Endless Posturing, To Debate or Not To Debate and The Substantial Lack of Any Film Footage
I’d be curious to hear your insights, as a now-former detractor but still skeptic, into this group of people and their mindsets. Any interest in doing an interview? (Technically, you owe me one.)
And so the process of finding a suitable time began, and halted in the space of twenty-three hours – but not before Lane sensed an opportunity, why don’t we construct a joint blog post / podcast episode, but it’ll have to wait because Axacon was afoot and he had family commitments. Sure, no worries, I say – not wanting to come off as if I was ambushing him again (curiously, the first time Jonathan was on Trekzone he agreed to drive to the LA studio I was using at the time and sit in their interview studio for the prerecorded chat. The questions were tough, the lights were bright and he was put on the spot apparently. You can judge for yourself here.)
But this time around, despite still not caring to know me too much, Lane had already built the idea of the blogger battle in his mind and was gearing up;
You ask me a question–I ask you–rinse, repeat. It’s the battle of the titans that many in the fan film community have been begging for.
I promptly thought nothing further of this until November when I – responding to a reminder from Outlook to follow up the email – asked Lane if he was ready. He promptly replied in the affirmative and I, alone, prepped the discussion points for the joint interview. Jonathan took these and began assembling his responses, I returned to not thinking about it for the next 7 days.
As anyone who has joined me on a Trekzone podcast before knows, I don’t like set questions or even rigid discussion topics – unless we’re on a press junket – so I maintained that attitude going into record day… where Lane lay in wait. He’d had just shy of two months to construct his three hour speech, and he’d been given seven days notice of the discussion points – not questions – I wanted to raise. It’s evident that he had taken charge of the podcast when I attempted to “go with the flow” of the conversation and he refused, condescendingly returning to his script.
For a joint interview, I certainly did all of work… with Lane’s directive to not cut anything out, I compiled the three hour, three part podcast and prepared to release it. And this is where my third mistake comes in… I joined Lane’s exaggerated hype-building and dubbed this a battle, when it clearly wasn’t. It was, and always was intended to be, An Axanar Fan’s Perspective – something I’d attempted to get Steven Mayhew and Shawn O’Halloran on board for during the year (record both sides seperately and independently, then release one after the other to allow listeners to make up their own mind.)
That was enough for everyone to pounce. And they pounced hard.
I made the call to release the takeover as is and I stand by that, however I realised later on that I’m a interviewer not a debater and I shouldn’t have been billed as a debate. Through it all, though, Jonathan’s own contradictions and implications were missed, some of which have now since been rebranded, rebadged or summarily dismissed by Peters and Lane in the subsequent weeks. And following the recent Axanar Confidential livestream where Lane and Peters spent a good portion abusing the meaningless “detractors” and slowly walking back the majority of their claims, I decided to have transcripts made of the three part podcast – timecodes will marry up with the YouTube video.
Matt Miller: 00:07 I’m Trekzone’s Matt Miller.
Jonathan Lane: 00:09 And, I’m Fan Film Factors, Jonathan Lane.
Matt Miller: 00:11 Today, a special edition of A Trekzone Conversation.
Jonathan Lane: 00:15 And, a special entry in my blog.
Matt Miller: 00:17 As Jonathan and I discuss Axanar’s past, present, and future.
Jonathan Lane: 00:21 Now, Matt, you’ve been podcasting for five years, I believe, with dozens of interviews with Star Trek Alumni and Fan Film Makers and other cool science stuff under your belt. You’ve also been a vocal opponent of Axanar and Alec Peters for a while now.
Matt Miller: 00:37 Well, that’s true Jonathan, but we’ll talk about my motivations there shortly. You yourself have been pretty active within the Fan Film circuit publishing, almost 700 blog entries and you’re a staunch supporter of Axanar and Alec Peters.
Jonathan Lane: 00:50 And, that’s very true as well. All right folks, well let’s get the intro out of the way and then Matt and I can start talking about all things Axanar.
Matt Miller: 02:01 Well, John, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. This is a bit of a unique podcast in the Star Trek circuit. I don’t think it’s been broached before that two opposing sides, dare I say of a topic, are coming together quite freely and discussing ideas.
Jonathan Lane: 02:22 And, you know, my initial idea with all of this was that Matt and I would interview each other and exactly how that works. I’m not quite sure, but we’ll figure it out.
Matt Miller: 02:32 We’ll just keep talking and I’m sure we’re gonna butt heads through as we go. But, I think that we’re all passionate about our views and, at the end of the day, nothing here is personal. And, I hope that what we get out of this is an understanding of both sides of this topic that unfortunately have been created. There was a Fan Film designed to show some love for Star Trek that became quite divisive. Look, John, what do you think’s great about Prelude to Axanar, as a starting point?
Jonathan Lane: 03:11 Yeah. And, by the way folks, just so you know, Matt came up with a number of questions and we kind of went back and forth, but for the most part these are all written out before us. And it was interesting because I was looking at the first question, “What’s great about prelude?” And I was thinking, you know, that’s a question that’s different for everybody. Like, for me what I like most about Prelude is I like to fill in the gaps of Star Trek.
Jonathan Lane: 03:33 So, we had Enterprise and 100 years later we had the original series and what happened between them. So, Axanar was one of those untold stories of 10 years and 20 years before Kirk. And, I’m also looking forward to Pacific 2 or 1 for the same reason because that’s part of that gap that’s 40 years after the founding of the federation and I’m looking forward to the Romulan War from Martin Akaredon. Because, that’s going to tell us the story of basically everything that happened after Enterprise was cancelled.
Matt Miller: 04:04 Damn you Paramount.
Jonathan Lane: 04:06 But, anyway, yeah. So, for me, I just, I like filling in the gaps that’s … And, obviously I thought Prelude was an excellently made fan film. I think Tony Todd’s speech is still one of the great moments in Fan Film history and Tobias Richter’s effects are just stunning. And, it’s one of those fan films that passes the rewatch test. I like to say that on Fan Film Factor I like to say there’s my prime directive of there’s two rules in my prime directive. Rule number one, there’s no such thing as a bad fan film.
Jonathan Lane: 04:40 And rule number two, if you see a bad Star Trek fan film, refer to rule number one. But, the fact is, I’m not, you know, I’m not naive and all of this, I understand that some fan films are better than others and so, which ones passed the rewatch test will actually be able to sit through it a second time. I think I’ve watched Prelude 20 times. It never gets old for me.
Matt Miller: 05:05 Yeah, I agree. I think, I will admit that I haven’t rewatched Prelude many times but, it does hold your interest for the whole duration and it is a unique story to tell and a unique way of telling it. I think that that’s the brain thing and it really comes down to the cost and that’s what I find with a lot of Star Trek fan films and I don’t have to be professional, I don’t have to be a Star Trek alumni. But, if you get a good cast, then it doesn’t matter what the special effects look like, what the sets look like, how it sounds to a certain degree, you know, the way that it’s recorded, the way that it’s filmed, all that sort of stuff. It really comes down to that cast. If you can get people to portray a very convincing story, then the suspension of disbelief is there. And, that was just to take a personal note. That was one of them.
Jonathan Lane: 06:04 You’re gonna talk about your own fan film, aren’t you?
Matt Miller: 06:06 I am-
Jonathan Lane: 06:07 Once More With Feeling.
Matt Miller: 06:08 That’s right. And, because that was one of the main bits of feedback from a lot of people that have sort of seen it was it was a unique way of telling the story and maybe there were things that should have been done differently and heck, it was one hell of a learning curve but, more often than not, people say that the cast really carried that story.
Jonathan Lane: 06:32 And for those of you who don’t know, by the way that fan film, Once More With Feeling, which you can find on the Internet and you can find on Fan Film Factor as well was done in an interesting way. There was visual CGI effects that were great, but instead of putting the actors into sets or even in front of green screen a, although they were actually in front of a green screen, but you basically put them in a sound studio, they were not in costume and they basically were reading the scripts in front of them. You see them standing there with these pieces of paper.
Jonathan Lane: 07:01 They were reading their scripts and it was drawing to some people. I know a number of people said, you know, “What the heck is this year? You know, they don’t even memorise their lines.” But, this was a table reading for all intents and purposes of a fan film. Which in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that folks. This, there’s no rules in fan film, if you want to do that, do it. Nobody is to say it’s wrong. Nobody is to say that you should have done it this way or that way. If this is the way Matt wanted to do it and I think ultimately, you know, it was a good story that, as you said, very well acted and if you didn’t like it then fine, stop watching it.
Matt Miller: 07:41 As your microwave goes off in the background there, you better get your noodles.
Jonathan Lane: 07:46 My wife is home today because my son got sick last night at 4:00 o’clock in the morning. I won’t go into more details than that.
Matt Miller: 07:52 But, very quickly on my film because obviously we are here to talk about Axanar but, the script holding was one thing that a lot of people kept coming up with. And it was really funny because the lead actor, Jeremy Levi in the production meeting that morning before we, before our first frames were recorded actually said, “Do we really need to be holding these scripts?” And he said, “I’m an actor. I teach young people how to act, I don’t need a script.” And I said, “Yes, but it’s the whole look that we’re going for.” And, obviously, it was a little bit different but the funny thing is, now that I’ve moved into Warrior and I’ve built up this audio kit for a 10th of the cost of my video production kit, you will be seeing a lot more audio pop fan films from Trekzone so that they’re to come. But-
Jonathan Lane: 08:42 And, I’m gonna tell a little bit of personal as well here.
Matt Miller: 08:45 Yes.
Jonathan Lane: 08:45 Just for a moment, as long as we are all you know [crosstalk 00:08:47].
Matt Miller: 08:47 As long as we’re on the tangent.
Jonathan Lane: 08:50 I am going to, I possibly by the time this comes out or maybe just after it, but I am going to have my Fan Film Audio debut hopefully before Christmas or so I’m told. I can’t tell you what it is yet. I am sworn to secrecy but, you will be hearing Jonathan Lane, his acting debut. Me who, you know about his train of a Thespian as that dust mite over there on the corner. So, you’ll have to let me know how I do folks.
Matt Miller: 09:21 We’ll be on it but remember, there is no such thing as a bad fan film.
Jonathan Lane: 09:25 That’s true. And if you see a bad Fan Film or if you hear one refer to rule number one.
Matt Miller: 09:31 Well Jonathan, let’s jump back into Axanar and the next dot point that we have listed here is talking about the end of Prelude and how most of the principle cast and crew left the production following Alec’s decision to retrofit a soundstage. Do you think that was a backward step for the production?
Jonathan Lane: 09:52 Well, the first thing I want to do is I want to ask you an interesting question. We were interviewing each other folks. Remember that? Matthew, why did you choose to use the word, “most” in that sentence? Most of the principal crew left Axanar.
Matt Miller: 10:06 Well, that’s a very good question there, Jonathan. I think that the reasoning behind, “most” would be that Christian Gossett left. There were Robert Meyer Burnett.
Jonathan Lane: 10:20 Meyer Burnett.
Matt Miller: 10:22 Got to get that right.
Jonathan Lane: 10:23 I’m not, I’m not giving you Robert leaving. Robert stayed. Robert was a part of Axanar throughout 2015 he made the Vulcan Scene. He was going to be editing Axanar, he stayed throughout the entire lawsuit and even into 2017 until finally things were going to be moving to Georgia. Now, Robert’s reasons for stepping away are his own and if he’s chosen to speak about them he can but, I’m not going to say that he left Axanar following Alec’s decision to retrofit a soundstage because he was one of the ones retrofitting the soundstage. So I’m like, I’ll give you a Christian. Christian left and two of his producers left. Who else?
Matt Miller: 11:14 There was [crosstalk 00:11:15].
Jonathan Lane: 11:15 … right?
Matt Miller: 11:17 I will say Tony Todd.
Jonathan Lane: 11:18 Okay. There, you’re up to four. Can you give me more?
Matt Miller: 11:21 And, I will also say Terry McIntosh.
Jonathan Lane: 11:24 Terry MacIntosh, you are up to five. Good. Actually, he’s one of the two producers, but I’ll give you five people.
Matt Miller: 11:29 All right.
Jonathan Lane: 11:29 Okay. Now, “most” for me would mean the majority, right? More than 50%.
Matt Miller: 11:35 Mm hmm (affirmative).
Jonathan Lane: 11:36 Okay. Let’s count the number of people who didn’t leave. Are you ready?
Matt Miller: 11:42 Go for it.
Jonathan Lane: 11:43 And right now I am going to go to Prelude to Axanar and I’m going to go to the credits. All right. Let’s lower this a little bit. Okay, directed by Christian Gossett. He’s gone. Alec Peters, he’s still there but, we’re not gonna count him because he’s still within. Written by Alec Peters and Christian Gossett. Okay. Prelude to Axanar. All right, here comes the credits. Richard Hatch. Well, Richard Hatch left the world but he did not leave Axanar. So, I’m gonna count Richard as somebody who’s still there. That’s one. Tony Todd has gone. Kate Vernon, she’s coming back. J.G. Hertzler, he is coming back. Gary Graham, he is coming back. Alec Peters, obviously we’re already counting him. Co-produced by …
Jonathan Lane: 12:34 I’m not sure who the co-producers are. Director of photography, Milton Santiago. He’s not coming back. Editor Robert Meyer Burnett, I’m not giving you him. He stayed with it. Visual effects supervisor Tobias Richter. He stayed with it. He did the special effects for the Vulcan Scene so, he did not leave. Music, Alexander Bornstein did not leave. He’s going to be doing the Axanar upcoming two parter. Makeup, design and supervised. Okay. So here’s the makeup thing. That wasn’t a person leaving Alec that was a person pricing himself out. He went up to $400,000.00 as a quote for anything further and Alec was not going to spend most of his money on makeup.
Jonathan Lane: 13:15 So, he didn’t walk away Alec just didn’t wanna hire him again. Supervising sound designer, editor Frank Serafine. He was going to work on Axanar he unfortunately also passed away. RIP Frank, along with Richard. Starship and special effects, sound effects Mark Edward Lewis. He’s back. That’s nine. Digital composite Tommy Craft. He was below the line. He was a contractor so, he wouldn’t actually counted. Steven Jepsen who played admiral slater, he’s coming back as well as the guy who was the narrator he’s coming back. So that’s 11. Okay. Tell you what, instead of going through all of these, I actually did a little homework here folks. I counted everybody who’s coming back, some am up to 11. So here’s who I … Okay. So, composer, Alex Burns is coming back, production designer sound designer, sound editor is coming back, VFX supervisor is coming back. The gaffer is coming back. The DIT colorist is coming back. Let’s see.
Matt Miller: 14:30 So, I think it’s safe to say that you schooled me here Jonathan.
I revisited this point later on in part three, correcting that Jonathan hadn’t actually schooled me, beyond being a schoolyard bully. 10mins and 4secs in part three.
Jonathan Lane: 14:33 I think I have but like Diana Kingsberry, she didn’t leave either and she was Alec’s girlfriend at the time but they broke up and she still stayed with Axanar. So, I think I’ve got these 15 people on my list now and my fingers have sort of moved since then. You’ve got five. I think I get the word, “most” and I think we can say, “Most of the people did not leave after Prelude.”
Matt Miller: 14:55 All right Jonathan. So like I said, you’ve schooled me there.
Jonathan Lane: 14:58 Consider yourself schooled.
Matt Miller: 14:59 But, I will ask you the second part of that question again. The decision to retrofit the soundstage. Do you think it was a backwards step for the production?
Jonathan Lane: 15:07 It’s an interesting question as well. It wasn’t backwards, it was just in hindsight a mistake. But, if I asked you right now, what are you doing today in your life that’s a mistake that you’ll discover two or three years later was a mistake and you can’t tell me. Keep in mind that what the world was back in 2015 for fan films, it was much different than it was in 2016 and beyond. And Alec’s initial idea was we want to create a Retro Studio. Retro Studios was James Cawley TOS sets in upstate New York. We want to create a version of James Cawley sets here on the west coast. That was the first idea and you happen and you may not know this, but Alec was a very big part of Star Trek: New Voyages for a few years and helped James Cawley get his new location when he moved to sets in I think 2013 or 2014 and helped sign the lease and negotiate the lease.
Jonathan Lane: 16:18 And so Alec knew what was involved in having a production studio for fan films. And although James was able to cover most of the expense for the monthly rent himself, Alec wanted to do something where the studio would pay for itself operationally. So the idea was he wanted to create Fan Film sets with a bridge set as the centrepiece and the bridge set was going to be something he was going to use for Axanar and he was gonna paint it blue as opposed to red. And, he was going to put in some different controls but, the idea is those controls would be able to be swapped out and you could create a TOS bridge and you could create a transporter room and you could create some quarters and all this stuff.
