Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Worry not, non-gamers, I have not forgotten about you. There will be plenty of Blog Posts, photographs on my Facebook and website, articles and reviews, etc, in the coming weeks that are nothing to do with games.

Games have been a prominent part of my Blog of late due to GEEK 2013, so I have been aiming many of my Posts at that target market.

But, for fans of other media, photography, and more serious journalism, on the way I have

  • The Sci-Fi Weekender Reports, photographs and over-all Review
  • Photographs
    • Snowy shoots
    • Animals and Wildlife shoots
    • People/Modelling shoots
  • Reviews
    • Film
    • Games
    • Television
  • Articles

So, please bare with me. There is more to Illisia Adams than simply gaming!

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Challenge. Accepted.

Quote

“Nothing worth anything in life is ever easy”

This is something that I often say to people, and it defines the very principle by which I live my life. Life is the most worthwhile thing in the world, and is therefore the most difficult.

As I have posted about recently in my article about New Year’s Resolutions, I have suffered many personal issues this past year that have really pushed me from my path of becoming a professional journalist and photographer. Because, life is not easy.

Barney Stinson quote, How I Met Your Mother

“When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story” – Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother

I have made it very clear to myself, my friends, my family, and my readers, that this year I have every intention of finding a balance between my personal and professional life, and earning money from my photography and journalism.

It is not going to be easy, at times it will be darned hard, but it is going to be really worthwhile. So, as Barney Stinson of the How I Met Your Mother television series has said many, many times…

“Challenge Accepted!”

I am breaking down my target into short-term, more achievable goals

  • Advertise my services
  • Gain 200 Likes on my FaceBook Page
  • Update website to have price list, references, etc, to encourage potential paid work
  • Send selection of works from photography and journalistic Portfolios to magazines and newspapers for consideration of publication
  • Brainstorm ideas and write enough “short and sweet” articles to set up the Blog to publish one every week for two months. This will develop my ability to write shorter articles and within a time limit.
  • Type up the interviews from Euro Gamer Expo 2012 and publish them
  • etc, etc, etc – more targets on the way soon!

I shall be posting updates on my progress, which you can follow in my Personal Progress Blog category, Subscribe to my updates with the ‘Stay Informed’ button on my starting page, ‘Follow’ me on my Twitter, or ‘Like’ my Fan Page on FaceBook.

If you have any comments or suggestions to help my in my task, I encourage you to Comment or Message me.

Image credit: Offset-Zero of deviantART

Keeping Up Appearances

Introduction
It has been a couple of months since I published my last article, and a month since my last post, but I fell rather ill, and I apologise for that. I am still ill, but decided “enough is enough” and that I could not go another day without writing, and here is the result. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to provide feedback. Constructive critique is of course encouraged. Thank you.

Article

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES
why having a brilliantly successful television program is no excuse for poor production value

– – – –

I am disappointed. Genuinely disappointed by the fact that I can be watching a “kick ass” science fiction or fantasy show, perhaps a “Dramedy”, whatever it is that I am in the mood for at the time, and yet no matter what the studio, what the genre, or what the program is, as it grows, its budget increases, not, it would seem, so that it can be a better program overal, but so that there can be one or two amazing episodes, and the rest can be relatively standard. It seems that, the more popular the show is, the more it suffers from this affliction.

– – – –

Some of the most popular science fiction television programs ever produced have each had their fair share of “fillersodes”, “clipisodes”, and otherwise poor production value.

Doctor Who was once a program about travelling the universe, and in today’s “Nu Who” you will be lucky to even leave earth more than once or twice a season. Apparently the aliens would rather come to us. Sure, we have these amazing, big budget series openers and finales, but is it worth it if we have to live through episodes which are an insult to our intelligence, such as ‘Love & Monsters’, featuring a Blue Peter competition winning alien who “absorbed” people, full of toilet humour and having practically no screen time for The Doctor?

Stargate: SG1 has a seemedly ongoing joke where every season features a “clipisode”, an episode where the plot demands that clips from this and prior seasons be shown. It should be noted that Power Rangers does this very same thing. The plot is usually a good cover up for the need for clips, but is it really necessary?

Star Trek is another example. Pointless low budget episodes are abound, especially in experimental prequel series Star Trek: Enterprise.

Even the modern Battlestar Galactica, hailed by critics and fans as “perfect” suffered setbacks with episodes such as their Fight Club-style filler, ‘Unfinished Business’ where the characters face off in a boxing ring. It really upset the overal pace, although to be fair it did fill a lot of gaps in character development and the finale was clearly better for it.

