Hey guys, John here. This one is kind of a long personal post regarding questions I’ve got from a lot of you guys. It’s one I’ve meant to do for a while, and since today appears to be a rather slow news day (not a lot worth talking about really) I thought I do this one now. Actually, this is sort of 3 posts I’ve been meaning to do based on your questions and emails, but I thought I’d combine them into one since they all sort of interconnect.
WHAT THE MOVIE BLOG IS AND WHAT IT IS NOT
There is often a lot of confusion regarding what The Movie Blog really is. When I started the site over 4 years ago (man time flies), the purpose of it was to be my blog. You see, I was blogging before most people ever even heard the term… but I realized most of my posts were about movies, the movie world and my experiences with it. I decided to create a totally different blog just to put all my thoughts, opinions and experiences with movies and the movie world. I did a search and was lucky enough to get “The Movie Blog.Com” as my domain name and proceeded blogging all my personal movie related stuff there, and then everything else with my life on my other blog.
The Movie Blog is just that… it’s my blog. From time to time I’ve had other people join in on the fun, but its still always been my blog. Sharing my thoughts, experiences and opinions on movies and movie news.
The Movie Blog is not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be a news site. Yes, a by-product of reading The Movie Blog is that you end up getting the news (since I reference it before giving my opinion on it), but I’m not a reporter, I’ve never pretended to be a journalist, I don’t “break scoops”, I don’t go to press conferences and hell… even at Comic Con I skipped most of the sessions and ALL the roundtable interviews I was offered because that stuff just doesn’t interest me at all. It’s not who I am… it’s not what I do. I was far more interested in the personal EXPERIENCES at Comic Con. Meeting people, hanging out with folks.
Hell, I met Jessica Alba quickly at a damn press event, but I had FAR more fun hanging out with Peter (Slashfilm), Alex and his crew from FirstShowing, Vic (Screenrant), Kevin (Cinematical) and Jen (Rotten Tomatoes) at that little party I put together (and yeah it was cool that half the Heroes cast showed up too). I much prefer standing around talking with Milo Ventimigilia for a half hour than spending 3 hours at press event. And that sums up what I am. I’m a film fan who loves personal experiences far more than “reporting the news”. And The Movie Blog is my outlet for talking about those experiences, my thoughts, my opinons, my point of view when it comes to this whole big movie world.
Sometimes even I lose focus on what the site is, and then I try to quickly get back on track. Remember that new design I had up a few weeks ago for a while? I LOVED that design. A lot of you seemed to love it too… but the longer I had it up there… the more I realized it made the site feel like a news site instead of a blog. It had beautiful functionality, it ran super slick and made my life easier… but in the end, it just wasn’t a BLOG… so I changed it back to this design you see now.
I’ve taken a lot of shit from some people over the years because I don’t run my blog “professional” enough. Or according to what they think a “movie news site” should be. I’ve always tried to tell them that I have no intention of being “professional”, and that I’m not a “news site”… but some people just don’t get it. This is MY BLOG. About me and my thoughts, opinions and experiences… just like anyone else’s blog, except I just do it in regards to movies. Which leads us to…
THE HARD PARTS OF DOING THE MOVIE BLOG
Over the last few years I’ve literally received hundreds of emails from people who ask me the question “What are the biggest challenges of running The Movie Blog” (or some close derivative to that)? There are a few.
1) Being a target
When you are willing to get a discussion started by putting your own neck on the line by putting your opinion out there for the public to see, some people see that as an opportunity to act like 6 year olds and make personal attacks on you. In the internet world we call that “flaming”. It’s really frustrating when mental invalids take a topic that I raise, and then try to make the discussion about ME. For example, recently we had a topic about the girl who was caught red handed taking out her camera and recording parts of The Transformers in a movie theater. The question was “should this girl be punished”? There were some solid points raised by both sides, until someone decided to make the discussion about me personally (because I once admitted to watching a pirated DVD that a friend brought over). That’s frustrating. Or just the more dull flamers who decide to take a top 10 list or some other opinion I posted and take the opportunity to launch off on some diatribe about how I don’t know anything… yadda yadda yadda. It’s frustrating.
2) Online In-Fighting
This one really depresses me. When movie websites decide it’s ok to publicly attack other movie websites. Just this last week, two well known sites, run by guys I have a good relationship with, both started taking swings at each other publicly from their respective websites. That’s disheartening. Or worse… personally… when another website decides to launch an attack on me.