Jonathan Lane: 17:01 So, he had a big soundstage ready but this huge green screen, green screen, you could play a game of basketball. I don’t know if they have that in Australia, but you could play a game of basketball in the area that the green screen had. And anyway, so the idea was that this was going to be a sound stage specifically for Star Trek fan films that were west of the Rockies to come and shoot. Just like you could up in upstate New York, but additionally, what he wanted to do was he wanted to bring in paying customers who could pay the rent and pay the operational expenses, you know. He wanted to have people who were manning the telephones and people who would be at reception, people who would clean the place and obviously himself to be able to make sure that things were running well.
Jonathan Lane: 17:47 So he was going to be talking to UCLA and USC. Their film schools to basically say, and then these things are starting to happen by the way. There was another film school called Relativity School that was actually ready to come in and start using it as a training facility for their students. Also go to commercial productions. If you were making a commercial and you wanted a funky Sci-Fi bridge set or a really big screen, he was going to charge more full price because those would be big advertising companies. And the idea was that his full price would be much less than the full price you would pay in Los Angeles 20 miles closer.
Jonathan Lane: 18:28 So if you didn’t mind driving 20 miles further, you could save like 50% using Ares studios. So this was the idea and the idea that Ares studios was a Star Trek Studio was not anything that Alec wanted to publicise except for fan films. The idea is if you want to shoot on this big green screen or these Sci-Fi sets that we have come on in. If you’re a Star Trek fan film, we also have Star Trek sets and then we’re also going to have the Sci-Fi film school. He was gonna get people to come in and teach courses and these going to be Sci-Fi people. And then, use the sets to allow people to film their projects. Ultimately, this is something that James Cawley is doing in upstate New York there’s, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this. James Cawley is branding it with Star Trek, but Alec was never going to brand his film school as the Star Trek Fan Film school.
Jonathan Lane: 19:24 He was going to brand it as the Sci-Fi film school. So back in 2015, this was all exciting. You know, this was a business idea, and keep in mind CBS and Paramount knew everything Alec was planning. He met with them four times in 2014 and 2015. He was there. He went to paramount. He sat in an office with executives and he said, “This is what we’re doing,” and at no point did they say, “Don’t do this.” Now, a number of people say, “But, then there was that article that came out and that article had this unattributed quote that said, you know, “We’re not happy about people using our intellectual property without permission, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Well, here’s the thing. He met with people in person that supersedes an article with a quote that’s unattributed to anybody.
Jonathan Lane: 20:18 Alec, had to go off of what he was told and what he was told was, I almost quote, this is kind of a paraphrased kind of a quote because I wasn’t there. “We can’t tell you where the line is, but if you cross it, we will let you know.” And so Alec continued doing what he was doing and he met with them again and he said, “This is what we’re doing.” And again, they said, “We can’t tell you where the line is, but if you cross it will let you know.” So, 2015 continued and Alec decided on this really great space in Valencia. It was a huge, it was a warehouse, but the idea was that it could be soundproofed and it could be turned into a studio and it was at … There’s a 35 mile limit from Los Angeles where if you cross that limit you have to pay people who are union extra for travel expenses.
Jonathan Lane: 21:18 So this was like literally like 32 or 33 miles or 34 miles away. It was like just barely inside of that. And the price was right. I mean, we all think, you know, $12,000.00 a month. That’s a lot to pay. Well, actually it was a very reasonable amount for a facility of that size. And had CBS not sued Alec, the plan was to fund that initially with money from the donors. But, by the next year or the year after was to start bringing in some more commercial production and it might still need some donor money, but not as much. And eventually as it started developing a reputation, more people would want to come in and use it because, you know, the office areas were really nice and they had, you know, a nice lounge area upstairs and they had individual makeup rooms and that green screen was just amazing.
Jonathan Lane: 22:16 They had electrical, they had the track lighting above and there was five layers of different kinds of foam core on the floor to keep the sound. I mean, basically you could step on that and not hear your step at all. So, it was a wonderfully controlled environment. It was turning into a real Hollywood studio and unfortunately then Alec got sued and everything just kind of blasted apart because Axanar could not be produced during that year. You don’t want to, you know, once you’re in the deep end, you don’t want to be dragging yourself down deeper.
Jonathan Lane: 22:52 So during that year, Alec was paying $12,000.00 a month in rent and $3,000.00 a month in utility, pretty much out of donor money and then eventually out of his own pocket. Without the ability to produce Axanar. The first third of Axanar was going to generate some more money, even if it just generated another half million dollars that would get him through another year and be able to produce another half an hour of Axanar and once again another year of life until more commercial venture started coming in there.
Matt Miller: 23:27 It’s interesting that you know that the warehouse conversion was being funded and the eventual studio would be funded by those initial donors that Alec had. They donated for Axanar the fan film. Do you think they should have gone towards Axanar the Fan Film and Alec should have made the Fan Film the best way that he could with what he had available? Or, do you think that that warehouse was justified at that time? I want to separate the Ares Studio, the business from Axanar the film. He was paid by donors to make Axanar the film and instead he made Ares Studio the business.
Jonathan Lane: 24:13 Well, here’s the thing, that first kickstarter was to create the studio. If you remember the very first kickstarter was for Prelude, but the Axanar kickstarter said, “We’re going to use this to build sets and a sound stage for everything.” He didn’t say, “We’re going to rent a sound stage. We’re gonna build one.” And then the … It was a $648,000.00 kickstarter and then the Indiegogo Campaign raised another $575,000.00 but there was no hidden agenda here. I mean, everybody knew the plan. I mean, Alec talked about it incessantly in the media. There’s articles in the Wall Street Journal about what the plan was so I don’t think anybody was operating under the assumption of, “I’m giving money just to make a Fan Film without the need to create a sound stage for it.”
Matt Miller: 25:06 But, I think that that’s a very different thing to building sets, and getting a soundstage, which he didn’t get. He got a warehouse that he needed to make into a sound stage for the film. I still think it’s very different to creating a business. People, you know, he’s taking donations to get his business off the ground. I don’t want to make that a sticking point because we do have a lot of other stuff to cover, but I just wanted to pause on that and sort of say [crosstalk 00:25:45].
Jonathan Lane: 25:44 Well, hold on before we pause, I am just reading from the actual kickstarter campaign that was in 2014. It says soundstage $125,000. Now granted, obviously that was way, way, way too low as an estimate, but it said we have two potential locations we are negotiating for to serve our soundstage in Valencia, California, just north of LA. They will be the permanent home of Axanar productions and allow us to do more than just Axanar from other adventures in the Star Trek Universe and beyond. David Gerrold, author of The Trouble With Tribbles is already lined up to shoot his Sci-Fi series Running Dark here. First Year’s rent is $125,000.00. Remember to get $125,000.00 we need to raise approximately $155,000.00. Obviously, David Gerrold never got his project off the ground, but that’s something different.
Jonathan Lane: 26:36 The next thing it says is soundstage renovation. Converting this space to be a stage will cost approximately $50,000.00. That was about a third of what it ended up costing and probably actually even with the quarter, but okay he was off. This includes dropping a grid system for lights and baffling. Excuse me, soundproofing and other modifications to the building. Depending which space we get will determine what exactly we need to do, but this is a rough estimate. Sci-Fi film school. After the sets are built, we will be holding a Sci-Fi film school. Learn all about film making from our veteran industry staff, including David Gerrold writing, Richard Hatch and Gary Graham acting, Robert Burnette editing, directing, Christian Gossett writing, directing.
Jonathan Lane: 27:24 Well, obviously not and academy award winner, Kevin Haney and Star Trek veteran Brad Lock. Brad Lock, excuse me, for makeup. Donors will get first shot at the initial school session and then there’s pre-production costs and post production costs and everything else. But this was never hidden from donors. This is the $638,000.00 kickstarter that happened in 2014. So, this is before anything changed or group. This was the very, very first Axanar kickstarter as opposed to Prelude to Axanar kickstarter, nothing was hidden. I donated knowing exactly what my money was going towards.
Matt Miller: 28:06 Well, then in that, knowing that knowing that that kickstarter was for commercial, well was for Ares Studios and to build that studio, the costs did balloon and they kept ballooning out. Why do you think that that was? Do you think that that was a lack of planning on Alec’s part or were there forces outside of his control that, that just sucked all the money dry basically?
Jonathan Lane: 28:36 How are you enjoying Star Trek Discovery, by the way?
Matt Miller: 28:41 Well, look, I mean it’s $10,000,000.00 an episode. [crosstalk 00:28:44].
Jonathan Lane: 28:44 Do you know what their original budget was?
Matt Miller: 28:47 Well, it was less than that and there were people fired for going over budget.
Jonathan Lane: 28:52 They went over budget by literally $2,000,000.00 per episode for 15 episodes. They went $30,000,000.00 over budget. Alec, when they [crosstalk 00:29:02].
Matt Miller: 29:02 The biggest thing-
Jonathan Lane: 29:03 Go ahead.
Matt Miller: 29:05 -the thing is that Alec, I don’t know. This is sort of where we’re sticking and this isn’t where … the direction that I want to take it down. I think that, all right look, I’ve got my links up and all that sort of started and I’m reading along with you and I can see, and I will admit that, that crowdfunding campaign did say that, “We’re going to build a studio.” I admit that that’s what it is. That’s where the record lies. I just maintain that instead of that Alec should have put all his effort into making Axanar the film.
Jonathan Lane: 29:42 Okay, now I’m going to challenge you. All right, as if I have not already been challenging you, but there are a lot of things in my life that I can look back on and say, “I should have done it.” Did you know I turned down a job working on Star Trek: The Next Generation? I was sitting in my Mica Kuda’s office literally saying no to him. Should I have gone back to 1993, just this Next Gen was ending and Voyager was starting up and Deep Space Nine was in its next season and Generation was going.
Jonathan Lane: 30:13 Mike needed an assistant and I had to tell him no because I was in business with my brother. And, my brother and I had a company and I was not going to leave my brother in the lurch just because I was going to have my dream of working on Star Trek in the art department and Jim Van Over got my job instead and you know, that was great for Jim. He thanked me at one point for his house because he enjoyed being on the scenic art department, but should I have gone back in time to December of 1993 and said yes to Mica Kuda.
Jonathan Lane: 30:42 I can’t second guess myself like that. My life has taken a very different turn because of that. My brother and I were in business together for seven years. We had a wonderful company. We sold it during the .com bubble. I got a handful of beans. They never turned into a beanstalk, but I would not trade those seven years of Camelot for anything. And so I can say with 20/20 hindsight. Yeah, you know, Alec should have just gone up to Retro Studios in New York and filmed Axanar and be done with it. He would have saved himself millions of dollars. But guess what? That was not the decision that was made at that time.
Jonathan Lane: 31:16 So second guess him all you want but don’t second guess him in hindsight, put yourself in the place of a very excited and enthusiastic group of people in 2014 and 2015 who were only looking for $250,000.00 in kickstarter and got $638,000.00. Who got George Takei to come out and say, “This is the Star Trek we all want,” and literally result in $200,000.00 of donations in 36 hours. Take yourself to Comic-Con the next year and take yourself to all the excitement that was going on and take your … and, not only for Alec, take yourself to Renegades. I mean, Alec crossed the million dollar mark first, but by the time he crossed a million dollars, Renegades was $850,000.00.
Jonathan Lane: 32:03 So, had Renegade’s crossed the million dollar mark first they might have been the ones to be sued, but at that point nobody knew what the law was because Paramount said over and over again. CBS said, “We can’t tell you where the line is, but if you cross it will let you know.” So, with all of that, Alec just kept pushing the envelope as far as he could, figuring that he would get a call one day saying, “No, don’t do that.” And instead he got a lawsuit drop on his desk on December 30th.
Matt Miller: 32:33 Well, I want to ask you about that one as well, but I’ll just want to address where you’re saying don’t second guess him in hindsight. I think that the whole point of our conversation here is to sort of put ourselves back in 2015 and yeah, I agree. It was an exciting time. It was the golden age of fan films and there was basically an arms race going on to be bigger and better and to keep going and keep pursuing the next level and how can we make it better and how can we cut through. And, I know because I was there in that time, a little old mayor in Australia trying to raise some money to make the precursor to once more with Feeling Eternal Night.
Matt Miller: 33:16 So, I could never compete with what was going on in America and those big fan films. And, I think that … I think the biggest admission that I can make is that it was going to happen eventually. Someone was going to hit that wall and annoy the right amount of people at CBS and Paramount and either copper cease and desist letter or Corp, a phone call or a lawsuit. I think that it was inevitable the way that it was going and the way that the proliferation was happening. And as you say, Renegades was there and they seem to have gotten away with it almost because, if you look at it as a very …
Matt Miller: 34:03 If you take your goggles off on either side of the Axanar offence, if you look at that time in Star Trek fan films, Star Trek: Renegades, Star Trek: Axanar they continues and New Voyages. They were there though they were the four that were raising all of this money that we’re doing a lot more than what fan films probably were in the beginning with Hidden Frontier. It was as I said, it was an arms race and, it is interesting to learn that Renegades was up to $850,000.00. So, I do wonder what the difference was between Renegades and Axanar.
Jonathan Lane: 34:44 Come on, you know what the difference was?
Matt Miller: 34:46 Well, Alec Peters and the money right now.
Jonathan Lane: 34:49 No.
Matt Miller: 34:54 I do wonder whether Alec put himself out a little too much.
Jonathan Lane: 34:57 You know, look. Yeah, well, yes. Alec put himself out there too much, but that wasn’t it. That was not it. I mean, yes. Alec had a big, big, big ego, you know, so does Vic. So does James Cawley, so did Eugene Roddenberry for that matter. But, the fact is that the reason that Axanar got sued, and this was revealed during deposition, Alec has talked about it, was that there were two reasons. Well, technically there were three reasons they don’t really talk about the last one. But, the two main reasons were one, the Vulcan Scene in particular looked really, really, really good, and by the way, they weren’t sued just because it looked too good. They were sued because at that point CBS knew about All Access and they knew about Discovery. That was all already in the planning stages.
Jonathan Lane: 35:48 Discovery was announced just about the same time as the lawsuit, so obviously Discovery was in the planning stages for at least a year or two before that. So, CBS new Discovery was coming and Discovery was all about this war with the Klingons that took place 10 years before Captain Kirk and here was a Fan Film that was going to be telling a story of a war with the Klingons that took place 20 years before Captain Kirk. That looked good enough potentially to fool some people. Now, obviously nobody’s gonna look at the Vulcan Scene and say, “Oh, my god, you know, this is better than we could.”
Jonathan Lane: 36:27 You know, anybody who says Axanar was better than than Star Trek that CBS was putting out, no, no, no, don’t be an idiot, but it was good enough that it might have caused confusion in the marketplace and CBS knew at that point that they were gonna be charging folks to see Star Trek: Discovery. And if somebody saw this on the Internet and said, “Oh wait, I found the new Star Trek series, it’s right here, it’s for free. I’m going to watch this instead.” And they would never ever think about signing up for All Access. So that was really one of the main reasons the that Axanar got sued, not just a cease and desist letter, but an actual lawsuit.
Jonathan Lane: 37:09 They wanted this thing gone. They wanted to no trace of Axanar anywhere. We’ll talk about this in just a second, but the initial settlement offer from them was essentially obliterate Axanar. So, that was the first reason. The second reason is yes, Alec crossed the $1,000,000.00 threshold before Renegades. Renegades was right behind. So that was the second reason and the third reason was, yeah, I think there was a feeling it wasn’t just that Alec had a big ego or was talking this up or whatever it was that CBS was watching what was happening with fan films with a growing sense of concern because fan films were supposed to just stay small and maybe just go away, you know, if we close our eyes and don’t talk about it. And they were getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Matt Miller: 38:11 And series.
Jonathan Lane: 38:12 And there were series and nobody was saying no because CBS could not say no. That’s a lot of people don’t understand this. CBS could not acknowledge fan films at all. That’s why there were no guidelines. You already said, “Oh, there were guidelines. You couldn’t make a profit. And you had to show it for free.” No, there weren’t. CBS never said this out loud because they couldn’t because CBS had to hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Because the licensees who pay 50 or 100 or $150,000.00 for a licence, they’re going to say, “Wait a second. All you’re saying is the fan films can’t make a profit and they can do whatever they want and we’re paying 50 or a hundred thousand dollars? You know what? Let’s save our 50 or $100,000.00 and we just won’t make any profit.”
Jonathan Lane: 38:56 So, they could not risk their relationships with their licences to acknowledge fan films in any way, shape or form ultimately Axanar resulted in the guidelines but the guidelines weren’t to destroy Axanar, the guidelines were basically to stop Renegades. But, basically it was also not just to stop Renegades it was to stop all the rest of these fan films and basically say, “Okay, this far but no further.” Or, “No further.” I don’t remember what the card said, that this was a way of just putting the brakes on something where there was discussion at CBS in late 2015. Okay. They just reached a million dollars. How long until Fan Film gets $5 million or $10 million or $50 million to make a Star Trek fan film.
