Fan Films: “Prelude to Axanar” is poised to begin production

What do Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica, Teen Wolf, Supernatural), JG Herztler (DS9, Voyager, Enterprise), and Gary Graham (Alien Nation, Voyager, Enterprise) have in common? Their Star Trek: Prelude to Axanar project, which has now blown past the $50,000 mark on Kickstarter.

The latest entrant into the flourishing Star Trek fan film space, Prelude is being filmed in early May in Los Angeles as a short film which will lead into their full length Star Trek: Axanar feature film slated to begin production later this year. Prelude takes place some 13 years before TOS and explores the story leading up to the Battle of Axanar. The Klingon Empire and Federation find themselves engaged in a pitched battle over the planet Axanar, leading both to the bring of all out war.

The story also introduces us to Garth of Izar, whom Captain Kirk would later refer to as his own personal hero. Gary Graham will be reprising his role, which he’d played originally on Star Trek: Enterprise of the Vulcan ambassador Soval.

Gary Graham is reprising his role as Ambassador Soval

“The continuing evolution of independent filmmaking, especially via crowdsourcing really is the wave of the future,” said Richard Hatch (best known for his roles in both the original and re-imagined versions of Battlestar Galactica), who will be playing Kharn, the Klingon Supreme Commander. “Star Trek was always an inspiration to me as a young actor, and having an opportunity to be a part of something like this, alongside a group of first-rate professionals, is really just amazing to me.”

Richard Hatch and Michael Hogan bring their experiences from Battlestar Galactica (the old and new) to the team

With five days remaining on their Kickstarter campaign, Prelude to Axanar, has blown past the $50,000 mark in total contributions. That’s a full 5x over their original conservative target of $10,000. The additional funds are enabling them to both put a far higher level of polish on this initial project, as well as securing costumes, gear, studio time, and the miscellanea required to elevate it from a relatively modest shoestring production into a truly first rate film.

Alec Peters, who plays the role of Garth, is also the driving force behind the Axanar project. “Axanar has really been a labor of love, “ Alec said. “The level of response by the Star Trek fan community has just blown us all away.”

Principal photography for Prelude is slated to occur in the beginning of May, and the initial showing is targeted for just one month later at Fed Con Germany. I’d asked Alec about the timing and he responded, “It’s a tight schedule, but with the incredible [and award winning] talent we have on board, including director Christian Gossett, editor Robert Meyer Burnett, composer Alexander Bornstein, and post production supervisor Mark Edward Lewis, I have no doubt we’ll be able to make the quick turn around from shooting to having it in the can.”

The speed at which the evolution of fan films is moving is nothing short of stunning. Consider the quality and scope of similar productions only a few years ago. Now with the quality and talent arrayed for non-traditionally developed projects like Star Trek Continues, Renegades, and Axanar, shows don’t have to die when they’re taken off the air. If there’s a desire and a fandom wanting to see their favorite mythos kept alive, there are now ways to make it happen.

To boldly go where no studio might go, but where fans are most certainly going.


Bill Watters is an event producer, photographer, reporter, and software engineer living in San Francisco. Involved in a myriad range of reenactment and fandom genres, he’s spent more than 20 years turning hobbies into pro-am professions. Currently day-jobbing as a server engineer for Zynga, spending weekends producing themed events, and the rest of the time writing about and photographing the geek and fandom scene for Examiner, GeeksAreSexy, and ComicsOnline (and now TrekMovie).


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I am really looking forward to this. Fan films have come such a long way, I personally hope we get to see many of these in the coming months and years. I really miss the glory years of 1987-2005

I can’t help but cringe when Hatch says “This is one of the most exciting productions, PERIOD.” Dude… you’re in a fan film. That’s all it is–the cinematic equivalent of a fanzine. Engaging in hypberole and pretending it’s something it’s not won’t change that fact. Sure, it’s got decent production values, but it is, in the end, just a fan film. And let’s be honest–the actors who keep showing up in these fan films are only doing it because they need the money and, with all due respect to them, aren’t getting real gigs.