– – – –

Low budget “fillersodes” filling the gap before the series finale are not always bad things, however. One fan told me “If done right they can bring something new to the table”. The best example that comes to mind is that Doctor Who also featured two episodes in the Tenth Doctor’s fourth series – ‘Midnight’ and ‘Turn Left’ – which were brilliant, edge-of-your-seat, yet clearly budgeted episodes.

So, why can all of these “fillersodes” not be “done right”? Or why not cut out these big budget, some may even say over-the-top finales and openers entirely, so that every episode can be just as good as the next? I understand all too well how visually breathtaking these can be and how, to be quite honest, I do look forward to them, but is it truly worth it if I have to sit through such rubbish in the process?

Really, do we need The Doctor encountering witches? Do we need the SG1 team sitting through a meeting – yes, an entire episode was dedicated to a meeting – discussing episodes that we have already seen? Do we need the scripted toilet humour, the poorly designed monsters, the fillers and the clips, even if it means having the so-called “epic” episodes?..

Some fans say yes, stating that it “give[s] them something crazy to do” with their big budgets, some say no, that it is “pure money saving and a waste of space”. It is clearly a matter of personal preference.

– – – –

I for one, though, feel as though this is a disease spreading across our television screens. Earlier seasons of most programs do not suffer it. They may not have these amazing, big budget finales or openers, but they do have good overal production value. Not one episode suffers from cheap jokes or poor effects or characters mysteriously disappearing because the budget meant they could not afford the actor for the entirety of the season.

And yet, as these “good overal” programs grow, so does their budget, and, in turn, the affliction hits them like the common cold, and I find myself weaping for their loss.

Merlin, for instance, was never a brilliant program, but it has always been quite enjoyable and I considered no particular episode to be “bad” as such. But, as the seasons went on, the budget rose, and I found that there were a lot of tightly budgeted episodes with practically no magic – and therefore no special effects – involved, so that they could do their big budget finales. I even turned off an episode ten minutes in that involved a creature causing general havok around the castle, because of its appalling use of toilet humour, how it belittled our beloved characters, and how downright insulting the plot was to my intelligence. And yet suddenly, come the season finale, it became clear why they suffered their viewers such an episode.

– – – –

Science fiction and fantasy television are not the only genres to suffer this. Even common household names such as Eastenders have their big-budget episodes with their car crashes, murders and weddings, which is (apparently) great viewing, but the fault here is the fact that many of the other episodes are drull, lacking in any of the drama that soap operas are renouned for because all of the budgeting for the talented writers, the “guest appearances”, the special effects, etc, went towards one or two episodes instead of being spread throughout all of them.

No channel, no genre, seems safe from this contagion.

– – – –

I understand that every program has a budget and that budget must be calculated with relation to what the writing entails – the people hired to work with each episode, the pay-grade of the stars, etc – but a loss of quality means a loss of viewers, it really is that simple, so why can the studios and channels not realise this and spread the budget evenly instead of wasting it? It feels as though they are a person with the funding for an entire wardrobe who decides they are going to “splash out” on one particular, more expensive item, and the rest of the wardrobe will suffer for that budget cut.

Why not follow by good example? Time Team, a popular, long-running Channel 4 documentary about hunting for history in people’s back gardens, decided to do some “Specials” in amungst the standard episodes in bigger places, such as the Cantenbury dig, which took them months, not days, to complete. Once the popularity of these Specials grew, the normal, lower budget episodes seemed sub-par, so they were cut completely. Now the program places its entire budget into big projects, and the viewing figures are far higher, because it is obvious that consistent quality sells better to the public. They decided to spread their budget over a few really brilliant episodes instead of dozens of “okay” episodes followed by one big-budget special, and it really, really works.

– – – –

In conclusion, enjoyable though these big-budget episodes may be, I feel as though the overal quality is far more important, and I am not alone. The general concensus amung fans, reflected in the viewing figures and internet chatter all show that the public are more inclined to stay with a program that is consistent with its quality than “tune-in” to one that will waste a large percentage of its budget purely for the visual spectacle of one or two episodes, and try to cheat them into watching poor production value for the rest of the series.

We, the viewing public, are not unintelligent. We know what we enjoy, and with the wide variety of programs available to us every day, do these studios and channels really want to take the chance of losing viewers for the poor quality episodes simply to increase figures for the ones that have the budget? With the advancement of “streaming” technology and all the different channels available it is so easy to lose us and never get us back.

