Marvel Comics Writer PAUL JENKINS joins AXANAR as CO-WRITER! (interview, part 2)

Last time, we began a fascinating discussion with PAUL JENKINS, who will be the new co-writer of Axanar.  Although ALEC PETERS has already written complete drafts of the two 15-minute short fan films allowed thorough his legal settlement with CBS and Paramount, and at least ten major iterations of the full 90-minute script exist, Alec has asked Paul to come on board to help polish and finalize all three long and short scripts.

Paul himself is a very impressive writer and film producer in his own right.  He is credited as one of the main reasons that Marvel Comics escaped Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the 1990s when he helped to create the “Marvel Knights” series of titles.  He has written a wide range of both Marvel and DC comics characters, winning an Eisner Award and five Wizard Fan Awards.  His work on Wolverine: Origin was even turned into a blockbuster feature film.

Paul has written and creative directed numerous titles for the video gaming industry, and he’s worked on projects with many of the major motion picture studios.  Paul currently lives in Georgia and chairs an advisory committee to educate the Georgia General Assembly on the evolution of digital and interactive technologies.  He’s also been tasked by Georgia’s governor to help cultivate and nurture the growing film development industry in the state.

And now Paul will be lending his impressive talents to Axanar.

In the first part of our interview, we learned how Paul first got involved in the project, and how the announcement of his involvement almost immediately caught the attention of Axanar detractors who contacted him with very negative and angry messages.  (Seriously, guys?)

But Paul is taking it all in stride.  Having been a prolific comic book writer for more than two decades, this isn’t Paul’s first rodeo.  As far as he is concerned, the lawsuit has been settled, and now the job ahead is to make the next two Axanar episodes as good as they can be.

And now, back to our great interview…

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Marvel Comics Writer PAUL JENKINS joins AXANAR as CO-WRITER! (interview, part 1)

AXANAR has a new co-writer!  Ladies and gentlemen, meet PAUL JENKINS.  As you can see from his IMDb page, this bloke (he’s British) has done a LOT of stuff in television, film, and video games.  He’s also one of the writers credited with helping to rescue Marvel Comics from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the late 1990s with the introduction of the “Marvel Knights” series of titles.  Since then, Paul has written everything from Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk to the ground-breaking Wolverine: Origin (which served as the basis for the feature film with Hugh Jackman).

And now, Paul will be helping ALEC PETERS complete the scripts for the Axanar fan films.

The script for Axanar has trekked a long road.  Alec first began working on the story back in 2011.  And Alec welcomed input from folks like John Muenchrath (who played Dr. McCoy on Star Trek: New Voyages under the stage name “John Kelley”), Star Trek novelist Dave Galanter (see Dave Galanter’s post below in the comments section), Prelude to Axanar director Christian Gossett, and of course, “Trouble with Tribbles” episode writer David Gerrold.  During 2015, then-Axanar director ROBERT MEYER BURNETT brought on BILL HUNT to take yet another pass at tweaking the script.  By the time Axanar was ready to shoot in early 2016, the 90-minute script was already on version 7.

During the lawsuit, Bill Hunt and Alec worked on additional revisions of the script.   I read one of their iterations, and it was up to version 9.

Finally, after the lawsuit settled, Alec was permitted to make Axanar not as a 90-minute feature film but rather as two 15-minute short fan films.  There would still be a full 90-minute script distributed to donors, but two 15-minute scripts would now need to be written, based on the longer version.

Alec decided to write the new 15-minute scripts as “Part IV” and “Part V” of The Four Years War mock documentary, with Prelude to Axanar having been “Part III.”  The first drafts of both of those scripts were completed by Alec this past summer, with a number of people (including me) reviewing them an providing feedback.  Then, on October 6, Alec announced that Paul Jenkins would be joining the Axanar team as co-writer.

So what was a major comic book and Hollywood writer was doing coming to work on a Star Trek fan film???

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ROBERT MEYER BURNETT resigns as director on AXANAR!

