It was an incredible night! I’ve been to my fair share of special STAR TREK events in my life, but this one had to be one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There was just something magical about being in the same sound stage that TOS filmed in 50 years ago while also celebrating that rich five-decade history with people who all loved this franchise so dearly.
Just when we thought it was winding down…
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…
(Okay, I admit that Star Trek Beyond is not technically a fan film. But I’m willing to make an exception if you are.)
There we were last Friday night, several hundred people all crammed into a room where, 50 years ago, the original Star Trek series was filmed. We were all standing shoulder to shoulder, staring at a large projection screen on which the new trailer of Star Trek Beyond was about to be shown. A short introduction from Simon Pegg was played first, and we saw the new trailer.
After the train wreck that was the first trailer released back in December, this new one was so infinitely better that I could hardly believe it was the same movie. And while I still wasn’t completely convinced yet that the new film wouldn’t suck, I was now cautiously optimistic.
And then we all got a surprise.
JJ Abrams and Justin Lin have every reason to think like lawyers. After all, they make a lot of money from Star Trek, and if there’s a chance something will damage that brand and result in Star Trek making less money, that affects at least part of their livelihood.
So why did Abrams and Lin put pressure on Paramount and CBS to settle and end their lawsuit against Axanar? It’s because these two producers, as fans themselves, know something that all the lawyers involved in this lawsuit (and many of the fans following it) seem to have forgotten: being a fan should be FUN (just change the “a” to a “u”), and when fans have fun, franchises thrive.
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.