Was “NIKKY SYNDER” really ANTHONY SHUH? (follow-up editorial)

Coincidences are a funny thing.  Sometimes they’re simply random occurrences of pure chance.  On the other hand, the more coincidences you pile on top of each other, the less likely the two events are totally unconnected.

That’s the situation facing us in the disturbing case of the fictitious “NIKKY SYNDER,” a fraudulent Facebook account created back in June of 2016 and used primarily for bashing ALEC PETERS and Axanar.  The fake account was updated regularly with photos lifted from the Twitter updates of a woman who was NOT Nikky Synder.  In fact, she was a young TV reporter who, at the time, worked for a local news affiliate in Peoria, IL.  The 14-month ruse ended this past Tuesday when this young woman was made aware of the fraudulent account using her face and photos and reported it to Facebook.

Before Tuesday, “NIKKY SYNDER” had posted regularly on the SMALL ACCESS Facebook group—having joined on February 7, 2017…a day before the group completed a week-long poll to determine whether ANTHONY SHUH should be expelled for belligerent and insulting behavior.  Some suspected that “Nikky” might have been an alias that Anthony Shuh used to stay in the Small Access group.

I made clear in my blog from Tuesday that I was NOT making that accusation:

It’s a horrendous feeling of being violated, made worse by the fact that you can almost never discover the identity of the perpetrator. In this case, we have a suspicion, but even then, we aren’t certain…and I want to state that up front in this blog. We can’t prove anything or even make a firm accusation. Instead, all we have is an interesting series set of coincidences, which I’ll share…along with how the impostor was finally “caught.”

I shared a couple of those coincidences (but not all of them) in my previous blog post.  But then Anthony Shuh posted the following comment onto the Fan Film Factor Facebook page, and now I need to spend yet another blog post talking about something other than fan films (don’t worry, things return to normal on Friday with a great audio interview with Vance Major!).

Here’s what Anthony Shuh wrote that prompted this follow-up blog…

Continue reading “Was “NIKKY SYNDER” really ANTHONY SHUH? (follow-up editorial)”

JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)

This is what I get for going to Colorado instead of Las Vegas!  I wind up taking an antique train ride through the Rocky Mountains to visit an old silver mine with my son and my brother and his family…while at the same time, JAMES CAWLEY makes a HUGE announcement about fan films and CBS licensing!

It’s amazing the kind of cell coverage you get on a train in the middle of mountain wilderness, but it seemed like everyone was coming to me for answers about Saturday morning’s big news from the creator of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and the officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour in the small and lovely town of Ticonderoga, New York.

Of course, I had no answers.  Yes, I knew the announcement was coming a few days earlier and that it involved James Cawley and his sets—but I didn’t know the details.  My news Saturday came from Carlos Pedraza’s Axamonitor blog site and TrekMovie.com.  And for those that haven’t heard yet, here’s the basic info…

Continue reading “JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)”

TERRY McINTOSH should be ashamed! (editorial)

I’m kinda sick to my stomach right now—so disgusted that I am quite literally nauseous—and I really don’t know how to deal with it other than blogging to try to clear this out of my head.

You guys might remember a few weeks ago when TERRY McINTOSH, the former marketing director for Axanar Productions, released an old version of the original full script for the AXANAR movie.  Even though he had signed a non-disclosure agreement (N.D.A.), promising to keep all Axanar-related materials private and confidential, he decided he was pissed off enough at ALEC PETERS that he no longer gave a shat about signed agreements or breaking promises.  The script, Terry believed, was so bad that releasing it would embarrass Alec, who had called it the best Star Trek script ever (or something like that).

In the end, it was mostly a tempest in a teapot.  I’ve now read the old script, and it wasn’t all that bad.  And now that I’ve read the two new 15-minute segments script, the outdated version of the full script doesn’t really ruin much of anything.  A lot has changed (obviously).

Anyway, y’know when Khan says, “I’ve hurt you…and I intend to go right on hurting you.”  Well, that seems to be Terry when it comes to Alec Peters.  Terry will chase Alec round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before Terry gives him up!