Looks pretty boss, if the acting is up to the standards of the SFX …!

can’t wait to see Hatch and Hogan doing Trek! Well worth my $60 to have some new Trek material on Blu Ray

2 Dandru, and some are vanity projects for the producers to get to act in their favorite franchise, thereby the acting’s not always so hot.

Hoping this one will be decent … the SFX look darned good, but that’s not the main reason I like to watch Trek.

I can’t wait to see Axanar and Prelude to Axanar! With so many talented actors and artists on board, this will be a highly successful production. All the concept art and the visual effects previews look amazing.

More than just a fan film, productions like this are where entertainment will be branching off to in the future. I for one can not wait to see this.

I am very excited about this and if the quality of the Kickstarter teaser is any indication of the final movie then it should be bloody amazing. It’s so nice to see quality coming in to these independent shows, because until recently, with two other productions that have also seriously raised the bar, it’s been not much more than a few folks in their eBay costumes spouting Trek technobabble in front of the family camcorder. Keep up the great work, Axanar, and you already have my financial support on Kickstarter! =)


The actors taking part in this are generally BUSY actors.

They are involved because they want to be involved, not because they NEED to be involved. That’s what independent fan films are about.

Looking good, will keep an eye on it.

Why is it a fan film? That conjures images of a me and my Trek buddies seeing what my Cannon 7D can do shooting against a green screen and showing off the special effects techniques we picked up on some Youtube videos. This is an assembly of actors, artists, and producers with some serious scifi pedigree, and personally, I don’t think ‘fan film’ is a fair characterization. Everything I’ve seen so far, from concepts to storyboards to test shots, look like a very professional production, and I’m optimistic and honestly pumped to see this outcome. This is going to open a new possibility where crowd-funded professional productions can be possible, and studios be damned. We, the fans, get to ask for what we want, and top-line talent gets to use their crafts to bring it into our homes. This is a unique story to the Star Trek universe that we haven’t ever seen fleshed out, and hopefully it starts a trend for more like it!

I have been a Star Trek fan as far back as I can remember. I have to admit I am not one of those hard core followers that lives eats and breaths Star Trek but I do like it. TOS was not my favorite but I enjoyed all the TOS movies. TNG was probably my favorite series and all those that followed (well maybe Enterprise lost me some…I never finished watching it). During a randome search of the Internet I found this Prelude to Axanar…I read a little about it and MAN this has me HOOKED! I want to see this more than I wanted to see the new Hollywood reboots (have to be honest I am not a fan of what they have done). I have been following the movie on Facebook and telling family and friends about it. There is no hoping to this movie…I know it will be good because of the work that everyone has put into the story and making sure it fit the time line. Yes I am very JACKED to see this movie. I an a firm believer that a movie doesn’t need to be a high budget blockbuster that cost more than every movie ever made to be good. The important part is actors doing their roles and story line. This movie looks to have everything under control. So I KNOW it will be good.

I met Michael Hogan at Calgary Expo couple years ago. Unlike his character in BSG, he was a funny man in real life & down to earth guy.

I can’t wait for this to come out! The casting is fantastic and everything that I’ve seen on Facebook looks wonderful – from the costumes to the set design to the model of the ship! It’s so great that Gary Graham will be reprising his role, connecting this to the Prime Universe and to Enterprise. And I’m a big fan of both both Richard Hatch and Michael Hogan! I’m proud to have been able to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign for Prelude to Axxanar, and I’ll definitely be a contributer to the campaign for Star Trek: Axanar when it starts!

@2 “the actors who keep showing up in these fan films are only doing it because they need the money” –> Is that really a bad thing? They have bills to pay just as everyone else does.

“with all due respect to them, [they] aren’t getting real gigs” –> If you get paid, it’s a real gig.

Maybe some of the professional actors can tell why they participate in these projects? Is it just for the money?

I can’t wait to see this. It’s the first kickstarter ever that got me to donate and I’m proud of it. No offense to any of the other productions, but I’m really looking forward to this. The story is the right one to be told, and the cgi looks incredible. Awesome to see design elements from Kelvin era ships merged into what will be TOS era ships.

