Friday 28 February 2014

Hello World!

Hola and welcome!

I'm Hal C F Astell, the critic in a kilt, and I've been writing movie reviews at Apocalypse Later since 2007.

I'm proud of that site, which has evolved considerably since its early days. It now contains well over two thousand reviews which, between them, add up to well over two million words. I've also expanded into print, with Apocalypse Later Press publishing two books in May 2013, as you can see from the covers up there under the logo. There are more on the way.

While there was never a focus to begin with, Apocalypse Later gradually found one in reviewing the sort of films that most reviewers don't review: short films, microbudget films, old films, foreign films, etc. For instance, this year, amongst the film challenge reviews, festival reviews and new genre reviews, I'm also covering all 36 of the films Charlie Chaplin made in 1914, his debut year on screen, posting each review a hundred years to the day after they were originally released. Here's #5, Between Showers, posted today on its centennial. I also have many other projects already in process or planned for the future.

So Apocalypse Later is going from strength to strength, and that's the only place it's going, but it's very deliberately only a movie review site and I'd like to keep it that way. It's becoming clear that I need somewhere else to post all the other things I'm writing that aren't movie reviews. For instance:

- It would be great to have a place where I can highlight when filmmakers quote my reviews on DVD covers or in film trailers, when I'm referenced on Wikipedia or when another blogger says something really cool about me, like this page at The Thin White Dude's Reviews that ranks Roger Ebert and I in the same set of four reviewers.

- With two books behind me and more on the way, I need a venue to highlight where I'll be doing book signings (like the next Authorpalooza at Dog Eared Pages in Scottsdale, AZ on 29 Mar 2014) or convention panels about movies (like Phoenix Comicon from 5-8 Jun 2014). Come on down for a return to last year's popular panel about the Awesomely Awful '80s!

- I'd like to be able to point out when I hit a new monthly sales record... like today, for instance. My books have been out for ten months and I've done next to no publicity, building sales through word of mouth and search traffic to Apocalypse Later, but February just trumped last December as my best month thus far.

- I'd also like to highlight new customer reviews of my books on Amazon. You know, Amazon publicise books with fifty or more customer reviews; each of mine has a puny three at the time of writing. I'm starting to get out there myself and review books I've enjoyed by other local authors. Hopefully they'll return the favour.

- Since early 2013 I've been programming mini-film festivals at local conventions, like LepreCon, CopperCon, DarkCon and, next weekend, Wild Wild West Con at Old Tucson Studios (7-9 Mar 2014). It's going to be a real treat to screen steampunk short films in the saloon set that has been seen in so many classic westerns (and more recent ones like The Three Amigos). I'd like to be able to tell you where and when I'm going to be, what I'm going to screen and where you can see some of these wonderful films if you can't make it to the events.

- I've been writing articles about local Arizona film for the WOD, a free monthly newspaper, but previewing events is difficult when publication dates are inconsistent. I need somewhere where I can post whenever needed. This is especially important when trying to maintain a monthly sweep of upcoming local film events (festivals, premieres, screenings etc). The web also allows me to add in any that aren't pointed out to me in time for publication.

- While my main focus is on movie reviews, I've reviewed books, music and even a play in my time. It would be useful to have a venue to post these things online under my own banner.

- I often get asked by filmmakers who submit their work for review at Apocalypse Later whether I can post anything other than a review. There's plenty of news, even after reviews are published. Some films don't see a release until long after I've posted a review, while others land local screenings or major festival appearances that are worthy of note. It would also be nice to highlight when films are posted online at YouTube or Vimeo for all to see.

- Most importantly, there's new material to highlight. I'd like to be able to point out upcoming movies by filmmakers I've enjoyed in the past and advertise Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns, like the current one for Running Wild's next feature, Duel at the Mound.

- I don't review every movie I watch, so it would be useful to have somewhere to just throw out odd impressions when I'm not planning a full review. Having worked through every film featuring Jason Statham, my better half and I are doing the same with Johnny Depp, but most of those films are far too mainstream to cover at Apocalypse Later. I'd happily throw up some analysis online, though, if only I had somewhere to throw it. The same goes for our travels through the IMDb Top 250 (I just dropped from 208 to 207 today because Swades, another Indian film I've never heard of, finally made up there).

- And, as Yul Brynner used to say in The King and I, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

So, here's the answer to all these scenarios, the cunningly titled Apocalypse Later, Now! It won't replace Apocalypse Later, it'll complement it, especially once I get a different banner up. That site will remain dedicated to quality film reviews; this site will cover everything else.