Fan Film Friday – Want to send a loud message to CBS?

CBS logo parody(Please note this blog is the opinion of Jonathan Lane, editor of Fan Film Factor, and not that of Axanar Productions)

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By now, you’ve likely heard that CBS and Paramount have finally, after decades of silence, released a series of guidelines for Star Trek fan films to follow and not get sued. Unfortunately, the guidelines were written by a group of over-caffeinated lawyers and licensing employees with little to no understanding of the concept of Star Trek fandom. In short, these rules would essentially obliterate nearly all past and current Star Trek fan films and series.

From their announcement on StarTrek.com, CBS seems almost proud of themselves, feeling that they’ve done fandom some kind of favor. And even though nearly 200 (as I write this) comments have been posted with about 90% highly negative reactions, I doubt that CBS or Paramount will see the devastating reality of what they’ve done…

…unless we make them see it.

Nearly 50 years ago, Star Trek fans made their voices heard with a great letter-writing campaign. Today, letters and petitions and threats of boycotts are easily ignored. Boycotts are often seen as limited threats, and ultimately, many who start off committed eventually give in and watch the TV show or movie after all. Studios typically don’t take the threats of a boycott particularly seriously.

CBS shows

But there’s an interesting wrinkle to Star Trek on the business side at the moment that makes it potentially vulnerable. CBS’s new digital streaming service, All Access, is relying on the new Star Trek TV series to jumpstart monthly subscriptions from millions of Trekkies around the world. CBS has a LOT riding on this, as they turned away a very attractive offer from Netflix to develop the new Trek series themselves for their own streaming platform. Right now, the only thing All Access offers is reruns of CBS-produced television programs. The new Star Trek series represents their first exclusive original content and is a huge opportunity to expand their subscriber base.

And that’s just the opening we need to get their attention!

If we can somehow impact CBS’s plans to expand their subscriber base, we have the potential to do what Trekkies did back in 1968 when they threatened NBC’s advertisers and convinced the network not to cancel Star Trek.

As I said, a simple boycott threat would likely just be shrugged off. CBS, in their arrogance, probably doesn’t believe fans will pass on the new series. Sure, some will. But most will be too curious and sign up for just a quick look-see. Whether or not that’s true doesn’t matter; CBS believes it’s true. So a simple boycott was a non-starter…

But then I had an idea!

What if fans got together in groups (we’ll call them “collectives”) and chose a “designated subscriber” to pay the monthly $6 fee for CBS All Access? Let’s assume six fans get together and pool their money. Instead of costing each of them $6/month, the shared resources decrease that monthly cost to just $1 each. And even better, they all get to gather together for the fun experience of watching as a group. Can you say “viewing party”?

At the same time, CBS loses five subscribers! Instead of taking in $36 a month from all six of them, they only get $6, losing out on 85% of their potential revenue! Even buddying up with just one other friend to pool resources cuts off  half of the revenue that CBS would have made.

Cuttin money

The beauty of this idea is that it’s more believable to CBS. Fans will still watch the new series, as CBS expects them to…no boycott is necessary. But the possibility of losing 50-85% of their potential revenue if small groups of fans designate a single subscriber? That’s real dollars, folks.

Of course, with only 10 or 20 people threatening this, it won’t matter much to CBS. But if it’s more like 10,000 or 100,000…then we’re talking the potential loss of millions of dollars a year! So the trick is coming up with a way to attract and get the message out to thousands of people.

The answer: Facebook. It’s an amazing tool for gathering interested groups and disseminating information. And it wouldn’t be limited to only Axanar supporters or even Axanar haters. It would be a gathering place for fans of ALL fan series like Star Trek Continues, New Voyages, Renegades, Farragut, Intrepid, Potemkin, Dark Armada, and many others. At this point, there’s no sense in blaming Alec Peters or even defending him…that’s so last week! The true enemy has finally presented itself, and it’s the studios.

The goal is now to convince CBS and Paramount to revise their guidelines to allow fan series to continue as they have for the past 50 years, just with fair (not obnoxious) guidelines to both protect their intellectual property while still letting fans produce and embrace decent fan films (that aren’t limited to just 15 minutes and don’t have to use store-bought uniforms).

So now I had the plan, but I needed a really catchy name to rally around. “Save Our Shows”? “I Stand with Fan Films”? Nothing was grabbing me until I thought about the name CBS All Access…and how we wanted to rally to decrease their revenue stream. How about we turn ALL Access into SMALL Access? The logo pretty much created itself…Small Access bannerI created the Facebook group last evening and quickly gained a few hundred members…a promising start! But we still need ten times that to even be noticed and ten times that to be considered a true force to be reckoned with.

To attract more members to the group, I’m going to start contacting other bloggers, podcasters, and even the news media. I’m also planning to have the group begin discussing the current guidelines one by one to figure out which aren’t so bad (we don’t want to seem unreasonable to CBS) and which have to be revised…and how.

But I can’t do it alone…I need your help, too! If you haven’t joined yet—and you’re willing to take the pledge to be part of a viewing “collective”—please join the PROJECT SMALL ACCESS Facebook group.  And please-please-PLEASE tell your friends about it, too! This could be our only chance to make our voices heard and (hopefully) save fan films from being a tragic footnote in Star Trek history.


