The first panel from AXACON 2019 is now available for viewing!

Say what you will about AXANAR. But the one inescapable fact is that, perhaps more than any other Star Trek fan film (maybe any fan film period), Axanar is teaching fans a LOT about the process filmmaking. Sure, some cynics will say, “Yeah, it taught us all not to piss off the copyright owners!” But it’s also provided fans, fan filmmakers, and those wishing to become fan filmmakers an unparalleled up-front view into the entire production process.

Granted, most fan projects aren’t nearly as elaborate or ambitious as Axanar. The majority of fan producers just make their film and put the finished product up on YouTube. A few take behind-the-scenes photos or videos while they build sets or do make-up or have their shoots, but Axanar takes all that to an entirely other level.

Through countless Axanar Podcasts and updates on Axanar Confidential, we’ve watched this production walk through the fire of the lawsuit, emerge on the other side, pick itself up, dust itself off, and get back up to speed again with a move across country, a completed bridge set, and two shoots so far (soon to be three!). Along the way, there’s been a parade of features on countless aspects of filmmaking—from VFX to set-building, make-up, costume design, budgeting, writing, pre-production, production, and post-production…and just about everything in between.

But the one thing Axanar hasn’t really done a deep-dive into yet is directing. There was some commentary from PRELUDE TO AXANAR director CHRISTIAN GOSSETT on one of the behind-the-scenes features on the Prelude Blu-ray, but not much in-depth coverage of the full process. And ROBERT MEYER BURNETT left the project before getting the chance to sink his teeth into directing actual production.

However, now that Axanar has started shooting, director and co-writer PAUL JENKINS had some very, very interesting insights to share during AXACON 2019. Unlike the first Axacon in 2018, the second Axacon didn’t take place in a hotel with convention rooms and dealers tables and membership badges. This time, “attendance” was FREE to anyone on YouTube and included four panels broadcast live from the bridge set at Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, GA.

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AXACON 2019 happens THIS SUNDAY at NOON eastern time…online!

The first AXACON took place during at the beginning of November in 2018 and “piggybacked” an existing mini-convention in Atlanta called SphinxCon. Fans got to walk around the newly-unveiled USS Ares bridge set on Friday and then attend a series of live convention panels on Saturday and Sunday with folks like GARY GRAHAM, J.G. HERTZLER, DAVID GERROLD, PAUL JENKINS, and of course, ALEC PETERS. Most of those panels are now available for viewing online.

The Axacon 2018 weekend of events and panels ended up costing Alec about $5,000 out of his own pocket. But the goal was always to launch a new wave of crowd-funding…first to cover the monthly rent and expenses to house the bridge set in Ares Studios (through a Patreon campaign), and later to generate excitement and enthusiasm to encourage private donations to help fund the two AXANAR sequels (click here and then follow the instructions if you’d like to contribute…they’ve raised more than $41,000 so far!).

This year, Alec has already fronted the $75,000 cost of the first Axanar shoot at the beginning of October and the second shoot going on this weekend. So funds are tight, all monies are going into production, and holding another Axacon this year would be out of the question, right?

Well, as it turns out…

Axacon 2019 won’t be the same as Axacon 2018. There won’t be a public tour of the studio or a physical convention. But there will be live panels with guests…AND it’ll be free to attend! How is Alec Peters managing this? Simple: it’ll all be live-streaming on YouTube!

Axacon 2019 will take place beginning at noon Eastern Time on Sunday, December 8, lasting for four hours. All of the panels will be hosted live on the Ares Studios bridge set and available for viewing on the Axanar Youtube Channel.

The four-hour online event is capping off a weekend that will also feature the second Axanar film shoot. Significantly smaller in scope than the first 3-day shoot in October, this one will feature two Garth scenes: one a short clip of Garth on the bridge and one in his quarters looking at casualty reports. Sunday will include multiple behind-the-scenes interviews in the morning, leaving ample time for the panels during the afternoon.

