Axanar head honcho and Donald Trump impersonator Alec Peters has posted a defense of his position on Facebook. He talks about a lot of things, but none more important than the nature of the project, itself:
"Like all fan films, AXANAR is a love letter to a beloved franchise. For nearly 50 years, Star Trek’s devotees have been creating new Star Trek stories to share with fellow fans. That’s all we’re trying to do here."
Fast forward a few decades and that same spirit manifested itself in fan-created video productions. Again, these projects were truly home-made and financed quietly and behind-the-scenes by those involved.
But then, something new happened: crowd0funding. A "fan film" production called Star Trek: Renegades did a crowd-funded campaign and raised over $365,000 over a three year period. Over the past two years, the fan production Star Trek: New Voyages raised about $115,000. And neither of those entities have thus far been sued by CBS or Paramount. What those entities actually do with their money is unknown to me.
These two precedents no doubt inspired Peters to pursue his Axanar Kickstarter.
"Like other current fan films, AXANAR entered production based on a very long history and relationship between fandom and studios," Peters said. "We’re not doing anything new here."
Except that, by Peters' own admission, they ARE doing something new here. Whereas fan films are supposed to be created by volunteers and funded out of pocket by their creators, Axanar didn't do that. Instead, they asked for money – in the name of someone else's property – and made $1.1 million from crowdfunding, an unprecedented amount. And that $1.1 million wasn't about simply buying some plywood for sets and some fabric for costumes, oh no. It was about paying salaries. And, salaries equal income in the name of Star Trek. And, perhaps most notably, $1.1 million was three times the amount of the next closest project, Renegades.
Here's the "rough budget" for the first Axanar kick-starter of approximately $600,000:
$ 182,000 Sound Stage building rental (12 months & deposit 1/15 – 2/16)
$ 12,000 Warehouse rental (9/14-1/15)
$ 37,200 Construction Dept. Salaries
$ 32,000 Stage Floor
$ 12,000 Sound proofing Doors
$ 20,700 Set Construction Supplies
$ 5,000 Equipment Rental
$ 22,000 Office Renovation
$ 15,000 Make Up (Pre-Production)
$ 8,200 Vulcan Shoot
$ 59,000 Production Team salaries
$ 54,000 Construction Team salaries
$ 6,000 Insurance
$ 5,000 Crew meals
$ 18,000 Camera/editing equipment
$ 22,000 Perks (60,000 patches)
$ 2,000 Perks (CD)
$ 2,500 Legal Expenses
$ 1,500 Phone
$ 1,800 Internet
$ 2,000 Music
$ 1,500 Backerkit Fees
$ 32,000 Kickstarter Fees
$ 35,000 Amazon Payment Processing
Notice the word "salaries". Those line items account for over $150,000 that was paid to individuals. That's not love, that's commerce.
ADDENDUM (added 1/2/16):
Apparently there was a later report that was only shared with donors. This info was posted on Trekmovie.com:
Alec Peters $38,166.57
Diana Kingsbury Deferred till 2016
Robert Burnett $5,000.00
Curtis Laseter $9,800.00
Right there is about $100K worth of salaries with the lion's share going to Mr. Personality, himself.
What else is different with Axanar compared to other fan films? Let's let Peters tell us himself:
“It’s not a traditional fan film, and doesn’t have those limitations with it,” he told TheWrap. “Although we fall under the fan movie, we’ve tried to make the product as good as coming out of the studio.”
And there's the lie. A fan film can't be done that's as good as something from a studio, period. But a PROFESSIONAL film can approach it. And that's what Axanar is, a professional film made by paid professionals, not by unpaid volunteers. How do we know for sure? Peters puts it right out there, himself:
"This is no fan film, this is a professional project," Peters has said. Repeatedly. He kind of writes the CBS and Paramount brief himself.
So let's not be fooled by this "love letter" crap. If there was no money to be made, there would be no project.