  • John Willis says:

    I tend to disagree. CBS and paramount have decided to ‘End’ the franchise.. until a sale. I certainly will not be buying any of their merchandise or watching any of their shows. So advertisers.. please listen. CBS did this. It is is their head. The property is tainted and banned in my mind. I am an older demographic cord cutter.. so I don’t have to watch anything I do not want to. I am voting with my money. I like Star Trek.. when it is sold and changes hands.. from CBS and Paramount.. then and only [then] will I be back. CBS did this.. CBS did this.. Always remember.. CBS Television did this.. do not watch [any] of their shows or property.. actively [run] and boycott CBS..

    • Bob Franklin says:

      Agreed. It is indeed on their heads, & they will soon feel the ponderous weight of it. But I’m not stopping with CBS – oh, hell no. Paramount threw their hat in the ring for this one as well. They get the same axe. I also agree with Jonathan Lane to an extent: if curiosity gets to be too much – if you must absolutely view the new series, then do it through group viewing. Another option a lot of folks will likely employ is to simply view it on couchtuner, putlocker, or about a bazillion other free television/movie sites that will undoubtedly have this series available, probably the same day the episodes air. personally, I’m not even gonna waste my time or bandwidth on it. The main takeaway here is to keep your $$$$ out of Paramount/CBS’ pockets – nothing belongs in there but lint. Let’s see to it!

    • Vad Baxter says:

      No, CBS and Paramount didn’t decide to end Star Trek. They basically over reacted to a situation in which they felt they needed to put their foot down.

      If you truly were to boycott Star Trek you would sell your costumes, toys and DVD’s just to show them how you feel.

      Once people realize that things will eventually get better. CBS will revise their fan film guidelines.

    • Henry Armitage says:

      I’m voting with my wallet. I’m going to see Star Trek Beyond in the theatre the day it premieres. If it’s as good as it looks, I’ll,see it again. I’ll buy the blu-ray. I’m buying every licenced Star Trek book published this year. Whatever legal way I have to see the new Star Trek TV series in Canada, whether it’s through paying for a streaming subscription or buying DVDs or blu-rays, that’s what I’ll do.

      Attacking CBS and Paramount right now is stupid and counterproductive. Are the guidelines too restrictive? Sure. Will more hostility make them change their minds? Doubtful.

  • DanH says:

    Hear, Hear!
    I will not be watching any “official” new Trek.
    CBS/Paramount can stick it where no sunshine has gone before!

  • James Jackson says:

    Terrible idea. We have to be willing to boycott en mass and also publicize and promote the total boycott of cbs/paramount. Creating an economic impact that is too big for them to ignore is the only strategy that has any hope of changing policy.

    • Bob Franklin says:

      That’s already happening spontaneously. look at the response ( minus the brown nosing CBS/Paramount stooges, of course). that’s actually a pretty good indicator of current public opinion. The suits are terrified & we all know it. It’s why they backed off with the legal action. They basically stomped on a landmine with their great clumsy collective foot, & now they want to back off of it – but it’s too late – the mine already went “click”. Doesn’t matter how fast they try to jump away, they’re gonna get messed up bad. Mark my words – both the movie premier & series launch are gonna be financial bloodbaths.

  • I agree, both with the boycott and with “collective” profit destruction … There may be other effective attacks. But I do not believe they should be random. They should be planned, coordinated, and hailed as part of a fan-driven strategy to bring a giant to its knees. Those wanting to boycott should do so. And among the collectives, those turning away from CBS productions should be praised. Are there other strategies to prove to CBS that they cannot take victory for granted? Let’s hear them … Praise them … And implement them.

  • Dianne says:

    I have to say that I’ve been a fan of Trek since the 60s. I know the old adage of “to exist it must evolve” but in JJ Abrams abominations, while some of the actors are good namely Zachary Quinto and the late Anton Yelchin, I don’t feel the Paramount films as “Star Trek” at least not the “Trek” I grew up watching. Even into the Next Generation and DS9, the one abounding thing was always the balance between the battles and the diplomacy, something mentioned below. When it came to Kirk, Picard or Sisko, the ability to defend through words without even raising a hand to hit a phaser has always been the thing that has guided this franchise from Roddenberry’s original “The Cage” to the end of “Nemesis”. The other prong of that fork as also been the personal struggles of the men and women who ride those consoles into space. This is what is lacking in the JJA abominations. The personal struggles. I feel it’s one gag line after the next with no focus on personal traits and human motivation. That you were able to snag Tony Todd of all people shows the dedication you have to the classic series. I hope you’re not daunted by the new “rules” for fan films. You are a credit to what Gene Roddenberry created and I have a feeling that he’d be smiling upon you and wishing you Light Speed. Congrats on a wonderful production that I feel rivals anything Paramount THINKS they can put out.

