Fan Filmmaker's Primer

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    Great post Maurice!
     
  2. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Hey! I resemble that remark. :lol:

    Also the "people talk too much" thing. Go figure.
     
  3. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  4. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  5. Barbreader

    Barbreader Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.)
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe I missed something, but I don't think anyone here is saying that Blood and Fire is just about Peter bring gay, but, to use the current topic, it's handled throughh a lot of talky scenes rather than being conveyed by more visual means... His rolling around with another man notwithstanding.
     
  7. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's very difficult to express the feelings I had about Blood and Fire. I think Maurice has it right: too much is explained. That's my opinion and of course, when a controversial topic such as this is tackled, everyone's mileage will vary. While I have enjoyed every episode of Phase II, including B&F, I don't see any harm in discussing what worked for me and what didn't about any particular episode.
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Funny, I personally didn't think anything in Blood and Fire was "controversial" given how commonplace gay characters are on TV these days. But the handling of the relationship is related to the topic of showing not telling. We're practically TOLD we should feel for Peter Kirk, but the story doesn't give us a reason to. We certainly aren't shown anything to make us like him. Telling us that a character that we've just met is "in love" isn't enough for us to identify with him when we haven't even gotten to know HIM yet.
     
  9. MikeH92467

    MikeH92467 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^^I agree "controversial" wasn't the right word....as I said I really have a hard time getting my arms around where B&F got off track for me. I think Enemy Starfleet gave us some reason to think that he has the potential to become a fine officer and that makes him a lot more likeable than just showing us that he's gay.
     
  10. Ryan Thomas Riddle

    Ryan Thomas Riddle Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    "Blood and Fire" would've had more bite some 20 years ago when the script was originally conceived. However, the Phase II iteration isn't any more daring than a melodramatic prime-time soap opera.

    As you've astutely stated, we're TOLD Peter and Freeman are "in love" and what we are shown of the relationship is sophomoric, hardly sophisticated and, honestly, a bit one-dimensional. It's all surface and no depth.

    Not only that but the characters themselves seemingly have no identity beyond their sexuality and border on two-dimensional stereotypes.

    It's a shame because there was potential to truly show how complicated it is being in a relationship with a career-driven officer, one that also happens to be between two men.

    However, the script gives us a maudlin relationship that hinges more on the fact that it's between two men rather than it being an actual, breathing relationship with all the strife that goes along with it.

    For me, I would've looked for ways to not make the relationship so cookie-cutter. Say Peter Kirk was as career-driven as his uncle. That he really came to the Enterprise to further his career and not really be with Alex, but that's not what he told his lover. That the relationship wasn't working out because Peter could only give so much and Alex was frustrated by that.

    In the end, when Alex dies ... the real tragedy is that Peter is both saddened and relieved, because it makes the one choice he couldn't — breaking it off.

    Or better yet, reverse that and make Alex the more career driven officer who choses to sacrifice himself because he can see no other way out of his relationship with Peter.

    By doing so, I think Phase II would've said something more interesting about relationships than it did. That no matter whether you are gay, straight, bi or transgendered ... we all still suffer from the same hang-ups, struggles and conflicts of being in a relationship with another person.
     
  11. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    The problem I had with BAF is the incessant screaming of "Alex, Alex, Alex!" It was a deal breaker and way over the top. The story line that had the Klingons watching all of this was equally unbelievable. The 2nd part just fell apart in logical storytelling.
     
  12. Barbreader

    Barbreader Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You continue to discuss the episode as if the story was about the Peter-Alex relationship. It was about the blood worms, (Doomsday biogenic weapons) and the issues about the blood worms, and the relationship was supposed to merely be a consequence of the main plot, as was the Klingon intervention which complicated it. The Klingons show that a crisis is not just a crisis, it effects other ongoing problem, and the death of Alex is no different than a lot of other deaths in TOS, just to demonstrate that the crew is vulnerable, and some people who aren't red shirts with targets on them get hurt and killed. Making him Peter's friend instead of James T.'s friend just avoided giving James T Kirk a new love to lose.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2011
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ideally the show was about the bloodworms, but the choice was made to put the Peter-Alex relationship up front...it's so up front that the biggest scene about it (which is longer than most TOS teasers) comes before the real story actually starts. The relationship is then milked for melodrama.

