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February 24 2006

Cherub (Angel tv parody ) episode three now online! New episode, same bunny slippers. The saga of the vampire with bunny slippers continues. Fun stuff.

Y'know this is cute and all, but the guys behind it are completely missing the point. They've taken the surface of Angel and are trying to exploit it for laughs, but they fail to do more than try to lend visuals. They have no sense of the comic timing that makes Whedon's real work so funny. It's little more than taking that Star Wars Kid who was playing with a makeshift lightsabre alone in a basement and adding special effects and music to it, then calling it a parody of Star Wars.

B+ for effort maybe, but relegating the Angel parody to being an alcoholic who mugs at the camera now and then? It's like making fun of Jack Benny by doing impersonations of Dudley Moore. Completely misses the point. And if you're going to do a parody of Gunn, you don't make him a bald white guy. What? Was there not a single black guy they could find anywhere on the planet? Or maybe make him paisley. That mighta been funny.
ZachsMind is out of control!
I may be biased, because I also have done my own short films, but I think that it's highly unfair to judge any fan films by the same ruler as a Holllywood production, or just anyone that can cobble together tens of thousands of dollars.

One argument that is made is: 'well, if you put it on the web, then it deserves to be judged.'--- My argument is that, it's like going to a party that you're invited to, didn't have to pay for, and complain that caviar isn't just the right temperature for one's palate.

Funny is subjective of course, and everyone is of course entitled to their opinion.

I think that with some fan films that are now costing tens of thousands of dollars, the fun of sharing an effort is becoming less and less enjoyable. I know you gave a "B+ rating for effort maybe", but that's a bit unkind, but if one hasn't gone through the effort of trying to put together a short film, there's a lot of assumptions on how difficult or easy things should be, just because there happens to be another expensive project on the net.

In the past, fan films seemed to be a fun thing to share with others- but now, it seems so scrutinized and judged that it kind of seems to kill the fun out of actually going through the pain if you don't have a million dollars.

This is just my opinion, too, and I may be biased, but I take fan films as a labor of love- and more labor at times than love. When a free banquet is given, even if one doesn't like the way it tastes, one doesn't have to lie and say that they liked it or thought it tasted good, but I would give thumbs up to the cook for taking his time and energy out to make it all the same. And encourage hope that there are more free banquets on the way.
Don't really think it's fair to lay into the makers of the show too much, they've taken the time and effort to put together a parody that while not overly accurate to the source material, is close enough, and consistently funny.

Again, another funny episode. While it is strange that "Gunn" is white, it doesn't really matter that much though.

Loved the Police Squad style freezeframe at the end, brilliant.
Haven't seen it yet, but I'm interested in the discussion about how we should judge fan-made efforts.

My own interest is first and foremost in the quality of ideas, as written and presented. If it's a home-made effort, I'm not going to care very much about the production values or quality of film stock. That's secondary. Words and ideas are equally free and available to all.

That said, I've seen relatively few decent fan efforts related to BtVS, Angel, and Firefly. Most often, the parodies go for the obvious and most superficial jokes, and what care there is in the production seems to be lavished on making sure the shade of the character's pants is just right, rather than on producing a quality and new idea. I accept harvey chin's cautionary words about needless criticism, but, you know, my reaction is my reaction. Generally, I just let the negative stuff slide - the problem there is that the filmmaker will presumably only hear from their friends and family that the work is terrific, and will therefore be deluded about its worth.
Well, I for one have been enjoying these. (Actually, I found the 2nd one not as funny, but the 1st and 3rd were great.) Not split-your-pants funny, but few things are. I've certainly gotten enough chuckles out of it. I think they are doing a good job at parodying the series.
"I'm interested in the discussion about how we should judge fan-made efforts. "

Sounds fair, and I see your point on ideas versus production value.
And yes, of course your reaction is your reaction and I think I'm just advocating that fans in general could be taking things more in context when a fan film is offered to the world for free.... (And not free for the fan offering it- bandwidth does cost money!)