    • Chris Brewin says:

      I must echo comments made by others. JJ-Trek isn’t an abomination. If you look at the individual characters, they are spot on! Uhura is a smart, caring, fierce woman and a damn good communication’s officer – in fact, I’d say they stepped Uhura up a few notches by making her such a fluent linguist. Checkov is the same young kid who is so brilliant at his job he can fill-in anywhere (like he often did at the science station for Spock). Sulu, I think is a lot more interesting in this rendition. He’s given command in a sticky situation and I deals with it well. His fencing skills are also a lot more bad-ass. While the accent is different, Scotty is Scotty, a mad genius and a fun guy. I don’t think I need to mention how passionate the new McCoy is, in keeping with the classic. Spock, while admittedly more prone to violent outbursts, is still Spock; the nature of untimely death of Amanda his mother would not be easy for any Vulcan let alone a half-human hybrid.
      Then we come to Kirk; Kirk is a VERY different character in this series for a good reason. Kirk lost his father. In the “prime” timeline, Kirk had a strong guiding force in his father and following in his father’s footsteps gave him purpose. In the first film we watched as a purposeless Kirk found not only a purpose, but found a way to get a group of diverse people to work together to get the job done. In the second movie we see him learn the responsibility required of his purpose. I have a theory; in so much as the producers held back using the musical themes associated with the theme song of the original series until the end credits when it had been established that “yes, this is now the crew we all know and love,” I also think that the new Kirk didn’t get to say the famous “Space, the final frontier…” until he was ready; until he was the Captain that we all know and love.
      So there’s one personal struggle for you. Then there’s Spock’s loss of his mother and planet. Then we have Spock and Uhura’s relationship which is full of struggle as an emotional person learns to deal with one who shows no emotion. If you’re a true fan of Trek, don’t give me crap about how the relationship is forced and all… did you see the looks between Nimoy and Nichols in the canteen while Spock played his lute? Were you aware that the kiss between Uhura and Kirk was supposed to be between Uhura and Spock, but Mr Shatner intervened? I get that the overriding stories might not be the best Trek, but when you look deep into the films, you’ll be surprised at what you find.
      Enough defence of what’s been and gone; now on to what’s coming up:
      Put succinctly Star Trek II, Star Trek VI and Star Trek: First Contact were in my mind, and arguably, the best received of the films because of two qualities when you boil them down: great character moments and heart, and great action sequences. Star Trek Beyond has been written by Simon Pegg; he’s a life-long Star Trek fan and if you’ve seen any of his movies, you’ll see that despite the sometimes chaotic comedy (Shaun of the Dead), his movies have heart. Justin Lin was a director in one of the longer-running and most action-packed movie franchises in recent history. What does this tell you Beyond will be? A movie with heart (because, regardless of direction, a movie is at its core the written script) and action.
      The new series has at its helm the producer of the two most financially successful Trek films, the director of two of the aforementioned “best Trek films” and a former series writer. They’ve got the right people running the show. Give it a chance. Have faith.
      I’ll sum up a post I made here earlier which seems to have been taken down. The new guidelines have come down because of one production’s arrogance and disrespect. I don’t think anyone would blame Joss Whedon for giving a slap to someone who said “Serenity sucked, I’m going to make a better, truer Firefly film.” This production did not play nice with its toys and consequently, mommy and daddy took those toys away and were so mad that they told the rest of the kid’s brothers and sisters that they could only have their toys if they followed a strict set of rules. They are strict rules. I won’t disagree that some are too strict, others aren’t though.
      Boycotting CBS All Access and further Trek productions will only hurt Trek. CBS and Paramount make so much money off of other projects that they’ll survive. Broadcast TV made money based on commercials. The better the show, the more people watched; the more people watched, the more people saw ads; the more people seeing the ad, the more the network could charge for that air time; the more they got for air time, the more they put into the show; the more they put into the show, the better it got; and the capitalist cycle continues. Subscription-TV is all about subscribers. The more subscribers, the more they can spend, the better it gets, etc. Boycotting CBS All Access will do nothing more than limit the money they have to spend on the new series and in turn, hurt the series.
      I’m gonna get preachy here, so bear with me… I’ve seen people write “Gene is rolling in his grave” when talking about the guidelines. I think he’s rolling in his grave at how divisive the situation has made us fans. In Star Trek III, Kirk broke the rules. Big time. In Star Trek VI, the Federation Council and Starfleet didn’t fire him or jail him, they gave him a slap upside the head and let him do what he did best. The same thing is happening here. True fans of Trek should have recognised that we’ve found a “cultural difference” that has caused conflict, that instead of fighting and arguing, we should be looking to negotiate for a better settlement and that, in the end we should all be better for it.

  • David Slater says:

    It’s a real shame that it has come to this. I must confess that this whole business instigated by CBS/Paramount has jaded me to the point where I have little interest in seeing their new official film Star Trek: Fast & Furious.

    I was really looking forward to the new offerings from the fandom. I have enjoyed the quality of what has come before and was looking forward to the plentitude of new offerings. To add to the above list, let us also remember the resurrected gem Yorktown: A Time To Heal.

    It’s also a shame that this whole ruckus coincides with the 50th anniversary celebrations. It has tainted the whole thing. We can only contemplate what could have been.

  • Cavaron says:

    Sharing an account – couldn’t that be considered to be illegal? Sure, inviting some friends to watch a show – no problem. But making them pay/donate for it? Not so sure…

    How about the Ferengi rule of acquisition 98 (“Every man has his price.”)? Lets collect a whole bunch of money from people who pledge to get a CBS All Access subscription IF CBS is willing to change their stupid guidelines to something useful. We collect some money in advance (like for the first 6 month of subscription) to show CBS our financial power. If they don’t agree, we refund the money back to the participants.

