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Rage Against the Machine

By April 3, 2016 May 28th, 2019 Feature Stories

This guest blog was written by Mike Bawden in 2016 but Mike never published it .  At that time we had just been sued by CBS, and the “haters” were a new thing.  I think it is interesting to look back at what was going on then, as it has relevance to so many situations now in Axanar and fandom.  It is kind of mind boggling that some of these “detractors” as Mike calls them, have turned into full blown stalkers.  Cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying laws are actually quite interesting.  But more on that soon…

A guest blog by Mike Bawden

The morning after I posted our new FAQ’s, there were two comments. Both were left by people who are known to us as “detractors” of Axanar Productions and have attacked Alec personally on social media. There were, as expected, lots of negative posts and comments left on the CBS/Paramount vs Axanar Facebook Page.  It’s sad and it’s frustrating knowing there are people “out there” who are intent on tearing down a project you’re working on and the people you work with.

But it begs the question: “Where does all this anger come from?”

As part of my volunteer duties for Axanar Productions,  I’ve spent the past three months reading and sometimes responding to comments made by our “detractors.” From that experience, I can define seven archetypes of people who fall into that general category, some with legitimate concerns and others whose concerns are not-so-legitimate. I break them into the following groups …

  1. People who are honestly upset with the claims of copyright infringement, generally don’t like fan films and find them artistically lacking in some way. For the most part, these people express their displeasure and move along. That’s fair. Not every project is going to appeal to everybody.
  2. Those who are outraged over the treatment they received from one of our moderators on social media or by someone else associated with the project. Nobody likes being dismissed as irrelevant – we understand that, and have taken steps to address our own shortcomings (see further down in the post).
  3. People who feel they aren’t being heard when they have a question, a critique or even an offer to help. We’re continuing to try and address those issues when they come up (and they come up in every venture – whether it’s artistic or commercial). Again, you can read about some of our plans to address these concerns below.
  4. People who have a “personal beef” with Alec – either first-hand or through second-hand research (meaning, usually, what they’ve been told by others). For the most part, there’s no changing the minds of these folks. They view Alec with disdain and that attitude is reflected in everything they say and do to damage the work Axanar Productions trying to do. It’s not that they can’t separate their dislike for Alec from our work, they just refuse to do so.
  5. There are some who find some kind of notoriety among their peers by making outrageous comments, positing wild conspiracy theories and making unfounded claims that they hope will get picked up by the echo chamber they’ve set up for themselves.
  6. There are a select few of the “detractors” who have found their posts and claims about Axanar Productions, Alec and Rob drive traffic to their websites.  Is there a commercial advantage to doing so? If there is one, I can’t believe it’s too much of one – the audience involved here is pretty small – but having the ability to drive people to your website gives one a sense of control that can be intoxicating.
  7. And finally, there are those folks who just enjoy piling on. They seem to have very little empathy for any people who may get hurt in the process and have no desire to even hear another side to a story.

So what is Axanar Productions doing about this?

Well, for starters, some of these people have legitimate concerns we’ve discussed and taken action to address.  We are interested in the opinions people have and the questions they may raise. We’ll address issues to the best of our ability and attempt to communicate our actions clearly and accurately. We’re always interested in getting better and doing good work. Honest feedback is appreciated.

We also try to answer questions honestly and accurately.

Unfortunately, in some cases, that means the questioner may not be satisfied with the answer we give. Answers and solutions may evolve over time, too – so sometimes “agreeing to disagree” may be the best answer available for a while.

As an answer to the concerns raised about how a few people have perceived their treatment by moderators on our various Facebook ages and this blog, we’ve added more moderators and established an appeals process for those who find themselves “banned” from those pages.

And, of course, I will continue to answer questions on social media and address larger issues here – but between my schedule and the number of questions asked (and accusations made), I’ll answer what I can have to let the rest slide.

As for the bullies, harassers and conspiracy theorists, I will engage only when I think it’s really necessary. Honestly, I hold no delusions that I’ll be able to sway this small group of 15-20, very angry and vindictive people.

I hope, in some small way, the bile they spew at Axanar Productions and Alec gives them the sense of validation they seek. If it does, then i have just one thing to say:

“You’re welcome.”

Mike Bawden

Join the discussion 28 Comments

  • Molly Kate McGinn says:

    This was good, laying out the general strands of the “opposition”. I’m always astounded when people get negatively wild-eyed about Axanar, but this makes it more comprehensible. Thanks!

  • msrcus coull says:

    Well I for one will always support Axanar. I love my Trek and Axanar is something like the majority of people have been waiting for. Live long and prosper my friends. Please feel free to post this.

  • Fran says:

    Leonardo, Michelangelo, Copernicus, Ghandi …..Mandela ….they all had their fair share of them
    Artists get more than their fair share by virtue of the medium they choose to express themselves through…and there is the nub of it…”expression”.

    We won’t all share the views expressed by others no matter which medium is used, but respect those that do, and equally those that don’t but DETRACTORS, please extend the same respect to those that disagree with you as you bask in the freedoms a few of you abuse.

