Star Trek: Axanar-Independent Feature Film

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Encuentro, Jul 11, 2015.

  1. I don't recall the specifics, I'd have to go back digging in the Facebook group post about it. I thought it was funny though. Wasn't another fanfilm person, I don't think.

    Of course, Peters says a lot of things about legal action. Definitely a "set lawyers to sue" type of person...more of a Pakled about it though.
  2. MikeInFla

    MikeInFla Forum Resident

    Panama City, FL
    I see that the New Voyages website is gone. I've heard unfinished episodes that they have been working on are in limbo and some will not be completed. Oh well...

    Star Trek New Voyages »
  3. Yup. Mr. Cawley has stated he feels pretty done with fan films and has a new Trek-related venture:
    The Original Series Set Tour to Open »

    And yes, these are the same set recreations used for New Voyages.
  4. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
  5. MikeInFla

    MikeInFla Forum Resident

    Panama City, FL
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  6. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    The defense case was already pretty weak, but in the judge's most recent ruling considering both sides' motion for summary judgment, he shot down *a lot* of the defense's potential defenses. Their "fair use" argument was shot down, and their claim that what they were doing was a "mockumentary" was nearly laughed out of court.

    Anything is possible with a jury trial, but I'd be stunned if Paramount/CBS lost this case. It would basically open up the floodgates for fans who can raise a million or two bucks to just make their own versions of "Star Wars" or Marvel movies or whatever, sell mugs and memorabilia and so on, and not have to worry about infringement.

    I think what the Axanar people are hoping for is that observers don't pay much attention to the details of the case and simply see Paramount/CBS as the big bad guy.

    It's ironic, because just about *every other* Star Trek fan film production is pissed at *the Axanar people*, not CBS/Paramount, for ruining it for everybody.

    Assuming this guy Alec Peters that ran the whole Axanar thing has to testify in court, that may be one of the defense's biggest Achilles heels, because he's a vastly snotty, unpleasant, unlikable guy in *every* public statement I've ever seen from him. I'm surprised a firm took the guy's case on.

    Here's a good in-depth look at the judge's ruling against both motions for summary judgment:

    Judge Denies Axanar Its Fair Use Defense »
  7. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Very interesting commentary quoted by @balzac above. I think there are two sides to this, but there's a point where people gotta back down and realize they can't fight city hall. And Paramount/Viacom/CBS has tons and tons and tons of lawyers sitting around on retainer, just waiting for crap like this.

    I do think it's unfortunate that Paramount couldn't just make a deal and air the damned shows as a special or something on CBS All-Access, put up a disclaimer at the head that says, "The following program was created by fans of the Star Trek saga, and is not authorized by CBS, Paramount, or Viacom." Pay them a couple of bucks, forbid them to sell T-shirts and posters and chotskies, forbid them to make a dime of profit on the deal, and retain the copyright in all the characters and story points. Let them show it at conventions (for free) and on YouTube (for free), and that's it.

    I have watched (or tried to watch) the Axanar demo reel, and I thought it was too long, not very well acted, and a lot of the shots varied from "wow, that looks great" to a reject from a bad student film. The lighting was kind of all over the place, and the effects quality was below what I expected. Most fan projects I've looked at don't understand pacing, and that boils down to having good editors with great instincts. In cases like this, a 5 minute demo can be much more powerful than a 15- or 20-minute demo. Brevity is good, especially in filmmaking.

    I know David Gerrold casually and he likes those people as well.
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  8. MikeInFla

    MikeInFla Forum Resident

    Panama City, FL
    I also enjoy New Voyages and disappointed that James Cawley isn't doing any more fan films. I think they have several that were even finished. I know that "Continues" plans to wrap things up. And it appears they have removed their You Tube page but the European version is still there. I was looking forward to seeing more as they just cast a new actor as Kirk and started upgraded on the Enterprise with the movie warp nacelles seen near the end of this video.

  9. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    I've paid more attention to the Axanar case than I have actual ST fan productions (I'm not into them particularly), but from the little I've seen of "Axanar" material and from reading commentary from even relatively kind observers, the main dude Alec Peters casting *himself* in the mail role was/is a horrible idea.

    The "fan film" issue is a complicated issue outside of the obvious copyright laws. But the problem is that *that* complicated, interesting debate is not at the heart of this "Axanar" thing. There are a lot of other shady things that have gone on with that "Axanar" project. I'm amazed that people continue to report even to this day that the Axanar project "was never for profit", because it clearly *was* by several measures. The judge in his rejection of summary judgment pointed to professional future prospects as one clear "benefit" of them doing the project. They also sold mugs and ship models and stuff, which is clearly well beyond a normal "fans in their garage shooting a fan film" situation.

    Peters also paid *himself* a salary. We all get it, people shouldn't be expected to work for free. But he has to acknowledge then that he *did* financially benefit from doing the project by employing *himself* in paying roles/functions.

    Also, perhaps most sketchy of all, is that they used the donor money to start a production facility not simply to shoot "Axanar", but that they would be able to *rent out* other productions in the future *for profit.* This facility and its future status as a for profit venture was never mentioned to donors during the donation period from what I've been able to tell.

    There are also questions as to whether they legally had a non-profit status during all of this.
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  10. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    One of my favorite little trivia bits, as reported on that "Axamonitor" website, is that when donors started asking for a refund during all of this lawsuit business, Alec Peters allegedly did offer a select group a refund, but only if they would sign a "Non-Disparagement" agreement that would not allow them to disclose they had received a refund, and would not allow them to speak at all about "Axanar."

    Kickstarter Deletes Axanar Spam, Peters Suspends Refunds »
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  11. Exactly. Which goes right to the root of the problem: a FAN FILM is not a BUSINESS, and attempting to make it so is, well, illogical. James Cawley understood that. Vic Mignogna understood that. What's Alec's problem?

    Peters "explaining" things in those terms just proves the plaintiff's point; that client intended willful and profitable copyright infringement.
  12. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    That strikes me as very sleazy and vindictive.
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  13. Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  14. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Important safety tip: in show business, when you want to threaten somebody, make sure you don't do it in writing, or you threaten somebody who has an audience who will listen to them. See: Mike Ovitz Threatens Joe Esterhausz...

    The Letter That's Shaking Hollywood : Movies: A million-dollar screenwriter takes on powerful talent agent Michael Ovitz. »
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  15. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Here's an entertaining bit with Peters.

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  16. Encuentro

    Encuentro Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I saw this awhile back. Another very interesting one is this interview with Prelude to Axanar director Christian Gossett. Mr. Gossett was originally slated to be the director of the feature but has left the project. He is very critical of Alec Peters in this interview.
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  17. MikeInFla

    MikeInFla Forum Resident

    Panama City, FL
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  18. fuzzface

    fuzzface Forum Resident

    Lebanon, MO
    THAT Eric Berry rules.
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  19. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    The behavior of Peters towards fans/supporters/funders is not even necessarily outside the realm of things that Paramount/CBS could bring into the trial. It certainly would not be a main issue, but they could argue that Peters acting like a total a-hole to journalists and to fans indirectly damages the ST franchise insofar as Peters is attached to it.

    I've continually been stunned how antagonist and shady this guy is, and I have to guess that a lot of people that are against Paramount/CBS in this lawsuit have never heard or read what this guy has said/written.

    I remember way back when I first read about this Axanar thing (perhaps right around when the first short film was released), and I want to say at some point they were actually calling it "Star Trek: Axanar" instead of just "Axanar" (I think their YouTube and Facebook presences still have "StarTrekAxanar" in their URLs), and my first reaction was "How are they not going to get sued over this?" And I thought that will *full* awareness that Paramount/CBS has allowed fan films for ages (this is discussed in the "Trekkies" documentaries).

