At 6pm Friday, I went to “Reviewer Q&A 1: The Silver Screen”, for reviewers of movies and similar content. It featured Derek the Bard (DtB), Calluna (C), Leon Thomas of Renegade Cut (LT), Diamanda Hagan (DH), AniMat of ElectricDragon505 (AM), and after a flight delay Rantasmo (R).
|Photo order is: AM, DH, R, DtB, LT, C|
Q1: For Leon, about the Revenant review and actor performance.
LT: Sometimes you get the Oscar for many, many performances; it’s your time.
Q2: For Hagan, anything so offensive personally that you wouldn’t review it?
DH: “Never. I literally go out of my way to challenge myself.” There is a film that’s come close to mentally breaking her, an evangelical Christian drama about snuff and porn called “Remake”.
Q3: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever reviewed?
C: What gave her the most trouble was the pilot to the 70s Spiderman series, a Patreon request. It took two months, as it was really dull, which took time to write jokes for.
LT: “I typically don’t do movies I dislike”, if they don’t light a fire the work suffers, because he wouldn’t care. Objectively, the “Atlas Shrugged” trilogy, it’s really dry and there’s a reason they’re critically panned.
DtB: Hard to choose one genre. For book, “Orphans of Chaos” by John C. Wright (who became a Sad Puppy); teachers as supernatural magic aliens is disturbing stuff. For movie, between “Troy” (terrible if you know anything about the Illiad) and “Sherlock Holmes (2010)” by Asylum (manages to get every single thing wrong). For cartoon, Dino Squad.
DH: Funny story about ‘Sherlock Holmes’ - went to the museum at Baker St, they hire a guy to talk to you in character as Holmes. I said I was upset the gift shop didn’t have the Asylum one with the dragon. After explaining, he said “Sounds better than the damn one with Robert Downey Jr”. I have never wanted a conversation recorded more in my life.
DH: Regards question, what’s the criteria for worst? Quality? Ethically many things are horrible but are really entertaining. If “worst” means “strike from the universe” then that would probably be “Children of the Living Dead”, nothing good there.
AM: “Where the Dead Go to Die”, it feels very unfinished, animator didn’t have animation background, didn’t have a story. (Hagan sent a link of the trailer to RapCritic, within 30 seconds talk devolved to NO NO NO NO.) Or “Food Fight”, 40 million dollars down the drain.
Q4: What’s your favourite movie? For Leon it’s Blade Runner.
AM: Disney’s Fantasia. Masterfully crafted animation with music.
DH: Time Bandits.
DtB: Hard to pick one. “In the Mouth of Madness” (at his wedding, he even met Sutter Cane’s agent by chance) or “John Carter”.
C: She goes through favourites every two years. If only one left, probably “Wizard of Oz”, one of the first she remembers, or “Spirited Away”. Also likes “The Cat Returns”.
Q5: How has YouTube changed from when you started to now?
DtB: Hasn’t been able to produce a review in over a year because of copyright strikes. They compound. He started with Blip, and while they did give a YouTube partnership, he kind of ignored it. When Blip went away, he found a lot of things he’s done, YouTube doesn’t like, which has only gotten crazier through the years. Don’t do anything involving Toei!
AM: Just today I got a copyright strike for the Peanuts movie. I shouldn’t, it’s still fair use, but it is a hard time. I have to mix and match my trailers and audio to avoid the system like a ninja.
C: It’s inconsistent across the board.
AM: Definitely hard; worse for “Let’s Play”ers.
C: Never had Blip, and have had every problem. Manual, automatic, people claiming images, can’t use screenshots for Game of Thrones because HBO. 12 seconds of footage of the “Carmen Sandiego” theme song got 20 claims from the same company. And Japanese is different too, my Rayearth “Let’s Play” resulted in an email 4 weeks later in Japanese Legalese. Just do your research and be flexible, upload privately first, and adapt depending on what it does. At least YouTube can remove background music and keep my audio, so that’s good.
