I’m listening. Really.
One of the things that has become clear to me over the last few months is that what you want from this blog and what I want from this blog are, by and large, the same things, and in order for me to be able to give you more of what you want, I need to figure out smarter ways of sharing things with you.
It’s important to take inventory of what you’re doing, because it’s possible to get so caught up in the day to day flow of things that you are letting your blog run you rather than you running your blog. I got called out the other day for running a story about “Twilight,” and you guys are right… that’s not something I’m interested in. I was a little amazed at how Stephenie Meyer is milking her franchise in a way that Rowling seems to be resisting so far, and that’s why I ran it, but you don’t come here for “Twilight” news. At least I hope not, because if you do, you have taken a very, very wrong turn somewhere.
Original content seems to be an increasingly rare beast online, and it’s the stuff that you guys seem to respond to the most. When you can read the same story on forty sites in a day, that story has no real value. But when you can only read something here, then it gives you a reason to visit this site instead of those forty others. Seems like common sense, but in a competitive market, it’s easy to lose sight of that idea.
When I reprint a news story, I want it to be for one of two reasons. First, I want it to be something I’m genuinely interested in, like yesterday’s news about a possible Oliver Stone/Leonardo Di Caprio “Travis McGee” movie. Second, if there’s some particular insight or opinion I can offer that makes the article more than just a regurgitation of fact, then that’s worthwhile, too. But Motion/Captured isn’t an aggregate blog, designed to just collect every single headline no matter what.
By far, the things you respond to the most via e-mail and other messages are Film Nerd 2.0 and the reviews. I am amazed by how many times now people have asked me, “Are you going to turn Film Nerd 2.0 into a book?” Right now, the answer to that is no, and that’s because I think the ongoing nature of the project is what makes it interesting to me. I believe in media education in this country, teaching our kids how to watch things and engaging them actively in what they watch. Too much media is simply served up passively, and it’s bad for everyone when that happens. It makes for lazy consumers, and it doesn’t teach children how to process the input that they are inundated with every single day. Yes, Film Nerd 2.0 is a personal journey with me and my sons, but it’s also about the larger idea that every single parent and every single educator has the same opportunity, and we should never just drop our kids in the media pool if we’re not interested in teaching them how to swim. I am absolutely planning to bring you more Film Nerd 2.0 as often as possible, while still keeping it organic for my sons so they never feel like it’s a job.
And as far as reviews go, I have to get better about that. I write a ton of them as it is, but I see so much more than I can review the way I do it right now, and I need to realize that not every review is a term paper. Some reviews can be short and fun and simple. Some reviews demand more. One thing I’ve noticed is that every film festival I attend, there are smaller movies that don’t get reviewed as a matter of time, and many of them vanish into limbo, never getting distribution for one reason or another. I’m introducing a new occasional column called On The Circuit, where I’ll catch up on reviewing films like that or movies that fell between the cracks for other reasons, or movies that are coming out but not for a while. I’ll make sure to mention which festival I saw something at, and then hopefully chip away at that amazing backlog of titles I’ve got out there.
The home video column I was writing on Tuesdays isn’t working for me. I think I’d be better served with individual reviews of home video titles akin to what I used to do on my old DVD blog, while doing the weekly rundown on the podcast I’m going to be starting soon.
Yes… that’s right. Podcasting. I’m finally making a bold new step into the year 2005. I have been running some tech tests here at the house, and I’ve been making notes on format, and I’m leaning towards a Wednesday afternoon podcast that covers both DVD and theatrical releases, with particular topics each week and with an audio-only version of the Motion/Captured Must-See project. It won’t replace the print version, and it won’t duplicate it. It’ll just give me one more place to highlight vintage films worth your time, something else I consider very important. It’ll let me play you interviews like the hour-long one that I’ll be featuring in the very first Motion/Captured Podcast, coming sooner than you think.
I honestly believe that the role of the film critic is evolving, and at least part of that role has to be given over to curation these days. It’s not enough to describe films to people… we need to be more active in getting people to watch the things we think are worth their time. There are so many choices out there these days, so much competition for your attention, and my role has to be, to some degree, to help you cut through all that clutter. That’s why I spend so much time encouraging people to think beyond what’s playing at the multiplex this weekend. There is an ocean of film out there, and most people never leave the wading pool. That’s a shame, and our role shouldn’t just be to serve as cogs in the marketing campaigns of new movies. A good critic should be constantly working to serve up choices to the audience, new and old alike.
I hope you like The Basics, the column I do as a dialogue with Will Goss over at Cinematical, because I’ve got more cross-site ideas that should be kicking in this month, with voices I like, guys who are part of this ongoing conversation that I have at festivals and after screenings and on Twitter and at ComicCon… and I think we’re either having a conversation, or we’re in competition, and I think the idea of a conversation makes for a lot better reading material for you, the reader.
The M/C Interview will continue, of course, but I’m looking to push towards long-form interviews more and more often. Those are the conversations that are worth something. Those are the conversations that I feel like bring something to, much more than a five minute sound bite. Those are fun to do for the site but not really what I’d call “interviews.” Look for the print side of things to be where we can get to some real meat and potatoes conversations with the people who are willing to do more than just a bit of fly-by promotion.
And, yes, The Morning Read will survive. I just have to get military about how I put it together. I let myself get distracted by one shiny thing after another, and the Read is the first column to suffer as a result of it. Instead of letting myself get led astray, I need to really work on getting the Read prepped and published before I jump into everything else. It’s just a matter of discipline, and more and more, I’m realizing that the only way to do everything I need to do as a dad and a husband and a writer and a critic is to be merciless in how I hold myself to a schedule.
Today, of course, is April Fool’s Day, but I’m absolutely sincere about all of this. If you’re in the mood for a truly great April Fool’s Day joke, go check out what our friends at Film School Rejects did. It’s downright inspirational, and well worth spending some time checking out every single detail.
First up today, a very time-appropriate Film Nerd 2.0, in which we look back at a film that’s just been remade, and discuss whether digital kids can relate to a stop-motion fantasy.
Thanks for all of your continued readership, and as more and more of you find us here at HitFix (and you are reading our excellent music and TV and awards season coverage… AREN’T YOU!?!), I hope to take everything you’ve said you want and deliver more and better in the weeks and months and, yes, years ahead.
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