Jun 6, 2011

A Confessional and A Prelude

The Confessional

Several times in the past, after long periods of inactivity on this blog, I've posted an apologia, with the promise to begin blogging more frequently. In short order, however, that new stream of activity would trickle down to another long period of drought. And in those same posts, I would offer some kind of excuse for the dearth of writing (usually I'd blame it on the day job). After some spotty activity on here in the past few months, this time I can offer no better excuse than to say, well, I didn't feel like it. The fall of 2010 was our worst season ever for sales: in the past, poor monetary returns never discouraged me from writing (if anything such obstacles fuelled my fire even more), but after nine years of chanting the faithful mantra "not for money but for love", one could fairly say that I just got tired. Over the winter and spring, most of my time was spent recuperating from another bout of sciatic pain, further putting ESR on hold.

However, it is my hope to continue building ESR's web presence over the next months, as we approach our tenth anniversary this coming fall. The magazine has published far less frequently in recent times (usually one new issue a year), and as it gets increasingly difficult to maintain an identity in the analog world of print, it is becoming more sensible to build a greater profile in the digital world. Most zines don't survive ten issues, let alone ten years, so I'm proud that ESR has been around this long (granted, in some obscurity)- even so, reaching an anniversary number with a "zero" on the end causes one to be reflective. While I may regret that I didn't go wider with the magazine (and especially didn't cross over into the American market), still, I think we've accomplished a lot within our small world. Most importantly, many of the people in my present social circle are here, one way or another, due to the magazine, which is a reward that exceeds any monetary success.

To date, ESR's peak was in 2006, when we were still publishing two tabloid-sized issues a year, attending several trade shows annually, winning new customers through the DVD line, and hosting monthly screenings at Centre For The Arts. All of these contributed to a marvellous little community of regular supporters who kept this dream alive. That valued community gradually dissipated over the years, as I gave up my own screenings to join the Trash Palace family (and sadly, my own supporters did not follow me there), I began publishing far less, and the venues I've previously attended began to shrivel.

But you know what? I'm tired of building other people's empires-- I want my own back.  Over the next few months it is my intention to create a greater web presence for ESR: the objective is not for the web component to replace the print, but to work alongside it, and fill in the gaps that print cannot (or vice versa).  (The company name is after all, ESR Media- plural).   In the past few days, ESR has opened accounts on such social networks as Twitter, Mubi, et al., for dual purposes.  At the most basic level, it will keep our reader(s) informed of new activities as we develop them, but it will make yours truly keep his nose to the grindstone by creating things to even report on.

The Prelude

The new ESR issue will debut (as always) at Toronto's Word on the Street this September, and we can say with confidence that this 10th anniversary issue will be the biggest and best we've had in a long time.  Several of our regular contributors are already on board with works that exercise their certain areas of expertise, and the combined efforts will surely bring out the "eclectic" in ESR.

In 2008, we shot six episodes of a vidcast entitled ESR Late Nite, which was to increase our exposure online.  This show featured yours truly introducing a movie, and in reverence to the age-old format so dear to our hearts (the late late movie), peppering the shows with vintage TV commercials, trailers, etc.  In no way do I mean this as a slight to the hard-working, talented people that contributed to the show, but overall I was dissatisfied with the results- and firmly lay the blame on myself.  It just ended up being a hollow mutant offspring of the original intention.  The shows were not disasters -they're not bad actually- but they missed the mark of what I wanted to achieve.  (I'd like to offer you hyperlinks of the shows, but for some reason they no longer play on Blip TV, except for the first episode, which is viewable on the website.)   Happily, in part of our online facelift, it is our plan to reboot the series in the fall, with a new look and new direction.  We can't quite let the details out of the bag just yet, but we're excited about how things are coming together.

In the past couple of years, I've been impressed with how such film-related podcasts as "Cult of UHF" and "B Movie Cast" have managed to attain a loyal audience, and with our show's new mandate, we hope that ESR will likewise win the respect and regularity of viewers.  For years, I had resisted giving ESR completely over to the Internet: that person-to-person connectivity which can only be wrought from across a table or at screening venues, is still the most meaningful way of interacting with our supporters.  However, as community and networking become more web-based, it has increasingly become a necessity to create more of an online presence. The communal feeling is virtual, but there is a feeling nonetheless.  We haven't forgotten about you-- we hope you haven't forgotten about us.

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