It’s My Fan Film And I’ll Cry If I Want To

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.”

Gene Fallaize

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.

Time Stamp: 2 Minute, 6 Seconds - Bad guy has his coat on (left hand side).
Time Stamp: 2 Minute, 7 Seconds - Bad guy has no coat on.
Time Stamp: 2 Minute, 8 Seconds - Bad guy is putting his coat on.

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.

  • Read this quote tonight at the Superman Super Site.

    “Ever since “Superman: Requiem” was announced over a year ago, Superman fans have been anxiously awaiting it’s release and, thus far, reaction has been mostly positive.”

    Of course there has been nothing, but positive reaction because the people behind the film keep deleting all the negative comments off their sites. I was a fan of the film. The way they’ve handled their critiques has been very mainstream Hollywood…something I’m not a fan of.

    LINK for the full review.

  • The Superman Homepage redeems itself somewhat with two postings today. One is the review of “Superman: Requiem” by Shawn Morrissey and the other a Q&A with director/writer of the film Gene Fallaize. I must mention the Q&A were a direct result of the shutdown comment section to what I touch upon in this article. I’m interested to know how long the comment section of the two links below will last.

    As part of the Q&A I find this question and answer the most fascinating:

    Are you aware that someone is deleting negative comments from the film’s Facebook page? If so, do you believe this is the correct thing to do?

    Gene: Our entire producer unit and marketing team are actively monitoring many platforms and forums, and the Facebook page, as the main official source, is a key place for lots of jealous and outspoken people to try and get their opinion across, however if all that anyone has to say is something negative, that doesn’t benefit or have a point to the film and is based 9 times out of 10 on mis-understanding, lack of knowledge or pure jealousy, those comments will be removed as they are pointless. We had a saying on set that was aimed directly at those kind of people that would find a problem with anything, that inspired us all to try even harder.

    Mr. Fallaize. Get over yourself. No one is jealous of your Superman film. People know what they like and don’t like. They were simply conveying that to you. You don’t want to acknowledge this critical feedback so you delete it and pretend it’s not there. And the more you defend your film the worse it makes the whole production look.

    An Interview with “Superman: Requiem” Director Gene Fallaize

    Film Review – “Superman: Requiem”

  • Steve Younis

    For your information, Christopher, I have NO relationship with Gene Fallaize or anyone else who worked on “Superman: Requiem”. I personally didn’t really like the film (as I’ve publicly stated) and have no reason to protect anything or anyone but my own personal interests. The comments on the Superman Homepage were closed down because I do not have the time nor the inclination to spend hours sifting through hundreds of comments to slap the wrists of people who cannot abide by my website’s rules. My website clearly states:

    WARNING: Before your click the ‘Post Comment’ button below, remember that we would like to maintain an environment that encourages lively and intellectually honest debate on all topics pertaining to Superman. To that end, we expect you to follow our basic rules and premises. YOUR ABILITY TO POST – AND REMAIN – A MEMBER OF THIS WEBSITE IS A PRIVILEGE, NOT YOUR RIGHT. Violation of our rules and expectations are grounds to ban you permanently from being a member of this site. Read the Member Rules to ensure you understand what you are and are not allowed to post here.

    The comments section was removed simply because things had deteriorated into personal attacks back and forward, NOT because comments were negative or positive. How you turn “Due to the inability of some members to hold a civil discussion, the commenting capability on this news item has been closed down” into “I’ll only accept positive messages about this movie” is beyond me. Get your facts straight before you start attacking me for no reason whatsoever and call me “Hitler”! That’s abhorrent and extremely insulting.

  • Johnny Wu

    Chris, I watched Requiem and enjoyed it, like you, I do think the movie was enjoyable, but the filmmaker is less desirable. I was one of the few who promoted their film before it was released and right after my short film was released, they kicked me out of their page and put me on moderation, so I can’t post at their page. Lol I’m ok with that, but it’s funny to read all positive posts with no negative posts on their page thought.

    I think the one problem why the movie didn’t do well is the filmmaker himself for rushing the film out because of their self-imposed deadline… They were still shooting the movie in late summer 2011 and thus leaving them not enough time during post production. From my standpoint, what they did was the typical beginning fimmakers mistake: making a movie to satisfy a deadline and rush it out. Any fimmakers who had films under their belt would know not to do it that way.

    I’ve been a filmmaker since 1998 and had a few share of my movies out and about. I’ve learned not to rush a film out (been there done that). 🙂 with the budget they have, they can make it better (look how wonderfully it was shot).

    I’m not a jealous filmmaker, just someone who things we all can share our friendship/experiences to make ourselves better.

    I am sure that Requiem filmmakers has built a buzz with the movie, even if the whole world not liking it, if they ever make another film, people will rush to see it. Because we will be eager to see if the next movie is good or not. And the publicity he is getting now would help gets him further.

    Ps: have you seen Luthor for President? A feature length Superman fan film made like in 10 years ago? (or maybe earlier)

  • All points well taken Steve. The people behind this film are doing their best to convince the masses this is the best thing since gold. Beyond a few posts I didn’t see anything disrespectful in your forums. There were critical comments. The majority of those comments were backed up with reasons for those comments. But as was indicated your website, your rules.

    And I didn’t “call” you Hitler. I was making a distinction between books being burnt and an open forum being closed. It was supposed to be satirical. I didn’t write Steve Younis is Hitler because – of course – that would be ridiculous.

    WOW, Johnny. JUST WOW for them kicking you off their site! For those who don’t know Johnny is the guy behind the S: Superman fan film. He’s also like most filmmakers. He puts his film out there and let’s it rest on its own merits without feeling the need for damage control.

    AND YOU KNOW WHAT?!? I never put your film on the site. I must correct that.

    I have indeed seen Luthor for President. That’s a fan film released when fan films were few and far between.

  • Johnny Wu

    I enjoyed Lithor for President, the director sent me a DVD copy we still keep in touch. Requiem is not the first feature Superman Fan Film ever made as it claims to be at a few forums I’ve read.

  • ZodizlayZ

    Interesting post. The movie really disappointed because it was hyped up to be of professional level, and turned out cheap and tacky. If it hadn’t been hyped so much, maybe it wouldn’t get so much criticism. Two interesting things 1) If it was really made by experienced professionals, why was it so poor? 2) Would experienced movie producers and crew spend time responding online or deleting all negative criticism? No, they would be used to it and move on.
    In his interview the director/producer mentions several times the low budget, as if to excuse the faults. That seems a bit lame. Why attempt something if you can’t pull it off? Did low budget stop El Mariachi being good? It showed Rodriguez could tell stories in exciting ways….and his crew were inexperienced.

  • Captain A

    I agree with a lot said here about the film but I disagree about the editing comment – I see things like that is big budget movies all the time and it s not the case that no one would have seen it but more likely that was the only real option open to them with the footage they had. The problem with the film is to be laid at the directors feet – terrible script, terrible direction (shot like a soap opera with no imagination at all) and he did not manage to get any sort of good performances from the actors.

    I actually thought the production side of things (editing, camera etc) were all pretty good to be honest.

  • Captain – thanks for your post. That’s why you do safeties when filming. You shoot the scene a couple times even if the first take is exceptional. You also have coverage at different angles in order to alleviate any troubled editing spots. But you’re right. I’ve seen Hollywood movies that have made the same type of errors. But I agree with you and I think I made that pretty clear above. The film looked great.

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