BLOG Quit With All These Unoffical Set Photos Please!

SFX Blogger Steven Ellis isn’t keen on how the mobile phone revolution is ruinin his enjoyment of films

I’ve noticed this new trend of showing dodgy photos and camera phone footage of films not due out for ages. These photos and footage are wrapped up in the guise of news, both here on the SFX site and in many other places across the net when they seem like they’re little more than sneaky opportunist photos or film taken by people who just happen to be in the right place at the right time. I’m not sure I like it.

Never mind the potential of spoilery stuff getting out; I’ve already learned a bit more about some films than I wanted to know this far out. I think this stuff can give a very different view of an upcoming film than the company making it wants to show and it can generate some pretty negative views. Especially considering these films aren’t due out until next summer or later.

I’d prefer to be surprised when I see film. I don’t mind officially released material, I know that’s not going to give the game away; it’s going to whet my appetite for the film. I remember the days before the internet and the instant news item. When Starlog and Starburst were my only source of news. And we’d go into a film knowing next to nothing about it. Nice glossy shots and a few interviews were all we had. But I preferred that, rather than have my first opinions of a new film coloured by these terrible grainy images that pop up more and more often these days. I think they give a very false view of the film in question. I’ve seen people judging whole films on one or two dodgy pictures.

Take the first shot of Judge Dredd which appeared on the net earlier this year – a grainy, badly-lit shot of Karl Urban. Not the best of first images for a new film and the internet geek reaction was quite bad. Understandably so – the shot was rubbish. But because of that photo (and the fat Judge on the bike and several other photos) many people have formed a negative opinion of the film more than a year before the film is due out and before anything official was ever released. The later official stuff did go some way to rectify this, but still some damage was done. Now I know not everyone forms these negative views, but the potential is there, and the negative views, especially with regards Dredd, have certainly been throw far and wide on the net.

I wonder if we need this kind of stuff leaked a year plus prior to release? I get that everybody is walking round with technology in there pocket to film or snap a photo, and I get that if one sci-fi site shows the stuff then others kind of have to follow suit or they miss out on this so-called news. But it kind of makes it hard to avoid stuff that some may consider spoilery and it also shows things that aren’t presented under the best of circumstances. Take the recent film of a chase sequence for the new Batman film; silent shots of cars (and other things I really didn’t want to find out about yet thanks) zooming down streets, no effects, no music, no context. What are we supposed to take from these shots? I’m sure these aren’t part of the cinema experience the film makers want to bring to us.

The film companies themselves don’t help, with teaser trailers being released over the summer touting films not due out until next summer. I’ve seem people get very excited over the new Batman teaser when it really was nothing more than a heads-up advert. But with such a long lead in time, and with everyone and their uncle looking to get the latest scoop to throw up on the internet, the companies are kind of leaving themselves open to this kind of thing. They generate the hype so people want more, and if the film company aren’t going to release it then some bloke with a camera phone will. But with such lead in times can these things live up to the expectations; can they manage to keep enough secrets to hold expectation when others are peppering the net with these dodgy photos?

Don’t look at them you might say, don’t click on the link. And sure in the past I didn’t and wouldn’t, but when sites show these scoops it’s very hard to avoid them if they’re packaged on the front page with the image or the video right there for all to see.

I find lately that I enjoy films I’ve not hear much about more than the big “see it coming over a year away” affairs. The smaller quieter films that don’t have a hype to live up to and so I go in with less expectations and they always impress me.

I completely understand that these things need teasers and cast and costume shots releasing to advertise the films, and I understand that some people want to bring unofficial scoops to show the world. But I really think less is more sometimes.

So what do you think? I don’t know if it’s right or wrong, some people are suckers for spoilers and scoops of this nature, some aren’t Are these scoops really something you want to see, do you avoid them like the plague, or at the very least do you want them hidden and only viewable if you click through to them so you decide if you want to see them?