Almost from the very beginning, ROBERT MEYER BURNETT, who directed and co-wrote the film Free Enterprise with William Shatner and Eric McCormack, has been almost as synonymous with the AXANAR project as Alec Peters himself.  He edited Prelude to Axanar and is credited by many as being a major reason that this mockumentary-style fan film came out as well as it did.

For the past three years, Rob has been listed as the director of the upcoming Axanar fan film, originally intended as a 90-minute feature film.  In fact, Rob directed the impressive 3-minute “Vulcan scene” vignette, planned to be a part of that final feature.  After a legal settlement with CBS and Paramount, the Axanar production has now been shortened to two 15-minute mockumentary-style sequels to Prelude.

Rob has been one of the staunchest supporters and cheerleaders for the project (probably even more than me!) and has been involved in pre-production efforts, podcasts, convention appearances, and social media outreach for Axanar over the past two and a half years.  But with the move of Alec Peters and the Axanar sets across the country from Los Angeles to Atlanta, GA, the logistics of a bi-coastal collaboration became more of a challenge.

Yesterday, Rob announced that he was moving on from the production…

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AXANAR update…the news is actually GOOD!

Every so often, just for a shats and giggles, I head over the the Axamonitor blog site to see the latest “news” CARLOS PEDRAZA has to “report.”  It’s funny because, while some people like to see the AXANAR glass as half-full (if not more so), Carlos does his best to convince folks that the Axanar glass is 99% empty.  I noticed, in one of his latest updates, that Carlos included such catastrophic sub-headlines as…

  • Axanar Could ‘Take Years’
  • Failed California Studio
  • Indiegogo Failure
  • Hemorrhaging Money
  • Abandoning Nonprofit Plans
  • Bait and Switch?
  • No More Axanar

And that’s just ONE blog update, folks!!!

Sheesh, with “news” like that, it’s hard to imagine any reason to smile in the land of Axanar fandom.  So why am I and so many others still smiling?

Despite naming his blog site “Axamonitor,” Carlos seems to be very—what’s the word?—selective in what he actually “monitors” and chooses to include.  So if there are any positive things to say or good news or report about Axanar, you’re unlikely to find it there.

Fortunately, there’s other places on the Internet to get the rest of the story…including here.  And so that’s the subject of today’s blog: all the GOOD news that’s happening right now in the world of Axanar….

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JAMES CAWLEY announces the new STAR TREK FILM ACADEMY! (news and editorial)

This is what I get for going to Colorado instead of Las Vegas!  I wind up taking an antique train ride through the Rocky Mountains to visit an old silver mine with my son and my brother and his family…while at the same time, JAMES CAWLEY makes a HUGE announcement about fan films and CBS licensing!

It’s amazing the kind of cell coverage you get on a train in the middle of mountain wilderness, but it seemed like everyone was coming to me for answers about Saturday morning’s big news from the creator of STAR TREK: NEW VOYAGES and the officially licensed Star Trek Set Tour in the small and lovely town of Ticonderoga, New York.

Of course, I had no answers.  Yes, I knew the announcement was coming a few days earlier and that it involved James Cawley and his sets—but I didn’t know the details.  My news Saturday came from Carlos Pedraza’s Axamonitor blog site and TrekMovie.com.  And for those that haven’t heard yet, here’s the basic info…

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TERRY McINTOSH is officially warned by actor TONY TODD not to use his AXANAR blooper footage!

After yesterday’s blog about the troubling behavior of TERRY McINTOSH, I’d really hoped to get back to fan films today.  Yeah, I thought I was out, but Terry pulled me back in.  However, this WILL be my last Terry McIntosh blog for the foreseeable future.  I don’t want to keep giving him all this attention, even if it is completely negative.  But I felt it was necessary to follow-up on yesterday’s blog because of something that happened later on last evening.

