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Things are like this

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hey all,

I know that I've been absent, and that you have questions about the future of this site and what's going on with it. I intend to answer your questions and let you find out what's been inside my head and why I've been neglecting the site.

Previous to this post, I had just spent 15 minutes writing a lengthy post explaining one part of things...and when I went to save it, the site didn't do it. I suspect it's because I chose to use Firefox, which seems to have a current problem with the site. So yeah, this problem effects me too.

It's late right now and I need to hit the sack, but I want to start to explain what's been going on with me, where my head has been at, and what I'd like to do moving forward. I'll also be here to answer questions that you may have.

One really important thing that I'd like to say at the start, and that's to say thank you for being a true fan of CA. I know that several of you have kept a light on and keep posting, and that you were worried when you couldn't post anymore a couple of weeks ago. I just wanted to let you know that it's a nice feeling to know that people still care about this place.

Thanks again, and I'll be back to start off my side of things later in the day.

The Swollen Goi...
Location:
Posts: 14343
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Hey, Patrick. Good to see you. 

I haven't been able to use Firefox or Chrome for a while, now. I think Safari works. I think Opera used to work for me, but it doesn't work anymore. Midori works. IE doesn't.

Some folks are still able to use Chrome. I'm not sure why I can't. I've updated, uninstalled, and reinstalled. It's still a no-go for me.

Mal Shot First
Location:
Posts: 3180
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

I'm posting this in Chrome with the plain text editor.

Patrick, I hope everything is okay and that CCA will be preserved for at least for a little while longer.

Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
Posts: 20119
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Everything is mostly good with me Mal, thanks for asking. And thanks for checking in Goiter.

Let me start with the first thing that comes into my head about why I've felt no desire to work on CA. One of the major things that I promised myself to do with CA 2.0 was to run it like a proper business, which meant having a budget and eventually making enough of an income to hire writers and pay myself a little bit of a wage.

That has all fell apart, and it's due to several reasons that I can determine:

-- the movie website game has changed. When I first started CA back in the mid-90s, I could update the site twice, maybe three times a week. Today, you need to be updating many times a day. I've seen newer movie news websites update as frequently as having 30 news stories each day. Audiences consume content in a much more voracious manner than they did 15 years ago.

-- social media. If your website doesn't have some sort of SMM plan, you're relying on people to spread word of mouth. They won't do that if your site doesn't have an amazing reason for existing. The new CA wasn't enough of a reason for people to spread the word about it.

-- SEO. Google has finally shut the doors on bad quality content and link farms from boosting sites in the rankings. Even so, it's tremendously hard to get on the first page of search engines and thus get the lion's share of organic traffic.

-- fanboys are a fickle audience. If you don't keep breaking stories that they want to see and read, you're yesterday's news. There's a hundred websites like CA out there that want the eyeballs.

-- the movie scoop game is dead. It's not just for CA, it's for every movie news website. Hollywood has changed the game and controls inside news from getting out. Compare the level of breaking scoops today on the sites to where we were 5 years ago, or 15.

-- CA isn't one of a kind anymore. There's places like Wikipedia and IMDB to get your news about a project's development history.

-- news aggregation sites (Imagur, Reddit, Digg from 4 years ago) and social media walls (Facebook, Twitter) disseminate breaking news and viral videos better and faster than checking the front page of your favorite movie news website.

-- in addition to needing to update more frequently, you're doing it for less pay. CPM rates have shrunk. Sites need to deliver over 1 MAU before they can hope to get decent checks. Building up to a large audience requires a major investment of a person's time.

-- and time isn't something I have like I did 15 years ago. I've got a good job, the start of a nice career that pays well, a family that I like to spend time with and other hobbies.

-- and one more thing: I think there's less interest in movie news these days. Compare the level of interest from the mainstream, or even geek culture, that there's a new STAR WARS movie in development to the level of interest back in 1997 when we were 2 years out from EPISODE I. We're living in a time when superhero movies are common, Lord of the Rings has been adapted, various franchises have been rebooted and animated movies are watched by a four quadrant audience. Most important of all, the veil separating the magic and wonder of making a movie has been somewhat (and forever) lifted thanks to DVD bonus features, a rise in interest of the business side of showbiz and greater public knowledge of the people that make movies aside from movie stars.

