The future of AXANAR! (audio interview with ALEC PETERS & PAUL JENKINS)

A lot was happening in the world of AXANAR just three short weeks ago. After raising $50K to cover 2/3 of the cost of the first two shoots at Ares Studios (ALEC PETERS covered the rest personally), an additional $5K was raised in a new private crowdfunding campaign in February. That allowed a third one-day shoot to happen on March 15, just as fears of the pandemic were beginning to take hold in many states.

This led Alec to announce via Axanar Confidential that the fourth shoot, a major two-day green screen excursion to Los Angeles to film nearly half a dozen aliens in full prosthetics and makeup, would be delayed and no longer happen in April as planned. And the premiere of Axanar itself would likely no longer occur at San Diego Comic Con, as it was possible that the huge gathering of hundreds of thousands of dedicated fans might itself be canceled.

This didn’t stop Axanar completely, however. The first full trailer was released online the night of March 15, and you can see it here if you haven’t already…

This followed the release a few weeks earlier of some rough cut footage of actor JAMIE RENELL doing some background ad-lib for his on-screen interview as USS Ares Chief Engineer Alexei Leonov

And of course, on March 15 Axanar also launched its third private fundraiser on Ares Digital, this one with a goal of $30K to cover the major “alien shoot” in L.A. Some people asked if this was an appropriate time to raise money for a Star Trek fan film with people being furloughed and losing their jobs and the economy in a tailspin. Alec answered that question in a blog on the Axanar.com website. At the time, the campaign had already taken in about 25% of its goal in less than a week. In the two weeks since then, donations have slowed considerably, although they’re still trickling in steadily…

If you’re interested in donating (and are able to), you can do so by clicking here:

https://aresdigital.axanar.com

Continue reading “The future of AXANAR! (audio interview with ALEC PETERS & PAUL JENKINS)”

AXANAR releases the FULL TRAILER…kicks off fund-raiser for SHOOT #4!

The full trailer for AXANAR is finally here!  Four months ago, after the first October shoot at Ares Studios, a brief teaser was released with about 30 seconds of actual footage—a combination of a couple of brief VFX sequences and a bunch of quick-cut live-action shots filmed on the USS Ares bridge set.  Since then, however, fans and donors have been patiently (and not-so-patiently) waiting to see more.

And now that time has come. Over a thousand people watched the live premiere of the trailer live on Sunday evening. So many people wanted to donate to the Axanar fundraiser that it temporarily crashed Ares Digital and the Axanar.com websites! Both problems were fixed within the hour, but in the meantime, over $1,000 was donated to Ares Studios through superchats during the live podcast.

Here’s the new Axanar trailer…

Pretty impressive huh?

The just-launched fundraiser is attempting to raise $30K to pay the costs for a fourth and final shoot in a green screen studio in Los Angeles, travel and lodging, equipment rental, and most of all for the make-up and prosthetics for two Vulcans (including GARY GRAHAM as Soval), two Andorians, one Klingon plus two humans. (Will one of them be KATE VERNON as Sonya Alexander? No confirmation yet!)

The trailer does have a few visual glitches, so the plan is to re-edit it, possibly adding in some additional footage, and then re-release a new version in a week or so. And when that happens, I’ll be sure to let you all know.


Of course, the question on many people’s minds is why did it take until now (March 15) for the trailer to be released?  After all, the first shoot was back in October and the second shoot in December.  It’s now the middle of March.  I spoke to ALEC PETERS and asked about the apparent delay. Here was his answer…

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AXANAR launches new “tiny” fundraiser for SHOOT #3 with test footage of Chief Engineer LEONOV!

After raising more than $50,000 to cover the costs for the first two AXANAR shoots back in October and December, ALEC PETERS just reached out to donors on the Axanar mailing list with a request for $3,400 for the third shoot.

Initially, Alec had announced that “Phase 2” of the private crowd-funding would try to raise another $30,000 to cover BOTH the upcoming third shoot at Ares Studios in mid-March as well as the planned fourth shoot in Los Angeles, which would include GARY GRAHAM as Soval along with other aliens requiring a skilled make-up team.