    Nuff said!

  • A good post – well balanced. Two Thumbs up – but you missed one more person.

    Someone who has gone through channels and asked nicely for their donation back. Like me. Alex replied nicely, but didn’t answer my request simply stating that i had to wait for others to get their perks before I can get those owed to me.

    I simply want to get my money back.

    I’ve been supportive of your efforts, but I don’t currently trust those in charge anymore. For that reason, I don’t want to be involved. Now i’m banned on Twitter and Facebook for only asking for a refund.

    [Editor’s Note: I’ve emailed David directly and am looking into this situation. Once I have more information about backer perk fulfillment in general, I’ll post it here and on social media. Thanks for your patience. – Mike]

  • Lee Benjamin says:

    Well said, Mike. Thank you and everyone else at Axanar Productions for your patience, “because the internet.” 🙂

  • Bazag says:

    [Editor’s Note: The commenter “Bazag” asks some important questions and I’ve provided some comments as interjections – not to disrupt the flow, but to help clarify the post along the way. I’ve also made a typo correction here or there and added a few paragraph breaks to help make things easier to read – but Bazag, if you think I’ve altered the meaning of your post, please let me know at pr@axanarproductions.com and I’ll fix things for you. – Mike]

    First off, Mike, thanks for the post.

    Secondly, I feel the need to post some of my personal concerns here. I’d like to say that I have nothing but respect for Mike he has a hard job to do and none of my concerns are directed at or involve him.

    Also, I was rather interested and excited for Axanar. At STLV 2014 I went to the midnight screening of Prelude at the AMC theatre, I got a USS Ares patch and so on. I was rather looking forward to Axanar being released but I do not believe that it is currently possible for it do so. Maybe these concerns shouldn’t actually be concerns and they all can be attributed to one benign thing or another. However, as I am not a part of the Axanar team nor have direct insider knowledge about what is and has happened within Axanar then I can only speculate as an outsider.

    Anyway, to my concerns. My first is related to what we are being told by the Team at Axanar. A great example can be seen in the recent FAQ blog post. “The last meeting between Alec and CBS took place at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention in August of 2015. At that meeting, CBS’s representatives told Alec they would not say what a fan film could or could not do but that they’d let him know if AXANAR went too far.” I’m not doubting that this is factually what happened, my concern is how it’s presented.

    Previously, Alec Peters has on numerous occasions said that the only guideline that they were given by CBS and/or Paramount were to not make a profit. So what’s true? That they hadn’t been given any guidelines or that they have. This section from the FAQ seems to indicate that they weren’t given any indication what so ever. However there was that qualifier… “the last meeting”. Were they only discussing this last meeting and not any meetings that had happened before hand. Why would you say things that have already been said and accepted as having been said by both parties in a follow up meeting? This statement isn’t false, it’s just doesn’t accurately convey the situation.

    [The confusion is understandable. Bazag is correct in recalling Alec saying on more than one occasion that fan film productions like AXANAR and PRELUDE TO AXANAR can’t make money. However, the depiction of what was conveyed by CBS at that last meeting is also accurate. According to Alec, CBS steadfastly refused to give any guidelines (or rules) for fan films, just saying they’d let him know if Axanar Productions had gone too far.]

    Related, but separate to this is what I like to call: Rules Lawyering. “This is the definition of X”. This can easily be seen in Myth #2 of that Mythbusting post. The narrow and detailed definition of “studio”.

    Like above it may not be wrong, defining what words does ensure clarity of what exactly you are saying but it doesn’t really convey the whole situation. A studio is an enclosed location that facilitates the filming and production of audiovisual media. It doesn’t matter if it’s for business or non-profit venture. A studio is determined by use and functionality of a location. This can also been seen in Myth #1 which leads me to my last concern.

    My biggest concern with Axanar isn’t so much the copyright infringement itself. It’s to do with the usage of the Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowd funding money. You can quibble about what is profit and what isn’t. You can quibble about who and/or what you are allowed to pay as a non-profit. However, my major concern is how was, or will be, the crowd funding money spent and if it was spent on what the donors was actually donating towards. That is, what were the donors expecting to be done with the money?

    [At this point, it might be helpful to take another look at what each of the crowdfunding campaigns was designed to cover. We discuss this in great detail in our latest FAQ.

    And it’s hard to buy the argument that this information was hidden from potential backers or not easily understood when you read comments on our Mythbuster’s blog post like this from Tonya Loser (posted on March 16, 2016):

    I understand the reasons for the response. and my response is this .
    1. I donated with the understanding that the money was to help support the build out, development of the facilities needed to make the film . And that once the film was made all other ” Fan Films wanting to utilize the studio ” would be allowed to do so buy paying only the power , footage ( per diam based) rental to cover building operating costs .
    2. I would for my donation receive certain ” PERKS” for that as a premium for the donation .
    3. Some of the moneys would be used to cover the current expenses of production .
    If this is What it is being used for .. i have no problems.

