Prelude to Axanar‘s ill-fated commander: Admiral Conrad Slater. But was Slater really ineffectual, or was he just a Starfleet scapegoat? And what happened to Slater after he was replaced by Admiral Ramirez? It’s a fascinating conversation that you’re now able to check out for yourself…

And remember that there’s still five other exclusive Axacon videos that the public hasn’t seen yet…with more being added each month. So if you haven’t yet signed up to help fund Ares Studios, now you’ve got two great reasons to do so: exclusive videos plus a chance to ask Alec and me questions LIVE about our two upcoming projects (and get inside info before anyone else in the fan community).

Click below to sign up…

https://www.patreon.com/aresstudios

JONATHAN LANE’s fan film will take place in…the AXANAR UNIVERSE!

What…you didn’t see that coming?

I thought about keeping this little nugget of information secret for a few weeks longer, doing a “big reveal” just before launching my crowd-funding campaign next month. But I just can’t help myself! I want you all to know about INTERLUDE: A Star Trek Fan Film set in the AXANAR Universe.

Wait, Jonathan’s doing what now?

Okay, set your Guardian of Forever or Burnham-built Time-Suit to June of 2017 when ALEC PETERS sent me a script to review and provide him feedback. It was his first attempt to shorten the 90-minute Axanar feature film into two 15-minute episodes of “The Four Years War” (in a similar mockumentary style to PRELUDE TO AXANAR).

I was kind of a “unique” reader for Alec, as I’d purposefully avoided reading his full-length script up until that point. So I had no idea what Alec was taking out and keeping in. But when I finished reading it, I was left feeling a little confused. Despite some very exciting sequences in and around the epic Battle of Axanar, I noticed that there were no scenes that took place on that incredible USS Ares bridge! WTF???

I figured that Alec was worried that he didn’t have enough screen time available with just 30 minutes to include dramatic sequences on the bridge. But I felt that, if handled carefully, a few parts could be trimmed here and there to make room for some cool (albeit short) bridge scenes. To illustrate what I was trying to explain, I wrote out one of these scenes, taking a quick line of Garth’s dialogue that explained why Admiral Ramirez wouldn’t be in these next two movies (actor TONY TODD isn’t returning for the sequels) and turned it into a brief sequence set on the bridges of two Ares-class starships.

I ended up “catching a muse” and just kept writing…and writing…and writing. By 5 a.m., I’d created a full 15-minute Axanar script similar to Alec’s but littered with exciting bridge scenes. After a few hours of sleep, I began working on the other 15-minute script, finishing that one by 3 p.m. With a mixture of excitement and trepidation, I shared my new script versions with Alec…

Continue reading “JONATHAN LANE’s fan film will take place in…the AXANAR UNIVERSE!”

Meet some of the Georgia high school students who’ve come to ARES STUDIOS!

In my previous two blogs, I featured an interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, the Video Pathway Lead Teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools and a teacher at Phoenix High School in Lawrenceville, GA. Over the past 18 months, his video students have filmed multiple productions on the amazing 36-degree bridge set at ARES STUDIOS.

Initially constructed to be used in filming the sequel(s) to PRELUDE TO AXANAR—and still planned for that project—the bridge set and (recently added) captain’s quarters have been made available to the entire Gwinnett school district free of charge by ALEC PETERS. Now that we’ve heard from a video teacher, it’s now time to hear from some of the students.

I met two of them last November at Axacon. ALLISON FALCH (who is married to DANA WAGNER, the man in charge of completing the finishing touches on the USS Ares bridge set) teaches video at South Gwinnett Public High School, and she brought along these two charming young students on Friday afternoon when Ares Studios was opened up to Axacon attendees. As we were shooting various video interviews with the con guests and the bridge itself, we devoted a few minutes to a chat with Allison and her students…

And then last week, as I was assembling my two-part blog interview with Pasha Souvorin and was complimenting his students’ films, Pasha asked if I’d like to interview two of his student directors. Sure! So I wrote up some questions for EMILIA HOPE and VENESSA CHELLO. Both provided wonderful and articulate answers that showed how significant an impact being able to film on the Ares Studios bridge set has had for them.

Before I get to these two interviews, I’d like to point out that all four of the student directors featured in this blog entry are WOMEN! And in a male-dominated industry, I am both proud and encouraged to see that the female filmmakers of tomorrow are getting a head start, too. Also, of these four women, one is African American and two are Latina…so let’s hear it for ethnic diversity!

All right, let’s meet Emilia and Venessa…

Continue reading “Meet some of the Georgia high school students who’ve come to ARES STUDIOS!”

Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 2)

Last time, I began chatting with PASHA SOUVORIN, the Video Pathway Lead Teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools. Pasha is one of the teachers whose students have been coming to ARES STUDIOS in Lawrenceville, GA to film on the amazing bridge set that was built using funds raised from fan donations. The bridge is now nearly complete, and soon the two Axanar sequel fan films will begin shooting. But in the meantime, this impressive bridge set has been giving local students the opportunity to create scenes and short videos, the likes of which they would never get to do anywhere else.

