CAN’T LIVESTREAM Axanar producer Alec Peters tells supporters he can’t livestream Axanar Confidential from Ares Studios’ bridge set because the facility has no Internet. Why? No one spends enough time there to justify the cost, he says.Image/Axanar Productions


Contradictions Arise in Patreon, OWC Studios' Sponsorship

Contradictions continued to crop up regarding the end of Other World Computing’s sponsorship of the Georgia warehouse Axanar producer Alec Peters hopes to keep if he can raise $4,000 a month via Patreon.

Peters premiered his YouTube live chat, Axanar Confidential, on January 21, 2019, to inform fans about the progress toward finally producing the two Axanar short films they have been waiting for for more than two years, following the settlement of the copyright infringement lawsuit brought against him by CBS and Paramount Pictures.

Following the premiere just three days before of his Reel Trek live chat on YouTube, Peters continued to promote his Patreon campaign designed to keep afloat his Lawrenceville, Ga., warehouse, now dubbed Ares Studios.

PLODDING PATREON While the Ares Studios Patreon inches closer to its monthly goal of $4,000, its rate of growth appears to be stalling. Read more »

Peters' Contradictions

On Axanar Confidential, Peters appeared to answer AxaMonitor‘s report that the warehouse was already listed as “available now,” by claiming he had been paying for the warehouse out of his own pocket for six months.1)

Warehouse Lease

In one interview, Peters tried to frame the report as an assertion he was being kicked out of the warehouse, though the AxaMonitor article never made that claim.

Hardly. The space has been listed by the landlord for months because we optioned a smaller space in a new building that’s being completed by the landlord literally next door. If we don’t bring in enough to fund the $4K/month in rent and utilities to stay in the same location, we have first dibs on the new building at a cost about half of what I’m paying now out of pocket.

Peters delighted in deleting unwanted questions from the live chat, casting questioners as “trolls with no life.” He told them, “You’re gone! Because you’re an idiot.” Axanar Confidential YouTube Live Chat

Real Estate Listing

Peters’ answer avoided explaining the significance of his warehouse being listed as available now for lease: If someone put money down immediately on the space, would that supersede Peters’ claim he could keep the current warehouse if he was able to raise enough money from fans?

Masking the Truth?

Just three days before, Peters said he had taken over rent payments four months ago, meaning OWC pulled its sponsorship in September 2018. His latest account meant that OWC abandoned the studio even earlier, in July 2018.2)

Later in the very same broadcast, Peters stated he had been paying the warehouse rent and expenses for five months.3)

WHAT HAPPENED to end Alec Peters’ agreement with high tech company Other World Computing to pay for the warehouse Peters’ now calls Ares Studios?

OWC Relationship

Despite Peters shifting story and contradictory timeline, two things remain clear. Peters:

  • Continued to use the OWC Studios name for months after the sponsorship had ended.
  • Did not disclose the end of the OWC relationship until he absolutely had to, when he needed to turn to his fans to subsidize the warehouse costs.

Peters' Pattern

This follows Peters’ established pattern of keeping bad news from his supporters in order to create the illusion of continued involvement by those who detached themselves from Axanar until forced by circumstance (see “Tony Todd Leaves Axanar” and “Axanar Co-Writer Announces Departure.”)

In this case, he continued to use the OWC Studios name for the warehouse in advertising his fan convention, Axacon, in November 2018, when he had already been paying the rent himself for two months.

Missing from Peters’ explanation was any mention of OWC founder Larry O’Connor, the only company decision-maker Peters had ever named with regard to the now-abandoned sponsorship. — When did OWC Pull Out?

Bridge Set

Despite the fact the Ares bridge set isn’t scheduled to appear in the Axanar shorts, Peters admitted In a recent interview that he needed to promote Axacon in order to position himself for the forthcoming private fundraising efforts:

It wasn’t just completing the bridge set that was important; it was being able to hold Axacon. There was a long-term plan in place, even if most people didn’t know there was.4)

Confidentially Speaking

Alec Peters

What we learned from the premiere of Axanar Confidential:

  • The Orville Alec Peters mused about having the main character of Axanar, Garth of Izar appear on the Star Trek-alike FOX comedy, The Orville. “Can you imagine? What a slap in the face to CBS that would be!”
  • Axanar vs. Discovery Peters boasted that if CBS had simply ‘bought’ Axanar and streamed it on, it would’ve gotten better ratings than Star Trek: Discovery.
  • CBS All Access Peters claimed he does not pay for CBS All Access, the streaming service on which Discovery is exclusively broadcast in the United States. How, then, is he watching the show so he can talk about it on his new weekly Reel Trek show? He also condemned the show for not following canon. “Don’t tell me it’s the prime timeline,” he said.
  • Idiots Peters delighted in deleting unwanted questions from the live chat, casting questioners as “trolls with no life.” He told them, “You’re gone! Because you’re an idiot.”
  • 2015 Funding Peters finally admitted how much money he had on hand in 2015 to produce Axanar when the CBS lawsuit hit. The amount: $268,000, just 14 percent of the projected budget for the feature.