But all kidding aside, Terry really doesn’t know when to stop, and now he’s carrying the vendetta to a very dark and troubling place.  But I don’t simply mean troubling to me.  Any reasonable Trekkie or Trekker should feel very concerned, as well…

Continue reading “TERRY McINTOSH should be ashamed! (editorial)”

Star Trek/Dr. Seuss “Mash-Up” creators received a CEASE & DESIST letter from CBS!

Is CBS switching back from copyright infringement lawsuits to cease & desist letters?  It’s hard to read the tea leaves when it comes to a multi-billion dollar corporation, but we may have just gotten a clue.

The year 2016 was a turbulent and uncertain time for the world of Star Trek fan films.  It began with a copyright infringement lawsuit against Alec Peters and AXANAR, and then by the summer, fans were presented with a series of fan film guidelines listing the things fans were and were not allowed to do if they wanted to avoid legal action on the part of CBS and Paramount.

But were lawsuits now the “new normal”?  Would fan films that violated the guidelines find themselves dragged into court for expensive litigation?  The studios weren’t saying.  For many years, most fan film producers had (perhaps naively) assumed that the worst that would happen would be they’d get a call (or letter or e-mail) from the studios saying, “Stop what you’re doing.”  Even Alec Peters himself figured he’d probably get a call long before ever being served with a multi-million dollar lawsuit.  Man, was he wrong!

Ironically, had the studios simply sent Alec a cease & desist letter instead of suing, they could have saved themselves nearly a million dollars in attorneys fees and 12 months of polarizing publicity with likely a similar result of a scaled-down Axanar.  But that’s a “what if” scenario that we’ll never see played out in this universe.

But here’s a question: did CBS’s and Paramount’s experience with the year-long Axanar lawsuit leave a bad enough taste in the studio execs’ mouths that they’ve decided to dial things back from battlestations to just yellow alert?  Are the studios ready to return to good ol’ fashioned cease & desist letters to get the job done?

The answer to this question might come from another copyright infringement lawsuit going on right now involving Star Trek…and Dr. Seuss!

Continue reading “Star Trek/Dr. Seuss “Mash-Up” creators received a CEASE & DESIST letter from CBS!”

GUEST BLOGGER ALEC PETERS: Why Star Trek Continues Violating the Fan Film Guidelines is GOOD for Fan Films! (editorial)

Earlier today, ALEC PETERS posted the following blog on the AxanarProductions.com website.  As it’s very relevant to my editorial blog entry from yesterday—and it makes some excellent points—I asked for and received Alec’s permission to re-post the blog in its entirety here on FAN FILM FACTOR.  (Please note that the opinions expressed and descriptions of events presented are solely those of Alec Peters.)


There is a a lot of talk lately about how Star Trek Continues has decided to openly violate the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines that CBS put in place last year. STC has already violated the guidelines with the release of their last episode, and is making 3 more roughly 50 minute episodes that violate at least 5 Guidelines including length (close to 50 minutes) and the use of Star Trek actors.

I would highly recommend you read Jonathan Lane’s Fan Film Factor article on the matter here:

Fan Film Factor

Jonathan provides a very fair view of the matter, as he likes both Axanar and STC.  And Jonathan calls out Vic for his hypocrisy in attacking Axanar for violating “guidelines” that never existed, while violating the actual written rules himself.  And lets be clear, Star Trek Continues has neither been “grandfathered” in (total nonsense), nor do they have a special deal with CBS.  They are simply stating that “we think CBS will be OK with us doing this.”

But I am going to argue that this is actually good for fan films.

Now let’s be clear, I don’t like Vic.  He has been lying about Axanar since he stormed out of the Prelude to Axanar Premiere we invited him to in 2014.  But I support Star Trek Continues as I do all fan films.  I don’t let my feelings for Vic cloud my feelings for a very worthy fan film series.  Along with Star Trek New Voyages, they have done wonderful things in the fan film genre.

