Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Becoming a Fan of Fan Fiction: Exploring Red Eye fandom

Apologies for not updating in a while. Life has been a hectic whirl.

I have also been exploring the wonderful world of 'fan fiction', with a view to writing a research paper on the subject, which is proving to be more fascinating than I could possibly have imagined! I'll jot down a few ideas on the subject for this blog in the next few days.

I'll also admit I have been inspired to write a 'fanfic' myself! It started out as an 'exercise' - almost as research - but I have become increasingly embroiled in my 'work', which is likely to take on novel-size dimensions if I'm not too careful. If you fancy a laugh, my 'fanfic' is called The Real Deal and can be found at www.fanfiction.net, under the Movies category, sub-category 'Red Eye.'

Oh yes. I did say 'Red Eye'!! Not the most taxing, subversive piece of cinema to emerge in the last decade, granted. But a fabulous little genre-flick in my opinion - sheer unadulterated (guilty?) entertainment. What I have found fascinating about the Red Eye fandom is the overwhelming number of female fans. Of course fan fiction does seem to be dominated by women - this is quite noticeable actually, and is a topic worth exploring further in its own right - but what makes these fans so interesting, is their adherence to the idea of a passionate romantic pairing between the two leads in Red Eye, Lisa Reisert and the cold-blooded assassin Jackson Rippner, who tries to kill Lisa but winds up almost dead himself by the end of the film. This is NOT a romantic film. But it has spawned a plethora of romantic, and often pretty darn sexy fan fiction! There is, of course, undeniable sexual chemistry between the two leads, which is obviously unexplored by the film's core narrative, which focuses on its key generic functions as a thriller.

And it is because there is a 'gap' in the narrative, based on this unresolved chemistry - despite, and almost because of the dark S&M overtones that are expressed in the movie itself - we now have a small but fervent fan culture, which is devoted to further exploring the dynamics of this relationship. It is the stuff of fantasy of course - a guilty pleasure too in some respects, as the nature of the pairing is based to some extent on power, control and violence.

Of course the sexual tension between the two stars is ramped up considerably by the fact that both actors are no small beer in the looks department. Rachel McAdams is edibly luscious, while Cillian Murphy is blessed with unique good looks and chilling blue eyes. If Lisa and Jackson had been lumpy and drab, there would be no Red Eye fan fiction, I can guarantee it. (And likely no movie in the first place, all considered).

What makes Red Eye interesting too is the characterisation of Lisa, the heroine, who proves to be tenacious, kickass and indomitable - and completely underestimated by the smooth-talking psycho Jackson. Many fanfics have further evolved Lisa's hardball attitude, while others have reveled more in portraying her as passive to Jackson's tough guy dominance. Jackson himself is almost always 'redeemed' in some form or other, because, yup, you guessed it, because of the power of love and his idolising of Lisa, his perfect match.

My ongoing fanfic is focusing on Lisa's POV. Yes there will be romance (there IS that chemistry thing going on, it can't be denied), but rather than Jackson taking the initiative throughout, I have decided to cast Lisa as a 'detective', determined to uncover the truth about Jackson, his past, his persona, his work, his true identity &c. And I'll admit I'm enjoying every minute of it, although I've got a lot of plot still to get through (I've mapped out a large and convoluted story!). I'm a little scared actually how easy and enjoyable it is to write brute violence, and have been forced to edit my own work before publishing it online! I'm sure (or at least I'm hoping) that it must be a cathartic experience!

16 comments:

RhubarbsMom said...

Small world! I too have recently discovered the world of fanfiction - specifically, "Jane Eyre" and "Pride & Prejudice" fanfics. I have been amazed by the quality of some of the writing, so much so that I'm sure in the future I will remember the fanfics as part of the original story. And, like you, I have been inspired to start writing my own fanfic, a "what if" alternative of Jane Eyre. Don't know if I'll post it online, but writing it has been the most fun I've had in quite a while.