    But, the point is made and understood that we need to make sure future crowdfunding efforts continue to clearly state the intended purpose for the funds so that those people who don’t want to support one thing or another can opt out and not feel misled.]

    I wasn’t a donor, I just wasn’t in a position financially at the time to donate but just because doesn’t directly affect doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be concerned about it. It also doesn’t mean that somehow my concern should override others who aren’t.

    [It’s been alleged by some of Axanar Production’s detractors that we don’t listen to the concerns raised by fans who don’t donate. We’re working hard to address this misperception. The fact that this commenter wasn’t a donor is not material. The points made are valid and will help Axanar Productions do better down the road.]

    However when Tony Todd leaves the project citing “lack of accountability” not to mention the general public finding out 3 months after it occurred by a random fan asking. That what really causes me to start asking serious questions.

    [Tony Todd’s unavailability for AXANAR was originally shared in September of 2015 following his casting in the current season of The Flash. Looking back, that information was not shared widely enough to make sure all fans were aware and understood. Subsequent posts from Mr. Todd about “lack of accountability” and the reactions of some people associated with PRELUDE TO AXANAR reflected obvious differences of opinion that will remain confidential. We continue to wish Mr. Todd the best of luck going forward.]

  • Edward Darlow says:

    More remarks deleted or not approved. Great job Mike.

    [Thanks Ed. I’m not online 24/7, so your patience is always appreciated. – Mike]

  • I actually think there’s another group, or perhaps it’s a part of some or all of the other detractor groups. They react negatively to the revelry, the hype, and the seeming euphoria that the Axanerds all seem to share. In short, we’ve obviously all drunk the Koolaid, and we haven’t all died…making us seem probably all the more annoying to those who never drank the Koolaid and didn’t particularly like the taste of it in the first place.

    There’s an old saying that misery loves company, but that’s not entirely true. Misery loves MISERABLE company. The last thing misery wants is a loud party going on across the hall…even if misery is invited to the party. Misery really deson’t feel like going, it doesn’t like the beverages that are being served, and the noise is aggravatingly loud. So instead of just closing their door and turning on some white noise (which may or may not help), misery logs onto Facebook to bitch about the party. Misery cheers when the cops come to break it up, and when the cops leave and the party gets quieter. But misery is pissed off that the party is still going on at all. Why the hell aren’t these people just heading home to mope in misery, too? What are they still partying at all???

    It’s got to be frustrating as anything to the people who are annoyed by our party. And while they wait for the cops to come again to kick everyone out, they continue to rant and rave online, sharing their misery with others who are likewise miserable that these partiers are still partying when they should be home crying into their empty Koolaid cups. And thus has misery found miserable company, and the detractors all gather together in a party of their own across the hall. And although they don’t have as many people at their party, they’re still trying their best to be just as loud, hoping to attract others to THEIR party instead of to the annoying one across the hall.

  • Michael Miyabara-McCaskey says:

    Well now that we’ve heard perhaps too much about detractors and how their psycho brains work or don’t… I hope we can return to the main mission and ignore the people that deserve to be ignored, else they will be emboldened further.

  • KingOfSunsetTown says:

    Essentially the people calling the shots on the FB site are pretty much all over Number 6, directing traffic to their sites, podcasts etc etc. What’s amusing is that the group is now everything it claims to dislike about the Axanar groups. Upset Hinman by disagreeing with him and, bang, you’ll be hammered into the ground.

  • Sandy Greenberg says:

    [Editor’s Note: The return of Sandy Greenberg …]

    Hi Mike! This is partly in response to my questions (and your edits) on the FAQ page and partly this one.

    By your numbering system I’m probably 2 and 3, and then later became 4 as well. You can even say 6 to some degree since I wrote a column for 1701 News.

    In the FAQ post you said “Sandy Greenberg has commented here before. He is one of Axanar Production’s (and Alec Peters’) critics. Feeling he was mistreated by both Alec and one of our social media moderators, Sandy has continued to try and fan the flames of controversy.” I’d like to breifly explain WHY I am a critic and now have a personal beef with Alec.

    I was a donor to Prelude as well as both Feature fundraisers. That alone should show that I am not a “hater”.

    [No, actually what it showed is that you were a crowdfunding backer. You’ve earned the “hater” label (not one I like to use) with your harassing tweets and social media posts in which you strongly express your intense dislike for Alec and Terry McIntosh. That being said, I have not had that experience with you – our email exchanges have been civil and online conversations generally so, even when we disagree.]

    I was excited as anyone was about this project and, believe it or not, would still like to see it get made. I have also donated to two other successful crowd funded films so have some idea how a good campaign and project is run. I won’t bore the readers here with all of the details leading up to this, but it all started when I commented on two posts on the Fan Group (one of which mentioned the “other” FB group) that ended up being deleted. I asked in my own post why they were deleted and that started a long, civil, and respectful thread that was resolved amicably in the end. The next day I find that I was banned with no warning from the Fan Group. It was then I found the “other” FB group and joined to see what the fuss was about. I then asked on a post in the other Star Trek page Axaanar runs if someone could tell me why I had been banned and Terry replied with just “Nope”. I was then banned from that group, the Donor group, had my access to Ares Digital revoked, and got an email from PayPal that my donation had been refunded. Needless to say I was VERY pissed off.

