Dan Fogarty is the man behind Fogs’ Movie Reviews, a site which most of my blogging friends are likely familiar with but many of my other readers might not be aware of. Fogs’ abundance of intriguing categories, detailed reviews and a great amount of potential discussion to be had in his ever-full comment sections make Fogs’ Movie Reviews a must-catch for any fellow cinefiles out there.
Rorschach Reviews: Your success in building a reader base, maintaining an interesting set of features and being recognized for your achievements is something a lot of us other movie bloggers can look up to. We all have to start somewhere though; what were your first few months of blogging like and how did you start turning the winds of readership in your favor?
Dan Fogarty: My first few months of blogging were slow, of course, in comparison to where I’m at now. But I do think that I got off to a great start – a fast start – in comparison to a lot of other blogs. I owe that to my family and friends, who really supported FMR in the early days before I was able to connect with others online. Not that that was easy, really. I hounded people pretty bad those first few months. But the people who showed up gave me a nice head start… and I think that that’s something really important. That’s pretty much the toughest part of blogging, or building an audience… you know, getting the ball rolling.
RR: I think we can all relate there, the most frustrating part for me at the beginning was the “hounding people” phase, seeing as I always think of how annoyed people can get with being sold to. Do you have any advice to new bloggers out there who are trying to spread their name without being Spammy?
DF: Well… the people I “hounded” were the people I knew. So, by all means, LOL. Do that. If they’re truly your friends, they can withstand a little pestering when something is so important.
As to making your presence known around the blogoshpere, nothing will do that better than insightful comments. Really read what people write and comment on it, rather than just seeing the title of the post, dropping off a quick line about your thoughts on whatever topic or movie, and trying to hit as many blogs as possible with comments like “Great post!” and “Glad you like this one too!”. Joining the LAMB (the Large Association of Movie Blogs) helps, as does making guest podcast appearances, if you know anyone with a podcast…
But most of all, genuinely adding valuable contributions to the comment community of someone’s blog will get people’s attention. And potentially more than just the blogger, as well. Perhaps the other commenters, too.
RR: Really read something all the way through? What a concept! Lol, speaking of reading, with all of the time we bloggers put into watching films and writing reviews (plus you know, day jobs), there’s very little time left over to actually read. What is the last film you saw based on a book you’ve read, and how well of an adaptation did you think it was?
DF: Aw, man, I don’t read. I don’t know. LOL
RR: I’m guilty of that charge as well so no judgment here. I’ve personally found that audio books are a good cheat for me to actually “read”, they’re getting me through the Game of Thrones series at the moment. Having just reviewed Perks of Being a Wallflower, do you ever get comments from people who think that you don’t understand a film because you “didn’t read the book”?
DF: No, not really. I typically will state that in the review if the book is prominent enough (say, this year’s The Hunger Games) and most visitors now know I’m big on movies, not so much on books.
RR: Conscientious visitors on a website, you won’t find that many other places other than the blogging world. Switching gears a little, you typically give your reviews of new releases scores on a letter grade system, yet you keep your Movies That Everyone Should See feature score-less. Why is that, and what are some Movies That Everyone Should See that you didn’t personally care for?
DF: Yeah… well, I think on today’s reviews, people expect some kind of score or another, so they can skip to it. LOL. It’s also kind of the bottom line or final word. So I definitely was going to use a scoring system, and letter grading seemed as good as any.
My MTESS series isn’t really a review series per se… in fact, I assume most people HAVE seen those movies. They’re more of a retrospective if you will. I choose them either because they’re great or they’re deeply ingrained in pop culture (which usually doesn’t happen without being excellent), so the grades would be high for all of them, probably anyways. But then the posts themselves I just try to make a good read about a great movie.
The “Didn’t Care For” question is a really good one. I did induct Titanic already, which fits the series, but wouldn’t make my favorites list. I’ll be giving Lawrence of Arabia its day in court soon, and as of right now, I’m not a big fan. Although I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of The Graduate when I wrote it up, and that movie absolutely blew me away now that I’m watching it with a critic’s eyes, if you will. LOL. So, yeah, this isn’t necessarily my list of favorite movies or anything, but for the most part I really do enjoy them.
RR: Sadly, I have yet to see all three of those films, to the distress of one of my friends whose favorite film of all time is Titanic. From what I’ve heard it’s similar to Avatar in that it’s visually spectacular but derivative when it comes to plot and characters. I did love your entry on Anchorman by the way, people are so quick to discount it because of how ridiculous it is but it nevertheless set the stage for the last eight years or so of comedy (thanks to the holy trinity of Will Ferrel, Judd Apatow and Adam McKay).
In addition to MTESS, you have quite a few other categories of posts on your blog. Which ones would you say are your favorite to write up and why?
DF: I wish I had more time to do “Awesomely Awfuls“, where I take a horrible movie and mock it scene by scene. Those are fun as hell to do, but they take a huge commitment. “Cheesetastic Classics” are kind of like that, except the movies are better and I don’t go as in depth. They’re a lot of fun to write, too. I can really let the humor fly.
The most popular posts, obviously, are the “Tossin’ It Out There“s, where I come up with a discussion topic and let the readers have at it. Participation on those has been great, it really has. It doesn’t take much writing from me (well, up front at least, LOL), but it’s nice to have a series that’s so successful. I wish all my posts drew that kind of response!
RR: I can see how those might take a while, but they are a lot of fun to read (Love the series you did for Troll 2). It’s always fun to get the chance to inject humor into your writing, and movies like Troll 2 provide a perfect opportunity for that.
I can completely understand why Tossin’ It Out There has done so well, I know from my own perspective that I really enjoy it when bloggers try to involve their readership and actually listen to their opinions and that segment does a great job of it. It helps that the questions are actually interesting too 🙂
Before we go, what are some things that the future holds for Fogs’ Movie reviews? I.e. new segments, features, etc.
DF: Funny you should mention that. I’m really right in the middle of getting a couple of things going right now. One is I’m trying to get my “Readers Recommendations” off of the ground… every week I get so many different movies recommended to me by commenters that I decided to start a series where I take their suggestions and sit down to watch, then post a review, along with a quick Q&A with the person who made the suggestion. Hoping to turn that into a weekly thing, I’ve already got a good number of recommendations lined up!
The other is I’m just about to kick off the MAJOR Awards for 2012, which is my two week blow out of posts handing out awards for the year in movies. It’s a lot of work… 2 posts a day for 2 weeks straight, but people REALLY responded well last year, I’m hoping that this year is even bigger!