Although I haven't seen "Red Eye" I'm going to look up your fanfic.

Anonymous said...

What got me writing "Red Eye" fan fiction was a spin on the chemistry you mention: I found the script for "Red Eye" (with the exception of a few modern-movie cusswords) incredibly old-fashioned-- "old fashioned" here meaning "sparkling, quick-witted, and spry." Very sharp old-school Hollywood writing. Without all that much effort, I could swap Kate Hepburn and Cary Grant in for our modern-day youngsters. The script got me-- Cillian and Rachel were bonuses!

Gallivant said...

rhubarbsmom

Yes, I too have been astounded at the quality of some of these fanfics. Amazing stuff. It's wonderful how narratives can trigger such fertile imaginations, and how the Internet has fostered all this previously untapped talent!

Where are you posting your Jane Eyre fanfic? Fanfiction.net??

And feel free to peruse my sad literary efforts! I'm enjoying writing it, that's for certain!!

Gallivant said...

Anonymous

I agree 100%. The writing in Red Eye was very sharp, and contributed greatly to the characters' chemistry. And Cillian and Rachel were fantastic in their roles - even with the rather OTT ending, which got a little bit silly in truth, but you've got to let Wes Craven do his 'thing' - it was remarkably restrained up to that point, and all the better for it IMO.

Are you a prolific Red Eye writer? Do you tend towards the romantic angle? Or does Jackson remain in full psycho mode?

It's all great fun.

rhubarbsmom said...

If I do post it (currently I have worked up summaries for 12 chapters (!) although I may have to write 13 or 14 to tell the story I want to tell) but now I'm going to start the actual writing. If I do post it, it'll probably be on fanfiction.net and C19 since I'm on both sites and the fanfics on those sites inspired me.

I think the great thing about fanfiction is precisely that it gets people to start writing instead of just dreaming about it. I've wanted to be a writer since I learned to read when I was 4 years old, but once I began reading truly great writing I gave up on it because I felt so intimidated. I could never be as good as Austen, or the Brontes, and I felt like everything I wanted to express had already been said. But now I feel like I can try and write. Don't know how good it'll be, but I'm going to enjoy myself.

Anonymous said...

"Banter-romantic" is my tone of choice. I'm not prolific by any means: I simply don't have the time, and I only write when I can see something as a whole very clearly in my head. I can't take Jackson seriously as a hardcore psycho-- sorry! (I work around hundreds and hundreds of court cases, and from what I've seen, our Mr. Rippner doesn't even "blip" on the real psycho scale. Well, maybe a three or four out of ten....) I've written three "Red Eye" fics, two for "28 Days Later," and six (!) for Danny Boyle's new movie, "Sunshine," which as yet has no Fanfiction.net category, so those are up over at the Sunshine Fan Forum. I'm punctuator, by the way. Also known as kaliszewski. I think you've left me feedback-- thank you!

Gallivant said...

ANONYMOUS

YOU ARE PUNCTUATOR!! I actually feel a little star-struck. And yes I did leave you feedback the other day, which was pretty damn glowing. I mean it when I say that you are a real writing talent. I was crying with laughter at Red Eyes - loved the crossover of the pig monsters, and I loved Bagels even more I think! You have a marvellous compact writing style - I quite envy it actually. I'm so wordy and floral and convoluted (there you go - could have probably used one adjective rather than three!!). And you have such a sharp, comedic mind. And you never once lost a true sense of the characters, (which, if we're being honest, does tend to happen quite often in Fan Fiction).

Please write more!

I will now check out your work on 28 Days Later, which was a phenomenal film. Cillian has a tremendous talent for generating powerful yet natural chemistry with his co-actors, and Naomie Harris was no exception. Looking at your main works they seem to be Cillian-oriented, so can I assume he is a favourite actor of yours? He certainly is one of mine. He inhabits roles with subtle ease, and his performances are always pitch-perfect. A great talent.

