Milton Santiago Statement

Axanar Cinematographer Explains Why He Resigned from Financial Review Committee

See also: What's Behind Resignation from Axanar Financial Review? and Committee Reviews Only Part of Axanar's Finances

This is the entire text of Milton Santiago‘s statement, released by Axanar spokesman Mike Bawden to AxaMonitor on January 14, 2016:

Milton Santiago

IN MID-DECEMBER 2016, I was asked by Alec Peters if I was willing to serve as a member of an independent financial review committee that would examine and evaluate the expenditures of Axanar Productions over a three year period. I was told that the idea behind the independent review committee was to bring together a group of individuals from different business backgrounds and production experiences to review Axanar’s financial documents so that we may develop a report that would give the donors a level of confidence that their money was spent well. My role in this was to give an opinion of the expenditures relating to the physical preproduction and production of the film.

Because of scheduling conflicts and planned trips for the holidays, I did not accept the offer until after the new year. Soon thereafter I received a collection of financial documents and began my review. I met with fellow members of the committee in person and via phone conference. After about a week of examining the documents and seeking the advice of trusted colleagues, I came to the conclusion that I should resign from serving on the committee for several reasons:

1. I did not judge myself qualified to complete the requested task. Although there are many items in the documents that fall into my professional sphere of knowledge as a filmmaker for well over 20 years, I found that there were many other areas and line items that I simply did not know enough about to assess the documents competently. I have worked on productions of many sizes and budgets, however, the scope of this particular budget was outside of my comfort zone. Although I was only tasked with reviewing specific parts of the budget, we were asked to look at the expenditures as a whole and so I deemed it inappropriate to continue. Continuing would have required that I expand my knowledge base on other areas of budgeting and accounting and I simply did not have enough time to do that proficiently.

2. I was the director of photography for both Prelude to Axanar and the Vulcan scene. I also helped connect the production to vendors who could provide services for the studio build-up. I came to the conclusion that my participation in Axanar in such a capacity, albeit below the line and specific, could be viewed as a conflict of interest. Given that this exercise was designed for the donors and to give them an honest and independent assessment of Axanar’s financial dealings, I made the judgment that my participation in the process could be viewed as biased. I feel strongly that this exercise is a positive one for the donors and as such, I did not want to risk being a reason why the evaluation, whatever it turns out to be, was not accepted as honest.

3. Members of the committee have already been contacted by multiple outside sources with questions about the process, intent, and findings of the evaluation before the review is even concluded. This signaled to me that the findings of the committee would be carefully dissected and reviewed. Given what I have stated above, I simply did not want to dedicate the time I believed would be necessary to explain or defend any of my assessments. I am a private person. I have not had a big public profile about this project and the issues surrounding it. I could not see the benefit of changing my approach to this at this time.

In closing, I would like to say that the only reason that I consider participating in the committee was to provide a valuable service to the donors, many of whom are friends, and in some cases family. They are owed a truly independent and honest assessment of the budget. I believe that the other members of the committee will be able to do deliver that.

I ALSO WANT to add that I can attest to the fact that Alec has been forthright with sharing all relevant documents that were requested, answering questions and concerns, and allowing the committee to operate on its own timeline. He has exercised no influence over the committee’s process or methods.

I would like to thank Alec for considering me for the committee and also for being gracious in understanding my reasons for deciding to step down from it. I’ve truly appreciated how you have conducted yourself throughout this exercise.

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