Jonathan Lane: 39:47 By the time you’re making a $50 million Star Trek fan film, you’re spending about as much as CBS or Paramount is spending, and so this was really like, “Okay, something needs to be done, but there was this Vulcan Scene out and this fan of film that was going to look pretty darn good, that might stop people from signing up to All Access. And that was the real, real reason. It wasn’t that it looked better. It was, it looked good enough to fool enough people that CBS was really, really concerned.
Matt Miller: 40:20 I do think that you’re putting a lot of white on Star Trek fan films. It is a niche of a niche. I don’t know whether it would have made … I’m not saying it wouldn’t have made any dent at all. [crosstalk 00:40:36].
Jonathan Lane: 40:35 I’ll interrupt you again. At the time that Axanar got sued Prelude to Axanar at that point, I believe had over 2 million views on YouTube. That was what CBS was seeing.
Matt Miller: 40:45 Yeah, but 2 million views worldwide compared to a Netflix release and a CBS release and Space in Canada. I don’t think it compares. I’m not saying it’s not going to make a dent at all, but I’m saying-
Jonathan Lane: 41:00 Do you know how many people are watching Discovery?
Matt Miller: 41:02 Well, no because Netflix don’t release ratings.
Jonathan Lane: 41:04 I know they don’t. Well, here’s the thing. Netflix doesn’t, but CBS All Access has actually said at the time that Discovery’s first season was out that they had 2 million subscribers or thereabouts, so at most 2 million people were watching Discovery. Now, I happen to know and don’t ask me how I happen to know because I can’t tell you that the number is actually closer to about 250,000 to 500,000 and most of the people who were signing up for CBS All Access were actually watching NFL football. But, be all that as it may even if I’m lying through my teeth about what I just said. The most people that would’ve watched Discovery was 2 million because that’s the number in All Access.
Jonathan Lane: 41:48 Keep in mind that CBS was not concerned about Netflix and international stuff. They were concerned about All Access. They didn’t want people not paying for All Access because they were seeing Star Trek elsewhere. Netflix didn’t care. People go into Netflix or you know, have 100,000 different things they can watch, but All Access, CBS needed as much as possible and they took a look at those 2 million views of Axanar and Prelude to Axanar and it was a concern for them, you know, and once again, don’t ask me how I know, but it was revealed during the deposition conversations. No, they actually then we might have been in negotiations, I don’t remember by Alec that they said, “The reason you were sued is that the Vulcan Scene looked too good.”
Matt Miller: 42:38 Well, John, I can see that this is going to take some time. We’re going to need to split this up. What do you reckon? We should do a multipart series.
Jonathan Lane: 42:47 I think this is going to go multiple parts. Yes. Sorry, I’m talking a lot and that’s talking a lot because that’s what we do. We like to hear ourselves talk, right?
Matt Miller: 42:54 Absolutely. John will, you’ll come back for part two.
Jonathan Lane: 42:57 I’ll be here.
Matt Miller: 42:57 I love it mate. Talk soon.
Matt Miller: 00:00:07 Welcome to A Trekzone Conversation and the special blog on Fan Film Factor. Jon, you’re back for Part Two. Thanks for coming back.
Jonathan Lane: 00:00:14 Well, thank you. Thank you for having me and for not running screaming after Part One.
Matt Miller: 00:00:19 Well, let’s get straight into it.
Jonathan Lane: 00:00:20 I’m ready.
Matt Miller: 00:01:22 Moving on to the lawsuit. Do you think that Alec should’ve just taken that on the chin and settled? Or just admitted that he’d gone too far and moved on? Or do you think he was justified in pursuing the legal action?
Jonathan Lane: 00:01:39 Alright, Mr. Miller. I am going to put you into an imaginary situation. I want you to imagination that you are Alec Peters. Okay? Alright?
Matt Miller: 00:01:50 Yes.
Jonathan Lane: 00:01:51 I know, you got the wrong accent and you’re half a world away. It is December 30th, about 9:00 a.m., 2015, and a person walks into Ares Studios, says, “Are you Alec Peters? I have a delivery for you.” You say, “Yes, I am.” And he hands you an envelope and says, “You’re being sued. Thank you. Have a nice day.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:02:15 Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been sued. Have you ever been sued?
Matt Miller: 00:02:18 No.
Jonathan Lane: 00:02:18 I was sued. I was sued once back in 1999 by the people who bought my company. When you open the envelope, the first thing that it says, right before the rest of it, is there’s a cover sheet that says, “You are being sued.” In very, very large black letters. And at that moment, Matthew, your heart drops into your rump. You just have a lump in your throat and you’re just like, “Uh-oh, what’s going to happen now?”
Jonathan Lane: 00:02:54 What you see before you, because you are now Alec, is a copyright infringement lawsuit that represents potentially $150 million dollars in damages. And the reason I say that is that it’s $150,000 dollars per copyright infringement; that’s according to U.S. law; and they have claimed in this 1,000 … well, thousands of different violations. Well, let’s just call it 1,000, so 1,000 times $150,000 is $150 million. You are looking at a $150 million dollar lawsuit not just against you, but against J.G. Hertzler and your friend, Richard Hatch, and Gary Graham and Christian Gossett and everybody else who was involved because they name multiple John Does to be defendants, co-defendants. They just haven’t named them yet.
Jonathan Lane: 00:03:43 So this is sitting in front of you. It’s now 9:30 a.m. What is the next thing that you do?
Matt Miller: 00:03:51 I’d probably get on the phone to my lawyer.
Jonathan Lane: 00:03:53 And that is the first thing that Alec did. The first thing I would do, by the way, would be pee in my pants and then change them. But, yes, the first thing Alec did was he found Winston & Strawn. Actually, I think he knew them beforehand because of another lawsuit that they had handled. But keep in mind, this is December 30th. This is the day before New Years. A lot of people are gone. It took about ten days for Winston & Strawn to agree to take this case, for it to go through, because they were doing it pro bono, so a lot of people from the board had to … the management community had to agree that, “We’re going to do this for free.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:04:37 During those ten days, with Winston & Strawn’s approval, Alec contacted Loeb & Loeb, the attorneys for CBS and Paramount; and Loeb & Loeb is not spelled the same way as the Ferengis spell it but I sort of always imagine that they are the Ferengis. The Loeb & Loeb lawyers received, 48 hours later, a settlement offer from Alec Peters. It essentially said, “Tell us what you would like Axanar to be and not to be. Give us a set of guidelines. We will follow them, we will make Axanar for you, and we will give it to you for free. It’s yours. Just let us make it.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:05:30 That offer, 48 hours after that, was rejected. There was no counteroffer. There was no anything else. There’s a myth out there that CBS and Paramount offered to settle this when it first started. They didn’t. The first settlement that they offered was in early June, and I’ll tell you about that in just a moment, but it was rejected. And because there was no counteroffer, there was nothing to build on. There was nothing for Alec to come back and say, “Well, what you’re asking for, we might able to work with this and with that.” He didn’t have that option.
Jonathan Lane: 00:06:10 The only option he had was to hire his lawyers, because you can’t just ignore the lawsuit and hope it goes away. You have 30 days. From December 30th, the clock is now ticking. On January 30th, the alarm goes off. If you have not responded to the lawsuit, there is a summary judgement that is issued in favour of the plaintiff and suddenly you have a $150 million dollar judgement against you because you have decided not to defend yourself, and that’s at the point where CBS and Paramount say, “Okay. Well, we also want money from your director and we want money from your gaffer and we want money from the guy who played the Klingon and blah, blah, blah.” So Alec had no choice.
Jonathan Lane: 00:06:50 He had to go balls to the wall on this, and he brought in Winston & Strawn and the first thing Winston & Strawn did was said to Paramount and CBS, “Okay, do your homework. You can’t just claim that there’s thousands of different violations. We can’t reply to that because we don’t know what those violations are. List them.” So CBS and Paramount had to refile the lawsuit, which was kind of amusing. I actually enjoyed that little bit of it when they were forced to do their homework and they came up with these 56 or 58 different copyright violations.
Jonathan Lane: 00:07:25 Some of them were realistic, like Klingons and Vulcans and whatever, and some of them were like, “Are you kidding me?” They tried to copyright triangles. Those little medals on Ramirez’s jacket, on his admiral’s uniform, were triangular shaped and they tried to say, “Well, we can copyright triangles.” No, you can’t. You can’t copyright a shape. So some of this was real, some of it was not, but suddenly the $150 million dollar lawsuit was much smaller because you’d gone from 1,000 down to maybe 50, of which maybe 30 of them are valid.
Jonathan Lane: 00:08:00 At this point, you’re looking for the plaintiffs to be willing to negotiate and to have a settlement, which Alec was always willing to do. They’re all saying, “Alec didn’t want to settle.” Of course Alec wanted to settle. Nobody wants a lawsuit. He wanted to make Axanar. That was the only thing. “Let’s figure out a way to make Axanar.” But there was no settlement until that whole … remember when J.J. Abrams said, “The lawsuit’s going to go away.” And Alec said, “Oh, thank God. The lawsuit’s going to go away. They’re willing to settle. This’ll be great. They have my offer. They can base something back on that. We’ll start negotiating. Fantastic!”
Jonathan Lane: 00:08:47 And what they came back with, in early June, CBS and Paramount offered the following “settlement”. The settlement said, “Shut down everything, Axanar does not get made, and we won’t sue you.” That was it. I think there might’ve been something in there about Alec not being allowed to work in fan films ever again. I’m not sure. I don’t think there was ever anything about shutting down Ares Studios. I think they were going to let him keep that open, but Axanar could not happen. Period.
Jonathan Lane: 00:09:24 And keep in mind what J.J. Abrams had said during that presentation. He said, “This is not what Star Trek’s about.” The implication from J.J. was that they were going to let Axanar be made. Now, maybe they’d give Alec some guidelines to operate within, but when Alec saw this, “Axanar cannot be made in any way shape or form.” I mean, he was furious. I mean, first of all, his jaw hit the floor like, “What?” There’s no place to negotiate from this and they didn’t want to negotiate. They said, “Axanar is done. If you don’t want to be sued, Axanar is done. It’s obliterated.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:10:07 Alec was like, “I’ve already been in this lawsuit for six months. I have literally thousands,” tens of thousands at that point, “of donors and supporters who want to see this thing get made. I’ve got free legal representation. We’ve got a fair use defence.” Because this was six months before that was thrown out and they really did believe that fair use was going to get them through this, so there was no reason for Alec to settle at that point. In fact, if anything, the case was actually going pretty well.
Jonathan Lane: 00:10:40 So in June heading into July, the decision was made not to accept the offer that CBS made and the lawsuit continued, and it continued until … excuse me … late December when the judge, Judge Gary Klausner, made a ruling from the bench that fair use would not be a valid defence. They could not use it, which is interesting because for 300 years, fair use was decided by juries. It was decided as a matter of fact, not of law. Judges make rulings based on what’s called a matter of law. They determine whether the law says this or that. They’re not a trier of fact. Starting in the 1980s, judges began to make fair use rulings. It was sort of interesting. But for 300 years, fair use was a jury decision. So when Klausner created that situation where fair use was no longer allowed, there was now grounds for appeal if Alec lost.
Jonathan Lane: 00:11:51 A lot of people think you can appeal a verdict if you don’t like it, “Oh, I was found guilty and I think I’m innocent. I’m appealing.” No, you have to appeal based on some judicial mistake that is made during trial. The mistake had just been made. Now, maybe it wasn’t a mistake. Maybe the Appeals Court or the Ninth Circuit would say, “Oh, yeah. Fair use is something a judge can determine.” But the Ninth Circuit is a very liberal court; they just happened to get a very conservative judge; and the appeal would now be able to happen, because appeals take about two years to go through the appeals system, which meant for the next two years, every article about Star Trek: Discovery was going to include a little parenthetical.
Jonathan Lane: 00:12:39 And, by the way, CBS is still suing the fans for Axanar. The case is currently under appeal. Once the appeal is done, the only thing the Appeals Court can say is, “You have to have a retrial and you have to allow fair use.” In which case, they would be back to square one. There would be another year-long trial. And, at the end of that, Alec might have lost, he might have won, but now it’s three years of bad publicity for CBS, more legal fees.
Jonathan Lane: 00:13:06 And so going into the beginning of January, that’s when CBS and Paramount, but at this point really CBS; it started out more as a Paramount thing and it became more of a CBS-driven lawsuit; but beginning of January 2016 … sorry, 2017, the lawsuit is … the trial’s about to start. It’s about two weeks away. CBS, through Loeb & Loeb, made an offer to Alec, “Axanar can be made. It cannot be longer than a half an hour, made up of two 15-minute parts.” The guidelines that were already out there. “You can keep all the professionals that you have so far. You cannot do anymore public crowdfunding, but you can make your fan film.” And that was a huge difference from what had happened in June where they said, “You can’t make your fan film.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:14:05 So, Alec, he talked to a lot of people at this point because Alec, there was part of him that still wanted to go for. Like, “I’m willing to take this to the Supreme Court if I have to.” But the thought was, “You’re getting a lot right now. You’re being allowed to make your fan film and you can still keep all your actors who are Star Trek veterans and you can still make this professionally if you want to. And even though you can’t crowdfund, you can still raise money and you can keep your studio.” I mean, all these things, and it took a few days for Alec to be talked into this, but I think he was ready to accept it at the beginning. I think he just sort of had to cool down a little bit.
Jonathan Lane: 00:14:56 But, ultimately, Alec said, “Okay. You know what? This is a compromise. This is similar to what I first said anyway. This was I get to make my fan film. You just give me guidelines.” Way back a year ago, he said, “Let us make this fan film. Just tell us what we can and can’t do.” Well, they’ve just told you what you can and can’t do. They’re just not going to negotiate on that half hour. Sorry about that. That was a big thing, but this was … I heard Michael Hinman recently in an interview he did with Carlos Pedraza, said that the lawsuit settled in favour of the plaintiffs. No. No, no, no, no, no, no, Michael. No.
Jonathan Lane: 00:15:41 It was a true compromise. Alec got an amazing deal out of this being able to make his fan film and make it look as good as he wanted it to look. So, honestly, CBS gave and Alec gave. It was a true compromise. Nobody came out ahead or behind. It was just a tie and I know a lot of detractors don’t like to think about that. They want to think, “No, CBS was magnanimous and the only reason that Alec settled is they were going to bring out all of his finances or whatever.” No, no, no, no, no. It was just that CBS wanted this thing to finally go away and this was a way to make it happen. Ultimately, two 15-minute fan films is not going to make anybody confused about, “This is the new Star Trek Series.
Jonathan Lane: 00:16:38 Of course, nobody knew at that point that Discovery was going to get delayed a couple more times. But, at this point, CBS was like, “Look, it’ll take him a while to get his fan film out. Discovery will be out, we’ll be able to really brand this, and all he’s going to have is two 15-minute fan films and he’ll be done.” So, in that way, everybody won. I mean, granted it cost CBS and Paramount about a million dollars in legal fees and, for Alec, it cost him a year of having to pay all of the rent and utilities, but he gets to make his fan film and CBS gets to not have to deal with this for the next three years in the media. So, yeah. I mean, everybody won.
Jonathan Lane: 00:17:21 So, that’s my very short answer to your question of, “What should Alec have done when the lawsuit happened?” I think he did exactly what he should have done.
Matt Miller: 00:17:32 I think that’s where we really disagree on that because I think that June offer from CBS and Paramount, if Alec had have had people around him that were a little less emotive with the case, and I use that word purely because they’re obviously Alec’s friends and they’re going to support him through all of this. A big company is suing him, but I just feel that it gets to a point where if, for me especially, that if the owners of Star Trek … and, yes, they are owners. Star Trek isn’t owned by the fans. It is a copyrighted property owned by CBS and film franchised by Paramount. If they say you can’t do something, then you can’t do something.
Matt Miller: 00:18:23 I understand why Alec pursued it and I’ve always maintained that I understand why Alec pursued the lawsuit and it really was a David and Goliath battle. But, yeah, I think that where it ended up, it ended up. It has happened. It wrapped up last year in January. And that’s all that happened, and that’s obviously where the division of Axanar supporters and the detractors is as [crosstalk 00:19:01].
Jonathan Lane: 00:19:01 Well, hold on. Hold on, but before you transition to the next. I can hear you trying to transition, but I’m going to ask you something here. I want to because I’m interviewing you. Are you saying that Alec should have taken CBS’s settlement in June that would not have allowed Axanar to be made in any way shape or form, over continuing to fight this and, ultimately, having a resolution where he does get to make Axanar? Because I’m not sure I understand the logic of that. That you think he should’ve taken the loss as opposed to getting official permission to make Axanar. I don’t understand how you could make that argument.
