The LIEF Erikson

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The non-judgemental critic

Now, I make no bones about the fact that I am not a critic.

If you want someone to hand-feed you your opinions about the good, the bad and the ugly in entertainment, go read a critics' blog. Lord knows there is no shortage of them. I'll not fall into the trap of tarring all critics with the same brush and say that they are all a bunch of egocentric negative opinion mongers. I have occassionally read a good review, one that pointed out strong and weak points in performances and plots. They are, sadly, few and far between.

You know what really gets up my nose though? (Isn't that the purpose of owning a blog, so that I can tell you?) It's the self-appointed experts who come out of the woodwork whenever the subject of fan films is mentioned. The kind who laugh at the acting or makeup, the not-exactly pretty actors, the plot, the script, the in-flight food!

Y'know, perhaps they're right? In fact, yes! They're absolutely right - fan film actors are not worth the money they're being paid. No, wait, that's not right - they aren't being paid. In fact it's costing them thousands to do it.

Well, perhaps you the viewer should demand your money back, I mean you didn't pay good money to see ... Uh, no, that doesn't work either, you downloaded it for free, right?

Well, I know that *I* could do better than that! Except ... to tell the truth ... I probably couldn't, besides I'm not exactly the handsomest of dudes myself.

Still, you'd think that people would take more care over their productions ... uh, like seven years in the making for "The Savage Empire"?

But I mean, it's so amateurish isn't it? Which ... I suppose is logical since they are amateurs

yeah, well, we'll all just have to go watch some of the new professional Star Trek which is pouring out of the studios ... *sigh* in my dreams buddy!

The pivotal issue is that they are amateur productions - in many ways it is an extension of amateur theatre. As I said in an earlier Blog ...
I have immense respect for the work that these guys are doing and appreciate it for what it is - artistic self-expression. I tend to watch them to see what they put into it rather than what I can get out of it. For example when I watch James Cawley playing Captain Kirk on New Voyages I don't compare his performance with Shatner, I enjoy it for what it is. I appreciate watching the sheer energy and will power that it needs to put any fan film together. It's not just a pat on the back for their effort though, if you push your "willing sense of disbelief" to a higher level than for a professional work, it is good entertainment!
You can't just walk out of "Film appreciation 101" and start running off all the short-comings of a fan film compared with a professional production. As an overall production they can't compare.
... Will they become a threat to mainstream media - TV and films? Not a chance in their current form. Perhaps if Paramount allow limited licencing, you might get a new crop of small Indy operators but without a way of recouping their expenses they will remain the domain of the fan who likes to act.
There are challenges of resources that a fan film cannot approach on the same level as a professional production. Money can buy the solution for most of the problems that a production has. If you have money, you can buy costumes, props, scenery, you can hire the best talent in writing, acting and directing, you can pay for publicity.

For an amateur production buying your way to production is not an option, you need to use "Plan-B": sweat equity! You make your own costumes, props and scenery, you get writers, actors and directors who will work for free and you create your own publicity. It can be done.

However you have to get past the mentality of, "if it ain't professional it ain't good!" They have work-arounds and short-cuts for most problems, skills that can be learned, talents discovered and excercised. The end result, no matter what the level of quality, will be a reflection of the work and determination of the people involved. By all means watch one - watch all of them! - do so with an open mind and you might be pleasantly surprised. Do us all a favour though - don't watch it if you're going to judge it by professional standards, eh? You'll just be disappointed, write a whiney review and give everybody the pips.

... well you'll give me the pips anyway.


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