Monday, January 17, 2011

Phil Edwards: Living for Films

Film critique is an art.  For some, like Phil Edwards, it's also a job.  Edwards edits, operates and writes for LiveforFilms.com, a UK film blog that covers everything from The African Queen to Antichrist.  

Phil's line of work fascinates me as an aspiring journalist passionate about film.  From our interview, I was surprised to find that he actually had no prior journalistic experience before starting his website, which is now among the most prominent film blogs in the United Kingdom.  

I recently got in touch with Phil to ask him a few questions about his success.

     Q:   Where did you attend school and has film and/or journalism always been important to you/your passion?
    A:   I went to Wirral Grammar School then went to the University of Sunderland to study Environmental Studies. I always loved films, but just watched them and talked about them. 

     Q:   What is your prior journalistic experience? How is it valuable to you?
     A:   Before starting Live for Films (LFF) I have never had any journalistic experience. I had been to a few book readings and things like that and asked questions, but purely for my own interest. I had never written anything for other sites or newspapers before starting LFF.

      Q:   What got you into blogging? What inspired you to start your own website?
      A:   A couple of years ago I had been sending emails to friends about various bits and pieces of film news, but they were getting fed up with the amount I was sending. One of them suggested I should put it all on a blog for them to check out when they could. I started it up purely for my friends to read, but other people picked up on it and the readership has steadily grown. I cannot believe how people from all around the world like what I am doing. I always decided to just post things that interest me and quite a few people seem to like the same things I do.
 
I never would have thought it would lead to me asking Johnny Depp a question at the Public Enemies press conference, being sent films in the post to review, getting invited to press screenings in London (being based in Liverpool I am lucky enough to know a couple of people down in London who can get to the screenings for me), and going along to special presentations of films - my wife and I ended up in a freezing cold multi-storey car park to watch Spike Jonze's I'm Here while he drank vodka cocktails. All wonderful stuff.
 
It has also led to me meeting a wide range of people who now contribute to the site - whether they review films, send in news or just chat about films online. They are all wonderful people with different opinions about film and they make LFF richer for it.

      Q:   Your website reviews a wide variety of films, what do you think makes a great movie? Why?
      A:   A good question and a tough one to answer. Every film out there is great to someone whether it is the person who made it or the viewer who changes channels one night part way through it and finds it the most amazing film they have ever seen. Even the best films have their haters.
 
 I think that as long as there is some passion involved in the creation of the film - whether in the writing or the actual filming - then the film will have some greatness.
 
 I love a huge range of films and I think that shows in the reviews people send in.

     Q:   Do you have any advice for an aspiring writer/critic?
     A:   Be passionate about your subject. Keep writing. Be nice to people and have fun.

     Q:   How is the site doing in terms of views and/or success? (What do you base success on?)
     A:   The site gets, on average 12000 views a day and that is going up a bit more all the time. It is more than I ever imagined and I feel it is incredibly successful (I know it is still a small amount of views compared to the larger sites). Wikio.co.uk have LFF down as the second most influential movie blog in the UK.

Check out Phil Edwards on his website Live for Films.

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