AXANAR locks in START DATE for filming: October 4-6, 2019!

Yes, my friends, AXANAR is really (finally!) happening. And before some of you say, “Ha! I’ll believe it when I see it!” ALEC PETERS has now put out a call for volunteers the weekend of October 4-6, 2019. J.G. HERTZLER is confirmed to be in Lawrenceville, GA for that weekend, the bridge set is 99% complete, costumes are being made, and actors and extras are being cast. This is for real, folks.

The last time that Axanar was scheduled to start filming with actors and crew and volunteers confirmed, it was supposed to be the first week of February, 2016. I had blocked off time to be at the Valencia, CA studio the morning of the second day of shooting. Unfortunately, a few “minor” snags came up (like a hundred and fifty million dollar lawsuit!), and no footage for Axanar beyond “The Vulcan Scene” was ever shot.

Well, it’s been a long road…getting from there to here. The studio moved across country from California to Georgia in 2017; Axacon happened last November; Ares Digital 1, 2, and 3 were all started (and version 3.0 is about to launch…finally!); and most recently, the first fan film of a fan film, my Axanar Universe project INTERLUDE, was announced and began crowd-funding (donate here…we’re nearly 38% of the way to our goal!).

But now, shooting on Axanar is officially set to begin in just 15 more weeks! Amusingly, Alec had scheduled his shoot to happen the weekend right after my shoot for Interlude. That would potentially allow us to utilize the same actors and extras on the USS Ares bridge (and also lower my costume manufacturing costs if I could use those same tunics for my production). But a scheduling conflict for one of my directors popped up unexpectedly for September, and so I rescheduled my shoot to the first weekend of November…four weeks after Alec’s shoot. With luck, his actors and extras will still be available for Interlude, as well. Fingers crossed!

On Wednesday, Alec published a blog outlining the three locations where filming and sound recording would be happening: Ares Studios, a nearby professional studio for green screen interviews, and a sound studio for the audio drama version of the full Axanar script. He also went on to list the various people who are already assigned to tasks (like PAUL JENKINS as director) as well as volunteer positions that are open for supporters (local and non-local) who wish to participate and help. These jobs include production and personal assistants; staffing, location, and transportation coordinators; drivers and security personnel.

The full text of the blog appears below…

Continue reading “AXANAR locks in START DATE for filming: October 4-6, 2019!”

ALEC PETERS announces first shooting date for AXANAR sequels!

It’s the announcement fans have been waiting more than three years to hear!

Production on AXANAR (the sequel to PRELUDE TO AXANAR) had originally been scheduled to begin in early 2016. I had even cleared my schedule to drive to Valencia, CA to visit the set on the morning of February 2 and then drive a contest winner from there for a quick trip to nearby Vasquez Rocks in the afternoon. Fans were so excited to see this highly-anticipated full-length Star Trek fan film finally begin shooting.

You know what happened next.

A copyright infringement lawsuit filed by CBS and Paramount forced ALEC PETERS to suspend production, and a year-long legal battle finally ended in a settlement that allowed Axanar to be made with the same actors and professional crew…but only as two 15-minute short films rather than a full 90-minute feature, and with no public crowd-funding allowed (although private donations are permitted).

The subsequent loss of Industry Studios in mid-2017 resulted in a move from California to Lawrenceville, Georgia, and additional delays…during which time the amazing USS Ares bridge set has been nearly completed.

The delays in the start of production have confounded fans and supporters. Shooting had initially been announced (in an audio interview I did with J.G. Hertzler) to begin late last year, but Alec didn’t officially confirm the dates, and 2018 ended with no cameras rolling and the bridge still unfinished (although very close to completion).

In January of 2019, a new Patreon campaign was started to help fund the monthly rent for Ares Studios in Lawrenceville, renamed after the 18-month sponsorship of the studio by OWC Digital ended. Four months later, the Patreon is 55% of the way to its $4,000/month goal and still growing…currently at an impressive 229 backers contributing $2,184 each month.

For most of 2019 so far, Alec had been hinting at an unnamed fan production, in addition to Axanar, that would be filming on the USS Ares bridge set. Then earlier this month, I announced that the mystery project was my fan film, INTERLUDE, and would take place in the Axanar Universe…separate from Alec’s sequels and intended to fit in between them and Prelude (hence my title). But still no official word on when Axanar itself would begin filming.

