PULL THE STRINGS
“Pull the strings, Eddie! Pull the strings!”
- Bela Lugosi, ED WOOD
Hi. Welcome To PULL THE STRINGS.
What you're reading is an experiment, and so far, it's a successful one.
It's already gone through a few different forms. Right now, there are two main ways you can be part of the experiment. First, you can commission a film review. Second, you can join my Patreon page. They're very different ways of participating, and I'm curious to see how things shake out over time.
First, let me explain the main idea. I don’t think the film press is healthy right now, even though there are tons and tons of talented people working in the field. There are voices, both seasoned and new, that are valuable additions to the ongoing conversation about film, but there are increasingly few places for you to read those voices, online or offline, and for the most part, the kind of things people are allowed to write and publish are depressingly limited. I don’t care for the way everything exists on the timetable established by the studios, the people we are writing about. It’s the horse driving the cart, and while I understand how we got here, it’s a treadmill I personally couldn’t walk any further. That wasn’t why I started writing about film at all. And, honestly, it’s not writing about film. It’s writing about film ephemera. And so much of it is about shifting time from the future to the present that it’s exhausting. You end up writing the same “Boy, I can’t wait to see that!” thoughts about a film for a year and a half, and then you end up with three hours to try to compose your actual review because of the way studios handle screenings and review embargoes. It’s kind of crazy, and it just isn’t conducive to the best work people can do.
So let’s try this.
I’m going to give you a list of movies. These are all movies that I have right here on my hard drive, right now, and that I would be willing to watch and review. If you want to commission one of those reviews, all you do is go to the order form at the Pulp & Popcorn Store. Click the button and buy yourself a review. I will write between 1500 and 2500 words on the film, and I will send it to you. For one week after I send it to you, that review will belong to you and you alone, and then I’ll publish them for sale in the Pulp & Popcorn Store, building out an archive.
For people who join the Patreon page, there are various ways to read the reviews there or to participate in the commissioning of four reviews a month chosen by those contributors. Those are totally different from the reviews that are commissioned here. Those will also be posted individually for sale for people who would rather buy one things they really want to read.
Considering I’ve got about 4000 movies on this hard drive, there’s a book in there eventually, and you guys can crowd-fund it on its way, one film at a time. Basically, it's time for critics to consider the idea that commissions might be a great way to give real value directly to the reader.
The price? $175. And here’s how I arrived at that price. Each review takes the screening time plus about four hours of thinking/writing/rewriting. I originally went with $125, but honestly, each of these reviews takes some time to craft if I want them to be something worth your money, and so I don't know exactly how long that will be in each case. Six hours of work or ten hours or even more for $175 is not a ton of money. However, I will also see some revenue from the Patreon and some from people buying individual reviews. So they do have added value for me.
On your end, you’re getting to pick and choose the conversation we’re having about movies, because the list of titles you can pull from is going to be pretty diverse and deep. You want something obscure like the Alan Arkin film where he played Inspector Clouseau? I’ll do that. You want to know what I thought of the work of Brett Leonard in the ‘90s? God help you, I’ll rewatch it, and I’ll tell you. I’m going to try not to cover ground I’ve already covered, so you won’t see the Star Wars movies or the Lord of the Rings films or most of the major milestones from the time I’ve been publishing at Ain’t It Cool and HitFix over the last 20 years. But what you will see is a list that covers classics, obscurities, trash, and masterpieces alike.
Maybe no one will take me up on this and I’ll take it down and I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen. Or maybe you guys will want to try this and play the game for a while. If you do buy a review, you’ll receive it within thirty days of the purchase. If I don’t have time to write reviews, I’ll take the link down for a few days, and I’ll post a notice to that effect. But you can count on “within thirty days” and “1500 - 2000 words minimum” as your two set-in-stone conditions here, and you will always be given an exclusive window to enjoy the review for yourself. I can’t guarantee I’ll like the film you ask me to review, or that my opinion and yours will line up. You may end up mad that I didn’t love your favorite movie, and I hope you know that I will never set out to upset you. That’s just the truth of how these conversations sometimes go.
But since we’re friends, we’ll get through it.
So whattaya say? Anyone want to give it a try?