Axanar Studio Crowdfunding Campaign Begins March 20
After Premature Leak of Pitch Video, Campaign Shifts from Kickstarter to Indiegogo
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After delaying his launch of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for Industry Studios’ rent and utilities, producer Alec Peters posted his pitch video on YouTube in which he articulated his argument for backers to donate $15,000-18,000 a month to keep the studio afloat.
UPDATE In a March 17, 2017, email to Axanar donors, Peters announced his 30-day crowdfunding campaign would begin March 20, on Indiegogo instead of Kickstarter.1) He failed to give a reason for the change in platform.
Peters appeared to be unaware his four and a half-minute video was publicly viewable. After AxaMonitor posted a link March 15, the video was changed to private, and later apparently removed from YouTube. But not before copies began to circulate on the Web.
Indiegogo Goal Amount
To pay the rent and operational expenses for the remaining nine months of 2017 will cost Peters $162,000; a full year would run $216,000.
INDIE FILMMAKERS Tom Pike and Zac Wallnau, the creators of the crowd funded scifi webseries, Personal Space intend to make use of Industry Studios. Video/Industry Studios
Peters’ Kickstarter pitch is to turn Industry Studios into “one of the very few nonprofit production companies in the entertainment industry today” by convincing Kickstarter backers to underwrite his operational expenses in favor of assisting independent and fan filmmakers.
Peters described the studio’s specific mission was to “help independent fan and student filmmakers in their science fiction, horror and fantasy projects to life,”2) calling his soundstage the “single largest asset to help creators bring their projects to life.”
His previous Kickstarter campaign raised more than $638,000 in 2014 to produce Axanar and build his own studio rather than rent one. A follow-up Indiegogo effort brought in another $574,434. All that money is gone.
Axanar’s next campaign moved to Indiegogo, where it was less successful, taking five and a half months to raise 89 percent of what it brought in from Kickstarter.
Others' Intellectual Property
The video shows off CGI footage from Prelude to Axanar and Axanar featuring Star Trek imagery, as well as clips from Harry Potter fan films, to entice viewers to contribute to the studio.
PERSONAL SPACE In the video, filmmakers Tom Pike and Zac Wallnau pointed to their forthcoming web series, an original project called Personal Space, starring the recently deceased Richard Hatch, as the kind of project they believe Industry Studios will support.
Hatch also appears in the video from archival footage recorded in 2016, an interview in which he generally supported fan productions. Hatch, who died in February, was a personal friend of Peters and had been due to portray the Klingon commander, Kharn, in Axanar.
In the pitch video, Pike described what Hatch’s connection with Peters offered their project:
One of the reasons we want to work with Industry Studios is because we want his performance to reach as many of his fans as possible.3)
Pike added that he hoped to shoot the series’ second season at Industry Studios — for free if Peters’ pitch was to be believed — if backers underwrite the operational costs of the facility.
HARRY POTTER Fan filmmaker Justin Zagri (Severus Snape and the Marauders) also spoke up for Industry Studios in the pitch video:
When you get to take meetings at a place like Industry Studios it gives you a professional veneer. It gives potential investors and other people that might be helping you a sense confident in you, that they see what your surroundings are.4)
Incidentally, Zagri noted his two Harry Potter films had garnered in excess of 10 million views. Prelude to Axanar, by comparison, logged 3 million views in the course of nearly three years.
CHOLOS VS. VAMPIRES producer Hector Barron said access to Industry Studios would be a boon to independent filmmakers like him:
I think independent filmmakers need a place like Industry Studios. This studio could help so many people.5)
Peters also promised other productions would be able to use the sets constructed for Axanar:
Maybe you have a fan film you want to make. Wouldn’t it be great to have a place where you could come and use already-built sets? And do it for nothing? Well, that’s what this Kickstarter is all about.6)
Where the Money Goes
Normally, Kickstarter pitch videos include the monetary goal for the campaign, as well as a description of the most enticing perks that can be offered. Peters’ pitch included none of that. People likely won’t learn about either until the campaign launches at some unspecified date.
‘Contrary to Alec Peters’ claims, Industry Studios would not be the first fan-funded movie studio in history. That title goes to Legion M.’
The move to Indiegogo would appear to require a new version of the pitch video; that presumably would be released with the campaign’s March 20 launch.
Peters described the aim for the use of the crowd funds: the operational costs for the studio, which are not identified in the video, but he had separately described the costs as high as $18,000 per month. Axanar supporters’ $1.4 million was all but used up by studio-related costs even before the CBS-Paramount copyright infringement lawsuit.
Backers’ underwriting those costs would offer student and independent filmmakers free access to the studio, he said.
Peters made a point of claiming “none of the money raised will go toward individual compensation” — a criticism levied at him since he revealed in Axanar’s 2015 annual report he had paid himself a salary from donor funds. He changed that story a year later, claiming he had paid the money back by paying for the studio rent out of his own pocket once he had used up donors’ money.
Propworx's Free Rent
Unmentioned by Peters is the status of his other company, a separate business called Propworx. Peters admitted during the lawsuit that company has never paid rent for its space at Industry Studios. It remained unknown whether this other business would contribute to the studio rent alongside donors.
Funding Other Fan Films
Peters promised that all the Kickstarter proceeds would go toward operational costs. Any additional commercial rental income would go to fund “other Star Trek and fan film projects.”7)
The studio’s commercial prospects may have dimmed, however, with Peters’ admission the soundstage is not actually soundproof.
Meanwhile, none of the crowdfunding appeared to be earmarked for fan film production. That money is meant to pay 2017’s rent and utilities for Axanar’s commercial soundstage. Any funds raised over that amount would be applied to the same costs in 2018.
Peters had prematurely announced the Kickstarter campaign on March 8, intended to bolster the flagging finances of his Industry Studios, which is hemorrhaging money at $15,000 a month while bringing in little to no income.
In a “mea culpa” missive the same day, Peters said he was holding back on the Kickstarter campaign “so we can coordinate better with Kickstarter and plan out our perks.”8)
Move to Indiegogo
Ten days later, Peters announced the campaign would no longer be on Kickstarter, and would instead launch March 20 on Indiegogo. That platform, unlike Kickstarter, allows campaigns to keep whatever they raise; if they fail to meet their goal on Kickstarter, they receive no money.
Priority Over Producing 'Axanar'
Peters told donors, whose capital paid to build the studio instead of producing the promised Axanar feature, that he had to “get the studio on sound financial footing. And then we’ll work on the budget for the two [Axanar] segments.”9)
Not the First Fan-Funded Studio
In the pitch, Peters repeated an inaccurate claim he first made in a message to donors:
2016 was a challenging year [fending off its copyright lawsuit]. 2017 has seen the opportunity for us to create the first fan-funded movie studio in history. Won’t you help us make that a reality?
Unfortunately, that reality already exists. AxaMonitor reported that Legion M, established in 2016, is the first fan-funded movie studio. Fans are actual equity partners in that studio. Supporters of Peters’ Industry Studios would have no ownership interest.
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