The third installment in the recently rebooted Star Trek movie franchise hasn’t shot a frame of film yet, but work is well underway on another Trek feature, made possible by the enthusiasm (and funds) of dedicated Trekkies. Star Trek: Axana is the brainchild of writer/producer/star/fanboy Alec Peters. The 90-minute, crowdfunded production (due out in 2015) will at long last, reveal the full story behind the pivotal Battle of Axanar, an event initially referenced in a season 3 episode of the original series, “Whom Gods Destroy.”
As non-Abrams, non-Vulcan-goes-kablooey continuity goes, the planet Axanar served as the battleground for a pivotal clash between the Federation and the Klingons. It was here that Starfleet captain Garth of Izar (played by Peters himself) achieved a victory that served as the inspiration for generations of deep-space cowboys that followed him, including one James T. Kirk. Told through the testimony of several Axanar veterans, as well as recreations of key moments from the battle, the movie is shaping up to be one of the most ambitious fan-made films around. It’s also one of the few that’s been officially sanctioned by the franchise’s overlords at CBS; Peters has said that he secured permission from the network to move forward, with the understanding that he wouldn’t attempt to profit personally from the production.
Peters launched his effort back in March with a Kickstarter campaign to raise the cash for a 20-minute prelude to the main event. The short wound up earning ten times its original $10,000 goal, and furnished the budget to pay for effects, sets and a cast populated by some big names (in the sci-fi realm anyway) like Tony Todd, Kate Vernon and Michael Hogan. Battlestar Galactica vet Richard Hatch also appears — it turns out he’s Peters’s former acting coach, which may explain how the producer convinced him to don Klingon forehead ridges to play Garth’s nemesis, Commander Kharn. The resulting film, Prelude to Axanar, premiered at Comic-Con in July and is now viewable online.
Following its San Diego debut, the filmmakers promptly organized another round of crowdfunding for the full-length movie, one that’s so far raised almost $300,000 with five days left to go; the pledge drive ends on August 24. That’s $200,000 more than Peters initially asked for, but roughly half of his $650,000 budget, which means that the prospect of future campaigns in advance of the movie’s proposed December start date are, as Spock would put it, eminently logical.
Luckily, the producer knows he has the support system in place to hit that target. “We have an active donor’s group on Facebook of 1,200 people, and we’ve got about 2,500 donors total,” Peters told Space.com. “They love what we’re doing…we get so much positive feedback. It inspires us to be better, and whenever we release something, they tell us something else they’d like to see.” (Now we know who to call to make that badly needed fan re-do of Into Darkness a reality.)