Sunday, November 5, 2017

A final swan song for BluJav...

Hi all, it's been a long time coming, but after four years of running this site, I've come to a decision to discontinue content production for BluJav Reviews.

If you've been following this site for some amount of time, you will notice a significant lack of content on the blog as well as the YouTube channel over the last two years. There were many reasons why, but I'll do my best to narrow it down. I'd also like to take this opportunity to share on why I decided to create this site in the first place and how my life and my overall career interests has shifted over time. If you want to skip all that explanation and just want to know how this will affect the content of the site and YouTube channel, I suggest you skip to the last paragraph of this post.

I was inspired to create BluJav in 2013 after the death of Roger Ebert, as when I was a teenager, Ebert and Roeper (previously called Siskel and Ebert before I caught on to it) were my inspiration to look at movies with a more critical eye, and it exposed me to movies that were less mainstream and had more aesthetic value in it beyond the superficial, forgettable entertainment value that movies are typically associated with, especially from where I come from, where our filmmaking industry is still relatively small. I wanted to create a space where I could express my critique of a film, whether I liked or disliked a film and why, and let others know of that opinion and use that information to decide if they would want to watch this movie or not. In the same spirit of how Ebert expressed his love for movies while helping moviegoers decide if they want to spend their precious time on a particular movie or not.

When I started to do video reviews of films, my inspiration for those naturally would come from Siskel and Ebert, but there was another inspiration for the style of those reviews that you may not expect - Giant Bomb. Jeff Gerstmann was known for video game reviews that is true and honest to his opinion and is informative of the quality of the game to the consumer. In fact it's was partially because of his honest journalistic integrity that cost him his old job at GameSpot and forming Giant Bomb in the first place. Giant Bomb used to do video reviews for video games for quite a while too. Furthermore, as an aspiring video editor at the time, I was impressed at how video producers Vinny Caravella and Drew Scanlon edited those video reviews. Vinny and Drew came from a film and video production  background, and you could tell they understood the art of editing; their timing of shots, using different music to separate segments of the video review, how to use editing to achieve humour, etc. From an editing standpoint, they were a step up above an average YouTuber in my opinion. However, from what I gather, they stopped doing it because they took quite a lot of time and effort to produce those videos, so they stuck to written reviews and their regular unedited Quick Looks. So since they've stopped, you could say that, subconsciously, I wanted to continue this trend, fusing the Siskel and Ebert-style of honest movie reviews with the editing presentation that Vinny and Drew created.

This was also a time where Internet reviewing was starting to become popular, where people like Nostalgia Critic, Angry Joe and Red Letter Media rose, where the reviewers were younger, and were coming straight from the general audience. You get more feedback that seems more in line with the general audience, or perhaps even aspiring filmmakers themselves, rather than journalists, where their expertise was in, well, journalism, as opposed to filmmaking.

However, since then, the landscape of doing video reviews of movies and video games on the internet has changed. In the US, the SOPA controversy happened, and it almost threatened the livelihoods of people who use copyrighted material as legitimately fair use for a living, like the people who use clips from movies and video games to illustrate critique. You can read elsewhere for detailed explanations on what is fair use and what is not, as well as how the repercussions of SOPA is still around even though the bill was not passed, but suffice it to say that this has put internet video reviews of copyrighted material on unstable ground. Here in Singapore it is also equally unstable, but the laws of fair use here (called fair dealing here) is even more unclear and there is little legal support for legitimate cases. I personally had my fair share of dealing with copyright claims on my YouTube channel over the use of movie clips in my reviews. It can get unnecessarily tedious to deal with.

So that's one reason. The second reason is from a long term career perspective. Over time, I thought it would be best to focus my energy on pursuing my career as a filmmaker. Yes, BluJav is something that I do in my spare time, as stated in my tagline. However, in my work as a professional video editor, it is long work, and you get exhausted at the end of the day. Eventually you have to decide what do you want to be known for in your career, as a film critic, or as a filmmaker. Being a film critic is relatively easy, you watch a film and you write a review, or shoot a video review, the only downside is that people may call you entitled at times. But when you become a filmmaker, you will see the actual hardships of making a film. You will realize that even a bad movie is very hard to make. The YouTube movie reviewer Chris Stuckmann understands this, and you can see that even in bad movies or movies he doesn't like, he acknowledges the effort made into making it when he critiques it, because Chris himself is an aspiring filmmaker. Even Drew Scanlon has recently left Giant Bomb to start Cloth Map, where he makes independent documentaries about cultures around the world seen through the lens of video games. So for me it, I personally feel being able to make film from the ground up to to completion is a much more satisfying achievement than just reviewing movies. I want to be known to the world as a filmmaker, and not just a film critic, and if I had limited time, and if I had to give up one aspect, I will have to give up doing reviews. 

As a side note, it's interesting to note that as of this writing, the most popular video on the YouTube channel is not one of my video reviews, but rather a gaming video, the Grand Theft Auto V PC vs PS3 comparison video, at over a quarter million views as of this writing. It seems the YouTube audience might think of this as more of a gaming channel than a movie review channel, but never mind...

Anyway, I guess it's time to bow and take my leave. The past videos, reviews and articles that have been made already will still remain on the site and the YouTube channel. Should the domain be no longer active, you can still access the written reviews here using the old BlogSpot URL - For those who have followed my on the site, I thank you all for your support all these years. It's been a great experience to have at least venture into the world of film criticism and critique. Continue to share your love of film to the world, and keep talking about movies! For the filmmakers, I'll see you in the filmmaking world. Peace out!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.