Mark Hobin is the creator and writer behind Fast Film Reviews. Since started the blog over four years ago, Mark has focused on conveying his opinions on every movie he sees as concisely as possible. I “sat down” with mark (at separate computers) to ask him about his experience with blogging as well and more.
Rorschach Reviews: Between your tagline “For People who like their reviews short and sweet” and your blog’s name itself, you’ve firmly established your blog’s goal of giving your opinion in as few words as possible. Do you often find it difficult to condense your views to that format? What are some examples of movies for which you wish you could have written much more?
Mark Hobin: My reviews may be short, but they used to be REALLY short. When I originally started my blog, I was inspired by the one paragraph reviews found in Leonard Maltin’s annual Movie Guide. I appreciated his short succinct style. But when it came time to write a review for The Tree of Life, I felt a simple paragraph wouldn’t do justice to the film. I didn’t want to limit myself and so I wrote a longer review. I still try to keep it brief. I don’t enjoy writing or reading long reviews. However if I feel the movie warrants a longer review, I’ll write one.
RR: Always fun to find a fellow Leonard Maltin fan, his clarity is definitely something to strive for as a reviewer. Format aside though, what was it that led you to start your blog back in 2008?
MH: I was already reviewing films on social movie site Flixster. The rising popularity of blogs inspired me. I adore movies and writing, so it was an opportunity to combine two hobbies I enjoy. The freedom to publish your own thoughts without having to actually write for a magazine or newspaper was very attractive to me.
RR: Did you ever consider writing, whether for movies or otherwise, as a “Day Job”?
MH: I think about it all the time, but as a columnist not a screenwriter. If the right opportunity presented itself, I would jump at the chance.
RR: Have you ever dabbled in screenwriting?
MH: I have not.
RR: That’s pretty understandable, I’ve always felt like it’s difficult to go from the role of critic to trying to actually create the material you usually critique. On a different note, do you ever find your opinions of movies swayed by other reviewers (Including sites like Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic)?
MH: The short answer is No. I believe readers follow a critic because they enjoy hearing what that person thinks. You lose integrity if you aren’t true to your own impressions. It’s human nature for people to want to hold the popular opinion. I’m convinced many people are influenced by the majority. Therefore, I try to avoid reading reviews before I’ve had a chance to watch the movie and write my own. Granted, Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic make it virtually impossible not to know at least what percentage of critics are giving a movie a recommendation. Yet those percentages don’t reveal the intensity of love or hate.
To break away from the prevailing viewpoint can make you feel like an outcast. Only this year I laughed myself silly watching The Three Stooges and was thoroughly unimpressed by The Master. If those examples don’t show a commitment to my own conclusions, I don’t know what does. (laughs
RR: Well put. I fasted from Rotten Tomatoes for a couple months and found that it significantly changed my opinions of some movies, but I do try to give my honest opinion of movies regardless of popular opinion (Lockout, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Total Recall were all movies I enjoyed this year despite their “Rotten” scores). Before we go, do you have any advice for other movie bloggers out there looking to increase their audience and/or improve their content?
MH: From personal experienced, I have found two things produce the best results.
1.) Utilize Twitter. Facebook is great to promote your blog to your friends, but of you really want to reach readers you don’t already know, Twitter give you a platform to spread your thoughts to large group. It’s like standing on a street comer and performing for everyone who passes by. A lot of people will just look the other way, but those that like what they see will communicate with you.
2.) Interact with other blogs. Find ones you enjoy reading and let them know you appreciate their work. Leave comments occasionally. If you want readers and commenters on your website, you should do the same for other people. Nice bloggers will at least respond to what you write on their own site. Outstanding bloggers will take the time to write something on your blog. If they do, keep up a dialogue with those people. Subscribe to them. They’re my favorite kind of movie fans.
You’re definitely in that company, Andy. I’m honored you chose to interview me. Thanks for the opportunity!
RR: And Thank you for talking with me, Mark.
You can find Mark at http://fastfilmreviews.wordpress.com/ or follow him on twitter at @Mark_Hobin