Milk might have been a bad choice for Ron Burgundy, but choosing to read our blog won’t be.
When we decided to put this thing together, we ignited the creative juices by posing questions to each other about movies and our own experiences with them. In essence, each of us interviewed the others. We’ll be posting excerpts of those Q & As over the coming weeks to help get the conversations started.
Enjoy and comment!
Greg asked the following question to both Karen and Aaron: Why is this project/endeavor/joint blog so important to you? Said a different way, what exactly do you hope to accomplish?
Aaron’s answer was more personal:
My end goal is slightly selfish, to be honest. I’m a writer. I love to write. I used to make (at least, a partial) living as a writer, BUT…
I don’t write anymore as often as I used to. I almost ALWAYS find more pressing things to do. There are big, very personal reasons for that, but a large part of it, I think, is because I no longer do it for a living. When I was getting paid and had deadlines to meet, I was incredibly prolific. But my career took a negative turn that I had not counted on, and I became very disenchanted.
Long story short: I put my heart and soul (and almost two years of time) into a pet project and wound up getting screwed. I was younger then, less mature, and I didn’t handle it very well. Essentially, I quit a great job before I could be fired and decided to “retire” for a while to collect myself and regroup. Over time, I slowly learned something unpleasant about myself: that I was never writing for the right reasons. It was my living. I wasn’t writing for pleasure.
Now, here we are, more than a decade later. And I want to start writing again. For pleasure. For me. Because I enjoy it. Because I miss it.
A year or so ago, when I really began having such great conversations with Karen, the idea of doing a website of movie essays or reviews was suggested many times. I always nixed it, though, knowing that I was no longer disciplined enough to be consistent. Turns out that Karen had interest in doing a blog as well, was conscious of having a similar problem to mine, and she suggested that, mayhaps, we could do it together. We could keep ourselves in check with deadlines, encourage each other to continue writing, give each other feedback on how to improve. Karen suggested Greg as a third partner (which, also, let’s face it, alleviates the amount of work one person has to do even further) and I was right on board with that. I like Greg’s writing, I adore his sense of humor, and I have a deep respect for his opinions on film (even if, in my opinion, he ranks Pulp Fiction lower than it deserves).
So…that’s it. My goal: teach myself to, once again, write for pleasure. With additional support from two old friendd. If something comes from this, I’m all for it. But regularly writing because I want to is a sound enough goal without getting too far ahead of myself.
Karen’s answer was more fun:
“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”
Basically, I just want to write about movies.
(Incidentally, the first person who comments below with the source of that quote will receive a prize that they will, undoubtedly, be disappointed with.)
Greg did not get to answer this question. Mostly, because he was not asked. Greg cannot be blamed for that.
But he was asked the following question, by Karen: I know from conversations and social media posts that you really enjoy your work managing movie theaters. What do you think we can do to keep people watching movies in theaters when the appeal of watching a film at home for convenience and cost sometimes outweighs the pull of the cinema for movie viewers?
Ooooooo…..I’m gonna take some heat for this one, I guarantee it. How best do I speak my truth, while not being shocking, but also showing both sides? Ok…I spent the better part of a year building a theater in my basement. I rummaged through a garage storage room of actual movie-theater seats (with consent of the owners, people…with consent!) and pulled 8 fully-functional, bona fide movie theater rocker-style seats that I assembled in my basement. I had the basement re-carpeted. I bought more than a dozen poster frames, and framed my favorites from the past three decades and hung them all around the walls. I bought a new TV. I finally installed the bar I have been lugging around from home to home, literally since 1997. I hung all of my knick-knacks and memorabilia, including this fancy bar thing my dad got in Okinawa in 1960-something that he gave to his dad, my grandpa. I went all out. Speakers in the ceiling, etc. For me, I wanna stay home and watch the movies in my basement. I’ll Netflix the sons-of-bitches in six months when they become available and have a Captain and Coke while I do it (there may be alcoholic tendencies emerging in my answers to everyone’s questions. I deny these implications.) Moreover, I spend all day in the movie theater working, sometimes twelve or fourteen hours a day. And on weekends, no less. Ugh. Do I want to spend more time at work? Put another way: those of you who work in offices, factories, outside, inside, restaurants, bars…do you wish to stay in your office, factory, outside, inside, restaurant, or bar when you are finished working there? Not trying to be mean; just trying to illustrate a point. I love Taco Bell. But if I worked there, I guarantee I’d be done eating there after a week. I’m ready to go home. I’m old, I’m cranky, and I wanna go home.
But some of this is exactly what Karen is speaking about: why, if we can enjoy the same luxuries of the theater, would anyone want to leave and spend that money? I’ll tell you all the same three things I tell all of my customers who ask me Karen’s question on a daily…a DAILY…basis: 1) You’ve had a long day at (fill in the blank) and you want an evening out…a (great?) escape. Movies are a discretionary income expense. You don’t go to the theater because you have to, like the grocery store, for instance. You go because you want to have a good time and get away from it all. And, even if the movie you had such high hopes for sucks, the staff, the ambiance, the food, and the overall experience can make up for it and make you want to come back. At least, this is the case when I’m there, because I demand that my team produce this experience for our guests. 2) It’s pretty f****** cool when you watch a comedy with 100 people and 100 people laugh at the same time. It’s pretty f****** cool when you watch a horror movie with 100 people and 100 people scream (and then nervously laugh) at the same time. It’s pretty f****** cool when you watch a drama with 100 people and you can hear 100 people sniffling and blowing their nose into a tissue at the same time. The end. And 3) nothing…not even the setup I have in my basement, will compare to 16 speakers and a 75-foot screen. No matter what anyone has done in their own home, no matter how cool they say it is and how much technology they invested in. It isn’t the same. It isn’t possible. This, I know for a fact. I promise. I do this for a living. It is my livelihood. I know there is a difference between what they think they have at home and what they get at my theater. And also, if you are the type who complains to theater management that there is no surround sound in the theater during the entire movie like you have at home in your basement, I’ve got news for you: you’re doing it wrong at home. Look…once and for all…surround sound only kicks into the surround-sound speakers when there is surround sound to be heard from the film, ya’ goofs. If you hear sound from all surround-sound speakers throughout the entire movie at your home, then your 5.1, 7.1, or 11.1 is not configured correctly. We’re not wrong at the theater…YOU are doing it wrong!!! (said the moms to Mr. Mom when he dropped off the kids at school from the wrong direction)
That’s all for today, everybody. But keep an eye out for more supplementary content on Wednesdays. In future installments, Greg and Aaron will talk about remakes, Karen will give us some insights on life in Los Angeles, Aaron will go more in-depth about his history writing professionally, and all three of us will talk about the first movies we ever remember seeing.
We’ll see you Friday!
Aaron, Karen, and Greg