Usually, I do features and interviews about fan films that are either complete and already released or at least have posted an enticing trailer or teaser. But not always. Occasionally there’s a gem out there that’s worth covering even at a very early stage of development.
In this case the gem is a pearl, ALIZA PEARL to be precise. (And it’s pronounced “uh-LEE-zuh.”) And this pearl has an alter-ego: Guinan. Yes, THAT Guinan…the one made famous by actor Whoopi Goldberg on six seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Aliza and her co-writer/director Lamar Perry set out to make a prequel to TNG focusing entirely on Guinan, her mysterious past, and the experiences that shaped her into the fascinating bartender and confidante of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. The fan production was going to be called GUINAN: THE SERIES.
As you know from reading my many blogs, there’s a heck of a LOT of Star Trek fan films out there! And thanks to the annual Lucasfilm Star Wars Fan Film Awards (which have been going on since 2002), there’s at least as many (if not more!) Star Wars fan films out there!
But surprisingly, there’s almost no crossover Star Trek/Star Wars fan films on the Internet. And it’s not as though the idea of crossing the franchise streams is completely alien. Fans have edited together scenes from both franchises to create clever mash-ups where the USS Enterprise battles a Star Destroyer or Captain Picard confronts Darth Vader over the view screen. But try to find a film where fans themselves portray the characters of both realities at the same time, and you’ll be looking for a long while.
Fortunately, you don’t have to look…I found one for you!
The motions for summary judgment had been filed last month by both parties in the AXANAR lawsuit, followed by opposition briefs and reply briefs from both sides. Next Monday, at 9:00 a.m. at the Ninth Circuit Federal Court Building, lawyers from both sides were scheduled to appear before Judge R. Gary Klausner to argue the merits of their motions and oppose the other side. And I was planning to be there.
Looks like I don’t have to schlep to downtown anymore. The court just sent the following message to the attorneys in the case:
SCHEDULING NOTICE TO ALL PARTIES AND ORDER by Judge R. Gary Klausner. Plaintiffs CBS Studios Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [72, 85] and Defendants Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters’ Motion for Summary Judgment , calendared for hearing on December 19, 2016, have been taken under submission and off the motion calendar. No appearances by counsel are necessary. The Court will issue a ruling after full consideration of properly submitted pleadings. IT IS SO ORDERED.
In other words, Judge Klausner will decide the motions based solely on the documents that have been filed. This is not unusual for him. In fact, I am told that it’s unusual for him to NOT cancel oral arguments!
And so his decision could come at any moment–today, tomorrow, next week–and when it does, you can believe I’m gonna post it as soon as I can!!!
Ever since the AXANAR legal team released my Executive Summary of “The History of Star Trek Fan Films” during the the discovery phase of the lawsuit, readers have been asking me to upload the document here on FAN FILM FACTOR. And here it is! Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah).
I had initially written “The History of Star Trek Fan Films” to help out Alec Peters and Axanar. At the time that the lawsuit was first filed a year ago, I didn’t yet understand the intricacies of the case as I do now…and so I almost immediately confused copyright with trademark. I was wrong about that, and so my efforts wouldn’t help Alec win the case outright. But my document would still end up being useful in helping to argue for non-willful infringement if the jury found Alec Peters guilty of infringement.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, willful infringement carries a penalty of $150,000 per violation. Non-willful infringement carries penalties as low as $200 per violation. So the difference between the two types of infringement in a verdict could literally be millions of dollars! And how can my document help to prove non-willful infringement?
You can rediscover the magic and wonder of Christmas in the pages of a touching and inspirational book…a book with my name on the cover!
Being Santa Clausis a heartwarming collection of memoirs from one of the world’s most dedicated, professional real-bearded Santas, and it’s the perfect gift to get for someone you love.
And I’m not just saying that because I co-wrote it! Santa Sal is truly one-of-a-kind, and in the pages of this book, you’ll learn why he is one of the most special and amazing Santa Clauses that you will ever read about.
What does any of this have to do with Star Trek fan films? Nothing, really (except that Santa Sal does happen to be a huge Trekkie, which we mention in the acknowledgements at the end). But no, this isn’t a blog post about fan films. However, I hope you’ll indulge me with some holiday goodwill, because I’d like to tell you about my white-bearded friend and the wonderful book we wrote together.
In July of 2014, STARSHIP VALIANT became the first of what would eventually be MANY Star Trek fan productions filmed at STARBASE STUDIOS (in Oklahoma City) to release a completed project onto the Internet. Their debut episode, “Legacy” featured scenes filmed on the bridge, on location outdoors at a cemetery, and in a house.
Back when the episode was first filmed, Starbase studios did not yet have any other sets besides the bridge. The following year, though, Starbase Studios built a 2-bed sickbay set, and Valiant was able to film an additional prologue sequence that helps explain event that happen later in the episode. In July of 2015, a special edition was released with brand new footage inserted at the beginning.
