There is another interesting fan production in development, this time set before the original Star Trek series and focusing on another famous starship captain, Garth of Izar. The new series is called "Star Trek: Axanar" and it is being developed by a team that includes some members of the Star Trek Phase II series. The "web feature" also has just cast BSG star Richard Hatch who plays the main Klingon antagonist. Find out more about Axanar below.
Garth Gets A Back-Story in Star Trek: Axanar
The new fan production "Star Trek: Axanar" will tell the story of Garth of Izar who was the main antagonist in the Star Trek episode "Whom Gods Destroy." That episode established that before being committed to the Elba II asylum for the criminally insane, Garth was a celebrated Fleet Captain in Starfleet and hero to a young James T. Kirk. His greatest acclaim came at the Battle of Axanar, the study of which was required at Starfleet Academy. Star Trek: Axanar will tell the story of that famous Federation/Klingon battle, which took place 20 years before the original Star Trek series.
The original Garth from "Whom Gods Destroy" gets a whole new prequel adventure in "Star Trek: Axanar"
"Axanar" is the brainchild of Propworx founder Alec Peters who has been thinking about this idea for 15 years. He tells TrekMovie that he has always felt there is "an amazing story to tell" about Garth who was Kirk’s hero before an accident lead to madness and attempted genocide. The project got a jump start two years ago when Peters, an avid collector, was showing Star Trek: Phase II series executive producer James Cawley his recently acquired original Garth costume. After expressing his fascination with the character, Cawley then had the Phase II writers add a part for Peters (as Garth) in the Phase II "Origins" flashback episode which shot last year. Cawley also supported the idea of creating an "Axanar" web movie and offered up the use of the USS Enterprise bridge set, which will be redressed to appear as the bridge of Garth’s USS Ares (a new ship created for Axanar). The Phase II "Origins" episode is expected to be released before Axanar, and so it will establish Peters in the role of Garth.
Alec Peters (L) as Capt. Garth with Rob Withrow from upcoming Star Trek: Phase II episode "Origins"
The Axanar project is currently in pre-production. Peters has partnered up with John Kelly (Dr. McCoy in Phase II) and Star Trek novelist Dave Galanter to write the script, which is currently being finalized. Much of the design work for props, costumes and ships has been completed. Shooting will start in February of 2013 and run through (in different stages) to fall 2013. The goal is to release the first "bookend" vignette (set shortly after the events of "Whom Gods Destroy") in late 2013. The rest of the Axanar "web feature" will then be released as a series of webisodes starting in late 2013 and run through 2014. In all the goal is to have around 10 (or so) webisodes add up to a web feature of 75-90 minutes by the time they are all released. These will be followed by another post-script TOS era "bookend" vignette.
Casting is still being finalized, but Peters did reveal that veteran Battlestar Galactica actor Richard Hatch will be playing Kharn, the leader of the Klingons at the Battle of Axanar. Peters of course will play Garth and John Kelly will be reprising his Phase II role as Dr. McCoy in a vignette set during the TOS era, but he does not appear in the main Axanar film. Other Phase II actors will appear in the two TOS-era vignettes including Cawley as James T. Kirk.
Richard Hatch cast as Klingon commander Kharn in "Star Trek: Axanar"
The Axanar team has a goal of making their web feature "epic" and they hope to include other important characters from Star Trek lore. Peter’s reveals that we will see Soval retiring and handing the reigns of the Vulcan embassy to a young Sarek. Other roles include a young Lieutenant Chang as well as Robert April. Peters didn’t reveal any more casting details for these roles, but he did say "fans will love" who they have in mind for the role of April.
Garth’s ship the USS Ares was designed by Peters, Sean Tourangeau (who designed the USS Titan) and digital artist Tobias Richter. In addition Richter and his team are doing the visual effects for Axanar. Below you can see a test flyby video of the USS Ares.
FX test flyby of USS Ares from "Axanar"
Richter’s team has also designed (and rendered) a new Klingon D-6 cruiser, along with a number of other Federation and Klingon ships. Peters says that "The VFX will be important, not only because of the massive space battles, but because the ships are characters themselves in the story." Even though Axanar is set before the time of the USS Enterprise, Peters reveals we will see the big E in dry dock.
While some shooting is being done on the Phase II sets in New York, most of the production will be done on new sets being built in Southern California (including a brand new set for the bridge of the D-6). Peters explains the advantages of working in LA area, saying "there is just so much talent in Southern California, and we need to tap into that. I study at the Howard Fine acting school in Los Angeles, which ironically, two other Phase II alums attend, and so we have a ready pool of talent there as well as directors and producers who I know in L.A. who have also signed on."
Axanar will be directed by Christian Gossett, who created The Red Star, which was recently optioned by Warner Brothers and is in development there. "Christian is an amazing artist, and one of those rare talents who is both a great writer and a great artist. He understands story and how to translate that to the visual media. His first short, "Only Child" has been recognized at several film festivals and is getting Christian a lot of attention."
Axanar has a funded budget of $50,000 so far. Peters says the show isn’t raising any money currently but they may do so in the future. He and his partners are committed to making Axanar "a very professional independent movie. "Axanar has new sets, new costumes, new ships, everything will be different, though very close to the original series."
The Axanar team has already started videotaping some behind the scenes features and those should be made available online soon. TrekMovie will provide updates on this project as it releases more materials.
You can follow "Axanar" on their Facebook page (where there are more design sketches and CGI ships) at: facebook.com/StarTrekAxanar.