Lucas Arts

Star Wars Much Ado About Something?

Thomas Dolby, Boulder Colorado 2006 Image via Wikipedia

Tomas Dolby posted a fun update on his blog about some future Star Wars projects that has got many running in circles.  Is it much ado about nothing rather then something?

Thomas Dolby, poptastic mastermind of Hyperactive and She Blinded Me With Science fame, posted an update to his blog about his current stay in Tiburon, CA, across the bay from San Francisco. His host, he revealed, is one Paul Sebastien of Lucasarts. The kicker comes when Dolby writes:

Last night he was telling me a little about the forthcoming Star Wars-related TV show, movie and online games—very cool indeed.

Because of the probable NDA he would have to be as vague as to mention a TV show, Movie and Online Games.  This would keep the actual project secret and would still be true since Lucas Arts is working on all three anyhow.  It sounds to me like he is referring to many of the projects that are already in the works.

Game:  The long awaited KTOR online MMORPG.  I can’t wait for that to come out.  There is also Star Wars Battlefront 3, also can't wait for that one.  And probably several other tie in games I would be shocked if there weren’t.

Lucas Arts is working on a live action TV show, a project that has been in the pipeline for a while now.  I hope that is what he was referring to.  I want to see this project.  Since the success of releasing the Clone Wars pilot as a movie I hope this will be repeated for the live action show.

What I wish they would do is:

  • KTOR movie, maybe a tie in to the MMORPG
  • A movie taking the Star Wars saga forward after the Yavin event or maybe a movie version of Legacy of the Force!

I can hope.

(via /Film)

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Fan Works and Creative Commons

In Reply to my post "Dream of a Fandom Economy," Clive from Fan Cinema Today wrote:

It's an interesting idea, but it takes such efforts out of the realm of fan production, making them more akin to independent contractors. Would a studio license out its intellectual property if the money was right? Could a franchise survive an avalanche of sub-direct-to-DVD product if people were asked to pay for it? Perhaps, but if money is involved, then they’re pro productions, regardless of how qualified the cast and crew may or may not be. Professional work is measured on a very different scale by studios and viewers (not to mention unions), so if someone holding the purse strings is saying ‘no,’ they likely have their reasons, whether it’s that the franchise is too valuable, or that even high-end amateur work just isn’t pro enough.

Not that many studios threaten to sue anymore, although it does happen from time to time. Lucasfilm fired off a Cease and Desist order to The Dark Redemption in 1999, so you won't see them buying that one any time soon! Meanwhile, Shane Felux, who made Revelations in 2005, won the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge the following year when he made Pitching Lucas; the result of that is that Lucasfilm owns the rights to it for the next 10 years--it's part of the contract that all nominees in the contest have to sign.

You can read about both these stories in-depth in my upcoming fan film book, Homemade Hollywood, which incidentally, goes into the topic of whether studios should buy or license fan works as well (to be honest, that first paragraph at the top of my reply was cut-and-pasted direct from my manuscript!)

Originally posted as acomment by fanfilmbook on dashPunk using Disqus.

I am not sure that it would move these productions from the realm of Fan Works to the realm of professional work. What I am proposing is a reinvention of both the models of Production and the relationship of copyright to fandom.

Toward A Creative Commons Franchise

Creative Commons License

If a writer or company truly wanted to leverage their fanbase, they would license their content under a Creavite Commons or similar license.  Such a license would spell out in simple, human readable terms what the fans are allowed to do with the copyrighted work(s) in question.  For my books, I use a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.  This means others may modify my works so long as they give me attribution, share the work under the same license, and do so in a noncommercial way.

Licenses like this are important for both the copyright holders and the fans.  What would this offer the copyright holder?

  • They empower their fans to give them free promotion through derivative fan works.
  • They allow their fanbase to become more involved with their property which will allow they to become more involved and deeper connected to the original work.
  • By allowing their fans to produce derivative works, they are able to fill in the gaps between releases at no cost to them.
  • They increase their footprint which will help them to convert more casual readers/viewers into fans.  An increased fanbase will increase sales.
  • With fans providing them free advertising, they will be able to focus their efforts more on content than marketing.

Fans would benefit from this approach nearly as much as the copyright holder.

Star Trek and Fandom

After Star Trek was canceled in 1969, Gene Roddenberry allowed fanfiction to thrive.  In reality, he probably saw no future for the series, and saw no reason to enforce his copyright, but whatever his reasons, the flowering of fanfiction reinforced the love fans felt for the series.  It also kept these fans activated until the animated series premiered in 1973, and again from the end of the animated series in 1974 until the first movie in 1979.