    Wil Wheaton spoke about "Axanar" back in March, and I think he puts it succinctly:

    Do you know what the deal with this ST fan film... »

    Also worth noting is that, I believe, Wheaton wrote this *before* Axanar's actions forced Paramount/CBS to issue "fan film guidelines", and Wheaton (and many others) totally called it ahead of time: Axanar ruined it for all the other fan films.
    Vidiot likes this.
  20. jriems

    jriems Audio Ojiisan

    Are you saying that New Voyages just cast a new actor as Kirk, or Continues cast a new actor as Kirk? Also, does the CBS fan-film guidelines mean that both Continues and New Voyages will no longer be able to do any more episodes, period?
  21. MikeInFla

    MikeInFla Forum Resident

    Panama City, FL
    New Voyages has (or had) a new Kirk. James Cawley used to play Kirk but he was tired of the criticism so he cast someone else to play Kirk. James appears in this one as an Elvis impersonater (his real life job). For some reason all of the original videos have been removed but the ones with subtitles are still there. I think this episode is the "new Kirk's" full debut.

    jriems likes this.
  22. Encuentro

    Encuentro Forum Resident Thread Starter

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  23. Encuentro

    Encuentro Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here's the "official" statement from Axanar Productions regarding today's settlement announcement:


    Valencia, CA - Friday, January 20 - Axanar Productions is pleased to announce that we have reached a formal resolution to the lawsuit brought against Alec Peters, and the fan film production, AXANAR, by CBS Studios, Inc. and Paramount Pictures Corporation.

    Since the beginning of the lawsuit, over a year ago, we have expressed our desire to address the concerns of the studios, and our willingness to make necessary changes, as long as we could reasonably meet our commitments to AXANAR’S over 14,000 donors, fans and supporters. We are now able to do exactly that.

    Terms of the settlement agreement include an agreement to allow Axanar Productions to continue showing PRELUDE TO AXANAR commercial-free on YouTube and to allow Axanar Productions to produce the AXANAR feature film as two fifteen-minute segments that can be distributed on YouTube (also without ads).

    Additional terms of the agreement will be made available to cast, crew and donors through private correspondence.

    For the next sixty days, Axanar Productions will be working through some final legal requirements requiring immediate attention. In addition, there are several pre-production issues that need to be re-visited before we can begin principal photography on our project.

    Axanar Productions was created by lifelong Star Trek fans to celebrate their love for Star Trek. Alec Peters and the Axanar team look forward to continuing to share the Axanar story and are happy to work within the Guidelines for Fan Films for future projects.

    Throughout this process, we will continue communicating with our fans and backers to ensure they are informed and involved until we reach completion of the production.

    For those of you who are donors, you will be receiving an email with some "donor exclusive" information.

    Thanks again for your support this past year.

    Live Long and Prosper.
  24. Deesky

    Deesky Forum Resident

    I don't get how two 15min segments can constitute a feature film?
  25. will_b_free

    will_b_free Forum Resident

    Boulder, CO
    On the plus side, this will ensure much tighter editing.
    Vidiot, Chris DeVoe and Encuentro like this.
  26. That's what's entertaining about this whole thing. It doesn't. Their donors were duped, yet they still have people on the Axanar page planning to open their wallets for another crowdfunding campaign.
  27. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    These "Axanar" people, especially Peters, are nuts and I can't fathom why anybody could be crazy enough to give this guy more money after he burned through $1.4 million without actually making the movie.

    The guy continues to be sketchy and laughably out of touch even after the settlement. Most egregiously perhaps is that while the settlement apparently required a joint statement where Axanar and Peters had to *admit* they crossed acceptable copyright law boundaries, Axanar and Peters completely left that part out of his later statement (printed in a post above). The joint statement where Axanar and Peters were forced to admit crossing those boundaries:

    Paramount Pictures Corporation, CBS Studios Inc., Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters are pleased to announce that the litigation regarding Axanar’s film Prelude to Axanar and its proposed film Axanar has been resolved. Axanar and Mr. Peters acknowledge that both films were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law.