    I mean, service providers like CBS literally pay money to people who cold call you or knock at your door to persuade you to “test” 30 free days of their service, hoping to generate paying customers out of that (called customer aquisition). Wouldn’t they consider changing their fan-film guidelines (which is basically free for them) for something like 10.000 or 100.000 or maybe even more paying subscriptions to their service?

  • Nadrakas says:

    Mr Lane,

    Well, there goes Paramount and CBS; attack the very Fans that have kept Star Trek alive for 5-decades. Do they really think that Star Trek would even be around at all, or that it would continue to exist without Fans?


    All of the above that you have suggested is good Mr Lane, and I would pursue it as much as you could; though I have my doubts that either Paramount or CBS will listen, given their draconian “guidelines” and the prevailing attitude at both companies.

    However, coming from 24-years in the military, I try to have Contingency Plans ready for important projects/events in the event something doesn’t quite work out. In this case, may I suggest that you seriously consider contacting Amarillo Design Bureau (ADB), makers of Star Fleet Battles (SFB). ADB has produced SFB — and all subsequent related products — under license since 1979. SFB is itself a tactical board wargame set in an offshoot of the “Star Trek” setting called the Star Fleet Universe (SFU). ADB has a broad line of products set in the SFU, so there is a lot of information to draw on and, more importantly, plenty of areas to fit production projects into. Among the products are:

    –> Prime Directive: Interactive, tabletop Roleplaying Game (RPG) set in the Star Fleet Universe.
    –> Captain’s Log: The Official Journal of the Star Fleet Universe. Not just a magazine, it contains SFU history articles, has expansion modules for each of the various product lines, and is a means of communications between the company and the gamers. Published twice a year.
    –> Star Fleet Battles: A tactical starship combat board wargame. The flagship of the SFU. Players can use either miniatures or cardboard cutouts to represent their ships and objects in space.
    –> Federation Commander: A tactical starship combat board wargame system; uses simplified Star Fleet Battle rules.
    –> Federation and Empire: A strategic game of Total War involving the Nations/Empires of the 23rd Century.
    –> A Call to Arms–Star Fleet: A tactical Ship-to-Ship simulation. It is a joint project with Mongoose Publishing using rules originally designed for the Babylon Five Starship Tactical Game
    –> Star Fleet Battle Force: A fast-paced starship action card game.
    –> Star Fleet Marines: Ground Combat in the Star Fleet Universe.
    –> Starmada: Miniatures board game designed by Majestic Twelve Games involving starship combat set in the SFU. It has various levels of play difficulty to aid in learning the game. Uses Majestic Twelves Game engine for Grand Fleets, a game of WW1 and WW2 naval combat.

    As you can see, two other companies have developed Star Fleet Universe products under the ADB license — independent of Paramount OR CBS. Mongoose Publishing with A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, and Majestic Twelve Games with Starmada. Perhaps fan productions can do the same thing?

    In addition to tabletop games — tactical, strategic, card and RPG — there have been two Computer games that were published for the Star Fleet Universe. The first one, Star Trek: Starfleet Command, was developed by Interplay Entertainment, and the second one, Star Trek: Starfleet Command II: Empires at War, was developed by Taldren/Dynaverse Gaming Association. I believe that for the purposes of marketing the developers sought Paramount’s “approval” (ie: Use of “Star Trek” in the name) in order to have the name recognition of “Star Trek” (Not much name recognition among non-fans for Star Fleet Universe…).

    I find that what Paramount and CBS has done to be foolish and, in the end, self-destructive to the Star Trek franchise. The Fans are the ones who have kept Star Trek alive, and without them then everything ranging from the TV series, to the movies, and all of the products that Paramount and CBS – not to mention the actors – have relied upon for so much revenue over the years would never have happened. These “guidelines” are not only foolish, they are akin to slowly killing the Goose that laid the Golden Egg.

    So, again I encourage you or a representative from the Axanar team to contact Amarillo Design Bureau. Who knows, perhaps there are stories that can be told that nobody ever thought of.


    ~ Nadrakas

    P.S.: I am NOT an employee of Amarillo Design Bureau. I’m just someone who plays their games when I get a chance (Which isn’t often enough…). I’m also someone who loves Star Trek and the many Fan Productions that have been created, and I wish for them to continue to be made!

  • Michael Campen says:

    You and Gerrold specifically asked for guidelines Peters. Well, you got em. What are you complaining about?

    • Alec Peters says:

      We asked for REASONABLE guidelines. Not guidelines meant to destroy all fan films.

      • Keith Carmichael says:

        Mr. Peters, I am a supporter and a fan of your work here. I hope to see you able to resolve the lawsuit and continue the show in a direction that will allow your studio to continue to produce more good works (even without the star trek logo attached to them). Please don’t let this slow you down!

