THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 747, December 1, 2013
Gun control has only one purpose:
to intimidate and control the Productive Class.
Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
About three weeks ago, J. Neil Schulman wrote about a negative review that he received on his new movie "Alongside Night" by Davi Barker. Barker pretty much raked everything from the acting to the production values to the lighting over the coals. Everything short of the food catering (as Brad Linaweaver put it) was ravaged by Barker's review. Barker wasn't even satisfied with just trashing "Alongside Night", but he also trashed Schulman's first movie, "Lady Magdalene's" along with Brad Linaweaver's web series, "Silicon Assassins". What seem to irritate Schulman the most about the review was the attack on the production values, which he felt was an attack on the crew that worked with him on the movie. Schulman is also angry at Pasha Roberts because the review was on his Silver Circle blog site and he refuses to defend Schulman's work or allow him to post a rebuttal on the site. Since Schulman has shown much support for Robert's new movie, "The Silver Circle", he feels somewhat betrayed by Roberts' refusal to allow any form of damage control.
Before I weigh in on this situation, I want to point out that I have always tried my best to show support to both independent novelists and filmmakers, especially those who are involved in the freedom movement. I show my support by purchasing their products or by reviewing them online to give them a little more exposer. I have also had much appreciation for independent films, such as "Blair Witch Project" (though I am sick of its imitators) and Kevin Smith's "Clerks". Both of these movies had nothing but the bare necessities to work with, yet both movies were appealing and memorable.
I think it's worth pointing out that independent movies have to be judged on a slightly different curve then big budget Hollywood films. They usually don't have the money for the most advanced special effects or the best production values. The reason why I mention this is because I don't think Barker took any of this into account when he brutally panned Schulman's latest movie. To be fair I haven't had the opportunity to see "Alongside Night", though it is based on one of my favorite novels. So far I have only seen the trailers, so I can't really judge the quality of the movie. From what I have read of Barker's review it seems as if he was judging it on the same standards as a hundred million dollar blockbuster and not a movie with a limited budget.
This is the same frustration that I have had with libertarians who have trashed the adaptations of "Atlas Shrugged". I thought people were unjustly harsh towards these movies, considering that they weren't exactly operating under the same budget as a James Cameron movie.
Before I conclude this article I would like to offer some advice to Neil. I know that it feels somewhat disheartening to have one of your fellow libertarians trash your work. I can also understand why you feel betrayed by the very man that you have shown so much support to and yet he refuses to give any in return. However, you shouldn't let any of it bother you. You know the old sayings. Everybody is a critic. Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one. Personally, I prefer the last expression. I can also understand why you felt the need to defend the crew that you worked with on the movie. While I thought it was noble that you stuck for your crew, you still shouldn't let Barker's criticism bother you. Besides, if the crew was as experienced and as professional as you say they were, then I am pretty sure that they have heard it all before.
I have never been in the independent film business, Neil, but I do know that you need to have some pretty thick skin if you are going to be in the business. The one interesting thing that my creative writing teacher used to say is that the world is infested with Simon Cowell types who take great joy in tearing down your dreams.
I would strongly recommend not responding to bad reviews, and just ignore them. I remember reading somewhere, (can't remember exactly, but I think it was a writing magazine) where writers were advised not to respond to negative reviews. The reason is that it shows that the writer can't take any form of criticism, which may put off potential readers who may be interested in his work. In your case I know that it had more to do with your need to defend your crew, then not being able to take any criticism, which is admirable. Still, once your film is shown to a wider audience, the criticism is just going to increase, much of which will be negative since many mainstream critics like to turn their noses up at libertarian ideas. All you can do is keep your head up and let all the negative criticism wash right over you. By the way, I look forward to the time that I finally get to see the adaptation to one of my favorite novels. Any chance of it being shown in the Houston area any time soon?