So yeah, CA 2.0 doesn't work the way that I had originally envisioned it. And I can't turn it into a steady paycheck, much less a career that will get me to the places that I want to eventually be or the goals that I want to accomplish, professionally or personally.

That doesn't mean that I'm shutting down the site, or even never going to write another article or film update again. What it means is that I'm acknowledging something has changed for me, and I want you to know (and hear your thoughts) about it.

So, what do you think? Do you think the nature of movie sites like CA has changed, or is it just that I've changed? You may still dig movie sites but do you get the sense that it's time has come and passed, or moved on to a game that only big players can hope to make money and find success in?

There'll be more from me to come, but I think that's enough to get the ball rolling.

No matter where you go, there you are.
Col_Matrix
Location:
Posts: 313
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Patrick,

    I joined this site close to 15 years ago when I registered to join a contest. It was an Insomnia themed contest, and I ended up winning and being lured further into the site...which at the time seemed like a treasure when I stumbled upon it.  I, 19, hungry for movie news, found a "lost arc" when I saw the developmental-hell pages.  Back to the Future 4, LOTR, Star Wars, all to be discussed by like-minded people, and only at Coming Attractions (at least that's how I felt then...I had searched around).  You were a pioneer in a new Wild-West, and by far the best at your craft.  I lurked in the Star Wars Gen Disc forum, and eventually went from newbie to 1000+ posts. 

    The internet has changed drastically in 15 years, and for the worse.  In the days where banner adds and advertising emerged, your site was the safe haven for the cool nerds.  So much so that 15 years later, we still meet and talk in the deepest parts of the desert of that new Wild West.  Just to see a familiar face in a strange land, is comforting to me, and that is what I've always felt at CA.  1.0, 2.0, and maybe even 3.0, the greater man is still running CA, no matter who is on top these days.  Your site will always be a beacon of hope for me, reminding me of where I came from in this ever-changing climate. 

Much love,

Ryan (Arnold's character from Commando)

"You think we can smell them coming?"
Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
Posts: 20119
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Well, thanks Mr. Ryan. Hearing that gives me a nice little shot of morale boost in my arm, so I'll keep plugging along with my thoughts as more people check in.

I'd like to share with you a little about what I had in mind for CA 2.0. The idea was to make enough money from ad revenue that I could hire two writers on. Both would take on the tasks of writing new daily news articles and updating/creating new database pages for movies.

That would free up my time to try and track down more exclusive scoops, as well as do interviews, script reviews and any longer form articles.

Once more revenue had been coming in, the plan was to then move away from the longer form pieces and give that to the now-trained writers. I would then turn my attention to trying something crazy: building movie database pages for already released films, like THE GODFATHER or CITIZEN KANE, the original STAR WARS and so on.

My plan was to comb through old issues of the trades, movie magazines and that kind of related content, find the rumors, production reports and so on from back in the day, and then post these updates in the appropriate movie's page. Then, someone could read the page for CITIZEN KANE and see an entry-by-entry log of how the production of it developed.

Imagine being able to read the development of JAWS, from '72 to its release in '75, or the original PLANET OF THE APES. The database pages would also incorporate milestones from the movie's production, like a mention of its first day of filming or its last.

I also wanted to go on and maintain the movie's pages well after their release. For example, if Nike was going to manufacture a McFly sneaker to celebrate BACK TO THE FUTURE's 30th anniversary, then that news would also be added to the BTTF database page.

I wanted to evolve CA so that it would be a different kind of IMDB: one that told the story of the making, release and after-release of these films. I don't know if there would be any large sort of interest from people for this thing, but I thought that it would be fun.