This past weekend, the word was finally given. Production on the first of four shoots for Axanar will kick off during the first weekend of October, 2019…one week after I complete my two-day shoot at Ares Studios (plus one day at Neutral Zone Studios in nearby Kingsland, GA). The timing is not entirely coincidental, but I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog.

Right now, however, I turn the spotlight over to Alec Peters himself and a video update from Saturday that’s already garnered several thousand views…

ARES STUDIOS launches new PATREON! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 2)

Yesterday, I began speaking to ALEC PETERS about his new PATREON campaign for ARES STUDIOS. Officially launched last Friday evening, in less than a week, with 95 patrons as of this evening, it’s already nearly 25% of the way to its goal of generating $4,000/month in donations to help pay rent and utilities for the studio in Lawrenceville, GA.

Alec explained that Ares Studios is an entirely separate business entity from Axanar Productions, which will be producing the final two Axanar fan films. So crowd-funding through Patreon is allowed because the legal settlement with CBS and Paramount only covers the production of the two 15-minute Axanar sequel fan films.

And speaking of those two films, let’s return to our interview with Alec as he tells us why he hasn’t started filming Axanar yet (’cause we all REALLY want to know!)…

Continue reading “ARES STUDIOS launches new PATREON! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 2)”

ARES STUDIOS launches new PATREON! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 1)

It’s been hinted about for the past few weeks, but on Friday night, it became official. ARES STUDIOS (formerly OWC Studios) in Lawrenceville, GA—home to the amazing USS Ares bridge set—has launched a new PATREON campaign to help cover the monthly costs of rent and utilities (about $4000/month).

For those of you unfamiliar with what a “Patreon” campaign is, it’s somewhat different than crowd-funding using Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe. In the case of those three, backers pledge a one-time donation of $25 or $100 or $500 or whatever amount, and they’re done. With a Patreon, donation amounts are much smaller, but they are MONTHLY and ongoing. That’s why, if you look at the Ares Studios Patreon, you’ll see perks listed for levels of only $2, $5, $10, and $20. By the end of the year, those amounts would total the equivalent of a one-time donation to a Kickstarter.

The new campaign was announced on Friday night during the first episode of what ALEC PETERS intends to be a regular YouTube livestream broadcast called REEL TREK, produced by Ares Studios to discuss all things Star Trek live with fan viewers. During the broadcast, fans donated about $120 as they posted their comments, but that was just the beginning. Toward the end of the program, Alec announced the new Patreon to about 200 live viewers, and a few folks started signing up to the campaign.

Only 24 hours later, however, the views of the archived live discussion had jumped to 4000, and Patreon sign-ups grew to more than 60 pledging about $535 per month ($6,420 per year)…meaning that the campaign passed 1/8 of the way there in just a day, with little fanfare or marketing so far.

Some detractors have predicted (hoped) that this initial surge would quickly fade to a trickle, with Carlos Pedraza reminding people that a crowd-funding campaign back in 2017 tried to raise $200,000 to keep Ares (Industry) Studios in California and only made it to $22,000. On the other hand, if the Patreon can get to that same number, it covers half the monthly expenses…and Paatreons don’t come with ending dates.

Anyway, this sounded like a good time for an interview with Alec about not only the Patreon but also those two 15-minute fan films he’s supposed to be working on…

Continue reading “ARES STUDIOS launches new PATREON! (interview with ALEC PETERS, part 1)”

The BLOGGER-BATTLE OF AXANAR! (part 3 of 3)

Congratulations, folks, you’ve made it to Part 3!  I’m assuming you’ve already sat through Part 1 and Part 2 of the debate about all things AXANAR between myself and Australian blogger MATTHEW MILLER of Trekzone.org.  The first two parts have received a few hundred views each, with lots of comments made on both sides of the Axanar controversy.  But now it’s time to wrap things up with some of our most controversial discussions yet…

We begin by shifting our focus from CARLOS PEDRAZA and Axamonitor to Matt’s own Trekzone.org blog?  Is he providing fair coverage, or does Trekzone suffer from the same skewed “telling only half the story” that Axamonitor (and some would say Fan Film Factor) suffer from?

Then we move onto one of the most controversial hot-button questions: have the Axanar detractors gone too far in their stalking and cyberbullying?  How far is too far?  And is the behavior just as bad on the supporter side, or is that sinply the false equivalency of “what aboutism”?  And what does coffee have to do with anything?