      • Bob Franklin says:

        Sadly, this is the rather likely probability I was attempting to illustrate with the folktale about the devils apprentice. they basically drew a circle around the entire loaf of bread with the egg yolk, as I suspected they might, & made devils of us all. “Greed is a helluva drug”, to paraphrase Rick James…

      • Brent says:

        Got a quick question. I’m new to all of this. I can sorta see this from the Paramount/CBS side. Has there been any discussion about allowing Axanar to be distributed under the Paramount banner? After watching the Prelude/trailer, this looks to be a really well done piece. Any studio would be lucky to have a part of this. The recent Veronica Mars movie is a good example of what a highly energized fan base can accomplish. Warner Brothers released a fairly good movie that they didn’t even have to pay for. Considering Axanar, it seems rather odd that Paramount would not consider this option.

        • Alec Peters says:

          We offered CBS Axanar for FREE. They declined.

          • William Chapin says:

            Another alternative – create content that reflects the spirit of the original, but is not Star Trek. There is a massive amount of talent out there, and the technology is clearly capable of creating professional looking content on a shoestring. I am sure it can be done in a way that does not violate the IP laws. Create it as open source, or copy left, and go to town, the fan film groups that are already around already have an audience. CBS and Paramount have kindly provided the rope…and closure; why not use it?

      • The rule that troubles me the most of it all was the part about 30 minutes max in a two part story with no other episodes allowed. I’ve been developing a few scripts for what would be Starship Seattle set in the STO era. They were touching on PTSD, gender identity, and economic inequality; all using the trekkiverse as a lens to comment on the issues. Just as Roddenberry did. While I feel I can work within most all the rest of the guidelines, that limitation is staggering. I had hoped to create these episodes and share them through YouTube, but now I suppose they can only be used as a personal portfolio and only shown in private screening. I’m still going to write, though, in hopes something better can be negotiated.

    • Dave says:

      These aren’t guidelines, this is a straightjacket.

  • Matt says:

    I read the guidelines just a few moments ago. I feel unhappy, almost sad. CBS just shit on all the people who are trying to keep it’s property from disappearing into history.

    I apologise for my profanity, but I feel it is the best way to describe what has hapoened.

    I wish I could meet the people at CBS head office, or at least get their E-mails so that I could give them a piece of my mind.

    I’m sorry, I’m beginning to ramble.

    I hope Axanar will eventually see the light of day.

  • Robert says:

    So you’re suggesting we steal service? I’m sure the CBS All Access terms of service prevent sharing outside your household. How is that respect for copyright holders?

    • Alec Peters says:

      Jonathan is not advocating stealing anything. He is saying you all go to one person’s house to watch Star Trek rather than each buying the service.

      Please read the article. It is pretty clear.

      • Mike says:

        I’m not advocating it either, but the truth remains, that most Trekkies are tech-savy, and there are so many websites, which *will* stream CBS’ new pay-walled series. It only takes one subscriber who’ll grab the then decrypted video stream right off their web-browser.

        Which BTW is the only not-illegal means as non-US resident to watch U.S. TV shows that are coveted globally

      • Kabalyero says:

        that is actually a neat idea… specially if there are groups of Star Trek Fans who are close by each other…

  • Jojoleb says:

    I don’t think this kind of a boycott makes any sense. No money or too little money towards the new Star Trek series=no more new Star Trek from CBS. It will not specifically show them that fans are flexing their muscle. It will just prove to them that it wasn’t a worthwhile venture and that they should stick to the movies or go with another franchise for a while.

    If you want to flex fan muscle, have the fans not show up for the premiere of Star Trek: Beyond. Go for day#2 in packs and droves, but show the studio that we are serious about our fan films by not going to the movie for the first 24-hours. First day, it’s a flop. Second day its a blockbuster. CBS/Paramount will get the idea that the fans are 1) angry at the guidelines; 2) they are 100% willing to support ongoing Star Trek in droves. If we could organize that it would send a strong message without hurting the series and help CBS understand that, although they hold the copyrights ,they heart and soul of the franchise is with its fans.

    That’s a campaign I’d go for….

  • Mark Hansen says:

    Okay.. So thats fan film dead on arrival. Just read through the guidelines. Thats very restrictive.

    So I have just 1 question, to Alec Peters: Am I correct in assuming that, Axanar as we thought it would be, will not be made? No former star trek cast, amateur made, official items only.

    This whole thing saddens me greatly. And im from Denmark, where star trek is relatively unknown.

    If im correct in that Axanar will not be comming out, then to Alec Peters, and everyone else who has been/is involved, im Sorry on your behalf. And for the franchise as well.
    Now I need to re-evaluate if im still gonna be supporting the franchise by playing Star Trek Online.

    As to the whole part of viewing with buddys, so they dont get 6 subscriptions, but just 1. Great idea, lets get it going. Ill advertise ingame for you. Sadly I cant do it myself, as I said, in Denmark no one really knows star trek.

    I dont know what to say. Sorry guys.

    Mark over and out.

    • Alec Peters says:

      We still have plans to make Axanar. What form it will take, we have yet to determine. Many ways to execute this. Stay tuned!


