Star Trek: Phase II - "Kitumba" Officially Released!

Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Loken, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed. Although I'm amazed anyone could miss Trek's most blatant social commentary since "A Private Little War". We'd be happy to enlighten you over in XI+, RCAM:bolian:
     
  2. wtriker1701

    wtriker1701 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, I say, 2 stand-out peformances by either Pony and Vic.
    Vic was not over-acting, he perfectly demonstrated The KLINGON Way! Having seen lots of them in professional productions.
    Whereas Pony had those fine subtleties in his K'Sia. Loved them both!
     
  3. PattyW

    PattyW Commander Red Shirt

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    well, you don't know what you missed with the Malkthon character: which was replaced by snarling and spitting. The actor that was to replace him made the character real, a fitting complement to K'Sia.

    And, yes, Pony was fighting a flare up at the time and a director who kept yelling "IGNORE what the writer said and just growl!" He fought that battle and won - the worst of situations for an actor, and yet he pulled it off.
     
  4. RCAM

    RCAM Commander Red Shirt

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    Sorry, should have said "well-done, nuanced social commentary." I'd say "blatant" is a good descriptor. Maybe I'll pop by the thread.

    On Malkethon: I think snarling worked for him, though it wouldn't have for the K'Sia character, who's more cultured.
     
  5. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    One of the things that make this episode so good is that the Klingons aren't all the same. There are thoughtful, considerate diplomats (K'Sia), seasoned, military commanders (Kargh), young, idealistic iconoclasts (the Kitumba), and the scene chewing, over-the-top blowhards (Malka'thon).
     
  6. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Vic's was hardly the worst performance in the piece.
     
  7. M

    M Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Peronsally, I though Vic Mignogna's performance was the single best thing about "Kitumba". It felt like a truely professional television performance, while most of the other players – while really good and entertaining – never let me forget that I'm watching a fan film.

    I thoroughly enjoyed "Kitumba" and am very thankful for all the work that has been put into it. It was a million times better than "Enemy: Starfleet" and "Blood and Fire". And I'm really glad this was cut into a single episode. That way the plot is pretty condensed and sometimes hard to follow, put at least it doesn't drag so much. I wish they would stop trying to put so many references to past Trek productions in there. That's not how TOS did it and it certainly isn't something I like to see in a Trek productions that strives to feel professional.

    All in all, very well done! Thank you!
     
  8. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Are you responding to my post, Maurice?
     
  9. DCR

    DCR Commander Red Shirt

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    I think a growling, hating K'Sia would have diminished the role. I preferred the dignified figure who was secure in his Klingon superiority. It was nice to see the Federation on the other side of a superiority complex.
     
  10. urbandefault

    urbandefault Commodore Commodore

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    You can definitely tell the professional actors from the amateurs in these productions. Not to diminish the efforts of the main cast over the years, but difference is noticeable.
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    No. If I'm replying to a specific post I usually quote it.
     
  12. Coloratura

    Coloratura Snuggle Princess Premium Member

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    Ah, okay. I was wondering, because I spent 10 minutes looking over my post to see if I had said anything bad. :lol:
     
  13. CmdrAJD

    CmdrAJD Commodore Commodore

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    I finally got to watch this over the weekend, and it may be my favorite episode that you've done so far. The script was solid, and the location shooting at the fort really looked great. Fantastic work!

    I am going to miss James Cawley as Kirk. I'm sure Brian Gross will be fine, but the trailer for the next episode didn't sell me on his performance. Fortunately, I don't have to wait long to see more of his work.
     
  14. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    Last night, I finally had a chance to sit down and view the official release of "Kitumba."

    Some thoughts:

    Sound and Fury.
    -The audio, especially in the beginning scenes in the hallway outside the transporter room and then the overlong scene in the transporter room is atrocious. Tinny, echo-y, and just assembled poorly. The sonic "jumps" between each actor's line readings and the dead space/lack of room tone in between were painfully noticeable, creating a jittery aural choppiness. I feel like this issue improved as the episode went on, but in the beginning minutes of the episode it was impossible not to notice. That the score cues were mixed seemingly properly is both good but also further highlights how badly the dialogue tracks were done.

