Axanar is Broke, Peters Claims

Axanar Surrogate Claims Donor Funds in Escrow

In May 2016, Axanar producer Alec Peters claimed the production was out of money, and was offering stock in its donor-funded studio to help with shipping perks to donors.

“We don’t have any cash right now,” Peters informed his former chief technologist, Terry McIntosh, who had resigned just a day before amid growing donor complaints about Axanar’s inability to deliver supporters’ promised perks.

Escrow Account

UPDATE July 4, 2016 — A surrogate for Peters, Rand Johnson, claimed on Facebook that the report Axanar was out of money “couldn’t be further from the truth.”1)

Johnson further claimed that donors’ money was safe in an escrow account:

Alec Peters has not used donation funds for anything but making Axanar and all donor funds would safely be tucked away in an escrow account only to be used to make the film. … Axanar is not running out of money … and our donation money is indeed perfectly safe.2)

AxaMonitor emailed Axanar spokesman Mike Bawden to confirm the existence of the escrow account and to disclose how much donor money was in that account, as well as to whether Johnson was speaking officially on behalf of Axanar. At the time of this posting Bawden hadn’t yet responded.

However, in a May 27 interview on the Axanar blog, Bawden described just such a scenario for a hypothetical fan film flush with funds from a more-successful-than-planned crowdfunding campaign:

When it’s a fan project, then you’ve gotta wonder, “What are we gonna do with the extra [money]? Because we can’t pocket it. We can’t count it as profit.” And at that point, then, my advice to somebody would be to say, “You need to take that money and put it in an escrow account. And you need to say, ‘When we’re ready to do our sequel to this first project, we are … ahead of where we would be.’”3) [emphasis added]

The Offer

« I question whether or not Alec could make the statement that Axanar is out of money. »Axanar spokesman Mike Bawden

Upon his resignation, McIntosh offered to sell Peters the Ares Digital technology that managed the perks to which each donors was entitled, as well as updating their shipping information as needed.

In exchange, Peters instead offered McIntosh a 2-percent interest in the Industry Studios operation Peters announced in March was buying out Axanar’s studio assets. Peters had paid to build out the studio with funds raised in its second Kickstarter campaign. He told McIntosh:

If you want to give us Ares Digital, it has to be a stock deal as we have previously discussed. I just loaned Axanar $22,000 that frankly I need to pay my bills. Til the studio is up and running we have no $. Or you can take a [promissory] note. But you need to set a price.4)

Unknown Financial Status

Bawden, contacted for comment on Peters’ assessment of Axanar’s cash position, said Peters couldn’t know that:

I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of the financial standing of Axanar Productions and, quite frankly, I’m not sure Alec does either since as far as I know the accountant that’s been retained still has all of the financial records and is still working on comprehensive financial reports for review. So I question whether or not Alec could make the statement that Axanar is out of money.5)

FOR MORE information about Axanar’s finances, see the article, Axanar: Ambition vs. Achievement, part of AxaMonitor‘s ongoing series of analysis pieces.

The news that Axanar may have run out of money raises a variety of questions about its spending, given how much it should have had on hand in January 2016 — hundreds of thousands of dollars — when the CBS/Paramount copyright infringement lawsuit shut down its ongoing Indiegogo fundraising campaign.

Peters’ admission also highlights how important the commercial opportunity his Industry Studios venture is to simply giving Axanar a home.

Donor Data

Without the donor information in Ares Digital, Axanar was forced to start from scratch, using old donor data, a time- and labor-intensive effort Peters appeared to want to avoid by obtaining the Ares Digital platform that McIntosh had developed for Axanar’s use, but had never been paid for:

Axanar producer Alec Peters
Here’s the deal. If you want to just turn everything over, whether we use it or not I will give you 2% of the studio. Fully vested. If not you can name a cash price, but then I have to wait and see if the tech guys … want to use what you built or build it from scratch. If you take the stock and we don’t use what you built, I am not worried.6)

In a series of posts on the CBS/Paramount vs. Axanar Facebook group about Peters’ desired purchase, McIntosh said he refused the stock offer:

I wasn’t interested in a ‘stock in the new studio’ deal to sign [Ares Digital] over in full — that’s a level of risk re: compensation for actual time and work invested in the code that I wasn’t comfortable with.7)

Cash Purchase?

McIntosh said Peters offered him $2,000 cash for the donor data McIntosh’s technology had cleaned up for Axanar’s use. “I literally laughed and told them that if they want to be taken seriously then they needed to tack a zero on to that.”

Accusations of Theft, Extortion

McIntosh’s revelations were prompted by an accusation on Facebook by Axanar supporter Charles Britto, an associate of Peters’, that in taking Ares Digital with him, McIntosh had absconded with donor data that properly belonged to Axanar then tried to extort $20,000 from the production. In a Facebook post, Britto accused:

Charles Britto
Terry [McIntosh] took data that didn’t belong to him, and refused to return it. Then tried to extort $20,000 from Axanar to return it. Yea, he’s a good source of honesty … hahaha.

McIntosh disputed that characterization, saying that Axanar retained all its original donor data, but the data he transformed into Ares Digital was part and parcel of the technology, which McIntosh said he owns. “I’m not just handing over Ares Digital’s ‘secret sauce’ because Axanar is broke,” he added:

Former Axanar chief technologist Terry McIntosh
They have all of the original donor data, and always have. … The Axanar donor data that was in Ares Digital has been properly erased from the database server, as I promised that it would be, since I have no business need to possess it. The donor data is safe with Axanar and Axanar alone.

That data is so important to Axanar because it is key to delivering perks to donors. McIntosh’s extra work had cleaned up the data with more current donor shipping and email information.

Perk Problems

An AxaMonitor report, “What's Up with the Perks?”, explored the reasons behind Axanar’s:

« People are gonna have the Kickstarter patches, and people are gonna be excited about it. »Axanar producer Alec Peters

  • Failure to ship any perks to Axanar‘s Kickstarter and Indiegogo donors.
  • Specific inability to deliver patches that were manufactured.
  • Spending of up to $37,258 on merchandise manufacturing and shipment, but not on behalf of the crowdfunding donors who funded those expenses.
  • Placing a higher priority on fulfilling new merchandise orders from its online store than old Kickstarter rewards.
  • Undisclosed proceeds from a PayPal link added to its Kickstarter page after the campaign closed, via direct donations solicited on its own website and from purchases of Axanar merchandise made on its online store. uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. You can learn more about how we use cookies by reading our Privacy Policy, though cookies are not required to browse AxaMonitor. More information about cookies