It’s my party, and I’ll reply if I want to…

If you tend to read the comments sections of my blogs, you know that I get quite a lot of posts from Axanar detractors looking to accuse Alec Peters or Axanar of this or that crime or incompetence or atrocity.  Seldom do I trash any of these comments, and I usually provide some kind of response because, well, isn’t that what a blogger is supposed to do?

But lately, it just seems like I’m spending hours and hours each week just reading and responding to all of these angry and challenging posts, leaving me less time to focus on fan films and even my family.  Granted, I still prioritize the latter two over doing any kind of response writing, but that just means I write most of my responses really, really late at night.  Or sometimes I have a little time during the day and try to sneak a few responses in.

This happened yesterday afternoon as I was having a marathon session of dealing with detractors like Rand Johnson saying things like this:

Let me remind you that it was you who FIRST started being a condescending, egotistical, pompous, self-righteous, conceited, ego maniac, holier-than-thou, hotshot, puffed-up, self-centered, snobbish and stuck-up blogger who defends a man who made outlandish claims he was going to make a fan film then spent all the money on crap he did not need to make a fan film. Then you attacked anyone who criticized that man and your hero worship of that man. Or criticized you for promoting and defending that man who took donor money and used it as personal income to financially benefit himself and his associates.

Man, just reading that again exhausted me!  And that’s just one comment, folks.  I get so many.

But then I received a call that has changed everything…

Continue reading “It’s my party, and I’ll reply if I want to…”

FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 4) – Betcha can’t choose just ONE!

In Part 3, I acknowledged a very  inconvenient truth for many fans: CBS owns STAR TREK.  This is the reality we live in, and if we want to continue in our quest to change the Star Trek fan film guidelines, we need to accept that fact and strategically move forward from there.

Project: SMALL ACCESS began as a protest campaign to convince CBS and Paramount to revisit and revise their new guidelines for Star Trek fan films.  And we had a plan.  After several weeks of discussion and debate about all of the guidelines, employing surveys and gathering suggestions for possible changes/improvements, we came to (mostly) a consensus that only about a quarter of the new guidelines were really troublesome to the 1,200 members of our Facebook group who were involved in the discussion.  Another quarter only needed minor tweaking to make them less ambiguous, and nearly half were fine as is.

Our plan involved creating and then sending out copies of our Focus Group Report to CBS and Paramount executives as a sort of “letter-writing campaign” to begin a conversation with the studios in an attempt to create a better compromise of rules that still protected the studios but allowed fans more flexibility in creating their films than the guidelines were permitting.

The plan didn’t work.  Although we know the studios received and were aware of the 115 copies of the 38-page report that was sent (they acknowledged receiving them during questioning in the Axanar lawsuit depositions–so we know the printouts weren’t just thrown out unread), there has been no mention by the studios of revisiting or revising the guidelines at all.

Over the past few months, I’ve done some deep soul searching about what to do for “Plan B” (assuming there even is a “Plan B”…which I would still like there to be).  And then I realized something, and again, a number of you aren’t gonna like hearing it:

The more guidelines we try to convince the studios to revise, the less chance there is that they’ll want to change any.

Here’s why…

Continue reading “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 4) – Betcha can’t choose just ONE!”

The CONTINUING MISSION podcast is back…with special guest: ME!

These days, there seem to be an almost infinite number of Star Trek-themed podcasts….and many of them fall under the branded umbrella of TREK.FM, including “Mission Log,” “Star Trek Rewatch,” “Literary Treks,” “Standard Orbit,” “To the Journey,” “Meta Treks,” and so many others.

Up until recently, however, one of my personal favorite of the Trek.fm podcasts was missing in action: “Continuing Mission.”  This particular blog focused on the ever-expanding world of Star Trek fan films, interviewing a different creator or creative team each week.  Throughout 2014, Trek.fm founder and overachiever, CHRISTOPHER JONES, would host every episode, twenty-five in total during that year.  He also hosted a bunch of other Trek.fm podcasts at the same time.  So it’s probably not surprising that “Continuing Mission” dropped from twenty-five episodes in 2014 to only two (yes, two) total podcasts in all of 2015.