On 'how should things be judged/ should there be any leeway to judging a fan film' To me, it seems there are generally both sides of the argument:

#1: "Well, if the filmmakers want to be judged professionally, they won't get any better if they can't take the feedback, good or bad, or have such thin skin to be affected by it"

#2: "The filmmakers are possibly putting the best work they can with the extent of their resources- if an audience is coming to the show with expectations that can't be met, no one benefits from any feedback that isn't looking at it in the context of having limited resources".

Where I stand: it's good to get feedback, regardless. Again, it's really only helpful in the fan films category if taken in context with what it is.

"the problem there is that the filmmaker will presumably only hear from their friends and family that the work is terrific, and will therefore be deluded about its worth. "

Well.... Delusion of worth on a fan film? Not to say that it's impossible, but I'd say unlikely, though I can only speak from my perspective.

At best, a fan film will still never truly be considered anything close to an original work. *
((( *Sandy Corolla, who did the $40k fan films "Batman: Dead End" and "World's Finest" may be an exception of sorts....but I kind of consider anything above a few thousand something other than a 'fan film'--- but that's certainly up for debate.)))

For those who make fan films, (or even attempt to - there's probably a larger number who try, and for whatever reason, are unable to finish) we all fall at the altar of the original creators, and if it's well received, I would think it's because it reminded the viewers of the source material and hopefully made someone laugh (if it's a parody).

At worst, a fan film can attacked for even existing, the cast and crew (whose faces are put on the worldwide web to be scrutinized and judged by anyone on the planet who has access to the internet) can be torn down personally and that's not a position I'm really interested in taking.

I know that happens on "Professional" movies' websites, but why (and I mean this metaphorically, not to anyone in particular) tear down fellow fans? The odds of anyone making a career out of even the most popular or successful fan film are pretty darn remote, if not impossible--- Even the most expensive, successful fan films on the web haven't (from what I've read on the net) translated to any jobs in the industry, unless said filmmaker was already 'in the industry' to begin with.

"Survival of the fittest" I know applies to Darwin and apes. I don't think a battle for survival should even be a situation when people all love the same core series.

To me, watching any fan film can be like watching a not-necessarily professional music group perform at the Rocky Horror Picture show (ok, I know that dates me) or a Star Wars scene re-enactment onstage by non-actors. If the singers or actors become the next American idols, great, but the communal aspect is the real joy for me.

My op is that a fan film is the equivalence of loving a show that much that one would be willing to hang out on a tree limb and proclaim one's love for it to the world around.

Embarrassing to some? Possibly. To me? I find it wildly enjoyable and think it says, "We're all fools in love with a show this much, we're all geeks and proud of it!"

A long winded way to say, speaking for myself as someone who likes to make fan films: Sure, would love to hear the good and the bad, but the point of film school is to be critiqued for improvement- the point of fan films is to hope people have a good time with our love of the same thing.

Personally, (and I can only speak for myself, but maybe it does apply to other fan filmmakers, too) I wouldn't care if you thought a fan film I'd done was a work of art, but it would hurt if you thought that it wasn't a work of love for the source material. My two cents.

I know it may sound self-serving, but even before I got into the ring myself, that's how I personally think and thought fan films should be taken in.

[ edited by harvey chin on 2006-02-25 00:00 ]

[ edited by harvey chin on 2006-02-25 00:03 ]
Words and ideas are equally free and available to all.


Well, in fact no, SNT.

The "words and ideas" in hollywood also have thousands and thousands of dollar behind them to be polished and "well punned"; there are staff of writers (heck, Joss was one of them!) whose job is to make words and ideas created by others better. Hollywood scripts take time and a bunch of people to pass from a "good concept" to a "good idea". You generally can't, by watching a TV or a movie, decypher the true "original" idea, or more precisely decipher if you would have considered this idea "good" if it had not been reviewed and corrected by people whose job is exactly that.

