Interview conducted by guest-blogger Will Nguyen.
Hailing frequencies open and greetings to all the Axanar fans out there! As part of our new blogging effort, we are happy to introduce a new segment: the donor spotlight! This regular feature will highlight an individual donor and explain why Axanar appealed to them and how they are expanding and participating in their fandom in a dynamic way because of this production. We hope you enjoy!
Many of you probably already know him from him his numerous (others might say, very numerous!) Axanar related posts on Facebook and other social media, but Norman Lao is a lifelong fan of Star Trek and has been a supporter of the Axanar production (that’s him helping out on the Axanar booth at Wondercon above) since the very beginning, from the initial Prelude Kickstarter to the first pre-production fundraising round for the feature film. I recently chatted with Norm about his love of all things Trek and the following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
WN: Can you provide us with a little information about yourself and how you came to be so passionate about Axanar?
NL: I’m a creative director based out of Huntington Beach, California. My passion for a lot of different fandoms began early on – most formatively, like many of us growing up in the late 70s and early 80s with Star Wars. My deepest fandom passions are in science fiction and fantasy and my favorite non-Trek shows are Babylon 5, Doctor Who, Highlander: The Series, and Farscape.
And how do I feel for Axanar: Axanerd? Superfan? I guess as Robert Burnett described me as a few very cool monickers on the Official Axanar Podcast Episode #27. I just do what I can as I can and am happy to help when I can and wherever I can. Just helping keep the “Tip of the Spear” sharp!
I have donated to both Kickstarters (Prelude and Axanar KS1) and I volunteer for Axanar on a needed basis; helping setup and work show booths for conventions, promoting Axanar on official Axanar social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. I pretty much try and help out behind the scenes as much as I can to help build the grassroots Axanar movement.
WN: Which iteration of Star Trek became “your first” Star Trek? What drew you to that iteration? And, what is it about Star Trek that has made you such a long-term fan?
NL: My very first memory of Star Trek was incredibly painful. Literally. My dad was trying to get gum out of my hair as I was watching The Animated Series. Don’t ask me how I got the gum in my hair! All I know is that my dad was using peanut butter and then scissors to get it out of my hair, all the while I was transfixed by Spock’s animated Sehlat.
But truth be told, the Original Series is my favorite Star Trek series. What I enjoyed about it was the sense of optimism it entailed. That in the future, beings of diverse backgrounds can work together in common cause. That spoke to me then, and it still does today.
WN: How did you find out about Axanar?
NL: I’m a huge fan of Christian Gossett. Some of you may know of him from his superlative comic book series, The Red Star. I remember it was early March 2014 that I saw a post about “something Axanar” on his Facebook feed. And being the TOS fan that I am, I thought “Was this the Axanar that was referenced in the episode Court Martial, where the computer listed Kirk receiving the Palm Leaf of AXANAR, and in Whom Gods Destroy? So I did some researching and lo and behold, it was! That opened the door into researching more about Axanar, delving way deeper into the Prelude Kickstarter logs, and the rest is history.
WN: What was it that made you feel that you had to support Axanar and to become more deeply involved in its production?
NL: I’ve always been a big believer in proactive support. Of quite literally putting your money where your mouth is. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful career that sustains my creative skills and passion. It has enabled me to monetarily support endeavors that share that same kind of passion that I have. When I learned about Axanar and realized that Alec Peters, Rob Burnett, Christian Gossett, Diana Kingsbury, Terry McIntosh and the entire team at Ares Studios not only shared this kind of passion, but also had the ambition to really create new “Star Trek” (with a capital “S” and T”), I knew that I had to do more and to be a part of the process in a way that was personally satisfying.
WN: What are your expectations for the Axanar full-length feature?
NL: No one can predict the future and at the end of the day, I’m just like many of the other fans out there eagerly awaiting the release. But I think when everything is said and done, the production will be of a quality that rivals anything the major studios can or have put out. And I think, as high as people’s expectations are now, I think it will still shock, surprise, and delight fans all over when it’s finally released.
WN: What would you like to see in the future of Ares Studios? What direction do you want the studio to take in its future?
NL: Speaking only as a (super)fan, I can only hope that the success of Axanar will propel Ares Studios into that *wait for it* “final frontier” of filmmaking. I can already hear the audience groaning! But in all honesty, I can only hope that the future of crowd-funded and independent filmmaking becomes brighter and brighter with Axanar. My ultimate wish is that we get a fully dedicated, user-driven, and independent channel of professional science fiction entertainment led by the crew and staff at Ares Studios.
WN: I also know you’re a big supporter of Trek.FM (where you actually co-host a regular show with yours truly!). Can you tell us more about your role with Trek.FM, how it supports the Axanar production, and how it has sustained and grown your Trek fandom?
NL: That’s right! As one of the hosts for Warp Five – along with you Will – we talk to our audience every week about Star Trek and Enterprise, specifically, and I love it! I also tremendously enjoy continuing the conversation with the fans on The BABEL Conference, Trek.fm’s dedicated listeners page on Facebook. Trek.FM has been immensely responsible for re-igniting my Star Trek fandom. And most importantly, it has allowed me to actively participate in my fandom. That’s how I met you actually and countless other passionate and intelligent fans from across the globe. Each week, as co-host, I have a chance to share my passion and love for Star Trek with so many people and for that I am ever grateful and humble. I cannot thank Christopher Jones and Matthew Rushing enough for helping me get started with becoming a host and for all of the opportunities in front of the mic and behind the scenes as one of the Executive Producers for the network. Trek.FM, as many of you already know, is the home of the Official Axanar Podcast and Alec and Rob do a terrific job giving fans the behind-the-scenes scoop on the production each week. So check it out if you haven’t already!
Thanks Will for interviewing me and I hope the readers out there have the opportunity to share their enthusiasm and passion for the AXANAR project. Remember folks, you have the chance to become a part of history, in the same way the Star Trek fans of the 1960’s did when they banded together as Trekkies to save the Original Series for one more season. This is our time as Trek fans, so let your voice be heard and support this project and this movement and let’s show the world – that AXANAR and the Star Trek being produced by Alec Peters and Ares Studios is THE Star Trek you want to see usher in a whole era of independent feature productions.
Peace and Long Life to you all.