Back in the summer of 2016, ALBERT MARTINEZ debuted a new fan film consisting primarily of breathtaking CGI visual FX inspired by the Kelvin-verse style of starship design. CHASING THE INFINITE SKY quickly went viral with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. One of those viewers was ALEC PETERS of Axanar, and he quickly fell in love with this beautifully crafted fan film, talking it up every chance he could.
Skip ahead two years, and Alec invited Albert to be a guest at AXACON last November. Albert was honored to attend and drove all the way from Texas to Georgia with his wife for the event.
Also in attendance was yours truly, as I had agreed to be a panelist for the mini-con. I knew Alec was planning to record all of the sessions on video to debut later on YouTube, with myself and KEITH M. SEDOR as hosts and interviewers. However, I wasn’t expecting for Keith and I to be put to work immediately on day one…when when everything was just a tour of Ares Studios and not even at the hotel yet! Alec, however, had hired a three-camera video crew plus sound engineer to record right there at the studio…and I was given almost no time to prepare to interview multiple guests, beginning with Albert. Geez, Alec, no pressure!
Usually, my interviews of fan filmmakers are simply audio or text (’cause I can’t afford camera crews!). But today I present to you a special VIDEO interview. At the end, the video also includes a new REMASTERED higher-quality version of Chasing the Infinite Sky. (By the way, Albert Martinez has now joined the Axanar VFX team.)
The following video has been available for the past few weeks to donors who’ve signed up for the ARES STUDIOS PATREON. If you haven’t signed up yet, just a couple of bucks a month will get you early access to videos like this one (as there’s over 22 hours of amazing interviews and panels that will be edited and shared). Also, you’ll help keep Ares Studios open so that fan filmmakers and students and even professionals can shoot scenes on that amazing USS Ares bridge!
I’d just like to give a quick shout-out to BRIAN T. ALEXANDER, who shot and compiled the video, and to JOHN STREKIS, who did an amazing job editing it. All of the Axacon videos are being lovingly preparing by a small, dedicated team of editors and sound people to look as good as possible. Here is the first one…
My head hit the pillow on Saturday night, I blinked, and it was suddenly 7 hours later (thank you, daylight savings!)—I was that exhausted after two days of Axacon. But now I was recharged with only one day to go…and this day was much less hectic. I was only scheduled to lead two panels, and nearly everyone I could think of had already been interviewed in the director’s chairs alcove.
I heard the shower running in the bathroom that I shared with STEVEN “Admiral Slater” JEPSON (we each had our own bedrooms in Alec’s house), so I started packing up my stuff. I’d be leaving the con and taking the hotel shuttle directly to the airport a little after 4:00pm. When Steven was done, I hopped into the shower and got myself dressed.
Steve was already downstairs, and for a little while, it was just the two of us waiting for the others. Over the weekend, Steve quickly became one of my favorite people in the entire Axanar brother-and-sisterhood. A music and vocal teacher at the University of Missouri School of Music, Steve is also a singer and performer, and a really smart, well-spoken guy. And like me, he’s incredibly funny (see what I did there?).
As we waited for the rest of the posse to get ready, Steve and I admired the new Starfleet admiral’s uniform, had-sewn for Steve by Axanar costumers CLAUDE FRANCIS DOZIÈRE and ANGELA AVINO from Italy. Steve’s original Admiral Slater uniform was the same one worn by actor TONY “Admiral Ramirez” TODD…who is a BIG guy! When Steven tried the uniform on for his photo, it was like wearing a parka. So it literally needed to be clipped (with binder clips) all along the back in order for Admiral Slater not to look like a toddler wearing his daddy’s Starfleet uniform.
This new uniform had been specifically tailored for Steven, and when he tried it on, it looked amazing! And that gave me an idea…
As for Day Two, I can sum it up in just one word: WOW! It was unquestionably one of the craziest but most fun times I’ve ever had at any Trek convention (big or small). As I did yesterday, this will be a “deep dive” into what Axacon was like for me…
It began with breakfast at ALEC PETERS’ house. After Friday’s multiple skipped meals, I wasn’t gonna make the same mistake again…not with everything I was expected to do on Saturday! And anyway, Alec provided quiche!
