Fan Vidding: A Labor Of Love (Part One)

Project New Media Literacies has been collaborating with the Organization for Transformative Works to develop a series of short documentaries, designed for inclusion in our Learning Library, which explain the phenomenon of fan vidding. These videos have been produced by Francesca Coppa and Laura Shapiro, both long time contributors to vidding culture. Their stated goal is to introduce vidding to a larger public, whether in support of the classroom and after-school deployment of our resources for promoting the new media literacies or as a tool within fandom for passing along the craft and poetics of vidding to future generations or for that matter, as resources for teaching about participatory culture in undergraduate and graduate classes.

We’ve been delighted by the level of enthusiastic support this project has received from the vidding community — some of whom shared time with the production team via fan conventions and others sent in footage of themselves working in their homes. Over the next two installments, I am going to be sharing these videos with my readers. The videos are designed to be relatively self-contained, though in the context of our learning library, we hope they will eventually be linked with creative activities designed to encourage participants to try their hand at appropriating and remixing media content.

Here’s some of Francesca Coppa’s thoughts about the process of producing these videos:

We made these videos–well, like vidders; collaboratively. The OTW put together a project and together we brainstormed what questions to ask. I shot some footage, but we also sent cameras around (vidders are, after all, visually smart people.) Other people used their own cameras and interviewed their friends, and still others used webcams. Laura all did the hard work of editing; she’s totally the rock at the center of this project. AbsoluteDestiny is a superhero; he did the audio-postproduction. We got our drafts betaed by our friends who are vidders.

We premiered all six segments in a show at Vividcon, 2008, and everyone seemed to like them. OTW is developing a vidding project page on the OTW site, and we hope to have them streaming there as well in the near future.

While these videos do not explicitly address the issue of gender and fandom, it should be clear from watching them what a high percentage of the people who produce and consume fan vids are female (women of all ages, professional backgrounds, and races), who work individually and collectively to sustain this particular set of remix practices. Francesca Coppa comments::

We were happy to showcase the female-domination of vidding (so rare and different from fan–and regular–filmmaking; still male dominated) and I think we do a pretty good job of showing some of the key ways vidders intervene in popular culture. I will say, too, that more and more, when I think about vidding, I shorthand it as “It’s the network, stupid.” I think the network of vidders–who are mostly women willing to teach other women the technical ins and outs, to share practical information and expertise–is really inspiring. I think women really need to see other women as filmmakers and artists. I know I would never have dared to think about making these OTW/NML videos if I hadn’t had someone sit me down in front of a computer a few years ago and say, “No, really, it’s not that hard. I’ll show you how.”

I hope middle and high school girls will see these videos and think–I want to do that! That looks like fun. *g*


  1. This is a terrific video series; I’m so glad it’s out there.

  2. Laura Shapiro says:

    I do want to mention that both Francesca and I were disappointed not to be able to interview more vidders of color for this project. Although I “advertised” fairly broadly within my own community for contributors and interviewees, I didn’t focus enough on reaching out to vidders of color specifically.

    We did try to include characters of color in our vid excerpts as much as possible, but I still feel it was not enough. Fortunately, more and more vidders are featuring characters of color in their work, and using songs by artists of color, but we have a long way to go before we reach any kind of parity.

    I talk a little bit more about this here, as part of International Blog Against Racism Week.

  3. Laura, I’m so glad you said that. Because as I watched these excellent videos I found myself a little overwhelmed at all the whiteness, and I admit surprised, knowing that both you and Francesca are aware of issues around race and fandom. I remember seeing your post during IBARW, but there’s a difference between reading about the discrepancy and seeing it.

  4. Laura Shapiro says:

    Thanks, Deborah. As you can see from my IBARW post, I am not aware of more than a handful of vidders of color in my community. I would like to be more plugged into other vidding communities, encountering more diversity of artistic style and concept as well as racial diversity. I’m not sure how to bridge the gap between the traditional vidding community in which I grew up, and what’s going on on YouTube, MySpace, and other places. But I know there are more vidders of color out there, and I want to connect to them.

  5. goinglikesixty says:

    I don’t get it.

    Isn’t this just mixing video and audio? A mashup? What you do when you audio swap on

    If you’re trying to spread the word about “vidding”, why? If it’s art, it doesn’t need an evangelist.

    If one was to promote filmmaking, would one promote black and white filmmaking over color? or live action vs. animation?

    Old, white, male, signing off. (I thought I would say it before another commenter did.)

  6. Those were great, and I have at least one new vid to track down and download now 😀