Masters Of The Web Panel - Comic-Con 2009

At this morning's Masters Of The Web Panel at Comic-Con, Robert Sanchez (IESB), George Roush (Latino Reviwe), Wilson Morales (BlackFilm), Paul Christensen (MovieWeb), Vic Holtreman (Screen Rant), Ryan Rotten (Shock Till YOu Drop), Drew McWeeny (HitFix), Devin Faraci (CHUD), Mike Sampson (Jo Blo), Jeremy Smith (AICN) & Brad Miska (Bloody Disgusting) gathered to discuss the ins and outs of writing for movie sites.

Kevin Munroe (Director Dead of Night) moderated the panel and in the second half of the panel, Brandon Routh and Anita Briem joined in on the fun.

Everyone on the panel wore their "favorite" Twilight t-shirts and while the crowd was assembling they seemed confused, trying to figure out if the panelists were making a statement or a joke.

Robert Sanchez started it up and asked if anyone in audience wanted to know anything from the guys on panel about the online community and that got the ball rolling.

The first question was "Do you guys get paid?"  Ryan Rotten said it took about 7 years of writing before he started to get paid for what he does enough to do it full time.  The audience recognized that these guys do what they do because they love what they do.

Robert Sanchez chimed in that ad revenue helps pay the bills.

The question was raised if there are conflicts with what they report vs what advertisers they have.  Jeremy Smith said that for him, there's no conflict with ads and movie reviews.  He doesn't play favorites.

Drew McWeeny added that if they actually pandered to the advertisers, that readers will smell it and that would have an adverse affect on how a site is percieved.  Besides, He runs Adblocker so he doesn't see the ads on his own site.  (The audience got a kick out of that.)

Someone in the audience was curious:  "Are you journalists or bloggers?"

The general atmosphere was that it's tricky to put a name on it.  One perspective is that journalists just report the facts while bloggers tend to add opinion to the news articles.

Ryan Rotten, in his reply, added that Forest Ackerman may be considered the earliest "blogger" but he doesn't consider himself a blogger.  Sites that pander to delivering bad opinions on a regular basis, those are who he considers to be bloggers.

Our own Vic Holtreman then chimed in to say that he must be the only blogger on the panel. Screen Rant doesn't often "break" news but uses other sites as news sources and we add editorial commentary that our readers enjoy.

Jeremy Smith said adding commentary to the news makes it more interesting.  Devin Faraci said that he considers himself a film activist and though he adds objectivity, he does add opinion.

Someone in the audience then asked if anyone on the panel had advice on how to get started, or to get their stuff on major websites.

Drew McWeeny made reference to Ryan Rotten having worked for 7 years before getting paid and said to just start a web or blog and  write about film and develop your voice.  Don't worry about how your website looks, just start writing - but do bring something unique to your writing.  Things can be spiffed up later.

Devin said it takes patience, to start from the bottom and work at it.  Too many people have only been in the realm of web site entertainment reporting for a few years and seem to expect to get the big interviews (and money) and that just isn't realistic.

McWeeny said that one of the more difficult things to do is to distinguish your site.  Everyone is covering the same thing, day in and day out and sites need that individual identity.

Smith added that being snarky full time is not a substitute for real news and but that what you say that shows that you love movies in the process is the important part of the process.

It was mentioned that there are sites that look to over serve their readership and get too eager to present information to their readers.  In one case, Devin talked about sites that grab items and put them up too early against studios requests, or sites that snag videos from other sites and then put their watermark on it, despite the video being exclusive to a site.

Robert said that IESB doesn't do too many reviews but dispenses news and let the readers make their own judgments.

A question was asked that was first thought to be a question about reader demographics and what percentage are female site readers, but it seemed to be a question about whether the sites have female writers.

Robert made note after looking over the panel that they have no women on the panel, and promptly apologized.

Robert also said that his wife runs the site and does most of the writing and that most of the sites have female writers.

Faraci said that sites have a lot of different demographics of readers, across lifestyles, genders, etc..

Drew McWeeny mentioned that where he works now is more about web SEO, keywords and social tools.  He loves the writing but these are new (to him) and necessary parts of the job.

Robert Sanchez then turned a question to their moderator, Kevin Munroe and asked him how he feels about being a filmmaker and his take on the web.

Kevin said that he loves what he's doing and enjoys the interactive environment.  If he needs to filter out some of the BS out there, he checks our panelists websites to verify some things.

We then were treated to a behind the scenes, raw footage filled preview of Dead of Night.

The preview looked pretty cool.  It will help change my image of Brandon Routh and what roles he's able to play.

Kevin Munroe said that in making the film, you try to keep the tone of the original material as one adapts it.

Brandon Routh said he liked the few comics (that were in English) that he read that this was adapted from.

Anita Briem addressed the rumor about her fling with Megan Fox in New Orleans.  Basically Jonah Hex was in New Orleans at the same time they were there.  Supposedly Briem had a steamy affair with Fox, but she put the kibosh on that silly rumor.

When Brandon Routh was asked if there was any news on the next Superman project and he basically said no there wasn't, but that it sounds like there is momentum out there and that he would be happy to jump on the train when that gets going.

Routh and Sam Huntington enjoyed working together again (they were both in Superman Returns).

To finish out the panel, Robert Sanchez tossed out some trivia questions, and the correct answers got 10 pairs of tickets given away to the Wrath of Con party on Friday night.  Of course, it seemed that hot chicks kept getting picked to answer the questions.  Nice!

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