CONVOLUTED CONNECTIONS between Alec Peters’ Georgia business concerns, his Atlanta attorney and his California companies are mapped out in this infographic. Click image to view full size, or view 480K PDF with added hyperlinks. Valkyrie graphic/Shuri Dreamscape/Flickr

Twisted Path to Discover Axanar's Studio Ownership

INQUIRY

By Carlos Pedraza
AxaMonitor editor
September 26, 2016

See also: Another Company Emerges in Axanar Studio Ownership and Investor Group Plans to Buy Axanar's Studio Assets

WITH THE formal opening of the for-profit studio Alec Peters built using money supporters donated to produce Axanar, AxaMonitor‘s investigation into the companies behind the studio revealed a complete lack of transparency about who stands to financially benefit from the facility.

Producer Alec Peters has formally opened the studio he built with money from donors to make Axanar, with a new website and a Facebook business page.

Originally called Ares Studios, the warehouse space leased by Peters to produce his Star Trek film, is now known as Industry Studios, after a brief designation in spring 2016 as Valkyrie Studios. Peters began marketing the studio on a Facebook page launched in August 2016, and on a website with the domain industry studios.la.

THE STUDIO where Axanar was to have been filmed also houses Alec Peters’ separate company, Propworx, rent-free. Photo/Industry Studios Facebook Page

Industry Studios

It’s unclear who exactly owns Industry Studios given the contradictory statements Peters and his spokesman, Mike Bawden, have made since March. Peters said:

A small group of backers and fans have developed a plan to set up a separate company to take over the management the sound stage, pay the rent and reimburse Axanar Productions for the cost of the build-out. That company will assume the $250,000 liability for the remainder of the lease. To do that, the new company will need to be a for-profit entity and raise investment dollars for capital.1)

At the time, Bawden said the investors, whose names he would not divulge, would “have no interest in Axanar Productions or its projects.” He also refused to say whether Peters himself was a member of the investors’ group. Even so, Peters was somehow empowered to offer a stake in the studio to at least one Axanar staff member.

Inside the Studio

WARHAMMER Alec Peters hosted a Warhammer 40K tournament in the unused Industry Studios on October 15, 2016.

And if he is a member of the investors’ group, then he would have an interest in Axanar Productions, contrary to Bawden’s claim.

UPDATE A court document filed January 5, 2017, revealed another company, of whom Alec Peters is the sole-owner, holds the lease to the building housing Industry Studios. Read more »

What is Industry Studios?

AxaMonitor‘s investigation was unable to confirm who is behind the company operating Industry Studios but did find a complicated trail of California- and Georgia-based companies that appeared to be associated with the property and had a direct connection to Peters.

No Such Company

No company named Industry Studios registered in the state of California could be connected to Peters’ studio, either as a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. A search of Los Angeles County’s fictitious business name database turned up nothing for Industry Studios.

The name Industry Studios LLC is already registered in California to what appears to be an unaffiliated company in Los Angeles, meaning that Peters’ studio must be operating under some other, undisclosed business name.

THE ENTRY for Georgia-based Valkyrie Studios LLC in the business database for the state of California.

Valkyrie Studios

California’s business database does have a listing, however, for a company named Valkyrie Studios LLC, organized in June 2016. However, Valkyrie is actually a Georgia company, though its agent for service of process is Sacramento-based Paracorp, Inc. Paracorp is a commercial services company that provides document filing and retrieval services for other companies.2)

The Georgia Connection

The state of Georgia’s business database indeed has an entry for a Valkyrie Studios LLC, listed as an “Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation” company, registered on March 16, 2016 — the same day as Peters' announcement of the studio asset transfer.

The Georgia database lists Valkyrie Studios’ entity address in Atlanta as the same in the California record. That address corresponds with a law firm, Friedman, Dever & Merlin. The first named partner is Sheldon E. Friedman, a 35-year practicing business attorney.

NEW WEBSITE Alec Peters’ Industry Studios has a new website — industrystudios.la advertising its film production services.

