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Underground Film Blogging Is Hard … But Not Impossible

So, since I’ve identified — with a generous assist by Jennifer MacMillan and Clint Enns — what the current underground film blogs and websites are, it’s now time to encourage others to get in on the fun.

It’s been my belief that more people who enjoy underground films — whatever somebody thinks an underground film is — don’t write about them online because there isn’t a dedicated group of sites regularly sharing links and info. Yes, it’s true there’s an underground film “loop” like there are for mainstream and indie films, but since we don’t follow the “news of the day” pattern of blog posting and article writing, we all kind of do our own thing and don’t have an industry that begs for daily reinforcing.

And that’s a good thing! I find myself learning about new, interesting topics and films and filmmakers daily through the underground film blogging loop. Really, there’s a ton of interesting screenings and film festivals happening all over the world right now that may seem like there’s not much audience for them since the big media sites regularly ignore them, but they exist and audiences do go to them, flock to them, actually. There’s also an unprecedented amount of underground film available on DVD.

Who’s watching these films? I don’t know. If it’s you, you should start writing about them. Share your enthusiasm and love and passion, or even just your middling enjoyment, with the world.

However, I will concede that it can be difficult to write consistently on underground films. Even after devoting time to the Underground Film Journal for almost four years, I admit at times it can be trying, to find that constant motivation, that new angle, that new approach, especially in what seems a mostly indifferent world. Checking pageviews and ad numbers and Google searches of site visitors is like a form of daily, ritualized torture. That’s the disheartening side.

The uplifting side is seeing how hungry some people are for this type of filmmaking: The appreciative filmmakers who get a review or a video posted up when no other website will have anything to do with them. The audiences who are thankful that I’ve turned them onto something new and unique. They’re out there and they’ll visit your website should you choose to start one.

Back in 1996, I didn’t really know what the hell was going on in the world of underground film. I wasn’t even sure there was anything going on. But, a couple posts here, a couple posts there and I started piecing together a picture. And visitors started coming to my site because there wasn’t another one like it out there.

It was tough going at first, but once the ball started rolling, I soon developed an ever growing field of contacts funneling me films and information. That field is constantly growing and I hear from more and more people who want me to write about something of theirs: A video, a film, a festival, a press release, a poster, a trailer, you name it. (My apologies to the people whose emails I don’t respond to for months at a time.)

The trick is to be just a little bit active. Put up a couple posts on your new blog. Post some comments — helpful ones: don’t spam! — on other film sites. Tweet a couple times a week. Ask a couple people for help. Send nice emails. Small efforts can sometimes lead to big results. Hopefully, things will eventually snowball, or at least provide semi-consistent fodder for you to write about.

And there’s a pretty nice “loop” of underground film blogs and sites that you can plug yourself into. That list I created, some are run by people I’ve become friends with, others I don’t even know if they know I exist. And I’ve made some new contacts from Jennifer and Clint‘s additions. Through our shared interest, it’s easy to bond quickly and underground film folk are usually pretty enthusiastic, encouraging and helpful, even the ones you don’t hear from personally too much. We’re all in it together!

So, go start an underground film blog. Or, just start a blog in general and include some underground film content in it. There are no rules. Do as much or as little as you want. (And I think my next post on this theme will be on social networking and bookmarking tips to help increase traffic if that’s your goal.)

If you read this and are so inspired to start an underground film blog, come back to this post and leave a link in a comment below. On the internet, old blog posts never die unless they get deleted — and I don’t intend on deleting this one anytime soon. Maybe you can inspire more underground film blogs to form.

Writing about underground film isn’t always easy, but it’s usually pretty darn fun.


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