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Complications Ensue:
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Q. You mention a few times about fansites, seeing what fans think. What's your take on fanfiction? I know showrunners have mixed feelings about it. I don't write any myself, and I don't know if you've ever done a show that had a lot of fanfiction made about it; I'm just curious.
I'm not like Lee Goldberg; fanfic doesn't bother me.

I think our copyright laws are a little too strong. Disney has got Congress to extend copyright well beyond the point where society benefits. Is any author going to not write something because their copyright stops in 56 years (the previous standard)? Copyright protection that extends to author's life + 50 years is really about protecting corporate brands. It gets in the way of the culture's ongoing development.

I think fanfic is harmless. It's a huge time waster, but it's time, er, well wasted. As hobbies go, it costs nothing for the writer to create; as opposed to, say, building battlebots. On the consumer side, it gives the fans another way to enter the world of the show. I don't think it dilutes the brand. No one is buying fewer tickets to Revenge of the Sith because Troopers, or that extended light sabre battle on Youtube, is more compelling. I doubt George is selling fewer Young Jedi novelettes because of whatever fanfic's out there. And even if he is, honestly, who cares?

I think profit is a useful way to distinguish between copyright violation and fanfic. So long as you're giving it away, it's fine with me. Once you package it and sell it, you're stealing.

Ironically, aren't spec scripts essentially a specialized (and approved) form of fanfic?



I know it's probably not cool to admit that fanfic is how I returned to the writing fold. I wanted to be a "great adventure" writer when I was a teen, but I gave up after the umpteenth teacher told me that I had a lovely imagination but couldn't write.

So, five years ago I wrote a silly little comedy story on a show I was watching, and it grew from there. I switched to scripts a couple of years ago and all I write is spec scripts now, but if fanfic hadn't given me a forum to shape skills I thought I didn't have, then I would be a very boring dayjobber with fleeting pictures in my head.

I personally find it can enhance a show's longevity (as long as it is given away free, of course). People who read or write fanfic will usually be the same people who snap up all the books, comics and essays on a show in order to enhance their understanding. I know I grab any books from my favourite shows when I see them. People who enjoy spending time in a fandom (and this isn't necessarily limited to fanfiction) may also stick to reading the same shows for years after the show was cancelled, and still run out and buy limited release cds/dvds etc.

I do have foggy issues about fanfiction based on books or on real life celebrities though. Television and movies make their money from ticket sales, ads, dvd sales etc. and I don't see how fanfic can take anything away from that. Books, on the otherhand, rely on people reading them. It feels as though fanfic may be in direct competition with the authors own ideas, style and medium. I suppose it is rather subjective. I think as long as the fanfic writer respects the borrowed water they tread, the spirit of the original and keep it free then there isn't much harm to it. Who knows... today's fanfic writer, could be tomorrow's Joss Whedon.

And, of course, the above is just my humble opinion to be ignored as needed.

By Blogger CRooney, at 7:19 AM  

Who knows... today's fanfic writer, could be tomorrow's Joss Whedon.

That would be me you're talking about.

I did the fan-fic thing in my teen years, usually writing myself into my favourite movies and TV shows as a feisty side-kick to Han Solo or Michael Knight (of Knight Rider fame). Or sometimes I would write myself into a story as a villainess, the protege of Darth Vader (and wayward grandaughter of Obi-Wan), or as a loyal follower of General Zod, luring Superman into a trap. At the time I wasn't so much concerned with the writing. I concocted these stories to help me with my acting and dialogue recall as, during the early/mid-eighties, my goal was to become an actress. A near failing grade in high school drama due to my debilitating stage fright (I had to take drugs in order to perform for the class) changed the direction of my life.

After discarding my hopes for an acting career, I continued to dabble in fan-fic -- but took it far more seriously. I did intense research, and even went so far as to go 'under cover' once as a Toronto street prostitute in order to nail the lingo and atmosphere for my Forever Knight fan-fic story (yes, it was dangerous, but I got some great sound-bites from a few girls, pimps and clients).

Then in the mid-nineties I started watching a show that would forever alter the course of my life. It was an animated series from Disney called Gargoyles. By then, the Internet was becoming the best route through which fans could connect with each other and the people who write, produce and star in their favourite shows. Gargoyles fan-fic was all over the Net, so I thought I'd take a crack at it, as I'd never written a piece based on animated characters before.

Long story short, ten years later the little fan-fic piece morphed into the proposal for a live-action fantasy series -- a series which is now in development at a major Canadian prodco. We're going to have comic book and novel tie-ins, action figures and video games...Joss Whedon should take notes. In addition, I'm going to have a recurring role on the show as KEL, a flirtatious party-girl vampire with a vendetta against the show's protagonist/series lead.

And all of this resulting from my passion for fan-fic. Not bad, eh?


By Blogger Kelly J. Crawford, at 1:50 PM  

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