One of the weirder parts of an actor’s life has to be this: Knowing that if the film or TV show they’re on has a fanbase, then some fans of that film or TV show will choose to express their love by writing fan fiction (erotic fan fiction, even). Sometimes, journalists or talk show hosts will make actors read these stories out loud, as a “funny” joke. Sometimes that gets awkward and embarrassing. But sometimes it can be genuinely fun.
Right now, “Firefly” favorite Alan Tudyk is aiming for something genuinely fun in order to make good on one part of his incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign for the Vimeo VOD series “Con Man.” Almost a year ago, Tudyk promised that he would read some fan fiction in a video if they hit a specific goal, and that day has now come in the form of a fanfic contest.
Per host site Inkitt, one lucky writer will win the following:
Alan Tudyk will record himself reading one chapter of the winning fan fiction personally addressed to the winner. The winner will also receive a poster and a copy of a “Con Man” script signed by Alan Tudyk as part of the winnings on the site.
Two runner-ups will receive “Con Man” swag and other honors. But if you were planning on submitting your latest bit of “X-Files” fan fiction, rethink that: The contest is only open to stories set in the worlds of “Firefly,” “Con Man” or “Spectrum,” the latter being the fake sci-fi show that starred “Con Man’s” Wray (played by Tudyk) and kicked off his professional life as a fan convention attendee.
Bringing fanfic into the mix with “Con Man” is an intriguing move, given the show’s exploration of fan culture, inspired by Tudyk’s own dealings with the world of “Firefly” fans and fan conventions.
The contest is being run through publishing site Inkitt, which primarily hosts original fiction. When this story was filed, after one day there are already 30 stories posted (the vast majority of which are for “Firefly”). Eventually, after a round of public voting, according to the site, “Alan Tudyk will determine the best story out of these three. The odds of winning are dependent on number of entries, votes accumulated, and Alan Tudyk’s taste in fan fiction.”
As long as there has been storytelling, people have been taking pre-established characters like Hercules or King Arthur and writing their own stories about them. Of course, now that these characters have become not just popular myth, but the property of corporations. It’s a more complicated time.
Thus, with fan fiction contests like these, rights and ownership issues become both important and complex (since people are writing original works using someone else’s intellectual property). In this case, while Inkitt promises authors in its terms of service that “Unless otherwise provided in the terms and conditions of a Special Promotion, you will retain all of your ownership rights in your Content,” that “special promotion” clause does lead to questions. There’s no official language on the “Con Man” contest page regarding ownership rights, but we’ve reached out to Inkitt for clarification, and will update this post accordingly.
An important rule: As seen in the announcement video above, Tudyk explicitly states that the stories in question shouldn’t be, um, explicit. (He flat out says he’s going to throw them away.) So, “Firefly” fans, this is probably not the time to share your “Brokeback Mountain” pastiche starring Mal and Wash (though I’m sure it’s great).