Matt Miller: 00:19:43 My belief in that stems from the fact that CBS and Paramount own Star Trek and if they tell you that you can’t do something, then you can’t do something. We’re playing in their sandbox. It’s their right and their obligation if they so choose.
Jonathan Lane: 00:20:02 But, ultimately, they said, “Yes, you can.” Ultimately, Alec got the win he wanted, even though it was a tie. But a tie is better than a loss. Ultimately, Alec got the owners of Star Trek to say, “You may play in our sandbox. You may spend as much money on this as you want. You can use all professional people if you want. You just can’t crowdfund.” He got that from the owners of Star Trek, so do you acknowledge at this point that the owners of Star Trek are okay with Axanar being made?
Matt Miller: 00:20:33 Well, yes. There’s no doubt that they are because that was the settlement.
Jonathan Lane: 00:20:37 Then, did Alec not do the right thing in getting to that conclusion?
Matt Miller: 00:20:41 No, I don’t believe he did.
Jonathan Lane: 00:20:42 Okay.
Matt Miller: 00:20:43 If I was Alec Peters, Axanar would-
Jonathan Lane: 00:20:45 You would’ve taken the loss.
Matt Miller: 00:20:46 Yes, Axanar would’ve consigned itself to history as a great idea.
Jonathan Lane: 00:20:50 Okay, so that is ultimately … So, folks, here we are. I mean, even though Matt and I have kind of disagreed along the way on a lot of stuff, here’s the first really, quintessential part of the disagreement to understand the difference between the detractors, I do consider you a detractor, and the supporters of Axanar, is the supporters believe that Alec should have continued the lawsuit and that it was a win, ultimately, for him to be able to make Axanar because even a tie is better than a loss.
Matt Miller: 00:21:25 Don’t get me wrong though, Jon-
Jonathan Lane: 00:21:26 Yeah.
Matt Miller: 00:21:27 Don’t get me wrong, it is a win for him to go from a staunch “No.” To, “Okay, you can do it, two by 15, and some other guidelines.” It certainly was a win for Alec. He got them from zero to 50%, basically.
Jonathan Lane: 00:21:45 But it seems that the detractors, and we’ll transition into this in a second … In fact, actually, let’s see. What? Your next one … Well, let’s skip a little bit. Why the division? We’ll go to the guidelines next. Let’s hit the division because I think this is where the division comes from that the detractors have this feeling that CBS owns Star Trek and, therefore, anything and everything that is done with Star Trek has to be with their consent.
Jonathan Lane: 00:22:19 Interestingly enough, I think the Axanar supporters believe the same thing. Where they get into a disagreement is exactly what happened in June/July of 2016 and that moment where Alec didn’t accept that CBS is the ultimate owner of Star Trek. Although, he actually did accept. I mean, he stipulated that they own Star Trek. But his belief that what he was doing was fair use. And fair use has been talked about basically up the wazoo, so if you don’t know about fair use at this point, folks, just go look it up online.
Jonathan Lane: 00:22:58 But the idea that in this country, in the United States, we have the First Amendment of the Constitution that sanctifies and protects Freedom of Speech. And at the same point in time, we also have a protection of copyright ownership and the problem is, is those two concepts are completely at odds. If you have total freedom of speech, you can’t protect somebody’s intellectual property. But if you have total and absolute protection of intellectual property, you can’t have free speech. So the grey area is fair use and Alec thought that he had a fair use case.
Jonathan Lane: 00:23:41 Now, you said, at that moment, Alec should’ve accepted that CBS owned Star Trek. He did. But what he felt is that this was a case of fair use. And, by the way, it wasn’t just Alec’s friends telling him to keep going. Alec didn’t talk to me about the settlement offer that happened in June. I found that out from a different person. I can’t tell you who. Alec still has not told me what that settlement offer is. But trust me, that was a settlement offer.
Jonathan Lane: 00:24:09 But the people that he was talking to were his attorneys, were Erin Ranahan of Winston & Strawn. And his attorneys felt very strongly that, “This is not a good deal. You are throwing away everything at a point where we think, your attorneys, we think that this case is winnable.” And at that point, it wasn’t just Alec Peters saying, “I’m just going to put my balls to the wall and do this because I’m Alec Peters, dammit.” It was a person who has legal training himself, graduated from law school, talking with people who are trained intellectual property’s attorneys, who made a decision at that point based on how things were going that this lawsuit was winnable, that this lawsuit could continue with potentially a verdict in favour of the defendant.
Jonathan Lane: 00:25:09 And understand that Winston & Strawn did not make this decision lightly. At the time that they recommended to Alec that he not take this agreement they were already in for probably a half million dollars of unbilled, unpaid hours and they were looking at another half million dollars of unpaid legal time. So they, making that recommendation, that was no small decision on their part. They thought this was winnable case.
Matt Miller: 00:25:38 I can definitely see that, but I would definitely say that Winston & Strawn would work towards the best outcome for their client. And talking about unbilled hours and stuff like that, that they’d agreed to take it on pro bono no matter how long it took. So it definitely wasn’t, and I’m happy- [crosstalk 00:25:59]
Jonathan Lane: 00:25:59 But it was the best interest of the client because they made a correct assumption.
Matt Miller: 00:26:03 To continue-[crosstalk 00:26:04]
Jonathan Lane: 00:26:04 Which was you can get a better deal. Winston & Strawn didn’t care that CBS owned Star Trek. It wasn’t some sacred thing to them. They understood. They acknowledged that yes, of course they owned Star Trek. But they believed that this was fair use. They truly believed in their intellectual property attorneys’ hearts. And these guys are an intellectual properties law firm. This is not some side business they do. These guys deal with patents and trade marks and copywrites all the time. They took a look at this and they felt that this was a winnable case and they said, “This is not a good a settlement offer. You can get better.” And ultimately, they were right. It took another six months, but they were right.
Matt Miller: 00:26:46 I’ve got no issue in saying that for use was a reasonable defence and they were confident, obviously, they were confident that they had something there because as lawyers as I said they work towards the client’s best interest and they feel like they’ve got a strong case. Let’s not accept that full capitulation, role over and die settlement offer from CBS and Paramount. Let’s continue to fight this because we believe that fair use is the right defence here.
Matt Miller: 00:27:18 What I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter about fair use, it doesn’t matter about what’s best for the client. What I’m saying is that if CBS and Paramount tell you to do something, you do it. At the end of the day, if they come out and give you a directive then you’ve gotta follow it really. They’ve spent 12 years. How long has Star Trek fan films been around? Well, 80s. So they’ve spent that long accepting fan films and it very much was as I said the arms race of these four productions that were going on at the time, and it was gonna be one of them. And it could have been Renegades if they’d breached a million dollars. Maybe a million dollars was the benchmark that CBS legal had put. “As soon as someone hits a million dollars, we’re gonna stop. We’re gonna really take a focus on fan films.”
Matt Miller: 00:28:11 And I think that it really would have been interesting if it was Renegades or Continues, or New Voyages. If any of those other productions at that time had of reached the million dollars what would have the outcome been? And would James Collie, Vic Mignogna all the guys from Renegades done? Would they have fought it? I guess we’ll never know.
Jonathan Lane: 00:28:37 It’s a good question and I don’t think any of them would be able to get pro bono representation. I mean maybe Sky Conway could have found something, but I can’t imagine James Collie or Vic Mignogna finding a pro bono law firm that was … and I think that was the game changer for Alec. I think when CBS realised that they were going against somebody who had free lawyers there was an, “Oh, crap!” Moment. But it was a game changer finding a pro bono law firm. And that allowed everything to happen.
Jonathan Lane: 00:29:07 And I’m gonna ask you a question. Matthew, do you have any children?
Matt Miller: 00:29:09 No.
Jonathan Lane: 00:29:10 Okay. I have an eight year old. And for the most part we want our eight year old to do what mommy and daddy say because we know better. We’re older, he lives in our house, we pay for his clothes, we feed him. “When we give you rules you need to follow them.” And for the most part he does, God bless him. But every so often he wants to do something different. He wants to do something … you know eight year olds wanna do stuff that their parents don’t want them to do. Sometimes he’ll throw a temper tantrum when they don’t get it, when they throw a temper tantrum. But sometimes Jaden makes an argument that makes mommy and me think, “You know what? Maybe it’s okay this one time. Give it a try.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:29:58 This happened last week. We were visiting his grandparents and his grandfather let him drive the golf cart. His hands on the steering wheel and his feet on the pedal. Now granted they were in a very quiet street with no other cars on it and as soon as the car came by Papa took control. Jaden drove the golf cart by himself. I’m not sure that his mom or I would have wanted that for an eight year old, but it happened. And when it was all done Jaden was so excited about it and he’s been telling all of his friends. We have photos of it. It happened and we were okay with it.
Jonathan Lane: 00:30:39 And now Alec is making a fan film that is using Star Trek intellectual property in a way that CBS and Paramount were not initially okay with. Mom and dad did not want that fan film to be made. But after a year of negotiations and discussions and some yelling and temper tantrumming it’s being made. And I think that that once again, Matthew, is the difference between the detractors and the supporters, is the supporters are the eight year old and the detractors are a different kind of eight year old. But the detractors are all about, “It’s mommy and daddy and what they say goes and they make all the rules.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:31:22 And the supporters are all about that kid who’s going to be growing into a teenager and eventually going to be moving out of the house and trying to sew his independent oats a little bit. And I think that your question is, “Why the division?” I think that actually, that’s it. It’s the fans that say, “Mommy and daddy have absolute power.” Versus the fans that want to push that envelope and say, “You know what? This is one of those places where I think mommy and daddy are being a little unfair and nobody’s going to get hurt by this. Mommy and daddy aren’t going to get hurt. I’m not going to hurt myself. It’s just an experience I want to have.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:32:00 And here’s the thing, ultimately, I don’t think CBS is going to get hurt by a little tiny fan film. I think we all sort of recognise that. So I think that’s where that division initially came from. I don’t know. What do you think?
Matt Miller: 00:32:13 It’s interesting that you put it in those terms. It does make sense and it’s pushing that envelope and seeing what’s possible.
Matt Miller: 00:32:25 I was just researching a little bit more while you were talking there. June 23 is when the Fan Film Guidelines were announced according to the official statute website.
Jonathan Lane: 00:32:37 A day that will live in infamy.
Matt Miller: 00:32:39 So the settlement offer, the first settlement offer was around that time as well was it not?
Jonathan Lane: 00:32:46 A couple weeks before.
Matt Miller: 00:32:47 So it was a couple of weeks before. So it would be interesting if that first settlement offer said, “Alec Peters you can never work … you can never produce another Star Trek Fan Film again.” Then what I’m about to say is completely a moot point. But, “Alec Peters you cannot make Axanar, but here are the guidelines for how you can make fan films.” Would that not of been a way that Alec could then have gone, “Maybe I can make something else.” Or do you think that he was too invested in the Axanar story at that point to give it up?
Jonathan Lane: 00:33:25 Oh, he was very invested in the Axanar story. And like I said, I obviously, not giving it up ultimately worked out for him. But it wasn’t just Alec who was invested in the Axanar story. It was me and there was 10,000 other donors and all these supporters. People wanted to see the next part of the story. Prelude to Axanar ended on a cliffhanger. You know if- [crosstalk 00:33:46]
Matt Miller: 00:33:46 But we get into pitchforks and an angry mob searching out Alec Peters if he was forced to give up Axanar. CBS and Paramount say, “You can’t make Axanar, but here’s guidelines for fan films. Go make another one!”
Jonathan Lane: 00:33:59 Well, here’s the thing-
Matt Miller: 00:34:00 Even if they didn’t directly say that.
Jonathan Lane: 00:34:02 Well first of all I mean we don’t really care about the pitchforks because there’s only 65 people who are members of AxaMonitor who are posting anything regularly. Basically, there’s 10,000 people who are supporters of Axanar. Even if there’s 200 people not 65 of them who are detractors that’s not a mob. That’s a rounding error. Alec didn’t give a crap about that. I didn’t give a crap about that.
Matt Miller: 00:34:26 No I meant the supporters of Axanar would take our bams, take our bams [inaudible 00:34:31] because Alec decided to move on from Axanar at a strong suggestion from all the directive from CBS and Paramount. If Alec moved on to another story because, “Hey, you can’t make Axanar, but you can make a fan film under these guidelines.” Do you think the 10,000 people that were supporting Alec would have cried foul of Alec?
Jonathan Lane: 00:34:55 Oh, some of them would have. But here’s the thing. When the guidelines came out you had a 1,000 people or so who were really angry at the guidelines. They all joined Small Access and I can count them all on … 1200 people. I think all told would the Axanar supporters had been unhappy and angry? Yeah, but it’s all Alec’s decision and he would have explained it if he had chosen that. He would have said, “Look I’ve just decided that this is too much to go through. There’s a lot of free legal work that is being piled up by my attorneys and don’t want to continue to take advantage of their good nature. Obviously, this makes the lawsuit go away, so I’m protecting Richard Hatch and I’m protecting Gary Graham and everyone else from potential liability. So I’ve decided to take this offer and shut down Star Trek.” I’m sure that he would have explained it in such a way that the fans would have grumbled and said, “Oh, no. You should have done it!” But they would have respected him.
Jonathan Lane: 00:36:01 Nobody knows what it felt like to be Alec Peters. If you’ve never been sued before, if you’ve ever had any … the two or three months I was in this lawsuit they were horrible. My lawyer was … thank God for this person, but it’s very lonely getting sued. It’s my brother and I getting sued, so it’s just the two of us. But no one else knows what it feels like ’cause the losses are all yours. And the risk is all yours no matter what your lawyers say, the fact is if you have a summary judgement against you or if you had a verdict against you for million and millions of dollars your lawyers don’t have to pay that. You do.
Jonathan Lane: 00:36:44 No one knows what Alec felt like except for Alec. And I’m sure that the Axanar supporters would’ve understood that and eventually gone their separate ways. But as long as he was still doing this, these 10,000 people were supporting him the same way that you support your home team on a cricket field or football or whatever you play down there in Australia.
Matt Miller: 00:37:06 It truly is an interesting one and I don’t think that there is an answer to it. There are people-
Jonathan Lane: 00:37:13 If there were, we wouldn’t be talking for five hours about this.
Matt Miller: 00:37:16 That’s right. Jon, I think the whole situation has escalated. Why do we think that’s the case? Why has it become these personal attacks and all this sort of stuff that’s going on in all of these Facebook groups?
Jonathan Lane: 00:37:32 Well, you know what. I can answer your question about why it’s escalated, but I think I’d actually like Carlos Pedraza to answer that question for me. So I’m gonna play a little quote from him from a recent podcast interview that he did with Michael Hinman on Alpha Waves Radio.
Carlos Pedraza: 00:37:49 I have to be honest. I had a role to play in sort of this escalating war between people who support Axanar and people who don’t. Even though I’ve tried to remain objective as a journalist I can’t deny that my coverage, which is pretty critical has played some role in this.
Jonathan Lane: 00:38:13 So that was Carlos Pedraza talking about the AxaMonitor blog. And in a lot of ways I feel that, that is one of … not the only cause, but one of the main causes of the escalation that you talk about. And I think the reason for that is it has a skewed coverage. I think we all sort of understand that Carlos is almost exclusively critical of Axanar. In fact, I should mention before I go on with this that this is a site that rushes to produce and publish negative blogs about Axanar. You may remember when Industry Studios moved from Valencia to Georgia and no one knew where it was going. Carlos got a hold of what he thought was the correct address for the new Georgia studio. And it was a dumpy little building, in a crappy neighbourhood. And of course we know later that that was a prank and they just wanted to feed him the wrong information. But he had this juicy little negative tidbit that he rushed to get out.
Jonathan Lane: 00:39:32 Traditionally, Carlos when you have some juicy, negative piece of information about Axanar writes a blog almost immediately. I say this because you and I are recording this right now it’s the last day of November. It’s November 30th. And Axacon was four weeks ago today. And there has not been a blog on AxaMonitor about Axacon. I understand that Carlos … he said, “I’ve been busy at work it’ll probably be a while. I’ll be putting up some good blogs for you.” And I believe him but at the same point in time there’s really nothing negative to say about Axacon even for Carlos. He went there, he was barred from going to Axacon but it was happening in tandem with SphinxCon. He would look in on the panels as he walked by in the hallway to see him count heads whatever to see who is sitting in there. But I think he may have expected a more negative or negative reaction to him.