And these aren’t simply kids with camera phones filming each other playing around. This short time-lapse video posted by the students on their Facebook page shows the amount of care and effort that goes into setting up even a single scene…

In part one, Pasha shared four videos that students had completed so far, each of them impressive considering that these are high schoolers learning the basics of the craft:

And more are planned in the future.

When last we left off, Pasha and I were discussing how the state of Georgia is encouraging its students to take elective classes in video production. After three years of classes, state enrolled students can earn a special seal on their diploma indicating that they specialized in video production. Georgia will also pay for those students who complete the technical video path to take the Adobe Certified Associate test in Premiere Pro.

Things certainly have changed a lot since I was going to high school! And that’s where we pick up our enlightening conversation, already in progress…

Continue reading “Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 2)”

Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 1)

Although no Star Trek fan films have shot on the ARES STUDIOS sets yet, that doesn’t mean the USS Ares bridge hasn’t been getting some serious screen time! It’s simply that the filmmakers are mainly teenagers, students in the local Gwinnett County Public Schools District located just northeast of Atlanta, GA.

The primary force behind most of the student films that have been filmed there is PASHA SOUVORIN, the Video Pathway Lead Teacher for Gwinnett County Public Schools and a video production teacher at Phoenix High School, which is near the Ares Studio facility. Pasha met ALEC PETERS through a mutual friend, Sherry Fowler, who works with Alec and is also a teacher at Pasha’s school.

These students are getting an amazing opportunity as they write, direct, light, score, edit, and produce their own films using a full 360-degree custom sci-fi set. They don’t necessarily see it as Star Trek (most of them were born AFTER Enterprise premiered!—don’t you feel old now???) but rather as whatever their young minds imagine this bridge to be.

Here’s a short snippet of what a student film shoot looks like…

Pretty professional-looking, right? Granted, these aren’t Academy Award level productions, but remember that these students are only just getting started, learning about the craft of filmmaking. These early efforts are invaluable educations experiences for what may very well be the cutting-edge filmmakers of the future!

Currently, Ares Studios is being funded through monthly Patreon donations from fans like you and me (click here to sign up as a backer). The crowd-funding campaign is just over half-way to covering the $4,000/month rent and utilities. The remainder is being paid out-of-pocket by Alec Peters himself. At present, there is no money coming in from the school district, and the schools are not being charged anything to use the facility or the sets.

Recently, I had a very lively and enlightening discussion with Pasha Souvorin about his teaching background, his students, the history of the school district’s video program, and what Ares Studios has meant to him and the kids who get to film there…

Continue reading “Georgia students create films on the BRIDGE set at ARES STUDIOS! (interview with PASHA SOUVORIN, part 1)”

ARES ASSEMBLE! – AXANAR volunteers put together GARTH’S QUARTERS in Ares Studios! (interview with ALEC PETERS)

When ALEC PETERS reluctantly shut down Industry Studios in Valencia, CA and moved to the current ARES STUDIOS location in Lawrenceville, GA, he took with him as much as he could fit into the trucks. This included the various pieces of the amazing USS Ares bridge set, costumes, props, equipment, patches, and a second set designed and constructed by DEAN NEWBURY: Captain Garth’s Quarters. Initially intended to be used for certain scenes in the full 90-minute AXANAR fan film (which will, sadly, never be completed and released), the Captain’s Quarters was disassembled for transport, and the “flats” (pieces of the set) were stored in the new facility.

While the Ares Bridge set has taken center stage (rather literally) over the past almost-year as it neared completion, the pieces of the Captain’s Quarters sat humbly off in the corner, waiting for someone to come along and put them back together.

That finally happened this past weekend when Alec and a small number of volunteers got together to reassemble the pieces for the first time since they sat in Industry Studios in California. The initiative was led by and JOHN “Stoggy” STREKIS , who has been producing the many, many videos that have been posted to the Axanar YouTube Channel (if you haven’t been watching those videos, you really should check out a few). John was visiting Georgia from new Jersey, saw the bridge pieces sitting there unused, and suggested (rather strongly) that they finally be reassembled so Ares Studios would have more sets to offer filmmakers wanting to shoot at the facility.

Joining Alec and John were volunteers DAN WAGNER and DALE SIMPSON, who are local and have already been taking point on completing the Ares Bridge, plus CHRIS WEUVE, a guest who was also down in Georgia visiting the sets. Together they worked for a couple of hours trying to figure out how to arrange the various flats (they weren’t marked, and they weren’t necessarily laid out in a four-wall square…more of an angled “W”) before Dana took a screwdriver and locked the pieces together.

I thought this might be a good time to interview Alec and get an update on all things Axanar (well, most things)…

Continue reading “ARES ASSEMBLE! – AXANAR volunteers put together GARTH’S QUARTERS in Ares Studios! (interview with ALEC PETERS)”