R [arriving]: I’ve never had a video taken down, maybe since I never use audio from the original source.
DH: Never taken down either but have had some blocked, including “Passion of the Christ” and “Vegas in Space”. It’s very strange. Some things are blocked only in America. A review with Tom White of “The Ray”, out of Indonesia, is blocked only there because she used a 5 second clip in the middle, to show part of a hallway fight scene. But it still got hits from the country.
C: “Swan Princess” review, the studio that owns it is now in Japan, so it’s blocked everywhere except there.
DH: Once got a notice “this video is blocked in only 200 countries”, so there’s basically 8 who can see it, mostly tiny islands.
Q6: On crossover and collaboration videos, who are your favourites to work with?
DH: Everyone has strengths, weaknesses, brilliant things. Today I filmed one with LT.
LT: My show isn’t conducive to them, but I’ll do them for others.
DtB: (missed it sorry), his stuff is always hilarious. The Porn Critic, who doesn’t do videos any more, but could take normal lines and make them sound dirty. Toxic Avenger Four.
C: Filmed one at MagFest, still editing. Two people that cause her to break character, which is a good sign, are Luke Spencer (Rocked Reviews) and Yomarz.
R: Did one with Lindsay Ellis recently; enjoyed all the ones I’ve done.
AM: [like LT] reviews isn’t really made for crossovers, did do one with Joey for Smurfs movie.
(*I asked this question :) *)
*Q7: What keeps you going when you’re feeling down or frustrated about yourself or your work?
DtB: I’m only just getting back after YouTube issues. A compulsive need to scream at bad things on the internet.
DH: “The main reason I do it and did it in the first place, I love telling people about weird films.” In university she would show friends, getting two heterosexuals to watch communist gay porn.
LT: Money, it’s my full time job, need to pay the bills. The other reason is that art existing in a vacuum, where you’re the only one enjoying it is fine - but with a shared experience I like getting the feedback to enjoy it more.
AM: Motivation is in talking about what he loves. About animation, and really good films like “Zootopia” or “How To Train Your Dragon 2”. And seeing fascinating production stories, and wanting to talk about them. “When I start a project, I put my focus into it, so it’s mostly the passion about what I’m talking about.”
C: Getting people to check things out. First an English major in college, wrote nerdy papers, then I could write videos. It I really like something I gotta tell people. And the fact I do four different shows helps, if [copyright] issues in Sailor Moon is pissing me off I can work on Game of Thrones.
R: It’s like if ‘x’ thing is popular, I have to review it, determine what my opinions are on it.
C: Then Patreon requests are interesting.
R: Find the thing you want to get out there, and want to say.
Q8: For Rantasmo, regarding a movie.
R: Has toyed with things that don’t have gay, but wants to exhaust his genre first.
Q9: For Hagan, where did the idea come to be a dictator of a small nation with minions?
DH: Originally was just an evil reviewer. And most others would sit, so she stood, many wore glasses, so she took her’s off. Minions were a one-off joke in video 3 that people liked, the gas gun was an ad lib, ultimately “Haganistan” became part of the canon.
Q10: What was the most difficult review to write?
LT: The hardest in that it was the longest was “Mulholland Drive”, well over an hour, a month and a half to do. Hopefully back up on YouTube soon.
AM: Hardest in recent memory was “Zootopia”, in what to criticize. Spent days wondering what was bad, gave it a 10/10.
R: Positive ones are always harder to write. “Here’s a bad thing, joke joke” while different ways of saying something is good is tricky.
DH: Depends what humour she can find in it. “Hack” movies are ridiculous but hard to review because of how they’re constructed. Her “Vomit Gore” trilogy was planned as a single review, but as a form of comedic self harm, she got 8 or 9 pages on the first movie alone. That wasn’t a fun experience.
C: 70s Spiderman pilot [again]. Rewrote the script 3 or 4 times, was so dull.
