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The Fannish Life of a Podficer

So, last week I got metafandomed for that post I made on why people listen to podfic. A conversation in the comments however got into ownership of podfic (how much control does the author vs. podficer have) and, well, it got me thinking. So I want to talk a little bit about what I've experienced as a podficer and my thoughts on it, and invite any other podficers to chime in.

When it comes to ownership of podfic, I think it's a 75%/25% split.

Theoretically the podficer has 75% ownership. It's their work and they can do with it what they will once they have permission from the author. The author has some claims on it since it's their story but anything they want done to the podfic has to go through the podficer. But since the podficer has most of the ownership they can choose to not do what the author asks after permission has been given. This is very much supported by the [community profile] podficmeta post "Author Control (After Initial Permission)".

Practically the author has 75% ownership. As a podficer I think of a podfic as my creation. However getting into a fight with an author is... not fun. And you don't want the author leaving hating you and spreading the word that you're a horrible fannish person. Author's carry a lot more weight in fandom than podficers do. One author can complain and then their flist goes and dogpiles the podficer (hey, when I sort of had that happen to me, the author didn't even mention my name and I had everything down in under 3 hours of her making the post and I still had someone find my journal and leave a comment). And hey, even if the podficer can handle it personally, there are now all these people in fandom who are distrustful of podfic and won't allow it for their works.

So, even though I feel like my podfics are my babies, I end up giving up my ownership over it to the author, if they ask, to avoid rocking the boat. And I'm not the only one, as this post by [personal profile] general_jinjur shows.

And, the thing is, that's a terrifying place to be as a creator, having someone else control my works. At this point in my fannish life, podfic is my biggest contribution to fandom. I have more podfic than I do vids and fic put together. I've run a couple comms/challenges but a decent number of those were podfic related. So. It's extra scary because podfic is obviously my passion but the author may not even care about it beyond how it's applied to their fic.

I've dealt with 21 authors when it comes to podfic and have gotten the whole range or responses. I had one author who didn't even acknowledge me (they had given blanket permission and so I dropped them a comment and they never responded), I've had another author who created a podfic page on their website and made a special stats page so I could see the hits she gets on it, I've had one author tell me to take my podfic down and I currently have one author actively involved with my podficing process. Most authors fall somewhere in the middle, where they'll be happy and flattered when you ask permission and will pimp it on their journals/fic post when it's done but others can be indifferent. Only a handful of those authors have shown actual interest in my podfic beyond it being their story.

And I'm ok with all of that. I don't actually make podfic for the author. I make it for myself, for the podfic community and anyone who might be willing to give podfic a listen. If that includes the author, awesome! But I don't podfic with them specifically in mind.

But there's always the fear that because the author's are only interested in my podfic as it applies to them that they aren't going to... I don't know. Take into consideration what the podfic means to me and others. In some ways, as horrible as it sounds, I almost welcome the indifference from authors because maybe then they'll forget about what I've done and just leave me with it.

And, obviously, I would never want what I made to hurt someone else. If the author was in some kind of RL trouble and my podfic could get her in more trouble, then I'd gladly take it down. But, there are a lot of people that create things and then later decide they want to take it down (for non-critical reasons, like maybe they just don't like it anymore). And the idea that they'd just tell me to take my stuff down because they no longer like it? It's not a fun one! The one author who asked me to take my podfic of her story down never gave me a reason for it (it was a messy situation and so I felt I couldn't ask) and it still bothers me.

Podfic is still a newly popular(ish) thing. A lot of us are still stumbling around trying to decide how this is going to work. The podfic community is talking it out and deciding how we want things but there certainly isn't universal agreement (is there ever? :P). And the problem is, that the podficers and listeners are only 2/3 of the interested parties. Right now a lot of author's don't even know to get involved. They aren't taking the time to define what they want out of podfic. It's hard for a standard to be set when only one group is negotiating as a whole and the other group only has random representatives. And, as I said above, author's really aren't consistent in their attitudes toward podfic.

In the end it makes me feel kind of powerless, because I see what rights I want to have as a podficer but I also realize that they're called into question every time someone challenges them. I don't know, maybe I think about this a lot more than the average podficer because I had that one situation where I had to take my podfic down but I am nervous about this.

I can't really think of any way to fix this other than to meta about it. So, watch me meta :)



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 19th, 2010 07:18 am (UTC)
Ummm difficult question. As a neutral in so far as I neither read nor write just listen I can see both sides. The fic is the writers baby. Just like songwriters call their songs their children. They conceived them and cherish them. However if they give permission I feel they then must step back and let the podficcer interpret the story their way. Much like the writers of books give up their rights when a screenplay is developed and we know how often that proves tricky. Some writers walk away with cash in hand and are happy. Some contribute, some interfere and some disown the finished product. It depends on the writer' s personality and sometimes past experiences. So I conclude that in podficcing you have to expect that variety of responses as well. All you can do is try to respect the product and treat it kindly. Then your conscience is clear.
Oct. 19th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
I think a big part of the problem (that I fully admit to being a part of) is that right now people are going into podfic without being specific with the idea that it's easier to deal with problems as they arise rather than state them up front. But, on the flip side, if you try and hash all that out before hand: 1. you're going to miss things because foresight only gets you so far and hindsight is 20/20. 2. If you try and cover all that before going in, people get intimidated and decide it's not worth it.

And in the world of movies and pro books, there are large contracts and lawyers involved. And, I really don't want to bring that kind of thing into fandom. God. Fandom is where I go to escape that kind of thing (I'm a contract coordinator IRL, I've seen how messy they can get).

I read this really interesting meta post a few weeks ago about how fandom is stuck between web 1.0 and web 2.0. I don't know if using the terms web 1.0 or 2.0 are really the correct terms but there are certain things that weren't acceptable 5, 10, 30 years ago that people do all the time now. You know that post I made about unwritten rules in fandom? There's a friction going on where some people are working with the old set of rules and assumptions where as others have a whole new set of rules and assumptions.

I think I'm, personally, feeling these frictions more because AI fandom is much more part of the "new" rules. I just came from SGA fandom, and Sci Fi fandom as a whole is a lot more old school. Sci Fi fandom seems to talk about this stuff more too. It's not that I expect individual people to be on the same page as me but it's really startling to realize I'm on a different chapter from the rest of my fandom.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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