Star Trek actor Tony Todd (left) and Prelude to Axanar director Christian Gossett appear in a monitor on set during Prelude‘s production in 2014. Both later departed the project, citing accountability concerns about producer Alec Peters.

Axanar: Nonprofit No More; Short Films May ‘Take Years’

Almost five months after abandoning its beleaguered California studio, still touting its intention to seek nonprofit status for Axanar Productions, its spokesman admitted that effort has “come to a halt,” with the company likely shutting down after producing the two Axanar short films.

Whither Axanar Productions?

Axanar’s PR director, Mike Bawden, told AxaMonitor on August 31, 2017, that Axanar CEO “Alec [Peters] said it was his intention to have Axanar Productions complete the two, approved ‘segments’ of the mock Axanar documentary series and then he would turn his focus to his own production company, Rocketworx.”1)

SCALED BACK Production of the two Axanar short films to be made will look more like this setup for Prelude than the full sets that had been planned for the feature.

Axanar Could 'Take Years'

Hampered by anti-crowdfunding restrictions in the settlement from the copyright lawsuit filed against Axanar by Star Trek’s owners, Bawden said, “I’m guessing it will take years to produce and eventually release the segments.”2)

That compares with Peters’ more optimistic but ever-changing planned due date for the two episodes. Earlier in 2017, he said in interviews that the short films would be completed in the fall. More recently, he has said end of the year and now 2018.

Peters reported on social media that he had completed a first draft of the script for the two episodes but as yet he had announced no budget nor by what means he would raise the money to produce them with an all-volunteer crew. Even while touting he added more characters than appeared in the original feature screenplay, the participation of main actors remained in doubt. Nonetheless, Bawden said:

I know Alec is moving forward with production of the mock documentary segments, but I’m not aware of any announced deadlines for various aspects of pre-production activities, casting, principal photography or post-production.3)

« I’m not aware of any further effort to reorganize Axanar Productions as a 501(c)(3) [nonprofit organization] at this time, so my assumption is that those actions have come to a halt. » Mike Bawden, Axanar Spokesman

Failed California Studio

After the failure in April of his Indiegogo campaign to save his “Industry Studios,” Axanar CEO Alec Peters completed his move to Georgia in August, establishing the new for-profit Rocketworx, in a suburban Atlanta warehouse underwritten by the technology company, Other World Computing, whose owner was a fan of the 2014 short film, Prelude to Axanar.

Axanar spokesman Mike Bawden (left) with Alec Peters.

Indiegogo Failure

Peters’ Indiegogo pitch was for his avowed 15,000 Axanar fans to pony up $200,000 to keep Industry Studios afloat long enough to open as a commercial studio facility that would also offer low- to no-cost production services to fan and independent film productions.

« Given the narrowed focus for Axanar Productions now that Alec has moved to Georgia, I don’t think anyone has suggested continuing the pursuit of the charitable/nonprofit designation. » Mike Bawden, Axanar Spokesman

At that point, Peters had already sunk almost three-quarters of a million of donors’ dollars into the never-soundproofed soundstage that was to have been used to produce the feature film, Axanar, before a copyright infringement lawsuit by Star Trek’s owners, CBS and Paramount Pictures brought an end to those plans.

However, almost all those 15,000 fans failed to support Peters’ most recent crowdfunding effort. Barely more than 300 contributed 10 percent of the money Peters wanted to save the fan-funded studio.

Hemorrhaging Money

The year-long lawsuit finished draining Axanar’s already depleted coffers, with the studio hemorrhaging money at the rate of $15,000-$18,000 a month. Peters had signed a three-year lease on the facility for a feature film that should only have required a studio for a few months. Instead, he intended to use donor funds to build a studio he could use for future fan films and commercial productions.

According to court records, he eventually raised $1.7 million toward those efforts — all of which was spent without a single frame of Axanar shot in the studio.

UNDERWRITTEN Axanar’s warehouse outside Atlanta is being paid for by OWC (, the Illinois-based technology company. Pictured: Alec Peters (left), Axanar podcast host Keith Sedor (right). Photo: Axanar Productions website

Abandoning Nonprofit Plans

Up until now, Peters had held out to donors the expectation that their money was going toward a company, Axanar Productions, whose intentions were to become a non-profit, federally tax-exempt organization. Peters had repeatedly told donors that Axanar was well along the path toward becoming a nonprofit.

“Our quest to achieve tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) has moved forward,” Peters wrote on the Axanar blog on April 13. “The State of California’s Secretary of State’s office accepted our request to be listed as a domestic non-profit entity.”4)

Indeed, the entire premise of the latest Indiegogo campaign was that donors were contributing to a nonprofit effort to aid student, fan and independent filmmakers, Bawden said. And on April 15, just a week before the conclusion of the campaign, blogger and Axanar surrogate Jonathan Lane said the IRS application had been filed.5)

Bawden wouldn’t confirm whether that application for a federal tax-exemption had actually ever been submitted to the IRS, only that they wouldn’t proceed: “I’m not aware of any further effort to re-organize Axanar Productions as a 501(c)(3) at this time, so my assumption is that those actions have come to a halt.”6)

Bait and Switch?

The Indiegogo failure and the resulting move to Georgia appeared to bring an end to Axanar’s charitable plans. Bawden said:

The idea behind turning Axanar Productions into a non-profit film production company was to complement an expanded mission of helping student, fan and small independent filmmakers produce their projects at Industry Studios. Given the narrowed focus for Axanar Productions now that Alec has moved to Georgia, I don’t think anyone has suggested continuing the pursuit of the charitable/nonprofit designation.7)

That change in plans, however, had never been publicly announced since AxaMonitor raised the question months before in April. And it only came to light in August because of AxaMonitor‘s inquiry.

Even in June, Peters still acted as if the nonprofit filing was still moving forward, writing on the Axanar blog:

Axanar Productions’ 501(c)(3) filing is finally ready to go. 8)

No More Axanar

And after months of contradictory statements about productions to come after the Axanar short films, Bawden stated Axanar Productions had no plans to continue once the films are complete:

ROCKETWORX The logo for Alec Peters’ new for-profit production company.
Alec said it was his intention to have Axanar Productions complete the two, approved [episodes] and then he would turn his focus to his own production company, Rocketworx. It’s my understanding that Axanar Productions will not produce anything after those two segments are completed and that Rocketworx will concentrate on its own IP and related “geek” content - not necessarily fan films.9)

Indeed, Peters announced in May, ““We also have several other productions and co-productions in the development pipeline.”10)

Three months later, however, Bawden said he was unaware of any projects in the pipeline for the for-profit Rocketworx production company.11)

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1) , 2) , 3) , 6) , 7) , 9) , 11)
Email from Mike Bawden to AxaMonitor editor Carlos Pedraza, 8/31/17.
"OWC Announces Sponsorship of Film Production Company, Studio", Rocket Yard, the Blog, 5/11/17.