Have Star Trek fan-films finally met their fate?
With CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures continuing its copyright infringement lawsuit against the fan-film “Star Trek: Axanar,” at least one of the studios has reportedly forced a second fan-film project to pull the plug.
“Star Trek: Federation Rising,” the recently announced sequel to the fan-film “Star Trek: Horizon” released last February by Tommy Kraft, has been shut down before it could even get off the ground.
“Earlier today, executives from CBS reached out to me and advised me that their legal team strongly suggested that we do not move forward with plans to create a sequel to ‘Horizon,'” Kraft announced on the fan-film’s Facebook page. “While this is a sign of the current climate that we find ourselves in with Star Trek fan-films, I want to personally thank CBS for reaching out to me, rather than including us in their ongoing lawsuit against ‘Axanar.'”
Although Kraft didn’t provide details, he did indicate that the lawsuit against Axanar Productions and its producer, Alec Peters, was quite clearly the culprit that dashed plans for the sequel.
“It was conveyed that the reason CBS was reaching out to me was due to the legal troubles stemming from the Axanar case,” Kraft said. “Again, CBS did not have to reach out personally. The message I received felt more like they were giving me a heads up before we got too involved in another project, rather than a group of angry executives swinging a hammer.”
Earlier this week, Kraft had unveiled plans to raise $250,000 to film a sequel to “Horizon” in Los Angeles. The first film, which took Kraft years to complete, is set after “Star Trek: Enterprise,” and used almost entirely virtual sets. The film, which Kraft shot for less than $50,000, has now received more than 935,000 views on YouTube.
Fundraising for “Federation Rising” was supposed to start early next week, with Kraft talking to 1701News about those plans in advance for a story scheduled to be released just as the campaign got underway. In that discussion, Kraft was a little concerned about raising enough money, since other high-profile fan-projects like “Star Trek Continues” suddenly were struggling with fundraising.
“My biggest concern is whether we can raise all that money,” Kraft told 1701News in the interview last week. “I really hope we can, because I’m actually excited about this.”
However, even before Kraft received the missive from CBS to close up shop, the idea the studios might step in and force the sequel to stop remained on Kraft’s mind.
“In terms of whether we’re worried that we’ll get sued, I don’t think we will. I hope we don’t,” Kraft said. “And honestly, if CBS and Paramount would do anything, they would start with a cease and desist, and if we did not cease and desist, then they would sue.”
Kraft did say that if CBS and Paramount did have a problem, that it came before any raised funds were spent, so that the production could refund that money back to the donors. With this move by CBS, it seems they won’t even have to do that, since fundraising hasn’t even started yet.
CBS and Paramount sued Axanar and Peters last December for what they claim is copyright infringement for its fan-film, which raised more than $1.3 million. Although production on “Axanar” itself never got started, Peters and his production group did create a trailer as well as an extended scene known as the “Vulcan scene” that included “Enterprise” guest star Gary Graham reprising his role as the Vulcan ambassador Soval.
The studios are seeking statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement violation, or actual damages, which if successful, could clearly wipe out the money raised by Axanar.
Kraft is not giving up. He still intends to announce plans next week, not for “Federation Rising,” but instead for what he’s calling a new original project that might be inspired by Star Trek, but does not use any of the intellectual property owned by CBS and Paramount. The announcement for that project is expected to come Saturday.
That might actually be good news for Kraft, who had originally intended “Horizon” to be his only fan-film in the Star Trek genre, only to change his mind after the success of that fan-film, to take a much bigger stab at a sequel.
“When I finished ‘Horizon,’ one of the big things I was looking forward to when I was moving on to my next project was not having to worry about this stuff,” Kraft told 1701News. “And not having to worry about lawsuits and all that, who can get paid, and who can’t get paid.”
For details on how Kraft and his production team are regrouping, visit ‘Horizon’ on Facebook.