    In these scenes, Gil Gerard is a Commodore/Admiral, along with two other flag officers. I'm not sure what the point of three flag officers beaming over is, just to stand in the transporter room, talk for five minutes, then beam back to whereever they came from. In terms of practicality it strikes me as terribly inefficient. In terms of production, I suppose I can understand it if you need to shoehorn in a few cameos. Story-wise though it just felt redundant. Gerard could have delivered all that information to Kirk and company himself and it would have been fine. But, I digress.

    The real issue here is Kirk. He's needlessly indignant, antagonistic and belligerent toward not just Gerard but all three of these flag officers -his superiors- when the whole reason they're there is to give him his fucking orders. He's even a dick to K'Sia, who by all rights according to Gerard, is a diplomatic guest on board. Now, has Kirk defied orders in the past? Of course. Has he argued the merit of orders as he's given them? Yes. But Kirk has never been so needlessly hostile toward a superior officer as he tends to be on Phase II. I suppose the argument could be made that he's been friends with Gerard's character so that element of the relationship informs his reaction and how he interacts with Gerard but it just felt really out of character to me. Kirk's not offering other suggestions or alternatives, he's argumentative, complaining, and generally being an asshole to his superior officer because he doesn't like the orders he's being given. Kirk in Star Trek VI didn't like the orders he was given then, but knew he had to follow them and despite making his protests clear, he certainly didn't throw the temper tantrum Cawley gives us here. He wasn't a condescending asshole to Gorkon the way he is to K'Sia. Throughout the episode, Kirk is just going from point A to point B, sometimes senselessly. He's not the smart, cunning or brilliant commander we have come to know; he's just an idiot here.

    Minor note: While Cawley's acting has improved since "Come What May" considerably, he still more often than not resorts to his default scowling whenever he speaks and has to convey any kind of seriousness. And it's still distracting.

    The Writing's On The Wall
    The script, while intriguing in parts, suffers from lazy writing with cliche after cliche in the dialogue, too many characters to service and the same lack of character cohesion New Voyages/Phase II has always suffered from. Once again, the crew is given a mission. Once again, Kirk does what he's told and once again, McCoy and in this outing, just about everyone else continue to question and debate the merit of the mission amongst themselves, or worse, with Kirk and publicly. The entire episode passes by and is largely marked by characters beaming up then beaming down, beaming up and then beaming down again. Its plot point Twister and its really messy.

    I'm still not sure I understand why, after such great pains are taken to explain how dangerous it is for the Enterprise to enter Klingon space and how unlikely it is that the ship will even make it to Qo'nos, that having a bunch of humans running around on the surface of the homeworld is so entirely not a big deal to anyone there. I know there's lip service in the episode of "we grant you safe passage" and what not, but did the military actually make some world-wide announcement on the Klingon PA system to let everyone know? "Hey y'all, we got a couple of weakling humans coming over to hang, it's cool!" It just stretches believability, given everything we've ever heard of the Klingons, and makes their military and government look plain stupid to allow such a breach of security when Kirk and company actually get inside to the leader of the empire with barely any difficulty at all.

    Phase II has been guilty of this before, especially with McCoy and in sometimes the most egregious fashion, misunderstanding Bones' role as Kirk's advisor in favor of having the country doctor just standing on the bridge, insubordinate and bitching and complaining and questioning Kirk's decisions in front of everyone. It was rare on TOS that this would happen right smack dab in the middle of the bridge. Here, it seemingly happens in every episode Phase II produces now. Worse, you have a moment later on where McCoy jokingly quips to Uhura -- "Sometimes, you frighten me woman!" Really, guys? Really? I'm trying to picture DeForest Kelley saying that line and I just can't see it. Never mind the gender politics involved, or how arguably offensive it might be to Uhura or any other woman to be referred to solely by her gender (as if that's all there really is to be considered here), it's just a plain rude thing to say. Sure, McCoy would belt out the odd "My God, man!" at Spock, but that was because he'd had a regularly adversarial relationship with Spock for a long time. This interaction in "Kitumba" just flies in out of left field and makes McCoy look, potentially, like a sexist jerk.