I first loved him as Paul Montague in The Way We Live Now, the BBC Trollope adaptation, which also starred 2 other favourite actors of mine: Shirley Henderson and also Matthew MacFayden.

As for Jackson.

I agree with you actually. I don't think he is 'psycho' extraordinaire, which actually explains part of the enormous female attraction to the character IMO. He's a little bit dangerous, but not TOO dangerous - not mindlessly so. He's cold, (though not TOO cold of course), efficient, intelligent, the ideal manager. But I imagine he has to be extremely heated (or crossed, as in Red Eye) to actually be bothered to inflict excessive cold-blooded violence on someone else. What you captured perfectly in your FanFic however, is the fact that he also has the potential to be funny. Of course charmers are often witty (or they're slimey, which isn't charming at all! And Jackson's NOT slimey). Probably more so than Lisa.

Well, I've written a bleeding essay instead of a comment here. I'm a woman of crazes, and this is my latest!

If I was to write a research paper on Fan Fiction, would you be interested in submitting your thoughts on the subject? I would actually use Red Eye as a core example - although I'd be hard-pressed to avoid other titles too. Harry Potter, for example. There's a quarter of a million FanFics on Fanfiction.net alone! That's almost frightening. And I have done a lot of academic research into the Potter phenomenon anyway. Of course the 'fantasy' genre is overwhelmingly popular in this field. Buffy I've noticed has a huge response - but then I've never even seen Buffy, so I'm not very qualified to research that area. POTC is another major focus of FanFic interest.

What drew me to Red Eye Fan Fiction (aside from the fact that I loved the film more than I ever thought I could - it was a wonderful surprise), was its being based in the 'real' world (of sorts, there are several moments of 'silliness', and you never really doubt it's a work of fiction IMO - but heck! It is! Great stuff).

Anyway. I'll write a short piece for the blog and invite interviewees (by email) anyway for a larger project.

Keep up the great writing! I'll be onto your 28 Days Later piece asap.

Gallivant said...

Rhurbarbsmom
Yes, get writing! It's so much fun - albeit a little daunting of course. You see this is why I've fallen in love with Fan Fiction. It inspires people to write, to create. It's a wonderful 'democratisation' of the creative process, removing it from the elitist ranks of stuffy Classical canons and postmodernity's celeb-driven literati.

I will confess that up to a few weeks ago, I was stubbornly snobbish about Fan Fiction, imagining it solely to be the province of squealing fangirls. How stupidly wrong I was! There is so much exciting talent on display, so much imagination and narrative skill. I feel such a dumbo for ignoring it for so long.

I've mentioned this on another comment already, but I plan to pull together a research project on Fan Fiction, and will invite comments from Fan Fiction dabblers to offer experiences, views. If I do this, would you interested in relaying your own experiences, motivations with your Jane Eyre fanfic?

Anyway, I'll write a short piece on Fan Fiction over the next week or so with an email address for those who are interested.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I've been late in replying, but we've been just bombed with cases at work this week. (The courts like to clear their baffles before the Memorial Day weekend!) I'd be happy to share my thoughts-- even if I'm not sure if I'm writing fan fic for the "usual" reasons. (See, I "see" movies in my head, and I write them down: hence the broad, over-the-top action scenes and the "midshot/closeup" dialogue.) And I'm almost afraid to admit it: I stopped reading the first Harry Potter book about fifty pages in, and I've seen about four minutes of one episode of "Buffy." Oh, boy.... Anyway, I'll ramble on a bit more extensively on Saturday. Just thought I'd check in!

Gallivant said...

Anonymous

(I take it you are Punctuator).

Thanks for the reply. Yes, when I put together a project on Fan Ficrion I'll contact you if I may. I guess I cam PM you via Fan Fiction.net? I'll also post an email address on this site next week.

BTW I read your Fan Fiction work 'North Sea.' Extremely good! I can see that you write very cinematically BTW. You should write screenplays.