    Since I'm trying to be constructive rather than destructive, let me address how this could have been addressed. First, in the BAF Pt. 1 Teaser we see Peter get hurt, but since we've never seen Peter before, he's just another redshirt at that point. If fact, when he next appears, I didn't connect at first that he was the previously-nameless redshirt. Even if we didn't know who Alex was, if he's done something that illustrated his character, then once we find out who he is the preceding scene would have had some impact.

    Back to showing v. telling, having Peter exhibit some characteristics or even charisma might have made him relatable and likable, and then there'd be a reason to care what happens. Instead, we're told he's a Kirk and he's in love, but absent him being an actual character those are just empty words.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2011
  14. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Honestly, just about no one is going to remember "Blood and Fire" for the bloodworm story no matter how much running time that consumed. Interestingly enough, the issues that Gerrold sought to address with that storyline were a great deal more front-and-center when he wrote it in 1986 than they were by the time Phase II shot their version.
     
  15. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    You could argue that was the intent, however the way the episode is constructed, the bloodworms are just a second background to the story of Peter Kirk. The Klingon sequences seem to be just padding to get the episode to be a two-parter.

    Yep. The whole premise seems to set up the Peter-Alex relationship. In fact, you know Alex is going to die from the outset and that that is what this story is going to be about.

    Quite so. I don't see much of a discussion of the bloodworms or the Klingons watching TV. It's all about Alex and Peter.

    Timing is everything. You strike when the iron is hot, so to speak. Nearly 15 years later, it's old hat.
     
  16. Barbreader

    Barbreader Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Obviously, I liked the story better than most of you. At this point, I'll save my comments for my very favorable review of it, and people can disagree. I will reference other reviews on my website (I always try to give links to several) so my fellow fan film newbies will have several opinions to read. Phase II's work is widely reviewed.

    I can't be sure why we see this so differently. One possible reason is that I waited until the final version of both parts to watch either part, and then watched them together. Another is that I am not as interested in relationship stories as most people (and maybe even less than most guy-people, says a lot...) and therefore focused my attention on the bloodworms.

    A third possible reason we disagree is that y'all are filmmakers and therefore get less caught up in the special effects than innocents like me who are just film WATCHERS. You're thinking, "I'd have made that worm wiggle differently..." and I'm thinking "Ugh! Creepy! Gross ..."
     
  17. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, except that the so-called "gay storyline" is what you'll find that the majority of people who've discussed this online anywhere - not just "film makers who are more interested in special effects" - discuss the most.

    Arguably those of us who are supposed to be "more interested in special effects" could be expected to devote more attention to those aspects of the episode - the bloodworms themselves, or the various spaceships - than to the Peter Kirk stuff. So I don't think that rationale holds up under examination.
     
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The bloodworms don't get discussed because they just aren't very interesting. Frankly, the horror aspects of the episode were undermined totally for me when Nick Cook's character got eaten. Once he was still screaming after his lungs were clearly gone the whole scene teetered into unintentional comedy. It was impossible for me to take the worms seriously after that.
     
  19. Potemkin_Prod

    Potemkin_Prod Commodore Commodore

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    And I'm not sure the bloodworms even make sense from a scientific point-of-view. They're just a plot device for the Alex-Peter story.
     
  20. USS Intrepid

    USS Intrepid Commodore Commodore

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    Some would argue I'd do a far better job without lungs. :)

    There's a catalogue of plot points throughout Star Trek history that don't make much sense from a scientific point of view, so that's hardly anything new.