Welcome back to another emotionally-charged episode of “As The AxaCon Turns”…the fan film controversy that asks the eternal question: Is Lane ever gonna stop blogging about this crap???
Well, I thought I was finished on Monday when I posted this blog about the detractors trying their darnedest to interfere with any chance of success for AxaCon by inundating the host convention, SphinxCon, and its chairman, DAVID WEINER, with all sorts of negative public and private comments about ALEC PETERS, AXANAR, and the invited guests (including yours truly).
Because it’s important to today’s blog, let me remind you what started the whole upheaval. Noted Axanar detractor and frustrated New York Mets fan SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN posted this lovely comment onto the SphinxCon Facebook page…
Yeah, that happened. Then everything else happened. Then I blogged about it. That lit up the fan film quadrant of the Internet for many hours on Monday while I took my son to see the King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center. There were literally hundreds of comments waiting for me to read when I got home!
But one message stopped me in my tracks. It was an APOLOGY from Shawn O’Halloran to Dave Weiner for disrupting his convention page!
It’s probably best if I let Shawn speak for himself with this screen cap that Dave sent me…
Perhaps “torpedo” isn’t the right word. Sabotage? Interfere with? Mess up? Mock? Belittle? Bash? Brutalize? Bully? Eliminate?
Whatever you call it, at least a couple of dozen AXANAR detractors (possibly more) seem to be making a concerted effort to convince the organizers of SphinxCon in Atlanta not to host the first AxaCon as a “con-in-a-con” on November 2-4. Earlier this year, detractors had made similar efforts to pressure Eric L. Watts of Treklanta to disinvite ALEC PETERS as a guest…so much so that Eric asked to write a guest blog addressing their behavior.
The same day I was conducting my interview with ALEC PETERS about AxaCon and how it came to be an “add-on” to SphinxCon, the detractors were descending on the SphinxCon Facebook page with a wave of attempts to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Last time it was Eric Watts. This time they needed to get their message out to DAVE WEINER, the organizer and chairman of SphinxCon 2018.
Dave lives in Decatur, GA with his wife Joanna and what he refers to as the “two house cats of the apocalypse.” He has been active in The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association since 2014. He is responsible for TRMN’s online infrastructure and branding.
TRMN has held two conventions a year for the past 5 years–one in Raleigh, NC called HonorCon and one in Minneapolis, MN called MantiCon. SphinxCon will be their first in Atlanta, although Dave and many of the directors and deputies have experience running and working on other cons (including Dragon*Con).
Dave wanted to share what’s been going on since this past Friday because it has been very disturbing to him as a fan and as a convention organizer. Having now observed the detractors firsthand and their attempts to try to put a positive “spin” on their actions, Dave would like set the record straight on exactly what has happened.
To do this, he has provided me with a large number of screen caps of posts, messages, and other communications…and those will make up the majority of this blog. You can then decide for yourself how you feel about all of this…
After a lull in AXANAR news out of Georgia for several months, it seems that there’s suddenly a LOT to talk about! This past week, in addition to the announcement of a director for the two Axanar fan films, PAUL JENKINS, as well as editor MARK EDWARD LEWIS and DIT/colorist BING BAILEY, ALEC PETERS just announced the long-awaited AxaCon has finally been scheduled. Here’s the official announcement…
The Manticore Company, LTD (TMCL) and Axanar Productions are pleased to announce that TMCL’s newest convention, SphinxCon will include Axanar Productions’ AxaCon as a unique“convention-in-a-convention” on November 2–4, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Airport.
SphinxCon is the newest intimate Literary Military Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Atlanta. It is the Annual Convention of The Royal Manticoran Navy: The Official Honor Harrington Fan Association. AxaCon is the official convention of Axanar, the Star Trek fan film dubbed “The Ultimate Fan Film” by Newsweek magazine.
SphinxCon will provide AxaCon with a dedicated space for their panels and events. In return, AxaCon will bring in additional guests as well as a display of various television and movie props from Axanar Productions’ CEO Alec Peters’ personal collection. Peters is known throughout the sci-fi world as a collector of screen-used props from a variety of science fiction franchises, most notably Star Trek.
“When Alec made the proposal for us to host AxaCon, it made perfect sense,” according to David Weiner, Convention Chairman for SphinxCon. “We had already come to an agreement with Alec to offer a private tour of the Axanar sets at OWC Studios to our Manticore Premier members and Convention guests, so when he proposed adding AxaCon as a ‘convention-in-a-convention,’ everyone thought it would be a win-win.”