Jonathan Lane: 00:40:37 When all was said and done nobody booed or cheered him. Nobody picked a fight with him in the hallways. In fact, on Saturday night in the bar people came over and chatted with him. I was one of them. Steve Jepson was one of them. I had a nice five or ten minute conversation with him. We shook hands. I even joked when I first saw him at the bar I pointed at him and said, “Arrest that man!” And we laughed.
Jonathan Lane: 00:41:04 The next day, even though Carlos had been barred from Axacon, when Alec saw him walking past the panel room, it was the last panel happening he said, “Jon, go over and ask Carlos if he wants to come in and just attend this last panel.” Which really amazed me because I didn’t think Alec would do that but he sort of felt like you know Carlos had been here the whole weekend and we’ve kind of locked him out of the party and, “Let’s just bring him in.” And I think he had a good time at that last panel.
Jonathan Lane: 00:41:35 It was a trivia panel. We had fun asking trivia questions. Carlos even answered one correctly and he won a bag of Axanar coffee. How ironic is that. I even brought him into … part of the trivia question was the trivia panel was trying to stump the audience and the audience would try to stamp the trivia panel. And so I had one of the last questions that was asked of the day. I said, “Okay. Here’s Axanar trivia for you that you won’t know. When was the first blog for AxaMonitor ever published?” Do you have any idea Matt?
Matt Miller: 00:42:18 No. And I’m on the website.
Jonathan Lane: 00:42:23 Now this is one of those that you can probably figure out if you know that the lawsuit happened, that Alec received that lawsuit on December 30, 2015. You can probably guess when AxaMonitor first started publication and you’d be within about a month or two.
Matt Miller: 00:42:36 So you’d probably be looking around February 2016 then.
Jonathan Lane: 00:42:40 You’d be correct. It was middle of February 2016. So anyway I stumped the panel. And Alec joked, “You know that’s not really an Axanar trivia question.” And I said, “Well, you see my follow up question was going to be when was the first blog for Fan Film Factor published?” And the answer to that is January 2016. So yes I got there first. But anyway, I was … Alec gave me a prize. He would throw these Drakes cakes at people. He did not throw coffee. But he threw Drakes coffee cake at me and I got up and I walked over to Carlos and I said, “Honestly, Carlos, I couldn’t of won this Drakes cake without you and your blog so here it is.” We laughed and then afterwards we had that famous hell freezes over handshake at the end because Carlos is a good guy in person. I’m a good guy in person. We were very civil with each other.
Jonathan Lane: 00:43:37 So I think when it’s all said and done, Axacon was a very positive thing for everybody who was there. And even Carlos had a good interaction there. There was an olive branch extended to him. And so to go back and publish a blog immediately was probably very difficult for him. So instead what we’ve had is we’ve had four weeks of no positive Axacon or Axanar blog. I mean there’s been no blog it all on AxaMonitor. And it’s not that I’m saying that Carlos shouldn’t be taking his time to do his blog, but I’m just saying that in the past as soon as there was anything bad to report about Axanar, boom it was up on AxaMonitor. And now that there’s something really objectively good to report, I mean the only thing negative you could say about Axacon is that yeah there was only like 30 people there.
Jonathan Lane: 00:44:37 But aside from that, it’s all positive. The bridge is almost finished. People had a really good time. We had Gary Graham and J.G. Hertzler there. And we had the widow of Stephen Inat who played Garth and his biographer there. It was a wonderful weekend. But because it’s not up on AxaMonitor, the detractors aren’t seeing it. And AxaMonitor is their main source of information about Axanar.
Matt Miller: 00:45:11 Don’t forget that there’s the Facebook group where they have been talking about it quite actively in those four weeks. And just because there isn’t an article on the website doesn’t mean that it’s not being discussed.
Jonathan Lane: 00:45:25 That’s true. That’s true. But keep in mind that the people who are on the Facebook group, that’s only about 65 people, you know the ones that are posting actively. So if there’s anybody else that’s out there reading the AxaMonitor Facebook page, and I don’t know if there is. I mean it could be that there are only 65 detractors out there. Or 64 now because I know that you left the group and we’ll talk about that later.
Jonathan Lane: 00:45:49 But you know it’s just one of those things where during the course of the history of Axanar, from the point of time that the lawsuit was filed … at least February of 2016 … AxaMonitor has been there, sort of the Fox News of Axanar. And it has presented a particular slant, shall we say.
Jonathan Lane: 00:46:12 And I wanna go back to something else that Carlos said during his interview. Let me play you this second soundbite
Carlos Pedraza: 00:46:20 I’m not in a position to raise a red flag and say, “Hey, absolutely, do not give money to Alec Peters and Axanar.” I know a lot of those folks think that’s what I’m doing. It isn’t what I’m doing. That’s not what my interest is. My interest is in simply calling to account what happened, documenting what happened and letting people know this is the history. This is how the money was spent. I have never … and I want to be clear about this because I’m often accused of being the ringleader of a group of people who say that he stole the money and blah, blah, blah. I have never made that allegation. I’ve never made an allegation that Alec Peters diverted money for his own, for himself away from the thing, from making of the film. And inappropriately, my only point is you raised all this money and you didn’t make a film and people should know that and they should know the extent of that.
Jonathan Lane: 00:47:12 So that’s the way Carlos likes to see AxaMonitor. He doesn’t necessarily accuse Alec of anything. And I’m probably going to piss Alec Peters off by the next thing I say. Most of the time Carlos does not lie. I know Alec likes to think it’s all lies or whatever. No it’s not. It’s half truths. He tells one side of the story. He usually bases his information on fact. There’s a couple of times where he’s actually fibbed. But for the most part Carlos is honest about what he produces and what he publishes and he does a lot of research. But what he does is he presents it in such a way that, no, he doesn’t say, “I accuse Alec of doing this.” But his choice of phrasing, his choice of adjectives, his choice of headlines and the way he interprets things is very skewed and it makes it sound like there’s some “there, there” as they like to say in the media. You know that there’s something under the surface.
Jonathan Lane: 00:48:26 I’m going to read to you an example of this. I was looking before our interview just to kind of get you something. So let me go over here to my tab for AxaMonitor. This was a blog that was published I think somewhere around the summer of 2016 when Ares Studio was opened up. I’m sure you remember seeing that there’s this very elaborate drawing. It’s an image of all of the connections that is called, “A twisted path to Axanar’s studio ownership.” There is investor buyout, never incorporated, the sound stage, the location company Industry Studios, LLC, Valkyrie Studios, LLC, Atlanta attorney Sheldon Friedman. And this is all of these little things connecting to each other. It kind of looks like a wall from “A Beautiful Mind.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:49:28 So this website that talks about Axanar and tries to give what Carlos calls “fair and balanced representation” has the following headline, “Twisted path to discover Axanar’s studio ownership.” And then the very first paragraph says, “With the formal opening of the for-profit studio Alec Peters built using money from supporters donated to produce Axanar, AxaMonitor’s investigation into the companies behind the studio revealed a complete lack of transparency about who stands to financially benefit from the facility.”
Jonathan Lane: 00:50:10 So, no you’re not calling Alec a crook but at the same point in time that doesn’t sound like something that you would write about somebody who’s an upstanding citizen.
Matt Miller: 00:50:20 I’m just trying to wrap my head around what you are actually trying to say because I’m looking at the article as well. I don’t see anything in that paragraph that is a statement of fact. And I think-
Jonathan Lane: 00:50:38 Wait. Hold on. You don’t see anything in that paragraph that is a statement of fact? Or you don’t see anything in that paragraph and that’s a statement of fact?
Matt Miller: 00:50:48 Other than a statement of fact. I think the way Carlos is coming from is the approach that the donors should be aware who will be financially benefiting from the facility that they funded.
Jonathan Lane: 00:51:01 And I’m going to go with that and I’m gonna tell you why Carlos Pedraza is brilliant because, as I said there’s nothing that’s a lie in that paragraph that I wrote. But let’s look at it. “With the formal opening of the for-profit studio…” Is it a for-profit studio? Yes, it is. And then you and I talked about earlier how “for-profit” doesn’t mean I’m going to go out there and buy a Mercedes. For profit is simply that Alec needed to have enough operating expenses covered by allowing the studio to be used commercially to keep it going. Nobody was going to get rich off of Ares Studios. By simply putting all of that together into the words “for-profit” Carlos has taken away half of the story right there. Because he simply says “for profit” so what your mind initially thinks is, “Oh, it’s a for-profit studio. Somebody’s going to be making money off of Star Trek.” So that’s the first example of half of the truth.
Matt Miller: 00:52:11 That’s correct because he used Star Trek to crowdfund so he got the money. So the only way that he got the money is by crowdfunding Star Trek. [crosstalk 00:53:29]
Jonathan Lane: 00:52:22 That’s true, but now it’s for-profit. So now we’re thinking that he got the money and he’s going to be making a profit off of it and he used Star Trek for that. Not necessarily not true but not the whole story.
Jonathan Lane: 00:52:35 And once again, I’m going to go on further here, “Alec Peters built the studio using money supporters donated to produce Axanar.” Well, the fact was as you and I also went over they donated money to produce Axanar and to get the studio. So he left out that they donated because they wanted to create a studio to produce Axanar. So once again he left out a very important part of information in order to tell half of the story and make it sound like Alec … and even you bought into this because we talked about this earlier. You forgot that, that kickstarter actually said we’re going to be getting a studio. This is what the money is going to go towards. So it worked. He’s distracted you. He has fooled you by telling you half the story.
Matt Miller: 00:53:29 I’m not fooled by anyone.
Jonathan Lane: 00:53:30 But that’s the thing. And I’m going to ask you a question. Have you read the book, “The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt? I think that’s how he pronounces his last name. It’s H-a-i-d-t?
Matt Miller: 00:53:43 No, I haven’t.
Jonathan Lane: 00:53:44 Okay. I’m going to save you about 350 pages of reading. I’m going to tell you what he says. “The Righteous Mind” is basically a book about people, why people, who are generally good people, become so polarised when they talk about religion and talk about politics and they just glom onto things and they can’t let them go, no matter what information is presented to them. And what Professor Haidt says, he’s a doctor of social psychology and personality psychology, is that everyone of us- you, me, Alec, Carlos, Michael Hinman, every detractor, every supporter, everyone in the world- we are all riding an elephant. And we like to think that we’re telling that elephant where to go. But when all is said and done, that elephant, if he turns right that’s the elephant’s idea. And if he turns left, that’s the elephant’s idea. And we’re just kind of stuck going where the elephant’s going.
Jonathan Lane: 00:54:52 So what we try to do is we try to justify where our elephant is going by saying, “Oh. Well, you know he must be thirsty because there’s water over there off to the right.” Or “He’s going left because it looks like there might be a lion over there in those trees.” So what we do is we try to justify what we’ve already come to a conclusion about in our hearts.
Jonathan Lane: 00:55:14 So the detractors see Alec as a villain. That’s where their elephant is going. And their job now is to justify that. “My elephant is going in this direction. Why?” So they look for everything to justify that. And the supporters who see Alec as a hero have an elephant that’s going in the other direction. And so they try to justify that direction. So everybody is looking for what’s known as confirmation bias. They want to be told, “Yeah. You’re right!” Which is why conservatives and Republicans watch Fox News in America and why the liberals and progressives and Democrats tend to watch more CNN and MSNBC. We want people to tell us that we’re right. We want to feel good about where our elephant is going.
Jonathan Lane: 00:56:09 And for me that’s what AxaMonitor does. It provides this feeling for people who are Axanar detractors that you know, “Hey look. There’s so much coverage of Axanar that’s negative.” This thing’s been going on for three years and there’s so much coverage that’s negative. There’s got to be some ‘there, there.'”
Jonathan Lane: 00:56:30 And they will regurgitate a lot of the things they see on AxaMonitor. They’ll do it on Facebook as well. In fact, the AxaMonitor Facebook group, I mean it’s not that the AxaMonitor Facebook group is the same as the AxaMonitor website, but Carlos did start it. And his main admins are obviously very critical, that’s an understatement, of Axanar. One of his main admins is Sean P. O’Holleran who recently did that whole hoax about he was saying he was going to Axacon and he tried to fool people into thinking that he was going. He fooled some people. But it was just a way for him to put in these digs against Axanar saying that he clogged up the toilet at the Federal Coffee House, which Alec’s girlfriend Crystal owns, or is a part owner of. He went to this Wendy’s restaurant that Alec had criticised on Yelp and all these little, silly, things. Anyway it was a silly, little prank. It was stupid. But this is one of the admins of the website of the Facebook page.
Jonathan Lane: 00:57:47 So this is the quality of the confirmation bias that’s going on. There’s a bunch of people who are all hating on Alec. I call them detractors. But they’re posting memes and they’re being nasty. And while this is all happening, and obviously … I mean they all know that’s misbehaviour. They all know that they’re not … by calling us names and calling me “slow lane” and all the things that they’re doing, that they’re not making any really good point by that. But that’s okay because they’ve got Carlos creating this website where almost everything’s negative , and he’s doing it in a very classy way. So they can just point to that and say, “Well, yeah. I might be calling him ‘slow lane’ but look at AxaMonitor. That stuff is real, man.” And it is real except it’s only half real because Carlos leaves out so many things that tell the rest of the story.
Jonathan Lane: 00:58:49 So anyway that’s where I think the escalation has come from and part of the escalation, I’ll be very honest here, part of the escalation is when they go low we try to go high. But if they didn’t go low, we would just stay at the same place. The Axanar support site, a lot of the times I’m writing blogs just trying to fill in the missing information that Carlos hasn’t put in there. If you look at my anti-Carlos blogs and there aren’t that many, it’s not like every time I’m writing I’m bashing Carlos. When I go and I post something critical of the AxaMonitor blog site it’s because Carlos has gotten something so wrong, or he’s presented something in such a skewed way that I just feel like, “Okay. Somebody has to tell the rest of the story.” And that’s what I do.
Matt Miller: 00:59:50 So then you’re admitting that Fan Film Factor’s the opposite of AxaMonitor in that it only posts positive articles about Axanar?
Jonathan Lane: 01:00:01 Well that’s an interesting thing to say because do I post negative blogs about any fan film?
Matt Miller: 01:00:09 But were not talking about any fan film. We’re talking about Axanar.
Jonathan Lane: 01:00:11 That’s true, but I could say critical things about a whole bunch of different fan films. I could talk about Captain Pike having never been made. I could complain about that, or Starship Farragut. It’s been almost three years and they have not released their final episode, Homecoming yet. I could bitch about that. I could talk about other folks that are late in delivering stuff, like Pacific 201. I could criticise fan films for not being good, for putting fat actors into Starfleet uniforms or having crappy sound.
Jonathan Lane: 01:00:45 There’s so many things that could be done negatively about fan films. I just don’t do that. My opinion as I told you is all Star Trek Fan Films are good. Period. They deserve our support. I celebrate them. So I could no more go negative on Axanar than I would go negative on Vic Mignogna.
Matt Miller: 01:01:04 But there’s a difference between a critical analysis, fat actors, bad audio, bad lighting, whatever it might be, and calling to account light delivery, not held promises, those sort of things, like those fan films that are taking a long time.
Jonathan Lane: 01:01:25 But yes, but when I talk about Pacific 201 I don’t go on and say, “Pacific 201, the long delayed crowdfunded Star Trek Fan Film that’s still not done after almost four years. I don’t do that. I don’t embellish my sentences the way Carlos does. In fact, if I embellish them at all I say, “I’m still really looking forward to Pacific 201.” And they still have an active Indiegogo campaign out there and I still live that active Indiegogo campaign on Fan Film Factor. Go to crowdfunding now. It’s right there!
Jonathan Lane: 01:02:00 Every so often I’ll do an update about Pacific 201 because he’ll release something or other and I’m looking forward to that. I really want to see it. So there’s no … and Starship Farragut for example. They’ve got $15,000 dollars in their pocket to produce Homecoming, the last episode of their series. It has Stan Lee in it. He makes a cameo and it’s still not out yet. Honestly, four years to edit this thing that was shot … they finished shooting all the footage in 2016.
Jonathan Lane: 01:02:33 There are so many things that I could say about Jon Brighton and the fact that Farragut hasn’t delivered yet and it was crowdfunded. I don’t do that. As far as I’m concerned, you know what? Starship Farragut they have earned my respect. They produced a number of really, really good episodes over the course of nearly a decade. These are dedicated people. They built most of the Star Trek Continues sets. So I don’t see any reason to bring up the negative and in the same way with Axanar, I don’t see any reason to bring up the negative because it’s just not something that Fan Film Factor does.
Matt Miller: 01:03:09 I’d like to put a hypothetical to you, Jon.
Jonathan Lane: 01:03:11 Shoot.