Now what is ironic is that while Vic refuses to help anyone else in fan films, (he famously asked Tommy Kraft for a role in the Horizon sequel while telling Tommy he wouldn’t lift a finger to help him) and has refused to allow others to use his sets (unlike James Cawley or Starbase Studios who generously allowed anyone to come use their sets), Vic’s decision to ignore the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines may well help all fan films moving forward.  How is that?

Well, CBS always hated policing fan films.  Having communicated extensively with with John Van Citters, (Head of Star Trek licensing), Liz Kolodner (VP CBS Licensing) and Bill Burke (VP CBS Consumer Products) about fan films for years, and having advocated extensively for guidelines, I knew that CBS didn’t WANT to have to worry about fan films as they saw it as a huge waste of time.  They were too busy making money to have to worry about a bunch of fans making films.  I once joked with John Van Citters that CBS treated fan films with “benign neglect” and that was good, as fan films did nothing but help the franchise.  And CBS told me over and over how it would be impossible to come up with fan film guidelines because of 50 years of Star Trek contracts and agreements with unions, guilds and actors.

Well, clearly that wasn’t the case, since they were able to come up with Guidelines pretty quickly after they sued Axanar.  And while many feel the guidelines are too severe (e.g. limiting fan films to 15 minutes and no more than two installments) or even possibly illegal (it’s questionable if CBS can tell you who you CAN’T hire for your fan film) – the guidelines are what they are. They provide some general rules to follow if a Star Trek fan film producer doesn’t want to run the risk of getting sued by CBS.

So how does Star Trek Continues violating the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines help all fan films?  Well, it just supports what we at Axanar have known for a while.  Axanar was sued because we didn’t look like a fan film.  Not because we made “profit” (we didn’t) or that we built a “for-profit studio” (we didn’t…STNV did that), both reasons made up by people who don’t know what they are talking about, but because Axanar looked like it came from the studio.

Now CBS doesn’t want to sue its fans again.  The 13 months of the lawsuit was not good for CBS and Paramount from a PR perspective.  And the Guidelines were basically a way to put a lid on the “arms race” of professionalism taking place.

But what we see here is CBS giving Star Trek Continues a pass.  And why?  Because over a year ago, CBS said to me, “No one is going to confuse them with real Star Trek.”   And that is the crux of the matter.  Yes, Star Trek Continues, like Star Trek New Voyages, have excellent production values, with amazing sets, brilliant VFX and visuals, and excellent costuming and props.  They LOOK amazing.  But the acting is mostly amateurs, and that is the main reason fan films don’t have widespread appeal. (By the way, I love Chris Doohan as Scotty in STC.  Simply brilliant).  But ask fans what they think of fan films, and the overwhelming # 1 reason they give for not watching or liking them is the acting.  And this is one of the main reasons I decided to give up the role of Garth in the feature film.

So, as long as you aren’t too good – and stay in familiar territory – it appears you are in a safe harbor.  Want to break the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines? Just don’t make something that CBS perceives as a threat.  There’s no question that from a marketing perspective, fan films are actually very good for the Star Trek franchise, and the powers that be at CBS know this and will allow you to break many of the guidelines as long as you aren’t overly ambitious.  And since no one is really raising money for their productions anymore, I don’t think CBS has to worry about this.  STC is spending the money they had previously raised and why they cut down on the number of episodes they were making.

So, while I won’t advocate a fan film maker break the CBS Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines, I think what Star Trek Continues has shown is that CBS isn’t going to worry about a product that they don’t see as threatening.  And that gives all fan film makers a little breathing room.

Alec

VIC MIGNOGNA can’t have it both ways (editorial)

Last Wednesday, STAR TREK CONTINUES announced that none other than actor JOHN “Q” DE LANCIE is going to guest star in the ninth episode of their fan series, “What Ships Are For,” which will premiere the last weekend of July.

And now I am about to get myself into a shatload of trouble!  But before I jump into the smoldering volcano of fan film frenzy and fanatical fealty, let me state the following up front:

I love Vic Mignogna (not romantically, just as a fan).  Yes, I’ve heard him called every name in the book by people who don’t like him.  I’ve heard vitriolic complaints about Vic’s ego, lack of integrity, and even his acting ability.  (And I’ve heard similar rants about Alec Peters, by the way.)  The fact is: I don’t care!  I think very highly of both of these men…and for very similar reasons.  But for right now, let’s focus on why I love Vic.

