Last year, Paramount and CBS put a stop to the many internet fan-made films and web series based on Star Trek. Their strict production guidelines crippled multiple fan-created projects, including Star Trek: Axanar, a planned feature length fan film that focuses on the Federation’s first war with the Klingons, and features Garth of Izar, a Trek character introduced in the classic Star Trek TV series (1966-1969) in the episode “Whom Gods Destroy”. The Axanar Productions team raised over $100,000 to produce a 20-minute short featurette called Prelude to Axanar, which was released on Youtube to much acclaim. After that, they raised an additional $1.3 Million to complete the full feature-length product. Before they could begin, however, Paramount and CBS instituted their new guidelines.
The first rule of the guidelines instituted is that no fan-project can be more than 15-minutes long. The second rule says that no fan project can be more than two-parts, and that ongoing series are prohibited. This has put a stop to the production of several ongoing Trek projects. The third rule says that no Trek indie project can have a self-funded budget of over $50,000. Star Trek Axanar has already passed that fundraising mark. There are other rules, as well. Those are the most troubling ones for fan filmmakers.
Other issues that bothered CBS/Paramount about Axanar was the tunics and overall appearance of the Vulcans, which they feel is too close to the original series. Also, the Klingon language to be used in the film is the copywrite of Paramount Pictures. Fans rallied in support of Axanar, and even Justin Lin (director of Star Trek: Beyond) said that the lawsuit should just fade away.
Now that Paramount/CBS has come to an agreement with Axanar productions, filming will start on Star Trek: Axanar soon. Also, Axanar productions will be allowed to continue showing Prelude to Axanar on Youtube. Unfortunately, the movie will not be a feature length film. It will be released on Youtube as two 15 minute, commercial-free chapters. This means it will not be the epic web-film that Prelude to Axanar promised.
Still, it is a partial victory that the film is being made at all, because so many other Trek projects are stalled indefinitely. Perhaps Star Trek Axanar will still be good, even in a shortened version. It’s a pity we won’t get the original vision of the project but at this point, we’ll have to take what we can get. A half-hour is better than nothing.