After fueling up our bodies, the five residents of Casa de Peters piled into three cars to drive the 45 minutes to the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Airport hotel. Arriving about 45 minutes before Axacon and its host convention SphinxCon kicked off, we each carried boxes and posters and Garth’s original costume and loads of other stuff in from Alec’s trunk.
I found myself immediately impressed by how organized everything seemed to be. Those Honor Harrington fan volunteers from the Royal Manticoran Navy certainly had their their act together (and looked really spiffy in those black military-style uniforms!) with folks assigned to security, check-in, set-up, etc. The fellow handling the A/V system carried along about 15 different cables and adapters to make sure anyone could get video and sound from their laptop to the large monitors in the panel rooms.
As things were set up, the only “oops!” I could see was the following (see if you can spot it)…
I love a small, intimate convention…especially one with guest celebrities. While the huge Creation Cons and Dragon*Cons and San Diego ComiCons can be mind-blowing, the quiet, intimate setting of a small convention is a unique and treasured experience for me. In my youth, it was at small cons where I once had breakfast with James Doohan, went jogging with George Takei (okay, I rode my bike alongside him…and could still barely keep up!), and helped a falling-down drunk Colm Meaney find his hotel room in the Marriott Hunt’s Valley Inn (“This place is a fookin’ maze…!”). Good times.
I hadn’t been to a small con in many, many years. And I didn’t realize how much I miss them…until this past weekend when I went to Axacon in Atlanta, GA. Axacon was never meant to have tons of attendees. The 30-40 people who showed up over the three days was about what ALEC PETERS had expected. In fact, there were only about three dozen chairs in the Axacon panel room…a larger turnout wouldn’t have had a place to sit down!
This time, though, I wasn’t just an attendee; I was a guest. And Alec made sure to put me to work earning my free room and board. I stayed over at his home and even had my own bedroom, as did fellow house guests STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater) and LEE QUESSENBERRY (Axanar art director and webmaster). Both of these men are now two of my favorite people.
In fact, the whole convention was filled with folks who are now my favorite people! That’s just the kind of weekend it was. There was love here, friendship, camaraderie, and a feeling of shared teamwork and dedication to bringing a dream to life.
It was a really FANtastic con. Let me tell you all about it…
I’m sure that Alanis Morissette would appreciate the irony. After years of accusing ALEC PETERS of lying (and a host of other evil deeds), one prominent detractor actually lied about flying to Georgia and attending Axacon this past weekend.
SHAWN P. O’HALLORAN is one of the three admins for the Axamonitor Facebook group, one of the main hang-outs for Axanar detracting. If you’re not familiar with just how negative they can go, while I’m loathe to send anyone there, take a look at how they reacted to photos of the bridge that they all said would never be completed. Sour grapes have seldom been so sour.
But the detractors hit a new low when Shawn O’Halloran PRETENDED to go to Axacon and then lied about what he saw and did there (since he wasn’t actually there). How do we know he wasn’t actually there, and how did he try to make us think he was? Sit back, my friends, and watch how the hoax unfolded…
Hey, guys. Not a lot of time to blog. I flew out on a red-eye from Los Angeles with minimal sleep last night, arrived in Atlanta at 6:30 am, and got to ALEC PETERS’ house about 8am. Thank goodness he didn’t ignore the doorbell (he’d been pulling consecutive all-nighters with the team to get the USS Ares bridge completed). After taking a 3-hour nap in one of Alec’s guest bedrooms, I got ready for my first-ever trip to OWC studios.
