Moving the Goal Posts?

IDIC Artwork from the Axanar Kickstarter campaign page.

Main article: Axanar Kickstarter Details
See also: Fan Films and Infringement and Fan Films: Breaking the Unwritten Rules and Defining Profit

The trajectory of the Axanar project’s crowdfunding effort, as it was articulated in the Prelude Kickstarter, began this way:

Prelude to Axanar will then allow us to launch into Axanar having proven our ability to deliver professional quality Star Trek. There will be a subsequent Kickstarter for the feature-length Axanar.1)

At the Outset

The Prelude Kickstarter started out with a modest $10,000 goal. It ended up with $101,171. Of that amount, executive producer Alec Peters allotted $10,000 to what he called “infrastructure for Axanar Productions.”

This means the legal paperwork needed to create our production company and the rather expensive insurance to cover all our productions over the coming year. It allows us to set up production offices … and start to produce Axanar.2)

The 'Infrastructure Kickstarter'

The release of Prelude to Axanar and subsequent acclaim may have been a game-changer, because the second Kickstarter campaign, for Axanar itself, turned out not to be really for producing the film.

[The] Axanar Kickstarter was launched with some very specific goals in mind, namely, building the infrastructure that would allow us to make Axanar and other Star Trek properties.3) [emphasis added]

In Axanar’s 2015 Annual Report, Peters acknowledges the public perception of the Axanar Kickstarter was to “incorrectly assume that the money was to go to production costs.”4) [emphasis added]

First Commercial Hint

Instead, this Kickstarter money was destined for infrastructure — and the first mention of a grander commercial production plan. The campaign described these costs as:

SCIFI AUTHOR David Gerrold (right) toured the Ares bridge set with producer Alec Peters in May 2015. This photo was posted on Twitter by Axanar director Robert Meyer Burnett.
  • Set construction, $100,000
  • Soundstage, $125,000. “This will be the permanent home of Axanar Productions and allow us to do more than just Axanar, from other adventures in the Star Trek universe and beyond. David Gerrold (writer of “The Trouble with Tribbles”) is already lined up to shoot his sci-fi series ‘Running Dark’ here. First year’s rent is $ 125,000.” [link and emphasis added]
  • Soundstage renovation.5) The description includes this:
Sci-Fi Film School - After the sets our built, we will be holding a Sci-Fi film school. Learn all about film making from our veteran industry staff including David Gerrold (writing), Richard Hatch and Gary Graham (acting), Robert Burnett (Editing/Directing), Christian Gossett (writing/directing) and Academy Award winner Kevin Haney and Star Trek veteran Brad Look (make-up). Donors will get first shot at the initial film school session.
  • Axanar pre-production costs, $50,000. This includes costume manufacture, VFX pre-visualization and modeling, and make-up. “These are just pre-production costs to get these departments going.”6)
  • Axanar production costs, $325,000-$425,000.7)
SET CONSTRUCTION Concept drawing for the bridge set of the U.S.S. Ares.

Ballooning Costs

Curiously, this last item — part of the Kickstarter campaign page — does not correspondingly appear in the Annual Report. The project needs articulated during the campaign totaled $404,000 (including Kickstarter fees and the cost of backers’ rewards). The total raised was $638,471. Peters concluded the campaign on August 24, 2014, with this statement:

Well, due to all your generosity, we have everything we need for the sets and studio and are well on our way to covering most of the budget.8) [emphasis added]

As it turned out, costs — especially to build out the studio Peters intended to use for commercial projects, and to rent out to bring in revenue9) — rapidly grew from lack of planning.

We outlined costs … for infrastructure that we would need to raise roughly $400,000 for. … That was before we found out what everything would really cost and what we didn’t even know we needed.10) [emphasis added]
ARES STUDIOS is the Valencia, Calif., soundstage being retrofitted for profit by Alec Peters with funds raised by donors to the film, Axanar. This picture from its Indiegogo campaign features the studio name Photoshopped onto the warehouse exterior.

According to the Annual Report, even the $638,471 raised — more than six times the campaign’s original $100,000 goal11) — was insufficient to cover all the infrastructure costs Axanar Productions encountered.12)

Time to Indiegogo

By the time Peters embarked on his third crowdfunding campaign, this time on Indiegogo nearly a year later, not only had the costs ballooned … so had his ambitions for Axanar Productions.13)

In the end, it was agreed that more time and more money would equal greater quality.14)

And so Axanar moved forward to its most ambitious campaign, this time on a rival crowdfunding platform — Indiegogo — and a new target, $1.32 million — to actually move Axanar into production.15)