HOW TO BE A FILM CRITIC III: TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG?
The internet is saturated with film websites and it doesn’t matter if it’s a review in Variety or a review on a personal blog it all amounts to pretty much the same thing. Opinion.
If you’re still in that period that most writers go through where they wonder if anybody gives a damn about their opinion, or their poetry or their novel about the first cat on the moon then let me offer you these comforting words. People do give a damn. If they have access to your work, people will find you, read you and some will like what they read and others will never read you again. You might have an audience of five or five million it doesn’t matter. What does matter is how much you are willing to compromise.
Like the young idealistic politician entering the corridors of power with dreams of saving the world. A young idealistic writer will approach existing movie sites believing their unique and beautiful prose will inspire their peers and astound the audiences. Unfortunately as soon as you press the send button and place your article in the hands of an editor you’re metaphorically opening your legs and inviting them to kick you in the crotch. If you’re writing for somebody else it doesn’t matter what you think is great writing, what your mother thinks is great writing or if it’s genuinely great writing. The only thing that matters is what the editor thinks. You are placing your future, your career and most importantly your reputation into the hands of someone with an opinion.
If their opinion is similar to yours you’re in luck. If not you’re going to be up nights cursing their name and sticking hot pins into your home-made voodoo doll. In order to avoid this unpleasantness many choose to start their own website and become master of their own destiny but before you take the plunge, you should consider the pro’s and con’s.
1. An existing website has a ready made audience. Before you came along with your Film studies textbook and subscription to IMBD Pro the Editor and his minions have poured countless hours of work and effort into the site. Social media management, dealing with PR’s, editing posts, maintaining the site and herding borderline alcoholic writers into a screening room is a time consuming and often tedious task. Sure you can knock up a simple blog, review a film a week and tweet pictures of your chicken dinner and if you’re satisfied with that, good for you. If, on the other hand, you have loftier ambitions. You’re going to have to bust your balls night and day and peppermint tea and prayer is not going to keep you going.
2. As I said above. It’s a saturated market so why try to beat them when you can join them. If there is a site around that you like and respect then send them a mail and offer your services. If you’re willing to work for free and you have the knowledge and the skills then chances are you’re going to get picked up by somebody. Aim high, accept the middle then when you have enough copy and experience under your belt aim high again. Rinse and repeat until you decide to throw in the towel and take that steady teaching job you always dreaded. On the other hand if you see a gap in the market and have a burning desire to experiment then go it alone. It’s a risk, but an exciting one and far more spiritually rewarding than the alternative.
3. You’re never going to produce enough copy or do all the rest of the work that comes with running a site to a high standard if you go it alone. You’re going to need writers and although it’s fairly easy to find willing writers, finding quality writers is fraught with peril. If you’re starting your own site chances are there is no cash in the coffers so essentially what you are asking is for somebody to write for cinema tickets and experience. This is fine in the beginning, everyone has to start somewhere but if money begins trickling in from adverts or elsewhere then whispers of discontent and mutiny are common place and understandable. There are many ways to deal with this situation and I’ll be discussing it in more depth at a later date but suffice to say it’s an issue that has destroyed many sites and many friendships.
That will do for now. In Part IV. I’ll be discussing the Editor/Writer relationship and how two temperamental megalomaniacs with messiah complexes can form a long and fruitful working relationship.
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