At about 10:00 PM, on Friday, December 7th, 1979, I was driving home in my father’s car from the John Danz cinema in Bellevue, Washington. He’d just picked me up from the first showing of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. I was 12 years old, sitting in stunned silence. I was already in love with cinema. At five, I’d declared to my grandmother I could absolutely watch George Pal’s production of the original WAR OF THE WORLDS every day for the rest of my life. At six, I’d caught the original PLANET OF THE APES on television, which sufficiently blew my mind. At 9, my mother took me to see LOGAN’S RUN, which supplanted everything I’d seen previously to become my favorite movie ever. A year later, STAR WARS opened and quite literally captured the imagination of the entire planet Earth, solidifying the idea I had to grow up and work in Hollywood.
But as I sat in my father’s car…I thought about seeing old friends…friends I’d never thought I’d see again. As with so many of us, I’d seen every episode of TOS countless times. I’d long since memorized every episode title while pouring over Bjo Trimble’s Concordance. I’d built countless models of Constitution Class starships, even creating the obligatory Constellation, using Ohio Blue Tip matches to create the perfect burned destruction across the hull. TREK’s secular humanism supplanted any religious teachings I’d received in Sunday School, the lessons of the episodes becoming the dominant ethical and moral principals in my life.
STAR TREK was pretty goddamned important to me…and I’d just literally witnessed the Second Coming, an event rumored for much of the time I’d been alive on Earth, but one which I’d never thought I’d see.
And yet…I just had, loving every deliberately paced moment of it. STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE depicted the STAR TREK universe as the serious, thoughtful, adult and infinite place I’d always imagined in my mind’s eye. A universe no longer just in television syndication, in collected anthologies, in books or fotonovels, but in real widescreen imagery, 40 feet high with a thunderous music score and unbelievable special effects.
As my father drove home, I’m sure he sensed I’d been profoundly moved by the experience of THE MOTION PICTURE. After all, my parents enabled my TREK obsession since as long as I can remember. After a long silence, I remember my dad finally daring to ask me, “So what did you think of the movie?” As with Spock in the Director’s Edition of TMP, I probably had a tear streaming down my cheek.
I answered, “Dad, I want to grow up and direct a STAR TREK movie.”
Almost 20 years later, in February of 1998, in a club off Hollywood Blvd. called The Garden of Eden, I found myself on a film set of a movie I’d written. There were lights, a camera and extras everywhere, and I was directing my father and William Shatner himself in a scene. Dad played a bartender named Dick, who poured only mysterious green drinks. Moments before I’d called “action,” I’d watched my father give Bill one of his cigars, lighting it up for him. I figured this was the moment childhood dreams came true.
I’d known Christian Gossett for many years before PRELUDE TO AXANAR came along. We’d shared the stage during STARSHIP SMACKDOWN at the San Diego Comicon. I’d once ran into him inside the Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand while working on THE LION, THE WITCH and THE WARDROBE and he’d been there designing something…secret.
I’d heard about Alec Peters from a number of people who’d explained to me Alec was my brother from another mother, a man who loved TREK as much as I did. After we finally met, it seemed as if we’d already been lifelong friends.
Editing PRELUDE for them was another dream come true. It was like working on a cinematic adaptation of a story from the first published anthology from the 70’s, STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES. PRELUDE, with all the talent and technology on display, was the logical extension of all the TREK fanzines, blueprints and merchandise I’d order from Doug Drexler’s NYC store as a kid in the ’70’s. It expanded and deepened my own understanding of the TREK Universe, absolutely becoming part of my Head Canon. Ramirez, Alexander and Travis became as real for me as any other new TREK character, and I felt as if they’d always been a part of the Universe.
Which brings me to my final Director’s Update on the first scene I’ve directed for the AXANAR feature film.
Composer Alexander Bornstein delivered his final mixed cue for the scene, with real musicians playing ethnic instruments on the track, bringing a haunting authenticity to the music. Jesse Akins, continuing his work from PRELUDE, edits the dialogue and sweetens my own temp sound mix. That sorcerer Tobias Richter continues to refine his sweepingly expansive and immersive VFX shots, far surpassing anything he did on PRELUDE. And as I receive all the final elements, I’m editing them together and can absolutely see what the AXANAR feature film will feel like, and I know I’m even closer to realizing my childhood dream of directing a STAR TREK feature film than ever before. If my father were still here…I’d think he’d be proud of everything Team AXANAR had accomplished not only with this scene, but with the entire ongoing project as a whole.
I’m excited to see the reactions of AXANAR fans the world over.
Last week, I attended the 41st Annual Saturn Awards. We were nominated for Best Television Release of the Year for the work we’d done on the seventh season of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION. It was our third consecutive nomination after winning the two previous years. My dear friend and AXANAR consulting producer Charles de Lauzirika won the award this time, for the incredible TWIN PEAKS box set he produced.
At the after-party, I was chatting with my old friend and FREE ENTERPRISE collaborator Mark A. Altman. While talking about the AXANAR project, he dismissively said, “Why are you wasting your time? Why don’t you work on something REAL?” I understand where he’s coming from. Ultimately, we don’t own the IP to TREK and we certainly can’t make any profit from the thousands of hours of work we tirelessly put into AXANAR. But PRELUDE now has over a MILLION views on YouTube and I receive emails, texts and tweets each and every day asking about the progress on AXANAR. For our audience, the AXANAR project is just as real as any other kind of STAR TREK. It’s become “head canon” for over a million people all across the world.
The time I’ve put in on just the first Vulcan Scene has required me to use everything I’ve learned about movie-making over the last quarter century. For myself, AXANAR is absolutely the most real and most important project I’ve ever worked on. And the realization of a childhood dream.
But ultimately, it’s for the audience to decide if AXANAR is real or not.
Robert Meyer Burnett
Join the discussion 17 Comments
I have only recently discovered your project, Axanar. And being a lifelong Treky, I am very excited for you,and all the dedicated people involved. I can not conceive any Star Trek fan, not loving this project. I can only imagine what great things await you all, and look forward to following your careers. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.
I believe in Axanar. Thank you for this great blog entry!
Beautiful story! …much of it resonates with me =)
Thank you, Rob …and keep up the great work!
I LOVE Axanar! <3
Yup, it’s as real as it gets. It’s what’s in everyone’s hearts and how much they put into the product. This is a product of the soul and not the paycheck. You sir have come home.
So many awesomely dedicated people working on Axanar!
I can’t say I am a fan of Free Enterprise, Rob, however I am a big fan of yours. I have enjoyed everything Axanar related, and I enjoy moments like these being able to get inside your head for a little while. I love the podcasts and your thoughts and insights as well as those from Alec. Thanks for doing this. I know you won’t make the money you deserve, but from one Star Trek fan to another, I thank you.
Rob, You are living every trek fans dream of actually making a Star Trek movie and I would like to live vicariously through you if I may? You are an inspiration to all of us Trekkies keep it up.
Nice to see that AXANAR is in good hands. From Alec, to Dianna, and (now most obviously) you!
You also know how to keep a person on the edge waiting to see what the team has created!!!
Please keep up the good work. And when it is all done, show your friend so he can see “why” you are doing this project. I think he’ll understand completely then, if not before.
I shouldn’t have missed indicating everyone else involved in AXANAR on the production team. I certain that as we get to know these people through the articles that appear on the site (such as this one, and other formats), each individual will become more “real” to us the supporters of this project.
“Leave no one behind. Forget no one.”
In the ways that long-time Star Trek fans define what makes “real” Trek, Axanar definitely fits the bill. Who produces it is secondary to the quality of the scripts and the production. Of course every Star Trek fan would love to see “official” endorsement and the freedom to make some money off these projects so that others will be made, nonetheless we will continue to support projects that capture the true spirit of Star Trek. Axanar definitely does that.
I am a Axanar believer all the way. To Robert, Alec, and the rest of team Axanerds I salute you! The most anticipated movie of my life to this point is Axanar. Now I’m going to sneak off into my Prelude minute and hope my cat understands.
Axanar is Trek, and dreams do come true. It just takes a lot of hard work, and a fortuitous break or two…
Very cool. I’m getting such good vibes about Axanar. Best of luck. I know you will do well, Rob.
Axanar is Trek. It’s canon if the fans say so and I think we’re unanimous on this one. I love reading all Axanar updates but this one really struck me, no matter the sad state of the Star Trek franchise and the complete lack of any real vision from CBS (and Paramount), Star Trek lives with the fans now and whilst it will never make money it will make a hell of a lot of people happy. There’s no money in the Star Trek future anyway and you can’t buy happiness! I think from the work you’re doing with Axanar you’re actually setting the precedent that we’re only going to get Star Trek that is made out of love, not greed. CBS and Paramount can pretty much do what they like with Star Trek now, my interest and donations will always go to people like Alec and Robert who are doing this for the right reasons and making the best looking Trek ever. So excited and thrilled to see this happen, thanks again Axanar team! #AxanarIsTrek
Fine. But I need to take a look at it before the final cut.
I have been a fan since TOS. While in the service I eagerly waited for the movie. Finally it happened. I enjoyed each and every movie with its good and bad. STTNG good and got better, STDS9, good and good better, STVoyager very good and got better. ST Enterprisevrry good and got better. All good, all got better, but know it been 10 years with no ST on TV. New JJ movies good fun but not better. Star Trek new Voyages and Star Trek Contines givevuscgrest TOS story’s from the fans. If CBS/Paramont had any Brian’s they would hire the professions fans who do these shows and who currently write the ST pbs. But no they are not smart, so we have what we have. All I can say is. Hurry up fans who do fans based stuff. Get older, takeover these dubasses jobs and give us the Star Trek we want. Nuff said
Warp speed, Mr. Burnett! And heartfelt thanks.