Here’s an example. Last year, this guy, who I had always said nice things about… promoted his website from The Movie Blog and interacted with… out of nowhere wrote an article about how big of an asshole John Campea is… how I’m basically hitler incarnate… yadda yadda yadda. It was a long scathing article… from a guy I had always endorsed, spoke positively of and promoted. It was VERY hurtful, humiliating and disappointing. I know we’re supposed to put on a mask and make it look like that shit doesn’t bother us… but it did bother me. It hurt me, and it disappointed me. When I started to dig a little I found out why he did it. Why he launched sucha personal, hateful, hurtful and outright pussy attack on me. Are you ready for this? Because when I referenced a story on his site once, I said the name of his site, instead of his name personally. Yup… it was that shallow. Because I said “This story comes to us from (name of website)”, instead of “This story comes to us from (names of the guy) from (name of the website)” he decided to get on his site, rip me a new one, call me names, insult my site, me and anyone who reads my site.
Yet, not once did I say a bad word about him. Even after he attacked me. My only response was “he’s a good writer, I’m disappointed in his actions, he’s entitled to his opinion”. That was it. I had some harsher words for him privately… but publicly I refused to lower myself to his level and get involved in public shit slinging. Because when you sling shit, everyone ends up smelling like shit. This scenario has happened a couple of times, but I guess I should count myself lucky that it hasn’t happened more. Today, that site in question is just a shell of what is used to be (which is a shame, cause the other guy who wrote for it was just awesome) and the guy in question has faded into relative total obscurity… and the world is better for it.
I don’t mind actors or studios taking shots at movie blogs… but in the same community you shouldn’t be attacking each other. That’s just the way I see things. Friendly jabbing is fine, constructive criticism is fine… but the venom soaked attacks we’ve seen just aren’t cool… and they make doing what I do harder, and makes it less fun for the people who read our sites to come to our community.
It makes it hard to love the movies when you basically lose all respect for those that make them. Studios make it very hard to love the movies sometimes. Now, I should mention that there are some wonderful studios out there that I really enjoy communicating with. Studios like Lionsgate, The Weinstiens, Lakeshore Entertainment, MGM and a few others. And even the worst studios (like Warner Bros.) have some good people there, so I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush. But honestly, the games a lot of them play is frustrating beyond all words.
To some of these studios its all a big game, and they see themselves as holding all the cards. One studio in particualr, who knew I was at Comic Con, didn’t invite me to a single one of their press events (not that I would have gone anyway, but still). When I ran into one of the people I knew from that studio, they asked if I was going to go to one of the roundtable interviews, I said no because i wasn’t invited… they proceeded to tell me that the reason for that is because the more upper ranked people at the studio didn’t like what I said on The Movie Blog about (NAME OF MOVIE HERE). So that’s how some of these studios like to play the game. Either play ball their way, or they don’t want anything to do with you. Suits me fine, but it’s still frustrating that there are stupid people out there who think that way.
On the other hand you get studios like Lakeshore who once sat down with me with 2 of their directors and told me straight up to my face: “If we make a bad movie, you fucking call it like you see it and say so or I’ll punch you”. A guy from Lionsgate and I were talking about one of their movies… and he flat out said: “Holy shit did we fuck that movie up”. Do Lakeshore or Lionsgate always make the best movie? No chance… but they have great attitudes.. they love the movies… and they love people talking about the movies, good or bad. And that attitude and outlook will make those types of studios grow and develop a hell of a lot better than a “We can do no wrong, and you shall speak no evil of us, no matter how evil we are” attitude some of these studios have.
There was even this one time that a MAJOR studio invited me to a party for one of their movies. Apparently I was the only web media guy allowed in. So I went to the party… hung out with the stars… enjoyed the evening and I liked the movie. The next day I wrote a big post about the night, how good the movie was and how people should see it when it comes out. All good right? Well… a few days later that studio calls me and asks me why I haven’t written MORE about it. They reminded me they had to pull a lot of strings to get me into that party, and that I should give the movie more coverage. WTF!?!?! So basically they thought I OWED them because they got me into a stupid party?!?! Fuck that. I immediately cut off communications with that studio for over a year and stayed cut off from them until recently.
They do lots of other stuff that makes it hard to be a fan. But still, no matter how evil and awful a studio is (ie Warner Bros.), if they make a good movie, I’ll still call it a good movie. I try not to confuse the two or cross the lines of my appreciation for the work vs. my appreciation (or lack thereof) of the people behind it.
