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Support fan-funded efforts at more Firefly... not in this case, NO. - JenskiJen [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Support fan-funded efforts at more Firefly... not in this case, NO. [Mar. 7th, 2011|07:54 pm]
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Some of you may have heard about a recent effort to re-boot Joss Whedon's Firefly via crowdfunding (aka fan-funding). It started out as an innocent tweet by Nathan Fillion (saying that if he won the lottery, he'd buy the rights to Firefly) and has snowballed into one of the scariest things I've seen in recent fandom (and considering I'm a regular reader of Fandom-Wank, that's saying a lot!).

If you want to catch up on the crazy, go to www.helpnathanbuyfirefly.com. (Sanity, on the other hand, can be found on twitter via the #hnbf hashtag).

Here's my take on things...

I love the enthusiasm that everyone is showing for continuing the Firefly verse, but I’m very concerned about this announcement.

Firstly, it has already been stated that Fox (that’s 20th Century Fox, who own the rights, not Fox the network who aired the show) have no intention of selling the rights to Firefly. None whatsoever. They are actively licensing merchandising rights (QMx, Ripple Junction etc)and rights to create comics (Dark Horse), so Firefly is an ongoing concern for them. To repeat, they have no intention of selling.

Secondly, this current plan proposes the production of Firefly stories without the involvement of Joss. This is a no-brainer in my opinion – there is no Firefly without Joss.

Thirdly, the funding of this model is unrealistic. A single episode of Firefly cost over $1 million (according to some accounts) to produce… back in 2001. This would have easily doubled by now. Serenity (the movie) cost $40million – and that’s before marketing, distribution etc. Fan funding via small amounts is not a viable way to do any big budget endeavour – you’d need some serious backers, and a heck of a lot of professionals who know how to craft a story, create quality costumes/sets/props, professional casting agents, skilled people for lighting, sound, art direction, editing, continuity, filming etc… and then you need the cast, union representation, insurance, catering, post production, legal, etc. Without serious backing (and I’m talking a few people who can put in millions) there is no way a few “businessmen” with little to no television production experience leading small investors can succeed. That’s the reality. Painful to hear, but there it is.

Fourthly, your idea of introducing a “social network of fans around the world with a singular mission” and which functions as “a social hangout where we can gather to share ideas about how to spread the word or where we can organize to do things together” completely disregards the fact that this already exists… and has existed for almost 10 years. Every year, thousands of fans meet socially as part of local Browncoat Groups (some of which are now non-profits, others are purely social), tens of thousands more participate in online forums/social networks to share their passions and creativity, and thousands more again turn out every year for annual charity screenings of Serenity as part of “Can’t Stop the Serenity” (www.cantstoptheserenity.com).

Lastly, I find it very irresponsible for anyone to be asking people for money for this. You’re basically forming a company that will end up being putting together a Firefly fan film, which will likely get sued for license/trademark infringement. Experienced fans who have gone through the wringer of fandom campaigning more than once have tried to offer advice and guidance to the organisers of HNBF. As far as I can tell, this advice has not only been ignored, it has been rejected. And these aren’t just everyday folks who’ve been around this fandom for a while – these are people who have worked closely with Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Mutant Enemy and many of the other entites involved in Firefly’s long life. They know the situation, they know how action can be taken, they know who to talk to… and more importantly, they know when to back off before those same entities decide that Browncoats are fanatics (in the bad way) and decide to shut things down forever.

So, to anyone thinking about putting up your hard earned cash to this enterprise, please consider your decision very carefully. Consider whether you are making a viable investment, or simply giving your money away. Consider whether your money can be better spent elsewhere in the name of Firefly – such as continuing 20th Century Fox’s interest in Firefly by buying official merchandise, supporting Dark Horse in producing Firefly comics penned by Joss & Co, supporting Titan Books in producing companions that include original Firefly stories by Firefly’s writing staff, and supporting the good works of campaigns like Can’t Stop the Serenity, Kids Need to Read, Browncoats: Redemption and so forth.

For myself, I will not be buying stock in this company. Not only because I believe it is going nowhere, not only because Whedon fans have been burned (badly and for big dollars) by similar start ups and endeavours in the past, but because I believe that this is not the way to go about continuing the stories of the Firefly verse. I want more Firefly, yes, but I want it penned by Joss and I want it when Joss is ready to tell it. Which is not now.

[User Picture]From: azarsuerte
2011-03-07 09:12 am (UTC)
Hear, hear. IMO, the only thing this campaign is likely to accomplish is to maybe make Nathan Fillion more wary of using hyperbole in the future. :-\
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[User Picture]From: petit_rhino
2011-03-07 02:41 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'd seen Nathan's tweet and seen the pledge thing, I had no idea it had escalated to this point.
Maybe I'm naive, but I had seen the money pledges as a representation of how much we love Firefly. It's all a nice idea, a fantasy really, when you consider the facts. Denial starts to get unhealthy at this point.

Oh, and yeah, no Joss, WTF?!
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[User Picture]From: tsvoff
2011-03-07 07:06 pm (UTC)
>current plan proposes the production of Firefly stories without the involvement of Joss

I can't find where hnbf says so. Please help me.
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[User Picture]From: jenskijen
2011-03-07 07:34 pm (UTC)
Since reading the (vast number) of responses from what appears to be someone on the HNBF team, I've since modified this to:

Secondly, this current plan proposes the production of Firefly stories potentially without the involvement of Joss (depending on whether you’re reading the website or Facebook, you get two very different stories on this – site says nothing without Joss, Facebook are talking about something entirely different). This is a no-brainer in my opinion – there is no Firefly without Joss.
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[User Picture]From: tsvoff
2011-03-07 07:59 pm (UTC)
I saw it, but still can't find something like that on HNBF's Facebook page. I use to use LJ, Facebook is terra incognita for me, so Could you send me link please?
Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: jenskijen
2011-03-07 08:09 pm (UTC)
I wish it were so easy. I don't have full access to the FB stuff (as you have to "like" the page to do so, and I don't want to add myself to the number). But if you read through the (hundreds of) comments on the website, you'll find responses by Mondiaz who sometimes says "Whedon will be in full creative control" then "If we manage to secure the rights we will approach Whedon before the deal is finalized. If Whedon turns down the project we will not close the deal with FOX and the company will dissolve." followed by "This project is entirely focused on enabling Joss Whedon to producing more REAL Firefly. We do not have a second objective regarding funding anything else." which is then (oddly) changed to "Firefly is the objective! If it proves fundamentally impossible to produce more Firefly investors will have a choice to back out. There is no reason to dissolve the structure of the organization and it’s possible those who chose can continue along other roads." (which I read as "we'll use your money for other stuff")
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[User Picture]From: tsvoff
2011-03-07 08:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much!
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[User Picture]From: pseudohistorian
2011-03-07 07:59 pm (UTC)
I'm often surprised/saddened by how many Browncoats don't seem to realise that there is no prospect of new live-action productions related to this franchise at any point in the near future.

Despite the charitable work coming out of it, I even felt that the response level to recent fan film efforts was somewhat excessive.
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[User Picture]From: meoinya
2011-03-08 04:03 am (UTC)
I hadn't read anything about not involving Joss but I've only read very little about this. I wrote to them and never heard back but part of my message pleaded with them to consult an entertainment attorney.

It's amazing to me (as someone who does work in the entertainment industry and could probably staff a good part of the below the line folks needed for a production) how many fans *think* they know something about acquiring licensing rights and staffing/contract negotiation for a production and how competent they could potentially sound to the throngs that don't know any better.

Good post.

Do you know the folks behind this? It concerns me that they're now going to take money and STILL be anonymous.

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