Anthony Montgomery is nothing if not determined and ambitious. The actor, who played Travis Mayweather during Star Trek: Enterprise's four-year run, not only has been plowing forward in his acting career over the past decade, but he's concentrated his energies the past two years on realizing Miles Away, first as a graphic novel -- about, as the tagline says, a teenager who feels like an alien at school during the day and fights real aliens after class -- and, if everything goes according to plan, soon as a trio of animated features and then maybe even as a television series. Just the other day, Montgomery celebrated the arrival of Miles Away on iTunes Bookstore, making it available to fans in 50-plus countries worldwide.
StarTrek.com recently spoke with Montgomery about Miles Away, what he's achieved so far and what's still left to do. As always, he was amiable and talkative and honest. The process, he explains, has been incredibly exciting and extremely frustrating -- all at the same time. "It's been exciting because, as an actor, I never planned to launch my own sci-fi franchise," Montgomery says. "I was happy and content with acting being my sole focus. And my soul focus. But by creating Miles Away I've learned a lot about myself and more about what I'm truly capable of when I put my mind, energy and resources to it. Having a graphic novel as the foundation for my vision has been an unexpected, but interesting and very rewarding experience. I've been able to collaborate with some amazingly talented people very knowledgeable in their respective areas of comic book and graphic novel production or animation."
"Phillip Boute, Jr., Eric Vale, Brandon Easton, Jeff Stokely and Dawnsen Chen, Jey Odin, Rashad Doucet, Adam Pruett and Brian Denham, Rian Bosak, Adam Feuerberg, Jon Brence, David Kolodny-Nagy and John Semper, Jr, and Joe Dunn and Doug Dlin of Antarctic Press, to name a few," Montgomery replies. "And, more importantly, people willing to guide me through those worlds."
As for the frustrations, Montgomery candidly reveals that he's spent nearly $45,000 of his own money in order to complete the book and tour around the world in support of it, to build momentum. He's engaged in animation meetings for nearly two years and, during that time, met with studios large and small and received great feedback. However, it's stopped there... at least so far.
"Nobody has gotten so inspired as to partner with me or write the check needed to begin production on the animation," Montgomery says. "Either they would want to buy Miles Away from me, effectively removing me and my team from the project, or I was told they were 'working on developing their in-house properties.' After many straightforward conversations with multiple animation execs, I've come to realize that, realistically, with the drastic changes in the animation industry over the past several years, companies restructuring and so many jobs being lost, no Hollywood animation company is going to give me the funding needed to produce the Miles Away animation."
More frustration came from meeting with independent investors, as those meetings yielded the same results, or lack thereof. "It's boiled down to a lot of rhetoric which all leads to the simple fact that they’ve been too fearful to take a chance on Miles Away because what I'm doing has never been done," Montgomery argues. "It's never even been attempted. I always offer examples of properties that had extraordinary success despite not being proven, including the Star Trek franchise, but the investors were either not swayed or countered that they had 'too many projects on the plate.' I got tired of hearing excuses and decided to stop the meetings altogether and get the animation done a different way."
And that's where iTunes Bookstore, and Star Trek fans, come in. Montgomery addresses the next steps in tremendous detail. And he discusses them both as a creative force and a businessman.
"I'm proud to say Miles Away is now available in 51 countries around the world through the iTunes Bookstore," he says. "Right now, people can go to www.themilesaway.com and order their copy. The iTunes link is on the site. I want them to go to the web site because I'm offering free gifts for everyone who buys a copy. Themilesaway.com also offers a collector's set of four Activity Books and an Exclusive Poster Book. These items are only available as digital downloads through the web site. Miles Away is also available "Directly from the Artist" through Ganxy, which offers the same downloadable digital file (viewable on all mobile devices). The Ganxy purchase button is also on themilesaway.com site. The difference is that Ganxy only charges 10% for administrative fees, where iTunes and Amazon will both take 30%. It's better for me if people get Miles Away through Ganxy, but if people are more comfortable using iTunes or Amazon, I want them to get it through those sources. It will be available on Amazon soon.
"For all the collectors out there, people can still buy a trade paperback through Paypal for $14.95 plus shipping and handling (domestic or international)," he continues. "They will also receive an autographed 8x10 with their Paypal purchase (while supplies last). People will also get a free gift for joining the Miles Away community. They will receive future updates, information about the Reading Initiative, contests, giveaways and more. And I caution people not to buy Miles Away from any other online sources because I have nothing to do with those outlets and any revenue generated will never reach me.
"All that said, this is an official call to action for all of our wonderful Star Trek fans around the world," Montgomery continues. "I made the 112-page graphic novel available digitally for only $2.99. My ultimate goal is to get 10 million digital books sold; that's 10 million of our fans around the world buying a single digital copy. I know that sounds like a lot and I'm not trying to break any records for comic book sales; I just want Miles Away to succeed in all these other formats, and selling a lot of books will help me achieve that."
And here's why: If fans bought 10 million digital copies of Miles Away, then, after paying administrative fees, reimbursing his initial investors and putting money aside to pay taxes on the collected finances, Montgomery would be able fund the entire Miles Away animated trilogy on his own.
"That's how I'm going to circumvent the studio system and independent investors," he said. "I'm doing a 30-day campaign -- the month of June -- to get four million fans to buy a single digital copy of the book for $2.99. The way they galvanized to try and save our Enterprise series from being canceled in 2005, I'm asking our fans to help me take Miles Away to the next phase. After I get the first four million digital copies sold, my animation team will go into full pre-production for two months for the first animated film, followed by 14 months of production. Barring any setbacks, our goal is to have the first animated feature complete by the end of 2016. As soon as the first film is complete, my animation team will get to work on the second film while I release the first, repeating the process for the second and third films. Total production for all three animated feature films is scheduled for 31-months. I will make a major announcement once the goals of 4 million, then 10 million have been reached."
Montgomery paused for a moment to gather his thoughts. Selling ten million copies of anything might revolutionize the comic book industry. May as well think big -- even colossally big -- right?
"Granted, Miles Away is not a Star Trek franchise... yet," Montgomery says. "However, I've learned from our Star Trek fans over the years of our interactions that although they love Star Trek above all else, they also love and support quality science fiction. Miles Away will provide quality entertainment with the same positive values that we have all grown to know and love about Star Trek over the last five decades. And I'll do anything it takes to make this dream a reality."