Perhaps this is a good point for me to wrap up my defense of fan productions here before the thread strays too far from its original topic which was, "are fan shows coming to an end in Audio Drama?" Pendant have steadfastly refused to explain why they have stepped away from fan productions so that extraordinary action cannot be used for or against the existence of fan productions. Other than this wholesale, unexplained reduction on their part, actual numbers - FACTS rather than speculation - don't support the idea that the numbers of fan productions are shrinking.
The vast bulk of the thread though has been a discussion of the ethics and morals of fan productions and I find it extremely unfortunate that I have been placed in a confrontationist situation such as this. I have an unfortunate habit of being a little too vigourous at times in my defense of those who I see as being unjustly maligned and if, in that process, I have trodden on a few toes I apologise.
The atmosphere at times has been very adversarial - "us or them" - and that should never be the case. The defense of ethical fan production should not
be seen as an attack on either copyright owners or independent productions. As Director of Media at TrekUnited, I can tell you that, within a healthy atmosphere of debate, we have always been supportive of CBS / Paramount copyrighted and licensed products and productions. We have also been supportive and immensely proud of those fan production groups who have moved on to independant productions: Hidden Frontier Productions, TWERP, Star Trek: Intrepid, Darker Productions and - no matter what they may think of us - Pendant Productions.
Audio dramas represent an immensely challenging media to write for and produce. Modern audiences are super-saturated with visual stimuli that have tended to create a generation that sucks in its entertainment through the "goggle-box". Fan productions have an innate advantage in that they have easily identifiable plot, music and audio cues that are instantly identifiable by this visually-orientated generation. A Klingon walks into a Ferrengi bar
... if you have watched any Star Trek: Deep Space Nine that scene springs into Technicolor in the cinema of the mind, without any further description, complete with costumes, philosopy and culture. "The warrior walked into the spacedock bar
". You have to start from scratch to create the whole scene and characterisations! Conan, Moriarty, The Cheshire Cat - the names instantly fire a whole network of neurons bringing to mind, unbidden, illustrations by Frazzetta
, Sidney Paget
Its not just visuals though. The Imperial March fires up and you hear the trade mark "Iron-Lung" breath and you KNOW
who is in the room without a word spoken! You hear the William Tell Overture and the sound of hooves and you not only know the name of the horseman but the name of the horse! Zorro has the Captain of the guards at bay and you hear, "Zip! Zip! Zip!" - without one word of exposition you know exactly what he has done!
I point these out, not to suggest that fan productions are somehow better, but to show how, when an original production successfully paints a picture of a scene for us in the darkened cinema of our mind, it is such a triumph for the creator. Whether it is a pulp classic like Decoder Ring's "Red Panda", a historical drama like Misfit's Sir Philip de Barry or a paranormal drama like The Byron Chronicles, their ability to create a believable atmosphere for their audience is a triumph that should not be taken lightly.
I point these out, not to promote fan audio, but to give independent producers something to think about. Every fan producer will admit that their work rides on the coat tails of the professionals who made the originals but rather than rail against reality ask yourself, what can I learn from this? What makes the original, professional work so iconic that it so instantly identifiable? Was it a just an accumulation of years of TV saturation or was it the skill and craft of the directors, actors, musicians and crew?
What stands out to me for example is the use of musical themes and sound effects to make characters identifiable, subconsciously building in your audience a database of audio cues that they will recognise. We can't all have a composer to write an "Imperial March" for us but royalty free? What about recognisable audible cues - a coin being flipped, a foot dragging in the dirt. I know some producers don't like using visual promotional elements like graphics and multimedia to create audience interaction with their production, saying that the play should tell the audience everything it needs to know. Its their choice but show me a professional production that doesn't have a graphically rich and interactive website and I'll show you one that is going to crash and burn. The Leviathan Chronicles
have done this extremely successfully, as have ST Outpost
and ST The Continuing Mission
There are a dozen lifetimes of experience that go into every professional production, don't ignore what they have done! Celebrate it! Learn from it! Become it! That is the goal of fan production!
If you choose to ignore the lessons that can be learned from the professionals, good luck to you. I sincerely mean that. Your success does not diminish my own self-worth but your failure makes us all the poorer. All I ask is that you please don't pick on Everyman when he is just trying to have a little harmless (and if we follow the rules of engagement it is
harmless), creative fun.
Kirok of L'Stok