    After that I saw that I wasn’t alone and how Alec and others spent a lot of time bad mouthing us. All of this for trying to have an open and honest discussion about the project we backed.

    [Okay, let’s be honest here. While I may not personally agree with every use of the ban hammer on Axanar Production’s various social media pages, you can’t honestly characterize all of the recipients as “trying to have an open and honest discussion.” There have been plenty of times when people have returned to the anti-Axanar FB page celebrating the fact they were able to get Terry or another moderator to ban them from the page. In my view, it takes one hand to wash the other and, right now, both hands don’t seem to have any interest in cleaning up.]

    This in my mind this is the great failure of Axanar. By quashing discussion and dissention you are alienating the very fans whos support you need.

    [Actually, Sandy, I don’t think we’re too far apart on this. I come from a corporate culture that encouraged strong, vigorous disagreements – but those arguments were expected to be made in a respectful, thoughtful manner. We called it “creative conflict” because we almost always wound up with better ideas and stronger concepts by acknowledging differences of opinion and working to find middle ground. I’d love to see more of that kind of thinking everywhere.]

    The vast majority of sci-fi fans are intelligent and rational people. They are not sheep. They should/need to be allowed to find out their own information, question it, and then make a decision based on it. Too many people are being banned for asking questions or simply being a member of the “other” FB group. The info is out there Mike. Let the people find it and discuss it and make up their own mind.

    [And there’s a lot of misinformation out there, too, Sandy. A good bit of it is promulgated on the anti-Axanar FB page we both visit and a few websites/blogs who’s owners moderate that group. A healthy dose of skepticism on every claim (on either side) is highly recommended. Look for proof. Ask questions. Stay focused on the ultimate goal – a great Star Trek fan film.]

    You claim that some of these issues are being addressed and if that is true, kudos for it. I wonder though, if I donated again would I be treated any differently?

    • Danny says:

      [taken (admittedly, out of context) from Sandy Greenberg’s post, “…and how Alec and others spent a lot of time bad mouthing us.”]

      I love listening to the Axanar podcast and keeping up to date with what’s going on, and I try to seek out credible information about what is going on an read, watch, or listen to interviews with Alec and others involved with Axanar. Overall, I’m very happy with how things are being handled.

      However, Sandy hit on something in this one small piece of his post that has been bugging me for a while about how Alec and others, including Rob on the podcast, talk about Axanar detractors and critics. I totally understand the need to address concerns and educate people on the facts and point out fallacies, and I also understand the need to blow off steam about the “haters” when you’re having to constantly deal with such intense negativity on a regular basis.

      However, that seems to turn into “badmouthing the haters” far too easily and far too often in my opinion. Hearing some of the comments Alec and Rob would make on the podcast actually turned me off from following information about the project for a while until I heard about the lawsuit.

      This sort of “fighting negativity with negativity” isn’t helpful and I think may have been fanning the flames of criticism for a while, and it’s something that I hope you can address with them as their PR rep, Mike.

      • Mike Bawden, PR Director says:

        Thanks Danny,

        Point taken. We appreciate your feedback and your continued support.



      • Michael MacAllister says:

        I remember the good old usenet days when moderators would tell those involved in such “heated discussions” in a newsgroup to take it over to alt.flame 🙂

  • Mario says:

    Mike there is another group. Those who feel the production was given everything, more than any other fan film. And they didn’t make the movie!,

    • Mike Bawden, PR Director says:


      I appreciate your perspective, but they didn’t make the movie, it might be more accurate to say they haven’t made the movie. Yet. The average science fiction feature film takes five or more years to produce, some longer. Axanar Productions may have missed deadlines in the past, but so have most film projects with similar scope.

      With the lawsuit’s arrival in December, some pre-production and most production activities were voluntarily halted. We now hope to find some middle ground with Paramount and CBS that will allow us to address their concerns and then move ahead with production. We’ll know more about the nature of the feature at that time and should be able to re-set the expectations of the thousands of donors who backed the original project.



  • Bill Allen says:

    [Editor’s Notes: Just so Bill knows, I did edit this post to fix a few punctuation and capitalization errors that commonly occur with the WordPress comments widget. Bill, if I’ve changed anything you’d like to have revised, please email me at pr@axanarproductions.com – Thanks, Mike]

    OK, I hate to be ‘that guy’, but it’s inaccurate to try to pigeonhole all detractors into a handful of categories. I don’t usually buy into the ‘special snowflake’ line of reasoning, but in this case, the analysis of the types of detractors is too simplistic and most folks won’t fit into the categories. There’s also a problem with the list tending to select descriptive terms of a more pejorative connotation than would be best suited for critical analysis.

