Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
Below you will find a growing list of answers to some of the many questions that we’re routinely asked, but you will find the most comprehensive answers in our official FAQ/Q&A threads on the Axanar Fan Group on Facebook. Be sure to join that group and stay abreast of the latest information!
About the History of Axanar Productions
What is the history of Axanar Productions?
Axanar Productions was created in 2013 in anticipation of a March 2014 crowdfunding campaign to finance the twenty-minute short film, Prelude to Axanar. After producing Prelude to Axanar, we began work on creating a full length movie of Axanar, but unfortunately, CBS and Paramount found what we were doing too good (yes they said that) and they sued Axanar Productions. CBS and Paramount settled with Alec Peters and Axanar Productions in 2017 and authorized the making of two more 15 minute episodes of Axanar, rather than a full length movie. We then moved our studio to Atlanta to save on costs (as the lawsuit basically bankrupted Axanar anbd almost bankrupted Alec Peters as well, despite getting over $1 million in free legal work from Winston & Strawn). We have been working away on reformatting and filming two more episodes of The Four Years War documentary that Prelude to Axanar was part III.
What is the status of the next two Axanar films?
In 2019, we had a 3 day shoot of Axanar, followed by a one day shoot in March 2020, the week before the entire film industry was shut down because of Covid 19. We then resumed filming in November 2021 with a one day shoot in Atlanta. We are planning a 3 day shoot in Los Angeles and a final one day shoot in Atlanta this year, and then we are off to post-production! We hope to have the next two episodes released by the end of the year.
After AXANAR, will Axanar Productions still remain as an operating business? If so, what will it do?
Axanar Productions’ mission is making the Star Trek fan film Axanar. After this is accomplished, we will close down Axanar Productions, which was the production company set up to make Axanar. We will however carry on producing great Sci Fi content and giving fans and student film makers a place to shoot their films, through Ares Studios.
How many people are employed by Axanar Productions?
Everyone who works on Axanar Productions projects is a volunteer; the company does not have any employees.
About The Lawsuit
Why did CBS & Paramount sue Axanar?
CBS and Paramount Pictures sued Alec Peters and Axanar Production for alleged copyright infringement. The lawsuit, filed in December 2015, was settled in January 2017. As CBS stated to us in settlement negotiations, in mediation with a judge, and in depositions, CBS sued Alec and Axanar Productions because Axanar looked too good!
Why didn’t Axanar Productions get CBS and/or Paramount’s permission to make PRELUDE TO AXANAR and AXANAR?
After lobbying CBS for 4 years for fan film guidelines, Alec Peters asked Liz Kalodner, the SVP of licensing for CBS, whom he had met with previously, for a meeting at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention in August, 2015. CBS head of Star Trek licensing John Van Citters and SVP of Consumer Products Bill Burke attended. CBS told us, “We will not tell you what you can do, and we will not tell you what you can’t do, but we will tell you when you cross the line.”
Did Axanar Productions know it was going to get sued?
No. In fact, Axanar Production’s executive, Alec Peters, read about the lawsuit online—after it was filed—the same day it was published by the trade press. There was never a “cease and desist” letter, or any other notice delivered to Axanar Productions or Alec Peters in advance of the lawsuit being filed. No phone call. Nothing. Which, considering Alec Peters’ history of volunteering for CBS on the CBS Star Trek Archive, and being a licensee at one point, is disappointing. It was also disappointing given that based on his meetings with CBS, Alec Peters believed he would be given some warning that would have allowed him to consider, and ideally resolve, CBS’s concerns before CBS sued him.
Did Axanar Productions attempt to settle the lawsuit when initially sued?
Axanar Productions made a settlement offer to Paramount and CBS within 48 hours of the lawsuit being delivered to the production’s offices, but it was rejected without a counter proposal. Axanar Productions continued its efforts to try and resolve the case and a settlement was finally reached in February 2017.
Why did CBS and Axanar settle the lawsuit?
In the trial, the judge made a poor legal ruling, denying a Fair Use argument to Axanar. Fair Use is a matter of fact, and thus a jury decision, not a matter of law, and thus the judge was in error. This decision granted Axanar the chance to appeal any verdict to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. CBS, not wanting to deal with suing its biggest fans for the two years it would take for the appeal to get to the 9th Circuit, approached us to settle the lawsuit. It was in the best interests of both parties, and so Axanar is allowed to make two more 15 minute episodes.