In the first half of 2016, “Continuing Mission” had a brief, six-episode resurrection under the hosting guidance of my friend DENNIS CASTELLO.  In fact, I recorded a podcast for Dennis along with co-guest TOMMY KRAFT (of Star Trek: Horizon) shortly after the fan film guidelines came out.  Alas, that two-hour and twenty minute impassioned discussion never made it to upload, as Dennis found himself unable to keep producing quality episodes consistently.

And so, “Continuing Mission” had been languishing in podcast limbo for ten months until a few weeks ago when new host TONY ROBINSON was talked into resurrecting it yet again by the ever-convincing and always-charming Christopher Jones.  Tony still isn’t quite sure how he got roped into it, but he’s an ardent Trekkie from the U.K. currently living in Ireland, and he was willing to give it his best shot.

Tony’s first podcast debuted on February 25, featuring show-runner RAY TESI of Starship Republic (click here to donate to their Indiegogo).  And to follow that up, well, Tony’s latest guest has the initials J.L. and he just typed the words “Tony’s latest guest has the initials J.L.”  Yep, I was podcast guest number two (I’ve been called worse) on the new “Continuing Mission,” and my episode just went live yesterday!

So if you just can’t get enough of me rambling on and on here in print, feel free to listen to me ramble on and on through your speakers!  Discover the not-so-secret origin of Fan Film Factor, learn how I got a job working for Paramount licensing, and find out where I go to get all the latest news on Star Trek fan films to feature here on this blog.

This link will take you directly to my podcast interview.  Enjoy!

“Think of the children!” – Why I still believe in AXANAR!

Fan Film Factor has sorta become an unofficial meeting ground where Axanar supporters can get together, kick back, relax, and then tear into each other like rabid dogs.

Actually, we try to keep it mostly civil (with varying amounts of success and failure), but once every so often, a post comes along that just gets me a’typin’ and speakin’ my mind!

Such a comment came in early Friday morning from a detractor by the name of JO MOINE.  I had published a blog on Wednesday providing coverage of the recent donor memo issued by AXANAR PRODUCTIONS outlining their future plans and finally releasing their financial statement.  While some of the detractor comments were (not surprisingly) snarky, Jo Moine took it one step further.  She wrote:

Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better. Can’t actually put my finger on why, though. Oh wait – Alec blew $1.4 million with little to show for it, and is asking for more money. Why would anyone think he would manage more money wisely at this point? If you are thinking of giving him more, Jonathan – please don’t. Think of the children!

“Think of the children!” she said.  Perhaps the comment was simply meant to be flippant, but having a six-year-old son myself, I seldom take any call to “think of the children” lightly.  And so I took a good, long look at myself…because what Jo was asking me to do had produced such a profoundly visceral reaction that I wondered why I felt so strongly.  Am I really just following a leader with my blinders on into financial oblivion?  Was I duped.  If I can’t justify my loyalty to this project and put the reasons into words, maybe I should just follow Jo’s advice…

So I asked myself: why am I still so loyal to Alec Peters?  Why am I and thousands of other Axanerds still so supportive of this project when there’s dozens and dozens of detractors out there badgering us to just walk away and belittling us almost constantly for refusing to do so?

It didn’t take long to come up with my answer.  And if you’ve been having any doubts of your own, or if you just want some reassurance that the detractors are, after all, completely wrong in their disdain for this project, this is what I wrote back to Jo Moine…

Continue reading ““Think of the children!” – Why I still believe in AXANAR!”

CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION – AXANAR PRODUCTIONS and INDUSTRY STUDIOS

On Wednesday evening, I posted an update about AXANAR PRODUCTIONS‘ plans for the future, and I included some information about Industry Studios operating as a non-profit entity and being entirely separate from Axanar Productions.  I then received a number of posted comments correcting me that the DONOR MEMO issued by ALEC PETERS stated that it was Axanar Productions and not Industry Studios that was going to be the non-profit entity.

Not wanting to have incorrect information on my blog site, I reached out to Axanar PR Director MIKE BAWDEN yesterday and asked him to clarify for me which entity was going to be the non-profit one and how they would interact with each other.  Understand that I’ve been talking to Alec and Mike about their plans for the past several weeks, but not in great detail.  And in fact, some things were still in flux until very recently (such as the timing of the launch of the Kickstarter).  So I’d gotten a few things stuck in my head in the wrong way that I’d subsequently reported incorrectly in my previous blog, and now it’s time to make sure I get everything right!