At Last! Industry Studios

Friedman is the registered agent in Georgia not only for Valkyrie Studios LLC, but for another company organized in Georgia on May 10, 2016. That company’s name? Industry Studios LLC — registered in Georgia a month before Georgia’s Valkyrie Studios LLC registered as a foreign company doing business in California.

It was in June, by the way, that Trekyards podcaster Stuart Foley, while broadcasting from Axanar’s studio, noted the shift between the names Valkyrie and Industry:

Ares Studios, Industry Studios, I keep having to correct myself. … They changed it to Valkyrie Studios, and they didn’t like that name, so they changed it to Industry Studios. Long story about that. Alec kind of filled us in on that.3)

The Peters Connection

What do all these companies — Valkyrie Studios in California and Georgia and Industry Studios in Georgia — have in common?

An attorney — Friedman — who turned out to also be the registered agent for another Atlanta-based company, ScreamingSports.com, whose chief executive officer was … Alec Peters. The two have in fact been friends for 17 years, according to Peters.

ATLANTA ATTORNEY Sheldon E. Friedman (right) with Alec Peters, his 17-year friend and client, ate breakfast together at Dragon*Con in September 2016. Friedman turned out to be the registered agent for companies that appear to be associated with Peters’ Industry Studios. Photo/Alec Peters Facebook

Both California and Georgia provide anonymity to members of LLCs, making it impossible to independently confirm whether Peters is part of any of these companies.

'No Comment' from Attorney

Reached by AxaMonitor to inquire about the apparent convoluted connection among these companies, the soundstage operating in California and Peters himself, attorney Friedman refused to comment, but did refer to Peters as both a friend and client.

Meanwhile, Axanar spokesman Bawden had not replied to our questions by the time this article was posted on September 26.

Finishing the Studio

Though Peters boasted in May that the studio would be operating the following month, it turned out the facility needed additional work before it could officially open for business, including upgrading the fire sprinkler system to meet fire department codes.4)

Peters contracted with a firm, The Location Company, of nearby Newhall, Calif., to assist him in getting the studio to pass the permit process and be certified for film, television and photo projects.5)

Market for the Studio

The Location Company’s president, Karen Bryden, told the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal Peters’ business would fill a niche among studios in the area, many of which are larger, more expensive to rent and intended to house long-term productions:

Although we have really fantastic studio space here in Santa Clarita, its always a challenge for a show, or even an episodic television show that needs a temporary set, or a space where they can throw up something on the short term.6)
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE Alec Peters turned to professionals to help get his studio in shape for commercial rental to film and television productions.

Asset Transfer

The studio was built out in a 15,000-square foot warehouse space leased by Axanar Productions for three years starting in January 2015 at an estimated cost of a quarter-million dollars. In April, Peters announced a secret investors’ group was taking over management of the studio and its three-year lease, and would reimburse Axanar for the money it spent on building out the soundstage.

AxaMonitor asked Axanar spokesman Bawden if Peters or any other Axanar principal is a member of the investors group or has some tangential financial interest in its activities moving forward, such as a break on studio rent, priority on use of facility, continued housing of Axanar and Propworx offices, or anything else. Bawden did not respond.

Peters: 'We Have No Such Asset'

Bawden said Peters had no comment at that time.7) However, in a video interview with the Australian news site, TREKZONE.org, released April 3, Peters expanded on the topic:

I’m not going to talk about that until we release all that information to the donors. Let’s be very clear: People say we built a for-profit studio. Totally false. There is basically a building that has two years left on its lease. Someone needs to pay for that. An asset is something tangible that is worth money that you can go out and sell. We have no such asset.8)

However, there appeared to be something of value in the studio, as Peters went on to offer a 2 percent stake in it to former chief technologist Terry McIntosh in May 2016 in exchange for McIntosh’s Ares Digital software, which was intended to fulfill perks from the crowdfunding campaigns, but utterly failed. McIntosh turned down the offer, saying the investment was too speculative to be worth the value of the software.


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