    Meanwhile, the "AxaMonitor" website is continuing to keep tabs on this guy and he's already trying to finagle his way into creative workarounds to the lawsuit settlement. To me, this signals that the money he raises going forward (more on that in a moment) may also end up being for naught if CBS and Paramount have to go after him again for breaking the terms of the settlement.

    Axamonitor is already reporting that there's questionable types of fundraising going on. Apparently, the settlement doesn't allow for public fundraising (so no Kickstarter, etc.). But they're publically posting links for people to click on to donate, which leads them to a page to join a mailing list, where then presumably they could continue to solicit for donations. Is that still public? Kinda, kinda not.

    Peters is apparently also already trying to piece together how he can still call two 15-minute segments a "90 minute" product by alluding to the eventual DVD/Blu-ray (which apparently the original backers can still be sent under the settlement) including extra content.

    I can't believe anybody in the Star Trek community or the industry in general would ever involve themselves with this guy. The whole thing smells bad, and even after settling it still smells bad. That's even after Axanar did even get a few token items in the settlement that other "fan films" aren't getting, like getting to retain his "pro" director and crew (assuming they all end up staying on to do two 15-minute short films).

    This guy has such a sketchy vibe to me that I'm at least 50% convinced CBS and Paramount are going to have to drag this guy back into court again before all is said and done.
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  28. And how!

    If anybody's on Facebook and curious, there's a group dedicated to the lawsuit here:
    CBS/Paramount v. Axanar Public Group | Facebook »
    Carlos Pedraza from Axamonitor and others post there.
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  29. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    One of the loopholes Peters could try to use is one I noticed as soon as CBS/Paramount announced the "Fan Film Guidelines." That is, when they say someone can only make two 15-minute shorts, what constitutes the group to whom that limit is applied? Can't they just call it another "new" project with a different combinations of actors/writers/directors, etc., and do another set of 15-minute shorts?

    Is it two 15-minute shorts that any person can be involved with in any capacity? Or just two shorts per director? Can the exact same group do a different story and continue to do sets of 15-minute shorts?

    So yeah, Peters could do four more 15 minute shorts as long as they are attributed to someone else I guess.

    His problem is that not many seem to like him because he is a pretty unlikeable character from everything I've seen, and there's a ton more scrutiny on him. So if we get Peters doing "Axanar Part 1 & 2" and then some other mysterious group doing Part 3 & 4, perhaps calling it a different name, will CBS/Paramount pursue that? I have no idea; it all depends on how the settlement is worded and how strict it is. I would certainly hope CBS/Paramount, despite giving him a few tiny concessions (retaining the pro crew), made it explicitly clear that they want this "Axanar" thing to be over after Peters does his two 15-minute shorts.

    I still maintain that I could easily see CBS/Paramount ending up having to take Peters back to court before this is all over.

    For the good of the "fan film" community (of which I have no interest; I've never really been into them), I actually kind of wish CBS/Paramount would have done whatever it took, including some minor payout, to get Peters to just sign an agreement to stay away from "Star Trek" in any way. He seems to just poison the whole well in my view. Mark my words, he's probably going to have out within the next year or two a "David vs. Goliath" documentary about the ordeal, put together by more of his surrogates.

    I would imagine the only reason CBS/Paramount didn't push for an agreement that just completely washed away anything to do with "Axanar" is that there are all of those donors that should still get *something.*
  30. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Ya gotta like that.
  31. Encuentro

    Encuentro Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Christian Gossett, director of Prelude to Axanar, returns to The Trekzone Spotlight to discuss the settlement. Interesting stuff. If Alec Peters had just listened to Gossett, the full-length feature would have been completed long ago. Now, Peters has to settle for making two fifteen minute vignettes.
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