Saturday, 21 January 2017

Who Blinked First? Axanar is Settled


The Battle of Axanar is over - at least in the courtroom it seems.

In the last 24 hours Paramount/CBS and the Axanar production have agreed terms which mean that the law suit will not have to go to court and things can finally move on after just over 12 months of legal wranglings.

But what exactly does all this mean now? The fan film landscape has been left a virtual Mad Max-esque apocalyptic wasteland following the events that kicked off on December 31st 2015 leaving many with difficult choices to make if they wished to survive in some form or another. Sure there were - and still are - many who curse the name Alec Peters for screwing their projects but from the other perspective wasn't this perhaps something that was likely to happen in some form at some point; just a matter of time? How long would CBS have put up with feature length fan films being around when they have a brand new official Star Trek series just around the corner on their own pay-to-view subscription service...just saying...!

But hey, before we get bogged down in theoretical nonsense over what could have been let's be very clear; fan films in the Star Trek universe will never be as they were in 2015 because of Axanar.

While it now appears that Peters and co won't be getting their asses sued off by Paramount/CBS (although there are some legal matters that need to be resolved within the next sixty days), the path now seems clear for them to produce...something.

Flashback and you'll recall that Axanar was supposed to be the fan film/independent Star Trek production to end all fan film/independent Star Trek productions and got itself caught up in its own hype and success. The movie-length film will now no longer happen and in comms direct from Axanar themselves it seems that the proposed galactic adventure will now be reduced from the 90-minute odd feature to just two 15 minute segments that will be distributed for free on YouTube. That says to me donors won't be receiving any DVDs any time soon as one of their promised perks.

The biggest point to note and one that will unquestionably affect the production's future is that Axanar cannot fundraise pointblank. However it can accept donations but I have a feeling this is going to be an bone of contention with fans who will be expecting to see just how their money was spent up on the screen over 12 months since it was donated in one of the biggest Kickstarter fundraisers ever. For some time that's a question fans have been vehemently asking especially in light of documentation that indicates it was used in perhaps different ways than might have been expected. 

Prelude to Axanar cannot be used at official Star Trek conventions but can be used at festivals and the like but non-commercially. Paramount/CBS are very clearly ensuring Axanar is not making a penny from their intellectual property. Nor can anyone working on it be paid in any form and that includes the four actors it seems they are allowed to have on the production - Richard Hatch, Gary Graham, Kate Vernon and J G Hertzler; three of whom are classed as Star Trek veterans.

While the tone of the communications from Axanar seem very upbeat it does come across that they have had to bow to the wishes of Paramount/CBS and conform to the fan film guidelines which were issued in June of 2016. In fact I can see the only win in the list of points they address as being able to use the services of the four actors who appeared in Prelude alongside Peters and the non-returning Tony Todd. I suppose there is an element of victory here in that Garth of Izar: The Movie will come to pass in some form, if somewhat neutered, sooner than we might have thought following the news that it was going to court. 

How that will now look will of course be dramatically different and there will clearly be questions around cost since it looks like it has to be done gratis or at the most using the funds that remain from the Kickstarters et al. I actually feel that finances might be at the core of all this and I'm just speculating here but might it be that there just isn't enough coinage in the coffers to have fought a case that looked to have been already won, closed and nailed shut by the Paramount/CBS juggernaut? Did it finally make sense just to hammer out a deal which meant that Peters and Axanar could get their film made in some form and give something - however minimal and below original expectation - just to keep the fans who backed it happy?

Axanar is now a word that does send a shiver down many a Star Trek fan's spine and will forever be associated with changing the face of the franchise's fan film look. The case does look to be severely in the networks' favour although there does not nor do I believe will there ever be a declaration of a "winner" in this instance. Paramount/CBS have stood firm and protected their property to the hilt and Axanar has been made the example, the warning to others. At least now the battle can take place on the screen rather than behind the closed doors of a courtroom. 

Honestly I do wish the Axanar production well and that we do get to see them finish the project so many fans have so desperately wanted to see happen. I have no personal ill-will towards the team and believe that their hearts were in the right place when this idea was sparked. The tragedy is just what happened following that which may well have robbed us of some very fine fan productions that were in development. 

Long term we'll get cheaper, more fan film than independent film quality productions with severely limited run times and no big franchise names in association. It also means we as fans can get back to the important stuff of arguing over whether The Final Frontier is canon or not(!)

What we can say is that Axanar is back. Thing is, in what state and is this really the end of the matter?

Pleased it's (almost) all over? Will you be waiting to see the finished result or has it gone on for so long you just aren't bothered anymore?

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