I also had plans to regularly change the skin of the site. It's always been the red movie curtain skin, but I wanted to make themes that represented the different eras of going to the movies. For example, as a summer theme there might be a skin showing the look of an old drive-in movie; for fall it could turn to the outside marquee of a 1930s style cinema; for winter it has the look of a grindhouse; and spring it shifts to look like a neon-colored Hollywood style theater.

I thought that would be a fun and interesting way to show CA was all about the unabashed love we have for movies and to move the site's identity forward into its second decade of existence.

No matter where you go, there you are.
Daltons chin dimple
Location:
Posts: 12800
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

 CA was the first site I checked every day, once I discovered it, back when I first got the Internet.  It remains that way today so I was very sad to think it might have been dying.

Understand where you are coming from Patrick, completely.  Totally agree about the new reality facing movie sites vs the landscape of the 90s and 00s.

What I would say is that there are enough supporters out there to help you out with this, and people who don't want a payin' !!   It's not charity.  You have provided a sandbox for so many for so long, so let us put something back??

Re-open the forums.  Between me on Euro time, and a certain insomniac on US time, we can keep the spam to a minimum as mods without acting as ban-happy AICN staffers.  And there are countless people here who would be willing to contribute articles and other content.  Keep the scoops and the D/Base, but add to it with all the other good stuff?

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
The Swollen Goi...
Location:
Posts: 14343
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

I do think the movie news site has changed in a big way. Pretty much every site is fed content by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. The leaks are calculated, regulated. It's like government controlled pot distribution.

The only way I see for a movie news site to really make a big splash in the current market is for it to do something so radically different from every other site that people go out of their way to visit it. Unfortunately, getting the word out on a larger scale is nearly impossible.

New sites like Talkbacker.com spring up from time to time, and there's a lot of interest generated at first, but they draw back into the shadows once the shine has worn off. People are still providing a lot of content for Talkbacker, but there's not much to distinguish it from the already established sites.

Mal Shot First
Location:
Posts: 3180
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Patrick Sauriol wrote:

Once more revenue had been coming in, the plan was to then move away from the longer form pieces and give that to the now-trained writers. I would then turn my attention to trying something crazy: building movie database pages for already released films, like THE GODFATHER or CITIZEN KANE, the original STAR WARS and so on.

My plan was to comb through old issues of the trades, movie magazines and that kind of related content, find the rumors, production reports and so on from back in the day, and then post these updates in the appropriate movie's page. Then, someone could read the page for CITIZEN KANE and see an entry-by-entry log of how the production of it developed.

Imagine being able to read the development of JAWS, from '72 to its release in '75, or the original PLANET OF THE APES. The database pages would also incorporate milestones from the movie's production, like a mention of its first day of filming or its last.

I also wanted to go on and maintain the movie's pages well after their release. For example, if Nike was going to manufacture a McFly sneaker to celebrate BACK TO THE FUTURE's 30th anniversary, then that news would also be added to the BTTF database page.

I wanted to evolve CA so that it would be a different kind of IMDB: one that told the story of the making, release and after-release of these films. I don't know if there would be any large sort of interest from people for this thing, but I thought that it would be fun.

If this is where you wanted to take the site in the first place, why not do it now? There's no sense in making another movie news website if there are hundreds of them out there already. The idea you have described here is fairly unique and would set apart CA from other movie websites. You could add content at your own pace and not worry about having the most up-to-date information, since the information you'd be adding would refer to movies that are now considered classics. That type of site also lends itself better to sporadic conent creation (new content twice or three times a week). Think about it, Patrick - I think it would be a worthwhile project, even if it might not be profitable in the short run (or even in the long run). That's something you could definitely keep doing as a hobby.

Daltons chin dimple wrote:

And there are countless people here who would be willing to contribute articles and other content.

Well, I'm not sure about "countless," but there are definitely a few :)

The Swollen Goi...
Location:
Posts: 14343
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

When he says "countless," he's probably including my sock puppets in the mix.

Quasar
Location:
Posts: 7588
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

And Jubboiter's not even a sock puppet yet!

