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Director: Axanar Makes It Impossible To Disagree

Bad decisions, blind loyalty, fear run fan-film, Christian Gossett reveals

Before there was a fancy warehouse studio constructed in the heart of the Los Angeles film community, Alec Peters had his sights set on something smaller. And yeah, it was probably a little too small.

Peters — who along with his “independent” fan-film company Axanar Productions, are defendants in a copyright infringement suit from the studios that own Star Trek — had wanted to shoot his “Prelude to Axanar” short in a small city called Victorville, about 90 minutes northeast of Los Angeles. Peters had found an old linen warehouse here he felt would be perfect to film the short he hoped would raise the money for his full-length feature “Star Trek: Axanar.”

But one member of Peter’s entourage wasn’t keen on the idea. And it wasn’t just anybody, it was “Prelude’s” director, Christian Gossett.

“It was not suitable for filming,” Gossett recently told Matthew Miller on the Australian-based “TrekZone Spotlight.”

“It had no bathroom facilities. Many parts of it were dirt floors and cracked concrete floors. It wasn’t sufficient electrically, you couldn’t hang lights in this place. It was meant for collecting linens, washing linens and delivering linens back to the clients.”

Using such a space might be cheap, but it would never fly with the various actors who were being brought into “Prelude,” Gossett said. People like Richard Hatch from the original “Battlestar Galactica,” and Kate Vernon who appeared in the new “Battlestar Galactica.” It was not worth spending donor money for the facility just to make it usable, especially when turn-key studio space was available for lease in Hollywood itself.

Gossett eventually won that argument, and “Prelude” was indeed shot on a leased soundstage in Hollywood. But Peters never gave up on his dream of building a studio, and after more than $1 million in fan donations to make “Axanar,” his Ares Studios (or, by some reports, Valkyrie Studios now) is about all Peters has to show for the troubled production.

CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures have more or less moved past the time they can add defendants to its copyright infringement lawsuit against an “independent” fan-film, and that has allowed some of the bigger names once associated with Axanar to speak out.

Gossett, a graphic novelist who directed the Star Trek fan-film short “Prelude to Axanar” only to make a public departure from the production after it was released, made stops on not only TrekZone recently, but the “G & T Show” podcast as well. Gossett shared what it was like working with Peters, the mass exodus of talent from the project as it slowly moved forward, and even what he says is fear by the man who replaced him as director, Robert Meyer Burnett.

“Rob and I knew each other before either of us had met Alec,” Gossett said. “It’s difficult for Rob. On the one hand, he really wants to do a great job for the donors. But at the same time, he’s in a position where he can’t speak freely, because he’ll be branded as a traitor and a hater. So Alec speaks for him and he can’t retort.”

Burnett appears to not have made any direct response to Gossett’s allegations in social media, but soon after the “G & T” appearance, the official Axanar social media account told a fan in comments he released that Gossett has been “throwing bombs for a week,” and that they would soon “set the record straight.”

Anyone who compared the crew who worked on “Prelude” and the crew supposedly lined up to film the feature-length “Axanar” are completely different, Gossett said. Many people who were excited to work on the project where chased away because of how they were treated, or their disagreement in the direction of Axanar Productions ahead of the lawsuit.

One of the biggest blows to Axanar since CBS Corp. and Paramount Pictures sued Peters and the production last December, Gossett said, was the departure of its chief technology officer Terry McIntosh.

“If you want to talk about one of the most valuable players in the success of what Alec Peters was doing, you’re talking about Terry McIntosh,” Gossett told Miller. “And now he has been cast away, and has to ask in public for a simple thank you.”

Since his departure in May, some Axanar fans have accused McIntosh publicly of stealing computer coding and other technology. That has prompted McIntosh to go public about some of the inner workings, including a conversation McIntosh reportedly had with Peters where the producer who raised $1.3 million claimed Axanar was now broke.

Peters, according to the released conversation, was trying to get some software McIntosh had developed called “Ares Digital,” and was offering an ownership interest in the Axanar studio in return.

“We don’t have any cash right now,” Peters told McIntosh, according to the released conversation. “I just loaned Axanar $22,000 that frankly I need to pay my bills. Till the studio is up and running, we have no” money, using a dollar sign instead of the final word.

Gossett, for his part, is against what Peters and Axanar did with donor money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in the studio located just outside of Los Angeles, where partially completed sets for the Axanar feature wait. The studio also has office space for Peters and Burnett, and Peters’ once-bankrupt auction company, PropWorx, shares the same address as the studio.

“The reason why I was so against major construction on a warehouse outside of Los Angeles is that money should be going toward special the special effects,” Gossett said. “It should be going to the actors coming on. It should be going to the wardrobe on the screen.”

The fan-film guidelines released by CBS and Paramount in the wake of the Axanar lawsuit is something Gossett says he applauds. Raising lots of money and attracting cast and crew with some name recognition takes away from what a fan-film is supposed to be.

“The guidelines are the best thing possible to happen to home-grown Trek,” he said. “If you want to make your own costumes, of course you can make your own costumes. If you have it in you to get together with your cosplay friends and build the Crystalline Entity, do it.

“This is what fan-films are supposed to be about — using what you have, getting together with your friends, and doing something great.”

Although “Star Trek: Beyond” producer J.J. Abrams said the Axanar lawsuit was “going away” during a May fan event in Los Angeles, more than a month later, the lawsuit continues with reports of ongoing settlement talks, and the beginning of what will be the evidentiary discovery stage.

The case is scheduled to go in front of a jury beginning Jan. 31.

Need to catch up on the “Star Trek: Axanar” copyright infringement lawsuit? Visit our easy-reference guide to all of 1701News’ coverage and commentaries by clicking here.

Source: TrekZone

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