The following is a schedule of the panels, their topics, and the guests…

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A ‘Death Howl’ for Kur’Den (guest blog by DON GAFFNEY)

Before I turn the blog over to me friend DON GAFFNEY, I’d like to say few quick words myself.

DENZIL MIRACLE was a die-hard Trekker, a Klingon kosplayer, an avid Axanar supporter, and a truly awesome guy. I only met him once, briefly, at Axacon last November, but he was just this big bundle of warmth and happiness and excitement…the best that we fans have to offer.

In these days when so many of us are quick to show our worst devils to each other, it’s important to honor those who present the best angels of their natures.

Denzil had been stricken too early in life with brain cancer and passed away a couple of weeks ago surrounded by family. While I knew of his terminal condition, I wasn’t aware of his actual passing until I read yesterday’s eulogy from his good friend (and fellow Axanerd) Don Gaffney. It’s a beautiful remembrance, and I humbly ask you to consider taking a moment to read it and perhaps even give a quiet Klingon death howl to the warriors of Sto’Vo’Kor, where I have no doubt Denzil is currently having an awesome time.

And now, my friends, Don Gaffney remembers his friend, Denzil Miracle…

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ALEC PETERS chokes up at a panel from AXACON…

In the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy,” Kirk mentions that Garth’s exploits were required reading at Starfleet Academy. Well, if you’re a fan of AXANAR and ALEC PETERS, then the video below should be considered “required viewing.”

AXACON took place last November in Atlanta, and about 30 people attended. However, knowing that there were thousands and thousands more supporters of Axanar who wouldn’t be able to make it, Alec hired a video crew to film every panel—along with several interviews with the guests—through the 3-day weekend event. About ten of these interviews have already been released for early viewing to ARES STUDIOS Patreon donors, with about half of those now posted publicly to YouTube. (You can view all of the public Axacon videos here.)

The latest video to be released to the public debuted on Friday evening as a livecast on YouTube. Since then, it’s been viewed nearly a thousand times…and with good reason. It’s a really FANtastic panel…especially if you love Axanar. And for me, it was probably my favorite panel of the weekend. Why, you ask?

Well, it was an exhausting weekend…three days of non-stop fun mixed with hard work and little sleep (or was it hard work mixed with fun and almost no sleep?) where I conducted countless interviews and led seemingly endless panels. And honestly, I totally don’t know how to lead panels! I’m not sure if there are classes in it, but it there are, I never took any of them. So for most of the weekend I was flying by the seat of my pants and getting terrorized by J.G. HERTZLER and GARY F-ING GRAHAM. (You’ll need to watch my interviews with them to get that joke…and some haven’t been released yet.)

By the time we got to the “Elite of the Fleet” panel—the next-to-last of the weekend—I was totally spent. You can tell it from watching the video below. But now I had to lead STEVE JEPSON and Alec as we discussed Admiral Slater and Garth. I’d already interviewed Steve about Slater a few hours earlier, and Alec had already spoken on another panel about Garth. So I just kinda winged it…as did Steve and Alec.

To my utter surprise, this exhausted trio managed to have a fascinating and lively discussion—just three obsessed Axanerds chatting about their favorite fan film. It’s the kind of geeked-out conversation we fans love to have from time to time, and it was totally engaging and fun. Each of us got ample time to talk, and everything was SO interesting.

And then a very unexpected and special “moment” happened.

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Remastered CHASING THE INFINITE SKY debuts on first AXACON spotlight interview with ALBERT MARTINEZ!

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…

AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 3)

Here’s a summary of Day One, and here’s a summary of Day Two.

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…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 3)”

AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 2)

Click here for a summary of Day One of Axacon.

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)…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 2)”

AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 1)

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…

Continue reading “AXACON weekend through Jonathan’s eyes… (part 1)”

As AXANAR rises, DETRACTORS hit a new low! (editorial)

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…

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Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!

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…

Continue reading “Photos of the AXANAR bridge set!”