Quick recap: Terry McIntosh, who worked with Axanar Productions for years before flying off in a huff has all the footage from Prelude to Axanar…including outtakes.  Even though Terry signed a non-disclosure agreement agreeing to keep all Axanar-related materials confidential, he already leaked an early version of the full Axanar script, and now he’s announced plans to release a Prelude to Axanar blooper reel…even though he doesn’t own the footage or have permission to do so.

Terry’s stated intention is to use the blooper reel to embarrass Alec Peters, who apparently worked through numerous bad takes to get his performance as Garth to a point where it would be strong enough to feature in the fan film alongside the professional actors (who obviously didn’t flub their lines as much as Alec did…since he’s not a trained actor).

Terry contacted the other actors (with the exception of the late Richard Hatch and his estate) to ask “permission” to use their blooper footage (failing to mention that he was no longer with Axanar Productions and was doing this “rogue” in an attempt to embarrass Alec Peters).  Although Kate Vernon said okay, Gary Graham and J.G. Hertzler said no.

Then Terry said this:

In other words, Terry asked for permission, was not given that permission, and is now considering ignoring this actor’s wishes and using the footage anyway.

What I wrote in yesterday’s blog was NOT pretty.  But at least, I thought, this can’t get any worse.  There’s no way for Terry to possibly sink any lower.

Man, was I wrong…

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TERRY McINTOSH should be ashamed! (editorial)

I’m kinda sick to my stomach right now—so disgusted that I am quite literally nauseous—and I really don’t know how to deal with it other than blogging to try to clear this out of my head.

You guys might remember a few weeks ago when TERRY McINTOSH, the former marketing director for Axanar Productions, released an old version of the original full script for the AXANAR movie.  Even though he had signed a non-disclosure agreement (N.D.A.), promising to keep all Axanar-related materials private and confidential, he decided he was pissed off enough at ALEC PETERS that he no longer gave a shat about signed agreements or breaking promises.  The script, Terry believed, was so bad that releasing it would embarrass Alec, who had called it the best Star Trek script ever (or something like that).

In the end, it was mostly a tempest in a teapot.  I’ve now read the old script, and it wasn’t all that bad.  And now that I’ve read the two new 15-minute segments script, the outdated version of the full script doesn’t really ruin much of anything.  A lot has changed (obviously).

Anyway, y’know when Khan says, “I’ve hurt you…and I intend to go right on hurting you.”  Well, that seems to be Terry when it comes to Alec Peters.  Terry will chase Alec round the moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before Terry gives him up!

But all kidding aside, Terry really doesn’t know when to stop, and now he’s carrying the vendetta to a very dark and troubling place.  But I don’t simply mean troubling to me.  Any reasonable Trekkie or Trekker should feel very concerned, as well…

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2-YEAR-OLD version of full AXANAR movie script purposefully LEAKED! (news and editorial)

This morning I face a bit of a dilemma.  There’s an 800-pound mugato in the cave (a more appropriate metaphor than “elephant in the living room”), and I needed to decide how to deal with it.

On the one hand, it’s fan film news…major fan film news, in fact.  A version of the 90-minute AXANAR script that was “locked” prior to the lawsuit (meaning it would be used to determine line item costs) was leaked yesterday by disgruntled (man, is that an understatement!) former CTO and Marketing Director for Axanar Productions, TERRY McINTOSH.  It was actually an earlier version than the one used for the lawsuit (Terry released version 7.3, but the version submitted in the legal filings was 7.7—and the latest version that exists now actually goes to 11).  But the fact is that a version of the Axanar script is now out there…and that’s news.

On the other hand, Terry violated a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in doing so.  The thing about NDA’s is that, for a project like Axanar, they are unlikely to be enforced because ALEC PETERS would have to prove financial damages and injury.  Since Alec is unlikely to lose any money from the release of an outdated script that’s been rewritten multiple times since 2015, there’s little reason to bother taking legal action.  (But hey, who knows?)

That said, despite the lack of legal “teeth,” signing an NDA is like making a promise…saying that you’re trustworthy and able to keep a secret.  I’ve signed an NDA with Axanar Productions, as well.  The things I know could potentially explode my page views.  But I don’t share them because I gave my word—and at least for me, that means something.

