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Fan Productions Creating our own Trek canon!

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Old February 28 2011, 03:56 AM   #91
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Music is actually a dangerous drug when editing. Music trumps visuals. If you have a happy shot but put sad music on it, the music won't be colored by the picture, but the other way around. Ergo, putting finished, polished music on an edit makes the sequence feel more complete than it might be. What you should do is try to get as much of the emotion out of the scene by the editing choices. Typically, music should only be added AFTER you've got an edit that works.
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Old February 28 2011, 04:20 AM   #92
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

DS9Sega wrote: View Post
What you should do is try to get as much of the emotion out of the scene by the editing choices.
A bit of ambiguity in the meaning of the phrase "get out". To clarify your meaning here, you do mean this:
1) You should try to make the emotion the way you want it to be, as much as possible, through the use of editing choices alone, so that the scene does not rely exclusively on the music to communicate emotion.
and not this:
2) You should make your editing choices in order to eliminate as much of the emotion from the scene as you can, so that it is largely the soundtrack that defines the emotional tone.
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Old February 28 2011, 08:13 AM   #93
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I believe that was clear enough via context.
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Old February 28 2011, 09:19 AM   #94
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Sorry, sometimes I'm dense.
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Old March 1 2011, 01:00 AM   #95
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

CorporalCaptain wrote: View Post
DS9Sega wrote: View Post
What you should do is try to get as much of the emotion out of the scene by the editing choices.
A bit of ambiguity in the meaning of the phrase "get out". To clarify your meaning here, you do mean this:
1) You should try to make the emotion the way you want it to be, as much as possible, through the use of editing choices alone, so that the scene does not rely exclusively on the music to communicate emotion.
and not this:
2) You should make your editing choices in order to eliminate as much of the emotion from the scene as you can, so that it is largely the soundtrack that defines the emotional tone.
The first statement.
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Old March 2 2011, 05:13 AM   #96
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Speaking strictly as a viewer and not as a maker of fan films, one suggestion I'd have is to avoid making your film or series an example of what I've dubbed "YASYAC" -- Yet Another Ship, Yet Another Crew.

So your show or series is about the Whatchamacallit-class USS Thingamajig, launched on stardate xxxxx.x. The captain is a 47-year-old, androgynous, one-third human, one-third Ferengi, one-third water buffalo, your first officer is a Betazoid-Andorian-Caitian-Excalbian-Talosian-Sheliak hybrid, and the deputy chief engineer's name is Hank.

So what?

Why should I care about your ship and your crew? What's the compelling reason to watch? What is it that distinguishes the USS Thingamajig from the USS Yadayadayada?

I would encourage fan filmmakers to put a unique twist on their projects -- something to make their works stand out in some way.
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Old March 2 2011, 06:28 AM   #97
Captain Robert April
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Howzabout a fanfilm about the absolutely worst ship in the fleet?
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Old March 2 2011, 06:40 AM   #98
Maurice
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
Howzabout a fanfilm about the absolutely worst ship in the fleet?
That would be Quark.
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Old March 2 2011, 07:37 AM   #99
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

FalTorPan wrote: View Post
Speaking strictly as a viewer and not as a maker of fan films, one suggestion I'd have is to avoid making your film or series an example of what I've dubbed "YASYAC" -- Yet Another Ship, Yet Another Crew.

So your show or series is about the Whatchamacallit-class USS Thingamajig, launched on stardate xxxxx.x. The captain is a 47-year-old, androgynous, one-third human, one-third Ferengi, one-third water buffalo, your first officer is a Betazoid-Andorian-Caitian-Excalbian-Talosian-Sheliak hybrid, and the deputy chief engineer's name is Hank.

So what?

Why should I care about your ship and your crew? What's the compelling reason to watch? What is it that distinguishes the USS Thingamajig from the USS Yadayadayada?

I would encourage fan filmmakers to put a unique twist on their projects -- something to make their works stand out in some way.
You forgot to add: "And why does that ship/station have to play a deciding role in yet another war which was started just for the sake of that fanfilm (series)?"
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Old April 28 2011, 06:26 AM   #100
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Been a while since I posted. Let's jump into a topic that's related to both writing and shooting...
SHOW, NOT TELL

One thing Star Trek does too much--and fan filmmakers ape to an extreme--is a tendency to have too much talking. Everything is described in dialog rather than portrayed visually. But this is contrary to what film does best: which is communicate story through visuals.

Let's look at a fine example of showing instead of telling from the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. At this point in the film we've learned that Eddie Valiant's brother was killed by a Toon, and that Eddie doesn't work Toontown. It's also established that he has a thing with Dolores, the waitress at the Terminal Bar across the street. That's pretty much all we know about Eddie until this scene. In it, Eddie, upon seeing pictures of his late brother with him and Dolores, casts a longing gaze to the desk next to his own. The camera then executes a slow move, making a circle across the adjoining desk and we see the following as the camera pans across and lingers on each of these, before ending up back on Eddie.









