That'll Do, Whale: Saying Goodbye to Film Criticism
My first film festival badge as press.
This is my last post as a film critic.
Seems like only yesterday two guys had a dream to make a fun movie website to belt out their affinity for all things cinema. Gordon and the Whale was born, and Rusty Gordon and I turned our passion into something great. We built a solid team and people started listening to our wit, charm, professionalism, and all around silliness. It was a wild ride of awesome.
Four and a half years later, I shut down GordonandtheWhale.com (read about it here). It was a the hardest decision I ever had to make, and months after, I questioned if it was the right decision. It was weird seeing my writers, who became family, disband and fade away in my life. It definitely wasn't easy, but I've learned that people come and go in our lives. Change is hard, but each and every person I've come across on this now six-year journey has influenced me in one way or another.
As soon as GATW shut down, the founder and editor of this very site, Todd Brown, asked me to write for Twitch. Being a fan of the site since I can remember, this was intimidating and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time, but everyone welcomed me with open arms. ScreenAnarchy is a family that has each other's backs when things get hairy (zing!). I learned a lot about my writing through ScreenAnarchy and the site really molded the film critic I've become today. Gordon and the Whale gave me a voice, but it was ScreenAnarchy that shaped how I wanted to be heard.
Today I get to announce something new and incredibly exciting in my life: I'm taking what I've learned as a film critic and putting my passion and heart into another side of the film industry: distribution. On Monday, I will be working for a wonderful company that champions independent film from all around the world, Cinedigm (New Video and Docurama). I'm incredibly honored and so grateful to be offered a position for this company. Growing up, my desire was never to make films, but to tell the world about them. Being a film critic gave me a voice. Now I get to apply everything I've learned over the years towards an innovative company who shares the same passion as me: movies, movies, movies. There, I'll be doing what I know best: celebrating some of the best independent films from all over the globe.
As a film critic, I've been able to cover SXSW, Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, and various kinds of great festivals around the world. I became a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, the Austin Film Critics Association, Rotten Tomatoes, and Criticwire. I was a speaker on a film criticism panel alongside greats David Denby and Kenneth Turan. I've met the best and brightest journalists, directors, actors, producers, film festival programmers, and people who love movies just as much as me, if not more. And, the Gordon and the Whale logo I co-created with my team in 2007 appeared in a major motion picture. How far I've come as a film critic starting from a little movie website from college is staggering. A little courage and a lot of determination can take us a long, long way.
So, my announcing that this will be my last post as a film critic should be read as a celebration. Film criticism was a large stepping stone for my future in the film industry. It's been an incredible journey and I've learned so much. It took a lot of faith, courage, and understanding (and let's be honest, a little therapy too) to stick with film criticism when it got tough - and boy it sure did at times. But my life wouldn't be what it is without Gordon and the Whale, ScreenAnarchy, my colleagues, and all the discoveries that came my way these last six years. I had a whale of a time.
And don't you worry, you haven't heard the last from me. I'll still be the loud little man on Twitter and Facebook, discussing movies, my new career, life in New York, my wonderful niece Rylan, and all the things that make me smile from ear to ear. As clichéd as it sounds, dreams do come true. You just have to give them a little push.
Before I'm off, here's a list of people I want to thank for encouraging me along my journey. Each and everyone has moved me in their own special way. Without these folks, this article would be non-existent.
In no particular order (except for my mom, of course - she kicks ass):
Everyone at Moroch Entertainment
Everyone who's ever written for GATW
Eric D. Snider
Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Don R. Lewis
Everyone at Levenson & Hill
The Fons PR
Adam and Andrew Conway
Austin Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Sundance Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
Austin Film Festival
Dallas International Film Festival
Al and Linda Lerner
Jo Ellen Brantferger
David Gordon Green
Every movie studio that gave me a chance to see their films for review consideration
Morgan and Spencer Susser
Drunk History dudes
James M. Johnston
C. Robert Cargill
Angelika FIlm Center
Vince Mancini (AKA Film Drunk)
And everyone who supported Gordon and the Whale
To end, here's the motto I live by, courtesy of my favorite Talking Heads song: "Feet on the ground, head in the sky."
Your friendly neighborhood movie lover,