Fan fic, on the other hand, does not have this support. Fans are not always professionnal writers (quite never in fact!); besides, they don't have the same time to give to their creation as professionnal; therefore, lack the capacity to make their ideas feel "good" as judged by hollywood standards. I am pretty sure that some ideas which looks lame in Fan fic would be judged "good" or even better, provided they had the chance to be polished as movies scripts are.

Henceforth, no Fan stuff, even "the ideas and words", can be judged on the same scale as professionnal stuff.
That said, I particularly enjoy the face style of Cherub and some dialogues do have a spark in them, either by themselves or by the references to Angel:

--

"White Gunn": That dress doesn't exactly scream super-mega-fresh. It kinda screams "oh dear god please, make the hurting stop!".

--

Lawyer: You're Cherub
Cherub: No, I'm not
Lawyer: You're wearing a bathrobe!

--

Cherub: the neighborhood drunks get all dressed up to come by and say "Hey, look at us, we're drunk"

--

After two so-so episodes in my opinion, I found this third episode quite promising in fact, for what it's worth.

[ edited by Le Comité on 2006-02-25 00:36 ]
I think i'm mostly with harvey chin on this one tho' I think to some extent not having money puts more emphasis on the requirement for script inventiveness (and in this case good jokes) or else the film isn't offering much beyond the shared fan experience.

Have to say tho' that except for the large budget fan films (e.g. more than $1000) my main feeling is that they should be fun for the people in them to make and if they're also fun for the audience then that's a bonus.

All that out of the way, after a slightly below par second episode this one ruled ! At last we find out how he came by his slippers. DogBoy and Goat, the constant denial of identity, the return of Johnny Mildly-I, Police Squad ending, all most amusing (plus the woman playing the Fred parody actually has a bit of a feel for her mannerisms). Well worth the time spent watching it.
harvey c - thanks for the thoughtful response. I completely take your point about labors of love. I guess I've never experienced fandom to that level, but more power to those that do!

Le Comite - mega-budget studios have an edge in refining and polishing words, etc. I see that may be true, but I don't think it disturbs my point - which was that I enjoy a fan-made film more if it shows interesting or creative ideas, and don't notice budget or production concerns quite so much.

We could construct a (radical) argument that "ideas" cost money, and therefore are more available to the rich. (Actually, it might not be that radical). And a not-radical argument that an expensive education will produce a better writer. But, really, I don't care. When I'm reading or watching something, be it Hollywood or personal correspondence, I get to judge whether I think it's any good, without having to calculate the resources that were available in its creation.

Sometimes I receive e-mails that are beautifully turned out, elegant, funny, inspiring. Sometimes I read books that have millions of dollars behind them that are turgid, depressing, and make me want to kick the cat. Quality of thought isn't ultimately about dollars and cents. In my view, anyhow.
If I were into football, I'd be an armchair quarterback. If I were into racing, I'd be a backseat driver. I'm a Whedon fan. And so are you.

Cherub is cute. I recall chuckling a couple times. It was fun to watch. It looks like it's made by a group of friends who get together and enjoy themselves. A group of friends who want to entertain others with their unique approach to satirizing a show they enjoyed. At least, I think they enjoyed it. My point was, it's not great. It could have been a lot better. It misses the mark.

If all they wanted to do was make something cute, they succeeded. I will admit to a frustration of not having the resources required to do a proper parody. Is that being judgemental? I make no apologies. Guess I'm just hoping for the day when we see a Whedon parody that performs from the feet up. After I win the lottery and take my own crack at it, you can look forward to the day when you can post a thread in here where you rip it to shreds. =)
So, Cherub may be cute and a labor of love and all, but this is the third posting in under two weeks, isn't it?

At some point, all the Whedonesquers who want to see new episodes will have it bookmarked, and those who don't, won't. At what point is each new episode no longer newsworthy?

At some point, all the Whedonesquers who want to see new episodes will have it bookmarked, and those who don't, won't. At what point is each new episode no longer newsworthy?