So why separate the fundraisers for the two campaigns?

I’ve been told that there are some specific expenses for the third shoot that need to be paid immediately up front. Alec, along with director PAUL JENKINS and producer SCOTT CONLEY, have streamlined the budget for the March shoot. They’re not doing all the bells and whistles that they did during the first two shoots. But they still have to do things like feed people on set, pay for transportation and lodging for key people traveling from out of state, rent equipment, pay for production insurance, etc.

Last time, Alec paid most of those outlays personally before raising the $50K. This time, Alec doesn’t have the funds to do that again, and there are expenses that need to be covered in the next two weeks. So there is a small campaign right now to raise $3,400, and then another campaign will launch in a couple of weeks to cover the more complex shoot #4.

To generate excitement, Alec just posted the following video of actor JAMIE RENELL “getting into” his character of Chief Engineer Alexei Leonov of the USS Ares. Rather that just having Jamie recite his lines from the script, Paul Jenkins did a little off-script improv with Jamie first, chatting with him as an “old friend” and having Jamie respond in character as Leonov (Russian accent and all). None of what you’re about to see is scripted, and the majority will likely not be included in the two Axanar sequels (except in the “extras”). But it’s still a really fun video…

For those waiting (im)patiently for the eagerly anticipated full Axanar trailer, I have good news! I’m told that you’ll see it within the next two weeks, timed to coincide with the launch of the fundraiser for shoot #4.

In the meantime, the Axanar fundraiser is—as required by the settlement with CBS and Paramount—behind a firewall and accessible only through the Ares Digital portal to fans who have signed up for an account. You can get there be clicking the following link…

https://aresdigital.axanar.com

When you get to the donate page, you’ll notice the goal is listed as only $2,300 and not $3,400. That is because one supporter already generously donated $1,100 directly. Already in the first few hours, nearly $800 more has come in…meaning that shoot #3 is only about $1,500 away from being fully funded!

AXANAR tops its $50K phase one crowd-funding goal…and announces phase two in MARCH!

For the fourth week in a row, I’ve got some AXANAR news that’s significant enough to warrant its own blog. And for anyone thinking, “Oh, you talk about Axanar all the time!”—my last Axanar blog prior to mid-January was three months earlier in mid-October.

Anyway, today’s new is actually VERY big, as it deals with Axanar‘s crowd-funding. As many of you are already aware, the legal settlement that ALEC PETERS signed with CBS and Paramount permitting him to produce and release Axanar as two 15-minute fan films does, in fact, allow him to crowd-fund them…and exceed the $50K guideline limit. But Alec isn’t permitted to use a public service like Kickstarter or Indiegogo; he must crowd-fund privately behind a firewall…which can be accessed at the following link:

https://aresdigital.axanar.com/

Alec also cannot publicly solicit donations (although others are allowed to), meaning that Axanar cannot take out advertisements or post the above link on social media, and Alec can’t ask for donations in YouTube videos or during interviews. It’s a challenging constraint, to be certain, but Alec has been diligent to abide by that requirement of the settlement agreement.

And indeed, even being limited to requesting donations only via e-mails to Axanar‘s existing donor list, it’s even more impressive that Alec and his team have been able to raise more than double what even the most successful post-guidelines Star Trek fan films have been able to generate even using public crowd-funding sites and being allowed to solicit donations on social media and elsewhere.

Last Thursday, the Axanar Phase One crowd-funding campaign finally crossed its $50K goal threshold, effectively paying for the first two of the four scheduled shoots—which happened in October and December of last year. The remaining two shoots, currently scheduled for March (previously February) at Ares Studios and April in Los Angeles, will complete all of the live-action scenes necessary to finish the two Axanar sequels. (A potential fifth shoot at a special Los Angeles location is still up in the air at the moment.)

The Ares Studio shoot is fairly minor, just some green screen interviews of Garth and his first officer Tanaka. But the April shoot is major, involving GARY GRAHAM as Soval plus a few other aliens and some humans (KATE VERNON?—no public confirmation on that yet). There will be some significant costs associated with that shoot, including green screen studio rental in L.A. plus prosthetics and make-up.