Continue reading “CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION – AXANAR PRODUCTIONS and INDUSTRY STUDIOS”

AXANAR FINANCIALS and FUTURE PLANS…plus YOUR chance to ASK ALEC PETERS!

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  (Well, at least some of you were probably waiting for it.)  AXANAR PRODUCTIONS is finally answering that oft-asked question: what the heck did you spend $1.4 million on???  Obviously, it wasn’t all tires and sushi!  But did it really all go to turning a warehouse into a studio, building some sets, fulfilling a few (thousand) perks, and filming a 4-minute Vulcan scene plus 15 minutes of other visual effects?  Well, now you can finally find out for yourself.

Axanar has also released an update on its plans for the future–what the now 30-minute Axanar movie will look like, how the full Axanar story will manage to get told, what’s going to happen to Industry Studios, and whether Axanar Productions will be producing other Star Trek fan films after Axanar (and will they be following the guidelines…well, of course they will!).

There’s a full DONOR MEMO that’s been published on the Axanar website with the headline “Lay in a course for the future.”  I encourage you to read it in its entirety.  Here on Fan Film Factor, I am just going to present some of my own insights on those announcement plus a screen cap of the financials themselves at the end.

I have also been approved by ALEC PETERS to open up the blog comments section to collecting QUESTIONS FOR ALEC for him to answer.  But there are a few ground rules before you start feverishly typing:

  1. Questions must pertain to the contents of the donor memo: the Axanar financials and the plans for the future.  Questions about the lawsuit and what happened in the past just aren’t relevant to the topic(s) at hand.
  2. Not every question will be selected to give to Alec.  Rest assured that I’m not just going to cherry pick the “easy” ones, but I am going to pick the best ones that I think will give us all the most important information and clarifications.
  3. Don’t be a jerk.  Your question has a MUCH better chance of making it into the “finals” if you’re polite and don’t treat Alec like a swindler, con-man, liar, and rogue.

Post your question(s) in the comments section below, and in a few weeks, I’ll publish Alec’s answers to the questions that I select.

And now, here’s my take on the plans for Axanar Productions (from the memo) and the financial report…

Continue reading “AXANAR FINANCIALS and FUTURE PLANS…plus YOUR chance to ASK ALEC PETERS!”

FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 3) – THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH

At the end of Part 2, I said that, in order to move forward with our goal of getting CBS and Paramount to revisit and revise the fan film guidelines, some of us more–shall we say–passionate fans are going to have to face a very unpleasant, inconvenient truth.  And here it is:

CBS owns Star Trek.

I’m sorry, they just do.  And yes, I’ve heard all the arguments that it was the FANS who saved Star Trek and supported it all these years.  It was the FANS who spent billions of dollars keeping the franchise commercially viable, watching it on TV and in movie theaters, and buying an endless parade of licensed merchandise.  We fans MADE Star Trek what it is today!

You know who else made Star Trek what it is today?

Continue reading “FAN FILM GUIDELINES: Reality Check (Part 3) – THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH”

STAR TREK: HORIZON creator TOMMY KRAFT releases his short film RUNAWAY!

TOMMY KRAFT became the first Star Trek fan filmmaker to be “shut down” in the period after CBS and Paramount filed their lawsuit against Axanar.  In February of 2016, Tommy released the amazing STAR TREK: HORIZON, a 104-minute Star Trek fan film produced quite literally in Tommy’s parents’ basement for a production budget of only $28,000.  The film was set in the era of Star Trek: Enterprise during the Romulan War and featured the crew of the USS Discovery NX-04.

Although Tommy initially said there would be no Horizon sequel, the exuberant fan response led him to reconsider, and by April, Tommy was planning to launch a new Kickstarter to fund Federation Rising, once again featuring the crew of the USS Discovery NX-04.  In hindsight, we now know that Tommy had unknowingly chosen a Starfleet vessel with the same name as the upcoming new Star Trek television series.  But all we knew back then was that Tommy was contacted by CBS days before the launch of his Kickstarter campaign and told in no uncertain terms that they would strongly advise him against moving forward in any way with his project.  They weren’t belligerent or threatening; they were simply reaching out proactively…in much the same way they did NOT do with Axanar.  Hoping to avoid the same fate as that other fan film project that he had worked on (yep, Tommy was on the production team for Prelude to Axanar), Tommy opted to shut down his project before it could even get to the launch pad.  You can read Tommy’s statement here.