I asked myself the same questions last year when every new show of The Signal (for example, there are others) was online and had a news here.

Anyhow, it seems to me that the interesting discussion ensuing here justifies the post of this news, isn't it?
At what point is each new episode no longer newsworthy?


When each new episode is no longer new ?

Personally, i'm happy for someone else to do the checking and let us all know when a new ep's available. But then I am deeply lazy ;).

Apart from possibly moving an active thread off the front page does it really make a difference if it's posted or not ? We are, after all, free to ignore it.

(not to mention the fact that new fans or new lurkers may come along to the board who haven't seen the previous postings - I know new Angel fans may seem unlikely but you never know ;)
When I'm reading or watching something, be it Hollywood or personal correspondence, I get to judge whether I think it's any good, without having to calculate the resources that were available in its creation.


Well, of course... the only point of interest, when we judge entertainment, is what we felt, without concern with production stuff.

However, one thing to be considered is the expectations we can have, before watching the show. If you watch a fan movie with the same expectations as a true Angel episode, there is 99.99% chances that you will be disapointed (precisely because of the difference of production budgets, which matters even for the ideas as I explained and prevents fans to ever attain the level of professionals). And for the same reasons, you can't really compare a fan movie to a professional movie.

I am refering precisely to this sentence of ZachsMind: "They have no sense of the comic timing that makes Whedon's real work so funny", where he compares the writting capacities of Cherub's producers to the writting capacities of Whedon, and where I understand that he expected the same quality in Cherub as in Angel. Does it seem fair for Cherub's producers? I don't think so. All the more as, as I explained above, I found some of the dialogues in this episode to have a spark of Whedon's writting (but then, I may simply have been drunk yesterday, even if I don't drink).

Having watched this episode while expecting only a "fan stuff" (and while I hadn't especially liked the preceding episodes), I enjoyed them for what they are. And as you said, SNT, that's what matters (btw, have you watched this episode?).
To ZachsMind:
Of course, you are and should be entitled to your own opinion and have a right of course to voice them on any film, just as anyone can and should.

You did say some pleasant things about the project, but it wasn't the positive or negative that I was responding to, but the way that the inital review was written made it sound like the cast and crew didn't care about what they were doing nor care about the show... but putting together one of these seems like wayyyy too much work if you didn't care about what you were doing, for often very little (if no) reward.

Pretty sure that the Scott Moore and his cast and crew cared. A lot.

Does that mean that the audience has to care?
The answer is of course- "No."

But- I think if they don't get the audience's love, they certainly earn a degree of respect for their efforts and for putting themselves out there to be judged by the world. At least.

Creatively, I personally thought that they had a clever spin on the show and the performers are hilarious. If I really didn't like it, I might not comment on it, but I would have to give the internal nod that they did something that's not easy to do.

"I will admit to a frustration of not having the resources required to do a proper parody. Is that being judgemental? I make no apologies. Guess I'm just hoping for the day when we see a Whedon parody that performs from the feet up. After I win the lottery and take my own crack at it, you can look forward to the day when you can post a thread in here where you rip it to shreds. =) "

Well.... in a way it is being a bit judgemental, but that's your right, of course.

No one has resources, but one makes what they can out of shoe strings and cardboard--- and that's part of why I think part of this thread has really evolved into other side-discussions.

No fan film will cure cancer, of course, and in the scheme of the world, we're all small- but because of that, to me, whether fan films are worth going through the pain of making shouldn't, in my view, depend on whether or not it gets a Hollywood contract, but whether or not the fan base can even enjoy it for what it is.

A 'proper' parody that any of us would like, would probably have the same budget, resources, expertise as an episode of "Angel", but the budget for one episode will probably be more than any of us will make in ten years.

Still....

Not having resources means trying your best, making things happen if they need to happen. Failing, and still trying. And trying. And failing again. And again. And when there's other things out of your control that can (and does) happen, you keep at it. And then trying again.

