Some time ago, I discovered AMC Movie News, the online programming division of AMC Theaters, who generally maintain a church-and-state relationship with them so as not to turn it into an advertising network. And they’ve become my favourite web series. AMC Movie Talk is what completes my day, and it’s where I get a lot of updates for my monthly Screenwriters’ Dispatch posts.
Some time ago, Editor-in-Chief John Campea posted a video providing advice and answering questions about running a blog. AMC Movie News began after AMC Theaters approached him specifically for running it based on his status as the world’s first blogger about the industry – it was even called “The Movie Blog”. And as someone who’d casually enjoyed blogging in the past, I was inspired by that video to start my own.
It’s the one you’re reading now.
I knew I wanted to post at least once a day, and at the turn of the year, fan news blog Whovian Editorial became Screenwriters’ Dispatch, and I’ve posted a motion picture review every day, starting with Superman Unbound on 2nd January.
Only… I’ve faltered. I haven’t been able to keep it up. My mentality going into it was that I’d review every motion picture I saw, on any medium. And to spread them out in case I fell-behind, I’d write many at once, and schedule them for daily releases. But things get in the way of what we’d like to do, and my own scheduled posts over took my rate of writing them. Right now, I’ve got planned reviews from March I still haven’t written, reviews for the moment that I haven’t got, and reviews to write ahead-of-time. Basically, this is all getting on top of me. And I’ve recently realised that the law of diminishing returns means I won’t be able to put as much quality into reviews as I could do. Quality is key, and as someone who criticises examples of that not being true, I won’t perpetuate that hypocrisy.
Recently, I saw an episode of The Big Bang Theory, The Focus Attenuation. Now a lot of people don’t like The Big Bang Theory, but even as a fan, I can understand why. It’s the kind of show you either love obsessively or hate passionately.
Anyway, this episode was itself an experiment of how focus can be affected by numerous factors and impact productivity. And it was a wake up call to me that the way I run my blog isn’t the way I’d like to.
So instead, I’m making changes. I’m not disappearing. That of all things will not happen. I’ve made too many friends here, and I don’t want to leave that behind. Those people, who know who they are, keep me on this site. Making anything is secondary to who it’s made for, and the experience I’ve had with these people is too much for me to just abandon. Campea said this would happen, and I’d like to take this sentence to thank him for making the video that inspired me to start this whole thing.
But, as any editor knows (and I do consider myself an editor, albeit not on the scale of The Daily Bugle‘s J. Jonah Jameson), changes are necessary. Things need switching around before they becomes boring or repetitive. AMC Movie News recently entered phase three, with their own studio and a new set of shows through the week accompanying AMC Movie Talk. So I’m entering Phase Three. Phase One was Whovian Editorial, and Screenwriters’ Dispatch is Phase Two.
Phase Three is Writers Dispatch. I’m expanding this blog from motion pictures to fiction in general. Ultimately, all fiction is storytelling, and I’ve always had an interest in novels that I’ve never spoken about. Given the reasons for this change, expansion seems to be the opposite of what should happen, but not so. Instead, I’m merely expanding the mediums I review, not the formats I publish. So first, let’s talk about motion pictures.
Writers Dispatch started as Whovian Editorial, and I still want the Whovian element present. Currently, I’m working my way through a selection of episodes from the New Series to celebrate its tenth anniversary, and those are still coming. They were supposed to be published on a monthly basis, and the fact that there are still reviews to be written justifies this choice. They’re still coming, but I’ll probably group the next few together just for consistency. There are also some reviews of the Classic Series I’ve got coming later this year, along with a series celebrating Star Trek‘s fiftieth anniversary. Series 9 will be reviewed, as will Series 8, but other television won’t be unless there’s a particular demand for specific shows. Instead, I’ll be focusing my reviews on features, which will be posted in collaborating with Letterboxd, introduced to me by Movie Night‘s Jonathan Paula, who incidentally created the rating system I use as the basis for numbering out of 10.
I don’t want this to keep keeping me up at night. Because then I sleep in and don’t have enough time to do anything else. This has defeated me, so I’m taking back control by only writing when I want to. Which is fine, because I don’t want to be a professional blogger. I want to be a professional screenwriter, and I’m not going to do that by talking about what other people have written. I do have a spec pilot already written for a series inspired by X-Men. Which brings me onto my most exciting announcement:
I now review comic books. I love comic book adaptations, but have never actually read any of them. Today was Free Comic Book Day, and while I was there, I also picked-up Thor: Ragnarok and All-New X-Men #40, with which I’ve immediately fallen in-love. You can expect regular All-New X-Men reviews every month (a much more realistic goal), and other comic books that have been or are to be adapted. I know I wrote an article detailing why I don’t read comic books, but I thought to myself “you can’t judge without trying”. As AMC Heroes Showrunner Jon Schnepp said, comic books are a combination of novels and pictures, and All-New X-Men #40 will be counted as one of the comic books that changed me, if only for it being the one that introduced me to them.
There are still some reviews already written and ready to go over these next few days, including the first few episodes of Daredevil. Fair to say, I’ll be continuing with the show but won’t be continuing reviews. There’s also Avengers: age of Ultron, Rise of the Guardians, Watchmen, Breaking Bad: Pilot, Chronicle, Kick-Ass, Focus, It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, What we did on Our Holiday, The Phantom, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, the Star Trek series, the remaining Sherlock episodes, upcoming adaptations of DC, Marvel and Valiant along with shorts recommended from AMCi Indie Spotlight, such as Fear, Inc. and The Distinguished. And the novel reviews I’ll be wheeling-out.
So less posts, but more quality. And that’s what matters.
The late Roger Ebert used to finish his posts with “I’ll see you at the movies”. I’m yet to think of a sign-off.