'Axanar' Co-Writer Says Peters Lacked Producer Experience

Deposition Details Behind-the-Scenes Troubles That Plagued Development of the Film

Bill Hunt, co-writer of the ‘locked’ Axanar screenplay, said Alec Peters didn’t really understand proper script development or what a film producer was actually supposed to do, court documents show.

Those revelations came in a set of documents submitted to the court to support Peters’ opposition to attempts by plaintiffs CBS and Paramount Pictures to have defense evidence excluded from the upcoming trial.

Deposition Discovery

Axanar co-writer Bill Hunt

Hunt was one of the Axanar team deposed during discovery in the copyright infringement lawsuit the studios are pursuing against Peters and his company Axanar Productions. Hunt is listed as co-writer, along with Peters, of the film’s screenplay pictured in Peters’ August 2015 Facebook post declaring the script was “locked” and ready for production. That post has since been deleted from Facebook but is part of the plaintiffs’ case against Axanar.

Hunt’s deposition chronicles behind-the-scenes struggles about the script between Axanar director Robert Meyer Burnett and Peters, with Hunt “kind of in the middle between the two of them,” he described in his deposition.1)

« [Alec] had an idea what a film producer did, but it wasn’t an experienced idea of what a film producer did. »‘Axanar’ co-writer Bill Hunt

Trouble With the 'Best Trek Script Ever'

See also: The 'Locked' Axanar Screenplay: A Review

PROUD DISPLAY Alec Peters (center) celebrates what he called the “fully revised and locked” final draft of Axanar with co-writer Bill Hunt (left) and director Robert Burnett.

That August 2015 Facebook post quoted Burnett describing the effort as “the best Star Trek script ever.” Of course, those who’ve read the script haven't agreed. Nonetheless, the writing process was fraught with conflict between Peters, Burnett and Hunt. Hunt said:

So we were talking to [Peters] about, “Listen, this is how the process works. The script isn’t ready.” Mostly, I think it was Rob and Alec having these conversations, but to the extent that I was kind of in the middle between the two of them, talking them all off — talking them down off a ledge a lot of times.2)

Peters' Inexperience

At the heart of the trouble trying to improve the script, Hunt cited Peters’ inexperience, as both a screenwriter and producer, as a constant obstacle to his more experienced creative team:

Everybody on the production who was creative was falling into those traditional film roles, and [Peters] wasn’t familiar with how that process worked. … It was just – Alec didn’t really know what a film producer – he had an idea what a film producer did, but it wasn’t an experienced idea of what a film producer did. So it caused some conflict all throughout the project.3)
Axanar director Rob Burnett

Burnett's Role

Though the script’s cover page credits both Peters and Hunt, the deposition showed director Burnett played a much bigger role in the latter stages of the screenplay’s development:

Rob and I never stopped work. I mean, when the goal is you’re trying to make the project as good as it can possibly be, Rob and I never stopped working on it.4)

Peters Detaches

In fact, one of the lawyers in the deposition pointed to an email from Burnett to Peters indicating just how little Peters eventually became involved with completing the script for production. In that email, Burnett chided Peters:

Alec, are you kidding me right now? You’ve been sent multiple drafts of the script and HAVE NOT RESPONDED.5)

Hunt added that Peters indeed received drafts of the script but failed to participate in the process:

The truth is, that process never stops when you’re writing a script. And Alec wasn’t – he was learning that. … In the email I actually referred to a draft that I’d given him that he had said he was going to review but he never got around to.6)
Prelude director Christian Gossett

Management Trouble

Hunt’s revelations add detail to other accounts of Peters’ trouble managing what had now become a multi-million dollar project. Christian Gossett, who directed Prelude to Axanar and was due to helm the feature, left the project in May 2015, concerned that Peters’ management style had driven away many of the creatives who made Prelude so well. He detailed those concerns in summer 2016 interviews with the G&T Show and TrekZone.

After the Lawsuit

Hunt also revealed that while the filing of the studio’s copyright suit against Axanar in December 2015 brought formal work on the script to a halt, “we [Burnett and I] kept talking about it and we kept coming up with ideas.”7)

Self-Admission

Ironically, Hunt’s deposition — so critical of Peters — was filed by the defendants’ own lawyers. Hunt was scheduled to testify at the trial as a witness for the defense.


Keywords

1) , 2) , 3) , 4)
Transcript, Confidential Videotaped Deposition of Bill Hunt (10/25/16), Docket 181.1, p. 87, 1/6/17.
5) , 6) , 7)
Transcript, Confidential Videotaped Deposition of Bill Hunt (10/25/16), Docket 181.1, p. 88, 1/6/17.