Alec put me to work almost immediately, tasking me and my co-host KEITH M. SEDOR with conducting a number of video interviews with various guests. I spoke with ALBERT MARTINEZ (the creator of Chasing the Infinite Sky), DON GAFFNEY (Star Trek prop-maker and Klingon expert), DANA WAGNER (who is supervising the completion of the bridge set), and his wife ALLISON (who works with the local school district getting high schoolers access to the the set at the studio for ultra-cool student projects). Keith got to interview GARY GRAHAM (Soval) and J.G. HERTZLER (Sam Travis/Martok). I’ve interviewed J.G. before, so Keith got the big celebrities.
Unfortunately, all that work prepping, doing pre-interviews, and conducting the interviews themselves didn’t give me as much time for photos and videos as I wanted, but Alec hired a 4-person professional film crew to record the entire event. This included about 40 people wandering through the bridge and, at one point, being treated to a live read-through of two scenes from the full 90-minute Axanar script (which will, eventually, be released in both written and audio format). The readers included Gary, J.G., Alec, and STEVEN JEPSON (Admiral Slater himself). It was really awesome hearing Gary and J.G. doing a dramatic script reading—they’re both incredibly gifted actors. There were even special Axanar cookies brought in by one of the attendees!
It was a super-fun day for everyone who made the, er, trek to Lawrenceville…and there’s even more on tap for Saturday and Sunday (including a panel of upcoming fan films with some footage debuting exclusively at Axacon!).
But the star of Friday’s show was the USS Ares bridge. Still not 100% finished, it’s now about 95% of the way there…with some fun little Easter eggs to find hidden in plain site on a few of the control panels. I’ve included some pictures of those along with the best of the photos I got on Friday…
Last week, when I posted my blog editorial about Carlos Pedraza getting banned from Axacon, there were a LOT of comments posted. One of them was a an impassioned post from ALEC PETERS himself, discussing Carlos’ obsession with both Alec and the Axanar Productions finances. Alec’s post began with this…
I seriously considered telling Carlos to come to Atlanta and sit down and go through the detailed finances with me. I would even pay for my accountant from highly respected accounting firm Frazier and Deter to be there. But you know, it won’t change Carlos’ mind, and he would still twist it to serve his agenda. Facts don’t matter to him. He will lie, manipulate and twist anything as he has done for almost three years.
Alec ended with…
Just about anyone in the Axanar world, especially donors, are more than welcome to Axacon, which is meant to be a celebration of Axanar and our fans. And frankly, I would probably sit down with anyone to review our finances in detail and share everything if I was asked. But not Carlos. He and his minions have made up their minds and only the facts that support their world view will be accepted.
I replied—as I often do—with a short, humorous little comment:
Hey, why not schedule a panel to show the full Axanar financials to everyone except the detractors? You could project them onto the big screen in the panel room! 🙂
I actually wasn’t serious, but Alec wrote me back and said that he LOVED the idea! Now he just needed to figure out how to do it…
Wow, quite a shat-storm started a’blowin’ after my blog post yesterday about CARLOS PEDRZA being banned from AXACON and then asking ALEC PETERS to refund the $413.50 Carlos lost buying a non-refundable plane ticket! So much came out yesterday that, unfortunately, I need to do a follow-up to clarify, explain, and respond to a bunch of different items.
Up first, I did have a small inaccuracy in yesterday’s blog. I stated that “…a Paypal order came into SphinxCon for a ticket with an Axacon add-on for one Carlos Pedraza.” DAVE WEINER, manager of SphinxCon, reached out to correct me. The ticket was mistakenly purchased through their website as an Axacon-only ticket with an Axacon add-on…
This was due to a glitch on the SphinxCon purchasing page. Carlos mentioned later in his e-mail response back to Alec that he (Carlos) intended to attend panels at SphinxCon as well as Axacon. So Carlos had obviously intended to buy a SphinxCon ticket with an Axacon add-on. But SphinxCon tickets were no longer available online and had to be purchased at the door. So the Axacon add-on was invalid since it requires a SphinxCon ticket. Make sense? Sorry if it doesn’t.
Technically, Carlos never purchased a SphinxCon ticket and therefore was never refunded for it being canceled. Dave Weiner has made clear to Carlos that he will not be banned from SphinxCon should he choose to attend. But neither will Carlos be allowed at Axacon. That decision belongs to Alec Peters and has been made.
Next up was the elephant in the living room both Carlos and the detractors seemed reluctant (afraid) to talk about…
There’s chutzpah and then there’s CARLOS PEDRAZA chutzpah. I’m talking cajones-the-size-of-monster-truck-tires chutzpah!!
It all began this past Sunday night at 5:54pm Eastern Time when a Paypal order came into SphinxCon for a ticket with an Axacon add-on for one Carlos Pedraza. This immediately led to a discussion between SphinxCon‘s organizer, DAVID WEINER, and Axacon‘s organizer, ALEC PETERS.
About three and a half hours later, Carlos received the following e-mail from Alec…
We note you attempted to buy a ticket to Axacon. Your ticket is being refunded. You are on notice that you, or any current or former member of the Axamonitor Facebook group that attempts to enter the Axacon facility, will be asked to leave. As Axacon is meant to celebrate and support the Axanar project, those who have shown repeated animosity, negativity, and antagonism toward Axanar Productions, its team members, myself, and guests of the convention are not welcome to attend.
A former Georgia Sheriff’s Deputy is in charge of security and local law enforcement will be notified before the event that we have had an issue with stalkers and will be prepared to respond if you or any of your fellow stalkers attempt to attend. The hotel will also be notified in advance.
It is very clear that, like your blog, your only intention is to make trouble.
Had things ended there, I wouldn’t have bothered writing this blog. After all, I haven’t blogged about Carlos Pedraza for several months (go ahead and check), and I was enjoying focusing exclusively on fan films. But things didn’t end there…
The first-ever AXACON is less than three weeks away, and ALEC PETERS hasjustreleased the schedule. It’s a pretty busy weekend, filled with all kinds of activities and panels…most of them focused on AXANAR (both past, present, and future), but also a few opportunities to expand beyond just one fan film.
Here’s a look at some of the things that will be going on:
A set tour of OWC Studios (including photo ops on the USS Ares bridge)
A reading from the full 90 minute version of the Axanar movie script (featuring J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, Alec Peters, and Steven Jepson)
Socialize at the bar with the actors and Axanar team (donor funds will NOT be used to pay the bar tab!)
The Top 10 Star Trek fan films (at least in our opinion…and we don’t all agree!)
J.G. and Gary talk about their time on televised Star Trek
An Axanar UPDATE with Alec Peters and director/co-writer Paul Jenkins
Alec discusses how the Honor Harrington novels influenced Axanar
A special Axanar donor lunch with the actors and production team
Axanar fan fiction with three people who are writing/drawing/animating it
Alec and Paul discuss the evolution of Axanar from story to screenplay
The Axanar fleet – designing cool starships from 20 years before TOS
A preview of upcoming Star Trek fan films
Klingon kostuming…er, costuming
The Axanar project from a fan’s perspective
Everyone hits the bar again, including J.G. and Gary
Starship combat in the Axaverse (when did we start calling it that?)
J.G., Gary, and Alec discuss working on Prelude to Aanar and plans for the remaining two Axanar films
When fan films become professional independent films…what does the future hold?
Alec discusses James T. Kirk’s hero: Garth of Izar, and Steven Jepson discuss the infamous “Admiral Scaredy”: Conrad Slater
Axanar trivia…with PRIZES!
As you can see, a lot of careful consideration went into filling this mini convention with diverse content while still keeping it centered around Axanar. I think the organizers did an excellent job with that.
They also scheduled me to host five panels and appear on an additional three…for a total of EIGHT panels in THREE days! Oy. But in one of those panels, I have to interview J.G. Hertzler, Gary Graham, and Alec Peters about their work on Prelude and plans for the two upcoming Axanar films. And that’s where I need YOUR help…