This is an awesome and intriguing project. I am eagerly awaiting seeing it onscreen. With a lot of Big names, both in cast and crew, the fan film cannot help but become legendary! :)

excellent… ;-)

looking forward to it! =)

Most of the truly innovative TV programming has come, in recent years, from “other” channels (rather than the “big four” networks)… a trend that’s given viewers something to be excited about, again. Now–finally!–a similar trend seems to be taking hold in the movie arena, with some first-rate, genuinely-creative fare coming from independent moviemakers–passionate people with cool stories to tell and fabulous visions to share (instead of more of the same old tired repeats, reboots, and utter schlock the major movie houses keep doling out). Prelude to Axanar–with so much incredible talent involved, plus a never-been-told story to play with–has me EXCITED… and it’s not every day I can say that about the movies. Make it so, Team Axanar, make it so. :)

I hope the old guys will be happy with this crap and leave the real Star Trek alone.

You cannot possibly be prepared for the kind of Star-Trekking that is about to unfold with this project. This is THE standard-to-be in fan films, and could even be a story standard for full length, studio features. This is what Star Trek should be, will be, and can continue to be in the future. This team has passion like nothing we’ve seen arguably since the Original Series and the story they’ve chosen is one nobody has seen before, so it’s something new for Trek fans. I, for one, absolutely can’t wait for this to come out!

Nice effects, but this already reeks of desperation and attention-seeking by washed-up genre stars of yesteryear. Also, the idea of yet another Federation-Klingon war doesn’t excite me much. Been there, done that.

Also it doesn’t help when the “stars” are comparing making fan films with actual WW2 battles where real people died.

There are fan made films then there are short films like this. Not taking anything away from other projects, this Trek project excites me the most because of the story it is telling. Rather than replicate Trek, or mess around with a future side story, this plunges deep into Trek lore, and history, that many may only have read about through the FASA RPG books.
It has a stellar cast including two BSG actors that shine in every that they appear in. With careful and creative pre-production and awesome visuals, this project should interest many Trek fans.
…and this is only the Prelude!

I’m incredibly stoked for this production. The talent involved both behind and front of the camera makes is extremely impressive. I think Axanar – along with Renegades and other projects – will set a new standard for independent productions. Can’t wait.

I highly doubt they’re getting paid. This is a fan film, presumably not under the official CBS umbrella.

I suspect if they’re making a profit, CBS will issue the production team some sort of legal notice to cease and desist.

#2 –

Well, *I’m* excited, and in fact more excited about this than anything coming out of Paramount these days. I’m pleased to have contributed to the Kickstarter campaign.

I’ve seen a draft of the script, and I’ve seen the work that’s going on to make this production. No, it may not be a $100 million Hollywood blockbuster, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be an exciting production. The commitment here is to do whatever possible to make a good film, not just a good Star Trek film, and I think that, in the end, it will be both.

I’d like to know who at Paramount ok’d this. Unless the entire film plans to make not dollar one, huge copyright and clearance issues abound here. This is illegal.

@12. NuFan & 13. Red Dead Ryan,

I understand why you like NuTrek, it is sexy, fast & has young actors, not old actors; God forbid! But why you feel the need to attack every fan film in the process ? Do you want only one type of Trek & eliminate everything else ?

From what I have seen, this film is going to be amazing. Welcome back to the real Star Trek!


Can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen fictional things compared to real battles. And since the fictional Enterprise was named after the aircraft carrier of the same name from WW2, not really a big deal, is it?

Anyway, looks impressive so far. Will give it a watch.

#13 – “Also, the idea of yet another Federation-Klingon war doesn’t excite me much. Been there, done that.”

Well, technically, it’s not *another* war. It’s a war that’s been a part of Trek history for a long time, but rarely gets much attention.

The bigger question is, will the story of what happens to the characters in that war, and during that battle, be worth watching? I think it will be, and I know a lot of people are trying very hard to make it so.

I think this is a great idea to expand the Trek -verse. I think it will be a enjoyable movie, and they plan on staying within cannon, so that beats the JJ movies right there!