So, yes, there’s an outdated Axanar script out there now, and you’ll probably be able to find it fairly easily if you look.  But I am not going to post it here.  Nor am I going to link to any of the numerous detractor sites that have sprung up in the last 24 hours to tear the script apart.

Have I read the script myself?  Not yet.  I’ve been too busy reading through Alec’s new scripts for the two 15-minute Axanar films and preparing my feedback for him, and I didn’t want to get distracted.  I might read the leaked script eventually…maybe not.  I haven’t decided yet.

But what I have decided is to honor my own signing of an NDA and not facilitate access to the outdated script, even though it is now public.  Unlike some people, when I give my word, I keep it.

GUEST BLOGGER ALEC PETERS: Why Star Trek Continues Violating the Fan Film Guidelines is GOOD for Fan Films! (editorial)

Earlier today, ALEC PETERS posted the following blog on the AxanarProductions.com website.  As it’s very relevant to my editorial blog entry from yesterday—and it makes some excellent points—I asked for and received Alec’s permission to re-post the blog in its entirety here on FAN FILM FACTOR.  (Please note that the opinions expressed and descriptions of events presented are solely those of Alec Peters.)


There is a a lot of talk lately about how Star Trek Continues has decided to openly violate the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines that CBS put in place last year. STC has already violated the guidelines with the release of their last episode, and is making 3 more roughly 50 minute episodes that violate at least 5 Guidelines including length (close to 50 minutes) and the use of Star Trek actors.

I would highly recommend you read Jonathan Lane’s Fan Film Factor article on the matter here:

Fan Film Factor

Jonathan provides a very fair view of the matter, as he likes both Axanar and STC.  And Jonathan calls out Vic for his hypocrisy in attacking Axanar for violating “guidelines” that never existed, while violating the actual written rules himself.  And lets be clear, Star Trek Continues has neither been “grandfathered” in (total nonsense), nor do they have a special deal with CBS.  They are simply stating that “we think CBS will be OK with us doing this.”

But I am going to argue that this is actually good for fan films.

Now let’s be clear, I don’t like Vic.  He has been lying about Axanar since he stormed out of the Prelude to Axanar Premiere we invited him to in 2014.  But I support Star Trek Continues as I do all fan films.  I don’t let my feelings for Vic cloud my feelings for a very worthy fan film series.  Along with Star Trek New Voyages, they have done wonderful things in the fan film genre.

Now what is ironic is that while Vic refuses to help anyone else in fan films, (he famously asked Tommy Kraft for a role in the Horizon sequel while telling Tommy he wouldn’t lift a finger to help him) and has refused to allow others to use his sets (unlike James Cawley or Starbase Studios who generously allowed anyone to come use their sets), Vic’s decision to ignore the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines may well help all fan films moving forward.  How is that?

Well, CBS always hated policing fan films.  Having communicated extensively with with John Van Citters, (Head of Star Trek licensing), Liz Kolodner (VP CBS Licensing) and Bill Burke (VP CBS Consumer Products) about fan films for years, and having advocated extensively for guidelines, I knew that CBS didn’t WANT to have to worry about fan films as they saw it as a huge waste of time.  They were too busy making money to have to worry about a bunch of fans making films.  I once joked with John Van Citters that CBS treated fan films with “benign neglect” and that was good, as fan films did nothing but help the franchise.  And CBS told me over and over how it would be impossible to come up with fan film guidelines because of 50 years of Star Trek contracts and agreements with unions, guilds and actors.

Well, clearly that wasn’t the case, since they were able to come up with Guidelines pretty quickly after they sued Axanar.  And while many feel the guidelines are too severe (e.g. limiting fan films to 15 minutes and no more than two installments) or even possibly illegal (it’s questionable if CBS can tell you who you CAN’T hire for your fan film) – the guidelines are what they are. They provide some general rules to follow if a Star Trek fan film producer doesn’t want to run the risk of getting sued by CBS.

