Posts Tagged Dramatic Presentation

Two Hugo Nomination Suggestions

As I’m writing this post, I’m anxiously waiting for my Hugo nomination PIN. So I haven’t filled out a nominating ballot in any official sense, but I have started thinking of some notions of what I’d like to support. I don’t suspect I’ll make much of a difference in the process, but at least I can do what I can to provide some categories with new nominees.

Dramatic Presentation: Short Form. Yes, yes, I know this is my bugaboo category. And, yes, I know it’s going to come down to Day of the Doctor vs The Rains of Castamere, which isn’t actually a bad pairing as Day of the Doctor was head and shoulder above any of the nominated Doctor Who episodes last year. However, I’m still firmly behind giving Welcome to Night Vale some support. Specifically, the two part episode The Sandstorm.

Dramatic Presentation: Long Form. There’s are two categories within Dramatic Presentation that I don’t believe have ever been nominated. One is video games, the other is theatrical presentations. Theater and the Hugos are an awkward combination, as most theatrical shows don’t reach a broad enough audience to make a blip in the Hugo process, but this year I’m going to include one on my ballot. Specifically Mike Daisey’s All The Faces of the Moon. Yes, it’s that Mike Daisey, infamous for forcing This American Life into issuing a rare retraction. The show was a massive monologue delivered over 28 consecutive days and released on podcast. It’s hard to tell where the extemporaneous portions end and the scripted (or, at least, planned) elements begin. The whole of the story takes a gradual veer into urban fantasy, and is a lot of fun.

I don’t expect either of these to end up on the final ballot. Perhaps that’s why I’m pointing them out now, just to demonstrate some support for things other than episodes from the big two television series and Hollywood releases in the dramatic presentation categories.


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Crashing the Hugos

Last two years I’ve paid more and more attention to the Hugo Awards. I’ve sat down and watched the ceremonies, I’ve started reading the past novel winners, I’ve made sure to be educated on several categories before the awards so that I can be disappointed in the results. I’ve now taken the next logical step.

I’ve bought myself a ballot.

That sounds like a bad way of putting things. I purchased a supporting membership for Worldcon 2015, which results in Hugo nominating and voting privileges for 2014-2016, including the upcoming 1939 Retro Hugos. While I’m thrilled for the opportunity to financially support Worldcon…I really did it for the ballots. For the chance to vote.

And the chance to nominate.

That’s where crashing the Hugos come into play. Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis knows the exact category that I’ve had issues with. Dramatic Presentation, specifically Short Form. I know I’m not the first person to suggest an organized nomination push for this category. Those often get labelled, even by those behind them, as protest votes. That’s not my intention. Instead, I’d like to pick out a piece of media that falls within the rules of Short Form and I think is legitimately strong enough to nominate.

In short, I don’t want to think of it as a protest vote. I want to think of it more as an awareness campaign. And what I’ve chosen is the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. If you’re not listening to this podcast…well, statistically you’re listening to this podcast. For a few weeks it unseeded This American Life as the #1 podcast on iTunes, and is still sitting solidly at #2. I didn’t want to go after a piece of media that I didn’t think people would be consuming. As an audio presentation, it is eligible as a Dramatic Presentation, and each of its episodes falls well under the Short Form threshold.

However, if this is going to move forward towards a successful nomination (which it probably won’t, I lack the necessary megaphone) it will need to a concentrated effort. Which means pushing a single episode for nomination. Identifying their best work, and putting any concentrated push we can behind that one episode. The natural choice would be A Story  Of You. Unfortunately that was the last episode on 2012 and thus not eligible. I would currently lean towards either The Sandstorm or One Year Later, but I’m also not entirely caught up.

So…if you’re reading this and interested in helping, a few things you can do.

1) Become a Worldcon member 2014 or 2015 member. Even just a supporting member. Seriously, there’s something awesome about knowing that I get a voice in the Hugo Awards, even if this is what I’m currently choosing to do with it. If you’re looking to maximize your Hugo participation, go with 2015. Right now that’s just $40.

