As currently envisioned, LORDS of Their Realm is a documentary project with both an entertainment and social purpose.
Co-produced and jointly directed by creators Paul Jenkins, Christian Gossett and Robert Meyer Burnett, LORDS of Their Realm takes a closer look at the social changes that have given rise to a fanatical obsession with everything from sports to music, from politics to entertainment. And those individuals intoxicated by the things they love can fall victim to “toxic über-fans” who prey on their passions while picking their pockets.
Of particular interest are the escapades of Alec Peters, Star Trek super-fan, lawyer-by-training and self-professed Executive Producer of the still-unproduced produced fan film, Axanar.
The story itself is fascinating.
This “super-fan” develops an obsessive interest in an imaginary world and one broken character in particular. The manifests itself in ways that become more and more destructive – eventually leading the point where the studio who owns this venerable, sci-fi franchise has to sue the fan in federal court.
Millions of dollars and a dozen ruined lives later, the “super-fan” continues to build his cult of personality – bilking fellow fans in the process and escaping consequences by bending the rules of civil procedure and seemingly abusing the legal process in order to intimidate others and provide cover so he can continue to live his lifestyle, collect props and claim to make his promised film.
LORDS of Their Realm will be the collaborative work of the three co-producers calling on their personal experiences with fans, fandom and the Axanar production, in particular. The story will be told in 6-9 episodes (depending on research results, funding and interest from a distributor) and additional information, documentation, behind-the-scenes video, etc. will be available via this website once the series is completed.
The episodes of the proposed series, as they are currently planned, break down as follows*:
- What We Love is Armed and Dangerous
A look at fan culture and how fans are susceptible to exploitation. This is especially true with Boomers, who are at an age where they are beginning to regret not living up to the expectations of their youth and are looking to re-establish those connections in as many ways as they can.
Having met Alec Peters in the previous episode, we now learn how he and Christian Gossett developed Alec’s desire to “be” his favorite Star Trek character and worked to present Garth as the hero Alec always envisioned himself to be. Little did anyone realize, this “prelude” would be the beginning of a much longer – and sinister – adventure.
With nearly $1.5 million in the bank as a reaction to PRELUDE TO AXANAR, Alec gets even more bold, parting ways with Christian and most of the team that produced the successful short and then ignoring the requests and demands of those around him to get on with producing the promised feature film. The episode concludes on the morning of December 31, 2015, when Alec reads on an industry trade website, that a copyright infringement suit has been filed against Axanar Productions by CBS Studios and Paramount Pictures … and he couldn’t be more excited.
- The Year of Hell
We see how Alec “stands up” to CBS and Paramount and convinces law firm Winston & Strawn to provide pro bono counsel while trying to wage a “PR Battle” in the media and on Facebook and Twitter. The resulting damages tears at the fabric of the relationship Star Trek fans have with their beloved franchise, dividing the fan base and resulting in a set of “guidelines” for fan films established by CBS. By the end of the episode, we learn that Alec’s approach to this conflict appears to have manifested itself before.
- Damage, Deceit and Domination
To understand the confrontational reaction to the CBS/Paramount lawsuit, we explore the desires that seem to drive the decisions Alec has made along the way. We meet some of the people he’s damaged and dominated over the years. By the end of the episode, we learn there’s a possibility the long, legal nightmare may finally be coming to an end.
- The Road to Perdition
CBS and Paramount finally settle with Alec, but the terms are shrouded in secrecy. Following the settlement in January, the Axanar production team meets in Valencia to chart a course forward. After two days of meetings in mid-February, the plan is set. Within weeks, however, progress has ground to a halt and nothing is getting done. Alec eventually announces a change of course and sets his sites on moving to Atlanta, Georgia and a fresh start.
- Axanar 2.0
Alec arrives in Georgia and sets up a new studio in Lawrenceville (interestingly enough, he continues to use the same names he was using in California). He also brings in a new director to help write, produce and direct two, 15-minute films about Axanar. This new director, Paul Jenkins, is determined to keep things positive and succeed where other directors have failed. But interest and enthusiasm eventually fade as Alec appears to find more ways to distract himself from the project. The downward spiral continues.
- Battle Royale
Despite his best efforts to pull Axanar and the two, 15-minute short films out of its morass, Paul Jenkins and META Studios finally leave the project. The fur begins to fly in typical Alec Peters fashion – threats are made on social media and lawsuits are filed. But this time, there’s an unexpected twist for Lord Garth.
- What the Future Holds
Paul Jenkins’ counter-suit, filed on October 16, 2020, exposes once-secret aspects of the Axanar project and Alec Peters’ business practices as allegedly fraudulent activities. What does this mean for Axanar and Alec Peters? We don’t know yet. The documentary series closes by taking a look at what an experience like Axanar has done to Star Trek fandom and to genre entertainment, in general.
* The final number of episodes, story structure, content, etc. will depend on funding, distributor interest, interview participation and a variety of other factors, so the nature of what will actually be provided when this project wraps up is bound to change. We will continue to update this information on this website.
A Purpose Beyond Storytelling
As noted above, LORDS of Their Realm has a greater purpose than just telling the story of how fandom is spinning out of control and how one man’s corrupted obsession with a 1960s TV show (and all that followed) allowed him to prey on other fans’ interest, eventually establishing a “cult of personality” funded by convincing his unwitting enablers to give him millions of dollars.
But the story doesn’t stop with the willing donations made by people who may have been misled as to the intentions and capabilities of the Axanar project’s front-man. There were, in fact, other people financially harmed by Peters’ actions before and during the Axanar debacle who were cynically promised things by a man who appears to have never had any intention of doing living up to those promises.
If successful, this documentary project will include segments where the producers sit down with those individuals and attempt to repay at least some portion of the debts owed.
The larger lesson we hope to teach is this: the only thing more wrong than using a person’s passion for something they love to steal from them is to stand by and watch it happen.
Since the final chapter of LORDS of Their Realm has yet to be written (the legal disposition of the case of Jenkins et al v Peters), funding will first focus on generating enough cash to cover the legal costs associated with that case.
Additional funds raised through donations, investment, etc. will pay for other legal, insurance and production-related expenses including marketing and soliciting distribution. Assuming costs are sufficiently controlled, remaining funds will be used to offer some restitution to those most dramatically affected by Peters’ actions.
Then, at the end of the day – after all the bills are paid – profit will be split between the co-producers and executive.
Project Ownership and Exit Strategy
Ownership of this project is held by the Executive Producer who, in turn, has work-for-hire agreements in place with each of the three Co-Producers. Under the terms of the agreements, each of the Co-Producers will receive 30% of the net income generated by this production upon completion of the project and its sale or licensing to a distributor.
The Executive Producer will own a minority interest (10%) and serve as the manager of the project’s business operation (advising and reviewing decisions and actions with the three co-producers). All creative and production decisions will be delegated to the Co-Producers, although as the project’s business manager, the Executive Producer may help ensure the satisfactory completion of mutually agreed upon tasks.
The Co-Producers will be responsible for the development, design, production and delivery of the final, finished project for distribution.