Perspectives On Running A Movie Website

Published 6 years ago by , Updated May 3rd, 2014 at 7:40 am,

about vic Perspectives On Running A Movie WebsiteThis has been percolating in the back of my mind for a while now – like an itch I couldn’t quite scratch, but today it finally bubbled to the front of my brain. Something seems to have changed for me regarding Screen Rant, but it creeped up on me slowly so I didn’t really notice what was happening. I think I may have to thank my pal John from The Movie Blog for providing the trigger along with a post I read over at Dosh Dosh regarding shifting from being a writer to an editor in chief of a website.

John wrote a post titled 20 Tips For Starting Your Own Movie Blog which is really a great primer on starting up your own website (although he left out the fact that one actually needs some sort of writing skill). Now having run a movie site for almost 5 years, I didn’t really need the tips mentioned in the article, however the last couple of bullet points in his post jarred something loose in my head:

19) IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND FILM IS SUBJECTIVE, DON’T WRITE A SINGLE WORD UNTIL YOU DO

20) DON’T BE SPINELESS! HAVE AN OPINION AND EXPRESS IT REGARDLESS IF IT’S POPULAR OR NOT

I’ve found that it’s a hell of a lot different running a movie site that gets 50 visitors a day than one that gets 10,000. Of course when I started up this little enterprise I had no plan for it to grow at all or imagined anyone other than a few friends would read it. So what’s the difference? When you don’t have many readers, it’s easy to put your opinion out there since you won’t get much negative feedback – but as your site gets “out there” and more popular suddenly opinionated posts and reviews start getting a LOT more “blowback.”

As Screen Rant has grown and has garnered more readership, honestly I’ve started to think about what I write a lot more before I write it – perhaps too much. Over at Film School Rejects, one commentor ripped into that site calling them in effect sell-outs and pawns of the studios for their coverage of certain films. That got me thinking about how one’s perspective changes as a site grows from a “hole in the wall” to a moderate-sized movie news site.

There’s a sense of responsibility that creeps in when you cross a certain threshold and I believe that has been influencing my general writing and reviews lately. In the past I’ve never checked to see what the consensus was on a particular movie before writing a review, but lately I’ve been second-guessing myself, wondering how my opinion jives with other reviewers’. So when I review a movie that I think is awful like The Happening or You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, I find myself asking “was it REALLY that bad or am I being too hard on it?” On the flip side, when I review movies like Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk I ask “am I being too easy on this movie because I’m a fan of superhero movies?”

So, The Happening ends up with 2/5 when I really think it should have gotten 1/5, Zohan gets a 2 when I think it deserved 1.5/5, and Hulk gets 3.5 when I really felt it deserved 4.5.

Believe me, it’s not easy putting your opinion out there where thousands of people can read it and a certain percentage of those will come into your house and rip you a new one with no regard for civility. Just check out the comments on my Aliens vs Predator: Requiem review to see what I mean.

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19 Comments

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  1. Good for you. I’ve found I disagree with you occasionally, but that’s why we’re different people. I like to read your take on something, but forming an opinion is up to me.

    Whining children shouldn’t dictate your own internal integrity. Keep calling em like you see em, and I’ll keep readin’ em.

  2. Some nice observations. Second guessing myself is something I still battle with. I think it becomes a real problem when you can see the perspective of other people, but still love or hate something. I try not to read reviews before writing one, although I do often talk about a film with a couple peers. I find film festivals to be a real test of trusting your own opinion because there isnt 2, nevermind hundreds of reviews of the film available online. And we’re all passionate about film, which opens up the door to looking foolish. But you’re right, you need to look beyond the hype and reactions and trust your gut.

  3. *standing ovation*

    Bravo. Its easy to rip into anothers opinion without being brave enough to post your own first.

    I dont care that I disagree with you occasionally. If I want to see a movie that everyone else thought sucked, thats my problem.

  4. Good for you, Vic. I tend to agree with MOST of your reviews (we’re NEVER gonna agree on American Gangster!) I enjoy the site and if you give something a fairly good review, I am sure that I will most likely enjoy it. To be honest, I don’t read any other movie sites besides this one and Yahoo movies. There is WAYYYYY to much info out there!!

    Keep up the great work!!

