Sunday, March 20, 2005

So why another movie review site?

So here's what happened. In 1995, I was a budding writer and day-job sufferer who started sending out weekly movie reviews to a small e-mail list. After a about a year of this, a web-savvy buddy suggested that I create a web site to host my reviews. So I did a little research, scored a free copy of Frontpage and found a friend who was willing to let me hitch a free ride on his web server. I secured the domain name www.filmgeek.com (if you go there now, you'll see an atrocious site that I have nothing to do with), and I was in business.

From 1996 to 2001, filmgeek grew in scope and popularity. I was a well-regarded member of the internet film community, was a member of several online critics groups, and started receiving Academy screeners in the mail every Oscar season. I was also making a tidy chunk of change every month. Not enough to quit my day job, you understand... but enough to support my movie habit, pay for site support and put a few dollars in my pocket.

The height of my time as the Film Geek came in late 2000. I was approached by a vice president at the Digital Entertainment Network (DEN.com) named Scott Immergut, who asked me if I'd be interested in selling filmgeek. Uh, maybe, I said. What are you offering?

Negotiations began in earnest. I closed the deal to sell filmgeek and become the full-time, paid film critic for DEN.com. My dream come true, right? The goal had always been to eventually break through the brick wall that separates "legitimate" film critics from the hobbyists, and I had done it. I remember closing the deal by cell phone at a spring training game between the Reds and the Rangers in Sarasota; I missed a crucial Barry Larkin homer in the 5th inning while I was on the phone with Immergut. I had finally reached the big time.

But alas, I had flown too close to the sun. A few weeks later-- one day after my first official day as a full time film critic-- Immergut called me and said, "I'm sorry, Rick. We just closed our doors and fired all of our employees. We're out of business."

It's true. DEN.com turned out to be one of the more spectacular flameouts of the dot-com bust. The company had been backed by some heavy hitters-- Ford Motor Company and Coca Cola, to name a few, and the company's lofty goal was to become the first broadcast entertainment network on the web. But they burnt through $30 million of investment capital in just two years without turning a dime of profit or coming up with a business model that even approached reality. I got there just in time to see it all come crashing to the ground.

Needless to say, I was crushed. And then something else happened: I got divorced. Never mind the sordid details; suffice it to say that for the next six months or so, my personal and professional life descended into chaos. I rediscovered drugs and alcohol. My friends didn't know me any more. And in the middle of the madness, my domain name, filmgeek.com, came up for renewal. I didn't even realize I had lost it until three months after some pinhead snatched it up for himself.

I spent the next year or so putting my life back together. I started a new relationship with a fabulous, intelligent babe. I got a new job working for Major League Baseball, which occupied about 16 hours a day of my life during the season. The idea of going back to writing reviews for the web seemed ridiculous-- that was a part of my old life. I pretty much stopped going to the movies altogether.

Fast forward to 2005. I'm remarried to that same fabulous babe. I'm director of marketing for a marketing firm, I'm a new homeowner and I'm thinking about a family. Life is good again. Over the past six months or so, I started to get the itch to write about film again. Friends have encouraged me to give it another shot. And then, in a moment of narcissism, I googled myself and found this:

An homage to yours truly

I took this as a sign that it was time to get back to my one true writing love: bullshitting about movies. So here's the new site. Hope you you like it. E-me if you you have any questions or comments... more later.

9 Comments:

At 3:18 PM, Blogger shimes said...

Rick, it's good to have you back! Seriously, we've been missing you for a long time. But I have to ask: Now that the Dukes of Hazzard movie has come and gone, are you disappointed that Scorcese didn't direct it, and do you think that Marty would have fought the studios to replace Stifler with Leonardo DiCaprio?

 
At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Jimmy O said...

Do you have any comment on whether Oliver Stone's 9-11 film will be as hilarious as Platoon? You are my film critic hero. Welcome back

 
At 4:37 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Welcome back, Rick!

I'm kind of where you were then, sans the alcohol, drugs, and divorce. But I can't get going with writing reviews anymore, not with the Bush Administration on the loose. It just seems so, well, TRIVIAL, know what I mean? And yet, I have a seven-year investment in this little endeavor. Got any sage advice for me?

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Hey guys, it's great to be back! I owe you guys a lot for writing about me on your site... it got me going again.

Jill, I know what you mean... and based on your blog, it looks like you're on a mission. I thought long and hard about starting a political blog, but I finally decided that I had to go back to what I know. And god help me, I know movies.

What I can tell you is... do what you HAVE to do. If you don't feel compelled to write about movies, then don't. When it feels right, it'll come naturally to you. You won't be able to help yourself. For now, keep fighting the good fight!

Mr. Fabulous

 
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