Thursday, Jan. 7th, 2016
OK, time for an FAQ because of all the lies and misinformation going around about Axanar. We see the same nonsense over and over. The same questions, which are based on ignorance mostly. So here are the facts:
Q: How can you be non-profit and pay salaries?
A: Non-profit does not mean “volunteer”. Just like the CEO of The Red Cross gets $400K a year in salary, non-profits can pay salaries. Payroll is an expense.
Q: Why did Alec Peters get paid $ 38,000 as noted in the annual report?
A: Because Alec (as well as Diana) worked full time at Axanar, certainly 60 hours a week not including conventions on the weekends. That means Alec and Diana probably got paid minimum wage. And Diana deferred all her salary. Now go compare that to any Hollywood studio exec putting out medicore content, and tell us Alec and Diana were paid too much! That doesn’t even cover their expenses. We don’t expect full time employees to work for free.
Q: Is Ares Studios a for-profit studio?
A: Ares Studio is the term we use to describe the warehouse we have built our sound stage to make Axanar. There is no profit being made, and in fact Alec personally guaranteed the 3 year lease, so the last two years are a $ 250,000 liability he is responsible for. Axanar Productions has been paying for the building while we build sets and prepare the make the movie. Would we like to make movies after Axanar? Sure would, but that is all speculative. We don’t have any revenue from the studio and so such talk is nonsense.
Q: Why did Paramount/CBS choose to sue Axanar and not any other fan film?
A: One would have to ask Paramount and CBS. But it is of note that the suit was filed within weeks after CBS and Paramount got a copy of the Axanar script, a script that every person who has read it thinks is awesome. (One actor told the head of CBS casting this last month).
Q: Did Axanar get a Cease & Desist before the lawsuit?
A: No. We had no communication with CBS since our August meeting with John Van Citters of CBS Licensing and Bill Burke of CBS Consumer Products at which point they told us they would not tell us what we could or could not do. And contrary to popular myth, there are no guidelines by CBS. In fact they refuse to give any guidelines to fan films.
Ultimately it is not donors, who have all the information they need on our finances and how we operate, who are complaining. Axanar has been noted by both Kickstarter and Indiegogo for how accountable and transparent we are. And we publish a daily journal of our progress. Who else does that? No one. No other Star Trek fan film has released their finances for their crowd funding campaigns.
Join the discussion 33 Comments
Excellent summary. I had not seen some of the negative stuff going on and actually had to go dig for it. What I found was a small number of people who seem to have decided that generalized accusations and insinuations about various people are all they need to justify larger accusations that keep building. Pretty soon Ares Studios will be found guilty of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby and Alec is actually a reptillian bent on world domination. What nonsense. It is the uncertainity that is breeding some peoples fear and others animosity regarding obvious perceived sleights that seem to constitute the bulk of the stuff. Great FAQ here, but note the fact Alec was not scamming the production and Diana has poured her heart and soul into this project, all for minimum (and in Diana’s case NONE) wage. Rob and Alec, hold tight, I see a 1000:1 ratio of good comments to bad. You folks are on the right path and have our support. You folks have indeed been transparent, honest and overwhelmingly open in production, and this project must go on, for the good of Trek! Thanks for all the hard work and effort, it is easy to see how much of an impact you all have had.
This all certainly sounds stressful and unfair. But as a legal exercise I would urge caution in providing so much information. But I do applaude the excellent restraint and focus being demonstrated.
Hopefully CBS and Paramount are attempting to do Axanar a favor in negotiating clear guidelines. Something they have never done for any other fan film. There needs to be a formal legal setting in which to provide those guidelines so that they are bullet proof.
Targeting Axanar in particular also permits it to be scoped.
I know nothing of judges and courts and the legal system, but if it is a rare case in which they are attempting to negoiate a mutually acceptable settlement.. that allows Axanar to continue.. or even transforms it into something else.. I would just leave room for hope, and not burn any bridges too soon.
The ultimate risk to the studios is that they succeed in a major Anniversary year and really do generate a lot of memorable bad blood against all fan films that propagates a resonating ‘bad word of mouth’.. and truly does damage the franchise for generations. The damages they could recoup in the short term would be microcopic compared to the damages over the long term. The inciter this time was not a fan, or derranged individual.. it was a major corporation with future interests in a multbillion dollar industry. The studio will not be gone in a few years.. it will have to wear this stain on its sleeve a very long time… in that case the only way it would make sense is if they were preparing to sell the property out right to someone else.
FAQ! Always good to get a short summary about the facts.
