Tell us about your blog.
Currently, I'm the editor of SpoutBlog, which is published by Spout.com, a social network for both the super cinephile and the casual Netflixer. I post an average of eight items a day, a combination of news, reviews, editorials, and the usual bloggy snark. We have some part time/guest bloggers, as well. I also contribute a weekly segment to Spout's FilmCouch podcast, which was nominated for a Webby last year (we lost to NPR).
Before Spout, I was the first editor-in-chief of Cinematical.com, which I left shortly after the site was purchased by AOL. I also have a personal blog, which I'll put a lot of effort into, like, once a week, and then otherwise shamefully neglect. In that way, it's basically an exact mirror of my personal life.
How would you describe your readers? Do you have much contact with the people who read you?
I think the majority of our readers are other bloggers — and even those who don't actually have a blog fit the blogger profile, in that they're opinionated and passionate, and they want to be at the center of a conversation. I've gotten to know a small percentage of our readers through the comments, and I'm friends with many on sites like Facebook and Twitter, so that helps to blur the lines between editor and audience, professional and personal.
It does seem to be worth noting that nowadays, if I meet a new person and I tell them that I write a film blog for a living, not only will they sort of know what that means, but often they'll actually check it out. In 2005, I couldn't pay my non-blogging friends to read the blog I wrote for a living, because blogs were for 13 year old Goth girls and people who lived in San Francisco.
Tell us how – and why – you started your blog?
I'm a rare specimen, in that I've been a "professional" movie blogger from the jump--meaning, from the very early days of Cinematical through the present, I've always been paid to do it, and I've more or less treated it like a career. I have great admiration for those who self publish out of a labor of love, but I wouldn't know where to start with that — I don't know anything about web design or ad sales, and would be pretty much lost without support on those and other fronts. That said, I'm equally rare in that I LOVE what I do for a living, and can't imagine being as happy doing anything else. I put myself through grad school working in restaurants and gourmet food stores, and that was not terribly unpleasant, but I know that if the film blog market dried up tomorrow and I went back to working behind a cheese counter, I'd be blogging about film at night, for no money, because now that I've tried it, I really don't know what to do with myself without it.
Describe your blog day – do you work at home? Go to a café? Sit in an office?
Many of the clichés are true. I do work primarily from my bedroom. I usually wake up between 7 and 8, pick up coffee and breakfast at the café across the street, and get to work. Sometimes I go to a screening, sometimes I'll take a "lunch break" to go to the gym (mostly just because they have cable and I don't; nothing clears the head like an early-afternoon E! True Hollywood Story) but for the most part, I'm usually typing away until 7ish. The work is not going to get done unless I do it, so I try to keep my routine as fixed as possible.
How do you find things to blog about and how do you decide that an entry is worth being in your blog?
Occasionally, I'll blog things based on email or IM tips. But I spend most of the day swimming through my Google Reader, which is about 80% full of film sites and blogs, and 19% an assortment of music, politics, and celebrity blogs, and 1 % RSS feeds for random Google news searches, which I switch out every couple of weeks. As of this writing, I have feelers out for news items on Heath Ledger/ The Dark Knight, "I Drink Your Milkshake" and The Oscars.
Sometimes it'll take an hour of more of weeding feeds before I'll come across a headline that catches my eye, but when it does happen, usually a reaction will start swirling in my head before I've finished reading the story. I jot that down right away so as not to lose it, then read as much of the story as I need to in order to determine whether or not I have anything worth saying. Sometimes I'll post stuff without any real commentary – often an image or a video – but generally, I don't post anything unless I feel like I have something to add to the conversation.
I also review new films and DVDs, cover film festivals, and occasionally embark on a long-term project. Right now I'm trying to watch every Fassbinder film that I can find on DVD, but with the endless stream of festivals and events, it's slow going.
What is your favorite blog entry?
I try not to be precious about anything I write, but I've enjoyed watching the reactions to my "review" of There Will Be Blood, in which I tackled what I see as five major misconceptions about the film, espoused by other critics and bloggers.
What was your most popular/controversial blog entry?
I did a post speculating on possible plot lines for the rumored Arrested Development movie. It's been viewed more times than any other post on SpoutBlog, by quite a wide margin, in part because other sites have linked to it, and in part because Arrested Development fans seem to be searching for every little detail they can get about this movie, which hasn't even technically been greenlit for production.
Is blogging the new path to fame and fortune?
Dear god, I hope so!
Honestly, because I work at home, alone, most of the time I feel like I'm essentially talking to myself, and it's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that people are even reading it. So I certainly don't feel famous, and I get a little nervous and paranoid every time a stranger knows who I am.
I'll take the fortune, though.
What separates journalism from blogging?
Bloggers pay journalists the compliment of linking to their work every day; more often than not, the compliment is returned in condescension. I honestly know very little about journalism, but I have an undergraduate degree in film and a Masters degree in cinema studies, so I think that makes me qualified to write about movies. Peter Bart disagrees.
I do think, in most cases, the process of blogging is quite different – I don't have anyone assigning me stories or editing my copy, although much of the time I wish I did — even when the content isn't. Personally, I'm more of a critic than a reporter, but I know many bloggers who do spend their days hunting down stories and breaking news.
Who are the bloggers that you read religiously?
David Hudson – nobody does it better. All of the indieWIRE bloggers. The Reeler and The House Next Door are my favorite group blogs. In terms of blogs with a slightly wider pop culture focus, I really love The Playlist, This Recording, and Songs About Buildings and Food. That last one is dedicated to semi-academic analysis of The Hills, so beware. And I have kind of a playful back-and-forth with a conservative film blog called LIBERTAS — I call them reactionary right-wing nutjobs, they call me a godless liberal. These are the games bloggers play to get through the day.
How has your life changed because of your blog? Has it gone in any new directions because of your newfound prominence?
I moved to New York wanting to write about movies for a living, and because of blogging I was able to accomplish that goal very quickly. It's really the only thing in the world that I'm confident that I'm very good at doing, so I can only be grateful that blogging and I found each other when we did. I mean, seriously — I was a TERRIBLE waitress.