Every fan production has one bright sun at the center of its solar system.  And for STC, that has always been Vic Mignogna.  He’s a leader and inspiration to his production team.  He makes things happen.  He has set the tone for an endeavor where everyone gives 200% and does it all with smiles while having a blast.  You can see it in their behind-the-scenes videos, and I’ve seen it in person at cons I’ve attended where the STC cast is in attendance…with Vic right there in the middle of the enthusiasm.

I also think Vic does a fantastic job being James T. Kirk.  Many have attempted the role—from the late/great John Belushi to Jim Carey and even Carol Burnett to fan film actors James Cawley and Brian Gross.  Each has brought something different and unique to the character.  So before any of you criticize Vic Mignogna for his performance, imagine yourself trying to portray the legendary captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and tell me if you could do any better.  As far as I’m concerned, Vic nails it.

So regardless of everything else I am about to say in this blog editorial, let me state for the record that I am a big fan of Vic Mignogna and a HUGE fan of (and proud donor to) Star Trek Continues.

And with that, it’s time for Jonathan to jump into the volcano…

Continue reading “VIC MIGNOGNA can’t have it both ways (editorial)”

“OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL BOLDLY GO!” wins a key FAIR USE victory in court!

Last November, a crowd-funded Star Trek project got sued for copyright and trademark infringement by a major rights holder.

No, not Axanar!  That was the previous year, silly (although the Axanar lawsuit was still going on when this other lawsuit was filed).  In this new case, however, the defendant was none other that renown Star Trek screenwriter/author DAVID GERROLD  (the man who gave us tribbles!) along with Marvel/DC (and others) comic book artist TY TEMPLETON and their publisher ComicMix, LLC.

Gerrold and Templeton had created a parody mash-up book based on Dr. Seuss’s beloved classic Oh, The Places You’ll Go!  In their new book, Dr. Seuss was mashed-up with Star Trek to create Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! with pages that that adapted the originals on the left to look like the ones on the right:

The accompanying rhymes were obviously Seussian, as well…things like.

You can get out of trouble, any that’s knotty, because in a pinch you’ll be beamed out by Scotty.

Weird things will happen, and they usually do, to starship explorers and their marvelous crew.

They launched a Kickstarter in late 2106 and took in $30,000 before the rights owners of Dr. Seuss’ collected works had the campaign shut down for an alleged copyright violation.  The following month, a full infringement lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dr. Seuss Enterprises by law firm DLA PIPER, LLP.  Here is the 19-page Seuss Complaint if you’re interested in reading it.  It’s very similar to CBS and Paramount’s initial filing against Axanar, citing the same demands for $150,000 in statutory damages per violation PLUS attorneys fees.

The Axanar detractors were quick to pounce.  SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN, one of the most prolific posters of petulance and profanity, had this to say:

You believe its fair use? You would be mistaken. It’s intellectual property theft and they came right out in their campaign and acknowledged that they were poking the bear to get sued.  David Gerrold is a blatant IP theft [sic] who supports other blatant IP thieves such as Alec Peters…

O’Halloran was referring to the following message included in the “Risks and Challenges” section on their original Kickstarter page:

While we firmly believe that our parody, created with love and affection, fully falls within the boundary of fair use, there may be some people who believe that this might be in violation of their intellectual property rights. And we may have to spend time and money proving it to people in black robes. And we may even lose that.

But it’s looking like they might actually have a chance to win…

Continue reading ““OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL BOLDLY GO!” wins a key FAIR USE victory in court!”

We’re not going to make it, are we?

As you might recall from last week, Lee Quessenberry and I kicked off a HeadTalker Campaign to try to get 500 people to agree to have a message posted to their Twitter, Facebook, and/or other social media account(s) at noon EST on June 13.  The message would say:

“We want to change the Star Trek #Fanfilm Guidelines. Follow Small Access Trek to find out how you can. https://hdtk.co/VSsvF

The idea was to get the message to trend long enough to bring some more attention, eyeballs, and ultimately (hopefully) members to the SMALL ACCESS campaign to get CBS and Paramount to revise at least one of the fan film guidelines.

