Determining interest: VideoCritics reboot
February 19, 2011

So, I just got back from watching "Unknown" at the local theater. I enjoyed it. On the way to the theater and then on the way home, I had an idea. It goes like this:

I rework so that it is a lot like Gameroni, only the focus is movie reviews. That's all we ever post. There are forums for gossip, for Oscar predictions and such, but the main site itself is strictly for movie reviews.

We post around 12 reviews a month, approximately three per week, maybe more during a busy season and less during a slow season. As we grow and revenue makes it worthwhile, maybe we add a few writers and maybe someday we cover nearly everything that hits theaters each month. Or maybe that day never comes. It might not.

At first, the goal is just to cover the most interesting stuff, whether it's a blockbuster or an indie film or a foreign film... anything noteworthy.

I and several other writers (probably around 3 others) produce those reviews. I pay for the cost of tickets for everyone out of my pocket and (hopefully) eventually out of ad revenue, up to $10 a pop or around $120 a month. We post reviews within a day or two of their release in theaters, tops. I need people who can watch movies and have a review live by Friday evening. That's a necessity because that's when the most people will be going online to see what they should watch that weekend.

Each person involved has to spend around 5 hours a week on the effort, around three weeks out of the month because we'd try to cover around 12 movies per month between around 4 people. About half of that time would be spent watching movies and the other half would be spent writing and posting reviews, then putting brief effort into letting people know about it on social media sites like Twitter and such to spread the word.

The goal would be to legitimately position ourselves as a worthwhile, dependable site for movie reviews of quality. We wouldn't be fighting a hundred battles on a hundred fronts, trying to be the first with movie database entries or the latest celebrity news or anything like that. It's too exhausting, at least at the start and with normal-people resources. We can worry about growth later if the site's exposure and reach justify it, but the real goal here would be to do just the one thing--and do it really well, and have a blast in the process, to recognize that we don't do everything but that it doesn't matter as long as we're posting timely and high-quality reviews of the newest movies.

$120 or so a month is enough money for me that I'm not going to go forward with this unless I can get the right people interested and involved right from the start. So this post is an attempt to do that. Are you one of those right people? Specifically, do you have good knowledge of movies old and new, do you have around 15 hours a month that you could spare for watching movies and writing about them and are you interested in doing so on a regular basis? If so, I want to hear from you. Contact me by e-mail or by HG Mail.

This post is merely an attempt to determine interest. It's a starting point and that may be as far as it ever goes, but I believe that this can happen if the right people get involved and I'm ready to make a serious effort if that happens. Thanks for reading!

Most recent blog posts from Jason Venter...

- - - February 19, 2011 (03:55 PM)
The concept sounds fine, but I already have my two or three websites that I trust (for the most part) and use to see if a movie is worth going. It doesn't sound like VideoCritics will add anything new to what I'm already using. I also have a quick check on Rotten Tomatoes to gauge the overall critics' opinion, just in case.
Suskie Suskie - February 19, 2011 (04:15 PM)
Were I to get involved in this, I'd be able to devote more time to it than I do for Gameroni (to which I've still only contributed a handful of articles), but it would still generally be the same thing: My schedule is busy and tiring enough that until writing for the site becomes a paying gig, I'd only really be able to contribute at my own convenience.

I do keep up with indie/foreign films more than most people do, so I'd definitely be able to write such reviews were they of any help (and I believe they would be). But yeah, as of now, I can't really guarantee anything.
- - - February 19, 2011 (05:22 PM)
Oh yeah, I assume contributing would be out of the question for me as we in the UK tend to get films released a week or three later.
honestgamer honestgamer - February 19, 2011 (07:04 PM)
As is hopefully evident, a VideoCritics relaunch is still very much in the formative stages and the actually forming may not happen. However, I'd like to see both of you involved as possible. You're the two that stand out the most in my mind for something like this. If things go forward, I'd likely try to find a way to work with both of you around complications such as a fuller schedule (Suskie) and differing release dates (Ben).

As far as the "this has already been done/is being done" argument, which is valid, there's not much on the Internet that isn't being done at this point. That doesn't mean that no one else should attempt to do something, and that's my logic here. I think it's worth picking battles, and to me reviewing movies is something that could be fun and potentially (down the road) earn enough traffic and advertising to turn into something worth being a part of.