    Parts of the episode just dragged on. I'm still not sure I understand what the hell Prescott, Chekov, and Peter were going on about in the conference room. Of course it has to do with the shuttle swap later, but even that fell short for me -- I don't know that I believe a shuttle explosion would be anywhere near as large as a starship exploding. Perhaps if we'd seen that pursuit via the Klingon battleship's viewscreen, I'd believe the ingenuity of the plan, but we don't really see it that way so it feels like a cheat, story-wise and production-wise.

    The Klingons.
    Let's take a minute now and talk about the Klingons. As a concept, the Kitumba is interesting, however the central resolution to the episode - the Kitumba names K'Sia the first Chancellor of the Empire and forms the High Council, falls somewhat flat as we know that the High Council and the Chancellor were in power during "Broken Bow" on Enterprise. I suppose the argument could be made that the Kitumba came to power after that and that in the hundred or so years since it's been politically unstable, but it seems needlessly so, given all the continuity porn and kitchen-sink-retconning that goes on in this script. (More on that later.)

    It was inevitable that the show all about the Klingons would feature Phase II's go-to, Kargh, which is good because I think he's actually one of the more interesting things to have come out of the entire New Voyages/Phase II project. And while not used quite as brilliantly here as he was in "In Harm's Way," he nonetheless serves the purpose he's meant to - as the Klingon equivalent to Kirk. (I think it would be quite daring to see Kargh go out in a blaze of glory when Phase II ends, if only to explain away why we never saw him in the movies.) There's even a genuinely funny/cool/meta moment in the bar brawl where Kirk and Kargh turn to fight each other and then stop, realizing they're on the same side this time around. I'm sure that kind of gag has been done a hundred times in other professional productions, but here it worked for me, and was the least cheesy of the cheese moments, of which there were many. (More on that later, too.)

    More over, I thought having Kirk (again) resort to belligerent, petulant tantrum mode with Kargh only to have Uhura tell them, effectively, "to grow the fuck up already" was embarrassingly bad. In writing this review, I nearly compared it to a similar scene in Star Trek Into Darkness between Kirk, Uhura, and Spock, except this episode was written and produced LONG before the film was released and more importantly, that particular scene in the film wasn't about Kirk being a dick, it was about Uhura needing to resolve her anger with Spock about his actions in the opening scenes of the film. Here, yet again, Cawley's Kirk is just spouting more vitriol for the sake of spouting vitriol. Under such extreme circumstances, if not Kargh, Kirk should be able to put aside his anger and whatever it is about the Klingons that has pissed him off so much. Here, he just obviously doesn't do that.

    I'm still not sure I know what Malkthon's convoluted plan was about or how he was going to achieve it. But his death was completely hollow for me. The Kitumba makes this big deal about Malkthon's real punishment being having to live in the High Council-run empire following his attempted coup, but then he just vaporizes him. Certainly, I understand that Malkthon had to die and that this action is entirely in line with Klingons and how they view justice, but it just felt unnecessarily unclever.

    Pony Horton's performance as K'Sia is admirable and along with Vic Mignogna, these are easily the two best performances in the piece. Gil Gerard doesn't seem to be able to muster enough interest to read his lines above a bare whisper, and while it's nice to see so many familiar faces populating the Enterprise crew, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, Uhura, and Scotty (where's Sulu? On assignment?) get the short shrift here with so many other unnecessary characters being showcased - DeSalle, Xon, Peter, Prescott -- lines for whom could have easily been transposed to the regular characters and would have given us a tighter, and perhaps less convoluted story.

    Technical stuff
    There are some technical issues I noticed as well. The aforementioned sound quality problem was quite distracting and, coupled with the inconsistency of it was easily the biggest problem of the episode.

    The end credits are sloppy. The stills which have been chosen for the end title sequence are fine, however they repeat themselves unnecessarily. A few slides in, we see Old Chekov from "To Serve All My Days" and then another still for a few moments, before we see the same still of Old Chekov from "To Serve All My Days" again. Once more, with feeling this time: Everyone benefits when you have someone go over your cut for quality control purposes.