Instead, Tommy and his production partner, Ryan Webber, decided to create an original non-Star Trek production 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 $17,000 range.  Reluctantly, Tommy and Ryan canceled the Kickstarter and decided to pursue other projects.

Tommy moved onto a new non-Trek film production called RUNAWAY.  And this time, not only was he successful with his Kickstarter, he has knocked the project out of the ballpark!

Continue reading “STAR TREK: HORIZON creator TOMMY KRAFT releases his short film RUNAWAY!”

STAR TREK CONTINUES answers some questions from fans about their FINAL EPISODES!

As reported a week ago, STAR TREK CONTINUES has announced a release date for its eighth episode, “Still Treads the Shadow,” of April 1 at Fan Expo Dallas.  STC also confirmed that they will release three additional episodes after that, completing their run with eleven episodes total (two fewer than their originally-planned thirteen episodes).

These announcements led to some major speculation among fans (especially here on FAN FILM FACTOR and on the SMALL ACCESS Facebook page) wondering how long the episode will be, how are they getting around the guidelines, have they been in contact with CBS and gotten any kind of permission, etc.

Yesterday, STC sent out a newsletter to donors (yep, I got mine!) that included a spotlight on STC guest star Rekha Sharma (of the new Battlestar Galactica, who will be appearing in this upcoming STC episode) as well as some frequently asked questions and answers about their remaining episodes.

Before I publish the STC Q&A, I want to warn any Axanar supporters reading this that, yes, they include a bit of a dig in their fifth answer.  As many fans are aware, there is no love lost between Vic Mignogna of STC and Alec Peters of Axanar (total understatement!).  And in the “I hit Krako, Krako hits Teppo, Teppo hits me…” traditions of fine fan film feuding, we have yet another hit.

As a proud backer of both series who loves watching Vic play Kirk and Alec play Garth, I personally find the mutual animosity distasteful (whichever of them it comes from).  And as a donor to STC, I could have done without the inclusion of the Axa-negativity in the statements.  It wasn’t necessary to say it like they did and just serves to prolong the feud another day/week/month.  But it’s their production, their newsletter, and their chip on the shoulder.

I do dream of a day when we can all just get along and celebrate each others’ successes.  Maybe someday.  But I will stop editorializing now.  Just know that, yes, the dig is in there.  Yes, you’re all welcome to light up my comments section with yet another flame war (they’re kinda like tribbles, aren’t they?).  But no, I’m not going to participate.  I love BOTH productions, and I’m ROOTING for both productions.  I invite those of you who can get past the resentment and anger to join me in not exploding yet again.  It requires a LOT less energy and doesn’t raise your blood pressure nearly as much.

All right, getting down from my soapbox now and handling the mic over to STC

Continue reading “STAR TREK CONTINUES answers some questions from fans about their FINAL EPISODES!”

STARSHIP REPUBLIC contacts CBS DIRECTLY about their INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN! (Interview, Part 2)

Last time, we chatted with Ray Tesi about one of the newest fan projects, Starship Republic.  Filmed at Starbase Studios before it recently moved from Oklahoma City to Arkansas, the fan production just released a short vignette and launched an Indiegogo campaign with a $16,000 goal.

One of the most intriguing things about Starship Republic is the fact that show-runner Ray Tesi actually reached out to John Van Citters of CBS Licensing to review their crowd-funding campaign and give feedback on whether or not there was any problem with them distributing unlicensed perks…both physical and digital.  And so far, CBS sees no issues with Republic doing just that.

We also learned a little about what will make Starship Republic unique…specifically aiming for a look and feel that reflects more modern cinematic techniques rather than trying to faithfully recreate the style of the 1960’s era original series episodes.

And now it’s time to conclude our interview with Ray as we learn more about how the production came to be, how they found their cast, what it was like to actually produce the project, and what’s in store for the future…

Continue reading “STARSHIP REPUBLIC contacts CBS DIRECTLY about their INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN! (Interview, Part 2)”