Fanfiction filled the gaps between releases of official content, and played a large roll in growing the fanbase of the series so the movies and subsequent series were even possible.  Fanfiction continued to serve this function until the death of Gene Roddenberry in 1991.  In the years following his death, the studio reminded fans what precarious footing they had as Paramount began sueing fan publications and fan sites for copyright infringement.  I know many people who were sued for simply continuing activities they had been allowed under the gentleman's agreement.

As a result of these prosecutions, and the decreasing quality of the show as it suffered from a lack of vision and leadership in the absence of Roddenberry, the fanbase began to dissolve.  Ratings fell, and attendance in the theaters fell with it.

The Status Quo

Now, all fanfilm and fanfiction exist with this same legal sword of Damoclese hanging over them.  New gentleman's agreements have been brokered, or studios have simply stopped suing over fans' infringement of copyright, but there is nothing ensuring that they will not begin again.

As Clive pointed out, "Lucasfilm fired off a Cease and Desist order to The Dark Redemption in 1999, so you won't see them buying that one any time soon! Meanwhile, Shane Felux, who made Revelations in 2005..."  What is stopping them from sending out the Cease and Desist orders again?  Nothing but the feeling that it is presently not in their best interests.

The Moral Argument

The financial argument for adopting Creative Commons or similar licenses are clear, but I think there is also a moral argument as well.  In my post, Fanfiction and Culture, I take the creative commons argument to its extreme:

Most of what we consider classics today were written by people who wrote in a setting they did not create with characters created by others, in other words, FANFICTION! All primal storytelling is fanfiction, telling retelling, embellishing and adding to that characters and setting that the storyteller enjoyed. This is the art of a story teller. Virtually every folktale and myth falls into this category (read the rest here).

This is the cultural cycle stories used to flow through.  What enrages me most about popular media is how often they use terms like myth, mythology, mythos, legend, and saga to describe their works, while simultaneously keeping them from entering the cultural cycle real myths do.

Copyright holder have a responsibility to culture to allow their ideas to follow the natural flow tales historically took and Creative Commons is a way for them to do this while maintaining their right to be the sole content creator allowed to make money off their ideas.

Creative Commons and the Fan Economy

What I proposed in "Dream of a Fan Economy" was that copyright holders should either purchase or license the best fanfilms and fanfiction and release it in a way so that both the original copyright holder and the producer of the fan work can both profit.

It is too easy for any franchise to become bogged down by group think, and if they infused fresh ideas from the fan community into their official releases they could discover new avenues they had never realized were their before.  Many franchises utilize rooms full of writers to crank out content for them.  It is strange to me that any company would turn down any possible source of revenue.

Dream vs Reality

I am not as naive as I might sound right now.  I do not expect any established franchise to adopt the model I am proposing, but that does not mean that I do not see it as something future franchises might use.

I put my money where my mouth is.  My books, Liquid Sky and Shine Like Thunder are both released under just such a license, and I know if I saw a fan work I loved I would try to bring it into the fold to reward its producer for their great work.

As media becomes increasingly fractured, new business models have to rise up to fill the void left behind by the failing studios and publishers of today.  I am not sure this is exactly the right model, but it is a proposal in the right direction.

I am curious what you think.  How could a copyright holder set up a viable, symbiotic relationship with their fans?  We need to find a path ourselves, because the big boys are not even looking.  Before you comment, read Clive's brilliant piece at Fan Cinema Today in response to my previous post

Project:Shadow 2007 December Newsletter

Hey everyone!

Are you concerned about keeping up to date on the latest Speculative Fiction, Culture, and Tech news? Would you like to talk with other like minded fans of sci-fi fantasy and horror? Then join us at the Project Shadow HQ at  http://hq.projectshadow.com/where you can share with us your favorite finds or talk about your latest fascination. The conversation is here!

 

KILLER REVIEW  

***Eric received a great write up for his novel Legends of the Jade Moon Book One: Liquid Sky here is an excerpt for your enjoyment.

Downwarden com Review by Nick Crabowsky

...What we have here is indeed science fiction ala Dune, though less detailed but just as vividly portrayed. Dorsett deserves praise for the execution of a story less intimidating for one more inclined to read other genres which require far less brain power to understand, breaks through those barriers and develops a narrative which renders a glossary needless and pretty much explains itself as is without asserting its vast mythology in explanatory rhetoric.

I enjoyed the damn thing. I think C.E. Dorsett is one powerhouse of imagination, inspired obviously by the greats of his craft. Liquid Sky is full of mysticism and spirituality, of themes centered on the search for one’s inner self and the meaning of the universe around him, where a youthful monk with adopted parents finds himself catapulted into an interstellar journey fueled by the death of the one he called Father and driven at odds by the results of saving him, by mysterious truth-sayers who aren’t what they seem and personal intuition telling him he’s destined to amount to something greater than himself and the savior of worlds. Ianus’ adventures and intrigue are entertaining and don’t smother us in the sort of over-explanation I’d read in other novels like this one. Liquid Sky is an extremely intelligent, very readable and delightful piece of work, and I’m glad to recommend it...