It really is a mess when thousands of people talk about a topic that they have not enough information about to really conclude anything.
Personally, I do have unanswered questions about the whole lawsuit and what exactly is going on. Of course I would like to know more. But of course you can not give away all the information about the lawsuit to the public and most of these questions are just things like: how is it going to end? I will just have to wait to find that out.
That feeling, to just sit here and wait, is frustrating sometimes and it is tempting to speculate. But it wouldn’t be any helpful.
When the whole lawsuit began, I wrote on more than one occasion, that the best thing, axanar can do now, is to stay transparent and to give us all the news and updates you can. And so far, I feel like thats exactly what you did. From what I can tell you are managing to deal with the recent events in a professional way and that is what I’d expect. Thank you for that!
Thanks for some clarification. I wonder that if because your script is so good that CBS feels threatened? They do have a new series coming out next year, could their story be similar to yours? I guess we’ll have to wait and see how everything pans out. Too bad they just can’t pay your studio to make a new series. 🙂
Hang in there folks. You have been organized, open, honest and compassionate about this endeavor from the start…it will result in an outcome that you will be satisfied with in the end. Doesn’t mean this wont get rough or even weirder, but hold the course and do so with the grace and style that you have shown to date, and that I got to see in person in Seattle too. You are doing a really awesome thing, don’t loose sight of that.
As a donor, I am impressed by the level of your transparency, the quality of your work, and your handling of this lawsuit so far. I just want to clarify one point, since your answer regarding Ares studios isn’t entirely clear. Are you saying (1) that Ares Studios isn’t a legal entity at all, just the name of a facility that either the nonprofit Axanar corporation or Alec Peters personally is leasing, (2) that Ares Studios is a separate nonprofit entity, or (3) that Ares Studios is a legal entity that is classified as for-profit for tax purposes, but is not in fact making any profit and does not have plans to? Any of these seem perfectly respectable to me, I just want to understand clearly what is going on.
Ares Studios is NOT a legal entity at all. It is our pet name name for our facility.
Thanks for the clarification. I’m rooting for you in the lawsuit.
Alex, have you given any thought to acquiring the rights, or at least the license to produce “DUNE”? I don’t mean to sound like Axanar won’t work out, I just kind of like Dune. Finally, with you and Gary Graham working together, how about a revisit to “Alien Nation.” Picture this: In a future earth society, Aliens are integrated and among the leaders on earth, even with hybrids and such; however, some high-ranking Newcomers have secretly been in contact with the Overseers from the past. You could show a conflict between humans and newcomers versus a sinister group of cabal type newcomers, all in the future. Ares Studio could design the future earth society how you guys see fit. Maybe Eric Pierpoint and Michelle Scarabelli are in cameos or something.
Someone on twitter using the handle Star Trek Bill spammed me in twitter pm about how terrible Axanar is and how Alec stole money from doners. Complete BS. Every time I told him the truth he would get frustrated and start his rant all over again.
Thanks for that James. He tries to post here and gets deleted.
Common sense definitely doesn’t seem to be welcome here.
That’s an odd comment because this site seems to exude common sense. OTOH, blather about theft of donations makes no sense, common or otherwise.
They might be angling for a license fee. Or maybe they’re just jealous.
Could be either.
Someone posted on Tony Todd’s Twitter page a fake tweet by Alec Peters that was defaming Tony and claiming he was asking for too much money and couldn’t read. I hope you guys clarified this up. I also hope Tony can still be in Axanar.
I believe in an earlier blog within the last few days, Alec said that Tony Todd is slammed with the TV show “Flash” on the CW. So he simply doesn’t have the time in his schedule to come back to Axanar.
The Internet has always been a hotbed of misinformation–it’s what happens when you have a large number of people imagining they are “experts”. Just look at the state of politics today, so much insane rhetoric being tossed around 🙂 Naturally there are going to be people who get their jollies by attacking Axanar, regardless of them not having any actual facts at their disposal. It’s par for the course these days. For the most part, it’s best just to ignore the nay-sayers. As a donor, all I can do is keep positive and wait for whatever legal outcome transpires…and if the worse were to occur, then well, what can you do? That’s the legal system for you.
CBS is just mad because they couldn’t come up with a script as good as Axanar.
Pure speculation, but I have considered the idea that the whole hubub is just CBS angling for “A Piece of the Action”.
Now, if they were to take Axanar and other privately funded Trek serials and movies and play them on their stupid pay-per-view scam, it might work out that the fan-film creators eventually end up with “A Piece of the Action”. A very small piece.
