When it comes to our hobbies, more often than not they are simply “that thing we do” when we’re not busy doing other things. Usually, being a film or a TV buff is a passive hobby—something to sit and absorb, maybe to think or talk about afterwards, but it generally doesn’t go beyond that. “Generally” is the key word here, as some of us do go beyond being simple consumers. When we’re unsatisfied with something, a film or a TV show usually, there’s a call to action that we don’t ignore.
So we act on it: removing the excess, reordering scenes, creating whole new experiences from preexisting materials. While the end results of a fanedit can certainly be impressive, what do you do with them? Only a handful of edits have ever been recognized by people in Hollywood, and while the reception has generally been positive (with one fan edited version of Brian De Palma’s 1992 film Raising Cain being included on a new Blu-ray release) fanediting isn’t really a fast track to Hollywood stardom.
Still, there’s a lot of technical know-how involved, from graphic design to the actual preparation of sources, right down to the actual editing.
“Speaking from my own experience, Fanedit.org has been a lot more useful for my career than I would have guessed (which would have been zero) and vice-versa” says ThrowgnCpr, who is also an established editor and one of our site administrators. Administrator and Academy member TM2YC talks about a Christmas gift he once made for his brother: “I recreated the Italian only Blu-ray of Roberto Benigni’s The Tiger and the Snow with English subtitles, so my older brother could actually watch a film he loved without learning Italian first.”
“I’ve found that fanediting hasn’t really had a specific impact on my life, but it has turned out to use a collection of skills I had already to a large extent developed elsewhere,” editor That One Guy says. “Before getting into fanediting I had gotten into making comics as a hobby – this meant I’d tinkered with several graphics packages and had gotten used to the idea of having to try out various tools and often spend a lot of time tinkering to try and achieve the desired result. This could be quite tricky sometimes, especially for printed comics, where moiré patterns [author’s note: this is when two patterns are overlaid and it creates a third, completely different pattern] can throw an extra spanner in the works after you think you’re finally finished with a given page.”
In the case of bionicbob, there has been some semi-professional cross-over: “After discovering the wonderful, rich world of fanedits and seeing what one could do, I went out and bought Final Cut and began to use it not only for my own fan edit creations but for my home videos too. This then led to me shooting videos for friends (weddings, birthdays, etc) and creating DVDs for them.” DominicCobb adds, “I actually have an editing job right now but I’m not sure I’d say there’s a causality there – I just like editing. But fanediting allows me to always have a project to work on to better hone my skills and learn different software more thoroughly.” ThrowgnCpr also says, “I just finished editing a series of outreach videos for work. I never would have been able to do that without messing around with fanediting.”
While we generally consider fanediting to fall under “fair use” as far as legality is concerned, it’s still a very grey area. According to That One Guy, “I haven’t shown any evidence of my fanediting work to employers so far, […] it’s mostly irrelevant to my job. But I can see how making very short edits could serve as an interesting demonstration of a variety of skills, so it’s something I might play around with next year.”
New members join Fanedit.org every day, people who (like so many of us) have discovered fanediting one way or another. While there aren’t any second-generation faneditors at the moment, bionicbob has influenced at least one budding artist: “[My daughter], now 16, basically grew up sitting beside me at the computer watching me edit stuff and learning how to do it herself. Now, she is an amazing editor! Having won awards in school for her work and now seriously considering pursuing editing/animation as a career path! WOW! Maybe one day I will be visiting her at Pixar Studios! I’m a proud Papa!”
Alongside the topic posted in the Faneditor discussions forum where the quote for this article came from, I posted an anonymous poll asking: “Have your fanediting skills overlapped into real life (or vice versa)?” Of the thirteen responses, five said that fanediting skills have overlapped into their lives, while only one responder said that their “real life” skills were useful in editing. Three responders said the skill overlap went both ways, while another four said there wasn’t much overlap one way or another.
TV’s Frink, creator of the “Ridiculous” prequel trilogy edits and our Master of Lore asks this: “Does ‘teaching me to restrain my temper in a public forum’ count?”
Responses for this article were collected from a topic titled “The Practical Applications of Fan Editing” that was posted in the Faneditor Discussions section of the forum. Additional responses were collected privately. I would like to thank bionicbob, That One Guy, ThrowgnCpr, TVs Frink, and DominicCobb for their contributions.