Alec Peters was equally enthusiastic. “I read the first three Honor Harrington books when doing research for Axanar and love the universe. The chance to host AxaCon with SphinxCon is really fantastic for fans. I think there will be a lot of crossover as fans of one franchise discover the other.”
Indeed! Already, Alec is lining up guests to appear, including co-writer/director (and Marvel Comics writer) Paul Jenkins, Steven “Admiral Slater” Jepson, Stalled Trek fan filmmaker Mark Largent…and a certain blogger of your acquaintance. Yep, Alec activated a seldom-used reserve activation clause and drafted me.
So it was only fair that Alec give me yet another interview to discuss this event…
ALEC PETERS is pretty much a man who needs no introduction…at least in the fan community. But if you’ve only just landed on this planet, here’s a quick run-down. Alec has been the driving force behind the fan production AXANAR for half a decade, writing, producing, and appearing in the widely popular Prelude to Axanar fan film. He worked ceaselessly over three crowd-funding campaigns to raise more than $1.3 million in fan donations to build out a studio and sets and begin filming a 90-minute Star Trek fan film detailing the final battle of the Four Years War with the Klingons at the planet Axanar.
And then Alec got sued by CBS and Paramount for copyright infringement. He fought back, and after a year of legal proceedings, the lawsuit was settled just days before a trial was set to begin. While the specifics of Alec’s settlement with the studios aren’t public, we do know that Alec is now allowed to make two 15-minute Axanar fan films with his original cast (if they choose to return) as well as other entertainment industry professionals.
“What’s happening with AXANAR?” “When is it coming out?” “Has the entire project just fallen apart?” “Who’s the director?” “Do they even have a production team?”
These questions and so many like them pour into comments, IMs, and emails to me almost weekly. (In fact, the “fallen apart” one came in just last week.) I’ve so wanted to share what I know, but I’ve been asked repeatedly by ALEC PETERS to please keep things under wraps for the time being.
A few weeks ago, I finally started asking Alec in earnest when we could do a proper interview and announce some of these big news items publicly. Believe it or not, it’s actually been well over a YEAR since my last full interview with him! Anyway, it took some prodding and nagging, but I finally convinced the man behind Axanar to sit down with me for an extended interview and update.
Today, please welcome special Guest Blogger ERIC L. WATTS, Chairman of the annual TREKLANTA convention in Atlanta, GA and the organizer of the BJO Awards that honor the top Star Trek fan films each year. Eric and Treklanta have been an important and integral part of theTrek fan film community for many years now—screening fan productions, featuring fan film panel discussions and guests, an generally giving support and validation to the genre.
Treklanta 2018 took place over the Memorial Day weekend and featured a couple of panels focusing on fan films. Everything was going great until it was announced that ALEC PETERS of AXANAR would be taking part in these panels. Then the shat hit the fans, and Eric was berated by angry e-mails and Facebook posts and even a phone call telling him how wrong he was for letting Alec Peters anywhere near his convention…let alone allowing Alec to be an announced guest on two panels.
The blowback both privately and on social media blasting Eric over Alec’s presence at Treklanta became so intense that I asked Eric if he’d like to comment on it here on Fan Film Factor in a blog I was preparing last week about the Bjo Awards.
Eric agreed, but his comment was so thorough and heartfelt that I decided it would be better to let it stand in its entirety as a separate guest blog. My apologies to you and Eric for the delay in getting it posted (one week), but with two different crowd-funders ending, it’s been a very crowded seven days of blogs (and I was away in Santa Barbara over the weekend).
Anyway, here’s what Eric had to say about Alec Peters and panels at Treklanta…
The annual TREKLANTA con in Atlanta, GA is not a particularly huge convention, but it is one of the most fan-film-friendly cons you’re likely to find anywhere. This is thanks in large part to Chairman ERIC L. WATTS, who organizes the convention along with Treklanta’s annual BJO AWARDS for the best Star Trek fan films from the previous year. And there’s usually at least a panel or two dedicated to a particular fan film or fan films in general.
This year, the most notable fan film panel was being led by RANDY LANDERS, show-runner for POTEMKIN PICTURES in Pelham, AL, which has produced about five dozenTrek fan films over the past eight years! The title of the panel: “Have the new guidelines really hindered the production of Star Trek fan films?”