2) If you’re not already listening to Night Vale…seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? Listen to Night Vale. Especially keep an ear out starting with Episode 14 which is the first episode eligible for next year’s Hugos.

3) Give me some thoughts on the best episode to put some votes behind. I’m a big proponent of the one-nominee-per-show rule, so it would be hypocritical of me to push multiple episodes.

Join me, won’t you?

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Hugo Lessons

The Hugos are over and awarded, which means LoneStarCon has posted the numbers behind the nominating and voting processes. Looking through them, a few things stand out to me:

1) I don’t get Hugo voters, or they don’t get me

I had my picks in three categories: novel, dramatic long, and dramatic short. My #1 picks in all three of those categories ended up in last place, either fifth or tied for fourth. Further, in both categories where I sorted the entire field, my #5 pick came in second. So clearly my taste in science fiction differs significantly from the broader Hugo electorate.

2) People vote for the movies they’ve seen

Here are the five Hugo nominees for dramatic presentation long form sorted by box office take:

  1. The Avengers
  2. The Hobbit
  3. Hunger Games
  4. Looper
  5. Cabin in the Woods

Here are the results of the voting:

  1. The Avengers
  2. The Hobbit
  3. Hunger Games
  4. Looper
  5. Cabin in the Woods

I’m not surprised that people vote for the movies that they see, but I was a little surprised to see that the two lists matched exactly. I guess I expected that Hugo voters were more likely than the general public to have seen all five.

3) People submitting nominations don’t know what to do with short movies

Chronicle ended up causing some problems with those filling out nominating ballots. The movie is 85 minutes long, thus it is eligible in the Short Form category. However, people think of the categories not as long and short, but movies and everything else. Thus Chronicle ended up on 35 nominating ballots as a long form, 22 short form. Now, add those together (which you can’t do) and it doesn’t even come close to the ballot cutoff, but I think it drives home the need for more clarification in these categories. I understand some attempt was made to change the dramatic presentation categories, but by adding “super short form” for presentations under 15 minutes.

4) It’s VorPAtril, not VORpÉ™tril

I’ve been saying it wrong this whole time.

5) Kill your darlings

Alright, look, the dramatic presentations went to Joss Whedon and George RR Martin. I don’t know what other lesson to take away from that other than…kill everyone.

6) I want a ballot

It doesn’t take much to get one. Now that Worldcon 2015 has been awarded to Spokane, I’m going to keep an eye out for when supporting memberships go on sale, which should get me Hugo nominating and voting rights for the next three Worldcons. Including the 1939 Retro Hugos announced for next year.



Hugos: A Dramatic Presentation

I’m not a Hugo voter. I never have been. It’s not an exclusive club by any means, one just needs to buy a Worldcon membership. Not even attend or intend to attend. Each Worldcon tends to offer a membership level for those who don’t plan on attending but want a chance to vote for the Hugo awards. You can, quite literally, buy a ballot. One of these years, when I feel I have the income to spare, I’ll become at least a voting member of Worldcon so that I may nominate and vote.

So I have no agency when it comes to nominating for the Hugos. Or the voting for the Hugos. Certainly I have no agency when it comes to how the Hugos are conducted, that process involves an open meeting at Worldcon so does require attendance. I say this before setting down to my main point: the Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation is broken, and needs to be fixed.

In 1958, Solacon saw the first Hugo Award for Dramatic Presentation. It went to the movie The Incredible Shrinking Man. This new Hugo category recognized that the basis of any dramatic presentation is its writing. Until 2002 it was a single category and winners included movies, episodes of TV series, entire seasons of TV series, and even the news coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Starting with the 2003 Hugo Awards the category was split into Long Form and Short Form, with the defining line of 90 minutes.

In practical terms this means that there’s a Hugo category for movies, and a Hugo category for television episodes. Oh, it doesn’t always work that way. Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) has included a web series, a YouTube video, even an acceptance speech from the previous Hugo ceremony. The Short Form category Hugo has been awarded to eight television episodes, the made-for-the-internet series Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, and Gollum’s acceptance speech at the MTV movie awards. However, for the most part, it’s movies and television episodes. Since the split only two Long Form nominees weren’t movies (both were entire seasons of a TV show nominated as a unit), and only nine Short Form nominees weren’t TV episodes.