DtB: A couple were very problematic. Live show plan was original DarkStalkers cartoon, but beyond “this show is bad, here’s how it messes up the game” there’s nothing more to say. The writing for “Troy” was difficult because it was written at a LARP convention, while doing the filming - the only way to manage it with friends. Kept improvising and adding to the video while filming, then leave to go be vampires, then back to filming, then go to be a wizard. “It was a mess, but I was so passionate about my hate for it.” Later had to reshoot a shot, wondered how to shoot a minute of dialogue without bothering to put on pants.
Here Q11 was a Magfest joke by an audience member, explained by DtB. The gag is to stand up, say “big fan!”, hold the person’s gaze, and then ask a big open ended question. “What are your thoughts on 'Bus'?” The gist of the question in the end was things are in production hell, but were scripted out before the YouTube strikes problem.
Then Q12 someone asked DH to obliterate this copy of (some DVD), which she did.
Q13: What is the strangest piece of information you’ve come across when doing research?
R: Cheerleading was once exclusively done by men. Bellydancing was similar.
DtB: When reviewing DinoSquad, he had to look up how evolution worked in order to emphasize how they get it wrong in the video. There’s no dinosaurs in human genetic linkage.
AM: Animation wise, learning production history of “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”. It started as “Space Jam 2”, kept working despite no Michael Jordan, then “Spy Jam” with Jackie Chan, finally there was no creative freedom in the result. Also the history of “Food Fight”, a simple idea that’s a disaster because the director had no idea but was the company boss.
DtB: Did two reviews of “Teeth of Beasts”. His first said some unkind things, and a friend put him in contact with the director. He discovered they had to keep rescripting because things didn’t fit the sets, certain things were only available certain days, the editor destroyed the master copies too early - second review covered that.
DH: In an evangelical christian cancer drama. God decides to make a girl his instrument, so her dancing turns people christian. The director was a cop killed in “Terminator” and the devil is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stunt double. Weird connections.
C: Watching behind the scenes for Scooby Doo Wrestlemania, all of them did the Scooby voice, one delivery was so straight. In a movie itself, John Cena speaks Luchador (and there’s a bit in here about surfing while unconscious I didn’t catch).
Q14 was a follow-up to Calluna about “Surf’s Up 2” and wrestling. She doesn’t really know wrestling but may look into that.
Q15: Those who take requests, what’s the strangest?
DtB: Doesn’t take requests.
C: Spiderman again!
DH: There’s “Equestria Girls” and New Zealand had “Weresheep” but the weirdest was an Iraila teen movie “Sing Clara”.
LT: “Chicago”. He doesn’t like that movie (and most musicals) and warned the requester “if you like it, I don’t think you’re going to want me to talk about it”, but it turned out okay.
C: She tells her Patreons, give THREE options, so she can pick the best. Yeah, Spiderman was the best of three.
R: Has had “Dorian Grey”, “Yaoi Fangirls” and creator of “Utena” but hasn’t done enough for something to be strangest. Did have one asking about “Broadway” but that’s kind of a broad topic, like “Latin America”.
Thus concluded the Q&A!
But there was more on Sunday! At 2:30pm “Reviewer Q&A Chapter 3: The World” which had Derek the Bard (DtB) and Rantasmo (R) as above but also “The Dom” (TD) from England. We started with a nice picture of Nash with bunny ears. Here we go again.
|Photo Order: DtB, TD, R|
Q1 [distilled]: What media do you think brings real insight to a subject?
R: Doesn’t know if he has insight, but Sharknado is a more competent criticism of climate change than Birdemic.
Audience Person: Except then you get [actress] Tara Reid thinking their science is real.
TD: Obvious answer is kids cartoon shows like “Steven Universe”, ladled with topics.
DtB: “Hackers” is an absolute genius way of representing how nerds think, though not how computers work.
Q2: What is currently the favourite stuff you’ve done?
