Holidailies 2007 is happening

Wanted to let you all know that we updated the Holidailies website for 2007, and registration is now open. If you haven’t heard of Holidailies, it’s an annual collaborative project that I started in 2000 (I think there were maybe six sites that year). Participants pledge to update their personal websites (blogs, etc.) every day in the month of December. It’s a lot of fun and even if you don’t take part as a writer, this is a great way to find lots of new stuff to read while you procrastinate on your holiday shopping and organizing. I believe we had more than 200 sites participating last year, so check it out! (Some of these people have been writing for Holidailies for seven or even all eight years.) The fabulous portal design is the work of my husband, who took Holidailies from the days when it was a webring and made it a feature-rich and fun website.
Update: We had more than 300 sites last year. Wow. We’re not promoting it as heavily this year, so we’ll see what happens.

I need your shorts

I’ve picked up a new (well, new-to-me) regular column over at Cinematical called Eat My Shorts. No, it’s not about Bart Simpson and his appearances on celluloid, it’s about short films. You can read my first attempt at this column here. The idea is that I find good short films online, and then link to them and tell you how wonderful they are. And then you can go watch all the films yourself. The great thing about short films is that even if they’re less than stellar, you don’t have long to watch. And yet some of the films I recommended this week pack all the entertainment of a feature film into 5 minutes.
If you’ve made a short film yourself — it doesn’t have to be recent — and it is available to the public online, please send me a link. Or if you haven’t made a short film but you saw one online the other day and loved it to death, send me a link. You can email me (address in the right sidebar) or post a comment with the link. I’ve been getting some good responses so far, but I need to build up a little library of films I can use in the Eat My Shorts column so I can sustain it weekly. Good publicity for your short film, good material for my column, good films for everyone to watch … we all win.

the week before SXSW

I ought to post here more often, I know. In the meantime, it’s the week before SXSW Film Festival starts and I thought that I’d like to help all the film geeks coming to Austin. So I posted to Slackerwood:
A handy guide to SXSW Film Fest venues
Feel free to post comments to Slackerwood or email me if you think of ways to improve that entry — I want it to be as good as it can. Also, feel free to forward the URL. I’m hoping the info in the entry will be helpful. I’m working on a schedule to attend part of AFI Dallas at the end of this month, and I know shamefully little about Dallas movie theaters for someone who lives less than four hours away. I would love to see someone write a similar piece for AFI Dallas, or really, any film festival. Out-of-towners often need all the help they can get, especially if they’re the type of people who spend a lot of time sitting in dark rooms staring at screens.

Indie news at Cinematical

You might have noticed that Cinematical, the film site to which I contribute news/reviews/features, has changed slightly in the past few weeks. AOL’s Moviefone blog has merged with the site. We also have a new editor in chief, longtime contributor Ryan Stewart, who’s helping us develop more recurring columns and interesting features.
One aspect of the Cinematical changes that I feel hasn’t had enough publicity and attention yet is the new subsite called Cinematical Indie. If you don’t want to read about the latest Harry Potter trailer or Lindsay Lohan’s rehab adventures, you ought to bookmark Cinematical Indie or its RSS feed. “Indie” in this case is a very broad term, meaning non-mainstream, and even includes news about classic older films.
Some indie-film news articles and reviews appear both on Cinematical and on Cinematical Indie — for example, Sundance coverage that attracts a broad range of interest. Most of my Vintage Image of the Day posts appear on both sites. However, there are some articles that appear only on Cinematical Indie, which is one reason why I recommend visiting the site regularly and often.
For example, right after Cinematical Indie launched, I posted “The Allure of Collecting 16mm Prints,” which is basically a heads-up about a short doc that Austin filmmaker Nick Robinson posted to YouTube. Because Cinematical Indie was new, hardly anyone read the entry. Normally I wouldn’t care, but I want to tell as many people as possible about Nick’s film (which is embedded into the article linked above) and encourage you all to see it. Go now. It’s only about 10 minutes long and it’s a fun glimpse into the world of collecting movies on 16mm film.
I’m hoping Cinematical Indie finds a devoted group of readers — there’s a lot of stuff on there worth your time. Jeffrey Anderson has a great weekly column called “400 Screens, 400 Blows” about movies in limited release. Cinematical Indie’s manager, Kim Voynar, is encouraging us all to write more about indie films, and frequently posts good reviews and interviews. I’m working with the editors on ideas for good features and columns myself. I want Cinematical Indie to flourish, so I’m asking all of you to pay a visit, maybe leave some comments, and come back soon. And then tell your film-geek friends. Otherwise, if the site attracts little interest, I may end up having to write more about celebrity gossip, and none of us would like that.

Holidailies: Register, sponsor, read

If you’ve ever read Ain’t It Cool News (AICN), or anything about the Butt-Numb-A-Thon (aka BNAT), you know that AICN founder Harry Knowles refers to the annual BNAT screening event as “Geek Christmas.” It takes place on or around his birthday, and he obviously loves to plan the movies to show, the treats in the gift bags, the guest list, and the event as a whole. I haven’t actually attended a BNAT yet, but I can imagine he is just as enthusiastic during the event as he appears to be beforehand.
I don’t have a BNAT event to schedule (maybe someday …) but I suspect I know exactly how he feels. For the past seven years, my own little happy holiday takes place in mid-November and December. For the past two days, I feel like it’s Geek Christmas, or to be fair to my Jewish husband, at least Geek New Year’s … well, there’s definitely a holiday spirit in the air.
We opened Holidailies for registration on Friday morning. Since 12:01 am on Friday, I’ve received dozens of email alerts that people have signed up, and it’s like being showered with tiny gifts. People I know in real life, people whom I didn’t realize kept websites anymore, people who seem to update sporadically are all signing up and it’s a real treat. I have been known to exclaim aloud, or IM The Beau with joyous, “Look, Margaret signed up! And Pooks is signed up, and Katie! I forgot about Katie!” Later in the day, “Oh, my god, Jane Duvall has a site again!” and “Oh, look who’s back!” I nearly ran out of exclamation points. The Beau, who gets the same email notifications, even pointed out one or two signups he was happy to see.