So how does Star Trek Continues violating the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines help all fan films?  Well, it just supports what we at Axanar have known for a while.  Axanar was sued because we didn’t look like a fan film.  Not because we made “profit” (we didn’t) or that we built a “for-profit studio” (we didn’t…STNV did that), both reasons made up by people who don’t know what they are talking about, but because Axanar looked like it came from the studio.

Now CBS doesn’t want to sue its fans again.  The 13 months of the lawsuit was not good for CBS and Paramount from a PR perspective.  And the Guidelines were basically a way to put a lid on the “arms race” of professionalism taking place.

But what we see here is CBS giving Star Trek Continues a pass.  And why?  Because over a year ago, CBS said to me, “No one is going to confuse them with real Star Trek.”   And that is the crux of the matter.  Yes, Star Trek Continues, like Star Trek New Voyages, have excellent production values, with amazing sets, brilliant VFX and visuals, and excellent costuming and props.  They LOOK amazing.  But the acting is mostly amateurs, and that is the main reason fan films don’t have widespread appeal. (By the way, I love Chris Doohan as Scotty in STC.  Simply brilliant).  But ask fans what they think of fan films, and the overwhelming # 1 reason they give for not watching or liking them is the acting.  And this is one of the main reasons I decided to give up the role of Garth in the feature film.

So, as long as you aren’t too good – and stay in familiar territory – it appears you are in a safe harbor.  Want to break the Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines? Just don’t make something that CBS perceives as a threat.  There’s no question that from a marketing perspective, fan films are actually very good for the Star Trek franchise, and the powers that be at CBS know this and will allow you to break many of the guidelines as long as you aren’t overly ambitious.  And since no one is really raising money for their productions anymore, I don’t think CBS has to worry about this.  STC is spending the money they had previously raised and why they cut down on the number of episodes they were making.

So, while I won’t advocate a fan film maker break the CBS Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines, I think what Star Trek Continues has shown is that CBS isn’t going to worry about a product that they don’t see as threatening.  And that gives all fan film makers a little breathing room.

Alec

VIC MIGNOGNA can’t have it both ways (editorial)

Last Wednesday, STAR TREK CONTINUES announced that none other than actor JOHN “Q” DE LANCIE is going to guest star in the ninth episode of their fan series, “What Ships Are For,” which will premiere the last weekend of July.

And now I am about to get myself into a shatload of trouble!  But before I jump into the smoldering volcano of fan film frenzy and fanatical fealty, let me state the following up front:

I love Vic Mignogna (not romantically, just as a fan).  Yes, I’ve heard him called every name in the book by people who don’t like him.  I’ve heard vitriolic complaints about Vic’s ego, lack of integrity, and even his acting ability.  (And I’ve heard similar rants about Alec Peters, by the way.)  The fact is: I don’t care!  I think very highly of both of these men…and for very similar reasons.  But for right now, let’s focus on why I love Vic.

Every fan production has one bright sun at the center of its solar system.  And for STC, that has always been Vic Mignogna.  He’s a leader and inspiration to his production team.  He makes things happen.  He has set the tone for an endeavor where everyone gives 200% and does it all with smiles while having a blast.  You can see it in their behind-the-scenes videos, and I’ve seen it in person at cons I’ve attended where the STC cast is in attendance…with Vic right there in the middle of the enthusiasm.

I also think Vic does a fantastic job being James T. Kirk.  Many have attempted the role—from the late/great John Belushi to Jim Carey and even Carol Burnett to fan film actors James Cawley and Brian Gross.  Each has brought something different and unique to the character.  So before any of you criticize Vic Mignogna for his performance, imagine yourself trying to portray the legendary captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and tell me if you could do any better.  As far as I’m concerned, Vic nails it.

So regardless of everything else I am about to say in this blog editorial, let me state for the record that I am a big fan of Vic Mignogna and a HUGE fan of (and proud donor to) Star Trek Continues.

And with that, it’s time for Jonathan to jump into the volcano…

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