Lately that means Doctor Who episodes.

Wait wait wait, Whovians and Wholigans, before you crucify me, understand that I am one of you. I love the show. However, since the relaunch of the series, 22 episodes have been nominated. 2009 is the last year to see only two episodes nominated.

This isn’t specifically a Doctor Who problem, the show is just the latest incarnation of a phenomenon that dates back to the 1968 awards when all five nominees were episodes of the original Star Trek. Enterprise, Firefly, and Angel have also all been double nominated since the Long Form/Short Form split. With the exception of Star Trek landing eight nominations in two years, no show has ever dominated the nominations more than Doctor Who. No show has ever dominated the nominations for as long. And I think that’s a detriment to other shows and to the award.

Fringe, one of the best science fiction shows of the last decade, got its first and last nomination this year. That ties it with Community. Continuum, an original and compelling time travel drama from Canada saw no nominations. Eureka came and went without a single nomination.

I see three potential fixes for the Dramatic Presentation category. Fix number one: a cap in place for the number of episodes a series can have nominated in a single year. Yes, it would be immediately called the “Doctor Who Rule,” I’m sure. Yes, it would see some outcry, and I doubt this proposal could get through the rule amendment process. Which is a shame, as there’s plenty of fantastic science fiction on television that isn’t being recognized.

Fix number two? This is unrelated to the Who dominance. I think there needs to be a clarification of eligibility.

No video game has ever been nominated for a Hugo Award. Ever. io9 ran a series of posts about this a few months ago, and the answers ranged from “but they’re not eligible” to “should they be long or short form” to “they don’t have the same exposure.” The last issue isn’t going to go away by action of the Hugo committee, but the first two can. They absolutely are eligible, it’s right there in the text for the award. A dramatic presentation is defined as, “a dramatized production in any medium, including film, television, radio, live theater, computer games or music.” That there are nominators who might not know they’re eligible is hurdle one. Hurdle two can be solved by some clarification as to how to count a video game. Are we talking just the cut scenes? The full play-through length of a game? The latter is problematic because it varies from player to player.

There are other problems clarification could solve. 90 minutes is the dividing line, however the 2011 winner for Short Form was roughly 105 minutes long. In 2012, Game of Thrones was nominated as a season for Long Form, in 2013 a single episode was nominated for Short Form. Movies that are under 90 minutes, such as Safety Not Guaranteed have no clear home, ineligible for long form and likely overlooked for Short Form.

I think all of these have a single solution, which is my fix number three. Split the category one more time so there are three Dramatic Presentation Hugos:

  • Theatrical Presentation for works originally released on the big screen.
  • Televised Presentation for works originally intended for television, with a one episode per show cap. Nominations would work the way Emmy nominations work. One episode of a longer series, one portion of a miniseries, or the entirety of a made-for-TV movie. Want a good eligibility rule of thumb? A nominee can only have a single set of opening and closing credits.
  • Special Presentation for all other presentations, including video games, animated shorts, web videos, and whatever other silliness the nominators want to include. Basically it’s a home for the other nine nominees that have been featured in the Short Form category in a fabulously eclectic category.

So I’m creating an addition award sub-category. This is with fine precedent. In 1963 the written fiction awards expanded from three categories to four. In 2002, Dramatic Presentation split into Long and Short Form. In 2007, Professional Editor followed suit.

Perhaps we’d still see Doctor Who dominating as winner of Television Presentation, but that’s not a problem. If the voters legitimately think it is producing the best episodes of television, then it should. Some might argue this makes Doctor Who even more powerful, as there’s not chance of a vote split (not that this has cost it Hugos in the past). However, it would be nice to see other shows are least get some recognition that science fiction and fantasy exist on television. And it would give a clear home to worthy nominees that live on the outskirts of the current categories.

I don’t expect any of these changes to happen, but it feels good just to talk about them. Agree? Disagree? Have any Hugo categories you’d change? I’ll be in the comments waiting to hear.



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