Axanar Productions promoted its makeshift warehouse as “Ares Studios,” but it seems the lawsuit-plagued company is now marketing the converted soundstage as “Valkyrie Studios.”
Flyers promoting not just the name but the studio space itself were reportedly distributed at the Sci-Fest L.A. film festival last week, according to a report by AxaMonitor. An image of the flyer was shared on a social media page run by an Axanar crewmember, seeking film groups that might be interested in renting out the space.
“Whether you’re looking for a place to shoot a commercial, a promotional piece, a fan production, a TV show, or a small feature film, you’ll want to check out all the amenities that Valkyrie Studios in Valencia, California, has to offer,” the flyer proclaimed.
The flyer lists a contact person as Curtis Short, who AxaMonitor says was the soundstage manager for Ares Studios — located in the same building that’s pictured on the flyer.
What exactly Valkyrie is, and how it’s related to Axanar (outside of it being the same physical space the “Star Trek: Axanar” fan-film was supposed to film), is not clear. Even Axanar’s spokesman, Mike Bawden, appeared to be out of the loop, saying that despite the existence of the flyer, Valkyrie Studios might not be a reality.
“I’m still digging into all of this over the weekend,” Bawden told 1701News Saturday afternoon. “I’m hoping we’ll have something to share come Tuesday, and I’ll make sure you get a link. Until then, I think it’s safe to say that everything is speculative at the moment.”
However, Axanar principal Alec Peters did tell supporters in March that he was seeking private investors to help off-set the high rental costs of the warehouse, especially now that CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures have filed a copyright infringement suit against both Peters and his Axanar Productions company.
“The cost of converting this space into a soundstage was a big piece of what we raised money for in the Axanar Kickstarter campaign,” Peters wrote on his website at the time. “Some of that money was also intended to cover the monthly rent of the space,” which he added was $12,500 per month.
Axanar, and Peters personally, is on the hook for at least $250,000 in rent — something that “someone needs to pay,” Peters said.
In that announcement, Peters said he would “spin off” the studios to “a small group of backers and fans,” but would not say if he or any of the Axanar primary leaders will be a part of that investment team. The value of the deal was said to be $400,000 by an Axanar spokesman. Yet, Peters called it a “win-win,” adding that “the new entity will reimburse Axanar Productions all the money that was spent on upgrading the building, and those funds will go into the production.”
The flyer for Valkyrie Studios promotes a 10,000-square-foot soundstage, a “huge professional green screen,” several multi-purpose rooms, and a “dedicated” 1,200 amps for electrical equipment. The studio was offered for daily, weekly, monthly and long-term rentals, with an on-site stage manager to “facilitate access and usage.”
Just last week, Peters announced that the studio would be rented out in June, AxaMonitor said.
A “valkyrie” is from norse mythology referring to a female figure who chooses those who die in battle, and who lives. The name has been used several times in recent history, as well as for companies. In fact, “Valkyrie Studios” was the name of a now-defunct computer game developer that released “Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator” in 1999. It’s also the name used by a prop maker and cosplayer who has operated under the name in both Seattle and Los Angeles since 2011, according to a social media listing.
It’s not quite clear how this will affect the lawsuit CBS and Paramount continues to pursue against Axanar, seeking statutory damages of up to $150,000 per copyright violation, or actual damages, as well as an injunction of “Star Trek: Axanar” from moving forward. The studio itself was created using money raised by Star Trek fans to produce a Star Trek fan-film, which outside of a short and a teaser scene, has not been filmed.
A judge in the copyright infringement case denied a motion to dismiss filed by the defense team, setting the stage for discovery and depositions to begin, for Axanar to respond to the lawsuit with its defense, and for the jury trial itself to potentially start in January.
To read more details behind the changes at Ares Studios, check out AxaMonitor’s full report right here.
Story updated at 2:30 p.m. to include comment from Axanar spokesman.
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