I've made various efforts, more as 'exercises' than anything else (if I discount the six hour TV series I once wrote and binned!), but am drawn ultimately to prose fiction. Writing Fan Fiction is another interesting exercise frankly, in 'consistency', based on the Chapter format, and the constant feedback.

It makes me wish we could have more novels-by-chapters - the old Victorian periodicals - where novels were serialised. Made for a lot of cliffhangers! Which is possibly why so many classic novels have actually proved successful as TV adaptations, once serialised. Hence Dickens is probably the most famous serialiser, and a classic favourite in TV adaptation.

Anyway, I look forward to your next fan fiction. Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

I have to learn to identify myself in these "anonymous" situations, don't I? Yeah, it's Punctuator again.

Was trying to think of anyone who's publishing serialized fiction these days, and the closest I could come up with was the serial novel Stephen King was kicking off a few years back, but I'm not sure what came of it. Perhaps print publishers are too quick to discount the attention spans of their buying audiences-- that is, maybe they think that "serious" readers are looking for novels while "less-serious" readers (that is to say those who might appreciate a chapter-by-chapter approach) are just as well off with television. Print costs, distribution costs, and the sheer terror of competition must impact on the lack of serials, too: we're dealing with much more of a media onslaught than Mr. Dickens and his publisher ever faced! Maybe the closest we come to print serials in the twenty-first century is the comic book. Granted, there's plenty of junk in the comics world, and plenty of "perpetual middle," but there are some very fine writers working in the comics industry, too. Brian Michael Bendis comes to mind....

I mentioned that I didn't think that I was writing fan fic for the "usual" reasons-- a need to spend more time with favorite characters, maybe, or to play out fantasy pairings in terms of romance. Here's a little rant I came up with on my "unusual" reasons:

I started writing fan fiction after my mom died. My dad had died five years earlier; my mother’s death was very sudden, very unexpected. I think the fiction was-- and remains-- a way for me to feel I have control over situations. And it allows me to make things “alright” for someone. I’m not saying that my stories aren’t without tragedy or travails (or their fair share of pain and violence), but I like to think that the characters in them get the happiness they deserve, or the happiness for which they’re willing to work. It’s also a product of the job I do, this sense of rewards: I edit court cases for a living, and I see so much real agony every day at work that I’ve ceased to find tragedy entertaining. If writers like Alex Garland (who, from his latest interviews regarding the film “Sunshine,” seems to regard hope as a province of the weak or immature) find my view objectionable, I politely invite them to work a week or two at my job-- or to tell me honestly how they feel after they’ve watched a parent or other loved one die.

Regarding my “sources”: I had a very strong musical background as a youngster. I played multiple instruments, training classically in bassoon; I sang in choirs and took voice lessons as well. Musical training equaled discipline and a sense of rhythm. It also, I think, keyed me in to “hearing” characters’ voices-- and gave me a knack for mimicking those voices. (I also tend to mimic-- sometimes subconsciously-- the voices of whatever writers I happen to be reading. Very much a product of being a second alto [we’re great blenders!]-- but it can be dangerous, too.) As for as my writing style, the good Sisters at the College of St. Catherine knocked that into me. “Economy!” was their rallying cry. And they turned me on to “The New Yorker,” which, week after week, publishes some of the finest, tightest, most carefully edited prose in the world. I tend to read more nonfiction than fiction. Fiction I read primarily for style: right now I’m strolling through Nabokov and Proust, to stretch and relax my sentence style.

Finally, an aside: Cillian Murphy IS one of my favorite actors. (Actually, he’s my favorite living actor: all the rest have been dead for decades!) I’ve been lucky enough to meet Mr. Murphy several times. He seems a very kind and gentle young man-- and his eyes are *that* lovely in reality, too!

Anyway-- with apologies for murdering your bandwidth-- thanks for reading "North Sea." Think that it's my favorite fic-- if only because I wrote a big, dumb, Jim Cameron-style adventure story and "populated" it with my favorite Golden Age actors and actresses. (Conrad Veidt sharing "screen time" with Cillian Murphy? Yes, ma'am!) When you finish your fan fiction project, please send it along. I'd love to have a look!