I had the distinct privilege of speaking to Gary Graham about the project and I don’t feel like this is the fan film of yore. Today, filmmakers come in all shapes and sizes, and the studios no longer have that iron grip on the high production value film market.

This production not only has an extremely talented cast, it has industry veterans that will bring all their talents and experiences to make Prelude to Axanar and Star Trek: Axanar one of the best Star Trek productions we have seen to date.

Totally looking forward to this. Excellent work by the fans working on this!

I Really Think this is a Great Trek Project and I am waiting to see it. I am Proud to be an Axanar Marine. “First Star to The right and straight on till Morning.”

Don’t think any of the actors get paid…I’d be surprised if anyone gets paid, actually. Basically, it’s community theater.

# 19 Phil. No, it is not community theater, it is a professional independent film with pros in front and behind the camera. And yes, in fact the actors do get paid, and above scale.

While you are being “surprised” by the fact we pay our actors (don’t know what exactly qualifies you to even comment on what the actors are being paid since we never discuss this), why don’t you watch our Kickstarter video, check out our website and see all the assets we have produced on Facebook and then try and tell me how we are “community theater”.


I don’t hate fanTrek productions. I just think they’re not living up to potential yet. Technically, they are very well done ie visual and special effects, costumes, sets, etc. But most of the stories are basically variations of official episodes to some degree. And yes, STID was a bit of a rehash but fanTrek fans tend to hold nuTrek to higher standards even though fanTrek storytelling leaves a lot to be desired.


I was referring to the cast comparing Kickstarter fundraising to real-life WW2 battles.

Alec Peters,

If you’re getting paid, then I assume that CBS/Paramount would have some control over your production then? Because if not, you could be meeting with lawyers pretty soon.

Red Dead Ryan, people involved with the production getting paid is a very different issue than making a profit off of the project, and the latter is the only thing that CBS/Paramount care about. If it were otherwise, there would already have been lawsuits filed against New Voyages/Phase II, Continues, Renegades….

# 21 Red Actually, I am NOT getting paid. The professional actors are. And no, that does not mean CBS has any control over us. They have guidelines we adhere to for making a fan production. One of which is you can pay talent. We do so under SAG New Media Guidelines. Feel free to read the volumes written about this subject on the TrekBBS to educate yourself as to how fan films exist with CBS.

And being a lawyer myself, who has actually worked with CBS on the Star Trek Archive and talked with more people at CBS about fan films than anyone else, I actually know what I am talking about and how to do this.

Been following this project for quite some time, and it’s crazy how much it has grown. Cannot wait to see Prelude to Axanar as well as the complete Axanar movie. Additionally, finally seeing a live action Robert April, and having him being played by a professional actor like Michael Hogan is definitely an added bonus.

@22. Alec,

Any idea when the film will go online once you guys done post-production ?

Speaking of CBS, are there any restrictions when it come to producing fan films in a post TOS era ?

I like fan films but I don’t know why all of them centering around TOS. Star Trek is a big universe & I would love the fan films to go beyond TOS & do stories about the other eras.

btw, love your website. It is very informative & well done in term of the design. Keep up the good work :)

Star Trek: Axanar and its companion Prelude to Axanar are portrayls of and era that has received little attention. They have an interesting character in Garth of Izar. I’ve always wanted to know his back story and what led to him becoming the legend. It should present an enjoyable bridge between Jonathan Archer’s and James Kirk’s stories. I’m eager to see the performances of a few of my favorite science fiction actors, Michael Hogan, Richard Hatch, Gary Graham and J.G. Hertzler.

With the companion Prelude to Axanar, I’m looking forward to learning more about the conflict with the Klingon Empire. I’m a fan of the ships that Star Trek created and I’m waiting to be “blown away” by this group of vessels. I’ve seen a trailer for this film and it was fantastic. If this the quality of both the main feature and its prelude then they just might surpass the television shows.

I am looking forward to Axanar very much, and I’m proud to have been one of the first contributors to the campaign mentioned in this article. I do not give my support lightly – a project has to peak my interest, engage me, and I have to feel that it is worth supporting with my time and/or money, and seeing as how I do not have a lot of money to throw around, I am very picky to say the least.