I don't want to paint a picture of contributors pulling in money now, soon or even way down the road because it's difficult to tell if that can even happen. Odds are good that this will never even make back the money that it'll cost me to make it happen. But I do think it's worth trying. It could be a lot of fun. It does have the potential to prove personally and financially rewarding down the line and I'm not going to give up the notion at the first sign of resistance. The few accomplishments that I can be proudest of in my life come down to tenacity.

Thanks for the responses thus far.
- - - February 19, 2011 (08:31 PM)
A fair point, Jason. I did sound a bit negative - if it's something you're genuinely interested in getting stuck into, then I have no objections. I admit that writing about movies more regularly sounds appealing to me, and this might be something I'm interested in doing.

I've just spent a few minutes on IMDb looking at recent releases, and found at The Mechanic and Gnomeo & Juliet released in both the UK and USA on the same day, so I agree that it's doable if much less flexible. (Inception, too.) British films which may eventually see US releases are also a possibility. A recent example is Brighton Rock.
honestgamer honestgamer - February 19, 2011 (10:35 PM)
Based on responses so far, I may just end up having to do something similar to what I've done here at HG, where I have a list of freelance contributors and (in this case) they could e-mail me each week stating what movie opens that Thursday that they'd like to cover. Then I could just say "Yeah, okay, I'll send you $10 on PayPal to attend it and review it" or "No, I'm not interested in covering that one this week" or "I have someone else lined up for it" or "I'm covering it myself."

That might work as well as the other plan, it would let writers cover more pet projects (perhaps) and affect the direction of the site's coverage and it would make the process more fun for the writers because they'd be covering movies they had wanted to see. I think I'll just go that route, and then if there comes a time when the site earns back that initial investment it'll be a natural transition to evolve to a point where I'm paying $20 per review instead of $10, or $50 or whatever winds up being sustainable.
True True - February 21, 2011 (11:38 PM)
Were I to get involved in this, I'd be able to devote more time to it than I do for Gameroni (to which I've still only contributed a handful of articles), but it would still generally be the same thing: My schedule is busy and tiring enough that until writing for the site becomes a paying gig, I'd only really be able to contribute at my own convenience.

Oh, Geez. Suskie pulling a Russel Crowe-esque I'm too good for this site until it's on my level, not until you pay me, I'm a Super Star, bow down to me, hail to the king, my ego is out of check attitude. Never thought I would see that day*.

* - Sarcasm.

I'm the King, baby. Even if it's only in my own mind, that title is still around my waist.
Suskie Suskie - February 22, 2011 (02:05 PM)
Quite the opposite. I dropped out of school almost a year ago and am currently stuck at a dead-end job where the work is tiring and the pay is poor. My second job pays minimum wage and rarely gives me hours anyway. I work full weeks and frequently have to sacrifice weekends. I can barely find the time to play video games anymore, let alone write about them, and simply paying for them is another issue altogether. I'm also paying rent at my parents' house and am currently being tested to see if I have a learning disability.

So no. The reason I haven't been more active is because my life sucks too much.

And you wonder why no one likes you.

Oh, and to anyone who thinks I have a short temper: Stop saying dickheaded things to me and we won't have a problem.
True True - February 22, 2011 (05:11 PM)
I'm actually well aware of why people don't like me. I'm abrasive, entirely way too dramatic, passive-aggressive and I speak my mind way more than I should for starters.

And if I think someone is being egotistical I'm going to call them on it. Your post, to me, just seemed a tad superior because you didn't give any sort of back-story. That sucks that it's happening and I'm sorry for that, but I really had no idea.

I just thought you were being a dick. And if I'm the only one who took that comment as you being egotistical, then I'll apologize. Well, think about apologizing.
Suskie Suskie - February 22, 2011 (06:46 PM)
My post was addressing Jason. I've had this conversation with him before, concerning Gameroni, hence why I said "the same thing." He's well aware of why I'm unable to be a more active participant on HG or Gameroni. I didn't elaborate or provide any additional backstory because that would be redundant. I didn't think I would need to provide clarification for someone I wasn't talking to who stumbled into this thread and had nothing to contribute.
True True - February 22, 2011 (07:53 PM)
It's okay, Mike. Just make sure it doesn't happen again, okay?
- - - February 23, 2011 (08:16 AM)
Moving on from this. One thing I'm not entirely sold on at the moment is the name 'VideoCritics'. When someone mentions 'video', I don't think movies (or even television, which is part of the current VideoCritics site). I think YouTube and Vimeo. Even CollegeHumor and Funny or Die. You're probably not interested in changing the name due to the extra costs and such, but I figure this is still worth pointing out as I might not be the only one in the same boat, so to speak.

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