That plan? Peters revealed he needed a completed bridge to attract donations:

Had we tried to raise private donations a year ago or even six months ago, I doubt we would have made it to $100,000. But Axacon forced us to get that bridge set to a point where it’s nearly completed, and everyone is raving about it.5)

Though Axanar Productions and Ares Studios are two legally separate entities, housing Axanar‘s Ares bridge set in what he was then still calling OWC Studios even after the end of the sponsorship made the two fundraising efforts mutually reinforcing.

When Did OWC Pull Out?

Asked to explain what had happened to the OWC sponsorship thanked the company but claimed it was always supposed to end:

The sponsorship contract was only for one year at a time (which isn’t unusual for a corporate sponsor). During that time, the OWC marketing director, who was a big fan and supporter of Axanar, left the company. I approached the new marketing director to ask if they wanted to renew their sponsorship for another year, and he declined … politely. It just wasn’t something he wanted to pursue, and I didn’t push him.6)

Sponsorship Extension

However, Peters told a different story in one version of his Patreon pitch video:

Other World Computing graciously offered to sponsor us during the first year of our time here. Now, they were nice and extended that for six months but now we have to fund the studio by other means.7)

The ‘Other’ Patreon Pitch

At the 40-second mark in this alternate Patreon video, Alec Peters claims he won a six-month extension in his sponsorship from OWC, but that timing doesn’t seem to match his other claims about when that arrangement ended.

That video remains on Axanar’s YouTube channel but is not the pitch video that actually appears on the Patreon page. That video leaves out the reference to OWC’s supposed six-month extension.

Disappearing CEO

Also missing from Peters’ explanation was any mention of OWC’s chief executive officer and founder, Larry O’Connor. O’Connor is the only OWC decision-maker ever named with regard to the sponsorship,8) and O’Connor had even appeared on Axanar’s podcast and visited the warehouse.

Because Peters had never mentioned the unnamed marketing directors before, O’Connor’s absence from Peters’ explanation was remarkable.

LIVING THE DREAM Other World Computing CEO Larry O’Connor poses in front of the “studios” that bore his company’s name at an October 2017 open house when his support of Axanar seemed unshakeable. Image/Axanar Productions

Despite the fact neither OWC nor Peters had ever indicated the sponsorship was time-limited, Peters had only ever portrayed the relationship as a happy one that was bound to continue. In a September 2018 interview, Peters said:

No one is funding Axanar right now except me. OWC Digital is still sponsoring the studio that bears their name, and they’re still very happy with what we’re doing both now and going forward. 9)
The 'Dream of Axanar'

O’Connor attended an October 2017 open house at OWC Studios.10) One of the Axanar fans who attended, Jon Tessler, recounted:

Also in attendance was Larry [O’Connor] (owner of OWC computing), and he spoke a bit about “why he donated $30,000 of computer hardware for Prelude,” and also why he is sponsoring the new studio. It was interesting to his reasoning behind the increased support, and why he believes in the “dream of Axanar”.11)

Doesn't Add Up

Not even one year later, things appeared to have changed. According to Peters’ new claim for when he started paying his own rent (either five or six months before), the sponsorship had already ended by that September 2018 interview.

And just three months earlier, on June 12, 2018, Peters had also described the relationship in glowing terms with a bright future:

[We’re working with] OWC studios to make the studio more robust and able to handle more professional productions. Our conference call with OWC last week went very well, and I am pretty excited about what we can do here.12)

If Peters’ six-month claim were true, OWC had ended its sponsorship in July or August, just a few weeks after Peters’ post in June.

Axanar Funding

Peters reminded viewers his Patreon proceeds cannot be used to fund the Axanar shorts. Under the terms of its copyright lawsuit settlement, Axanar is prohibited from public fundraising.

However, he said, he is allowed to raise money privately through direct email contact. To that end, he encouraged potential Axanar donors to sign up for Axanar’s email list. to be contacted for funding the films.

Ares Digital

Central to Peters’ private fundraising effort is the third iteration of the never-quite-functional Ares Digital software platform, meant to track donors and fulfill the perks to which they were entitled from Axanar’s earlier crowding efforts.

The software is also planned to handle the transactions for Axanar supporters to make their donations. However, that fundraising effort, and by extension the Axanar shorts themselves, cannot proceed until Ares Digital is up and running.

Peters said the software is only 75 percent done.

Patreon Progress

As of this post,13) Peters has signed up 111 patrons since launching that campaign January 18. Each patron pledged to contribute an average $9.23 for a monthly take of $1,024 — just more than a quarter of what Peters wants.

The description “studios” is a misnomer, of course, as the facility consists of only one warehouse bay and lacks any of the features of a film soundstage, such as soundproofing, a lighting grid, greenscreen or the enhanced power system needed for proper studio lighting.

SUPER CHATS Viewers during Alec Peters’ YouTube live chat can send contributions in exchange for special attention. Click image to view full size.Image/Axanar YouTube channel

YouTube Money

On Axanar Confidential revealed the Patreon was only one source of the money he could use to pay for the warehouse rent. He claimed the Axanar YouTube channel was producing $600/month in revenue, mostly from advertising.14)

During his live chat, Peters took advantage of YouTube’s “super chat” feature, which allows viewers to give him money in exchange for answering their questions or naming them. He earned at least $200 during the live chat.15)

Added to the $1,000 in monthly Patreon commitments as of this post, Peters’ YouTube earnings put him 40 percent of the way to his $4,000 goal.

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