To help answer this, Randy invited five additional noted Star Trek fan filmmakers to join him for a lively panel discussion:
JOSE E. CEPEDA -Show-runner and lead actor on the long-running STAR TREK: NATURES HUNGER web series.
GREG TEFT – Cast member of STARSHIP: REPUBLIC, which will soon be filming more fan productions on the former Star Trek Continues “Stage 9” sets in GA.
GLEN L. WOLFE – Co-owner of the STARBASE STUDIOS sets in AR and the show-runner of THE FEDERATION FILES anthology series.
ALEC PETERS – Head of Axanar Productions and Executive Producer of PRELUDE TO AXANAR.
Interestingly , when Alec’s participation on the panel was announced, even though the panelists were all fine with it, apparently a number of detractors weren’t. Eric L. Watts was berated with e-mails and criticism in detractor social media groups. (I’ve invited Eric to comment on that separately as a guest blogger later this week.)
The panel discussion was really enlightening and fun to watch. And thanks to a video shot by LEE DREW (and posted here with the blessing of both Lee and Eric), you get to watch it, as well (in two parts)…
MICHAEL ILASI, a dedicated AXANAR detractor, announced last month that he was planning to create a “parody” of Prelude to Axanar using actual footage from the fan film…re-edited to be “funny.”
But what Michael released wasn’t a parody so much as a mockery. It belittled ALEC PETERS and the other cast members of Prelude by showing their bloopers, adding banjo music, crickets, laughter, etc…and making it look like these were bungling idiots rather than actors trying to put in solid performances while flubbing the occasional line.
Michael called it a “fan film,” but I don’t think it qualifies. A fan film should celebrate and honor something a fan loves—Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Harry Potter—not try to tear it down or cheapen it in some way. In fact, that’s sorta the OPPOSITE of a fan film.
Michael was using Axanar blooper footage released without permission last year by former Axanar marketing director turned vitriolic detractor TERRY McINTOSH, violating his non-disclosure agreement with Alec and Axanar Productions and releasing footage that was not legally his to release.
The arguments being employed currently by Michael and other detractors justifying the creation and release of this mockery film can best be summed up as follows:
Alec can’t own the Prelude footage because it’s all Star Trek, and Alec doesn’t own the Star Trek intellectual property.
Parody is protected speech under fair use. Alec can’t do anything to prevent Michael from enjoying his First Amendment rights.
Axanar is”open source.” Alec even said so himself.
Get over yourselves and laugh, fer cryin’ out loud! They’re bloopers, not KFC’s secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Lighten up.
You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve got an answer to each of these attempts to justify and excuse what Michael did.
(My apologies in advance for the length of this blog. But I think the current situation merits it.)
As you probably know, there are certain areas on the Internet (mostly Facebook) where many of the most hard-core AXANAR detractors congregate and feed off of one anothers’ obsessive antipathy toward this fan project and its show-runner. Just look at the image to the left. Here’s a detractor who has spent countless hours creating literally dozens and dozens of these faux movie posters…each of them denouncing ALEC PETERS and Axanar, hurling insults and accusations, and mocking Axanar supporters (like good ol’ “Slow” Lane here—they love calling me that for some childish reason).
Most of the time, this “fear and loathing” of all things Axanar remains safely locked away in the echo chambers of these Facebook groups. But last week, I was concerned to read the following message posted on the main Axamonitor Facebook page by SHAWN O’HALLORAN……
Actually, I think the AXANAR detractors have been pretty ridiculous for quite some time now. In fact, one Axanar supporter told me recently, “Y’know, if Alec Peters goes to take a leak in a restaurant, someone from one of the hater groups is gonna follow him in to see if there’s any piss left on the toilet seat. Then Carlos Pedraza will write a blog about how Alec has no respect for janitors!”
What a great image to begin a blog with, huh? Well, it seems that the Axanar detractors are stooping nearly that low (if they haven’t already surpassed it) in their latest efforts to try to embarrass and sabotage their favorite target of ridicule, Alec Peters.
While I usually ignore the day-to-day antics of the Axanar detractors, every so often something pops up that just leaves me scratching my head. And let me tell ya, my scalp was itching like crazy when I saw a recent Facebook IM conversation that recently went on between Axamonitor blogger Carlos Pedraza and the assistant of Tony Cade.
But before I show it to you, there’s a quick bit of background you need to know first…like who the heck is Tony Cade???