And then being silly enough to put it out into the world to see the response, and HOPE that you were able to make it entertaining enough that others could share in it, even if you didn't have all the resources that the 'big guys' may have in Hollywood....

But one could still fail at that, too. It's a heckuva lot of risks for little payoff.

For all the hours of effort that goes into a short film (or films), at the best, you get a smile on the face of a stranger that you've been able to entertain even briefly, maybe they'll even say something kind, but then move on quickly with their own lives. It's not money you get, but a few moments of seeing that you entertained another human being on the planet that's the gold.

I certainly hope that you try to get your own fan film done. Getting a vision in your head of what you would like and being able to transfer it 100% (or even 50% or less) into something viewable for others to see(*And having said that, I can't say that I'm sure that my own project is something that is viewable for the general public, but one hopes that people will like it...) is a pain in the neck, and the stakes get incredibly high when its unconsciously (or consciously) compared to all other entertainments that we see for free on tv (or cable or net) nowadays.

I can't speak for anyone else, but filmmaking is a big pain with hopes that it turns out even close to what you have in mind with the idea that someone else might like it. There are some that maybe don't care about the audience that might watch it, but I find that pretty rare.

If you do make that proper parody (and it's worth trying for, succeeding or not, in my book), I doubt I will make a thread towards tearing it down--- instead I'd probably say 'Cool! Another Whedon fan film! There's not enough out here!" : )

[ edited by harvey chin on 2006-02-25 19:16 ]
thanks everyone for such a provocative thread. i have a few responses:

a) i've followed the discussion about standards of judgement with interest, and would just say that i tend toward SNT's opinion. i'm usually capable of adjusting my expectations for variable production values, but in the end, if you don't have a core idea or set of ideas that entertain or interest me, no excuses really matter and i will be on to the next thing. that's just life in the world of modern media consumption.

which leads to
b) i expect people to judge CHERUB on its own merit. i never expected everyone in the world to like it, but i've actually been pretty happy with how it's been received. the response so far has been roughly 3/4 very positive, 1/4 very negative (one person on metafilter proclaimed "Art is dead" when they heard about us), and i take the 1/4 negative as much to heart as the other feedback. seeing the finished episodes roll out, i have plenty of moments of regret, thinking how much tighter certain sequences could have been, or how much more absurd i could have made things - and i hope to channel that level of hindsight into season two, if we get that far. i'm learning a ton as an artist, and any feedback we get is definitely being digested and considered. i'm clearly not a trained pro; i have a day job, blah blah. but i went to considerable trouble to make this stuff, and i won't improve if i try to make excuses for anything about it.

which leads to
c) what i definitely did NOT want is people forgiving us simply because we're a fanfilm. one of my big inspirations is SCTV, who took parody to new heights, especially long-form parody. parody, for instance, that spanned a commercial break; you come back for "part two of..." some long parody they're in the midst of. and they're not just cruising for all the easy jokes; SCTV excelled at generating moods that were inherently funny even if you weren't laughing out loud at every turn or line. that's as much my inspiration as joss. so i was hoping we would find an audience that grooved on that style of humor, and to some extent, maybe we are. i definitely appreciate harvey's point that you could try just a little to understand the backstory that at the end of the day we're just enthusiasts trying to reach other enthusiasts. but still, if we ain't funny, no amount of excuses will change that.

which leads to
d) now that my cast and crew and i all understand what this show is about, you can definitely expect that if we get to season two, we will have a much more informed and creative approach. i will be more of a showrunner, bringing in many excellent local writers to help; there will be more of a serious script review process; we'll be able to get a real DP in and do real storyboarding so that i don't have to cringe at some of the horrible continuity errors i made in season one doing it all myself. getting it off the ground was a struggle, but after seeing the response (in terms of raw downloads), i think the excitement about producing season two is clear. still...

e) ...maybe season one of CHERUB isn't the perfect shining jewel of human comedy that i had hoped for, but i remain firm in the belief that we're doing something very zany and well worth looking at, and i hope y'all at least give it a shot.

thanks much!

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