I will bet the new series is similar in premise – think about it: paramount and cbs execs see how Star Wars is doing, the movie and rebels give similar vibes to the original trilogy(I happen to like the latest Star Wars but feel trek has lost its way especially into darkness).
I can see execs saying we should have a show similar to the original with Klingons as the enemy, more action – space battles each week, etc. Less thoughtful allegories more action adventure.
Then they read the Axanar script and panic as it is probably far more thought out than what cbs has.
Here’s something I’m wondering – although cbs and paramount obviously own the rights to Star Trek itself I don’t think they own the rights to anything original Axanar that has been created such as new characters, script or designs etc. CBS would have to pay for that.
I’m starting to wonder if this is a hardline tactic to negotiate using Axanar elements for the new show. It would make a heck of a bridging pilot from Enterprise.
Thank you for the excellent summary. As a donor, I’ve always been very impressed by the whole process. I signed on for the privilege of promoting this great Star Trek story – and perhaps for the privilege of helping to make history. This lawsuit is clearly an act of corporate insecurity & desperation. That much is obvious to anyone who simply looks objectively at the facts. Here’s our chance to make legal history as well as a great Star Trek film.
Like Sci-Fi great Robert Heinlein said:
“Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.”
(I’m not really an admiral – but I plan to play one in a movie.)
I do not begrudge Alec or Dianna their salaries.. Let’s hope the studio will in fact be able to turn a profit on future work beyond Axanar…
I have maybe very offtopic, and – maybe stupid – question. Star Trek, when it was great , used to have technical manuals (the first was created a posteriori, but later TNG have writer’s bible that become manual). So… Is there any chance that we see Star Trek Axanar Technical Manual?
Star Trek always was about humans and good, deep, stories, but it was also prophetic vision of space exploration, in its core close to hard Science Fiction. Do you remember that? Do Axanar have scientific accurate (ok, quasi-accurate) writer’s bible?
You know what i mean?
Trek canon is today some kind of alternate – maybe betteer (maybe, sometimes, not – Eugenic Wars for instance) – history with sometimes archaic tech (we all know how TOS looks), but… Stephen Baxter for example (that guy who wrote one VGR episode outline ;-)) gave us very convining hard SF legitimizations of many retro looking alternate histories of technological evolution in his “Voyage”, “The Time Ships” and in his Heinlein-esque stories from Xeelee Sequence’s Third Expansion period (“On the Orion Line” etc.).
So it will be very nice to see that same care for details, and for scientific accuracy, in Axanar. First – on screen, in the backgound of captain Garth story. Next – in the more specific, geek-friendly ;-), form, in the form of the Manual.
(And I wrote this for You, because here, in distant Poland we have group of Trekers who are sad and angry that “official” Trek is created with ascending scientific negligence from latter seasons of DS9 to Beyond.)
Best wishes for you and all Axanar Team.
i am from poland and i want to know what is about your star trek story ?
its worth to see ?
i expect good fight and kills 😉 pretty women and magic 😉 super starship technology 😉
maybe some philosophy ?
but i dont know nothing about your production
i expect you will answer me 😉
my best trek is TOS 🙂
Oh, use the Google, Luke! 😛
And see this:
Initially I was shocked and horrified by what has happened and my Mothering instinct came flooding out and I wanted to protect you all… How the hell I would do that, I honestly don’t know…
But reading all that you have openly put on your sites has told me that you have it all in hand and the biggest thing that you need from me, is my support…. Well hand on heart, you can have as much as you like on that one…
I did see negativity on some peoples posts and 99% of those were not even donors … I even got a friend request from one who went out of her way to try and convert me into hating Axanar… Needless to say, I blocked her…
I really do wish you the best in this quest and if you do need any back-up from donors, I for one will be there when required…
I think CBS/Paramount doesn’t give guidelines so as to not lock themselves in. They are free to exercise their “rights” whenever and however they see fit. As far as Axanar is concerned, I think the Axanar scipt is awesome and I haven’t even read it. 🙂 Keeping the faith and waiting patiently (ok, impatiently) for Axanar.
“Alec personally guaranteed the 3 year lease”
Been there, done that. In terms of personal commitment, that says it all. Courage, mes amis….
Could CBS get an injunction/stop shipment on physical perks? Is there a date for a hearing/decision on filming?
No they could not. And why would they?
No matter what happens I would like to thank you guys for understanding what Star Trek is and giving fans what they want to see. I couldn’t ask for more thank you thank you. Sincerely a loyal fan of trek. I only hope cbs realizes this also and decides to help or something constructive, not destructive.