Fan Film, Fan Films

Sci-Fi Legend John Varley: “Fan Films Suck!”

republibotRepublibot, a sci-fi fan site that describes itself as “the Science Fiction Site for people who aren’t Drooling Kneejerk Liberals,” recently interviewed sci-fi legend John Varley, one of the most accomplished authors in the genre. How accomplished? He’s the proud owner of two Nebulas, three Hugos, and 10 Locus awards. However, he’s also the owner of some rather dismissive thoughts about the emergence of fan film culture—the man was none too pleased:

I am vaguely aware of it, and as far as the infringing stuff, I think it’s bizarre, and basically, it sucks. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to use somebody else’s characters to make a story or a film. I’d sooner use somebody else’s toothbrush. This stuff goes way back to the pre-computer, pre-digital-camera days to something truly bizarre: Kirk-Spock homosexual pornography. Oddly, it was mostly written by women. Captain Kirk sucking on Spock’s logical Vulcan cock is not something I’ll ever understand.

However, this business of people making their own movies cheaply is exciting, and not just for SF. Sturgeon’s Law applies, naturally, so 90 percent of it will be crap, but I’m sure some of it will be good. I recently went to a screening of the 5 short animated films nominated for Academy Awards and saw some amazing stuff that would have cost millions to produce only a few years ago. The technology is now available to the people, and I think that’s a good thing. Seen some dynamite stuff on YouTube, too, among the 90 percent crap.

You can catch the whole interview HERE, but what do you make of Varley’s comments? Smart? Dumb? Provocative? Uninformed? Share your views in the comments section!

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One Response to “Sci-Fi Legend John Varley: “Fan Films Suck!””

  1. By his own admission, he was only vaguely aware of the phenomeon/subculture, and I personally didn’t think he was all that dismissive of it when I interviewed him. He says fan films – as he understands them – suck in no uncertain terms, but then he goes on to praise the hell out of the democratization of the filmaking process, of which fanfilms are a very major part.

    He’s a creative guy, so the idea of being forced to play with other people’s second-hand characters, or having someone else come along and retread his own characters is obviously gonna’ rub him the wrong way. This is a guy who was offered the job of writing a Trek script (I think it was ST3), but he turned it down, after all. He’s just not in to playing in other people’s gardens, and he doesn’t seem all that interested in letting other people play in his. At risk of second-guessing him, I imagine he has a little difficulty imagining why anyone *else* would want to do that sort of thing when they could just make their own original films about original characters and situations.

    That’s me interpolating his comments, not the man himself, though.

    Thank you very much for the mention and the link to the interview, we appreciate it!

    We at Republibot are pretty fascinated by the entire gamut of Fan Film productions, and independent no-budget geurilla SF filmmaking, however, and we’d love to talk to/interview anyone on your site who’s making the stuff.

    Thanks again!

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