 

A TEASER

***  We at Project:Shadow have been working hard on completing PROJECT X.  We hope to have an announcement later in the month with a date when project X will go live.  For now all I can advise is to check back regularly for updates.  All that I am allowed to tell you is that Project X is an entire site rework that will bring some really cool things to the community.

 

# 1

***Black Moon Rising is out and is a top seller at amazon.  We want to thank all of the members who have already got their copy of the latest installment in C. E. Dorsett's series Fates Harrow.  If you haven't already got your copy then visit www.ProjectShadow.com/shopping.  

Get your one stop holiday shopping with us at Project:Shadow.  We set up a store so that you can get your holiday shopping done in one stop, stores include Amazon, Hot Topic, and Sharper Image.  We also have cool t-shirts, posters, and other merchandise available.

 

WACHA WATCHING

***Share your favorite video clip with the group:  We now have 112 videos available to members at the ProjectShadow HQ at http://hq.projectshadow.com/.  Its a great way to share your great finds with everyone and also a great way to catch the coolest, neatest new videos that are out.

 

MOON SPOTTING

***Brian posted a review of the Story Black Moon Rising here is a copy of it.

Wow! This is a great story!   5 stars (must own)

The story picks up from where we left off with Adir Radd in the hospital tortured by his visions of the future. I was caught up in Adir’s haunting vision.  It is written so viscerally I could almost hear the screams and smell the stink coming off of the battle field. This heart felt tale took me through the events and choices that led Dov Lavan to become the famed villain I knew him to be from reading Liquid Sky: Legends of the Jade Moon http://astore.amazon.com/projectshadow/detail/0595369162/.  The choices and motivations of Dov were very compelling. Reading his tale turned him into a compassionate and sad character. I could empathize with his frustrations and found myself thinking that if I were caught up in the same situation I would probably make the same choices. The conclusion was extremely rewarding even though I knew how the story would end I still found myself shocked, surprised and brought to tears with a beautiful, rewarding ending. To be cliché for a minute I literally laughed, cringed and cried while reading this.

Dark Moon Rising is the second installment of C. E. Dorsett’s Fates Harrow series which covers three historical characters in the Barren’s End setting. Their tale was first told in the book Liquid Sky: Legends of the Jade Moon but from the Jade Moon’s perspective.

In this episode Dov Lavan fears loosing his friends and culture, longing to save the ones he cares about he takes on a new master who promises to help him lead his people into a safer future. Dov rises to power, forming a new group, encouraging others to join him and stand for freedom. But, his childhood friends Tien Shaa and Adir Radd are concerned with the fire in Dov’s rhetoric, so they set out to try and stop the coming war.

We Love Net Flix!  We have been a member of Netflix for more than five years now and it is great!  Before that we would spend one to three hours in the video store every Friday looking and trying to decide what video we wanted to rent (a large chunk of this time was spent trying to remember what videos were out that we wanted to see), spend all that money on the rentals, and then have to go through the hassle of trying to watch and return the video so that we would not get charged a late fee.  This terrible experience was flipped with Netflix.  Now we have a list of videos that we want to see set up.  Whenever we see a trailer for a movie or show that we want to rent we just add it to our list and when it gets released to dvd about a year latter the video just arrives!  Now every week we get excited waiting for the mail to arrive so that we can see what new videos arrive.  We watch them when we get time to watch them.  Then when we are done watching it (in some cases this can take several weeks to accomplish partially due to some hectic event that takes up all of our time and in some situations it's because we end up watching it over and over again) we just drop it in the mail.  If you don't already use Netflix then go to www.ProjectShadow.com and get your videos today!  

 

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Help support Project:Shadow and get your holiday shopping done at the same time!  Visit our store at www.projectshadow.com/shop/.  From there you can get anything from am azon, Lucas arts, Star Trek, Sharper Image, Hot Topic, Emusic, and your very own Project Shadow Merchandise.

 

What is on YOUR mind

***Have you shared with us your latest comments?  We now have over 60 forum topics up on the HQ.  If you have a forum topic that you would love to share with the group then go to the HQ and add them!  Comments are also back up in the Project Shadow Symposium.  Members may now put comments on any blog post that we post in the symposium.  You will need to use your Project Shadow HQ log in id to have access to the comment ability.  To read the blog posts go to www.ProjectShadow.com/symposium

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Eric

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