The Value of Fan Fiction, Fan Art, Fan Videos and Costumes

 

 

Hello all. Thought I would go ahead and post something because it is one of those things I am interested in.  It is often said by some that “fan projects” are not worth the time or effort. This is not true at all. “Fan projects” are more pivotal now than they ever have been. Why do I say this? Because engaging in fan activities such as writing fan fiction, doing fan videos and creating fan art are fostering the next generation of artists. Basically what I am saying is that, with these projects comes knowledge, practice in the art that you want to be involved in, and experience.

Lets start with fan fiction. Many authors will say that this is not the kind of thing that “real” writers engage in. That is not true. Even writers and film makers that are well respected have dabbled in borrowing, fan fiction and “ripping off”. Take Suzanne Collins who wrote “The Hunger Games”. It is quite clearly based, in some form off of the film “Battle Royale”, A Japanese film about a group of Japanese students who are forced to fight to the death in a contest where only one is meant to come out alive.

Then again, “Battle Royale” is much more interesting and amusing, because it is not a film made to be considered as “overly serious film”, it is a film that caters to the interest of many audiences, action fans, Japanese film fan, people who like the irony and strong social messages put forward by the film. But basically it is an “it is what it is film, and if you try to make it something more, you’ll merely disappoint yourself”. The Hunger Games” caters to it’s built in audience, and is therefore full of teen angst and characters that one only finds interesting if they are into that sort of movie. There’s nothing wrong with the films. For me, they are just not as entertaining as a film like “Battle Royale”. But still, it cannot be denied that the premise is basically the same and one is simply more entertaining that the other.

Let’s take a moment to look at “Star Wars” and George Lucas. George Lucas’s earliest movie was “THX1138”, a dystopian film about a very controlled society. Here we actually have Lucas who has borrowed from George Orwell, who’s books (that later became films) are basically the same story. People living in a controlled society. Then when it came time for “Star Wars”, George Lucas, who was a great fan of Akira Kurosawa, basically took the plot of Kurosawa’a film “The Hidden Fortress” and set it in space. The George Lucas ripped himself off and Created “Willow” which is the same story with little people and Val Kilmer. Then, as Honest Trailers pointed out, J.J. Abrams basically recycled the plot, except this time around, Luke was a young woman who didn’t whine or complain as much. And in fact, you could say that Collins ripped off both Lucas and Orwell…Haha…

Even a smutty book like “Fifty Shades of Grey” was borrowed from the plot of “Twilight”, which I have always found amusing. Anne Rice took the plot of “Sleeping Beauty” and filled it with smut. Also borrowing from other people is what remakes are, adaptations are, they are also why Marvel keeps regurgitating it’s superhero franchises.

So here’s the thing. If these people are allowed to borrow, adapt, rip off and do all these other sorts of things, why can’t we fans do so? Some writers will say that, “ah, fan fiction. That is no good because you’re just taking someone else’s story and doing things with it.” Well yeah! That’s what art is all about. Copying and borrowing from the masters in order to gain competence. Even Da Vinci and Michelangelo started, probably from copying some of their art, or borrowing it from the person that they learned from. Everyone learns something. The difference is how quickly you can pick it up.

Also they say, “oh you don’t get good feedback on fan fiction”. Not true at all. If you are a good writer, people will know it and know how to respond to your writing, regardless of what it is based off of. There is a difference in writing styles and motives in fan fiction. One is for the writer who someday wants to write. The other is for people who use it for some kind of odd wish fulfillment, which shouldn’t be in the same caliber. However, I have gotten a lot of good feedback from writing fan fics. People seem to like what I write and know what kind of writer I am, and therefore, they ask questions, point out plot holes, make comments on my having too much exposition, all kinds of useful comments. So one cannot claim that they do not get good feed back. If you are a good writer who is working to morph a good narrative, readers will know it.

Some fan videos are wonderful, and I enjoy watching them. They can be funny, touching, interesting visually, and just plain emotional. So here the thing. What you are looking at are the writers, comedians, film editors, and producers/directors of the future. If you can make a good fan video that people like, then chances are you want to work in film. The fact that you are working with someone elses content, just as long as you make it clear that you are playing with someone elses baby, and you’re not slapping your name on it saying, “this is mine”, I don’t see a problem with it. When I edit photos, people know they are not mine. Nor do I claim them as mine. They belong to someone else, and I try to make that as clear as possible when I give credits to people. So we should not demonize people for stealing when all they are doing is borrowing. If they have the footage, chances are they own the original, and most people still like to buy the DVD. Personally I don’t like downloads of anything, whether it’s film or music or game content. I want something I can hold, that is mine. So I still buy DVDs and things. I love things like commentary and interviews and extras, so I buy the damn movie! It isn’t mine. I claim nothing because I cannot. All I do is what most other artists do is borrow and take what I can from a given plot and work with it. Here are a couple of videos from Sweetladybat that I just love.

Fan art is also a very useful teaching tool. Again, learning from the masters. Also fan costumes. If you go to conventions, you will see thousands of costumes that people have worked numerous hours on, sometimes just to wear to one event. What you have here is artists in the making and future costume designers. You may have the next Edith Head amongst their numbers. Or even a Donatella Versace is you think about it. why would the film industry and fashion industry not take advantage of these people and their art?

There are so many fandoms out there, and there are so many people who want to be a part of them. And if you do not foster the talent of the next Shakespeare, or the next Da Vinci, or the next Edith Head, the industry will be missing out on some great and awesome talent.

Thank you for reading, I greatly appreciate it!! Shara

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