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Jack’s Movie Reviews

‘‘ Even if you have seen the movie 100 times already, the 101st viewing could reveal something you never noticed before. ’’

By JackSeptember 21, 2017

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Hi Jack, can you briefly describe your channel to new viewers?

My primary focus is a weekly exploration of different movies. Within these explorations, I cover a broad range of topics. In one video (shown above) I looked at how a musical score can help tell a story. In another, I looked at how The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly redefined the Western and set it in a brand new direction. But my bread and butter has always been analytical side of movies. What themes underlie the main story, or what is it that drives a protagonist.

You have a depth of knowledge about films. What is your professional background? Why start a Youtube channel?

I’m actually pretty young, I’m currently studying business/finance/economics in college. In terms of my professional background, it isn’t that deep- I’ve worked a few internships and a few summer jobs. Right now I’m working with a few different companies where I write about movies, and focusing a lot of my out of school attention on growing my YouTube channel.

I originally started writing about movies on a blog when I was in high school. I didn’t feel like I was attracting the audience I wanted and was paying a few hundred dollars a year for the domain name. Because of this, I chose to move over to YouTube where there was already an established audience and no upkeep costs. In addition, YouTube also allows for creativity to flow. When I was just writing about movies, I fell into a cycle where I was writing the same thing every day about different movies. Here on YouTube, I am always finding ways to challenge myself in terms of writing and editing.

The reason why I started talking about movies online was simply that I love talking about movies. Pretty much all of my friends liked movies, but didn’t “devour” them to the same extent that I did. Working on YouTube allows me to have great conversations with an awesome community of people who also love films.

I am curious about your process of creating video essays. Can you walk us through the process and cover key steps?

This is a bit tough because it changes from week to week. Sometimes I’ll know exactly what movie I want to talk about, and what I want to talk about within the movie. Other times I’ll know that I want to talk about a movie but will have no idea what to cover in the movie. What happens a lot is that I’ll be watching a movie, and then something will click, and I’ll start clearing space in my schedule to make room for a new movie. It’s always important to watch the movie before doing anything.

Even if you have seen the movie 100 times already, the 101st viewing could reveal something you never noticed before.

Here’s a rough breakdown of my video creating process:

  1. I ALWAYS begin my research process with the works of Roger Ebert. He has a way of writing about movies where even if I don’t agree with his opinion, I still understand why he said it, and learn something new!

    RogertEbertWebsite

  2. Next, I like to get into the mind of the filmmaker(s) in whatever way possible. In this case, I listened to Ridley Scott’s director’s commentary where he walks us through the production of the film, and also some of the philosophical viewpoints.
  3. I also like to read and watch interviews, listen to discussions, watch behind the scenes footage, and anything else I can get my hands on.
  4. At this point, I like to start writing a rough draft, getting a few broad ideas down on paper along with a handful of specific examples that back up what I am saying. Here is my preliminary outline I made for Blade Runner (please pardon my TERRIBLE handwriting!)

  5. At this stage, I like to start researching what others have said about it. This is late in my research process so I know that what I am writing is original. I use this part of the process to help get a different perspective, to see how others view it, but also to make sure I don’t blatantly copy someone else.
  6. I start writing as much as I can and getting as many thoughts on paper as possible. I add a few transitions where necessary, do a lot of editing, and then I have a script to record.
  7. Finally I record the voice over, and start editing!

You often shed light on subtle cinematic tricks/techniques. Do you pick up on these subtleties while watching a movie? Or do you see them after doing research?

Again, this is something that varies, In the case of American Beauty, I did notice it [where characters are symbolically trapped behind objects] while watching the movie.

In some other cases, it will be something I pick up on when rewatching a scene and paying attention to small details like that.

The narration in your videos flow well. Do you write out a written essay first and then create your Youtube videos?

I write out full scripts for all of my videos. 99% of what I say in the videos has been written out in a google doc!

What sources or websites do you use to research and develop insights about a film?

I really like to hear filmmakers talk about films. I love listening to audio commentaries of different movies. Through these you can learn so much about the production of a movie. Some of my favorites are anything by David Fincher, Francis Ford Coppola’s commentaries for the first two Godfather films and Apocalypse Now, and Ridley Scott’s commentaries for Alien and Blade Runner.

What critic do you most connect with – in style, sensibility and overall approach to film criticism?

It has to be Roger Ebert for me. Even though we focus on two very different sides of film discussion, he always did a great job explaining not just what but why.

Your Top-3 favorite directors?

Living

  • Paul Thomas Anderson
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Terry Gilliam

Deceased

  • Fritz Lang
  • Alfred Hitchcock
  • Stanley Kubrick

Which part of your Youtube workflow takes up the largest time? Have you found ways to increase efficiency?

Writing always takes up the most time, between carefully watching the movie, taking notes, online research, and of course writing the actual script. I’ve also become much more efficient with editing over the past few years. I’ve become much more familiar with the software, and am able to quickly do what I need to do.

You recently passed the 30K sub mark (congrats!). Did your subscriber base grow steadily to 30K? Or did it hit an inflection point and grow exponentially?

Thank you. It’s been a series of ups and downs. My first “break” was my Fantastic Mr. Fox video (shown above). It got a bit of traction on reddit, and the team over at Oneperfectshot wrote about my video and in turn a few other websites including Indiewire ended up doing the same. I wouldn’t call that my big break however. It’s been a steady progress with different boom and busts cycles.

What question do people never ask, but you wish they did?

I’ve only once been asked “What question do people never ask, but you wish they did?” and wished it happened more often.

What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time/money in growing your channel thus far?

I spent about a year trying to go the movie theater every week to see the latest release to publish a video on it. It cost a lot of time, and didn’t do a lot to grow the channel. If instead I was focusing on the content I currently make, I think the channel would have ended up being a lot more successful. With that in mind, I’m glad I started when I did, since I started, there have been a LOT of channels pop up who struggle standing out. I’m glad I was able to get the head start when I did.

What’s next for you (and your channel)?

Jacks-Movie-Reviews-Youhackers-Interview-(YT-FINAL1)

Right now my biggest goal is graduating from college. I’m on track to graduate in three and a half years (as opposed to four which is standard.) I would also love to be able grow my channel to the point where it is financially possible to support myself on after graduating for a few years. I fully understand that a YouTube channel has a lifespan that is very similar to a TV show. A lot fade away after 1 year, most last for 3, 4, or 5, and the really great ones can last for a decade. I would love to be able to use YouTube as a stepping stone after school and hopefully use it to be comfortable in a time when a lot of people are uncomfortable, and ultimately use it as a way to get ahead in the workplace.

Gear Info

  • Filming

    <N/A>

  • Sound

    Audio recorder: FCPX
    Microphone: Blue Snowball

  • Lighting

    <N/A>

  • Editing

    Laptop: Macbook Pro
    Editing: Final Cut Pro X

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Connect with creator

Channel growth

5K

Subs/month

32K

Total subs

1.7M

Total views

1.9%

Sub rate

Time spent per video

15 hrs

Planning

1/2 hr

Filming

10 hr

Editing

5 hr

Marketing

3 comments

  • christysedoreRtcS0

    Suprised to hear that you were a college student Jack. Your voice sounds like it belongs on radio 😉 It works nicely in the voiceovers.

  • Matt Leese

    Hey Jack. Good article! Didn’t know there was a searchable database of Roger Ebert’s movie reviews. Do you plan to do any video essay on Netflix? Dying to hear something on The Expanse…

    • cynthiajoines

      Or MindHunters…(pretty please)