Three years ago, Axanar fired Paul Jenkins for unprofessional behavior and inappropriate behavior towards women. After this, Paul Jenkins filed a fraudulent copyright on the Axanar script. Because of this, Alec Peters and Axanar Productions sued Jenkins. We are now learning that Jenkins is being sued for $300,000 for failure to pay his attorneys, yet Paul still continues to fight a lawsuit that is entirely his doing.
Why was Paul Jenkins fired?
On June 20, 2020, Axanar Productions fired their then-director, comic book writer Paul Jenkins, for unprofessional behavior and inappropriate conduct towards women. Not only had Jenkins proven to be incapable of directing Axanar to the level of quality established by Prelude to Axanar (Fan Film Factor creator Jonathan Lane had said the footage was “unusable”), but Jenkins’ arrogant demeanor had turned off a significant number of Axanar crew members. Additionally, his failure to properly manage the one shoot he directed resulted in the loss of footage of three actors, which took place while Jenkins amused himself doing an unauthorized short film on the set. In addition, Jenkins’ actions included inappropriate conversations with Crysstal Hubbard, (a producer on Axanar and Alec Peter’s fiancée)
The final straw came in the form of a profanity-laced email to Alec Peters in which Jenkins claimed Peters “knew nothing.” For someone who spent his life writing comic books, had only been on a few short films, and whose production on Axanar was weak at best, Jenkins came off as arrogant and ungrateful. After all, Peters gave Jenkins a shot no other producer was giving him: a chance to make a follow-up to the most famous Star Trek fan film of all time, which had won 46 film festival awards.
Ultimately Jenkins, rather than taking a very generous settlement agreement which would have kept for him a co-director credit for the film allowed both sides to walk away with heads held high and no monetary commitment to the other, filed a fraudulent copyright on the Axanar script. Jenkins filed the fraudulent copyright, claiming sole authorship of the Axanar script that Peters wrote, after initially filing a copyright in which he readily admitted he had co-authored the edits to the script with Peters.
There is an unwritten rule in Hollywood that, when you are fired from a film production, “don’t burn your bridges.” Paul Jenkins failed to follow this rule and proceeded to do everything in his power to destroy Axanar.
On August 12, 2020, Axanar Productions was forced to sue Paul Jenkins of META studios ( https://www.metastudios.com) for filing a fraudulent copyright on the Axanar script and making false and defamatory statements in a press release.
Jenkins mangles Axanar shoot
Mr. Jenkins ,who came on first as a co-writer, had tried to take over Axanar, as he wanted to be a film maker, and apparently he thought he knew better than the creator of Axanar how Axanar should work. At one point, Jenkins claimed to Alec “META Studios is the production company.” Alec was shocked. He had never agreed to anything of the sort, merely agreeing to let Paul direct. Alec told Paul in no uncertain terms “Axanar Productions is the production company and META Studios has no role here. But if you like, we will add a credit after Axanar Productions in the end credits: In association with META Studios.” Alec didn’t have to do that, but he agreed to because he is a person who wants to make others feel good about their involvement.
The situation that led to Mr. Jenkins being fired started during the three-day film shoot of Axanar in 2019, when multiple situations arose that were not handled well by Mr. Jenkins nor by his hand-picked producer, Scott Conley. Actors and crew had issues with the way Mr. Jenkins was handling filming, and veteran Star Trek actor JG Hertzler, who plays Admiral Sam Travis in Prelude to Axanar and the sequels, made it known that he didn’t think Paul knew what he was doing.
Worse yet, when a memory card malfunction happened, and parts of three actors’ performances were lost, Mr. Jenkins’ producer — Scott Conley – and Mr. Jenkins failed to tell Alec Peters about the problem immediately so the team could reshoot the scenes while the actors were still present at the shoot. To make matters worse, Mr. Jenkins blamed current Axanar Director of Photography Geoff Fagien, who was working his first Axanar shoot as a camera operator, for Mr. Jenkins’ own failure to manage the shoot under his direction and notify Peters when footage was lost.
Later, we would discover that most of the footage that Mr. Jenkins shot was not up to the standard Axanar has set for this production and was essentially unusable. The performances of the two best actors we had (one an Emmy-winner) were weak due to Jenkins and Conley keeping both 70+ year-old actors on stage all day and not shooting them until late in the day. In addition, the way Jenkins directed was annoying to many of the actors, as Jenkins insisted on “interviewing” the actors in an unnatural way that JG Hertzler found “Absurd” rather than having those actors follow the written script…or even come close to following it. It was this ill-advised decision on the part of Mr. Jenkins that led to much of the footage being unusable because it was so off-script as to be unworkable into telling the actual story correctly. Also, his choice of uninspired, straight-on, mid-angle shot framing – rather than the more dramatic close-ups and profile framing established in Prelude to Axanar – made the footage look uninteresting and drab. It appears that Mr. Jenkins was more interested in being part of the actors’ performances than in paying attention to how things looked through the camera lens. Prelude to Axanar has a very specific look, and Mr. Jenkins had been instructed to make sure he adhered to that look. Unfortunately, Mr. Jenkins apparently had his own vision, and Axanar had to ultimately reshoot nearly all of the footage.