The estimated budget for these two shoots is around $30K (not yet finalized), and Alec will be launching a Phase Two campaign for that in March, along with debuting the first full Axanar trailer!

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PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)

I love PAUL JENKINS. I just do. Over the past few months, he has become one of my favorite people on the planet…and when you listen to my interview with him, I think you’ll understand why (or at least, I hope you will).

When it comes to AXANAR, it always seems to be ALEC PETERS this and ALEC PETERS that—here an Alec, there an Alec, everywhere an Alec, Alec. But as Alec himself would be the first to tell you, Axanar is a TEAM effort, and the team is made up of some very talented and dedicated individuals…and few more so than Axanar co-writer and director, Paul Jenkins.

When Alec first announced that Paul was joining the project back in 2017, replacing ROBERT MEYER BURNETT as director as well as helping to co-write the two-part, 30-minute fan film allowed by the settlement with CBS and Paramount, a number of fans were initially scratching their heads. And I’ll admit, I was one of them.

After all, I really only knew Paul from the days when I was reading twenty comic books a month, and his name was on many of them. Paul is widely considered as the person who helped save Marvel Comics from chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 1990s with the development of the Marvel Knights imprint. Later, he went on to write the ground-breaking Wolverine: Origin (which was later turned into a motion picture). In fact, Paul has worked for various comic book publishers—including DC, Mirage, and Tundra. He developed video games, too. So yeah, Paul can obviously write.

But could he direct?

It turns out, the answer is yes. In fact, Paul co-founded META Studios in Atlanta, has been directing for about 20 years, and was even asked in 2015 by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal to assemble and chair an advisory committee to educate the Georgia General Assembly on the evolution of digital and interactive technologies. So yep, Paul’s a pretty big deal…but you’d never know it by speaking with him. The man is as humble and soft-spoken as they come.

I learned this firsthand during the shoot for my Axanar Universe fan film INTERLUDE. Paul popped by Ares Studios on that Sunday to say hi and see how things were going. He stayed off to the side, just happily watching, and even volunteered to stand behind the turbolift and flick the console lights on and off during a torpedo “hit.” The guy who saved Marvel Comics was flicking lights on my fan film??? You bet!

Later, during a break, Paul chatted with me for a good 45 minutes, sharing some stories, some insights, and just shooting the breeze. He even hung out with Interlude directors VICTORIA FOX and JOSHUA IRWIN during some quiet moments when they weren’t both doing a thousand things. He was a true gentleman and a lot of fun to talk to.

So when I had the opportunity to chat with him some more and record the call, I jumped at the chance! Take a listen…

Continue reading “PAUL JENKINS discusses directing the AXANAR sequels, working with ALEC PETERS, and MUCH MORE! (audio interview)”

New PANELS and new CHANNELS for AXANAR!

The final two AXACON 2019 panels are now available on the AXANAR YouTube channel. One of the panels—“The Crew of the USS Ares” (the third of the four from December’s event)—actually went live last week along with the Producers panel, and I completely missed announcing it. D’oh!

The other is the fourth and final panel which features an interview with SALLY IHNAT (the widow of the late actor STEVE IHNAT who played Garth of Izar in “Whom Gods Destroy”) and LINDA ALEXANDER (who wrote a wonderful biography of Steve).

It’s hard to know which is the better panel. They’re both really worth watching. The “Crew” panel features five of the actors who play key roles in the Axanar sequels, all being interviewed by ALEC PETERS. We’ve heard from the “big” names many times, but now we get to heard from actors who haven’t been regulars or semi-regulars on major television series. And their perspective on discovering Axanar and its fans, putting on uniforms, and performing on the USS Ares bridge set are really interesting to listen to. They’re now part of the Axanar family, and soon our community will know their names (characters and actors)…

As for the second video, Steve Ihnat was an incredible actor. And if you’d like to learn more about his tragically too-short life, this is a very special panel to watch…

But wait, there’s even more Axa-news!

