Star Trek fans worldwide made their voices heard by donating over $650,000 on Kickstarter and through PayPal to finance the independent film Star Trek: Axanar (follow-up to the highly-successful – and Kickstarter-funded – short, Prelude to Axanar). The viral marketing campaign stands as a prime example of the power of grassroots social media efforts, and was capped by actor George Takei, Star Trek’s original Sulu, taking to Facebook and Twitter to promote the project, boosting its final tally by 50-percent on its last day.
Spearheaded by producer/writer Alec Peters and writer/director Christian Gossett, creator of the critically acclaimed graphic novel The Red Star, Star Trek: Axanar is the story of Captain Kirk’s hero, Garth of Izar, a character only seen in one episode of the original Star Trek. Axanar focuses on Garth and his crew during the Four Years War with the Klingon Empire, twenty-one years before the original Star Trek – a war that almost tore apart the Federation and set the stage for Star Trek mythology as we know it. Peters, who wrote the original fan fiction twenty years ago, partnered with Gossett to turn the story into a screenplay worthy of inclusion in the Trek universe.
The duo worked hard to show that Axanar would distinguish itself from other fan-based Star Trek productions by bringing in acting (and science fiction) legends Tony Todd, Kate Vernon, Richard Hatch, Gary Graham, and J.G. Hertzler to play the key roles, and an award-winning crew including Oscar-winning sound designer Frank Serafine (The Hunt for Red October), and makeup artist Kevin Haney (Driving Miss Daisy). They are complemented by visual-effects magician Tobias Richter, whose work has been used in the remastered Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-rays.
“There is no difference between this and any other terrifically managed and organized independent production I’ve ever been a part of – this is much better than almost all of them,” says actor J.G. Hertzler, who portrays Starfleet Admiral Samuel Travis.
An initial successful Kickstarter campaign in March 2014 raised over $100,000 to produce Prelude to Axanar; a 20-minute short film modeled after the PBS documentaries of Ken Burns and the Sir Laurence Olivier-narrated The World at War. The short gives the viewer a look at the events leading up to the Battle of Axanar and presents both a historical and personal account of the war. In addition, it allowed the cast and crew to prove their ability to deliver a professional-quality Star Trek production. “In twenty minutes, Prelude gave us new Star Trek characters and situations and proved that it was worthy of the name Star Trek,” said Robert Meyer-Burnett, award-winning writer and director of the film Free Enterprise and many other Star Trek productions.
So what made this crowdfunding campaign so successful? “The most important part was Prelude itself,” said Peters, “because it gave us enormous credibility. Combine that with an amazingly-loyal and passionate group of donors from our first Kickstarter, who tirelessly evangelized for us, and the aid of the geek media, which got behind the project after seeing our first trailer, and there was no stopping the momentum we’d built up.”
About Star Trek: Axanar
Star Trek: Axanar is a not-for-profit film project produced by Axanar Productions, Inc. Axanar uses the intellectual property of CBS, Star Trek rights holder, under the provision that Axanar is completely non-commercial. Axanar is being funded entirely through donations from fans. In March 2014, the short film Prelude to Axanar executed a successful fundraiser that totaled over $100,000. Prelude was filmed in May and premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on July 26, 2014, launching the feature-length film’s Kickstarter campaign that raised over $650,000 on Kickstarter and PayPal. Axanar begins pre-production in September with production scheduled to begin early 2015. Additional information can be found at http://www.startrekaxanar.com.
STAR TREK and all related marks, logos and characters are owned by CBS Studios, Inc. This film, the promotion thereof and/or any exhibition of material created by the filmmakers are not endorsed or sponsored by or affiliated with CBS/Paramount Pictures or the STAR TREK franchise.