Matt Miller: 01:03:12 If someone emailed you and said, “I read your article about a fan film, and I won’t name a fan film particularly because that’s not the hypothetical. So hypothetically, you’ve written an article about a fan film that’s six years in the making, still has an active Indiegogo campaign, they’re still campaigning for more money, they’re providing little tidbits every couple of months about what they’re doing now. Someone sees your positive article that only has positive things to say. They donate $500 dollars. Twelve months go by. They email you and say, “Hey, you said this was a really great idea and now I still haven’t seen anything. They haven’t posted anything in a long time, in many months.” How would you respond to that person?
Jonathan Lane: 01:04:07 Actually, I’ve gotten a couple of those believe it or not. People do send me comments through the Contact Us link and there’s been a couple of folks who donated to something. I think just about four weeks ago somebody was asking me where Captain Pike was, that he had donated to it and are we ever going to see that? And I said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think so. It just looks like that one died.” And he said, “Am I ever going to see my perks or my money back?” And I said, “No.” I said, “Honestly, I can’t tell you for sure. But my money’s gone too. I donated to it too.” It’s just one of those things that happens. Not every fan film gets made. The fact is most of them do. I don’t want to discourage people from donating to these wonderful crowdfunding campaigns for these great projects just because maybe there’s a 5% chance they might not happen. Probably even less. But sometimes shat happens. You can’t really control for circumstances.
Jonathan Lane: 01:05:16 And sometimes it’s … like Starship Equinox that was a fraud, when all was said and done. Now not everybody involved with it knew it was a fraud, including the writer. I know Cameron, he was a friend of mine. But the person who was the show runner that pulled the wool over everybody’s eyes.
Jonathan Lane: 01:05:37 But I don’t cover stuff like that. And the reason I don’t is that if I spent time on Captain Pike and Starship Equinox and really turned into the National Inquirer of fan films, I fear that it would hurt the innocence out there, the ones that are really trying hard to make something good. So I concentrate on the good. If somebody else wants to concentrate on the story behind Starship Equinox … Gabe Koerner, you know Gabe, he wanted to dish all the dirt on Starship Equinox to me. He was going to give me this whole diatribe on everything that went wrong with the person who was the show runner. Anyway it wasn’t anything I wanted to do. I could have probably gotten a lot of views out of it but why bring up the ugly under belly of fan films. That’s not what Fan Film Factor is there for.
Matt Miller: 01:06:39 I do wonder though, you champion fan films and you’re a website and a blog about fan films and you’re there promoting them all, but you don’t see it as a responsibility to your readers, to tell the whole truth, not just the positives. I know you said that you feel that, that would really lose the innocence. But would it not open people’s eyes and force new comers to be a lot more accountable and a lot more open and honest?
Jonathan Lane: 01:07:21 Well the fact is that you’re trying to look for spiders underneath the rocks in this case. For me there’s not really that many spiders underneath the rocks. I don’t see much of that. Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough, I’m not an investigative reporter.
Matt Miller: 01:07:39 But that’s my point. There are a lot more positives than negatives out there. A negative or a truthful article about a crowdfunding that has taken a long time to ever see the light of day and it still hasn’t, would very quickly fall down the news cycle on your site. But I think that it would, it’s my personal opinion that I think that, that would open people’s eyes and maybe even build a bit more confidence back in crowdfunding for Star Trek Fan Films.
Jonathan Lane: 01:08:20 I think this is where you and I kinda have to agree to disagree.
Matt Miller: 01:08:24 I think so.
Jonathan Lane: 01:08:24 My feeling is that my blog serves the purpose of celebrating Star Trek Fan Films. Period. I’m not there to be hard hitting news. I’m just not. I’m too lazy to be an investigative reporter. But the thing is there’s so many wonderful fan films to talk about. I’ve created histories of certain fan productions. Like for example, I have a great history of Starship Exeter. And Starship Exeter as you may know took seven years to release and finish its second fan film, The Tressaurian Intersection. And there were reasons for that and some of those reasons were lack of competence on certain people, to certain people’s shoulders. I just didn’t feel like I needed to draw a lot of attention to that or at least refer to it in that way. So when I talked about it you know I acknowledge that there was a seven year delay between when they filmed it and when they release the final part of their last, you know their second episode. But unfortunately, it was just a series of unfortunate events. And I didn’t feel like bashing them. So I wrote it in a very fair way, you know I talked about the issues but I didn’t really make an issue of the issues.
Jonathan Lane: 01:09:50 Obviously, there’s some … if you look at the history of Star Trek Continues and Star Trek Farragut there was a point where those two entities walked away from each other. When I talk about that in the Star Trek Continues blog I don’t go into a lot of the ugly details because there were a lot of very ugly details when those two broke. I just didn’t feel like I needed to bring all that up. Because for me it’s all about what these two groups accomplished together and then separately.
Jonathan Lane: 01:10:24 So yeah, maybe it’s an honest decision on my part not to be the negative tabloid reporting. But that’s just, you know … if you go to Fan Film Factor, it’s going to be shiny happy people. That’s just what I do. And in that way I suppose that, you know Carlos if you go to AxaMonitor you know what you’re getting. You’re getting critical Axanar information and if there’s good Axanar information, it might take four weeks or longer for it to get up there. And by the way go and try to look for some good positive Axanar information on AxaMonitor. You won’t find it anywhere.
Jonathan Lane: 01:11:07 So are we opposite sides of the coin? Possibly. I think the only difference is that the only thing AxaMonitor is supposed to be focused on is Axanar. Although occasionally, he’ll talk about the Federal Coffee House or the Dr. Seuss, or Star Trek mashup lawsuit, or the Tarder Grade lawsuit or a bunch of other little things, but try to link them back to Axanar.
Jonathan Lane: 01:11:30 For me I’m all about fan films. I’ve got 700 blogs nearly. I think Axanar covers less than maybe somewhere between 5% and 7% of my blogs. So 95% of my blogs is other fan films. So in that way I think the two of us are also very different in that I am trying not to just boost Axanar, but I’m trying to boost all fan films. That’s just what I do.
Matt Miller: 01:11:59 So with you shining a positive light on fan films, do you think that it’s fair to say that Carlos has a place to write fact check articles with references that appear to be critical, all things critical of Axanar?
Jonathan Lane: 01:12:21 Well, for me, and Carlos, if you’re listening, pay attention to the next thing I say. If Carlos is here to present what he likes to call the whole story, make sure people know everything that happened with Axanar. Then why should he hesitate to present the whole story and not just half the story? Why can’t he do the positive as well as a negative? When all your present is the negative, sure you’re not saying don’t donate to Axanar, but you kind of are saying don’t donate to Axanar because you’re not giving them any reason to do it. And you’re not presenting everything.
Jonathan Lane: 01:13:03 Right now you and I, Matthew, are having a great conversation and we obviously, are on opposite sides of the fence. Michael Hinman on the other hand, when he interviewed Carlos it was just all one side of the fence, which is a lot of what we call the echo chamber of those who detract against Axanar. They typical talk to themselves. They reinforce each other. Once again confirmation bias.
Jonathan Lane: 01:13:28 So by presenting only one side of the story I don’t think Carlos is trusting the true narrative to support his argument. I don’t think he’s trusting his readers because he’s not presenting them everything that they would need to make up their minds. So he’s making sure that when they do make up their minds it’s based on only a specific subset of the truth. So no, he’s not lying. But he’s not presenting the whole story. And that’s where I think AxaMonitor breaks down, in terms of what Carlos says his goal is, which he says is to present all the information about Axanar. He’s not presenting all the information about Axanar. And unless somebody’s going and reading my blog after reading his they’re not going to get the other side of the story. And I’m guessing most of the people reading his blog are not reading my blog. Or they’re saying it’s too long, or, “I didn’t read because Jon talks way too much.” We all know that.
Matt Miller: 01:14:38 Well Jon, we’re fast running out of time again on Part Two. I reckon we’re going to wrap this up in Part Three though, hopefully.
Jonathan Lane: 01:14:44 Oh, man! We never shut up. I mean, seriously, somebody’s still listening after I don’t know. How long has this been? But yeah, I will. Thanks folks for listening this far and we swear we’re going to wrap it up in Part Three. Swear to you.
Matt: 00:07 Well, we’re back again for another Trekzone Conversation and an entry in the Fan Film Factor blog as well. John, I’m really boosting your numbers here to get up to 700 or over 700, wherever you’re at now.
John: 00:20 Oh, I’m sure everybody’s going to be listening to all 17 hours of our conversation at this point.
Matt: 00:24 Well, let’s dive straight back into it, shall we?
Jonathan: 00:26 All right, let’s go.
Matt: 01:29 Alrighty John we’re in the homestretch now. In part two. We talked about Axa monitor and Fan Film Factor. Now, let’s turn to my website at Trekzone. Where do you see that sitting in all of this?
John: 01:40 Well, I have to be honest with you, Matt. I don’t typically read your blog. I know of some of the interviews that you did early on. I know you had back in 2016 had interviewed Alec, and you would ask him some questions that I think made him feel distinctly uncomfortable. I saw that and honestly I think there were issues on both sides of that interview because I think in some cases he was a little bit ambushed or he felt a little bit ambushed. On the other hand he probably should know what he was getting into. I also think that Alec should not have … Once he’s there swimming in the pool with the sharks, just don’t freak out, dude.
John: 02:38 But you and I had an interview back when I first started Small Access in 2017. I also felt that that interview that you had with me was a little bit of an ambush to be very honest with you. In that, initially I had thought that I wasn’t too familiar with Trekzone at that point anyway. I thought it was just going to be a fluff piece thing. And what are you doing with this protest, tell me a little bit about it. I could get to talk about it, and for an easy thing.
John: 03:09 Just before you and I went on the air, and I’m sitting there in that booth in West Los Angeles, they got the earpiece in, and the camera’s on me. We had like 10 seconds left. You said, “John, I’m going to be giving you some kind of tough questions because that would make for a more interesting dialogue between the two of us.” That was my crappy Australian accent. But suddenly with 10 seconds left, I’m like, okay, I’m going to be asking you some tough questions. You asked me very, very tough questions.
John: 03:44 Now, that’s all on me. That’s not your fault. I got myself into this and I think I did rather well for the next hour, however long we talked. You hit me with every single really good question you could. But it was just that I went into that thinking it was going to be one kind of interview and it turned into another one.
John: 04:08 Folks if you ever do watch that interview, you can’t tell because my armpits are probably outside of the frame, but I’m sweating. Matthew, you honestly, every single moment of that interview was me just making sure that I could answer intelligently and without sounding like a complete and total idiot, and justify why I was protesting these new guidelines.
John: 04:40 How do I feel about Trekzone? I haven’t seen a lot of what you’ve written about [inaudible 00:04:46] specifically. I do know that you do tend to be critical of it, but I don’t know really what you said. So I can’t answer intelligently about how I feel about Trekzone. That’s my short answer again.
Matt: 05:07 Well, I think again too that just like Fan Film Factor, if I search for Axanar, I come up with three pages of results over a good few hundred blog posts and quite a few of those in fact looks like they’ve just been tagged on instead of actually being articles about Axanar. Again, it’s not this be all and end all of the website.
Matt: 05:44 I know one of the things that Michael Hinman very much disagreed with me about was the fact of giving Alec Peters some time back in 2016. Quite honestly and I was afraid to admit that and it’s quite easy to see if you go to Trekzone on YouTube that the most popular video I have is actually part two of my first Axanar coverage, which was the hour long conversation with Mike Bawden and Carlos reacting to the, and this is the producer side of me speaking, the juicier parts of Alec’s interview or the end of the interview as it were.
Matt: 06:33 Why do I cover Axanar? Quite simply, ratings as a number one and that’s a webmaster and an executive producer’s honest answer. Why does anyone do anything? Well, it’s to get eyeballs and get known. That’s simply what it is. But the actual personal reason for me is the fact that there was this crowdfunding. There was this lawsuit that introduced guidelines. This this production that that we’re still waiting for. It’s no different, it’s not like the only fan film that I’ve covered. It’s not the only fan film that has failed to live up to expectations. But that’s where it is.
Matt: 07:21 It’s the response to me talking about Axanar that I guess, keeps me going or keeps me in the larger Axanar circle of being a name to talk about.
John: 07:40 Well you know what, it’s kind of funny. When I publish an Axanar blog, on a typical day, my regular blogs get maybe 600 to 1000 views if I’m lucky. Sometimes it’s the weekend, it’ll just be a 300 or 400. I publish anything Axanar on it, it jumps into the thousands. It’s hysterical. It’s just people want to hear about Axanar, which is fine.
John: 08:06 Now, I’m not doing it for the money because even if I get 2000 views on a particular day, that translates into maybe $1.56 for me in ad dollars, where my typical day is maybe 34 cents. I’m not in it for the money, folks. But it’s funny that people do want to read about Axanar and I don’t do it because I want the ratings. I do it just because I feel like there’s news. Sometimes I over cover Axanar. There will be three or four blogs in a week. Axacon, there were four different blogs about Axanar.
John: 08:43 But for the most part, I try not to overdo it. But every so often you’ll see a blog or two about Axanar, once a month or whatever. As for you Matt, once again, Carlos is obsessed with Axanar. I’m not insulting him in that way. It’s just obvious he’s obsessed with it. Would you agree?
Matt: 09:07 Well, I do know Carlos himself has said that three to four blog entries a month hardly constitutes an obsession. I tend to agree with that.
John: 09:17 Well, I don’t know. They’re all talking about the same thing. For me, I’m writing two or three or four a week, but I’m writing them about all different fan films, and you are as well. His laser focus, I think that takes him into a different category than you or me. Yes, you’re critical. I think the only criticism I would make of you from what little I’ve read is the same half-truth argument that I would make for Carlos, and or when you get stuff wrong. Like when you say most of the people who worked on Prelude walked away, which as we discovered, no, it wasn’t most, wasn’t even some. It was-
Matt: 10:04 A follow up to that would be of course that they were all pretty important people that did walk away. And that’s something that I did forget to mention.
John: 10:14 Well, not J.G. Hertzler, he was important. Richard Hatch was important. He didn’t-
Matt: 10:18 Of course he was important, he was the director.
John: 10:21 Well, yeah, he was the director and the director of photography walked away. You want to talk about the director of photography being important? I’ll say the visual effects supervisor. I’ll go one to one with you. The fact is, he lost two important people. He lost Christian Gossett, and he lost Tony Todd and that was it. Everybody else who was important to that production stayed.
John: 10:41 Once again, I’m not going to give you most, I’m not going to let you get away with this and that’s what we’re talking about here is when you write your blog, Jonathan isn’t there to point his finger and say no no no and to explain to your readers, this is not a correct statement.
John: 11:03 One of the reasons that I write Fan Film Factor the way I do, is to correct the record. Now, am I going negative on Axanar? No, I’m not. So, perhaps I’m guilty of the same thing of leaving out the half the story that’s potentially bad. Although I do acknowledge that it was a mistake to get industry studios and to pay that, but it was a great mistake in hindsight. Now, we’re stuck with that decision.
John: 11:27 I also freely admit that I don’t agree with Alec’s decision to ban people from the Axanar Facebook pages. Although now I understand much better about that decision because we have that issue on Fan Film Factor. But we don’t just helter skelter ban people. We give them a lot of second chances. So, I still don’t agree with Alec’s decision on that.
John: 11:49 But basically my feeling is if you’re going to cover Axanar and you’re just going to bashing with a lot of these urban myths about Axanar, that’s not really helping anybody. It’s going into the sensational, it’s reaffirming and reinforcing the confirmation bias of the detractors. But just understand, you’re not telling the whole story. When you say most of the important people even of Axanar walked away, that’s not correct. Two people walked away. If you wrote in your blog two important people walked away after Prelude, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, because that’s true.
Matt: 12:38 But my coverage has also not just been, as you say critical. There is of course, was it in June when Alec called out for volunteers to build out the bridge, I’d posted that and I said that it’s a tall order from the men that’s put more time into responding to critics rather than actually getting on with making the fan film but time will tell, and we will talk about the future in a second.
Matt: 13:07 This is something that I’ve been saying all along as well. If Alec makes Axanar, I’ll applaud him because he’ll have finally done it and I’ll write an article about it on Trekzone and I’ll put a link to the completed fan film on Trekzone. I’m not opposed to showing my readers the final product. What I am opposed to is the way that he’s carried on for almost three years. We will talk about the bridge in a second, but he’s building out a bridge way he said that it’s not in the script at this stage.
John: 13:49 Yeah, and we’ll talk about that in just a sec. But I do want to cover one thing before we move on, which is I did read your blog recently when you very publicly walked away from the Axa monitor Facebook group, because you were very much among the detractors, actively. Before we leave this week because we’re talking about escalation, I want to put a quota on this by just asking you your feelings about this. Do you feel, I guess you do because you walked away. Do you do you feel that detractors have gone too far?
