Something interesting has happened in the past week so much to the point that it sparked me to write this article for the Fan Film Follies. On November 11th, 2011 the fan production “Superman: Requiem” made its debut online. I was very interested in watching this effort as it’s been a well promoted fan film among the fandom community on the interweb. The first time I learned about the film was when the creators were looking for money over at the social funding site IndieGoGo. The production surpassed its $8,000 goal with $12,086 being donated. They offered in their pitch that the film “is a high-production-value fan-film that is being produced by industry professionals with a goal to create the finest and most ambitious fan-film to date.” That was all fine and good. There’s a lot of people who are attempting to create the “finest and most ambitious fan-film”. That’s the fun part of fan films. To see how far each party can get until the gap between Hollywood and Amateur has been met.
Requiem was written and directed by Gene Fallaize who has several IMBD credits to his name. Just like Bryan Singer’s 2006 fan film Superman Returns, Fallaize’s film would take place in what the fans affectionately call the Donnerverse. This means taking place in the same universe and following along the same story path started with the original Richard Donner directed and Christopher Reeve starred films. They even used a rather clever tag line to pay homage to the original – “In 1978 you believed a man could fly. In 2011, you will believe again.”
The premise was interesting and made sense when you’re endeavoring into a low budget Superman film. Superman loses some of his powers after a factory explosion and has to deal with being the same kind of man without being all super.
I kept an eye on the production over the coming months just like I do with dozens of fan films. There wasn’t anything that got me overly excited for Requiem, but I was certainly interested to see how they could pull off one of the most difficult characters for an amateur production to bring into live action.
On November 12th, a day after the film was released online I sat at my computer ready to watch Superman: Requiem. It started with a bit of a teaser. The Space Shuttle lands with a mysterious package that is brought to the nameless man in charge who we find out is on the wrong side of good versus evil. His goons kill what I think are some type of federal agents in order to obtain this “mystery” package. And that’s when I had the feeling this wasn’t going to be the “finest and most ambitious fan-film” I’ve seen to date.
When I finished watching the entire film these were my honest thoughts. It looked great. I really like the cinematography. Some scenes did have issues, but overall I thought the sound was also well done. The acting and performances were solid. The special effects were rather good for a fan production.
On the flip side the film was too long. The story could of been easily tightened up into a thirty minute piece. The opening credits, which I finally had to fast forward through, were too long. They did indeed look like the opening credits from the original films, but that’s been done five times already. Plus there’s not names to the likes of Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman appearing to get you all pumped over.
And Lois Lane ran off to England? What? There was no Lois Lane. The reason for her not being in the film doesn’t make much sense to me.
Some of the editing wasn’t done very well. About the two minute mark a guy was handed a jacket to put on. One cut he has the jacket on. The next cut he has no jacket on. The next cut he’s putting the jacket on. No one happened to catch that while editing? As someone did point out to me the editor can only work with the footage he’s given. So if this wasn’t any editing error then a clear directorial issue. There are several of these similar examples as the film progresses.
Although it certainly wasn’t the greatest fan film of all time it was pretty damn good for a fan based production. A lot of work went into the film and it shows. When I was done watching it I linked the film on the Fan Film Follies site and went about doing my normal fan film trolling via Google.
Now for the real reason why I’m writing about Requiem and it all boils down to criticism. I’ve indicated it before on this site and shall again. I personally don’t review the fan films spotlighted on Fan Film Follies unless in those rare occasions that I’m sent a copy of a film and asked to. Why? If I like a film enough and think it brings something different to the genre of fan films I spotlight in on this site. If I think it’s extra special I feature the film on the site just like I did with Requiem. Beyond that the people watching can form their own opinions and comment as they wish. No one needs to know what I think.
So with that said let me tell you what I think. If you’re going to release something online for the world to see and don’t think you’re going to get some negative feedback then you’ve been smoking the red Kryptonite. I’m not picking on Superman: Requiem. I’m really not. I really enjoyed the film. YES! There are some blatant flaws in the film that are easy to point out, but I could go ahead and nitpick at any film be it fan based or a Hollywood production. I’m simply using this Requiem as an example. And if I didn’t feel strongly about this I wouldn’t be taking the time to write on the subject.