R: A video a while back, on Baldur’s Gate controversy with transgender. Had a lot to say, even though went in thinking he had to weigh in, and writing took a long time.
TD: Probably “Coraline” episode, balance of sketches that worked for once, didn’t pain me to read or watch them, and was a good book. “I’m vastly critical of my own work.”
DtB: “I don’t like a lot of my work.” Matches his standard of the time, but those standards increase. There’s “Wolf” review but YouTube blocked it in North America so he took it down. That or “Gattica”, happy with that and got a running gag, in that it bombed to an unbelievable degree of failure that it almost set a metric. “There’s no justice for Gattica”. Favourite filmed but not released, a “Critters 4” review with Nash at ConBravo a couple years back; real life got in the way, never finished it.
(* I’m pretty sure this next was my question )
Q3: What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in your work, either one time or constantly?
DtB: YouTube’s copyright system.
TD: Usually the scripting; there’s funny available, just have to find it.
R: What I have to say has substance, which can be a challenge at times.
DtB: Agrees there’s trouble writing, but nothing is worse than shooting, doing twenty hours of editing, fixing it, encoding twice, putting a final version up, and then within an hour getting a YouTube strike. Don’t do Japanese ANYTHING. Toei is litigious.
TD: I was hit by Studio Ghibli at one point.
DtB: Toei flags most, but some stay. He likes to think he said something funny enough this time, so they decided “This one can stay up”.
Q4: With the loss of Blip, how has the transition been?
DtB: I had no dedicated Blip audience, it was embedded on other sites. YouTube is a great way to build a system, but it’s psychotic and run by androids.
TD: I was never on Blip, know it did screw over a large percentage, now sort of getting back on track.
R: I was on both at a certain point, so not as hard for me.
DtB: You got an automatic YouTube partnership coming out of Blip that others couldn’t, or it worked like that for me.
R: There’s many hits from Saudi Arabia and he has no idea why.
DtB: They do download the most gay anything.
R: I know that homosexuality is illegal; there weren’t that many comments on it.
TD: I want to show all my friends so they can be mad too?
R: Having a certain number of dislikes traffic wise doesn’t really hurt, but can turn some away. May turn it off.
Q5: When you decide to review, how often do you rewatch?
R: Depends what it is.
DtB: Agreed, if a cartoon show, watch episodes through once, only need to get the gist. For a movie, once without notes, then second time I know where to make the notes and what to talk about. “Hilariously, the movies I hate, I’ve watched more.” Had to watch “Troy” four times, third time was with person scripting with, fourth was to make sure he said enough mean things.
TD: Only watches the film once, but with editing, feels like seeing it more. Doesn’t watch afterwards.
R: “I don’t watch something in it’s entirety more than once.” One watch, and review based on that.
Q6: What about “50 Shades”?
DtB: There’s lots of specific stores you could go to, to see a movie that would be better produced about that material, and they’d charge a lot less.
TD: Not everyone knows, but it’s deeply offensive to BDSM, vastly misrepresenting. Not speaking from experience.
R: That’s the opposite of my subject matter, so I don’t know much.
DtB: Does seem a little straight for you.
Q7: How has the review culture changed in the last four or five years?
DtB: Back in the day - since 2010 - there was a lot of people. It was Nostalgia Critic to start, and people who began surrounding him. On ‘That Guy With the Glasses’ (TGWTG) forums.
R: To an extent.
DtB: [to Dom] You were just doing videos and decided to apply.
TD: Pretty much.
DtB: There was someone who got into the system when someone else sent an application. Leeman Kessler of “Ask Lovecraft”. He contacted me wondering “who is this Linkara guy, and there’s this Skype chat with 80 people”. The community’s been very condensed over the years. People flooded to Blip, and as they started restricting, things died down, there were fiascos, it’s becoming more dispersed. People aren’t as close as they used to be.
R: Losing Blip did close things off.
TD: Biggest issues, being taken seriously and the saturation of the market. The former’s been better, the latter seems worse.
