The producers of "Star Trek: Axanar" have responded to new fan film guidelines established by Paramount Pictures and CBS, calling them "Draconian" and stifling to fandom.
"We have been asking for guidelines for years," producers said in a tweet. "CBS decided to make those guidelines Draconian."
Released Wednesday, even as the two companies push forward with their lawsuit against the crowd-funded prequel "Axanar," the guidelines are framed as a way to bring "fan films back to their roots" and help amateur productions avoid legal action from the rights holders. However, many of the guidelines are expected to have a chilling effect on fan productions -- both current and future works -- representing an abrupt shift for Paramount and CBS, who have long tolerated, and even encouraged, such works.
"These guidelines appear to have been tailor-made to shut down all of the major fan productions and stifle fandom,” "Axanar" executive producer Alec Peters said in a statement to TheWrap. “In no way can that be seen as supportive or encouraging, which is very disheartening."
The 10-point "Guidelines for Avoiding Objections" specify that a fan production must be less than 15 minutes long for a single, self-contained story, or no more than two segments that, combined, can't exceed 30 minutes. There can be no additional seasons, episodes, sequels or remakes. That in itself would appear intended to shut down projects like "Axanar" and popular webseries like “Star Trek Continues” and “Star Trek: New Voyages."
Further, to avoid the legal ire of CBS and Paramount, fan productions can't utilize any actors, writers or other participants who are compensated for their work or who have been previously employed on a "Star Trek" film or television series. (Franchise veterans George Takei, Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney and Denise Crosby have appeared on "Star Trek: New Voyages," which featured an episode written by D.C. Fontana; Gene Roddenberry's son, Rod Roddenberry, at one point served as a consulting producer.)
Paramount and CBS sued the producers of "Star Trek: Axanar" in December, seeking to block the release of the fan film, which had raised $1.3 million in crowdfunding. The action was immediately divisive, and led "Star Trek Beyond" director Justin Lin to side with fans. “This is getting ridiculous! I support the fans," he tweeted in March. "Trek belongs to all of us.”