Of course, we spend a little time debating whether ALEC PETERS paid himself a salary or just reimbursed himself for out-of-pocket expenses.  And did other folks like VIC MIGNOGAM or JAMES CAWLEY ever earn anything personally from money paid by donors?

Moving on to the future of Axanar, we discuss the USS Ares bridge set.  After hundreds of thousands of dollars in fan donations and out-of-pocket payments by Alec himself, and after thousands of man-hours in labor…will the bridge ever be used to film any scenes of the Axanar story?

And finally, even if Axanar never gets made, does Alec still deserve credit for making it as far as he did…despite all of the headwinds, a year-long lawsuit from two billion-dollar corporations, a move across country, and the almost constant attacks by dozens of detractors?

And what if Axanar does get made?  What will it take to get a positive comment out of a detractor like Matthew Miller or Carlos Pedraza?

Is there ANY common ground to be had?  Find out as the Blogger-Battle of the Axanar concludes…

The BLOGGER-BATTLE OF AXANAR! (part 2 of 3)

Last Wednesday, we debuted Part 1 of a three-hour discussion and debate about all things AXANAR between myself and Australia-based Star Trek blogger MATTHEW MILLER.  We both have very strong feelings about the Axanar project and its show-runner ALEC PETERS, and we’ve never been particularly shy about sharing those feelings and opinions in various public forums.

But now we’re doing in it the same forum at the same time, voicing our disagreements directly to each other to see if there’s any common ground…or if the two sides of this controversy are destined to simply never come together.

Last time, we primarily discussed the building of Ares Studio, followed by some brief commentary about the fan film guidelines.  And just before ending Part 1, we left off having just scratched the surface of our next (BIG!) topic: the copyright infringement lawsuit.

In Part 2, we’ll be discussing the lawsuit in much greater depth, including…

  • Should Alec have fought the lawsuit as intensely as he did, or should he have just settled and moved on?
  • Did CBS and Paramount offer a settlement when the lawsuit was first filed?  If not, when did they first make a settlement offer…and what were their terms?
  • Why did Alec and CBS/Paramount finally decide to settle the lawsuit two weeks before trial?
  • Were the final settlement terms more favorable to Alec, to CBS/Paramount, or pretty much even?
  • What would have happened if Renegades, New Voyages, or Star Trek Continues had been sued instead of Axanar?

Then we shift gears to the Axanar supporter/detractor conflict…

  • Why have things escalated so much over the years?
  • What role have CARLOS PEDRAZA and his Axamonitor blog site played in exacerbating the tensions?  (Carlos tells us himself!)
  • Are Carlos’ blogs telling only half the story and thereby reinforcing pre-existing detractor biases?
  • Does Carlos rush to publish negative blogs and purposefully avoid reporting positive Axanar news like Axacon (which still hasn’t been covered on Axamonitor after six weeks)?
  • And what about Fan Film Factor?  Am I telling only half the story, too?

And now the Blogger-Battle of Axanar continues…

And check back Wednesday at 2:00pm Pacific Time for Part 3!

The BLOGGER-BATTLE OF AXANAR! (part 1 of 3)

Okay, folks, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  (Well, maybe not ALL of you…but at least a few hundred, I’m sure.)  Earlier this week, I revealed the “origin story” of this two-way interview where blogger MATTHEW MILLER from Trekzone.org and I discuss and debate all things AXANAR.  Now it’s time to put our money where our mouths are (Australia  and Los Angeles, respectively).

Today in Part 1, after a friendly introduction and a brief discussion of some of what we both feel are the inherent strengths of the 2014 fan film Prelude to Axanar, we jump right into some of the most controversial questions regarding this polarizing fan production, starting with the creation of Ares Studios with donor money…

  • Did “most” of the principal cast and crew abandon the project after ALEC PETERS decided to use crowd-funded money to build a “for profit” studio?  Or is that just a rumor-turned-urban-myth?
  • What exactly is a “for profit” studio anyway?  Is someone gonna go out and buy a 60-foot yacht with all the cash that comes in?
  • Was the decision to try to turn a Valencia warehouse into a soundstage a mistake in the first place?
  • Did CBS ever tell Alec (before the lawsuit) not to create a studio or not to make more Axanar?
  • Did the Axanar donors know (back in 2014) that they were donating to build a soundstage, or were they misled to believe they were donating only to produce a fan film?

