When the fan film guidelines dropped in 2016, Star Trek: Continues was already on the path to wrapping it’s production. A little over a year later the final episode was released and the Stage 9 studio in Kingsland, Georgia fell silent. Fast forward a few months more and Vic Mignogna signed the lease and guardianship over to Ray Tesi.
Since that decision in February, a few Facebook groups have witnessed another fracture in the “niche of a niche” that is the Star Trek fan film community. A fracture that follows on and takes cues from the Axanar movement and is spearheaded by Mignogna’s antithesis James Cawley. Cawley, a fan film actor and producer turned licensee, has carried himself with a modicum of disdain bordering on outright hatred for the other production over the years.
Recently, Tesi decided to open the doors to Stage 9 Studios for a Fan Appreciation Weekend, which took place last weekend and featured many STC alumni and provided walkthroughs for groups of people who wanted to see where the magic happened. There was no admission charge. Any time a post was made in the Axamonitor Facebook group in the lead up to this event, Cawley – an infrequent poster in the group – would let an angry comment fly, bemoaning Ray’s flagrant disregard for his license, occasionally asserting that CBS would be hearing from him and how he would get the fan service shut down.
This would whip other members of the group into action, eventually leading to a permanent paradigm shift in the focus of the group to policing any infringements of the Star Trek IP.
After remaining mum for almost two years CBS has recently clamped down on a couple of projects, including Rob Bryan’s Stage 9 Virtual Reality project. He was sent a cease and desist letter which he promptly actioned, taking down all official records. Samuel Cockings is another that was flagged by CBS for using the Enterprise-E senior staff in the trailer for his fan film Temporal Anomaly, however he worked with CBS to change the production enough to appease them.
Ray Tesi himself has confirmed to Trekzone that CBS was made aware of his plans for the Fan Appreciation Weekend and did not stop it from moving forward as planned. (although Ray notes that they didn’t bless it either.)
Despite all of this, James continues to carry on about the violation of his license and how he will be pursuing the matter. However it seems that CBS is not interested in addressing his concerns, so one has to wonder how his public displays of anger are going to solve anything.
It’s a tawdry affair going on right now, and I’m so disappointed to see it happen again.