Up until this week, Axanar had one YouTube channel. Now it has two. The main Axanar Channel has more than 87K subscribers and features a mix of various Axanar-related content including clips, interviews, VFX, livestreams and the weekly Axanar Confidential and Axanar After Dark podcasts. But that was a LOT of content…and not all Axa-fans wanted to watch the hour-long podcasts to get all the Axanar news (and dog rescue updates) and just wanted their content more directly and succinctly. Other fans and supporters, however, love those longer chats and think of them like weekly gatherings of the whole extended family.

So Axanar just launched a second YouTube channel called Axanar Live! It’s brand new and only has about 200 subscribers as I write this, but it will soon be the home of Axanar Confidential, Axanar After Dark, and all the live-stream videos they create from places like the shoots at Ares Studios. Already, the first 11 episodes of Axanar After Dark have been transferred over.

This will leave the Axanar Channel for all the official Axanar updates and any created and edited video content. With an increasing amount of new footage scheduled to come out over the next few months, each channel should have a steady stream of fresh content.


And remember that the Axanar private crowd-funder is currently featuring a special dollar-for-dollar match of all donations. So donate $10 and it’s worth $20. Donate $50 and it’s worth $100.

If you haven’t donated yet (or recently), please consider logging in or setting up an account on Ares Digital and giving a little something…

https://aresdigital.axanar.com/

AXANAR donor offers DOLLAR-for-DOLLAR match of any donation to help reach the Phase One goal!

I know that ALEC PETERS cannot post anything publicly about AXANAR crowd-funding, but I can!

So here’s the BIG NEWS for today…

Axanar is now just $4,133 away from reaching its first crowd-funding goal (which was just lowered from $60K to $50K because $10K was actually bridge set construction, and that’s an Ares Studios asset and therefore can be crowd-funded separately and publicly).

BUT!!!

A top donor has promised a dollar-for-dollar match of any Axanar donations for a limited time. That means that Axanar is actually just $2,067 away from reaching the Phase One goal to cover the cost of the first two shoots.

So if you haven’t donated yet (or recently), NOW is the time to go to Ares Digital because every dollar you give is worth TWO dollars for a short time! Click on the link below to register/log-in to donate…

https://aresdigital.axanar.com/

The first panel from AXACON 2019 is now available for viewing!

Say what you will about AXANAR. But the one inescapable fact is that, perhaps more than any other Star Trek fan film (maybe any fan film period), Axanar is teaching fans a LOT about the process filmmaking. Sure, some cynics will say, “Yeah, it taught us all not to piss off the copyright owners!” But it’s also provided fans, fan filmmakers, and those wishing to become fan filmmakers an unparalleled up-front view into the entire production process.

Granted, most fan projects aren’t nearly as elaborate or ambitious as Axanar. The majority of fan producers just make their film and put the finished product up on YouTube. A few take behind-the-scenes photos or videos while they build sets or do make-up or have their shoots, but Axanar takes all that to an entirely other level.

Through countless Axanar Podcasts and updates on Axanar Confidential, we’ve watched this production walk through the fire of the lawsuit, emerge on the other side, pick itself up, dust itself off, and get back up to speed again with a move across country, a completed bridge set, and two shoots so far (soon to be three!). Along the way, there’s been a parade of features on countless aspects of filmmaking—from VFX to set-building, make-up, costume design, budgeting, writing, pre-production, production, and post-production…and just about everything in between.

But the one thing Axanar hasn’t really done a deep-dive into yet is directing. There was some commentary from PRELUDE TO AXANAR director CHRISTIAN GOSSETT on one of the behind-the-scenes features on the Prelude Blu-ray, but not much in-depth coverage of the full process. And ROBERT MEYER BURNETT left the project before getting the chance to sink his teeth into directing actual production.

However, now that Axanar has started shooting, director and co-writer PAUL JENKINS had some very, very interesting insights to share during AXACON 2019. Unlike the first Axacon in 2018, the second Axacon didn’t take place in a hotel with convention rooms and dealers tables and membership badges. This time, “attendance” was FREE to anyone on YouTube and included four panels broadcast live from the bridge set at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA.