  5. Good post, and I would like to add that of all the online critics, your opinion most often reflects not only my overall final score for a film, when we’ve both seen them, but also my thoughts on the movies as well.

    Er, actually that’s kinda strange.

    Get out of my head! ;)

  6. Well Vic, this article has earnt you a loyal reader. I’ve been casually dropping in once in a while, but now I’m subscribing. (Jeez, that makes me sound like a pompous so&so, anyway..) I am one of those ‘small’ sites who get <50 hits a day. I fall behind with my articles, but I’m still happy with doing it for me & my friends.

    I’m glad you share your thoughts on the inner conflicts, makes small-timers like me not feel bad about saying things against the tide.

    Appreciate the work.

  7. This is a well thought out insight to the day to day wheel turnings here on ScreenRant.

    I’ve always enjoyed differing opinions because sometimes it shines light on a different way of looking at something that you might not have done so previously.

    -Bruce

  8. I’m with Ram-Jaane, I’ve been swayed by your truthful oppinions on movies since your review of Transformers, and have rarely been back to IGN since.

  9. Very timely. I wanted to say something for two days now about backing away from your opinion and re-rating your reviews. Ya gotta go with your gut! Don’t back down. I have a friend who loves what I call crud humor in movies. For me humor should make you think just a little at least. So we part company on seeing some movies. It’s subjective and always will be or it will die.

  10. Now this is going to be something to look forward to.

  11. I can’t say I haven’t noticed a change in the website. This site getting bigger has swayed me on my amounts of comments. When I should know that you guys are people I’ve shared my opinions with for over 2 years (although I’ve been visiting the site earlier than that).

  12. I too have been visiting this site for a couple of years and have only in the last four-six months been posting my screen rants…Like I have said in earlier posts I like this website because it encourages dialogue to be respectful and free of profanity which on the internet these days is hard to come by. I appreciate an honest opinion on movies which we get from Victor and even though we are not in agreement on a lot of things we still have a good exchange of ideas and I feel like I am a part of the Screen Rant family. This site seems to me to get a more mature audience and that is refreshing instead of firing insults back and forth like ninth graders…The regulars really seem to appreciate that everyone has the right to their opinions and rebuttals are welcomed and debate encouraged. Tee hee… I said butt but I disguised it in another word..Sorry guys couldn’t resist…Ninth grade side of me coming out… Seriously though I thank you all at Screen Rant for your hard work as it is greatly appreciated and to anyone who has taken the time to add a comment to a post of mine I thank you for the time and effort you spend in doing that!!

    Vic is the “Yoda” of this website as it is his baby…GREAT JOB !!!

  13. Good Article Vic,

    I agree with your numbers for Happening, Zohan and Hulk which you mentioned here.

    I saw Happening this morning (making it three theatre visits in three days, only one of which was good). Man, I don’t know what happened with the happening but terrible acting, terrible dialogue, incomplete story…there was nothing redeeming and I usually love M.Night’s movies (except lady in the water).

  14. Great piece Vic.
    Like Vic said, it’s not easy trying to balance Screen Rant with “real life” but we try our best here.

    I have to say that if it wasn’t for Vic -this site wouldn’t have the quality or the fanbase has.
    Respect!
    Niall

  15. Love every bit of it because I deal with it on a smaller basis every time I post something up.
    Great points. Keep up the good writing and make sure you don’t change or else Screen Rant will become another movie site like the big daddies that are controlled by the studios. Us little guys can still get away with being real…for now.

    Great stuff Vic!!!

  16. As soon as I saw the title for this site I thought ‘oh I like this!’

    If I want a nice little discussion about the merits of a movie I can watch Newsnight here in the UK, for what it is worth.
    But personally I enjoy someone saying, this is how I see. Tough.
    Once you know someone speaks their mind, you know where you stand.

  17. Vic, some of your more recent postings and actions definately pumped you up on the respectometer (not that you ever didn’t have my respect but i’m sure you get it, heh)

    2 thumbs up

  18. Vic,

    Great post. It is truly refreshing to be on a sight were opinions are welcomed and it doesn’t regress into profanity-laced name-calling diatribes. Besides, 99% of the time I agree with your ratings and reviews. Helps me choose what to see since it seems we have some of the same tastes in cinema.

  19. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems
    as though you relied on the video to make your point.
    You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on
    just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read?