Matt: 14:26 I really think that some people in the Axanar monitor group have taken it upon themselves to create a new hobby and that seems to be the thing the gatekeepers of Star Trek’s intellectual property. It was also the original group, CBS/Paramount, V Axanar.
John: 14:42 I like to call that group a hive of scum and villainy.
Matt: 14:45 Well, I was actually booted from that group when I disagree with one of the admins, Michael Hinman, about the why my words were lifted by a big news website. Michael said I should have been appreciative of the free publicity except that I didn’t get that because I was unquoted. I actually reached out to them, and a few weeks later, I got that credit that I deserved. Well, then fast forward a little bit, and I was posting, as Trekzone, personal comments about Axanar in those groups. I actually wrote a Mia culpa a few months ago about that, because I felt that Trekzone the brand should be isolated from Matt Miller, the person. Even though this is sort of the same thing, because I do write in the first person on the website.
Matt: 15:28 But really, what got me with Axa monitor, the Facebook group was when they turned on Ray Tessie and the stage dying Fan Appreciation weekend. They were basically calling for Ray to be sued because of how close he came to James Cawley’s licence in upstate New York.
Matt: 15:44 I actually got to the bottom of that. I spoke with Ray and a source and actually got the truth, something that those guys didn’t seem to be really interested in. That for me, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was another step in the escalation of the ferocity of the group, including going through Facebook profiles. But to be honest those individuals should have had better privacy settings on them.
John: 16:09 Oh, actually let me ask you a question because, yeah, it’s cyber stalking in you can blame the victim of saying they should have put more privacy protections.
Matt: 16:20 No, no, no, I’m not victim blaming, but they really should have enabled their privacy settings.
John: 16:26 Which person are you talking about or are you not allowed to say?
Matt: 16:29 Well, Crystal for one.
John: 16:31 You’re talking about when some of the detractors tried to friend her mother? Is that what you’re talking about?
Matt: 16:38 I don’t know about that one.
John: 16:40 But let’s just think about this for a second. Her mom is one of her Facebook friends obviously, and a number of detractors, I don’t know anybody is aware of this, but a number of detractors recently, I don’t know which one specifically, all sent her within a certain amount of time, I think within a few hours or a day or so, all sent her friend requests. She didn’t know who these people were. She asked Crystal about them, and Alec was furious. And crystal just said, “Look, just delete them all. These are not good people.”
John: 17:11 But seriously, this is Alec Peter’s girlfriend. She’s not even part of Axanar beyond just being Alec’s girlfriend. She’s supportive of it. I wouldn’t want people to be reaching out to my wife or to my mom. My mom doesn’t even check her Facebook page. But it’s like, there has to be a line somewhere. I don’t think many of the detractors, I won’t say all of them, but I don’t think many of the detractors understand that there’s a line. I don’t know if they realise how far they’ve been crossing it. I think they think this is funny.
Matt: 17:56 But I said, I don’t think either side of this are completely innocent. What about that phone call where detractors were placed in the UK where supporters tried to get him fired?
John: 18:05 The whataboutism, yes. Whenever you’re talking about bad behaviour on the part of-
Matt: 18:13 Alec paid his tweets trying to get [inaudible 00:18:15] fired from Fox.
John: 18:16 Yeah, it never happened. That never actually happened.
Matt: 18:19 Yes, but the tweets still went out.
John: 18:21 I’ll tell you what could have happened there. We happen to know somebody high up at Fox. If we’d wanted Gabe sacked. When I say we, I mean my wife and I. If we had called up our friend at Fox and shared the Gabe Connor cyber stalking, phone stalking thing and it didn’t happen and he didn’t get fired from it, then I would say yeah, we were just as guilty because we tried. We didn’t try, we never called this person.
Matt: 18:53 Well, that doesn’t really matter. He tweeted to the Twitter accounts and was retweeted by his supporters.
John: 19:00 Well, it also wasn’t untrue by the way, Gabe Connor did do the things that he was being accused of doing. I don’t want to try to make excuses for Alec, but-
Matt: 19:12 So, that justifies the tweets of trying to get him fired because Gabe did those things?
John: 19:16 Once again, like I said, trying to get him sacked, there’s a specific procedure to try to get somebody sacked and simply tweeting is not enough to do it. If you wanted to get somebody fired or somebody sacked, you would go to one of the heads of HR, human resources at Fox, if you had this woman’s number. You would call her up, or you would have dinner with her and her husband, and you would just happen to mention this over dinner.
John: 19:50 This did not happen and this very well could have happened. So, Alec never asked me to do that even though he knew I could because he knew we knew this person and it never happened. Once again, what Gabe did was awful, was absolutely awful. And yet realistically, Fox should know that one of their employees has done this. My wife works in labour law-
Matt: 20:18 I really don’t see how what Gabe does at home directly relates to his workplace.
John: 20:24 You know what, I don’t want to have to bring Wendy over here to explain to you that any thing that your employee does reflects on your company even if they do it on their own time. If you were employing somebody who was a child molester and they don’t molest a child on company time, you can still fire them, and you should.
John: 20:44 So, this is one of those things-
Matt: 20:46 That’s one hell of a leap from phone calls to child molesting, John.
John: 20:49 Well, one way or the other, it’s a crime. Look, here’s the thing, I don’t want to equate Gabe doing prank calls to being a child molester, but I’m simply trying to say that if an employee does something that they’re not supposed to off of company time, it still is a fireable offence. Especially if they do it publicly on social media. Gabe has been doing a lot of stuff publicly on social media. But I don’t want to necessarily talk about Gabe, and I don’t necessarily want to talk about all of the examples of the Axanar supporters doing bad things. Because it’s whataboutism.
John: 21:42 Looking at the detractors, when you were talking about what the supporters do when they misbehave, it’s these isolated incidents. It’s not consistent. When you talk about the detractors, they are posting the movie memes over and over again, every single day, several times a week. They are calling people names. If you go to the Axa Monitor Facebook group, other groups, they are consistently saying vulgar, hurtful, vitriolic things. This is the standard for them, and when they do things like contacting Crystal’s mother, when they try to talk about the federal coffee house, which is partly on by Crystal, things that have nothing to do with Axanar
John: 22:45 It’s almost like okay, why? The person who made the Axanar Coffee, Kevin Kane, his sin was working with Alec, was supplying him with coffee that had a picture of the Clean World, Homeworld on it. He will never be allowed to move beyond that. That will be a stigma that the detractors will hold against him for the rest of his life. Because this was a man who made coffee who said, “Hey, Alec, I like your Axanar thing, I could give you some coffee to sell. And we just packaged it for Axanar.”
Matt: 23:28 Alec actually asked him to make it and bought it from him after he made that sample product.
John: 23:34 Yeah. Well, the first thing that he did, though, was he said to Alec, “I make coffee and I will supply you with this.” He gave me a sample and he said, “I can do this.” And Alec said, “I would love it.” So, yes, Alec asked him to do it after he offered. I don’t think we should make this Alec’s decision. But even so, Kevin is now the owner, one of the owners of the Federal Coffee House. I think he’s one of the owners, he’s certainly one of the suppliers.
John: 24:03 Now, the Federal Coffee House is under scrutiny. Has nothing to do with Axanar, Alec’s not an owner, his girlfriend’s a part owner. He likes drinking coffee there.
Matt: 24:12 Isn’t he a business partner?
John: 24:14 I don’t know. As far as I know there are four owners in it. It’s a corporation and there’s four owners. There’s a president, a vice president, treasurer and secretary. As far as I know there is no official connection between Alec and the Federal Coffee House. But let’s say that there was, who cares? It has nothing to do with Axanar, right? Why should this be a target? Why should this coffee house that has employees, that has regular customers, that has nothing to do with a Star Trek Fan Film, has nothing to do with the studios, has nothing to do with Star Trek, why is this “fair game”? I don’t understand.
Matt: 24:54 Well, I can’t answer that question either because I’m no longer in the group.
John: 24:57 Well, there you go. But you used to be in the group. Do you see any justification for Carlos and other people doing these exposes on the Federal Coffee House or trying to go on social media? I would not put it past them to be putting bad Yelp reviews up. I don’t know if they’re doing that, but it sounds like the sort of thing that they could potentially be doing. But do you think any of that is justifiable? Do you think paying attention to the Federal Coffee House at all is justifiable?
Matt: 25:29 I think that if Alec Peters is involved and is using it as a means to support Axanar, then yes. But the question would be, how would you find that out?
John: 25:37 Exactly. The fact is that I don’t know how he could be using it as a means to support Axanar. He’s paying for Axanar out of his own money, and his own money, he’s getting his own money right now from selling parts of his collection. He has all of these pieces of memorabilia and used props, and all these other collectibles, and he has sold literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of his collection to keep Axanar going. Which is also part of the story that you guys never seem to talk about that-
Matt: 26:09 His investments are covered.
John: 26:11 Not really. When I see Carlos talking about it, there’s very little discussion of how much Alec Peters has sacrificed personally to keep Axanar going.
Matt: 26:21 But that’s the whole point of a fan film. I never asked anybody for any of the $5,000 that I spent on my [inaudible 00:26:27]
John: 26:28 Oh, yeah. But look at Renegades, they got $850,000. Now, they’re well over a million dollars from fan donations. But on the other hand I’m sure that Sky Conway put some of his own money in as well. The thing was is Alec didn’t put his own money in. He was willing to do everything that he was asking the fans to do, which is put money into this.
Matt: 26:50 Which bank account of Alec did it come from? Because he paid himself a salary while working on Axanar? So, that’s-
John: 26:56 That’s another urban myth.
Matt: 26:57 It was in the financials.
John: 27:00 Yes, I know.
Matt: 27:01 He paid it back.
John: 27:03 Yeah, that’s the thing is when he put in the financials, he basically did not know how to do financials. All the companies that he had been part of before, didn’t have annual reports like this. And he put it together in a way that other annual reports have been done. But when all said and done, an accountant came in and said, “Alec, you gave yourself $35,000, how much did you put into it?” He said, “It’s about 110.” He said, “You didn’t give yourself $35,000-”
Matt: 27:35 But you did because the donations should have gone into an Axanar account. Based on his financials, he’s taken 35, 38 whatever it is out of that account and given it to himself. But reimbursing expenses, it’s a fan film. It’s not a business. Fan films are not a business.
John: 28:01 I think you’re looking at this through a prism of 2016 as opposed to a prism of 2015. In 2015, none of that was illegal. In 2015, before he got sued, this was all fine. CBS was not saying, don’t do this. They knew what he was doing.
Matt: 28:15 But $35,000 from Axanar donors could have gone towards making the film. Instead it’s gone to pay him and pay for his bills.
John: 28:26 When you say pay for his bills, what are you talking about?
Matt: 28:28 I’m talking about lunches. I’m talking about car insurance. I’m talking phone bills.
John: 28:32 No, that was never from donors. That was money paid by Alec for his own expenses. He was never reimbursed for that. He was reimbursed for-
Matt: 28:45 Before or after he gave himself the salary.
John: 28:50 That’s the thing. It’s the salary, he never paid taxes on the salary. Because he never paid taxes on the salary. Now, granted, that was a mistake not to pay taxes on it. But there was no wage taxes that were paid. Nothing was paid into social security. All the things that you should have done for that weren’t done. So that was a screw up, but ultimately was a screw up to Alec’s advantage because this became a non-salary. Legally, it was not a salary. All he had to do once he had the $35,000 in his hand was too expensive, and it became a reimbursement of expenses.
John: 29:24 He basically was an Axanar donor himself, putting money towards things such as travel expenses, to be at a convention, to create enthusiasm, to bring in more donations. Ultimately, he brought in over a million dollars in donations.
John: 29:42 When he took a trip to Salt Lake City or Atlanta, yes, he was paying for these trips, but those trips resulted in more money than the trips cost. Ultimately, he was doing the job that an executive producer is supposed to do. As for the sushi dinners, I know that occasionally there was dinner that happened with potential donors who gave money. I have no idea how that whole sushi thing came about. I don’t know the specifics of it. As far as car tyres, that was not anything that was expense. The donors never paid for his car tyres. They never paid for his health insurance, that was paid by his own money.
John: 30:28 There’s so many expenses of that 35,000 that were justifiable to say, oh, here’s $600 from my car tyres. Ignore that. $35,000 would be gone in a second. But when it’s all said and done, there were a lot of expenses for the studios, there was the initial money for the rent, and we had to pay first and last month’s rent. There’s $24,000 right there.
John: 30:52 There’s security deposit, there was money put down for electrical. There was a whole bunch of stuff where Alec paid for things that it wasn’t necessarily from the Axanar account. Ultimately that-
Matt: 31:07 When he was making a fan film.
John: 31:09 You keep saying that as if it’s some kind of magical incantation.
Matt: 31:14 [inaudible 00:31:14] never paid himself back. James Cawley never paid himself back.
John: 31:17 You don’t know that.
Matt: 31:18 James Cawley is benefiting now because he’s got a business.
John: 31:22 You don’t know that. James, could first of all make money on and paid himself a salary. He had to.
Matt: 31:27 I dispute that.
John: 31:28 He had to, he could not. He’s a member of SAG. If [inaudible 00:31:31] did not get paid, he is violating union rules. Now, he may not have paid himself a $25,000 salary, but other people … There were expenses that were paid on Star Trek Continues. $165,000 of salaries was paid out. As far as James Cawley, I don’t know if he ever paid himself. I don’t think he’s a member of SAG. But the fact is-
Matt: 31:57 I think salaries on Star Trek Continues are very different to paying yourself back for car tyres and sushi dinners and flights to Salt Lake City so you can drum up support for your labour of love.
John: 32:10 Except that it was a labour of love that was being done at a whole different level. Like I said, you can compare it to Renegades.
Matt: 32:16 He was doing it at a business level.
John: 32:17 He was, so was renegades. Do you have a problem with that?
Matt: 32:20 I do, actually.
John: 32:21 Renegades had Tim Russ.
Matt: 32:24 But Renegades shut down and didn’t get to end-
John: 32:28 It would have it.
Matt: 32:32 But they didn’t.
John: 32:33 Yeah, but you can’t use that. You can’t, oh, but they didn’t. Now you’re talking about CBS. The fact was, that before Alec got sued, nobody got sued. Nobody said to Alec, you can’t do this. If Alec would have tried to do this now, or if Renegades would have tried to do this now or any other fan film would try to do this now, now you can say they should have known better. But you can’t say that back in July of 2015.
Matt: 32:52 I think there could have been some pretty big red flags for anybody smart enough to see them and question whether creating a business off of the intellectual property of Star Trek was a good idea.
John: 33:05 Well you said, creating a business off of the intellectual property of Star Trek. What does that mean?
Matt: 33:09 It means that they use Star Trek Axanar to raise money, to convert a warehouse into a studio, which was going to be a full profit business to have clients come in and pay him to use that space.
John: 33:23 But they were not going to be paying him because it was Star Trek, right?
Matt: 33:26 But that’s how he got the money. That’s how the donors came on board was because it was another Star Trek fan film. Professionally made Star Trek fan film.
John: 33:35 Okay. Basically what he is doing is something that arguably, James Cawley did to a small extent, because James Cawley used fan donations to move his facility into a new larger building. He used some of that money to make a fan film-
Matt: 33:59 But he wasn’t going out and getting clients.
John: 34:01 Ultimately, he created a business, right?
Matt: 34:04 A Star Trek business with a licence.
John: 34:06 Mm-hmm (affirmative) That’s true. But how did he get that licence?
Matt: 34:10 The same way anyone gets a licence. I’m also-
John: 34:16 I need to as you this question, how does somebody get a Star Trek licence?
Matt: 34:18 Well, they ask for it.
John: 34:20 So, if I go to the CBS right now and say, “Can I have a Star Trek fan licence-
Matt: 34:24 No.
John: 34:24 No, it’s not like that. They pay 50,000-
Matt: 34:26 It’s not that simple. But I have an issue with James Cawley as well. I have a very big issue with James Cawley.
John: 34:32 It costs $50,000 minimum for a Star Trek licence. So, James Cawley didn’t simply ask CBS for a licence. He paid for a licence. I do not know-
Matt: 34:41 Well, he asked for it. They went through the process and then he paid the money.
John: 34:46 Correct.
Matt: 34:47 You don’t just give someone $50,000 and they go, “Oh, he’s a licence.”
John: 34:51 No, but you don’t get to have the conversation unless they actually do their due diligence and discover that you have $50,000 to give them. They don’t even start the conversation with you unless you have that money.
Matt: 35:00 We’re splitting hairs on a three letter word. Somewhere along the line, someone was asked whether James Cawley could have a licence.
John: 35:08 Well, what I’m saying is that ultimately, James Cawley did not have a licence but had $50,000 in his pocket, that was partially crowdfunded, right?
