The campaign to raise $350,000 felt more like the unbeatable Kobayashi Maru, especially over the last few weeks. But leave it to Capt. Kirk — or at least his “Star Trek Continues” alter ego Vic Mignogna — to find a way to save the day.
A crowdfunding effort to raise those hundreds of thousands of dollars ended Thursday, pulling in just under $200,000 — or 57 percent of its goal. Where fans expected this could put future episodes of the fan-film series in danger, Mignogna had surprising news: “Continues” met its goal through private donations outside of the IndieGoGo campaign.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Mignogna wrote on the fan-film’s Facebook page. “We are so deeply grateful to those of you who have donated to ‘Star Trek Continues.’ And do not be discouraged. I’m very pleased to announce that we have received a considerable amount in private individual donations, and it has allowed us to reach our goal.”
Mignogna didn’t elaborate on who made the donations, or for how much. But if “Continues” was to meet its overall goal, such donations would have to total a little more than $150,000.
“We have the most amazing group of supporters in the world,” Mignogna told 1701News in a statement. “They know that we have always operated with the highest integrity, do not make promises we don’t keep, do not set dates we don’t honor, and we have at the heart of our production a singular goal — a celebration of the greatest TV series in history.”
The funding, according to the campaign, will be used to complete post-production on the seventh episode of the fan series — which was filmed using leftover funds from a previous campaign. It also would back three more episodes, as well as extend rent and utility costs at the “Continues” soundstage in Georgia for 18 more months.
Just a couple weeks ago, with the fundraising campaign nearing its end, the situation for “Continues” continuing looked grim. That prompted Mignogna to film a new video from the highest point in Vazquez Rocks — the site of a few different Star Trek episodes over the years — to make a plea to fans.
“We’re hearing from a lot of you that you’ve been reluctant to give because of a pending lawsuit against another production,” Mignogna said in the video. “‘Star Trek Continues’ is not a commercial venture. There are no yearly salaries. Nobody’s getting monthly paychecks. In fact, myself and others have personally put in hundreds of thousands of dollars of our own personal savings into this production with no expectation of anything, but the joy of bringing Star Trek — a show that we all love — to you for your enjoyment.”
The “pending lawsuit” Mignogna alluded to was the copyright infringement suit CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures filed against Axanar Productions, and its principal Alec Peters, last December. Peters, who was planning to produce what he called an “independent” feature-length film called “Star Trek: Axanar,” raised $1.3 million. The production rented warehouse space in the heart of Los Angeles’ pricey filming district, and even paid salaries to some of its principals, including $38,000 plus expenses to Peters himself.
CBS and Paramount are seeking to stop production of “Axanar” from moving forward, as well as statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement, or actual damages.
The lawsuit seems to have soured the fan-film community a bit. The “Continues” campaign, for instance, has never failed to reach its goal before through pure crowdfunding. But at least “Continues” was able to actually raise those funds.
Tommy Kraft, the producer behind February’s “Star Trek: Horizon” feature-length fan-film was about to raise $250,000 to film a sequel, “Star Trek: Federation Rising.” However, Kraft said he was contacted by CBS and discouraged from moving forward. He quickly announced a non-Star Trek film called “Project Discovery,” which has since raised just $16,000, or 7 percent of its goal.
A second proposed fan-film, “Star Trek: Constellation” from actor Joe Geragi, voluntarily shut down last week in light of the toxic environment fan-films currently are operating in.
Mignogna did have an added benefit to his donors for the first time. Donations to “Continues” are now tax-deductible after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service granted the production company non-profit status.
“Continues” has not released a timeline for when the newly funded episodes will move forward. However, Mignogna said the seventh episode will debut at Salt Lake Comic Con in Utah the weekend of Sept. 1.
Updated to include comment from Vic Mignogna, and provide a premiere date for the seventh episode of “Star Trek Continues.”