We’ve been hard at work creating a new FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to provide answers to the most frequently-asked questions we receive via email and through social media. Of course, if you have other questions, you can always check out our other FAQ pages (General FAQ’s, Donor FAQ’s or Trek Geek FAQ’s) or send us a question via our website.
About The Lawsuit
Who is suing Axanar Productions and why?
Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios are the plaintiffs and are suing Axanar Productions and Alec Peters for alleged copyright infringement.
Why didn’t Axanar Productions get CBS and/or Paramount’s permission to make PRELUDE TO AXANAR and AXANAR?
Our understanding is that CBS doesn’t establish guidelines or give out explicit permission to fans to produce fan films (despite what you may have read to the contrary). According to CBS, every fan production relies on the benevolence of CBS in order to exist. Nevertheless, Axanar Production’s executive, Alec Peters, met frequently with CBS representatives seeking guidance.
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.
Did Axanar Productions know it was going to get sued?
No. In fact, Axanar Production’s executive, Alec Peters, read about the lawsuit online—after it was filed—the same day it was published by the trade press. There was never a “cease and desist” letter or any other notice delivered to Axanar Productions or Alec Peters in advance of the filing. No phone call. Nothing. Which, considering Alec Peters’ history of volunteering for CBS on the CBS Star Trek Archive, and being a licensee at one point, is disappointing. It was also disappointing given that based on his meetings with CBS, Alec Peters believed he would be given some warning that would have allowed him to consider, and ideally resolve, CBS’s concerns before CBS sued him.
Has Axanar Productions attempted to settle the lawsuit?
Axanar Productions made a settlement offer to Paramount and CBS within 24 hours of the lawsuit being delivered to the production’s offices, but it was rejected without a counter proposal. Axanar Productions continues its efforts to try and resolve this case as soon and as efficiently as possible, and remains optimistic that there is a mutually beneficial solution for all parties here.
Is it possible to make changes to either PRELUDE TO AXANAR or AXANAR so Paramount and CBS will find them acceptable?
PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released over a year and a half ago, in 2014, and we again heard no complaints until this lawsuit was filed in December 2015. So it is too late to change PRELUDE TO AXANAR.
AXANAR, on the other hand, hasn’t been filmed yet. We don’t know yet what changes will make it into the final product. There are many ways we can tell the story and we feel it’s prudent to leave our options open. Our hope is to find a solution with CBS and Paramount that will allow us to move ahead and tell the story over ten thousand fans have supported with their donations.
About the History of Axanar Productions
When did Axanar Productions come into operation?
Axanar Productions was created in 2013 in anticipation of a March 2014 crowdfunding campaign to finance the twenty-minute short film, PRELUDE TO AXANAR.
What kind of company is Axanar Productions?
Axanar Productions is registered with the state of California as an S-Corporation. We are also operating as a California Non-Profit Corporation which is the first step towards achieving registration with the IRS as a federally tax-exempt non-profit corporation (commonly referred to as a 501(c)(3)). To date, Axanar Productions has not charged viewers to watch PRELUDE TO AXANAR, and had no intention of charging viewers to watch AXANAR. All fan donations raised have gone to the costs of producing the film.
After the lawsuit and the fate of the AXANAR feature film is determined, will Axanar Productions still remain as an operating business? If so, what will it do?
Axanar Productions’ mission is making fan films inspired by Star Trek. What the company does in the future will depend on the outcome of this lawsuit
How many people are employed by Axanar Productions?
Everyone who works on Axanar Productions projects is an independent contractor; the company does not have any employees. Of all the contractors, there are three who spend 40-60 hours per week working on Axanar Productions-related projects and tasks.
About Funding PRELUDE TO AXANAR and AXANAR,
When did Axanar Productions launch the first crowdfunding campaign for PRELUDE TO AXANAR?
The first Kickstarter campaign to fund PRELUDE TO AXANAR was launched in March of 2014.
The PRELUDE TO AXANAR crowdfunding campaign raised $101,171. How much of these funds were spent to make the short film?
PRELUDE TO AXANAR actually cost over $125,000 to make. The shortfall between the amount raised and the actual costs were covered by the subsequent crowdfunding campaign for AXANAR. You can review a detailed cost breakdown for the production of PRELUDE TO AXANAR in Axanar Production’s annual report.
When did the first crowdfunding campaign launch for AXANAR?
The first crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the production of AXANAR launched in July of 2014 following the premier of PRELUDE TO AXANAR at San Diego Comic-Con International.
During the first crowdfunding campaign for the AXANAR feature film, Axanar Productions said it needed $400,000 (inclusive of perks and fundraising fees) to cover the cost of set construction, one year’s rent on a sound stage, renovation of the space, installing a lighting grid and soundproofing. What did those things really cost?
As explained in the Axanar Annual Report, all of the costs associated with the studio space ran over budget. Part of this was due to the delay in receiving Kickstarter funds following the first campaign and the resulting lost opportunity to rent a lower-cost space to use as a studio. But most of the overrun resulted from decisions made to ensure the studio space could accommodate the physical space required for longer-term set storage and meet the production demands of future projects.
