Three days after J.J. Abrams announced that the copyright infringement lawsuit against AXANAR and Alec Peters was “going away,” the Axanar attorneys at Winston & Strawn filed a legal Response to the most recent amended complaint and ALSO filed a Counterclaim for Declaratory Relief.
Now why would they go and do a provocative thing like that just when the studios were about to start playing nice???
I decided to ask Axanar‘s lead attorney in the case, Erin R. Ranahan. It turns out there was a filing deadline on Monday that, if missed, could have severely and negatively impacted Axanar‘s ability to successfully navigate this lawsuit. Ms. Ranahan explained the situation…
On Friday evening, at a little after 8pm Pacific Time, inside of Stage 31 at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Star Trek Beyond Producer JJ Abrams shocked the fan film world by announcing that the copyright infringement lawsuit against AXANAR was “going away” and that “fans will be able to work on their projects.”
TOMMY KRAFT, who rocketed to fan film fame with his amazing Star Trek: Horizon full-length feature, was called by CBS and told not to proceed with announced plans for a sequel he intended to call Federation Rising. Instead, Tommy and his production partner Ryan Webber decided to create an original project titled PROJECT DISCOVERY, examining mankind’s earliest forays into manned interplanetary spaceflight in the mid-21st century.
Tommy and Ryan launched a Kickstarter campaign in late April with a 2-month time frame and an ambitious goal of $250,000. Although they got off to a strong start, just short of a month into the campaign, pledges had stalled in the $17-18,000 range…barely 7% of the way to the goal while approaching the half-way point.
Yesterday evening, Tommy and Ryan announced the cancellation of their project and its Kickstarter. Here was the message they sent out to donors:
BLADE OF HONOR is not technically Star Trek, but it is sci-fi and it looks totally awesome!
Also, it’s KINDA Star Trek in that the new fan film series features various Star Trek alumni actors, including Tim “Tuvok” Russ (who seems to be everywhere in the fan film world these days!), Aaron “Nog” Eisenberg, and Cirroc “Jake Sisko” Lofton. Also cast are Richard Hatch from Battlestar Galactica, James Kyson from Heroes, Brandon Stacy from Star Trek: New Voyages/Phase II (and also Zachary Quinto’s “Spock” stand-in), Rivkah Raven Wood also from New Voyages as well as Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, and Ryan T. Husk from Star Trek: Horizon, Star Trek: Renegades, and various other Trek fan films.
TOMMY KRAFT, the dynamo behind the hugely successful NX-01-era fan film STAR TREK: HORIZON, is currently raising money for his next production, PROJECT: DISCOVERY. Although not specifically a Star Trek fan film, it now has a definite Star Trek tie-in. Tommy just announced that TIM RUSS, the actor who played Security Chief Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager, will be joining the cast as director of the Earth Space Agency for Project Discovery.
The new, ambitious fan film has an equally ambitious Kickstarter goal of $250,000. Right now, with 41 days left to go, the pledged total stands at just over $17,000…respectable, but there is a LONG way to go! If you can, please consider helping with a donation of your own. Remember that, if this Kickstarter campaign does not reach its goal, your credit card will not be charged.
As I said yesterday, folks, mark your calendars for January 31, 2017. Just as CBS gets ready to launch their new Star Trek TV series, the gavel will fall on the judge’s desk to cal to order CBS and Paramount’s lawsuit against Axanar Productions and Alec Peters. Unless there is a settlement or mediation in the next eight and a half months, the most important case ever for fan films (in many people’s opinions) will be litigated in front of a judge and possibly a jury.
Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled as follows:
Although the Court declines to address whether Plaintiffs’ Claims will prosper at this time, the Court does find Plaintiffs’ claims will live long enough to survive Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.
According to the Axanar website:
Winston & Strawn will now prepare our answer to the amended complaint, which is due in 14 days.
In the meantime, we continue our efforts to settle this matter with CBS and Paramount so we can move forward with telling the story of AXANAR in a way that satisfies both the studios and the over ten thousand fans who financially supported our project.
Mark your calendars! The judge in the lawsuit between Paramount/CBS and Axanar has now set a trial date of January 31, 2017. This is about three and a half months earlier than the litigating parties had mutually recommended to the court.
Judge R. Gary Klausner now has all of the paperwork submitted by the plaintiffs, the defense, and even an amicus brief filed by the Language Creation Society disputing the claim by the plaintiffs that the Klingon language can be copyrighted. It’s quite an attention-grabbing case!
The judge could rule in the coming weeks on any or all of several motions filed on behalf of Axanar, including the removal of Paramount as a plaintiff, dismissing the part of the lawsuit dealing with the Axanar movie (of which, only one 3-minute scene has actually been completed while the rest of the film remains in stalled pre-production), and even the possibility of dismissing the entire case.
Even if the case continues onward, a LOT can happen between now and next January, including a settlement between the two parties. If not, then we’ll see everyone in court in less than nine months.
Not all fan Trek Kickstarters are trying to raise tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars! For two British filmmakers with eight independent short films already under their belts, £1,700 (about $2,500) will do quite nicely, thank you.
Director Gary O’Brien and writer Paul Laight aren’t trying to make the next great Star Trek fan film epic. Instead, they have a simple, character-driven story requiring only five actors (who will be paid professionals, not yet cast) and the construction of a single partial shuttlepod set. The rest of the script will be filmed outdoors in a natural setting.
To help these folks out with a quid, a fiver, a tenner, or just a few good ol’ American bucks, visit the website below:
Star Trek: Renegades is the most expensive Star Trek fan film produced so far. With a price-tag of $375K, their 90-minute pilot movie has generated 1.5 million YouTube views in just 9 months. The movie even had a red carpet premiere in Los Angeles last August with paparazzi and verteran Star Trek actors in the cast, including Walter Koenig, Tim Russ, and Robert Picardo.
Renegades held another Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign at the end of last year, looking to produce the first two single-hour episodes of their ongoing series. This 2-parter would feature Walter Koenig reprising his role of Pavel Chekov for one final time. Raising $378K, there was enough to film part 1, and fans assumed more crowd-funding campaigns would follow as the series continued.
But Renegades has just announced that the upcoming 2-parter will mark the culmination of their impressive fan series efforts.
The second episode of Project: Potemkin‘s fourth (and final) season–the 10-minute “The Hunt”–has just been posted online…barely a week weeks after posting their previous episode! Talk about fast and furious!!