      • David Rosing says:


        If I had a vote I’d be completely happy with Axanar even if you changed the names of characters and races to replace Trek nomenclature with adequate substitutes (e.g., Vulcans are renamed Pixies or Elves, Klingons renamed something else, and everything else on the list in the lawsuit is changed. At that point it’s no longer “Trek.” ) Heck, you can even change all the names to where the clever folks in the audience can see the easter-egg trail where the Trek name would come from, e.g., say if the “Klingons” were renamed “BuKrat” and Axanar dealt with the battle between humans and the BuKrat, then after the Axanar battle defeated the BuKrat, the BuKrat servant class revolted against their masters, removed them from power, and moved on to another planet altogether where they could “Cling On” to their old ways and start their own civilization.

        But the real story of Axanar is to see more of the man that inspired Kirk and made Kirk the man he is, the one who said at the end of Khan: ” I’ve cheated death. I tricked my way out of death …and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity.” IMHO no Trek since TOS really understood what the captain was all about. Heck, “Galaxy Quest” understood the concept better than the latest Trek incarnations with their “Never Give Up, Never Surrender.”

        That’s the story I want to see. You can change all the names of all the characters and subspecies for all I care. The audience will know who it’s really about.


        PS, in a real-live Kirk moment (they happen so rarely) we had an instrument that was due to be delivered to an Earth Observing System (EOS) that, a mere 7 months from delivery, was completely useless. It was a, in today’s $$, a $250 Million door stop (all the optics were completely misaligned after final assembly) We knew how to fix it, but there just wasn’t enough time or workforce to properly engineer a traditional robust solution that had motors, wires, cable harnesses, software, thermal analysis, stress analysis, the works. It was gut wrenching. Then I remembered one small comment made by an engineer 20 years before about something that could maybe do the job. I made the suggestion, everyone’s eyes brightened like Jason Nesmith’s character on “Galaxy Quest,” and they said “We’ll do that!” So we got it out the door on time, fully operational. It’s in Earth orbit right now, functioning just fine. So, in a way, I’ve ” . . . cheated death. I tricked my way out of death …and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity.”

        So, Alec, if you were Kirk, and death is Paramount/CBS (when it comes to Axanar), what would Kirk do to cheat death or trick death?

        Because if you do that, we’ll pat you on the back for your ingenuity.


  • Eli Wapniarski says:

    CBS / Paramount; stop being anal retentive. You have lost the franchise to the public domain a very very long time ago. So get with the program. Instead of trying to stifle creativity, start promoting it. Why not buy and expand the studio from Axanar and dedicate it to fan based productions? Why not establish a team to solicit and facilitate the translation the best of the fan based stories onto film. If you do not expect a back lash from the fans you are going to be sadly mistaken. You are only alienating Star Trek’s fan base which will hurt your bottom line, and you won’t kill a thing as far as the fan base is concerned as production will move offshore away from your hands or influence.

  • Korey says:

    There’s no way I would pay a subscription for the “privilege” to watch a series that will likely be ruined much like the two latest Star Trek movies. Now that Person of Interest is off the air (whose last season was screwed over by CBS, but that’s a complaint for another time) there isnt a show worth watching on CBS, let alone all access. What Paramount and CBS have done to Axanar is shameful, and I’m positive that Gene Roddenberry would be saddened at what Star Trek, on its 50th anniversary, has come to. Good luck Axanar, hopefully some day we will get to see the final film … but I’m sure we won’t if the current “owners” of Star Trek have anything to say about it.

  • David Rosing says:


    My wife and I will do you one better. Rather than watch all-access when it comes out, we’ll do the same thing we do with Game Of Thrones: Rather than buying an HBO subscription just for the one show we want to watch, we wait until it comes out on Blue-ray, then buy the whole set and binge-watch all 10 episodes. Granted, this makes us wait 10 to 12 months before the next season comes out while everyone talks about how great the last season was, but 1) we get the better quality Blue-Ray, and 2) we can watch 3 episodes a night if we want to.

    So our solution the the new Trek show will be the same: Wait until it’s out in streaming on Netflix and then binge-watch, but only if the reviews come in that it’s worth watching. If the reviews are sour we won’t even have to plunk down any money. We can wait.

    We don’t have to be the first on the block to see it, especially when all the mishugener lawyers at CBS/Paramount continues to make such a michegas out of the whole thing by insulting the fans with these guidelines.

    And that’s how I see the guidelines, they’re an insult to the fans.

    • David Rosing says:

      While I’m waiting for my comment to be moderated, I just thought of something else that fits in with my comment and melds with Jonathan’s approach, also.

      Namely, what if everyone who wanted to watch the new Trek show only paid for ONE month of all-access, then binge-watched the episodes during their one-month subscription? You can do this with Jonathan’s buddy-system as well, namely, everyone comes over for specific times to watch the 13 episodes, but in binge mode you can get through all of them in one month. So why pay for more? You do have to wait until all episodes are available for streaming, but if it’s a monthly fee, then wait for the month when they’re all available.

      I mean, so what if you’re not the FIRST to see it? This solution can save you some $$$.

      Just a thought.

      • David Rosing says:

        Ooh! Ooh!
        While I’m waiting for the above comments to be moderated, I went over to the CBS All Access site. There’s another option for the Small Access folks to really reduce CBS’ income:

        1) Wait for all episodes of Trek to be available
        2) Person #1 of the group signs up for All Access for free for one week.
        3) Everyone binge watches at #1’s house for as many episodes as they can host.
        4) Person #2 signs up for All Access for their free week after person #1’s subscription expires.
        5) Repeat 3 & 4 until the entire group watches all episodes.