I’ve had a bunch of questions about the biggest failures around here at The Movie Blog too. When you try lots of things, that means odds are a bunch of those things will fail. Failure is hard. Failure hurts. Failure is embarrassing, humiliating and makes you feel like 2 inches tall. Failure is easier to deal with when its private and you’re the only one who knows about your failure…. but it’s 10x harder when a LOT of people know about it. That happens to me on The Movie Blog sometimes. The thing is, THIS IS A BLOG, and so here on my blog I share stuff… I tell you guys about things that are happening that are exciting… because I like making the site more personal. But sometimes that means I embarrass myself. Here are a couple of the bigger humiliations I’ve had around here at The Movie Blog:
A – Podcast of the Year Failure
As some of you know, we won Podcast of the year in 2006. This year we were nominated again… only this time I really thought we would win (I never expected it last time at all). We told you guys about the nominations… asked you to get out to vote… we were so pumped about it…. and then yesterday we found out we lost. The stench of failure covers me like oily underwear on a hobo. We lost out to a Firefly/Serenity fan podcast… ironic since just the other day I posted about how good Serenity was. I should edit that post to read “Serenity sucks, and so does anyone who likes it!!” (kidding). It’s just sort of embarrassing when people know you’re going for something and you lose. That stung. It was still an honor to be nominated… but man it sucks to lose… and lose publicly.
B – The VH1 TV Show Failure
Remember last year VH1 contacted Doug and I about a TV show? Yeah, we flew down to NY City, met the people, filmed some audition spots… hell, I even made it to the final round. It looked like I was all set to have my first show on VH1. You guys were all so supportive of us, it was so great and I was so excited. Well, we waited… and waited… and waited… then finally found out Doug didn’t make it to the next round of consideration, which sucked and made me want to back out of the show cause it wouldn’t be as fun without him doing it with me. Doug made me stay in it… so I waited more…. and more… and more… and to this day they still say things are “still in development”, which really means the whole idea for the show got scrapped. It wasn’t really my fault, but it’s still really embarrassing when you tell everyone about an opportunity you’re all excited about and absolutely nothing comes of it.
C – Movie Studio Job Failure
As some of you know, one of the studios contacted me last week because they were interested in talking to me about a possible position they wanted to create for me. I was really excited about the prospects of it. Yeah well… lots of talk at first about how great the job would be… about how I would have tons of input on how the films would be presented to the online community and how much access I’d be allowed to give the online movie site guys…. but in the end it was really just talk. I was actually supposed to fly down to L.A. next week to meet with them in person… but the more we spoke this week the more it became clear that the job would be something very different than I first envisioned. It was also clear that the job they had in mind just wasn’t right for me, and so we ended talks and canceled the trip. How…. fucking… humiliating. No hard feelings towards those guys at all, it just wasn’t a good fit. Still, I’m left here with my face red yet again telling you guys about another thing I was all pumped about that ended up being just another notch in the bedpost of mistress failure… and we didn’t even cuddle after.
You guys know of other smaller failures we’ve had around here over the years… and we’ll have more. But man they just never get easier or less humiliating.
Wow, if you’ve made it down this far, I commend you. So here’s a final thought: Doing what we (online movie guys) do isn’t as easy as it looks. Yes, we love it, but it comes at a price, it comes with some frustration, it comes with some failure and it comes with some embarrassment. So I encourage you all… honestly… if you read Peter over at SlashFilm, or Alex at FirstShowing, Vic at Screenrant, Josh at Cinemablend, Neil at Film School Rejects, Robert at IESB, Andrew at Movie Patron, Marina at Mad About Movies… yadda yadda yadda…. seriously stop for a second, drop them a note and just give them kudos for what they do. They bring a voice to the online community, they facilitate discussion, they entertain, inform and spark great debate…. often at the cost of hard work, pain in the ass studios, asshole readers or even other websites who attack them publicly, and expose themselves to public failure all the time.
Go drop them a note and just say “hey man… thanks for what you do”, cause trust me… they deserve it, and nothing keeps them going like little acknowledgments like that from the people they do it for.
Anyway, I hope that answers a lot of the questions you guys have been asking about what The Movie Blog is, the hard things about doing it, and the failure that often comes along with it… and how they all tie together. Tomorrow we’re back to talking about movie news.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.