Perhaps the industry aught to think about concentrating on overal quality if they want to keep those viewing figures, and in turn the money, rolling in.

Special Thanks
Many thanks to all of the people that provided me with their opinions and facts for this particular article. It is greatly appreciated.

Feedback
It is important that I receive feedback from my readers. I would truly appreciate any feedback at all that you can provide me. Posting comments of encouragement, or constructively critiquing my efforts. I really want to further myself as a writer and with your help I can.

Thank you.

Write What You Know

I have been scouring the internet looking for more “inspirational quotes” as I seem to get the most clicks onto my Blog for those and I think people really like them.

I found that the most common, famous quote for many writers who are trying to inspire fellow pen smiths appears to be

“Write what you know”

Many famous authors, poets, journalists, etc, have said this, and to a certain degree, I think it is really valuable advice. Sometimes it seems obvious that a writer would find it easiest to write about their life, their experiences, their opinions… but the fact is, “easiest” is not always best.

So, my “inspirational quote” for you today is not that of a famous writer, but that of my own, from me, aspiring writer, to you, my fellow aspiring writers, or even to those of you that are already professionals in the field.

“Write what you do not know”

Illisia Adams

“Why advise this?” you might be questioning me presently. I shall answer.

A good writer writes well when they are writing from their personal experiences and opinions (etc). A great writers writes from the experiences of others, from their imagination, from outside their comfort zone.

I think that this is especially important for journalists. I have read so many articles in the past where the writer is clearly of a certain opinion, writing about an event or a film or a lifestyle, etc, that is not to their taste, and although it is their professional requirement to be neutral, especially when they are an informative journalist (as opposed to a journalist who reviews films, for instance), many seem far too opinionated.

I have been writing a lot of articles about my opinion on certain topics, and as much as I feel this is my strongest writing, I have looked at my work and have decided (as I posted about recently) that I need to test myself, to stretch my experience and knowledge, to delve into more factual articles that require much research, quotes, etc. What good am I as a journalist if I cannot vary my writing for different topics and styles? Inside the press room, your Editor will give you a task, and you do it. You do not complain that it is not something that you are interested in, and the finished product should always be something that you can be proud of, that you can say you put all your heart into, even if it was difficult.

Even writers of fiction should heed my advice. C S Lewis, best known for his Narnia books, was also a writer of science fiction. Steven King, the best selling horror author in history, has also written some stunning thrillers which have been made into successful films. Yes, fantasy was Lewis’ strongest genre, and horror will always be King’s, but even they knew this…

“A good writer writes well when they write what they know… but a great writer writes well when they write what they don’t.”
Illisia Adams

Article Progress – March 2012

This month might be the beginning of my journalistic journey, but I have been a busy bee every day. I have lots of ideas, and some are coming along into fruition quite nicely.

  • Margate Is My Home Nowthe story of a disabled citizen making a new start in one of the most “run down” cities in the country
        – A personal account of my move from London – where I have spent almost the entirety of my life – to Margate, one of the most “run down” towns in the country.
        – This was the first article that I penned after my move. I had been suffering writer’s block for quite some time in my old residency, so it seemed only natural when I was inspired by the change in surroundings and lifestyle that I write an article about it.
      – I am almost finished redrafting; adding finer details, shortening some of the longer paragraphs that seemed to upset the pacing. I hope to have this posted in the coming days.
  • Keeping Up Appearances : why having a brilliant successful television program is no excuse for poor production value
        -A discussion of how much of television seems obsessed with the highly budgeted series finale, and less bothered by overall production value, and how this effects the fans.
      – I have finished my first draft, but there seems to be something missing. I think this article needs a quote or two, so I am going to be “asking around” for fan opinions, and, if I feel bold enough, I may even send a few emails and ask for more “official” quotes from television studios.
  • Three Is The Magic Numberwhy series three is where good television becomes brilliant
        – A discussion of a theoretical “pattern” in television production where series three denotes bigger budget, “Special Guest Stars”, better writers, etc.
      – I have almost finished the first draft of this, though I lack a conclusive section for my article. I appear to have hit a brick wall in terms of where I want the article to actually lead, but I am determined to have it finished.

If any of my readers have any questions, creative contributions, comments of encouragement or general suggestions, please feel free to Comment. Thank you.