        Just a thought. . . .

  • Alec,

    The long overdue guidelines sadly turned out to be a debacle. It’s time to punch the playground bully in the nose. Ask your attorneys if they’re willing to stay the course, and if so, ask what they think they can reliably defend you against, then fundraise the crap out of it and make the best film you can per THEIR guidelines (not CBS’ guidelines) … and when CBS sues, fandom will rally to subsidize a legal defense fund. Axanar needs to be told, and if CBS wants to play the role of the Klingon Empire in the tale, the irony will add to gavitas of the tale.

    Easy to cheer people on to battle when one doesn’t have their own skin in the fight, I know, but someone has to stand up to CBS … otherwise Trek fandom is finished as we know it … at least until it gets sold to a saner owner.

  • Daniel Pate says:

    I suggest a very simple way for people to sign up on a petition. I don’t think CBS understands how many people are just being turned off of Star Trek by this whole thing. To say I’m a Trekkie is an understatement. But usually silent. Just observing. I hate to not support the new Star Treks but I hate to give in to unfair treatment even more.

    At this point its up to CBS, loosen the restrictions or one less CBS Supporter. Simple.

    I will NOT sign up for there service until they compromise. And I am (Joe Public). The consumer.

  • Putting it another way, I say reject the CBS guidelines/settlement (since their terms are not in good faith), and demand a trial by jury … and when CBS/Paramount loses before a jury (either by virtue of lapsed copyrights, improper interpretation of IP law, or probably both), their authority to administer such destructively repressive guidelines to fandom will fall apart, and a legal precedent will have been set … not just for the Trek genre, but all genres.

    • Shayne O says:

      “demand a trial by jury”

      I dont think they have the leverage to win this one. Paramount/CBS actually own the rights, and are well within their rights to not let anyone play with their toys. It sucks, but thats the law.

      There is an alternative where everyone wins however: Sit down and knock out a deal with them, possibly with the assistance of a third party mediator. All these lawyers want to do is assert that their IP is still their IP and using it has rules. Theres nothing to say better rules cant be negotiated if these rules suck (and they do).

  • Russ says:

    This whole thing is one reason why the copyright laws need to be completely rewritten in this country. Content owners in general have just a little too much power and have become too greedy, just look at a cable or satellite bill. If you are not making a profit and acknowledging the owners (in this case CBS and Paramount), making fan films, regardless of how good the production value, should not be a problem. I think Gene Roddenberry would be spinning in his grave over this

  • Ken says:

    Those guidelines are severe and unnecessarily restrictive. The only reason CBS and Paramount are doing this is because their movie had Trekkies going, “Meh”, while Axanar was generating real fan interest. That’s competition they didn’t want, so as any big business does, they used the law to stifle their competition instead of improving their product to better compete with it. It’s an old story.

    The irony here is I don’t see Disney doing the same thing to Star Wars fan films, and there are a lot of them on just on Youtube alone.

    CBS and Paramount had better open their eyes to what their crackdown is doing; polarizing the fan base against them. Frankly, I think a boycott is going to hit CBS and Paramount harder than they suspect. It may not cause Star Trek Beyond to flop in the box office, but it may very likely to hurt ticket sales enough that the film won’t break even. It has a 150 million dollar budget, but the true cost of the movie is probably closer to 450 million, after the cost of marketing and distribution is factored in.

    With respect to Jonathan’s idea, I think that, realistically, more fans will retaliate be just pirating the series and movie (once it comes out on DVD/Bluray) rather than pay to watch them. “They punished us before we even thought about breaking the law, so we have no motivation to keep it”, is a phrase I once saw on reddit describing the mentality of people who feel slighted by increasingly restrictive IP laws.

    Personally, I won’t be watching either the movie or the TV show, nor will I be participating in anything Star Trek related until CBS and Paramount become more reasonable in their positions. This really makes me sad too, because it is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, but instead of being a celebration, it’s become a bitter feud.

  • Niles says:

    They are already losing millions from file sharing. This wont make much difference. But ya I was really looking forward to some quality trek for once, In the spirit that fans crave. CBS open your eyes, there is plenty of profit to go around and this film would just increase the apatite of fans. Real fans buy products ask George lukes. Thats where the money is. I think that is what CBS is bent out of shape about.

  • Shayne O says:

    I’m not sure how this helps matters. Theres a really easy way to deal with lawyers. Sit down with them and nut out an agreement. Lawyers arent there to start fights, they are there to end fights.Theres no need to “represent the fandom” or anything like that. Just get an agreement that you can do your film and let it work from there. As IP lawyers they are duty bound to make sure that all IP using their “property” (trek trademarks, etc etc) are properly licensed , or they risk losing their control over them. If you go and say “Hey, give us a license to do this as a strictly fan-film not for profit endeavor, and we acknowledge you own all the rights etc etc”. They do their job, you do yours, everyone walks away happy. Having a public spat with them just ticks their lawyer sense the wrong way, and honestly I dont think its a fight you want to be in.

    Do what lawyers most like to have done: Settle. And by settle I mean “Ask them for a license to make your project legal”.