In this one short scene--essentially a single shot--we learn everything else we need to know about Eddie for the rest of the film:
  • The dust shows he hasn't touched his late brother's desk, which shows how much he misses him or can't accept the loss
  • He and his brother were involved in helping Toons in the past
  • He and his brother were the "clowns" of the police department
  • He and his brother were circus clowns as kids, along with their dad
  • Dolores worked with them in their detective agency, which was founded 9 years earlier (the photo is dated 1938 and the film takes place in 47)
  • Finally, Eddie has passed out, drunk (we can tell by the empty bottle), over the photos that brought on this melancholy
In less than a minute of screen time we get all this information about the character without a word of dialog. Little of it seems important at that point in the story but everything shown in this single shot informs plot points and Eddie's behavior throughout the rest of the film.

For instance, we know Eddie has lot of experiences with Toons, so his knack for getting them to do what he wants makes sense (tricking Roger into drinking the drink he doesn't want, for instance).

Furthermore, we see that he's not shocked by the insanity of Toontown when he goes there, and that's because we know he has a history of working for Toons.

Even more important, at the climax of the film he does a bunch of comic slapstick to get the weasels to "laugh themselves to death". If we didn't see that he'd been a "clown" on the police force and a literal clown with Dad in the circus, this comic activity would seem out of character and appear to come out of left field.

Chances are, most audiences didn't or couldn't consciously remember virtually any of what was shown on the desk pan, or even that it was shown, but the information was communicated regardless, so it all makes narrative sense, and really no one questions Eddie's behavior later because it's set up.

This is but one example, but I think it's demonstrative that it's possible and desirable to communicate story and character points via what you show on the screen rather than what a character says.

Lesson: Don't tell us how your character feels or why they're doing what they do. Show us!
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Last edited by Maurice Navidad; April 28 2011 at 09:50 PM.
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Old April 28 2011, 11:00 AM   #101
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Great post Maurice!
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Old April 28 2011, 02:31 PM   #102
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

lennier1 wrote: View Post
You forgot to add: "And why does that ship/station have to play a deciding role in yet another war which was started just for the sake of that fanfilm (series)?"
Hey! I resemble that remark.

Also the "people talk too much" thing. Go figure.
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Old April 28 2011, 06:59 PM   #103
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

DS9Sega wrote: View Post
Been a while since I posted. Let's jump into a topic that's related to both writing and shooting...
SHOW, NOT TELL

One thing Star Trek does too much--and fan filmmakers ape to an extreme--is a tendency to have too much talking. Everything is described in dialog rather than portrayed visually. But this is contrary to what film does best: which is communicate story through visuals.

...

Lesson: Don't tell us how your character feels or why they're doing what they do. Show us!
I'll add one more thing that fan filmmakers also tend to ape is having characters tell us who they are rather than showing us who they are.

In other words, having drawn out scenes where the character whines about this that and the other thing, which is often used to pass as characterization. Or having characters with a series of like and dislikes, and calling that characterization. For example, the captain likes poker or the counselor likes chocolate or the executive officer plays the trombone. Those are traits and not real characterization.

Characterization, or who a character is, is shown through the actions that character takes in the story. For instance, Kirk deciding not to save Edith Keeler shows us something about who Kirk is as a person. Same when Kirk destroys the computers of Emininar VI so that its people can truly know the spoils of warfare. Or when Kirk steals the Enterprise to rescue his friend.

And those choices show us how far a character is willing to go for what I tell my creative writing students is the "I want". What choices does a character make to get what he or she truly wants in the story.

Many fan film scripts are fraught with plots that drive the characters along, where they rarely make any choices of consequence. But character choices not only show, but also help drive the plot along.

When characters drive the plot through their choices, then it becomes difficult to interchange those characters with different characters.

Would Kill Bill be the same movie if Beatrice Kiddo wasn't the main character and it had been Bill's brother instead? No, because Beatrice's choices are what drive the story. It probably wouldn't even be called Kill Bill.

Or compare the novel Tapping the Source by Kem Nunn with the movie that was supposedly inspired by it, Point Break. In the book, Ike's choices drive his quest to know what happened to his sister. In the movie, there's FBI agent Johnny Utah (a riff of Johnny Yuma?) instead, and it changes the entire story and its plot.

Choices. Don't be afraid to let your characters make choices, good or bad. Don't strap them to the captain's chair and absolve them of making any difficult decision by allowing others to do so for him.
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Old April 29 2011, 09:58 PM   #104
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I think the point about over explaining is well taken and I think it helped me put my finger on the problem I had with Blood and Fire. It was nothing to do with having gay characters, it just seems to me after seeing "Enemy Starfleet" that the background was well enough established just by having Peter look at the picture. It lets you know quite clearly that this character is gay and after the sympathetic dialogue between Jim and Bones in the teaser it's clear that there is no concern over anything except trying to help Peter recover from the loss of his lover. The sex of the lover being immaterial. In short, you learn just as much from those two quick hits about Peter as you do from Blood and Fire. I hope that's all taken in the context of my general admiration of Phase II and my appreciation for the quality of Blood and Fire in particular. Just because it doesn't work for me,doesn't make it "bad" or "wrong", it's just one viewer's opinion on particular aspect of the episode.
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Old April 30 2011, 10:45 AM   #105
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Re: Fan Filmmaker's Primer

I would just like to inject here that I found Blood and Fire well done. I disagree that the whole story was just about Peter being gay, that the nature of his relationship was explored and that this type of complaint is, IMHO, offbase. (Not a fan of ES, btw.)
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