DtB: Oh no, back in the days, everyone in the forums had a show, there was a whole sub forum, things didn’t get lost.
TD: Doing YouTube now, it’s been said is like throwing a glass bottle with a message into a sea made of glass bottles with messages.
DtB: People search shows with cartoons in it, you end up at the top of the list. So every video has to be decent, every show will be someone’s first.
R: Production value has become more important.
DtB: With less and less excuse for having poor production.
Q8: What was your most difficult review to work on, and the reason?
TD: (missed it - the book was surprisingly awesome). Then “Roger Rabbit”, necessitated changing the very nature of his show to accommodate it.
R: (spaced out again), what more can I say.
DtB: “Troy”, scripted at a convention where we also did LARP. (See question in Q&A 1 that referenced this.)
Q9: For Rantasmo. About a video from 2 years ago regarding gay visibility in Children’s Media, are we anywhere close yet, consider updating?
R: Probably won’t update that particular video as he doesn’t do broad genres as much any more. There will be a “Steven Universe” episode; we’re slowly getting there.
Audience Person: Recalls “Braceface” which had the gay character, and then another one, so they had to meet.
R: They brought that show to the US but not the episode with the gay character. Regards original question then, no, moving away from broad genres.
Q10: Your knowledge of video games?
DtB: Depends on the system.
TD: Console? PC? I’ve been known to game.
R: I play them.
Q11: When scripting what you don’t like, do you feel you get too nitpicky, attacking things you would overlook in a different show?
DtB: Did that for some early book reviews, which is why they won’t be reposted online. “Scent of Shadows”, while not a good book, had me comment on the author being a Vegas showgirl. “I cannot believe I wrote that ... that’s beyond the pale.” Try not to do that. One movie review led me to talking with a director, who had a book on the subject of the difficulty of making the movie.
TD: Has the opposite issue, needing to excuse things in ones he does like. “For the bad ones I think I’m tough but fair, for the good ones it’s equally unfair but more positive.”
R: Said something about Rose McGowan’s acting he wasn’t fond of, experimenting in being bitchy. Not a good look for him.
DtB: Many started with negative reviews because that’s what [James] Rolfe and [Doug] Walker were doing. It’s taken time for the community to find it’s footing, and a review style that’s not rabid.
TD: Notes he fell into that trap. “Am I allowed to be nice?”
DtB: It’s where the energy and enthusiasm come through more in my style.
R: Since taking the word “rant” and putting it in my name, things have changed.
Q12: Dream crossover or guest star?
DtB: Jeffrey Combs. Don’t care if he’s just sitting in the corner creepily eating popcorn for the entire review.
R: Louis Virtel (sp?), really smart and funny. Asked him for “Showgirls”, he was interested, but wires got crossed. Would be cool some day.
TD: Doug Walker. It’s achievable.
Q13: What inspired you to start, how did you differentiate from that?
R: Lindsey Ellis. There was a TV show that doesn’t exist any more, “InfoMania”, it targeted woman and gays which informed his show a lot, then Lindsey’s style of reviewing.
TD: “I was kind of doing the show before it was a show.” It was the personification of what he would yell at his friends, ‘they can’t change that!’, so when he did a film degree, it made sense to combine them. Perfect situation.
DtB: Nash. He’d rant to Nash and Kathryn about books he read with insane plots, and they’re like “wait, what?”. Nash had started doing his show, and he said you have to start a show too - that’s what people are doing now.
Q14: Which reviewer is your favourite [to watch]?
DtB: Lewis [Linkara]. I try to keep up with his show, it’s funny.
TD: I try with everyone, specifically Nash. I can have his going when I’m setting up equipment for my show. And I love Rantasmo’s show.
R: Nostalgia chick stuff, Loose Canon.
(* Me asking again)
Q15: For The Dom, about dealing with dyslexia while reviewing.