    The color in this episode however is outstanding. I watched the show on my AppleTV and it just looked marvelous. The usualy muted golds and blues of the uniforms really stood out and the reds throughout were especially vibrant. It's not always consistent but it was also a feast to simply look at. Whoever handled color-correction did a great job.

    The visual effects were, as always, top notch and while it took me a moment to get used to seeing birds-of-prey alongside the original Enterprise, the visuals were simply outsanding. About the only visual effect I really had any problem with was the transporter effect, which looks nothing like the effect from the original series. I don't know if that's a conscious decision by the Phase II production team to "update" the effect or if it's just the nearest approximation they could come up with, but I miss the glitter/shimmering sparkle from TOS.

    Further, there are some really interesting ideas and implications in the episode as well. I loved the moment when Peter and Chekov are blathering on in the conference room and Chekov hints that perhaps his accent isn't entirely natural and rather more an affectation to impress women. The scene doesn't explore the idea further though, which I think could have been interesting, but it was a nice little moment that worked for me.

    As always, the sets looked marvelous. What a playground the Phase II team has built for themselves! All these years later (and my own, occasionally not so pleasant interactions with some of their team), I still marvel at how much fun it must be to be able to stand on those sets and "live" in that world. Surely, if nothing else, after 10 years, we as fans should never forget how much love and dedication clearly went into reproducing those sets.

    Likewise, the wardrobe looked phenomenal. The uniforms are uniforms, which is something that requires a LOT of work and time and dedication and not all fan films recognize this or are able to achieve such cohesion in their costuming. Kirk and company's Klingon disguises are actual outfits (I'm sure it must have thrilled Cawley to at last find a way to fit in those Elvis-esque leather pants into a role on the show :lol: ) The Klingons look great; their wardrobe is a lovely matching of TOS and post-TOS styles. The make-up looks great too. K'Sia in particular, in his Gorkon-inspired tunic and armor, all the way to Malkthon and his movie-era battle rattle and perfectly chiseled eyebrows, look superb.


    That Kitchen Sink Must Be Huge
    The episode however also fell prey to more retconning and fanwankery and continuity porn. Malkthon is of the House of Duras. Of course he is. Because as we all know, there's only ONE bad Klingon house. Xon is in the episode because we never got to see Xon in any official production beyond the one photo of David Gautreaux. Spock and Scotty share a glance when McCoy grumbles that he doesn't want to be around in a hundred years to see what the Klingons are like then, because OMFG GUYS! ALL THREE OF THEM WILL BE! HOW CLEVER! The Kitumba mentions Praxis only to have someone tell him how stupid it is to depend on one source of energy. K'Sia knows about Archer and NX-01's mission to Qo'nos. Which I suppose is entirely plausible and likely the only intertextual reference that makes sense to include. The rest however are just awkward and lessen the experience of the episode for me. None of the things mentioned (beyond the K'Sia example) are cogent to the story, just thrown in for seemingly no reason.

    More and more I wish fan films would stay away from these kinds of things. Part of why I absolutely adore Starship Exeter's efforts in "The Savage Empire" and the first four acts of "The Tressaurian Intersection" is that there are infinitesimally minimal things like this. Seeing Chang as their villain in "Savage" was fine; that's likely the only reference to anyone outside of the Exeter crew that has been previously established that we get in either production. Instead, those stories stand alone on the strength of the scripts and the characters that inhabit them. The more Phase II shoehorns continuity reference after continuity reference into their shows, the smaller the Star Trek universe becomes. Everyone knows everyone, and it's disheartening because it devolves the production in some ways to be no better than Mary Sue fan fiction.

