So where are we with Axanar?
Well, as you (hopefully) all know, we are allowed to make two more 15 minute episodes as part of the settlement agreement with CBS & Paramount. The question was what to make?
Now when we made Prelude to Axanar , we thought we should make it a part of a series, like The World at War, the famous BBC series narrated by Sir Lawrence Olivier and which a lot of us grew up on (You can read a good article on The World at War here, and its Wikipedia page is here).
One day in post on Prelude, when Rob and I were in the edit bay, where Rob did a wonderful job of putting everything together, we were talking about the title. We knew it was to be called “Prelude to Axanar” but we wanted to give it scope and make it part of a series, and so I came up with “The Four Years War, Part IV”. Rob loved it, but I immediately realized that Star Wars was re-titled “Episode IV a New Hope”, so we changed Prelude to Episode III. We had no intention of ever making episodes 4 & 5, let alone 1 & 2. Prelude was meant to be a proof of concept, followed up by the full length movie Axanar.
Fast forward three years and we settle the ridiculous lawsuit by CBS and Paramount. So with the settlement, we are allowed to make two more 15 minute episodes, or 30 minutes total, and we had to decide what to do. Rob Burnett and Bill Hunt wanted to make the first 30 minutes of the full Axanar script. They wanted to show what could have been. I wanted to make two more episodes of The Four Years War. Basically take the Axanar script and trim it down and reformat it to tell the story. What did fans want? Well, in a poll on the Axanar Fan Group, fans voted 667-8 for two more episodes of The Four Years War.
Wanting to give fans what they want, it seemed an obvious choice to tell the whole story of The Battle of Axanar and make two more episodes of The Four Years War documentary that Prelude to Axanar is part of. But it wasn’t that easy. The lawsuit cost Axanar fans about $ 500,000 of the money they donated as after 13 months of a lawsuit, we couldn’t hold onto the studio anymore. In fact I paid the last few months of rent myself (at $15,000 a month).
So, we moved the studio to Atlanta from Los Angeles, got Other World Computing to sponsor the studio, and started a program with the Gwinnett County Video Production program to use the studio to help train students. I wrote the script for the next two episodes of The Four Years War, Paul Jenkins. legendary Marvel comics writer who penned Wolverine: Origins, came on board as Director, Mark Edward Lewis, the amazing Sound Designer for Prelude to Axanar, and the guy who taught me how to edit, has stepped up to be editor in addition to sound designer, and Bing Bailey is back as our DIT and colorist. Plus we have our Axanar costume designer Kate Bergh now working with costume consultant Claude Doziere making costumes. Plus with Simon Lissaman, Lee Quesenberry and Alexander Richardson manning the art department, Bill on technology, and an awesome group of Atlanta volunteers). We have some amazing new crew you will get to learn about, and you will hear their stories in time (stay tuned here).
As to casting news, well, Gary Graham will be back as Soval, and JG Hertzler is back as Sam Travis. We are in discussions with Kate Vernon to reprise her role of Sonya Alexander, and we are casting another 12 roles as we speak.
This November, we host Axacon, and on the Thursday before, we have our first “all hands on deck” production meeting, with our Director, DP, Editor and others attending. I will be hosting it at my house, and we expect to plan out the 3-4 days of shooting we will be doing to get all of the two episodes in the can.
At this point, and this has only been discussed briefly, we think we are looking at two days of shooting in Los Angeles in Dec. – Jan. and then two days of shooting in Atlanta a month or two later. Our goal is to have everything in the can by end of February and a release date next summer. If all goes as planned, another Red carpet event at Comic Con will be planned.
OK, so that is the update! If you have questions ask away!
And as always, live long and prosper!