    As one of the folks who is in the “I stand with CBS” camp (though I don’t use the hashtag) I am closest to being a fit for #1 on this list, without the added caveat of ‘they don’t like fan films’. I LIKE fan films…even bad ones. Yes, I can be critical of the efforts of fan films and ‘flaws’ I see in them, but I still enjoy them. For example, in my opinion, “Of Gods and Men” is probably the BEST fan film, even though the dialogue is clunky and flat and the performance is often wooden….the story is absolutely brilliant, and one of the most amazing and intelligent plots any fan film conceived. Story carries a lot more weight in fan films, and a good story overrides bad F/X or cheesy acting (that was, after all, the secret of TOS’s iconic success).

    I was looking forward to Axanar. I thought ‘Prelude’ was good. I did not think it was the most amazing fan film ever, and I still believe that such hype, while it makes for a good sales pitch, falls far short of the truth. It will be good (I hope) but not amazing or the best fan film ever.

    But, just from the most basic facts, it is fairly clear that Axanar is on the wrong side of the IP issue. Trek belongs to CBS, and they are the final arbiter of what can and cannot be done. But unlike the very tiny number of people who have some kind of ‘bad blood’ with Alec Peters, I do not believe the mistake was malicious or intentional. It was an honest mistake. Alec is an artist, not a businessman or lawyer; his passion is his vision, and so he took an unintentional misstep in bringing that vision to light.

    But then things went horribly, horribly wrong. The leadership of this film production team responded badly, choosing options and responses that exacerbate the problem. What happened after things fell apart have led me to question my initial evaluation of the situation, and have left me wondering if there is some merit to the allegations of malice by the most vocal of the detractors. (I still think they are over-selling how ‘evil’ Mr. Peters is….but the margin there is slowly dwindling.)

    The most damning of all is not what comes from the production team, but from the ‘fans’ and supporters of Axanar. It is THEIR vitriol and rhetoric that makes it highly difficult to see both sides without any bias (even in this post, one supporter of axanar talks about the ‘psycho brains’ of detractors…it’s a recent example of a symptomatic issue of pursuing an irrational, unreasonable approach to the problem).

    • Mike Bawden, PR Director says:


      Thanks for your comment. And while some of what you say is contrary to positions taken here at Axanar Productions, I’ll just offer two points as a counter …

      1.) We agree that Trek belongs to CBS and clearly something that Axanar Productions has done has resulted in a copyright infringement lawsuit from CBS and Paramount. All we’ve been asking for from the get-go is a chance to sit down and see if something can be worked out so we can address their concerns and then move ahead with our production. We owe that much to our backers. And in our attempt to address the concerns of CBS and Paramount, we’ve put everything on the table for discussion.

      If we meet with the parties, we hope we can work toward a settlement. Most copyright infringement cases end in a settlement of one kind or another, there’s no reason to believe this one can’t too. If it does, we’ll let people know what we’ve been told we can and can’t do and how we’re going to move forward. It’s our hope that we’ll be able to produce the story of AXANAR in some form the studios can live with so we can live up to the promise of the project our fans backed.

      2.) With regard to the sniping back and forth in this matter, I contend that nobody is without fault here. I know even on this blog, I’ve come down pretty hard on some people I know have been negative on Axanar Productions on social media. I personally dislike the term “haters” and generally refuse to use it to describe people opposed to the production or with personal gripes against Alec. And you’re right – some AXANAR supporters step over the line in their comments, too.

      We need to find a way to cool things down. Ignoring the activities on the CBS/Paramount vs Axanar Facebook Page (a suggestion made by one of the posters on that page) is probably a good place to start. I’m open to other suggestions you and others might have on what else we could do (on both sides) that would lover the over-all temperature.

      Thanks for listening,



    • Michael Miyabara-McCaskey says:

      Hello Bill,

      As it seems I perhaps was unclear my post where I use the term “psycho brains” – this was me poking fun/although somewhat seriousness at the Axanar team. It was not intended to describe any fan. Here’s what I mean – as I also said in my post, I would like the Axanar team to return to the main mission (aka “make the movie”). Instead it seems like they are spending as much or more time “psycho analyzing” why people are upset with them… than concentrating on making the movie.

      And really while this blog post – is partially educating me on some of the crazy that went on – on Facebook – of the he said, she said, they did, they didn’t sort of stuff… I really find it a waste of time for the Axanar team to be developing categories and groups of how to describe people that have a problem with how Axanar is being run…

      Anyway, you and others have already touched on – the main problem to me is NOT that “CBS/Paramount” owns the copyrights of course they do… The main problem in my mind is that for decades and decades that CBS/Paramount have arbitrarily decided to “stay silent” and allowed Fan Films…. But now all of a sudden Axanar comes along and CBS/Paramount say no… So everyone is freaked out in the mode of “what does this mean to all Star Trek Fan Films”… people assume the worst… and then…

      People start blaming Axanar – for why their utopia of ongoing Star Trek Fan Films is being disturbed…. People are thinking that since Axanar is being told no – that all other productions will also be told no… and effectively Axanar is the bad apple that destroyed all the fun for the entire Fan Base, and now all Fan Films are going to be stamped out – and it’s all Axanar’s fault for causing this “crisis”. So they appear to be finding every reason in the universe to toss Axanar under the proverbial bus…

      Fine… maybe Axanar did something wrong… but what? what did they do any differently than any other of the Star Trek Fan Films producer out there? And the legal answer is… no one knows… because CBS/Paramount have never clearly spelled out what is allowed and what is not.

      So from what I see… a “I stand with CBS/Paramount” – means either the hope that once Axanar is dead (either by court case or just stop production and return the money), things will return to the way it was and all other fan films will be left alone… or… as has also been said it just means people don’t like Fan Films at all…

      Conversely what I see in the – “I stand with Axanar” – fans is… the belief that the court case is important – because it forces CBS/Paramount to publish the official rules around Fan Films… And therefore instead of wondering if your Fan Film will be terminated from moment to moment… there will be official rules much like Disney/Star Wars does.

      On my end… I don’t like double-standards… I would like to either see CBS/Paramount officially say there will be NO fan films… or… they say their can be fan films – under these specific rules. But this whole Axanar bad, (insert name of other Star Trek Fan Film Producer) good (because we didn’t tell them to stop yet)… doesn’t sit well with me.

      And thank you for posting here… and thank you Mike B. for moderating.


      • Bill Allen says:

        [Editor’s Note: I made a few typo corrections to this post – the WordPress widget used on this site doesn’t always allow the commenter to catch or fix those. Bill, if you feel my corrections have changed your points, please let me know at pr@axanarproductions.com and I’ll fix things. – Mike]

        Even though it is capricious and vague, the ‘no rules’ version of Trek fan films is, I think, better than what LucasFilms/Disney have done over the last couple of decades. Those rules in place to ‘sanction’ films are stifling, and place critical limits on what can be done creatively (I did tech work many years ago on a few small Star Wars fan films, so I know the headaches those limits place on creators.) And the Star Wars franchise, now backed by Disney, is a Leviathan that makes CBS’s response look like a field mouse in comparison. Disney doesn’t just stop a fan film they do not approve of; they BURY it. If Trek fan films operated under the kinds of rules Disney has in place for ‘acceptable’ fan films, there would never be an Axanar film. There would never have been a ‘Prelude to Axanar.’ CBS’s ‘no rules’ method allows artists a greater flexibility….sure, there is that risk of arbitrarily being shut down without any rhyme or reason, but for the most part, they let things slide.

        Perhaps, as the information about the court case is released to the public, it will be made clear what, exactly, Axanar did that brought them to the attention of CBS in such a negative manner. Axanar says, as one of its selling points, that it’s a project unlike anything seen before, so it could be that whatever it is that makes them different is what drew the ire of the owners…and, if they ARE different, then it isn’t actually a ‘double standard’ at play here.

        One theory among the detractors is that the larger scope of this project (‘Ares Studios’, planning to create non-trek films for profit utilizing resources acquired to make the not for profit trek film, the extensive selling of Axanar merchandise) are contributing factors. Among those who stand with Axanar, the theory is that Axanar is in some way related to the upcoming new CBS series, that CBS doesn’t want its toes stepped on since they are developing their own version of the Four Years War (there is some credence to this, as an early pitch for the reboot of Trek would feature the adventures of Kirk’s grandfather in just such a struggle….if they decided to do that tale as a series instead of a film….?) eventually, we’ll know the whole story….

        • Mike Bawden, PR Director says:


          Thanks for your comment. I think you’ve done a good job of summing up the positions of both sides. I’ll just add a point or two:

          1.) The “risk of being shut down without any rhyme or reason” has not been much of a risk over the past 45+ years. By our count, there are over 200 Star Trek fan films and we’re not aware of any that were “shut down” by CBS. We’re aware that CBS has, on a few occasions, contacted a fan film and asked for changes – and, quite honestly, that seemed to Alec and his team to be the most likely action if CBS or Paramount wasn’t happy with what Axanar Productions was doing. Instead, Alec read about the copyright infringement lawsuit in the trades and then had to wait more than a day to actually receive the complaint.

          2.) Just as you’ve mentioned in the second paragraph of your comment, we also hope that at some point “it will be made clear what, exactly, Axanar (Productions) did that brought them to the attention of CBS in such a negative manner.” We know the claim in the lawsuit is copyright infringement, but that’s a claim that can be made against any fan film, so there has to be more. We don’t know what it is but hope to find out at some point if we can sit down with the folks at CBS and Paramount and talk about their concerns.

          To Alec’s credit, he has offered to put everything on the table for discussion. So whether the folks who support Axanar Productions are right or our detractors are right, Alec and his team are prepared to make accommodations to address those concerns if it means they can move forward and produce the story of AXANAR in some form and fashion. And unless we’re barred from disclosing what those concerns or accommodations are, I’m under the assumption we’ll be sharing that information with the fan film community to help them avoid the complications we’ve suffered.

          You’re right, “eventually, we’ll know the whole story” – we just hope that in addition to the story of the legal struggle around AXANAR, we’ll be able to also tell the story of AXANAR, as well.



          • Bill Allen says:

            Have to add one last thing for full disclosure purposes: any and all typos are my own fat-fingered fault. I do appreciate the tactful attempt to blame the WordPress Widget, but I’ll cop to the mistakes as my own….and apologize for making you have extra editing to do.

            [As a fellow, fat-finger sufferer, I understand. No problems. LLAP, Mike]

  • Pete Cotton says:

    Thanks for the article Mike. It’s always interesting to get another perspective on a situation. I do recognise some of the people types in your list of “detractors”, but you have bundled the majority of us up in the first “type” and made us out to be uninterested parties who had it in for Axanar because it’s a fan-film.

    “People who are honestly upset with the claims of copyright infringement, generally don’t like fan films and find them artistically lacking in some way. For the most part, these people express their displeasure and move along.”

    I fit into the “People who are honestly upset with the claims of copyright infringement.” – but not the rest. I like fan films and was genuinely excited to see what Axanar could produce. But the moment the IP owner said “STOP”, that is when (I believe) Axanar should have obeyed their wishes and complied. I was not a donor to Axanar, and by some people’s reckoning that means I have no say in this situation. But I am a massive Star Trek fan, and I see this defiance to CBS and Paramount as a dangerous risk for all fan-films. That gives me a vested income in this whole situation.

    We have had many constructive and interesting conversations on the “CBS/Paramount v. Axanar” Facebook page and I respect your opinions. But while you might be right about some of the types of people on there, you do seem to be missing the obvious question. Is it realistic that so many people have just randomly clubbed together to bully and berate a random fan project? Or is the answer far simpler than that. We are not anti-Axanar (or weren’t until people started being bullied and mistreated by Axanar) but pro-CBS/Paramount.

    I do strongly agree with one part of your article though. We can agree to disagree. I do not expect to change your mind, and your viewpoint is not necessarily wrong. But neither is my view point necessarily wrong either. We are both entitled to our views and to expressing them. The other Facebook page came into being because we did not have a voice on the official page. You have taken some great steps in redressing that wrong (thank you for that), but it didn’t come into being just so that we could “tear down the dreams of thousands of fans”. It was a place for people to voice their opinions. I agree some of the opinions are antagonistic, and I disagree with those, but ultimately they are just people’s opinions. The fact that they don’t agree with you or me does not make me view them as “detractors” it just makes them different. It’s a bit like people arguing about who’s sports team is the best. Disagreeing with someone doesn’t make them a hater or a bully.

    So, the long and the short of it is – the IP owners have told Axanar they are not happy with them using their property and Axanar have decided to fight them, and in doing so jeapordise the great relationship that has been built between CBS/Paramount and the fans. I respect CBS/Paramount’s legal right to do that and somehow that makes me wrong?

    I see lots of affirmative statements on here about the fact that CBS/Paramount hasn’t done anything with the IP (which is strange because I regularly buy tonnes of new Star Trek books, comics and play the excellent and ever evolving Star Trek Online), or how it’s not about the money but CBS is jealous of the great script (seriously?), or how the fans now own Star Trek because they saved it from being cancelled. But none of those matter. The simple fact is the Star Trek brand is owned by two companies and they have the legal right to decide how it operates. If they decide to let some fan films go ahead and not others – then that is still their legal right. That’s all I support. Does that seem so unreasonable?

    [P.S. While I do like the fact that we now live in a more open forum where we can now put forward our points without being deleted/banned, it is a bit unfair of you to edit and insert your arguments into the middle of our posts as editor. It’s like having a debate where one side can jump in after every sentence and rebut the debater, thus breaking up the flow of their argument. However, at least now you are letting us voice our opinions – so I’ll take what I can get 😉 ]

    • Mike Bawden, PR Director says:

      Hi Pete,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

      And while I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, they’re well-presented. I will, however, retain the right to jump in on comments posted by people who make wild accusations and speculation without proof or in direct opposition to fact.



    • Michael MacAllister says:

      Hi Pete,

      you say: “But while you might be right about some of the types of people on there, you do seem to be missing the obvious question. Is it realistic that so many people have just randomly clubbed together to bully and berate a random fan project?”

      I suggest you google ‘public shaming on social networks’. You might come to the conclusion that the answer to the ‘obvious question’ is: that is not unrealistic, it is a scaringly frequent phenomenon “that so many people just randomly club together to bully and berate”.

  • Jedman67 says:

    I’d like to make a few observations.

    Until the lawsuit hit, I was interested in seeing Axanar made, I thought Prelude was a decent fan film effort. It was a good story and using the documentary vehicle undoubtedly saved a lot of money in production. Here is my main point. Between the Prelude and Axanar Kickstarters and the Indiegogo campaign, you raised nearly twice as much money as was originally projected to be the total combined budget for both movies.

    Filming was pushed back a few times to nearly two years (if I remember correctly you were supposed to film Spring/Summer 2014 in the original timeline). Yes, I know, shit happens.

    What started to bother me even before the lawsuit was these promises of making an awesome movie yet more and more delays started cropping up and you haven’t even started shooting yet!

    There were some concerning figures posted in the Axanar report, including the primary staff drawing a salary from donations, no line items for income from the donor store; as well as my concern that you guys were spending too much time at the conventions instead of filming.

    I wish you guys luck but after reading the amended lawsuit I wouldn’t be optimistic about your chances.

    • Mike Bawden, PR Director says:

      Thanks for your comment, Jedman …

      Just to clarify, the first Kickstarter Campaign, for PRELUDE TO AXANAR, ran in March of 2014 and the film was completed and released in July of that year, premiering at San Diego Comic-Con. After PRELUDE TO AXANAR debuted, we ran a second Kickstarter Campaign in 2014, to help raise funds to convert a warehouse into a soundstage and to cover costs associated with the production design, set construction and associated costs of AXANAR. The third crowdfunding campaign, this time on Indiegogo, ran in 2015 and raised enough to cover estimated production expenses associated with the first half of the AXANAR feature film.

      I think the three crowdfunding campaigns over a 17-month span run together in most people’s heads and they – quite naturally – assume that Axanar Productions ran one crowdfunding campaign a year for three years. The impression that’s left with many people, is that the project has hit delay after delay and that production has stretched on and on for years. That’s not the case at all. There have been some delays – most notably moving our initial principal photography date from fall of 2015 to late January/early February of 2016. All of that, then, was put on hold due to the lawsuit.

      Still, we understand and are sensitive to the concerns shared with us by CBS and Paramount (as well as Trek fans who have contacted us) and will continue to try and clarify, update and revise (where necessary) our communications, plans and materials to address them.

      Thanks again,



  • Hidden Tribble says:

    I have serious questions over the conduct of Alec Peters and the Axanar people in general. I care for the protection of artistic integrity and I don’t care for the public behavior of either Mr. Peters or Mr, Burnett, which has been often to deride, belittle, completely dismiss or silence anyone who raises questions, even down to the immature use of the label “haters”. I am not convinced that either, particularly the former, has been truly transparent in all of this, and I think their overly combative and dismissive public approach all this case has totally undermined the public of them for many and has probably cost them supporters and increased the number of detractors. However, I believe that whether or not they have something to hide is ultimateky a matter for the courts to decide, and that neither should be outright accused of anything until it has been established in evidence in the court case.

    Now, having said that, whatever I think of people like Peters and the Axanar project, there are two sides to every story. In my opinion the “detractors” have utterly undermined themselves and their credibility over the past few months. They have claimed that their interest is purely in seeing that no fan has been wronged. But I no longer believe that. They have formed a vicious clique. They pursue Axanar all over the web. Literally every talk-back there is you’ll see the same names (several of them above in this very one), and they’re there immediately every time. It’s the same names that are on Facebook and Twitter and the same ones who litter the thread on this topic at Trekbbs. They pour over literally the slightest development, from any comments made by Peters or Burnett to any new documents or any comments from third parties. When there isn’t anything they’ll try and create something to talk about just to keep focused on it all. Their Facebook and Twitter activity, it seems, are littered with degrading jokes about Peters & company. They talk about the case constantly every minute of every day and you have to wonder how many of them find time for the rest of their lives. They claim that they are free and easy to get to know, but this is not true. You have to follow their narrative constantly to be welcome in their circles and if you don’t tow the line, are a critic of their attitudes or are simply a casual observer many of them will circle around you like pack hounds, as you can see in the aforementioned Trekbbs thread. Most of the main “names” associated with these groups, particularly the ones driving groups like CBS/Paramount v Axanar, aren’t donors and they rely on having, as allies, a few of the donors that Peters has upset by banning people from the Axanar fan page. But in reality the main “names” driving this are obsessives who have turned the “detractors” from being a group of people with an interest in the case and a desire to see justice as they perceive it, to a group lead by people who now are utterly desperate to see Axanar and Peters fail come what may. Some of the “leaders”, if you will, I understand may well have a direct grudge against Peters. These leaders have created a cult where their followers have become obsequious conscripts. I can almost certainly say that in the event that Axanar wins this case (which I personally consider unlikely) then they’ll not accept the decision of the court and will still be looking to lynch the Axanar team. Conversely if Axanar loses I suspect some of them will take great joy in dancing on Peters’ grave and take pleasure if it personally destroys him financially and in terms of his career. It’s this behavior that lead me to walk away from posting on the Trekbbs thread and what what was then “I Stand with CBS”. I have continued to read the various talk-backs from time to time. I find it is better to maintain independence from these sorts of people, as the folks at Trekzone and Trekmovie have done.

    The long and the short of it is that even if Peters and the Axanar team are ultimately found to have engaged in intentional or unintentional wrongdoing, it doesn’t mean that the obsessive lengths to which the “detractors” are now going is now or will ever have been justified, balanced and measured. I think donors should be cautious in how they pursue any grievances against the Axanar team, using official channels as much as is possible, and I think that non-donors are better keeping this all at arm’s length and ultimately should wait and see the outcome of this case before passing final judgement.

    Just my two cents.

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