With less than 24 hours to go, we’re just short of 100 out of the 500 sign-ups we need.  So barring a miracle (or Spock sacrificing himself in engineering), to quote Sulu, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”

No, we’re probably not.

So what does this mean for SMALL ACCESS?  Well, in the words of Monty Python’s peasant: “Not dead yet!”  In fact, we’ve taken in 45 new members in the last two weeks, which is 3.5% growth.  No, it’s not the hundreds and thousands we need, but it’s better than stagnation or collapse.  I choose to see the glass as 3.5% full.

And hey, even if we don’t grow large enough to succeed in our holy quest, we’ve still got a great group that’s spreading the gospel of Star Trek fan films…and I very much want that group to continue.

So what happens next?  I’m not sure yet.  Probably we’ll try another HeadTalker campaign with a smaller goal number.  But I’ll be contacting Lee Quessenberry this week to get his ideas for plan B, C, D, and possibly E.  We’ve got a few months before Star Trek: Discovery premieres, so there’s still time to grow this group some more.  I’m willing to give it a chance if you are.

And hey, if you happen to know 407 people with social media accounts who might be willing to help us make it to our 500-person goal before noon tomorrow, please ask them to sign up here:

Small Access Trek

Secure from battlestations…

I really hate when things go nuclear.  It happens all too often these days…especially online.  Neither party wants to give an inch, each believing he or she is in the right and the other is a total git and knee-biting jerk.  People start taking sides, arguments get heated, “evidence” is collected, and folks generally begin gettin’ real pissy.

That was yesterday.

JAMES HAMS and I went toe-to-toe, mano-a-mano for much of the day over what amounted to three words in a recent blog he wrote.  Granted, they weren’t just any three words, but the point is that the world wasn’t ending.  And yet, you’d never know from all the urgent text messages and e-mails I had to read and write throughout the day.  I’m sure James had a similar experience on his end.

Vance Major – peacemaker, diplomat, good friend

Enter VANCE MAJOR.  Vance is a friend of both James and myself, and he’s also one of Trek fandom’s calmest and coolest heads.  Think of Vance as Switzerland…only with a beard.  Not liking the escalation of tempers he was witnessing between his two friends, Vance stepped in, spoke to us both separately, and negotiated a “cease fire.”

In short, James will be removing those three words from his blog (along with half a sentence that will no longer make sense with the three words gone).  I’ll be telling the folks on SMALL ACCESS (and here on FAN FILM FACTOR) to stand down, secure from general quarters, cancel battlestations…whatever you want to call it.  We’ve both agreed not to mention the other—or their blog(s) or Facebook group(s)—on our own blogs in any negative way on a go-forward basis.

We’re both in agreement on this, and there’s no hard feelings.  There were definitely hard feelings yesterday, but it’s nice to know that things can, with a little give and take, be worked out without going to DefCon 1.

I’d like to thank James for being part of the solution…and also Vance for making that solution possible in the first place.  I much prefer writing a short blog entry like this one over writing a long entry like yesterday’s!

Setting the record straight on SMALL ACCESS!

Man, I so hate dealing with misinformation!  Really, it’s one of my biggest pet peeves.

When I screw up, as I did on this blog a few months ago, I am quick to correct the mistake.  I usually hope that others will do the same. Alas, it doesn’t always happen that way…

And that leaves me facing a choice: let the misinformation remain uncorrected (potentially confusing people and spreading the false claim even further) or try to correct it myself, potentially coming off as petty and vindictive.

It’s really a no-win scenario for me…which is why I hate having to decide what do do when confronted with blatant misinformation.  In this case, I’m choosing to shine a light on the situation and try to correct it.  And I apologize in advance if I seem petty or vindictive, as that’s not my intention.  And hey, feel free to skip this blog entry if you prefer to come here just for the fan film stuff.  I’ll get back to that after this blog.

So here’s what happened…

Continue reading “Setting the record straight on SMALL ACCESS!”