    Get That Cheese To A Script Editor!
    Which brings me to my next qualm about the episode. It is entirely cheesy in places. The Kitumba plays a Klingon version of of a Game Boy. Or at the very least, the Klingon version of Galaga, on his iPad Mini. Surely, this must be the great and honorable leader of the Klingon Empire! Kali, Malkthon's Klingon... I actually don't know what she is in this episode. (Is she his XO? His consort? Wife? Sidekick?)... she is made up superbly as a Klingon warrior with the exception of her fashionable Klingon stilettos. One Klingon goes so far, in his drunken stupor, to call out to Kirk (in his Elvis pants no less!) "Hey, you look like a singer!" Even Kirk's line about "stealing a Corvette when I was a kid" falls flat because of the hamfisted and forced way Cawley delievers the line. Never mind that he himself is so vocal about his dislike of the JJ Abrams films, never mind that whoever wrote the joke entirely missed the point of Young Jim stealing the Corvette in the 2009 film, it's just another lame moment where Kirk is being a jerk for no good reason. Once again, having someone go over your script with a fine-tooth comb for the purposes of quality control --and someone who isn't going to just sing your praises and tell you how wonderful every word is-- will save you a lot of trouble on this front.

    Arguably though, the worst cheese moment in this entire episode comes at toward the end when the crew discusses what to do about the situation brewing on the Klingon homeworld. Peter takes the very timely Bushian approach: Go in, set up a government and get out. Kirk however (and I'm sure with the benefit of hindsight from 2009) deflects the suggestion, simply saying "Good intentions lead to imperialism." The lack of subtlety is glaring here; the attempt at some kind of allegory to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is clumsy, ill-considered, and again, just plain shoehorned in so Kirk can make some kind of political statement, one that is largely unnecessary here.

    When Star Trek VI came out, it was following a year of major historic events and its brilliant message by the end of the film is simply that despite our differences, we are all alike. We are the same. Kirk's line at the end of the film, "...where no man... where no one has gone before!" wasn't just about transitioning the franchinse from TOS to TNG. It was also about Kirk's realization that even the Klingons he hated so much were just like him, the same way, in 1991, the West had to acknowledge that the Russians were just like us, even after decades of being our enemies in the Cold War. In "Kitumba," Kirk clearly and for obvious reasons hasn't learned that lesson yet but he's also a rude, sniveling asshole for no good reason, throughout the show.

    Cognitive Dissonance
    The usual points to the production for getting the show produced and released, which as we all know (but some of you forget) is a herculean task and not one to be dismissed. This one in particular has had a storied and difficult pregnancy and I am sure everyone - from James Cawley to the lowliest assistant at the bottom of the totem pole is happy to finally have this one out the door. The debacle with Vic Mignogna and his credit is still bothersome and belies a lack of professionalism on the part of the producers at Phase II but it is now behind us. Hopefully in the future, should this kind of problem happen again, the team will better consider their options before blatantly and obviously making such a change in their protocol. For a production that so loudly and brazenly insists it is trying to run itself as close to a professional television show as possible, it's sad to see that on such a simple matter as attribution for work done, they had such a hard time acknowledging it.

    Finally, the trailer for "The Holiest Thing" looks quite interesting. I enjoyed the retro filters applied to make it look like it had been cut together by a network promo department the way the old promos look wonky when compared to the masterfully restored episodes on the Blu-Rays. Again we find ourselves running in to someone we know already (Carol Marcus) but I'm willing to keep an open mind until the episode's release to make up my mind about it. Daren Dochterman is a friend and I have full faith in his abilities as a director and am quite excited to see his first effort with the Phase II team, as well as the first full episode featuring Brian Gross as Captain Kirk. Much as I may offer my critical opinions about James Cawley and his acting, I will miss seeing him in the center seat. But, as Kirk tells Scotty in Star Trek III, "... young minds, fresh ideas... we must be tolerant!"
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
  15. PattyW

    PattyW Commander Red Shirt

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    Thank you for your well-thought out critique. I agree with some of it. Others, I don't...and most fans agree with me. You can't please everyone.

    Just three detailed answers. 1. the "imperialism" line was not directed at the Iran/Iraq/etc situation. As a social anthropologist it was directed at history itself. The Crusades. The American Indians. The multitude of native populations in the Russian Federation. Burma. The Spanish Inquisition. Etc etc etc. 2. the Praxis remark referred less to what happens later in Trek history and more to what was/is happening in the US. Rely on the Middle East for our energy needs and you end up in wars where you might not belong because you are in a sticky situation of possibly losing all/most of your energy supplies. 3. I believe the script better established the danger of being in the Klingon's space and homeworld. Edited out where scenes showing the difficulty of getting around on the planet without getting caught etc. Some of the footage wasn't shot - so they may have decided to eliminate it all rather than just have a few scenes. Or they may have decided it made the action too slow and wanted to speed it up. My feeling is that it removed the suspense and danger - but that is just my opinion.
     
