Will Nguyen is a guest writer on the Axanar Blog.
We continue our donor spotlight series with an interview with Lee Benjamin. This one is particularly special to me because Lee and I are not only proud supporters of Axanar, but we’re also avid listeners to Trek.FM, the world’s largest Star Trek podcast network and home to the official Axanar podcast. It was actually through Trek.FM (and talking everything Trek from the series to the movies to the books and everything in between) that Lee and I first met each other online and I’m proud to call him my friend. So without further ado, here’s Lee!
WN: Can you provide us with a little information about yourself and how you came to be so passionate about Axanar?
LB: I was born in Marblehead MA and moved to St. Petersburg, FL when I was 13. For College I moved up to Mercer University in Macon Georgia and I’ve been there ever since, putting in 35 years as a software engineer along the way. I’ve been married for 37 years and have two kids a boy and a girl. (too much?) ((never –ed))
The short answer to my passion about Axanar lies in the openness and commitment of everyone involved, which of course starts at the top with Alec Peters. Alec has insisted that everyone involved be kept informed about what the project is doing. All a person has to do is be interested and they can find lots of information about all aspects of the project. Best of all if you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can always ask on the Facebook fan page.
WN: Which iteration of Star Trek became “your first” Star Trek? What drew you to that iteration, and, what is it about Star Trek that has made you such a long-term fan?
LB: I saw Star Trek TOS in the original run and in reruns throughout school, and up through college. Star Trek has three underlying principles: There is hope for the future. We can be better. Anything is possible.
WN: How did you find out about Axanar?
LB: There was a note about it on the official Star Trek Page (I think) in February of 2014.
WN: What was it that made you feel you had to support Axanar and become more deeply involved in its production?
LB: Almost everything! It’s run in the most open and honest way possible, as can be seen by anyone who reads what’s available about it. It’s the Star Trek we all want because it’s true to the principles of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision. It’s a great choice of time period. I’ve said before, “Axanar is the future of Star Trek’s past.”
WN: What are your expectations for the Axanar full-length feature?
LB: Great story, great acting, great special effects and that’s just the movie. Axanar is a movement. It is showing the world that the way in which “content” is produced is changing radically. If a project is dedicated to quality and can demonstrate that to enough people, it can do almost anything with almost nothing. You could say that Axanar is by professionals who are fans, for fans.
WN: What would you like to see in the future of Ares Studios? What direction do you want the studio to take in its future?
LB: I like all the ideas put forth so far, because they all feed sustainment of the studio into the future. Sci-Fi Film School provides both work for the professionals and a means of spreading their skills out to both the budding professionals and the merely curious. Even the idea of publishing books based on the story and characters will provide an income to help sustain the studio. Providing a place for other Star Trek projects, or other sci-fi projects, to operate will also lead to the expansion of what we could call “The Axanar Model” of content production.
WN: I also know you’re a big supporter of Trek.FM. Can you explain what Trek.FM is and how it supports the Axanar production, and how it has sustained and grown your Trek fandom?
LB: For me, there was no Trek.FM before Axanar. I hadn’t heard of it. I started following Axanar in February 2014 and they started doing podcasts with various established podcasts (which I also had not heard of) and one of them was Continuing Mission, where they were interviewed by the creator of Trek.FM, Christopher Jones. That lead to the official Axanar Podcast on Trek.FM and here we are awaiting the thirtieth installment. And I just wanted to say thank you so much to you Will for your support of Axanar and Trek.FM.
WN: It’s my absolute pleasure Lee! Most importantly, it’s this community that allows you and me and so many other wonderful fans to connect with each other, even if we’re from all around the world! It’s truly an amazing thing.
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me today!