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A small study in promotion

As I mentioned earlier, this week I posted an feature-length entry to Slackerwood: Kevin Smith broke my (red carpet) cherry. I was very proud of this entry, and I wanted to promote it as much as I could. Slackerwood doesn’t have a lot of traffic yet, so it would be easy to promote the Kevin Smith entry in several different ways, then use the stats to see which ways were most effective.
Here’s how I promoted the entry:

  • Posted to local portals Austin Bloggers and Austin Stories.
  • Posted a link in an online forum I read and post to regularly.
  • Posted a link to the ThreeWay Action portal.
  • Posted entries at Digg and Netscape, two sites where readers can vote on the entries they like.
  • Posted a link to a John Scalzi thread dedicated to people “pimping their links”
  • Posted a link here on Celluloid Eyes.
  • Sent a notify list email message with the link.

I checked my stats on Saturday morning to see the results. Here are the hit counts from the referrer logs:

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RSS feed changed and other site news

If you subscribe to my RSS feed with Bloglines or another reader, this is important news. I changed my RSS feed. Here’s the new feed:
If you’re using Bloglines, you should resubscribe and select the above feed. The old feed is still around but it’s going away soon. (And if you’re not using Bloglines or an RSS reader, let me just say that I can’t recommend it enough — it’s much better than using the notify list.)
The new feed will give you the entire entry, not just an excerpt. I like reading entries directly from Bloglines, so I figure I should offer the kind of RSS feed that I myself prefer. Also, the Beau was helping me with some other site changes and asked if I wanted it changed.
You might notice some other improvements to the site. You can now view archives by category, using the pull-down menu in the left sidebar. I linked to the Theatrical Reviews category in the right sidebar, so you (and I) can find those easily. And if you want to read the movie reviews I’ve posted to Cinematical, I’ve added a page where I’m tracking those, which is also linked in the right sidebar. I hope these changes help … let me know if you encounter any problems.
And many, many thanks to the Beau, who spent a lot of time this morning cleaning up messes on this site and improving things.

Welcome to Slackerwood

I’d like to introduce my latest Web site: Slackerwood, which is focused on Austin film news and features. The site has been up and running for a month or so, but I wanted to wait to hype it until I had a nice juicy feature story to promote. And I do:
Kevin Smith broke my (red carpet) cherry
I hope to post regular features like the above to Slackerwood, as well as information on upcoming Austin screenings and interesting local movie news. At some point, I hope the site will have additional writers, because I can’t catch every single special screening in town. Ideally, I’d like to post news items to Slackerwood daily, but I haven’t quite reached that point yet.
Celluloid Eyes isn’t going away. The Austin-related film entries will be posted to Slackerwood, but I’ll still post general film reviews and features here.
I came up with the idea for Slackerwood earlier this year when I realized that it was difficult to find information about Austin film events and screenings in a single place. Since then, the Statesman has started their Austin Movie Blog, which includes a lot of useful information, especially Austin release dates for independent films. I also decided that I didn’t have time to track and post a database of every single local film event and screening … yes, Austin really does have that many. I think that selecting a few to highlight, and posting features about the Austin film scene, will work well for Slackerwood.
Anyway, go visit Slackerwood if you haven’t already. Feel free to post comments, link to the site anywhere and everywhere, and spread the word. I’m excited about the future of Slackerwood.

site news (aka why I love my boyfriend)

I was excited when we upgraded Movable Type a few months ago, because I thought it would solve all my comment spam problems. I was tired of having to weed out publicly visible comment spam all the time. I would be able to moderate comments easily, and I had heard that once a person commented the first time, he/she could be cleared to comment without moderation thereafter. I figured I could ban any of the worst comment spammers.
It turned out that the latest version of MT is totally crappy for handling comment spam. You can moderate comments before they appear on the site, but unless you are requiring users to have TypeKey accounts, you can’t ban spammers or anything like that. (Or if you can, the documentation and UI are so crummy that we could not figure out how.) I didn’t want to require that commenters register for TypeKey accounts; I don’t have one myself and I hate making people register yet another time on the Web just so they can comment. As a result, I had to deal with 100-plus spam comments a day, clogging my In box with email notifications and requiring I clear out the comment queue.

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Holidailies: it’s live

Holidailies is live and kicking and you should check out all the wonderful posts if you haven’t already. It’s a great way to find new stuff to read.
Meanwhile, lots of Holidailies participants will soon wander over to this site for the first time, possibly not knowing what to expect. I like the idea of a little introduction, which I notice other participants have done.
Hi. I’m Jette. This is my movie blog. I write about movie-related stuff most of the time, except when major hurricanes wipe out portions of my hometown and I feel compelled to write about that. I live in Austin so I write about a lot of Austin movie events. Austin is a wonderful town if you like movies.

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