Gallivant said...

Anonymous (aka Punctuator)
Thanks for your hugely interesting post about what has inspired your writing. I can certainly see how writers want to keep some form of 'control' over life, and controlling narratives is one way of doing that. I must say when I read 'North Sea' I was sure for a while that it would end tragically, with the death of Selena ... you got me there!

It's great that you read for form and structure - that's the hallmark of a real writer. I always admire writing styles which are efficient yet effective. Editing is the most important art in writing.

I think fan fiction - and by extension serialised fiction - is by its very nature more plot-driven. An economic style is very important with seriaised works of course, to move plot along. This is one reason I have been trying to write fan fiction - to try to teach myself much-needed economy. You are very lucky you have the ability to mimic voices in your narratives. I struggle a little in this regard, which is why I took to writing screenplays for a while, to try and develop a better-honed ear for dialogue.

As a final aside, how did you get to meet Cillian Murphy so many times? He seems to be a quiet, serious-minded actor, not part of te celebrity-go-round and he chooses interesting roles. He has a lot of potential.

Anyway, thanks for your informative and interesting comments. I will look out for your next Fan Fiction, and will remember to review 'North Sea' - which I clean forgot to do when I read it!

shallowness said...

Oh, this is interesting. I haven't seen Red Eye, but it was a genre film (X-Men, well, X2 to speak truth) and a male/female relationship that was strongly delinated, but not explicitly romantic (that of Wolverine and Rogue) that got me into fanfiction, first as a reader, then a writer. I knew about it long before, but it was the fact that they put those characters' relationship into the background that drove me to hunt up fics.

Speaking in general terms, the part of 'fandom' that writes fanfiction is nearly overwhelmingly female, and the main impetus is definitely 'shipping. There are those who want to write 'more' of relationships depicted onscreen or on the page (be that more explicitly or more functionally or whatever), those who see chemistry/an intense platonic relationship and see potential lying unexploited and so forth. There's also been a lot of discussion and theorising - http://community.livejournal.com/metabib/ is a collection of links to many such discussions, mainly by fans, some by academics who are fans, but all interesting (the link is probably biased towards the part of fandom that's on livejournal and to the 'slasher' mentality). I double checked, and the first link there is to a bibliography of critical works.

I'm glad that you seem to be having a positive experience in the Red Eye section of fanfiction.net. As the site is open to anyone, there are a lot of enthusiastic new writers who, in my experience, do not bother to edit their work or worry overmuch about how they're expressing their enthusiasm and ideas. However, on that same site (and elsewhere online) I have come across work that does deserve glowing praise. (I'm shallowness there too if you want to look at what I have recommended in various fandoms).

Anyway, all the best wih your story - fic writing does tend to eat the brain :) and it's a fascinating subject to ponder.

Gallivant said...

Shallowness

Sorry to take so long replying - I have been horribly busy (all that fanfic writing - takes it out of you!).

I will seek out your fanfics, that's for sure.

Yes, I agree that 'shipping' is a major motive in writing fanfic. It was while I was researching the online fandom of Harry Potter for an academic case study that I came across the phenomenom that is 'shipping' - and I could hardly believe it, once I did! The passion, the angst, the tortured intellectual justifications, the close textual reading and detailed syllable-by-syllable analysis of any pronouncement - however tiny and inconsequential - by the author(s). Fascinating! And not just anthropologically, but often the studies in shipping are articulate, well-considered and brilliantly argued. I have since explored (vicariously - not as an engaged participant) the shipping worlds of POTC and even Lost. I find these shipping 'wars' enormously interesting.

Thanks for your interesting comment!

Anonymous said...

If anyone still even reads this, what are some good Pride and Prejudice or Jane Eyre fanfics to start with?

Anonymous said...

Omg. When are you going to update! It's been almost 4 years. Plus I would love to see an update to your HP one as well. :D