And we finish up Part 1 with a couple of other hotly-debated topics…

  • Was Alec Peter sued by CBS and Paramount because Axanar was “too good?”
  • Were there “unpublished” guidelines for fan films before June of 2016?
  • Were the guidelines, once they were announced, intended to stop Axanar…or were they targeted on Renegades and the other “arms race” fan productions?

Sound intriguing?  Well, strap in for Part 1 of the Blogger-Battle of Axanar

Come back for Part 2 on Monday and Part 3 next Wednesday.

Coming in 3 days: the BLOGGER-BATTLE OF AXANAR!

These days, I don’t typically engage directly with the AXANAR detractors.  There’s no point.  I’m not gonna change their minds, and they’re certainly not gonna change mine.  Any “discussion” we get into quickly breaks down into all the old beating-dead-horse accusations and rumors and criticisms—often with a generous helping of vitriol and vulgarity—and frankly, it’s just a waste of my time.

And yet, in just three days time, I’ll be posting (in conjunction with Trekzone.org) an epic 3-part discussion and debate between myself and noted Axanar detractor MATTHEW MILLER…and I do mean epic!  Take a listen to the teaser that Matthew just posted…

When we set out to have our across-the-globe (Matt’s in Australia) audio “smackdown,” we had no idea how long the discussion would last or how heated it would get.  There were no rules and only a loose outline of topics/questions to guide us.   Our intention was to keep things civil, and for the most part, we did…although not completely.

When all was said and done, we’d managed to go at it for nearly three hours over the course of two days of Skype calls!  On the second day, I’d caught my son’s cold, and if you listen carefully, you’ll probably hear from my voice the exact point when the day one conversation ended and day two began.

What makes this interaction between me and Matthew so interesting and enlightening (and dare I say “fun”?) is that we actually interview EACH OTHER.  Matt’s done scores of interviews with notable Trek people, as have I.  So rather than simply having one of us interview the other, we ask questions back and forth…and tough questions at that!  And best of all, unlike the recent pay-per-view Michael Hinman/Carlos Pedraza podcast on Alpha Waves Radio, this one is not only presenting BOTH sides of the controversial topic (rather than a simple echo-chamber), but it’s also absolutely FREE to listen to!

So how did this whole “Blogger Battle of Axanar” come to be?

Continue reading “Coming in 3 days: the BLOGGER-BATTLE OF AXANAR!”

Full AXANAR FINANCIALS to be shown to attendees during AXACON! (interview with ALEC PETERS)

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…

Continue reading “Full AXANAR FINANCIALS to be shown to attendees during AXACON! (interview with ALEC PETERS)”

“Think of the children!” – Why I still believe in AXANAR!

Fan Film Factor has sorta become an unofficial meeting ground where Axanar supporters can get together, kick back, relax, and then tear into each other like rabid dogs.

Actually, we try to keep it mostly civil (with varying amounts of success and failure), but once every so often, a post comes along that just gets me a’typin’ and speakin’ my mind!

Such a comment came in early Friday morning from a detractor by the name of JO MOINE.  I had published a blog on Wednesday providing coverage of the recent donor memo issued by AXANAR PRODUCTIONS outlining their future plans and finally releasing their financial statement.  While some of the detractor comments were (not surprisingly) snarky, Jo Moine took it one step further.  She wrote:

Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better. Can’t actually put my finger on why, though. Oh wait – Alec blew $1.4 million with little to show for it, and is asking for more money. Why would anyone think he would manage more money wisely at this point? If you are thinking of giving him more, Jonathan – please don’t. Think of the children!

“Think of the children!” she said.  Perhaps the comment was simply meant to be flippant, but having a six-year-old son myself, I seldom take any call to “think of the children” lightly.  And so I took a good, long look at myself…because what Jo was asking me to do had produced such a profoundly visceral reaction that I wondered why I felt so strongly.  Am I really just following a leader with my blinders on into financial oblivion?  Was I duped.  If I can’t justify my loyalty to this project and put the reasons into words, maybe I should just follow Jo’s advice…

So I asked myself: why am I still so loyal to Alec Peters?  Why am I and thousands of other Axanerds still so supportive of this project when there’s dozens and dozens of detractors out there badgering us to just walk away and belittling us almost constantly for refusing to do so?

It didn’t take long to come up with my answer.  And if you’ve been having any doubts of your own, or if you just want some reassurance that the detractors are, after all, completely wrong in their disdain for this project, this is what I wrote back to Jo Moine…

Continue reading ““Think of the children!” – Why I still believe in AXANAR!”