Continue reading “The first panel from AXACON 2019 is now available for viewing!”

AXANAR debuts its first TEASER-TRAILER!

It’s been less than two weeks since the first shoot for AXANAR wrapped, and ALEC PETERS just released the first teaser-trailer for what will be called THE GATHERING STORM. PRELUDE TO AXANAR was episode III of “The “Four Year War” multi-part documentary series from the 23rd century. The first two episodes will need to remain left up to fans’ imagination. But the two Axanar sequels will be episodes IV and V, completing the series. It has not yet been revealed what the title of the final episode will be.

The 1-minute YouTube video quickly went viral, with thousands of views in the first hour alone. You can check it out below…

Prior to the release of the above video, nearly 1,400 Axanar supporters gathered for a live premiere party at 9:00pm Eastern time. Then they waited about 5 minutes while Alec dealt with a technical glitch. But once the clip debuted, the reactions were very positive…judging by the 841 likes and only a handful of dislikes (less than 10 while it was still live). The only complaint was that fan wanted more-more-MORE!

Indeed, the actual amount of Axanar footage was only 25 seconds, but it was enough to give a tantalizing first taste of the quality of the video production, lighting, camera tracking, make-up, costumes, VFX, and look and feel of the sets and actors. Alec assured everyone that more and longer trailers would be coming soon.

Believe it or not, this was actually a lot of footage considering that editor BING BAILEY has a day job that exploded with a crisis this past week and took up most of his time. Remember, folks, that the Axanar team is made up of volunteers with real-life commitments along with their love of Star Trek and fan films (one fan film in particular!).

A question that came up was whether the superchat donations that came in during the livestream could be considered public crowd-funding (a no-no under the legal settlement with CBS and Paramount). Alec assured all viewers that any money collected through YouTube would be applied to Ares Studios (a separate legal entity) and NOT to Axanar Productions in any way.

Speaking of crowd-funding, Alec and his girlfriend CRYSSTAL HUBBARD were very careful during the 75-minute discussion following the premiere NOT to discuss Axanar crowd-funding in any way. The closest they got was suggesting that people sign up for the Axanar newsletter or go to Ares Digital…which is not the same as soliciting donations. Alec and Crysstal made certain not to say, “If you want to help crowd-fund, then go to Ares Digital where you can make a donation.”

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AXANAR completes its first shoot – WHY IT MATTERS…!

It's nothing to do with what we got today.  That's great.  It's the next piece...and the piece after that...until we finish the work.  And at that point, we can be judged on our finished piece of work.  That's how it works.  So we had a great time; we did some really great stuff.  The trick is to finish it, not to start it.

- PAUL JENKINS, Axanar Director

For the past almost-four years, I’ve been asked the same question over and over again: “Why do you stick with ALEC PETERS?” The reasons they give for me turning my back on him are numerous: he’s a con-man, he’s incompetent, he’s not a nice person, no one will work with him, he’ll stab you in the back, he’ll never make AXANAR, you’re wasting your time on this loser…the list goes on and on.

Earlier this summer, someone even offered me actual money to walk away from Alec (and pretty decent money at that!) in the form of an “investment” to help take Fan Film Factor to the next level. All I had to do was stop defending Alec Peters, make Interlude without him, and stop providing coverage of Axanar on my blog. It was a serious offer from someone with the funds to make good on it, and sincerely proffered. I refused. (And no, I won’t tell you who made the offer, so don’t ask.)

When you believe in something—a person, a thing, a dream—and someone else doesn’t, it’s hard to connect with them to convey just how important it is to you…how deeply you love it and are committed to it. It happens all the time with religion and politics…and with me, it happened with Star Trek, with fan films, and most deeply with Axanar.

I fell in love with Axanar, with the pocket universe within Star Trek that it created. It didn’t matter whether or not it was “canon”; it was canon to me. And I wanted to see more. CBS and Paramount almost took that away from me and from other Axanar supporters, but we never lost hope. We believed—we KNEW—this weekend would someday arrive. And now that it did, everything has changed.

Continue reading “AXANAR completes its first shoot – WHY IT MATTERS…!”