How is the ongoing legal battle between the two studios that own the rights to Star Trek against an "independent" fan-film affecting other fan film productions?
Last week, "Star Trek Continues" star and executive producer Vic Mignogna shared his thoughts with 1701News. And now, "Star Trek: New Voyages" producer — well, Star Trek fan — James Cawley has shared some of his thoughts about fan-films as well.
"I have been playing Trek since I was a little kid, running around my neighborhood with my friends," Cawley recently wrote at the TrekBBS. "I am still doing that, although not as much these days. At nearly 50, I would look silly. But my toys have gotten better."
Cawley commented in a thread on the popular Star Trek message board that now has more than 12,000 posts discussing the copyright infringement case CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures filed against Axanar Productions and Alec Peters last December. Although he didn't reference Axanar directly, Cawley did contrast what "New Voyages" does compared to what Axanar reportedly has been doing.
"I don't rent my sets, I don't charge for anything, and I certainly have never gotten any salary for playing Trek with my friends," Cawley said. "If you are not in it to have fun and be at summer camp, you should not be doing a fan-film."
Axanar has built what it's dubbed Ares Studio in Valencia, California, just outside Los Angeles, to where it reportedly planned to offer commercial rentals of its space. Peters, the producer in charge of Axanar, also reported paying himself a salary of $38,000 last year, plus expenses, which no other fan-film producer has claimed in the past. Axanar reportedly raised more than $1.1 million in crowdfunding, on a fan-film that has yet to be produced.
Mirroring what Mignogna told 1701News last week, Cawley said he would never find himself locked in a court battle over whether or not he can make fan-films.
"There is no question in my mind that CBS owns Star Trek," Cawley said. "There have been very gracious to allow us to play in their sandbox for many years. We have always had a good relationship with CBS, and have always complied with any request that they have made of us, and will continue to do so.
"If CBS says, 'Stop making fan-films,' we would abide by their wishes, and say, 'Thank you.'"
Cawley has allowed other productions to use his New York-based sets for years, but stopped the practice after "drama" he endured last fall. He didn't get into specifics about what happened.
"I am tired of the associated drama that goes with that scenario," Cawley said.
Although Cawley is credited as a producer on "New Voyages," he describes it more as a "fake title when it comes fan-films because none of us are doing this for a living, or at a pro level. I would simply prefer being referred to as a huge Trek fan in reality."
"I have spent far too much of my own money for many years — 15 of them to be exact — far more than I care to think about," Cawley said. "I did it for nothing but the love of the game. If and when it ends, at least I can say I played by the rules I was given when I crossed the finish line."
"Star Trek: New Voyages" released its 10th episode, "The Holiest Thing," last year. The fan-series' 11th episode, "Torment of Destiny" guest-starring Richard Hatch, premieres later this year.