This story is in regards to the on-going litigation surrounding a Star Trek "fan film" called "Axanar". If you've never heard about it, don't worry – most fans haven't. It's a tempest in a teapot. For the complete saga, see this very well done website dedicated to the subject: Axamonitor.
In a staggering turn of events, Christian Gossett, the director of the Star Trek short film "Prelude to Axanar" did an interview with The G & T Show and spilled the beans on just about everything regarding the Axanar Production, most significantly how it started and where things went wrong.
Here's a few highlights which demonstrate the staggering hubris and stupidity involved:
Creator/producer/writer/actor Alec Peters wanted to to be hired by CBS and/or Paramount to create real Star Trek. Despite having ZERO experience in the film industry, Peters wanted to somehow create something that would demonstrate to CBS/Paramount how great he was at producing, all while being funded by donations to his vanity project. That "calling card" would become Axanar. According to Gossett, Peters wanted to be like Rick Berman, the producer who was in charge of all things Star Trek throughout its heyday of the nineties. The arrogance of such a thing is jaw-dropping.
Gossett brought in the pros. Gossett brought in the professionals that made "Prelude", most of whom were unpaid and left after being exposed to Peters and his ego. In one significant example, Peters replaced production designer Scott Cobb via a Facebook post, rather than talking with him directly. What a class act. Gossett wanted to stress to those that support the Axanar project based on "Prelude" that most of the people who made "Prelude" happen are gone. At 18:48
What started as a collaboration became a dictatorship. Once the money started coming in, Peters started changing everything despite having no producing experience. Since he held the purse strings, no one could do anything about it. So they left. 24:35
Peters constantly insisted that he was in touch with CBS. Gossett
Peters repeatedly assured him that he was in touch with CBS and had
blessing for the overall production as well as for things like selling
Axanar Coffee, a fund-raising element of the production. There is no
evidence that this contact was a fact, and much to suggest it was a
blatant lie. At 26:38
Gossett didn't want the sound stage. Gossett saw no reason to do any type of sound stage build, insisting that a rental was the thing that made the most sense. A rental would have kept the budget lean, contrary to the bloated budget that has now been enacted. That budget now takes the crowd-funded cash and wastes it on monthly rent rather than putting it on-screen.
Peters didn't want to put raised money on-screen. The Vulcan Scene is the only scene that has thus far been shot for the Axanar feature film and was done after Gossett left. But Gossett says that, before his departure, Peters wanted him to shoot it, but on a very meager budget, despite the fact that the crowd-funding had brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Gossett, the intent of that shoot was to raise even more money. At 31:30
The "David and Goliath" comparison needs to be redefined. Axanar supporters are constantly evoking a "David vs. Goliath" scenario with themselves cast as the victimized David figure. But Gossett's take was that Axanar was Goliath with all other fan films as the underdogs. At 49:00
As a result of their "Goliath" standing, the new draconian Star Trek Fan Film Guidelines are a direct result of Axanar's grandiosity. "Prelude
to Axanar" was directed by Gossett for approximately $100,000. The
Axanar feature film, however, had a budget that exploded as money poured
in based in the quality of "Prelude". And as that budget exploded, the
production and everything about it got bigger. And that, Gossett
believes, is what got the studios' attention.
One of the important takeaways from this interview is the fact that Gossett does not turn on the nasty in any way. He presents the facts as he knows them but leaves any sort of character assassination out of it. Mr. Peters, on the other hand, has proven time after time to be the King of Character Assassination. The difference in tone between the two could not be more pronounced.
Thanks to Mr. Gossett for going on the record. It confirms a lot of things that people have been talking about while shedding light on the entire process that he was an integral part of.