News

Production Begins (Again) On Star Trek Fan Film

 

The Battle of Axanar Ceases

 

Following a settlement in the case over the Star Trek fan film, Axanar is back in production. The film’s producers were sued for copyright infringement in 2015 after their prequel series, Prelude to Axanar went viral.

 

When Fans and Copyright Holders Collide

Production Begins (Again) On Star Trek Fan Film
Some of the cast of Prelude to Axanar, L to R: Alec Peters, Kate Vernon, Richard Hatch(Credit: Axanar Productions)

Fan fiction is an interesting beast. For decades the mere mention of the past-time was met with derision. Furthermore, many authors and creators despised it and sought legal action against its creators. However, JK Rowling extended an olive branch to those writing fan fiction and allowed her fans to play in her sandbox without pursuing them in court. Quickly, the stigma around fan works dissipated and some works became legitimate forms of mass entertainment. Most famously, Fifty Shades of Grey.

Although those in charge largely accept fan-written works, filmed works walk a tricky line. On one hand, a quality fan short is hard to produce, and therefore, hard to come by. On the other hand, those shorts that do make waves can lead to fans holding those events as canon even though it wasn’t the creator’s intent.

As previously stated, most fan shorts are merely amateur labors of love. However, a Star Trek fan film titled Axanar found itself in the middle of an exhaustive legal battle following the project’s growing fan base.

Creative Compromise

In 2010, Alec Peters began work on a fan film set in the Star Trek universe. The film set out to tell the story of The Four Years War and its decisive battle, The Battle of Axanar. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Peters released Prelude to Axanar. The short film evoked a documentary style and found its subjects remember the struggles and tensions that led to the epic battle. Eventually, the feature-length Axanar would depict the battle in full. However, CBS does not allow fan productions of their IPs. In 2015, the studio sued Peters and company for copyright infringement.

Fortunately, the lawsuit settled in 2017 and CBS and Paramount released new guidelines regarding fan-made Star Trek content. Unfortunately, under the new guidelines, Peters cannot make the full-on war epic he originally planned. Instead, Axanar will follow the same documentary format as its predecessor. Furthermore, the guidelines force the project into two fifteen minute shorts.

This news is bittersweet at best. On one hand, this labor of love gets to move forward. On the other, the project’s ambitions feel stifled. However, Peters is dedicated to bringing the world of Star Trek to life on his own terms. So, he’s enlisted the help of veteran Trek actors Gary Graham and JG Hertzler. Graham will play his Star Trek: Enterprise character Soval and Hertzler portrays Sam Travis. Sadly, Battlestar Galactica alum, Richard Hatch passed away between Prelude and the current production. Hatch played Klingon Supreme Commander Kharn in Prelude. and Production on Axanar is underway.

 


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About the author

MJ Smith

MJ Smith makes his home in California, and when not listening to Hamilton, podcasts and writes about pop culture on the internet. He loves board games, Swamp Thing, and The Wachowski's SPEED RACER.

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