If you know me, you’re aware that I’m a fan of the original Star Trek series. Shatner, Nimoy, the whole gang. I grew up with it, and it made me a lifelong fan of science fiction.
If you’ve read my prior blog post about Trek (My Post is Here) you know how I feel about the various incarnations of Trek that were produced after 1969. In summary, I was disappointed. To put it mildly.
Allow me to discuss Axanar.
Axanar was to be another Star Trek fan film. You may not be aware of the decent number of fan films you can watch for free online, but there are quite a few. They’re a labor of love, and usually seem to be set in the era of the original 60’s series. As consumer tech has become readily available, the quality of these shows has gone up. Several Trek actors have participated, happy to please their fans. Professional writers have contributed.
Axanar was the best of these. They created a twenty-minute proof-of-concept video and posted it to Youtube. They proposed a two-hour movie, and opened the project to fan funding. The fans contributed a million dollars.
And would you like to know why? Let me tell you why. Axanar was far, far superior to anything that the studios have created in years. And on an incredibly frugal budget. The writing was great. The performances were great. Effects, sets, props, costumes, make-up, were all great. And the most important thing? They managed to create the actual Star Trek vibe, and respect the established canon. And in doing all this, they made the studio look really, really bad.
Enter CBS and Paramount. Boom.
The Big Boys stepped in. They specifically targeted Axanar, although they put the kibosh on all of the fan films, including those by James Cawley (who ended up turning his sets into a tourist attraction so fans can visit the Enterprise interior).
Well, it was just announced that a compromise of sorts has been reached. CBS has this thing called Star Trek Shorts, fifteen-minute vignettes that they run on their All-Access pay channel. They’ve reached an agreement that will allow the Axanar project to become a two-part short, for a total run-time of thirty minutes. So instead of a two-hour feature, they will continue the “mock documentary” format of their original twenty-minute Youtube proof-of-concept film. At least they get to finish out the story they’d planned.
But the whole thing begs the question of why the suits don’t give us Star Trek. Why do they have to change everything? Those loyal fans are the ones who’ve made Trek a viable franchise for over fifty years. Why throw the dice and gamble with their beloved setting? Does it truly make sense to alienate (pun intended) the consumers who want to buy your product? It’s a damned shame.
But in any case, we have Axanar to look forward to. In abbreviated format, but hopefully this will generate attention for the kind of old-school Trek that is loved by so many fans.
Prelude to Axanar Proof-of-Concept short on Youtube:
CBS/Paramount Halt Axanar Production:
Axanar’s Recent Website Update: