Nick Powell is the head writer and operator of The Cinematic Katzenjammer, a one stop shop for everything movies. Between reviews, news updates, box office recaps, trailer features, and more, The Cinematic Katzenjammer is one of my new favorite film blogs out there. Check out the site’s many features and awesome layout here.
Rorschach Reviews: Most people start off liking movies, but most of those people don’t start their own movie review blog. What was it that made you turn that corner to actually writing for, maintaining and networking a movie review blog?
Nick Powell: Well, I’ve always been a huge movie fan. But unfortunately never had an outlet for discussion in real life, as most of my friends liked movies, but didn’t love them as much as I did. It’s not that they couldn’t “keep up”, but the discussions could never get too in depth or anything. And I always enjoyed writing, even if I never thought I was the greatest. So last year, I decided that I would start a blog, where I’d write a review a day in 2012 as a New Year’s resolution. I figured tying it into that holiday tradition would be an added motivator.
RR: How did your first couple of months go?
NP: As any movie blogger will tell you, having an audience is always a great driving force for writing on the blog. Sadly, the first couple of months had my audience consist of family members and friends. Even then though, it wasn’t too disheartening as I really wanted to keep up with the goal. Then come May, I joined the LAMB and the rest was history.
RR: How did you start to finally get off the ground and build a large readership?
NP: I got really involved with the LAMB. It opened me up to hundreds of other movie blogs I never even knew about and just went all out with it. I figured the bigger presence I created, by commenting on other sites, doing favors, and just sharing ideas, would give me a bigger readership. You can’t just assume people will come flocking to your site, you have to give them more reasons than just content. I also made (and continue to make) it a point to reply to every single comment I receive. People like knowing they’re being listened to.
RR: Definitely good pieces of advice to follow. On a similar note, you were recently nominated for (and nearly won) my award for Best Layout, which I truly think you have earned. Did your blog always have the layout it has now, and if not when/why did you change it?
NP: Oh, boy. Besides my writing style, the design has DRASTICALLY changed over the past year. I’ve gone through three logos and about four different major designs. The one you see now is pretty damn new, as I premiered it on December 4th. I wanted to have a new layout for the new year (and my staff that’s joined me on the adventure). So yeah, it’s changed a lot. I learned how to write better and code, which I never thought I’d need to blog.
RR: Did/do you change the design yourself or do you seek help from professionals, friends who are good at graphic design, etc?
NP: My logo was designed by Alex Broerman (you can check out his work here), a friend of mine from high school. I love the crap out of it and appreciated how professional it looks, so I had to get the rest of the site looking good enough to sport it. That’s really the only help I had (minus a few people helping me with code questions). I learned a lot in the process, that’s for sure.
RR: Your site’s tagline of One Movie. One Review. Every Day is probably one of the boldest and most intriguing mission statements I’ve seen so far. What gave you the idea to stay true to that goal and what has been the most difficult part of keeping it?
NP: Well, as I mentioned, I made it as a New Year’s resolution in 2012. I can now say the goal is accomplished and I actually watched and reviewed 366 movies last year. As for the most difficult part of it all, I’d say it had to be towards the end, when the finish was in view. You get really, really burned out writing every day and I felt I was struggling to stay fresh with my wording and vocabulary. So seeing the end so near was exciting, sure, but depressing in the fact I knew exactly how much I had left.
RR: Interesting that you mention “staying fresh with wording”, I definitely run into that problem with my own writing quite a bit, and I always wonder if people notice. Are there any phrases or words that you consider to be “overused” in your writing?
NP: Well, I could point out a dozen, but then you’ll be looking for them all the time and I’ll have nowhere to hide. But, a few words I use a lot are ridiculously, absolutely, and elevate. I don’t know why. I have gone to Thesaurus.com so many times looking for alternatives. I also overuse, commas, because, I, think, I, need, them, all, the, time. Oh, and I still have no idea how to use a semi-colon.
RR: We’re in the same boat with semi-colons, my reasoning is if grammar check doesn’t object, it’s probably not too important. In any case I had not noticed any overuse of those words at all so you’re completely safe! On to a different topic though, you are one of the few bloggers I’ve seen who actually goes through the effort to put out not just daily reviews, but also a podcast between yourself and other bloggers. How did that get started and how do you like creating new additions to your “As You Watch” Segment?
NP: The podcast is actually something else that came out of the LAMB. Me and a few other bloggers were looking around the forums for anyone interested in starting something up. We decided to team up and give it a shot, and it’s worked pretty well since. It’s still a fairly new podcast, so we’ll still coming into our own but Vern and Joe have become two of my best friends in the blogging world. As for creating new segments, we’re hoping to stick to the formula we have now (a Top 3, then a featured film discussion), but we like keeping things fresh by having a different guest on each episode. I know we’d love to have you on sometime!
RR: I’d love to, let me know when you’d like me to chime in 🙂 With all of this talk about the actual blog, it’s easy to forget what we’re blogging about in the first place. If you had to chose one movie to sum up the reason that you are so interested in cinema, what would that be and why?
NP: Dammit, man. That’s an impossible question. My favorite movie of all time is The Princess Bride (the podcast gets its name from the film- As You Watch/As You Wish). But there are countless films I can talk about that make me appreciate the actual craft even more, breaking down the technical aspects and such. The best part of movies is that they continue to get made and they’re always changing, so I always have something new to look forward to. I just love that something that’s fake can feel so real and make us feel so many different emotions. Sure, you get it with other art forms, but I think movies bring everything together beautifully. I can’t picture my life without them.
RR: Well said. With such a passion for movies, do you ever think about going into the film industry as a career?
NP: I always wanted to be involved with movies, be it making them, writing them, or whatever. But with the blog and my constant involvement in writing about movies, the journalism route is calling my name even more. While I don’t know if it will ever turn into a career, I now know that I’ll always be writing about movies, watching them, and talking about them. If only the industry was easier to crack into…
RR: Very true, I myself am going to do my best to crack into on the financial side once I finish Business school and get my CPA, but we’ll see how that goes. As a final note, if you could give one piece of advice to a hypothetical cinefile starting a movie review blog right now, what would it be?
NP: Just keep writing. Write for yourself, not the audience. If you tailor your style to what people want, you’ll lose credibility and your own voice. Also, get involved. People won’t come running to your site if you don’t take the initiative. You’ll meet some incredible people in your journey and we all got each other’s backs. Don’t be afraid to get out there and do something.