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline
Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
Posts: 20119
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Mal Shot First:

I'll take your suggestion and think about it some. I did create some older film pages, like ones for ALIEN and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and the first three STAR WARS movies. I just didn't go back and start populating the pages for them.

I had started adding all the old scoops for EPISODE I to its page, but it was taking forever to do it manually. I still don't have it all done, and I never got an email from anyone asking why the entire record of scoop/news history wasn't in there, so I figured nobody cared about this kind of older film info anymore.

You are right in that it would be a unique idea. Maybe doing it as a project where anyone would be free to contribute would make it possible to pull off. There's so much info and so many movies to think about.

No matter where you go, there you are.
Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
Posts: 20119
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Dalton:

I'd like to reopen registration for the forums, but the spambots are brutal. There'd be something like 100+ fake accounts made every day, and about 1/3rd would post their spam messages in the forums and articles. I need to hire a Drupal programmer to solve the problem another way.

And to be honest, not using phpbb or Jelsoft's forum software was a mistake. I wanted to keep users using the same account to vote on a movie's hypemeter and to post, which is why I went with Drupal. And it's an inferior software solution to phpbb.

As for asking for crowdfunding...if you had asked me 1 year ago I'd say no. I might now consider it. My idea of making CA self-sufficient and not asking for volunteer charity or free time from people is pretty much proven to not work, and the whole crowdsourcing model works for wikis and kickstarters. So yeah, I'd reconsider it.

But in the near future...I think hiring a Drupal expert to fix some of the bigger issues is where I should start.

No matter where you go, there you are.
Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
Posts: 20119
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

Goits:

You said: "The only way I see for a movie news site to really make a big splash in the current market is for it to do something so radically different from every other site that people go out of their way to visit it."

It's funny you say that because I actually have ideas for two different kinds of movie-themed websites. One I developed last year, and I was close to pulling the trigger and doing it, but then I got despondent over CA and some personal stuff in my life (which I can talk about later in our conversation in this thread). I backed off movie website idea #2.

Then, just before Christmas 2013 I decided to dust off the idea and see if I was interested in it. I think that this new site has got a strong viral angle to it, and that it's different from any other movie site out there. It doesn't follow the concept of a news site at all. Also, and this helps a lot, I'm more interested in writing content for this other site idea than CA right now.

My brain must have been thinking about it because this past Monday, another idea hit me hard. At first blush I thought that this new idea would make for a fun component of movie site #2. I jotted down my idea and then started expanding on it. Within 20 minutes I had changed my thinking and I now think that this take is strong enough to stand on its own two feet. So now I also have movie website idea #3.

And then to put another twist into the mix (and which I'll reveal here for the first time ever)...3 years back I bought the website of one of the original first generation movie websites, Movie-Page dot com. Bjorn had gotten out of the industry and wanted to sell his domain and content. The idea of diversifying and having a 2nd movie site, and in a different kind of format/content approach than CA, interested me, so I bought it from Bjorn. I haven't done anything with it so far.

Truth be told, this other new idea that popped into my head got me excited, and I wanted to post back on CA and let people know where I've been and what's going on with the site. I was planning on getting around to mentioning these other new ideas in this thread. Like I said at the start of this discussion, I have a lot of stuff to share with you including my thoughts on other parts of my life, like my writing goals and ideas, my professional career and what's been going on with that and my personal life. All of this is swirling around me and it's impacting my decisions on what I want to do next. And I do want to fill all of you in on it as I'd like to know your thoughts and opinions about it, if you'd like to know.

No matter where you go, there you are.
The Swollen Goi...
Location:
Posts: 14343
Posted: 5 years 13 weeks ago

I'm game. I'm sure others would also be game. Spill, Patrick.

The Swollen Goi...
Location:
Posts: 14343
Posted: 5 years 3 weeks ago

I can log in again! 

I can't post using Chrome, but Safari still lets me.

Mal Shot First
Location:
Posts: 3180
Posted: 5 years 3 weeks ago

It is gloriously return of Red Lounge!