If you produce a film, write a book, paint a picture and you want to share it with the world to get their opinion don’t expect those opinions to be all positive. If you produce a film, write a book, paint a picture and don’t want anyone’s opinion keep it to yourself. And If you do produce a film, write a book, paint a picture and you share it with the world then do so and let it stand on its own. It’s out there. You don’t need to defend it. If you’re happy with the piece you made then fine. Does it matter what others say?
Another of my pet peeves is the people dishing out the proper etiquette of wording your criticisms in an online forum. People are actually criticizing the criticizers on how they should criticize. Is there an actual manual or set of rules on giving your opinion even if the opinion is “this sucks” or something along those lines? To me I don’t think twice about someone who writes those two words about a fan film or a Hollywood film for that matter. I just ignore comments like that. If something truly does suck or is truly awesome I want to know why. To some “this sucks” or any negative comment generates a whole debate on how you need to respect one another. Give me a break. You know how you diminish thoughtless opinions. You don’t acknowledge them. There is no set line between overwhelming praise and grueling hate when it comes to an open online forum. There. You read it here first on the Fan Film Follies.
So as I was trolling via Google and I came upon the Superman Homepage. A great site that’s been around for years that’s run by Mr. Steve Younis. If you’re a fanboy (and girl) I’m sure you’ve been on the site in your travels. One of the blurbs on the Superman Homepage announced the release of the fan film Superman: Requiem. And there you could read comments to that particular blurb which I started to do. A lot of people were writing the same thoughts I had about the entire production. There were certainly unhelpful negative comments like “this sucked” or ” sorry…but this was really bad”, but as indicated those are easily dismissible. You’re going to get that in every open forum. I was more interested in the constructive criticisms as I found them interesting.
As I continued reading I found something else interesting. Some of the Requiem crew from the production were on the boards defending their film. There was even someone on the forum under the login name “zod (something or other)” that I’m 99.9% sure was Requiem’s writer and director Gene Fallaize defending any negative comment that was written about the film. This was all truly fascinating. And in the end it only fueled the fire of criticisms towards the production.
It was on the Superman Homepage forum for Requiem where someone indicated any negative comments that were posted on the film’s FaceBook page were instantly deleted. Really!?! So I rushed over to the Requiem FaceBook page and sure enough each and every comment for the film was full of nothing, but praise, praise, praise. I then rushed back to the Superman Homepage to find the forum closed and the following message displayed – “Due to the inability of some members to hold a civil discussion, the commenting capability on this news item has been closed down.”
So you actually have an interesting and open debate on a few different levels and you shut that debate down? Shame on Steve Younis and the Superman Homepage for shutting this dialogue down. I found it cowardly and unwarranted. I can only speculate that Younis and Fallaize have some kind of relationship as most of the postings were rather relevant to the topic and the film. Hardly uncivil as claimed by the site’s host. BUT! His website…his rules. Heil Hitler. Because you know an honest dialogue needs to be shut down as soon as you don’t agree with what’s being written.
If you’re interested in seeing some of the thoughts people have towards Superman: Requiem you can follow this link. It’s not nearly as good as the dialogue that was transpiring at the Superman Homepage, but it does give you an idea of what was being discussed beyond just the “it sucked”.
I love amateur fan productions. I love fan films. Hell – I love them so much I’ve spent a decade covering them in one venue or another. But I write this post today to get this off my chest. Just because you make a low budget fan film you’re not beyond criticism. If you put countless hours and dollars into something it doesn’t make the final project untouchable for opinion. And if someone thinks your film sucks then they think your film sucks.
If you’re going to make a fan film then make it. If you want others to watch your efforts then certainly put it out there for everyone to see. But just because you think you made something outstanding doesn’t mean people watching have the same opinion. Just because you don’t like negative comments towards your production instead of deleting them off your FaceBook page or any other open forum understand why the comments are negative and perhaps learn from that. People may be actually offering you some invaluable incite to improve your future work.