OWC Studios head Alec Peters photographed with Axanar co-writer Bill Hunt (pictured right) on the day Hunt now says he left Peters’ project. Photo/Axanar Productions

Axanar Co-Writer Announces Departure

Bill Hunt’s Resignation Actually Came July 29; Peters Didn’t Inform Donors

The co-writer of the Axanar feature film, whose screenplay was at the center of the copyright lawsuit against producer Alec Peters, announced November 3, 2017, he’d “parted ways” with the project months before — a fact Peters failed to reveal to his donors.

See also: Director Burnett Resigns from Axanar and 'Axanar' Co-Writer Says Peters Lacked Producer Experience

Actual Departure in July

Screenwriter Bill Hunt’s statement on Facebook came on the heels of a similar resignation the day before by Axanar‘s director Robert Meyer Burnett. Hunt posted on Facebook:

Since my friend and collaborator Robert Meyer Burnett announced his departure from Axanar last night, I’ve had many people ask if I’m still involved as the project’s co-writer. In fact, I parted ways with Axanar back on July 29th.1)

« Those two [Burnett and Hunt] leaving at basically the same time looks bad. Them announcing it instead of YOU first looks REALLY bad. » Axanar fan ‘Omega’

Peters Withholds Information

Peters sat on that information, however. On that day, he instead posted on social media that he and Hunt had “a writing session … working on the final version of the Axanar script and buffing the 30-minute script for episodes IV and V of The Four Years War.”2)

Hunt's Critique of Peters

Hunt’s departure caps a troubled position he held in the Axanar project. In his deposition during Axanar’s copyright infringement lawsuit, Hunt admitted that Peters didn’t really know what he was doing:

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)
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.

Fraught with Conflict

In his deposition, Hunt described a script development process fraught with conflict between Peters and Burnett, with Hunt often caught in the middle. 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.

Which Script?

Peters’ July 29 post created the impression Hunt was continuing to work, “buffing” a 30-minute script for the Axanar short films. Peters had announced completion of a first draft of that script on June 26. According to Hunt, however, that wasn’t the script he was working on before his departure.

Reason for Resignation

Hunt said his work was confined to revising the original Axanar feature script. His resignation statement discussed no involvement in the 30-minute script, only in preparing the original feature-length screenplay as one of Axanar’s promised — and yet undelivered — perks.

The result was a finished [feature] script I’m very proud of and that we all hoped to bring to the screen for the donors and fans. However, when it became clear that this would not happen, and that the project was moving in a different direction, I ultimately decided that there was little more for me to contribute.4)

Almost a month later, Hunt was gone.

Alec Peters

No Word

Meanwhile, that was news Peters did not see fit to share. He chose instead to create the impression Hunt was still on board.

'Not Important'

When asked on Facebook why he kept Hunt’s resignation quiet, he dismissed the notion, saying it simply wasn’t important:

People come and go on a production all the time, especially writers. Bill did a great job and moved on. Writers don’t stay on through the end of a production. They do their job and get another job. We stayed in touch with Bill and he remains my friend.5)

Minimizing Hunt's Resignation

Hunt, however, chafed under Peters’ attempt to minimize the resignation:

I would take a bit of issue on the matter of importance. On a traditional professional production, writers “come and go” as part of a work for hire situation. That was not the case here, which means I retain a portion of ownership of the drafts I produced.6)

'Looks Really Bad'

But the optics of Peters’ omission were challenged by an Axanar fan:

Why not just announce [Hunt’s resignation]? Why wait? Those two [Burnett and Hunt] leaving at basically the same time looks bad. Them announcing it instead of YOU first looks REALLY bad. How long until you start bashing them like Christian [Gossett]/Tony Todd/ and Terry Macintosh? Who all used to be really good friends with you until they quit?7)

Indeed, in the case of Todd, the actor was one of the stars of Prelude who left Axanar in September 2015 amid concerns about Peters’ mismanagement of crowdfunding dollars. Peters did not disclose Todd’s departure for three months, and only when challenged by an Axanar fan.

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Keywords

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