In the day since part 1 of our interview with Alec Peters was posted, the Star Trek Axanar Kickstarter gathered another $150,000 (helped by a social media plug from Star Trek’s George Takei). The project has now raised over $560K, with more coming in by Sunday’s deadline. See below for part 2 of our interview where we talk more about the story and the future of Axanar.
[UPDATE: Axanar Kickstarer campaign ended Sunday with $638,471]
Alec Peters On Taking Star Trek To War With ‘Axanar’
Yesterday in part 1 of our interview with Alec Peters, the star and producer of Star Trek Axanar talked about the fundraising effort, schedule, designs, hiring of professionals and experienced actors and more. Today we get into the story and the fit into Star Trek.
TrekMovie: Let’s talk about the story of "Axanar." The film is set 21 years before the original Star Trek, but "Prelude" did show a glimpse of the USS Enterprise. Will it play a role?
Alec Peters: Yes, but a very minor one. We tell that story in "Prelude" where there is this arms race and the Constitution class was the Federation’s answer to that arms race.
TrekMovie: The original series portrays the USS Enterprise and the other Constitution class ships as ships of exploration. Are you retconning them into weapons of war? And do you feel like you are treading into pushing canon there?
Alec Peters: Not so much. There is nothing to say those ships for military purposed before they were ships of exploration. They are just really powerful ships. It is not necessarily that they were built for war, but they were certainly built during a war.
TrekMovie: How would you describe what kind of film this is? Would you describe it as a war movie? Action movie? What is Axanar?
Alec Peters: I think it action-adventure. But it is a Star Trek story. I have said at times it is a war story set in the Star Trek universe, but then what is a war story? War stories are drama. War stories are about people. Sometimes you have war movies like Midway or The Longest Day, which is a procedural. Here is what happened at these battles. But the greatest war stories are about people. Saving Private Ryan is about a bunch of people.
TrekMovie: Are those the movies that are influencing you and [director] Chris Gossett when making Axanar?
Alec Peters: There are a bunch of movies. Certainly Midway has influenced us about how it tells the story of a grand scope. Even though that is a procedural about how the battle unfolded, the people are what make it fascinating. Saving Private Ryan is another. David Gerrold has referenced Run Silent, Run Deep and The Enemy Below, which are great submarine war movies. But it isn’t about explosions and starship battles, it is about people. How do people react to war is an amazing thing sometimes.
TrekMovie: Are there specific Star Trek films or episodes that capture the type of film or the tone you are trying to set?
Alec Peters: Films? I don’t think so. It is hard to say any specific episodes are influencing us except that we are huge Star Trek fans. So of course "Balance of Terror" is an important episode. But we are not copying anything, we are treading new ground.
TrekMovie: But Star Trek films have a certain tone – there are certain threads that run throughout them. They are in a way their own sub-genre. Do you feel like this film would fit with the pantheon of twelve Star Trek films or are you going for something different?
Alec Peters: I think we are going for something different. We haven’t seen the Federation at war. What is that like. We set that up in "Prelude." I think you could see where we are coming from about the Federation at war. Some fanboys will say "Star Trek is not supposed to be about war." Well, no. Star Trek is about many things and Star Trek is about how we have evolved as a people 200 years from now is one of them. In Ramirez’s speech in "Prelude" he talks about not losing the dream of the Federation when fighting the Klingons, and I think that tells you everything about Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future.
TrekMovie: But is there a concern about sticking with that vision? Gene Roddenberry himself balked at some of the militaristic elements of the Nick Meyer Star Trek films.
Alec Peters: Ironically, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is considered the best Star Trek movie and it is also potentially the most militaristic…The idea is man is perfecting himself and we are becoming better and we are focusing on working together to better the entire galaxy. That is what Star Trek is about. If Gene didn’t like the militarization, OK. But if there is a war going on, what are you going to do? We address that head on. We address what does the Federation do when forced into war. You can say all you want about how that is not what Gene wants, but Gene talked about the Romulan War. So it is not that he is against war. He is trying to picture a future where people are better than they are now. So the answer is how we approach war. It is not a question of whether or not there is war, there will always be war for the rest of eternity. The question is, how do we as enlightened people deal with it, and that is what Ramirez was saying [in "Prelude"]. We
need to our values as the Federation and win this war the right way and extend that value system to our enemy.
TrekMovie: There are a couple of elements that are constants through Star Trek that differentiate it. One is the hope and optimistic future, and the other is a bit of humor mixed in with the drama. Do you feel that Axanar will continue that tradition?
Alec Peters: Absolutely, that is part of Star Trek.
TrekMovie: A lot of what you are talking about sounds like some of the elements of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which a lot of fans (myself included) really liked, but some didn’t like the darker themes and war elements. Do you feel that Axanar will especially appeal to DS9 fans? And might it also run into some of the same critiques?
Alec Peters: I am not sure it will especially appeal to Deep Space Nine fans, because I am not sure that all DS9 fans like it because it was about war. It is my favorite Star Trek outside of TOS because of Sisko, he is my favorite captain. It will be similar to Deep Space Nine in that it is set up against the backdrop of a war. It is not about whether it is war story or not. It is about everything. It is about how you communicate what the story is about. I think I think there are a lot of TOS fans who will love Axanar as well and from the other shows too. I think we will have our fanbase and it will be because of the characters we write.
TrekMovie: So after you release Axanar, have you put any thought into what is next for yourself and the team?
Alec Peters: Honestly, I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I know that we want to use this as a resume piece to show the work we can do…We want everyone to see it. We have shown that we can make something impressive on a really tiny budget and I think that is a commodity that people in Hollywood are interested in
TrekMovie: Is the goal to try to get an officially licensed Star Trek production made or to move on to other low budget sci-fi films.
Alec Peters: All of the above.
TrekMovie: Has there been any interaction with CBS?
Alec Peters: No, but I am told they are very aware of us.
TrekMovie: Would it be fair to say that the relationship with CBS for these types of productions is sort of a "don’t ask, don’t tell" kind of thing? They aren’t involved, but they don’t stop you either.
Alec Peters: Exactly. They just want us to behave and not rock the boat…So we don’t charge for anything or make any money. There are certain requirements as to how big "Star Trek" is within the logo – like Star Trek can’t be bigger than "Axanar." We respect their IP. There is boilerplate that is supposed to on the website at the bottom. You do things like that, and we try to minimize the use of actual Star Trek IP in "Axanar." We aren’t using the chevron logo uniforms for example. More and more we will just be using the branding "Axanar," because people know what that is now.
TrekMovie: When you look at how LucasFilm – and now Disney – have embraced fan films – even doing official awards – would you like to see CBS get more involved like that or do you prefer the hands off approach?
Alec Peters: No, I would like to see them actively involved. That would be a dream come true.