Originally set aside in their own section, theLogBook.com’s fan film reviews have now been incorporated into the episode guide. As the line between studio-bankrolled professional productions and fan productions grows thinner and fuzzier, and to make maintenance of the site easier, the two sections have now been merged. Increasingly, professional actors are taking part in fan productions, and there’s an attempt to make the fan-made films fit in the same “universe” as their inspiration. Still, because this will be a controversial decision with some readers, fan films included in the episode guide are clearly marked as such.
Fan films are nothing new, but modern technology has closed the gap between major studios and fan-made films in the areas of both production and distribution. With a bit of money for software and hardware add-ons, a desktop computer can serve as a video editing workstation, a 3-D graphics and animation platform as powerful as whatever painstaking time and work its operator is willing to put into it, a virtual recording studio for original music and sound effects, and the launch pad for worldwide distribution.
Fan films have also kept entire franchises alive for those hungry for new adventures, while those franchises were virtually on life support where their parent studios were concerned. In the 1990s, with only one 90-minute Doctor Who movie officially produced, Doctor Who was alive and well in amateur video productions, often boasting production values that the infamously budget-challenged original series couldn’t have dreamt of. Presently, Star Trek has all but vanished into the final frontier of syndicated reruns, but new journeys for the crews of the Enterprise and other ships are in production, with effects rivaling even the most recent Paramount-produced series.
To continue with the Trek analogy, fan films exist in a neutral zone all their own – the studios and copyright holders frequently look the other way so long as money isn’t being made. Those who cross that line, even carelessly, usually wind up with a cease & desist order shutting down production. While money can’t be made, money is certainly spent on these amateur productions, often an all-hands effort by both cast and crew as a labor of love.
With that in mind, these reviews don’t seek to pick apart every single flaw that could possibly be critiqued. It’s a given that most fan productions won’t have incredible sets or effects, or for that matter, incredible acting or stellar camera work. Some exceptional entries do rise above the rest, but we won’t belittle the ones who don’t have those resources available. (The webmaster of this site, in fact, has some fannish filmmaking in his background – and it’s nothing that’s going to wind up winning either acting or editing awards.) Sure, we might point out the odd flaw, but constructive criticism is the name of the game here. The people who made these productions loved the idea of putting in the hours to show them to the world free of charge. And now theLogBook.com is opening this section of the site to shine the spotlight on them, because you might just love these stories too.