The premise (and promise) of Starship Valiant was, in the vision of show-runner (and lead actor) Michael L. King, to explore the human side of serving in Starfleet. Being in command is a heavy burden. And so while many other fan films enjoy focusing the action and excitement of the battle itself, Valiant would show the aftermath.
It’s been two and a half years since Starship Valiant debuted. Since then, actors/characters from that production have appeared in cameos in other Starbase Studios-produced fan films like Dreadnought Dominion, Melborne, and His Name Is Mudd. But fans were still eagerly awaiting a sequel to “Legacy.”
What they got, however, was more of a prequel. Set several years before the events of “Legacy,” the new episode “Crosses To Bear” does not feature Michael L. King’s character of Commander Bishop at all (although Michael still wrote and produced both episodes and directed this second one). Instead, this 22-minute story focuses entirely on Chief Medical Officer Roger Floyd and a very traumatic event in his life–two, in fact. And watch for an important, bare bones appearance by a very familiar Starfleet officer…played by fan film rookie Frank Jenks, whom I had the pleasure of meeting in Las Vegas (great guy!).
The entire production team–actors and crew–did a very impressive job on this release. It’s definitely worth watching…which you can do right here:
As I mentioned last time, the plaintiffs’ latest filing comes in like a wrecking ball, angry and indignant and looking for strong emotion to carry the day. They want justice…and they don’t get particularly specific in describing what aspects of their intellectual property was copied and how. They give some general descriptions, like Klingons being “…a fictional, war-like species, speaking Klingonese, hailing from the planet Qo’noS and are known for engaging in battles with the Federation.” But they don’t go much further.
As you’ll see in a few moments, the Axanar defense team utilizes a very different approach. Less emotional and more (dare I say it?) logical, they go much deeper into the precise elements of copyright law and legal precedent. (As such, yeah, this is gonna be another long blog, folks…sorry.)
It’s the hammer versus the scalpel, and it’s time to see how an intellectual property “surgeon” operates…
We are now at the “Did, too!” point of the summary judgement phase for the AXANAR lawsuit. Motions for summary judgment were filed back in November with each side asking the judge to make certain rulings before the trial even begins…rulings that could actually make the trial (or most of it) unnecessary.
The plaintiffs want the judge to rule that Alec Peters infringed on the intellectual property (Star Trek) of CBS and Paramount and order that he be forbidden to make any more Axanar anything. The defense wants the judge to rule that the Axanar works fall under the protection of “fair use” and so any trial is unnecessary.
The stakes are high. A decision one way or the other could change the world of Star Trek fan films forever!
STARBASE STUDIOS is moving from Oklahoma City to Arkansas! And here’s why…
As you may have read in my blog about the history of Starbase Studios, these folks rescued the amazing TOS bridge set that had been built for the second Starship Exeter fan film “The Tressaurian Intersection.” That meticulous 360-degree set had been rotting away for years in a barn near Austin, Texas, until it was transported to Oklahoma City and lovingly restored by a group of dedicated fans.
But these folks didn’t just restore the bridge set. They turned it into an invaluable, one-of-kind resource for fan film producers. Anyone was welcome to come and film anything they wanted on this bridge set (and, later, the additional sickbay and transporter room sets that would be constructed) for just the price of the electricity that was used (maybe $50/day). Although there are two other studios in the U.S. featuring TOS sets on sound stages (Ticonderoga, NY for Star Trek: New Voyages and Kingsland, GA, originally for Starship Farragut and later for Star Trek Continues), those studio runners didn’t offer the same kind of open-door, come-any-time-you-want policy as Starbase Studios.
If it’s Tuesday, that can only mean one thing: new documents in the AXANAR lawsuit were filed at midnight last night!
But seriously, folks, these will likely be the last Axanar filings for the foreseeable future. In two weeks (December 19…a Monday, of course), attorneys for both sides will appear in court in front of Judge Klausner for oral arguments, each supporting their clients’ motion for summary judgement. After that, the next document we will see will be filed by the judge himself…and it’ll either be good news or bad news (or both!) for the two sides in this case as he makes his final rulings on these two motions.
In the meantime, here’s what came in last night: REPLIES. Three weeks ago, both sides filed motions for summary judgment (the plaintiffs filed a partial motion…more on that in another blog). These documents each asked the judge to rule on facts that were not in dispute (in other words, so obvious that any jury would reach the same conclusion, so why even waste the time to argue about it in court?). Of course, neither side agrees on what these “obvious” facts are, which kinda suggests they’re not quite undisputed. However, if the judge is convinced by the arguments of one side or the other, he could, conceivably, end this case before the trial even begins, effectively handing a victory to one side or the other.
After filing their motions, each side was allowed, two weeks later, to provide a second filing in OPPOSITION to what the other side had argued in its motion. And finally, a week after that (which was yesterday), each side could provide a brief REPLY to that opposition filing. Here are links to both of those replies from yesterday: