Everyone knows two things about me. One, I come up with stories. Two, I’m a bit of an extreme Trekhead. Need proof? Here . That’s my story, not that I’m sticking to it. Sure, it was rewritten a bit to fit with what the Farraguteers needed, but the idea came out of my huge, hairy noggin. When I first saw Starship Farragut and saw that they were looking for script submissions, the idea leapt fully formed into Word like some 23rd century Athena with warp engines. Before that, I’d watched some New Voyages, which eventually became Phase II, which has now apparently gone back to New Voyages. There was a forum on both groups’ websites. The New Voyages forum seemed less a place for relaxed byplay with more moderators than you could shake a stick at, and heaven FORBID you should make a comment that ventured in the slightest from the thread topic at hand. The TOPIC STICK would come out and smack the hands at the keyboard. The episodes were enjoyable enough, but the forum eventually turned me off the whole thing. On the other hand, the Farragut board was more like the BBS’s of Ye Olde Modem Days, just people popping in with questions or comments and it was far more relaxed, and far more comfortable.
One of the topics to often come up in forums was, “Have you seen what THESE guys are doing?” The thread that followed was of two varieties, either, “Hey, look at that, that’s pretty cool,” or, more often, “How DARE they use chromakey sets or THINK they can use the same characters or is her hair REALLY like that?” You’d see the same names with the same iconography on forum after forum. Some people were good to communicate with. I got quite friendly with a few.
Time went on. New Voyages released a few episodes that got people talking, one two-parter because it was a reworking of David Gerrold’s AIDS allegory, and another because there was all kinds of Drama, yesth a capital D, with the Director, sorry, director, Vic Mignogna releasing an early cut and stuff that no one who wasn’t IN Port Henry, NY can say for any certainty. Didn’t stop most people, though. Vic Mignogna decided to start his own series, ST Continues. He partnered with the Farraguteers and was promptly accused by one person at least of stealing sets from another group in Oklahoma. Which never happened, by the way. One of the loudest voices against it made a comment on my posting of the script that became Farragut’s Dearly Departed. Go ahead, check it out, I’ll wait here.
You’re back? Cool.
Now, I’m not so much the sycophant or blind fan that ALL FAN FILMS ARE GOLDEN. Some have just been too derivative, or the production has just sucked, or they just didn’t hold my interest. Even the ones I really like I don’t always keep as current as I could. Until, that is, I started hearing about Prelude to Axanar.
Axanar, for those not up on their FASA Trek lore, or Regular Trek Lore, or Data’s brother Lore, or…what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Axanar was the site of a major battle in the Four Years War, won by Garth of Izar, the guy who ended up going bananas and hanging out with Marta, a nicely green Yvonne Craig, on the Tantalus Colony. A few people got it in their heads to do a fan film for this battle. Okay, fine. There were links all over for their fundraisers. Much as I might have liked to donate to any of the groups I’ve said I liked I’ve never had the disposable cash. Life of a professional TV guy and all.
So, every so often, it would come up on Facebook or any of the various Trek boards, what’s going on with Axanar? Whatever happened to Axanar? That’s when I found out that it was being produced by a gent named Alec Peters, by profession a lawyer. I thought I recognized the name from the heady days of New Voyaging through the forum, but I was thinking of another gent named Alec who was a barfly. Do people call lawyers that? They should. Anyhow, big names were getting associated with this production. Tony Todd, who people always associate with Candyman, but who I always think of when not in DS9 mode as Ben in the NOTLD remake. Gary Graham, who, possible cousin though he may be, I’ve liked since the premiere of Alien Nation.
Along came the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I was working overtime with not a hell of a lot to do. Since I needed to stay awake until 8:00 AM, I started bopping around the internet. There I found that Paramount and CBS had decided to sue the people behind Axanar. I started to worry about my friends at Farragut, but as I read through, it became evident that the folks at Axanar had decided they needed to be paid, so they were drawing a salary from the donations. That’s always been a no-no for fan films. A BIG no-no. Yet there it was in the released financial report, Peters was drawing 38 grand a year for this fan film. sorry, professional production. I find it particularly grating as I’ve been working in production since 2001 and I only make 30 grand a year, but that’s a tale for another day. It seems that this is the crux of the lawsuit, although various people swear it’s because Axanar looks better than the recent movies or Enterprise or whatever and Paramount and CBS are just being big meanies. It seems perfectly clear to me that it’s the salaries that are the problem, complaining from the likes of David Gerrold and various other webizens notwithstanding. The Axanar production types keep posting everywhere that they’re determined to press on like the lawsuit is just going to go away. The word hubris keeps getting attached to Alec Peters. I don’t know the guy, I only know what I’ve read, but it’s hard to believe someone who is a lawyer could see that as a realistic outcome.
I wrote a post on the Farragut forum, which sadly isn’t up anymore, asking the question, why do fan films? Recognition is one reason I came up with. Wanting to play in a familiar universe is another. The desire to be your own heroes ranks high. But I closed it out by saying if you’re creative enough to do this, why not do something original? There seems a lot of talent connected to this thing. Had they gone original, would they have gotten all the donations? Probably not until they’d shown something that they could do it, an Into The Woods to prove The Evil Dead. I have friends who’ve done zombie movies. Depending on how this comes out, could it set a precedent for the studios to go after them? I doubt it, personally, but what if…?
Watching how this plays out is going to be interesting.