By Marilyn Ferdinand
Greg Ferrara, the blogger formerly known as Jonathan Lapper, has been plunging headlong into the mainstream of film blogging. First, he revealed his real name. Then he decided to host his first blogathon. Now he’s started a meme, something Ferdy on Films, etc. has yet to do. This one should be interesting to think about. Here’s what Greg says:
I’d like to know what my fellow bloggers think matters about cinephilia. A list, a paragraph, a thought or two. However you want to do it. Just a little bit of what you think is important about studying film, loving film, and discussing it with like minds. Basically, what have you learned? I know I’ve learned more than I ever did from decades of reading film books. How about you?
There are some things that make cinema vitally important—as Gene Siskel said, a film critic has the American Dream beat—in terms of what it reflects about the way we live, how we see ourselves and others, and what fires our imaginations. Cinephilia, however, is full of a lot of nonsense, in my opinion, like compiling lists, watching box office returns, and overtheorizing what the filmmakers themselves saw as factory work done for dough. Blogging about film is a whole other animal. Bloggers have been taken to task by traditional media for everything from bad writing to destroying the economy. But what do they know? They don’t live here—we bloggers do.
So here’s what I’ve learned about film, blogging, and the Internet since starting Ferdy on Films, etc. more than three years ago.
1. You can get free shit and press passes just as easily as a blogger as you can as a print or broadcast journalist. You just have to grovel a little more at the beginning.
2. There are three major camps in the film-blogging world: the young geeks who tend not to write very well, normally don’t consider any film older than 1990, and usually only read their own kind; the snobs who write pretty well, but impenetrably, and stick with their own kind because to do otherwise would be to lower their status in the film community; the rest of us, a decidedly mixed bag, who aren’t on the make and don’t necessarily give a hoot what people think of what we’re doing.
3. Cable “news” has had a bigger effect on blogging than anyone would care to admit, as evidenced by a lot of tempests brewed in teapots all over the blogosphere just to drive traffic.
4. Film bloggers know how to build a sense of community with memes and blogathons, but when they’re over, we tend to go back to the dime or so blogs we usually read.
5. There are a lot of good writers out there with a lot of knowledge about film. Although I have some unique things to offer and Rod and I make a pretty formidable team together, I’m not so special, and that actually isn’t a bad feeling. The world isn’t full of yahoos after all!
6. You never know who is going to read your stuff, what’s going to be popular, or why. I’m still getting hits to How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman from a Russian discussion forum well more than two years after they posted the link.
7. Comment sections are among the best things on a blog. They can be witty and irreverent, more informative than the original post, and include people you never thought would show up. I’ve had the son of the director of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch, a full-blown family feud in the comments for the Hank Garland biopic Crazy, and a filmmaker or two, in addition to my usual posse.
8. It’s very satisfying to be the first external review of a film on IMDb. A lot of these films deserve more attention.
9. Once you start a blog, it’s hard to stop or slow the pace of feeding the beast…
10. …leading to Internet fatigue hitting me more frequently than it used to. I just want to turn everything off.
11. Reviewing and theorizing about cinema can be fun, but it’s not really that important in and of itself. It’s more important to me to show how cinematic images shape our attitudes and the world in which we live, and thereby influence hearts and minds.
12. Macs are hundreds of times better than PCs.
13. Having people assign films for me to view is both exciting and painful. So far, maximum pain has not been inflicted on me by anyone.
14. What is it with people clicking a link to this site, reading what’s here, and going back to the original site to comment?!
15. People you don’t know want to control what is said about everything. A blog is one of the best ways to fight back.