After false claims of ownership fail, Jenkins files a fraudulent copyright
After Mr. Jenkins was fired, he set out to take revenge on Peters and Axanar. Jenkins had hoped to ride the coattails of Axanar, as he was claiming he was raising $13 million for his production company (which, of course, never happened). So in order to sabotage Axanar, Jenkins claimed that the footage shot in 2019 could not be used since he was the director. Axanar IP attorney Michael Mehrman informed Mr. Jenkins that a director has no such rights (something any professional director would know), as a director is only an employee being paid by the production company, which ultimately owns the footage. And as was clearly established and explained to Paul on multiple occasions, Axanar Productions was the studio producing this film.
Jenkins then filed a copyright application with the Federal Copyright office, claiming himself and Alec Peters as co-authors of the edits (which was technically correct, although Jenkins making such a filing was a violation of the CBS Fan Film Guidelines). Mr. Jenkins then claimed that the copyright filing prevented Axanar from using the script and thus the footage shot from the script, as Mr. Jenkins had “veto” rights. Again, Axanar’s IP attorney pointed out that being co-authors does not give one author the right to prevent the use by the other author.
After twice failing to prevent the footage from being used, Mr. Jenkins filed yet another copyright. This time Jenkins claimed to be the sole author of the editing work that he and Mr. Peters had done together over the previous 3 years. This claim was clearly a lie and contradicted his first copyright filing.
Mr. Jenkins was given multiple opportunities to walk away at no cost (see below). And despite claiming he has no money, and running up a $300,000 legal bill with his last set of lawyers over 6 years with them (you can read about how his previous law firm is suing him here), Jenkins refused to accept any settlement, even though doing so would have cost him nothing. A reasonable person would have just walked away at no cost, but destroying Alec Peters and Axanar was so important to Jenkins that he started incurring massive legal debt when he knew he could never pay that debt, and he knew he was committing copyright fraud.
The lawsuit has been going on for three and a half years, and Peters has given Mr. Jenkins multiple settlement offers that would have cost him nothing. Literally, Paul Jenkins could have walked away, his pride intact, and saved himself hundreds of thousands of dollars! All he would have to give up would be some petty desire to “defeat” Alec Peters and Axanar Productions in court. But for some inexplicable reason, Jenkins is hellbent on obliterating Axanar and Alec Peters, not caring about the thousands of donors and crew members whom he is hurting through his selfish actions.
The lawsuit s nearing a court date, and the judge is taking the motions for summary judgement under advisement now. So far, Paul and his lawyers are 0-5 in motions. Paul wastes a lot of money (clearly not his) filing worthless motions that drive up attorney fees. But Paul doesn’t care, since he doesn’t pay his legal bills.
Paul claims he wants to get to court, but Paul has no case against Alec. Paul’s entire case so far has been “Alec is mean; Alec is bad.” Meanwhile, Alec has a legitimate clam for copyright fraud and legitimate defamation claims which Jenkins keeps adding to through his constant lies about Alec.
It will be interesting to see if Paul’s lawyers keep working for him for free. Paul is trying to raise money for his attorney fees, but he has still to account for how he spent the $180,000 he CLAIMED he raised for his hit-piece documentary that was taken down when he got his new lawyer. Paul may be facing losing his second lawyer before the trial. The irony of a man crowd-funding donations to cover his personal legal debts by claiming to be fighting someone whom he says used donor money for personal gain (something the Axanar donor financials from 2014-2016 can easily disprove) is not lost on us. Indeed, we find ourselves wondering how so many contributors to Mr, Jenkin’s GoFundMe can be so gullible. At least Axanar donors have seen an ever-growing collection of filmed footage and frequent production updates. All Paul Jenkins’ donors will see is a legal bill.
While the lawsuit grinds its way through the courts, we continue work on Axanar, which is currently in post-production and will release in Summer 2024.
Below you will find proof negating Paul Jenkins’ false claims that Alec Peters is a spiteful, litigious bully interested only in suing people and making their lives miserable. As you can see from reading the following cover letter and initial separation agreement from June of 2020, Alec’s first attempt was to offer an olive branch and a “walk-away” deal costing neither himself nor Paul Jenkins any money. Both parties would agree not to disparage the other publicly, and Paul Jenkins would even be given top billing as Axanar director despite being fired from the production and not completing any significant portion of the film.
This offer was soundly rejected by Paul, after which he filed his false copyright claim, forcing Alec and Axanar Productions to shift from olive branch to charged phasers. We truly regret that it had to come to this, but we felt that Mr. Jenkins left us no other choice.
THE AMICABLE SEPARATION AGREEMENT ALEC PETERS OFFERED JENKINS
JENKINS FRAUDULENT COPYRIGHT