    Oh and IANAL, as if it needs to be said 🙂

    • Alec Peters says:

      Already asked them and they said no. I mean do you really think we hadn’t thought of that?

  • Alan K. Chan says:

    I doubt that this will really hurt them in any way. Most people that are going to see this movie are not going to be aware of the antics of CBS and Paramount with respect to fan films. They just aren’t that into it like hardcore trekkies and trekkers are. Without any leverage against CBS and Paramount, the only way you’re going to get any movement out of them is to hurt them in the pocketbook. That’s where you’re going to get movement is by building coalition with all the trekkie and trekker groups to protest at the most visible movie theaters possible where the movie is showing. Bad press of Star Trek’s biggest fans picketing the movie is how you’re going to put pressure on them. Since Axanar is still in the middle of the case with them, the rest of us fans would probably be best forming a “friends of Axanar” group to organize it and start talking to the appropriate police departments to warn them that we’re going to be exercising the right to protest at specific theaters. To me, this makes more sense. What does everyone else think? I guess this is Facebook vs IRL. Maybe we can do both?

  • Robert says:

    With all due respect tor Misters Lane and Peters. I will not be paying CBS to trample the loyalty of long-time fans this way. Project Small Access is not a loud protest, it is an ineffective protest, a half-measure, an attempt to have our cake and eat it too. I am sorry that JJ Abrams and Justin Lin will be caught in the blowback for this because they did try to talk some sense into the suits at CBS. However, GIven that they have been offered Axanar for free and said no, I think CBS has made the decision to go with the 2009 fan base and forego the old-school fans entirely. I don’t know how much cross-over there is between them among theater goers, but we will simply diminish the impact of our own actions by either attending the movie, subscribing to the 2017 series, or by watching any official Star Trek on ANY streaming service that carries it. The only way at this point to bring CBS/Paramount back to the table is if the movie and the streaming series flop–the harder he better. There is a contingent of fans that will go to the movies or subscribe because they either disagree with the fan film makers, don’t care, or prefer the new JJ verse. I have nothing against those fans. I have seen every Star Trek movie and episode more than once, but WE MUST NOT JOIN THEM this time. There will be other Star Trek movies and shows even if this effort to change CBS/Paramount’s mind fails. If it succeeds there will be even more. For now our only hope is to deny ourselves Star Trek now or we play into the hands of those who crushed fan films. We must demonstrate that we do not take kindly to being treated this way. Let’s not let the reason CBS says Star Trek fans are the best in the world be that they know they can dump all over us and enough of us will still watch Star Trek to make it pay.

  • mat says:

    i’m a bit puzzled that when Paramount stopped making star trek after enterprise its the fans that kept the interest going
    till cbs tuck the baton up to start doing more star trek

    (now hears the puzzled bit)dose cbs thank the fans praise the fans give a very well done for keeping the interest going
    no they put the boot in then(this is my imposition of how there going about this)say f*** *f this is cbs property go away
    and hide so we dont notice you or better yet just die

    i no this is bit harsh but thats the imposition they leave me with

  • B Galliart says:

    CBS/Paramount has been treating the ideas of Gene Roddenberry as something which gets in the way of gaining wider appeal for Star Trek rather than key foundation information. Voyager, Enterprise and the reboot films each explore how move further away from Roddenberry’s idealized future and more into action. I expect the next TV series to have more in common with Star Wars or Buck Rogers than Roddenberry Star Trek.

    But not only has the latest material shown them to be out of touch with the foundation of Star Trek but the latest actions show them to be further out of touch with understanding Gene Roddenberry’s ideals. The original series wasn’t just about ideals in the 23rd century. It was about ideals today in helping shape that future. How can any company that understands attempting to apply those ideals today really produce such draconian intellectual property rules as CBS has just published?? The answer is they can’t and any company that far out of touch with Roddenbery can not produce a ST series worth viewing (even if only 1 out of 6 people is paying for it).

    The rules are so stupid that CBS now even forbids any fan flick references to Romulan Ale by nature of alcohol not being family friendly! What the hell type of rule is that?? Would they really even attempt to push such a rule on ST fans if Gene Roddenberry was alive today??

    I have had friends that suggested a 0 out of 6 people paying method of still watching the new ST series. What they are suggesting is of course illegal. As such, I would like to re-iterate that what CBS is so fundamentally flawed it fails to be Star Trek. As such, it is not worth committing a crime to see.

    It should also be noted that CBS can choose to make CBS On Demand’s Term of Service prohibit using the account with the intent to view it with the same people on an on-going basis. Under the USA Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), violating the ToS is also a crime.

    There are better ways to get your science fiction fix:

    (1) The Star Trek Timelines video game is free and seems to try to do a better job of honoring Star Trek than CBS does

    (2)(a) The BBC Doctor Who universe is much more available for fan use than these Star Trek fan rules permit

    (2)(b) There are plenty of other science fiction universes that are worth exploring. For example, it might be possible that David Weber would welcome a fan film that takes place in the Honorverse.

    It seem time to move on. The bottom line to the rules is if we watch anything Star Trek related (even from CBS/Paramount), we will probably become inspired to break the rules. The best way to follow the CBS/Paramount rules is to avoid being inspired by ST material.