  16. siskokid888

    siskokid888 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It was great, like all the Phase II productions. Favorite line - Kirk - "I haven't seen driving that bad since I stole my uncle's Corvette". That made me laugh out loud.

    You know, I've read a lot of the back in forth in this thread. I cannot for the life of me understand the vitriol directed at the people involved at making these shows, so much that Jim Cawley has seen fit to seperate himself from appearing.

    Everyone has a right to their opinion, but not to be a martinet like jackass. These people invest their own time and money to make this shows for no other reason than to entertain us and have some fun for themselves. The small mindedness in the cruel brickbats hurled at them boggle my mind. Jealousy? Stupidity? Probably both and more.

    To the Phase II crew - kudos to you, I, and many many others, love your artwork. Heres to hoping you can keep it going for a long, long time!
     
  17. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    I'm going to assume at least part of this is directed toward me, as I was one of (if not the only) person calling out the Phase II people on some of their more unprofessional behavior here.

    You are right - everyone has a right to their opinion. And you are also right in that the people making Phase II (and all the other fan films) are doing so for fun. While I suspect "entertaining us" is not the sole reason for why these things get made, it nonetheless is an undeniable fact that these episodes are provided at no cost to Joe Q. Fan. These are labors of love. I don't deny that nor do I condemn it.

    The problem I have had has been solely regarding the cognitive dissonance of Phase II's PR machine, insisting that their production tries to be as close to a professionally run production as possible, while their more vocal members still see fit to conduct themselves and their business is patently unprofessional ways. Even David Gerrold, who for all intents and purposes is a one-hit wonder, couldn't be bothered to rise above that petty kind of behavior.

    As a working professional in basic cable/network television, I find it laughable. As a fan, I find it disheartening.

    So I dispute your assessment that it is "small minded" to offer constructive criticism where appropriate. I dispute your assessment that pointing out the obvious disparity between what the producers at Phase II say they're doing and what they demonstrably have been doing constitutes "cruel brickbats" or that it makes me (or anyone else) a "martinet like jackass."

    Part of being an artist and creating your art means also putting that art out in to the world. What makes it "art" is precisely the possibility that there will be people who don't like it. Or people who don't "get it." If James Cawley just wants to play dress-up on the Enterprise, he can do that. I suspect that was very much a reason for his starting Phase II to begin with, the same way I suspect it was a consideration for all the fan films that have been done. The point I'm trying to make is that no one is above criticism.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
  18. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just to offer my two cents, frequently the issue is that some posts in this forum cross the line from critique ("I thought her performance was weak") to attack ("she's talentless"), and even when the former is offered, often the counter argument teeters into the latter because people are passionate or/and get their feelings hurt.

    I'd venture that we don't get much fair critiquing on forums like this. Why? For one thing, members of the productions actively participate in these threads, and many people either shy away from critiquing people they like personally or are overcritical of those they don't. An example I see on this forum all the time is praise for writing or acting that actually isn't even as good as other performances in the same show, but the kudos go to the "popular" kids, or those within earshot, and the reverse is true of those with an ax to grind.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2014
  19. RCAM

    RCAM Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm new to the forum, but I've observed this so far as well.

    I actually almost feel bad pointing out things I didn't think were done well in these kinds of productions, because I know no one's making money off of them. But at the same time, if the goal is to make something of a high quality that pushes people to reach their potential, the critiques are very valuable (even if they're tough for the folks that visit these forums to hear).

    At the same time, when those critiques are informed by negative "history" among people and thus more harshly delivered than may be necessary, things can spiral down a bit.

    For what it's worth to doubleoh, who seems to get tangled up with other posters from time to time, I thought a lot of your critiques had merit and hope the Phase II folks read and give them consideration before ultimately doing what they think is appropriate in the filming of future episodes.
     
  20. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A good rule of thumb is always "depersonalize", that is stop talking about the people and talk about the work on its own merits.