TD: Specialist schools helped, spelling is still atrocious. Reading out loud can stumble over words; fine reading otherwise, and for his own scripts, it’s okay as he also spelled them badly. Not an issue when reading for pleasure.
Q16: Can you think of a remake that contrasts and gives insight to the original?
DtB: “New Ghostbusters” taught me how much of a scumbag Venkman is.
TD: (title unheard), missed it when they were just zapping the bad guys.
R: From “Last Airbender”, gathered how not to make a movie in general. By contrast, liked “Lady in the Water”.
Q17: Reviewing - as analysis or product? Whether something’s good, or more philosophically? (sorry, that garbling is my fault)
TD: Depends on reviewer. What’s a good balance? Only giving facts has danger of getting boring but you don’t want to end up forcing an agenda.
R: Ask do you have something of substance, versus “this was good” “this was bad”.
DtB: Preference for reviews that are entertaining. Then can learn something but enjoy the entertainment, what someone has managed to say with how they’re funny.
Q18: Craziest thing a fan’s ever given you?
R: Don’t know I’d say fan, but yesterday someone tweeted me a picture of his butt, that’s the most harassing thing. For objects I don’t have anything.
TD: Jerky tentacles from Japan, from a US fan stationed there. Have yet to try, but not out of date until 2030.
DtB: Can’t think of much. A model of the ‘Clean Couch’ from “Spirit of the Century” game was given to Big Mike and the rest of us. A fan did buy me a wand at a convention, that was pretty boss.
Q19: Personal passion products?
R: Working on a visual novel, hope to submit.
DtB: Have a list of things to review but no specific - wait, there is. In the works for years, a project discussing trends in urban fantasy cover art. He created a system, like a woman on cover, with backless dress, looking backwards, plus a flaming weapon, with some sort of animal, gets “X” number of points. With the point scale 1-12 you’d know the quality of the book you’d read.
TD: Pitch of an ultimate crossover idea, in far off future.
DtB: Also movie “Bus”, trying to turn into a documentary. Or mockumentary.
Q20: Any media of objective quality some can’t appreciate, or so bad it’s good?
TD: Sees objectively fine stuff every day.
R: More the latter than the former, appreciate camp to a great degree. Showgirls is really fun. Southland Tales wasn’t good in the way it was trying to be, but I enjoy it a lot.
DtB: A few comedy shows friends watch. “Arrested Development” I don’t find funny. Interview office style I don’t like.
R: Parks & Recreation? Start with Season Two. It was trying to be “The Office”.
DtB: I like “Mitchell and Webb”, some people wonder why.
Q21: Something learned about yourself by doing your show?
TD: “I’m a smug git. Not a great revelation.”
R: His way of speaking has improved, feels more comfortable talking in general. You see how little energy you have and how much you really need to appear enthusiastic.
DtB: Learned to be a better performer, and more comfortable speaking in front of large groups.
Q22: What percentage of your online persona is a character, does it blur?
DtB: For starters, I’m not actually a wizard.
TD: What? I believed in you!
DtB: Initially was trying to portray more of a character, in some areas ripping off Lewis. Decided he wasn’t good at it, now turns existence of ongoing plot into a joke. Lampoons anyone trying to bring in plot, it’s him talking about his opinions and feelings. Will put on a different outfit with a silly voice if it’s not that.
TD: Intention was to be different from the character, being weird, but now thinks the person on screen is less of a jackass than real life. Opinions are definitely his, if he doesn’t notice it, he can’t say it.
R: Rantasmo is an exaggerated version. While basically the same, it’s nice having that barrier, being more than just the person in the screen.
Check them out on the Internets! DerekTheBard everywhere, The Dom is more popular now than BDSM sites, and NeedsMoreGay is Rantasmo. (“I’m impressed you were able to get that.” “It wouldn’t be a very good porn site, like CouldBeBetter.com”)
Thanks for reading through, more Q&A to come, follow this blog or the Main ConBravo post for when the links go up.