This first crowdfunding campaign for the AXANAR feature film (on Kickstarter) presented a production budget (for the feature) of $650,000 – $750,000. Did that budget include the $400,000 budget for soundstage rent, renovation and set construction?
No. Axanar Productions explained in both the pitch video and web copy that the Kickstarter campaign was intended to address two significant cost centers: acquiring and building out the production studio space, and funding the feature film.
If you add those two cost centers together, you come to an ultimate financial goal of approximately $1.15 million (after including crowdfunding charges and the cost of perks).
The second crowdfunding campaign for the AXANAR feature film (on Indiegogo) kicked off almost a year after the previous campaign ended and presented the project as four “episodes” with a budget of $330,000 each (inclusive of perks and fundraising fees). This meant the revised production budget ($1.32 million) was estimated to be nearly double the original budget ($650k-$750k). What happened?
With the enthusiasm behind AXANAR telling us fans wanted to see something spectacular, the scope of the original production grew past the original budget level. Similarly, the cost of the soundstage build-out also exceeded the original budget.
Axanar Productions attempted to address these budget shortfalls in the revised production budget presented as part of the crowdfunding campaign launched in July of 2015 on Indiegogo.
How much money is still left from the crowdfunding campaign?
The amount of money left over from last year’s crowdfunding changes every month due to the “burn rate” of maintaining the studio while Axanar Productions works through the details of the lawsuit with CBS and Paramount.
Whether it’s enough money to fund the production of AXANAR in whatever form the story will take (assuming a timely and satisfactory resolution to the suit), remains to be seen.
About Producing PRELUDE TO AXANAR and AXANAR
PRELUDE TO AXANAR was released on YouTube a matter of months after it was funded. What has taken so long with AXANAR?
PRELUDE TO AXANAR and AXANAR are two very different kinds of films. As it was originally envisioned, AXANAR was to be a full-length movie while PRELUDE TO AXANAR is a mockumentary. PRELUDE TO AXANAR was a two-day shoot with actors sitting (for the most part) in front of a green screen. AXANAR, on the other hand, was envisioned as a narrative film requiring sets to be built, a larger cast and a larger number of professionals involved in everything from music to visual effects to editing and post production.
In generally takes an average of three to five years to make a feature film. Effects-heavy films (i.e. science fiction, fantasy, horror) can sometimes take even longer. Unforeseen events – like a lawsuit – can delay production even more.
Why do other fan films seem to take less time to produce than AXANAR?
This question usually results from a comparison of AXANAR to other Star Trek fan projects like Star Trek: New Voyages or Star Trek Continues. Other Star Trek fan projects, like New Voyages, Continues, Farragut, etc. are only 45-50 minutes in length and able to re-use sets, costumes and props they’ve built/acquired over time. And because several of those fan productions are set during the time period of the original series (TOS), they are able to share assets and copy already-designed assets from the 1960’s TV show.
Is the script for the AXANAR feature finished?
In August of 2015, Axanar Productions “locked” the script for the purposes of budgeting, set construction and costume design. However, it is common practice that scripts continue to be developed, which is why most shooting scripts have many pages of revisions.
Scenes may be added or eliminated; dialogue may change; characters may be dropped or new characters created, as we’ve just heard about with the new Star Trek feature film. According to writer/actor Simon Pegg: “…the way moviemaking works these days is that as soon as you have a structure and all the sets, and the kind of physical aspects of the film are locked in, the dialogue and stuff is always a moveable feast so we’ll be writing it right up until the edit…it’s a work in progress.”
Has AXANAR been cast?
Will the cast of PRELUDE TO AXANAR reprise their roles in the AXANAR feature?
All of the cast members from PRELUDE TO AXANAR – with the exception of Tony Todd (Admiral Ramirez) had agreed to consider reprising their roles in AXANAR. To this point, however, no deals are in place, so casting could still change due to scheduling conflicts or other reasons.
When will principal photography start on the AXANAR feature film?
This depends on how the suit is resolved.
How long will the visual effects take?
Axanar Productions relies on outside contractors to provide the visual effects (VFX) for AXANAR. Our main contractor started working on VFX last October and managed to create about a quarter of the shots needed for the feature before the lawsuit stopped production. How long it will take to complete the VFX needed to tell the story of AXANAR will depend on what kind of shape the production takes once the suit is resolved.
How long will editing and post-production take on the feature?
Axanar Production’s original production schedule called for 10 weeks (about 2-1/2 months) to edit the feature-length film.
Doesn’t everyone work for free on a fan film?
No. Several fan films have paid professional actors to appear in their films and crew to work.
But what other people are paid, if they’re paid at all, is a mystery to us. No other fan film production besides those produced by Axanar Productions has been as forthcoming about how their donations are spent by making any kind of public financial disclosure.