Axanar and the CBS Fan Film Guidelines
Were the 2016 CBS Fan Film Guidelines because of Axanar?
We asked Jonathan Lane, the #1 authority on all things Star Trek fan films, who writes the encyclopedic Fan Film Factor blog to answer this:
The guidelines weren’t written to stop Axanar. Axanar was already tied up in court.
The guidelines were written to slow down the REST of the fan productions like Renegades and STC. That’s why the first guideline says “No ongoing series or seasons.” Axanar was always a one-off feature length film. Renegades, however, had recently announced they were planning to do 12 half-hour Star Trek webisodes per year (each year would be a “season,” they said), and CBS just couldn’t allow that…especially with Tim Russ playing Tuvok and other Star Trek alumni scheduled to reprise their roles (like Walter Koenig as Chekov and Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, Robert Beltran as Chakotay, Aron Eisenberg as Nog, Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko, Hannah Hatae as Molly O’Brien, Richard Herd as Admiral Paris, Robert Picardo as Lewis Zimmerman…and a few more I’m forgetting).
That was more than CBS could allow. And with Renegades up over $850K in crowd-funding, it wouldn’t be long before they passed Axanar…and Axanar was being sued. Rather than suing Renegades, too (which would have involved suing Tim Russ, the director), CBS opted to simply issue guidelines for ALL fan films. If you read the guidelines, you’ll see the apply much more directly to Renegades than Axanar.
And as far as CBS was concerned, there was no reason to apply the guidelines to stop Axanar. Axanar would either lose the lawsuit (as CBS intended) and be gone forever, win the lawsuit (NOT what CBS wanted) and the guidelines would be moot, or the case would settle and Axanar be given a specific set of constraints and permission separate from the guidelines…which is what ultimately happened.
About Producing PRELUDE TO AXANAR and AXANAR
PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released on YouTube a matter of months after it was funded. What has taken so long with AXANAR?
Prelude to Axanar and Axanar are two very different kinds of films. As it was originally envisioned, Axanar was to be a full-length movie while Prelude to Axanar is a documentary. Prelude to Axanar was a two-day shoot with actors sitting (for the most part) in front of a green screen. Axanar, on the other hand, was envisioned as a narrative film requiring sets to be built, a larger cast and a larger number of professionals involved in everything from music to visual effects to editing and post production. Axanar had been in pre-production for over a year when CBS sued Axanar Productions, and forcing a halt to production.
The lawsuit then took over 13 months to get to settlement, and the delay bankrupted Axanar Productions and almost bankrupted Alec Peters, who has put in over $200,000 over the past 6 years to make sure Axanar survives.
Axanar Productions then moved to Atlanta and reestablished itself in a smaller studio space.
Will the cast of PRELUDE TO AXANAR reprise their roles in the AXANAR feature?
All of the cast members from PRELUDE TO AXANAR – with the exception of Tony Todd (Admiral Ramirez) had agreed to consider reprising their roles in AXANAR. In November, 2021, JG Hertzler (Sam Travis) shot his scenes in a one day shoot that included 2 other actors. As to the other actors, no deals are in place, so casting could still change due to scheduling conflicts or other reasons.
When will principal photography start on AXANAR?
The next two episodes of The Four Years War has begun shooting! The first weekend shoot took place Oct. 4-6th, 2019 at Ares Studios in Atlanta, followed by a one day shoot in March 202 and a one day shoot in November, 2021.
How long will the visual effects take?
Axanar Productions relies on outside contractors to provide the visual effects (VFX) for AXANAR. How long it will take to complete the VFX needed to tell the story of AXANAR will depend on what kind of shape the production takes.
When will Axanar be released.
The goal is to release episode IV, The Gathering Storm, in 2022, followed shortly after by episode V.
How can I help?
If you want to be part of the crew, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you just want to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, or at the local conventions, join us at the Axanar Fan Group on Facebook. Just search for Axanar Fan Group using the Facebook interface, or click here and we’ll pop right up.
How do I donate?
Go to our donor website at https://axanardonors.com/.
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