Matt: 35:20 Yes. And I personally believe that every single person that was crowdfunded should be given something from that business. Whether it’s a free entry pass, their money returned or perks or something, maybe not charging them over $1,000 to see William Shatner in December might be a nice gesture. But ultimately, it’s not required. Because crowdfunding is a wild west and you donate money without any guarantee of ever seeing your product that you’ve donated for.
John: 35:51 Yeah, basically, it’s like giving a $1 to the guy who’s squeegeeing your windshield. You can’t tell them where to spend that dollar. If he goes and uses it to buy cigarettes or a beer you can’t say, “Hey, I gave that to you for food.” That’s his money. By the way, I don’t want to bash James Cawley. I think James Cawley’s a fantastic person, I think he had every right to do what he did. I think that-
Matt: 36:13 I certainly agree. I think that he was very lucky and fortuitous in the way the circumstances felt, and hurray for that.
John: 36:20 In the same way, I think Alec had every right to do what he did. Now, that’s where you and I disagree. But I’m going to stand by that statement. You know what, you and I are just going to agree to disagree. But I put myself back in the summer of 2015 and Alec had by that point met with CBS and Paramount three times. He’s about to meet with them a fourth time and they knew everything he was doing, everything. At no point that they say, don’t create the studio on our intellectual property.
John: 36:53 Ultimately, interestingly enough, he wasn’t sued for creating the studio. At no point in any of the settlement agreements did they ever say, shut down your studio, which is very interesting. They didn’t have a problem with the studio.
Matt: 37:06 But as maintain, it wasn’t a Star Trek studio. It was a studio created from a crowdfunding for Star Trek Axanar and the studio.
John: 37:18 That’s true, but once again, CBS didn’t have a problem with the studio. So, why do you?
Matt: 37:22 Because of the way that he went about it.
John: 37:24 Except that CBS didn’t have a problem with the studio and the way he went about it.
Matt: 37:28 But I’m not CBS. I’m allowed to have my own viewpoint.
John: 37:33 Yeah, but if CBS doesn’t have a problem with it, why are you? The owner of Star Trek didn’t have a problem with it, you don’t own Star Trek, why is your opinion more important than the owner of Star Trek?
Matt: 37:45 To me?
John: 37:45 Yeah.
Matt: 37:45 Because it’s mine?
John: 37:46 Yeah. Okay.
Matt: 37:47 Okay. I think we’re at a point of agreeing to disagree here. Let’s move on to the future and this is something that I’ve said all along in my Axanar coverage is that if, and I mentioned it here in this episode as well, it felt like knuckles down and actually makes Axanar applauding for it man I’ll watch it and I’ll put it on Trekzone.
Matt: 38:10 It seems that he’s slowly getting those cogs turning to getting to a point of making the two by 15 minutes that he’s allowed to make. Axacon, as you said, John, has been going about four weeks ago now. He put a lot of effort into getting that bridge up to scratch. I’ve got to say-
John: 38:34 Not just Alec, there’s a lot of people that have been putting in a lot of work for that. My hat is off to Dana Wagner, to James Simpson, to Dale Simpson to Alexander Richardson, to Lee Quesenberry, Joe Campbell. There’s been so many people that have been working so hard to get that bridge to here it is right now. Not just Alec, and I just want to give them all the proper credit that they’re due.
Matt: 39:03 It’s looking pretty cool.
John: 39:06 It’s looking awesome, dude. Awesome. Sorry, go ahead.
Matt: 39:09 There are still some technical challenges to work out and stuff like that, but it is coming together. You know what, swallow my words, because I said the bridge would never be made, and here we are its moved halfway across the country, but its come back together and it’s slowly getting together. Now the question is, is it going to be seen in the fan film? What do you reckon John?
John: 39:35 I’ll tell you a funny story. When I first saw the revised script, basically taking the 90 minute axe in our script and turning into a half hour. This was summer of last year, 2017. Alec sent the script to a bunch of people. I read it and I was horrified. I was horrified. There was no bridge in it. When I was giving Alec my feedback, I even wrote a whole bunch of little bridge clips to throw into it. Alec decided it gets to be easy. Alec said, “John, the problem is that first of all at this point, I don’t even know if we’re going to have the bridge finished.” Because back in 2017 he wasn’t sure. They were still moving to Georgia. He wasn’t sure what’s going to be happening money wise.
John: 40:27 I think this was before OWC Studios became a sponsor. Obviously, that helped pay the rent. But he said, here’s the thing, even if we have the bridge, we only have a half an hour. We might have a very limited budget, we may not be able to shoot on the bridge. We just don’t know. So, he said, “I want this script to exist in a way that we can film it without filming on the bridge. If ultimately we need to film some scenes on the bridge, we can add to it because there’s nothing that says that we can have extra footage that’s available just to donors.” There’s nothing in the settlement agreement that says Alec can’t put stuff on his blurays to give to the donors that’s an Axanar extra.
John: 41:15 At this point, the script exists with little if any bridge footage in it. But Alec told me that he is still planning on shooting the bridge. It will cost money. He has estimated potentially $40,000 or $50,000 to do the bridge properly. Now, the cost of this includes obviously includes lighting and electricity but includes tunics. Obviously, everybody who is on that bridge has to be wearing a uniform. There’s makeup involved. There’s a whole crew that needs to be … You have to have a gaffer and a boom mic person. If it’s a bridge scene, it’s not just going to be a quick little two second thing. You’re going to have to feed people. There may be some transportation involved, a director of photography, a first assistant director, sound people.
John: 42:12 But he wants to be able to film some of those bridge scenes. Interestingly enough, there are some other fan filmmakers who have approached him. What I can tell you about, what I’ve been sworn to secrecy about. But Vance Major wants to film on that bridge and Alec is fine. I don’t think it’s going to cost Vance $40,000 to film on it because Vance could just bring his iPhone and films everything that way.
John: 42:39 But the other fan filmmaker that is looking to fill in there is actually going to be doing this for real, and is going to have like a full team there. Assuming that that absolutely happens, that could be an interesting use of the bridge. And that’s just the first two. There’s more people who can use it.
John: 43:00 This is a case of anybody can film on that bridge because it is not TOS. There’s nothing that’s intellectual property about that bridge. It looks completely different than anything in Star Trek. It has the same general shape as the TOS bridge. But everything else is different. If a commercial company in Georgia wanted to come in and film A sci-fi commercial on that bridge, they could do it. If some independent film producer wanted to create something on that bridge, that could happen. In this way, Alec can potentially bring in some money the same way he always wanted to. It’s even possible that he may still create a sci-fi film school in Georgia because there’s filmmakers in Georgia who would be just as happy to teach classes to people who are in Georgia who want to learn filmmaking.
John: 43:50 He is already working with the [inaudible 00:43:52] school district for high school students. They’re filming projects there. That bridge, it may not be used for a 90 minute fan film, but it’s going to be used.
Matt: 44:02 It would be interesting to see the future uses on that and the other uses in that space. Again, I’m more than happy to say that if it takes off and it reaches stratospheric heights, well good on Alec. He persevered and he got there and he got it done despite everyone.
John: 44:26 You guys did not make it easy for him along the way. I have to say … Well, first of all let me ask a question. Let’s say he doesn’t do it. Let’s say that the bridge never becomes anything. Does he at least get credit for all the effort and for basically going against all of the detractors and for sticking with this, for persevering? Does he get credit for … Yeah, he hasn’t always been the nicest person when the detractors hurl insults at him. But he is not the first person to hurl insults. It’s usually him punching back. I wish he wouldn’t punch back. I’ve told him that. But he’s had an almost constant stream of detraction for three years now. And he’s still there, he’s still making this bridge, he’s still going to be making Axanar.
John: 45:16 Let’s say, I’m going to guess your question. Let’s say he doesn’t make it, do you just go out and say, “Huh, told you so.” Or do you give him some credit for at least trying?
Matt: 45:28 If he actually publicly acknowledged, or not publicly acknowledged, but if he actually admitted that it couldn’t be done, instead of just fading away like many other people have, I won’t just tag at Alec on that statement there are many people in the Star Trek fan film community that have just faded away. We’ve talked about those before.
Matt: 45:54 But if there was actually a point at which it was just decided that it couldn’t be done anymore, then I think that you would have to definitely look at that, and you would have to say, “You know what …” You’d have to take the rose coloured glasses off and you would have to say, “You know what, if you look at it all from Alec’s perspective, he persevered through all of that. People told him that he shouldn’t afford CBS and Paramount. He did, he got to a point where …” And again, we’ve said this as well. He got them from a no, to okay, you can make 30 minutes. That there’s kudos to that. There’s gumption to that. He went up against a global company, two global companies and said, “Do you know what, I want to do this.” In the end they said, “Yeah.” So, yeah, there is kudos to be had. But I think that it can’t be a fading away into the abyss.
Matt: 46:57 I’ll preface that by saying that I don’t think Alec will. I don’t think he will just find a way because like we said-
John: 47:06 Yeah, Alec and fade away do not happen in the same sentence.
Matt: 47:12 I also think that that leads into the other point of that he is just going to keep trying.
John: 47:17 Does he get credit for that? Now, I’m going to ask you the other question. Let’s say that he does do this, which you already said, if he manages to do it, you’re going to give him proper kudos.
Matt: 47:29 Absolutely.
John: 47:30 At this point-
Matt: 47:31 I’ve given him the kudos from the bridge as well. I freely admit, I said it wasn’t going to be done, it has been done. Good on you Alec. Now, do the next thing.
John: 47:41 Okay. Here’s the thing, you basically just said now that even if Axanar fails at this exact moment, he’s earned your kudos. If Axanar succeeds, he’s earned your kudos.
Matt: 47:55 Yeah, and that’s something that I’ve also said all along as well. But it to be a point where it just cannot be done, it can’t just fade away. Like we said, it’s not going to just fade away. But-
John: 48:15 Here’s a challenge for you, everything you just said write a blog about it. Force yourself to write a blog acknowledging all the stuff that Alec Peters has done and accomplished.
Matt: 48:25 I definitely think that that would be attached-
John: 48:27 No negativity.
Matt: 48:30 Well, I won’t agree to that. I think that it has to be open and it has to be honest. In this podcast I can’t say that the things that I’ve said and then in the blog not mention any of those things where I think that he shouldn’t have pursued the law suit, all of those things.
John: 48:55 You’re welcome to do that. But to write a blog where you do something that Carlos and you so far have not done, and arguably, maybe I haven’t done either, which is not just to criticise Alec, but to actually say, you know what? He’s made some mistakes along the way. He’s done some things I wouldn’t have done. But in the end, he’s persevered. He has swam upstream on this beyond what I think any other fan producer could be expected to have done.
John: 49:25 Because, yeah, he went against two multi billion dollar companies. He came out, his fan film can still be made. He finished his bridge. None of us thought he would be able to finish the bridge, and he did. Not only that, it looks amazing. He signed Gary and JG, I think Kate, I’m not sure. He’s planning to do the filming. It may not happen in December, it may not happen until March or April. But still plans are going. The thing is, he never gave up despite all of the headwinds. Not just from the studio but from all of the detractors.
John: 50:01 You can say, he shouldn’t have built the studio in the first place, he shouldn’t have done the things that got him sued, but once he got sued, give him credit for what he’s managed to do since then. Because that’s something I don’t see Carlos doing, I don’t see you doing, I don’t see Shawn O’Halloran doing, I don’t see Rob Burnett doing. I certainly don’t see Sandy Greenberg. I don’t see any of the detractors ever saying, “You know what, I don’t think I could have done what Alec has done. I don’t think I could have survived and kept going year after year after year and still been in this place.”
John: 50:40 I like to joke that all the people who say that Alec embezzled money don’t know the definition of the word embezzlement. Because when you embezzled, you’re supposed to come out with more money than you start with. And Alec is about $250,000 poorer than where he started all of this. I don’t have $250,000 to put into my fan film. I don’t want to make a fan film. I don’t have money, my wife’s not going to let me do it. If I got sued, I would just pee in my pants and say, “Please, please, please don’t sue me.” I don’t think most fan film makers could do with Alec has done, and no one seems to be acknowledging that.
Matt: 51:19 Yeah. I do wonder whether it comes back to whether he should have, and that’s what I’ve said as well. That maybe it shouldn’t have been done. At the end of the day, it has been done, it’s consigned to the pages of history now, and that’s it. But you make a good point.
John: 51:42 Here’s the thing, Steve Jobs, not everything he touched was Pixar, not everything he touched was Apple. Remember the Lisa computer? You could say, “Hey, Steve, you never should have done that.” Yeah, but you know what he did, but he also did Apple. He also gave us the iPhone, he also gave us Pixar. When all said and done, I think that even if Axanar never happens, Alec has to be given credit for getting it as far as he has. That being said, I think Axanar is going to happen. I’m certainly hoping it is, and I’m not going to try to stop it or sabotage it or hurt it or detract from it or discourage it at all during that. I’m going to do everything I can to support it.
John: 52:28 That’s not just Axanar, I’m going to do that for Pacific 201, and for the Romulan War, and I’m going to do it for the Holy Core that Gary O’Bryan is making in Great Britain. When he did not make his $15,000 crowdfunding goal to be at this year, my heart broke for him. I thought, maybe you can go to Indiegogo and you try to get this a little bit. I was working with Gary to try to figure out some ways that maybe he could produce just a little bit of it and try to get some more money on top of it.
John: 52:56 Luckily, he found an angel investor to give them the 15,000, and the Holy Core is going to look amazing. I don’t know if this interview is going to come out before or after I have the blog about it, but there’s an update, look at Fan Film Factor, and look for the Holy Core, and you can see what this guy has done. I think that this should be true for all fan films. We should all try to help them get made, even Axanar. Because all they’re doing, especially Axanar now that it’s okay by CBS. All you’re doing is just trying to give us more Star Trek that we love, and what’s wrong with that?
Matt: 53:33 I’m nodding in agreement forgetting that we’re actually audio podcasting there.
John: 53:38 On the internet nobody can hear you nod.
Matt: 53:41 I’m struggling to put words to it because-
John: 53:43 I’ve left to speechless.
Matt: 53:47 You have left me speechless. It has been almost three hours now that we’ve been recording I don’t think the total podcasting will be three hours, but-
John: 53:56 We’ll chop it up into pieces guys, because you have to be able to go to the bathroom just like I did.
Matt: 54:00 I think we’ve presented two sides of this argument. Sure as heck, we had some disagreements there, John, but we’ve come to a point, or we came to a point a few times where it was agree to disagree. Based on this, you’ll probably roll your eyes at what I’m about to say, John, but the glacial pace that that Alec has worked towards, for whatever reason, it is a glacial pace to get to the bridge point.
Matt: 54:30 So, Axanar, I’m tipping 2020, mid 2020 for Axanar, and I look forward to coming back to this podcast in 18 months’ time and saying, I was wrong or I was right. But I do have a feeling that this production is going to be made.
John: 54:53 I’m glad to hear that. I have a feeling it’s going to be made as well. Maybe our elephants at least in that part of the path are going in the same direction.
Matt: 54:59 I think you have look at it … I mentioned those rose coloured glasses just before. I think if you take them off, and you can ignore the last three years. You look at this person in Atlanta, he’s making a Star Trek fan film. It’s going to be the last one of the big budget series if he gets that without crowdfunding, hopefully. But it is going to be another Star Trek fan film. As you said, it’s more Star Trek.
Matt: 55:38 There are a lot of the Axanar supporters that that don’t like what CBS is putting out now. So, it’s more of the Star Trek that we love and the fans say more willing to engage in those areas that official productions want to move on from. Except that they’ve gone back to with Picard and all that sort of stuff. I don’t know.
John: 56:04 We were right all along, CBS. You should have listened to us.
Matt: 56:07 Well, are they listening to us? Are they just making what they want to make? I think that’s a discussion for another time.
Announcer: 56:16 Stay tuned for our next podcast, part Two.
Matt: 56:19 Well, there you go, John, I think you’ve gotten me to a point that I didn’t think that I would get on the record and say some of the things that I’ve said. But I’m more than happy to stand by everything. So, thanks for coming along, and thanks for sharing your your viewpoint.
John: 56:35 Well, then, my work here is done. Here’s a silver bullet and I am going to ride off into the sunset. Folks, thank you for listening for oh, God, whatever, 17 hours this has all been, I don’t know. It feels like, I got to go pee. But folks, anyway, this has been a lot of fun. I think, Matt, you’ve been very civil, you’ve been very intelligent, the Hatfields and the McCoys can be friends when all of it is said and done. We can disagree, our elephants can go in other directions. But when it comes right down to it, we are all Star Trek fans, and that’s something that unites us.
Matt: 57:10 Absolutely, John. Thanks so much for your time today, man.
John: 57:13 Thank you, man.