Axanar is going to be so much more than a “fan film”. From the pre-production work that has been posted up so far, to the talent that will be working on this project both in front of and behind the cameras, it is very apparent that this is going to be a first-class production made with a lot of love. I very much like the fact that we are dealing with the Prime Trek Universe here, and will be getting into backstory and history with the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Congratulations to everyone on Axanar for what has been accomplished thus far, and I for one will be eagerly following what has yet to be seen.

@20. There it is, that condescending we have our collective heads shoved so far up our backside that we can’t figure out why everyone doesn’t just recognize that what we do isn’t the greatest stuff ever produced. I guess I’m supposed to be impressed that your target audience is Facebook. And you are absolutely right, you aren’t community theater. At our local institution there are a few pics of Jeffrey Hunter in the lobby, who at one time was generous with his support. Seems there are a few people out there who recognize that community theater is a great venue for bringing arts to the people, to expose the population to a little of the arts and culture, and a fabulous place to nurture and ENCOURAGE young talent. Fan films, on the other hand, seem to be a great place for individuals within the industry to stroke their egos a bit. So, yeah, it’s a unfair insult to community theater to compare it to a fan film…or independent professional production, if that title tickles your fancy.

Not that you seem to care, but take a look at some of the comments here. No one would care if you guys were being paid or not if there was just the smallest bit of humility – we do it for the fans, labor of love, whatever. The pics of Mr. Hunter were well before my time, but it’s not hard for me to understand the guy had a passion for what he did, otherwise he would not be there…and it doesn’t matter one bit if he got paid or not. Inevitability, when one of these fan films lands on these threads, and someone comments about the amateur status, some blowhard connected to the production goes on the attack….what qualifies someone to comment, you ask? Well, if they are a fan, they’re qualified. And it’s exactly that ivory tower attitude that sours a good portion of the fan base on these fan films. Most folks can and do enjoy them in the context of what they are – vanity projects or amateur productions. If it’s sold as the real deal, and doesn’t rise to that expectation, then expect criticism. That criticism might go down a bit easier if the people connected to it weren’t so busy alienating the audience.

Good luck on the production, if it’s as fabulous as you think it is it I’m sure the audience you made it for will absolutely adore it, and shower you with accolades. Cheers…

@41 Ahmed:

Thanks for your comments. We will release “Prelude” to our Kickstarter donors at the end of May, just before we premier it live at FedCon in Germany May 29-June 1. “Axanar” has no set release date as we will start filming it this summer.

I am not aware of any CBS restrictions of filming a fan film in a post TOS era.

Fan films center on TOS as it is very easy to do the sets! It is hard to do Next Gen era sets. Plus a lot of people want to be Kirk! Axanar is set 20 years before TOS.

Thanks so much Ahmed!


i love Sci-Fi an can not wait to actually see this an i am a newbie to Star Trek but me and my whole radio Station (Scimax Radio the Sci-Fi Voice of the Universe) love Star Trek Online we play it religously an we love Star Trek Axanar and Star Trek Renegades,,, So I say bring it on


Phil, based on your comments it would seem to be you that has a problem here. I’ve read and understand your position, but I do not agree with or respect it. Being a Debbie Downer on something you clearly know so little about demonstrates a fundamental lack of self-respect, and perhaps even integrity, sir, and for that you have my sympathy. The rest of us will continue on, hoping for and supporting great things, all without you… seriously. Be well.

Sounds interesting…
Both the respective latest episodes of Phase II and ST Continues have been quite good (in my opinion). Let’s see if Axanar will live up to that standard…

Star Trek evolving into a most interesting media of film making with direct fan involvement is nothing short of brilliant! Bringing back known and proven actors to be part of this amazing phenomenon we all know, love, respect and grew up with is a stepping stone to the future of film making. The Star Trek brand sells itself and yet to get fans directly involved is definitely a huge step for man kind in the entertainment business. I’m sure Doc and Scotty are smiling down at this as we all watch this take place on the social media stream. Make it so gentlemen! Star Trek continues and we all love it!