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.”
Last time: we began our fascinating discussion of crowd-funding with two of the most successful campaigners in the history of Trek fan films, Alec Peters (Axanar executive producer) and Mike Bawden (Axanar director of public relations). Together, these two men have organized Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns for multiple productions that have raised nearly $2 million combined (including $1.3 just for Axanar alone).
If you want to know how to run a successful crowd-funding campaign, pay attention to these guys. This discussion isn’t just a Crowd-Funding 101 class; it’s a graduate-level seminar with some amazing insights from two people who’ve actually walked the walk. Their experiences have provided them a unique perspective and many insights that, to me at least, should be considered pure gold to anyone looking to be a part of a successful crowd-funding campaign.
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:
I’ll be going to the big Star Trek Beyond fan event on Friday at Paramount Studios where director Justin Lin will be screening the brand new trailer…followed by a Q&A session. And just wait’ll you read how I managed it!
Last time: we looked at some of the factors that might have affected the recent Indiegogo campaign from Star Trek Continues (which just wrapped up last week).
Now it’s time to continue our discussion of crowd-funding with two crowd-funding experts: ALEC PETERS, show-runner of Axanar, and MIKE BAWDEN, director of public relations for Axanar, who has also worked on the Kickstarter for Space Command, an early campaign that raised $242,000. Mike has been involved in over a dozen crowd-funding campaigns, and the two men together have helped to raise nearly two million dollars of donations from fans for various projects, including $1.3 million for Axanar.
If you’re thinking of doing a crowd-funding campaign of any kind, then get out your pen and start taking notes! The following discussion is a crowd-funding “how to” guide that you’re not likely to get anywhere else…
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.
And the (legal) adventure continues…
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.
Last time: we learned the fate of the Starship Exeter bridge set was not oblivion. After decaying in a Texas barn for years, it was moved to Oklahoma City in 2010 by John Hughes to be used for a new production called Starship Ajax. John advertised for volunteers on Craigslist, and two guys from the concert industry became leaders of the project in their own right: Richard Wells and Scott Johnson
Shortly thereafter, John Hughes decided to concentrate primarily on his fan film, leaving Richard and Scott to complete the bridge restoration and set up Starbase Studios, a place where fan filmmakers could shoot their Star Trek stories for free on an actual TOS bridge recreation set.
But not all went swimmingly. As we continue our interview with Richard and Scott, we learn what happened after when the hand of nature once again threatened this beautiful bridge replica…