The Fandom documentary: A bid for Netflix and a quick review.

by Dogpatch Press Staff

@MacthePherson submitted his review of this documentary about furries, and here’s how it’s faring so far.

  • Since July 3 release on Youtube, The Fandom has 160K views (on July 8.)
  • Press so far is linked on the movie’s IMDB page.
  • Cartoon Brew ran with a Dogpatch Press tip about it. Their animation industry news site isn’t afraid to roast sacred cows or other fandoms. They even answered the tip that their last furry story was about porn in 2016! The good review was a pleasant surprise for some fans who were bracing for judgement.
  • Animators at a studio that’s not yet named saw and loved The Fandom, and will join a news story about furries in their industry.
  • Options for distribution were hampered by 2020’s shutdowns, but you can help get it on Netflix now.

“The Fandom”. A quick review.
By @macthepherson 

As someone who likes films and has a degree in film school, I like to be honest. This is a very quick review with my first impressions, straight out of watching it. That means these initial impressions regarding the film may change over time, and that this review may lack some polishing and in-depth detail.

The film is well shot, has good pacing and is very informative, but I must say it’s very similar to many other documentaries — and being made by people of the fandom does mean that there’s some subjectivity and it can feel like a promo/advertisement, if the informative stuff is removed. It’s a bit of a mix between a TV report, a documentary and a promo. It does feel a bit like one of those long TV current affairs programs or news magazines television programs, like BBC Panorama. I guess I kind of hoped it would try to be a bit more artistically interesting. Just a bit. Wasn’t expecting it to, and it didn’t, but I still had hope.

Am I saying it’s bad? No. Absolutely not. It is a good film. It captures feelings without being too soppy. It shows some restraint in not trying to make it feel too emotional, but emotional enough. It’s not really a documentary though. It’s not an infomercial either, though it can feel a bit like that at times. I would somewhat describe it as 2/5 informative, 2/5 documental, and 1/5 promotional (out of a total of 5/5).

The style of filming and editing is conventional (a bit conservative), but a lot of documentaries are, and I imagine this is done for the following reasons: it makes it easy to understand; and it reaches a much bigger audience through that somewhat-generic approach. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it doesn’t mean a lot of effort wasn’t put into it. This is, after all, an independent production made with way less resources than a big budget production, and still feels very professionally made by a big company.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, that I can point out. It is very much SFW (Safe For Work), which is to be expected, given the wide range of audiences and ages it is intended for, much like fandom itself.

It’s a film made by people who are very much within the fandom, who try to inform but also spread a message. Perhaps it’s that last bit that doesn’t really make it fully documental in nature. An advertisement or propaganda, it most certainly isn’t, but it does feel a bit promotional. If that is its intent, then that’s ok. But it does bring just a small bit of doubt about its objectivity. Sure, it’s understandable that it’s trying to clear up some misconceptions and stereotypes. But it can feel like sometimes it’s still promoting the fandom while doing it. This is sometimes visible through the more emotional bits, even if it’s not a particularly emotionally charged film, and also through some of the informative bits.

I can also understand that many times, when an outsider tries to make a documentary about the fandom, it doesn’t turn out for the best (examples appear in the film). So, it’s perhaps better if people in the fandom portray it, rather than outsiders, because they know what it’s about and the misinformation about it. But while they can probably paint a more accurate and positive picture, I’m still not sure about how unbiased it will be. It might obscure some parts of the fandom that do need addressing.

If some rough edges and uncomfortable parts about the fandom perhaps weren’t entirely addressed, a heavy-toned film probably just wasn’t what they were aiming at. I think the whole point is to be a very lighthearted quasi-documentary for a wide range of audiences and ages. This is backed by a sometimes mellow yet nicely crafted soundtrack.

Do these faults I’ve mentioned bother me? Not really. It’s just that being a film person and having gone through film school means, inevitably, that every film I see will be subject to some criticism based on what I’ve learned. But it’s not necessarily negative. I like to always analyze and criticize film in a constructive manner, especially when I see a lot of effort was put in, or if I see that the makers did the best they could with what they had.

I guess these criticisms also come from someone who is a relative newcomer to the fandom. I’m a foot in and a foot out of it right now. I’m not saying that I would do it better, but no movie is exempt from criticism, and I try to do it constructively with the aim of improving. Like I said, these faults do not make me dislike this film nor does it make it bad, in any way.

As a side-note, in my opinion, one of the best films about the furry fandom is by Youtuber Fredrik Knudsen, in his video titled “Furry”, from his YouTube-series “Down The Rabbit Hole”. It has a very neutral approach, explaining the fandom’s beginnings, lows, and current state. It offers a very fair and objective assessment which I really enjoyed. And it was mostly done with archive footage and screen captures with voice-over, with no filming being done, but still looking very professional. From a person who is not from the fandom (as far as I know), his film is even less emotional, but not riddled with the inaccuracies or misconceptions the media have and sometimes still portray. In fact, it clearly shows he has done his research, and remains very neutral indeed. I imagine that’s why he won the Ursa Major Award for best Non-Fiction Work of 2018. It is still the best film I’ve seen about the fandom.

That said, the Ursa Major Award for this year’s Non-Fiction Work certainly deserves being awarded to “The Fandom”, unless something better comes out before the next award ceremony. It’s not mind-blowing nor a master-piece, but wasn’t meant to be, I suppose. It’s meant to be a heartwarming, sometimes informative, sometimes documental and a bit promotional film about the furry fandom. It’s very good in some bits, with a very professional look. For what it is, it’s a solid final product. And for me, that’s a very high bar already.

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