Has it been six years already? – By Duane L. Martin

The June issue of Rogue Cinema marks our sixth year of operation.  I know that generally only the increments of five generally mean much with anniversaries, but when you run a website like ours, every anniversary is meaningful.  Why?  Well first off because we have an all volunteer staff of writers.  A few have been with us from the beginning, one or two for nearly that long, many have come and gone and still more have just recently joined us.  At times it’s been difficult.  We’ve gone through periods where we’ve been short on writers, and it seemed as if things would end up just shutting down because we wouldn’t be able to maintain the level of content.  Somehow though, fortune has almost always seemed to smile on us when we needed it most, sending us new writers, connecting us with last minute Sleepover Girls, etc…  This has allowed us to continue, and to reach what is now our 6th year.

The reason it’s extraordinary that we’re still in operation is two-fold.  First, the site makes no money whatsoever.  In fact, I run it at a personal loss every month.  None of the writers are paid, but I personally host the site on my own server, on a connection I pay for.  I also pay for the domain, pay for the separate hosting we use for various things and, if you put a value to the time I spent basically being the administrator of it all, it amounts to a losing proposition financially.  Despite my best efforts, I’ve never been able to figure out a way to make money from the site.  I’d love to be able to pay myself and the great staff of writers we have, but running a site like ours just doesn’t lend itself to making money.  I’ve tried selling advertising blocks on the site, but no one’s ever bought any.  I’ve asked for donations, but I’ve only ever gotten a few, and while they were greatly appreciated (even more so than I could express to those who made the donations), if you add them up, they wouldn’t even amount to one month of connection costs.  Other than that I’m just at a loss as to how we could make any money.  I sometimes wish some larger entity would swoop in with a boatload of cash, offering to buy the site and keep it in operation, turning all the writers into a paid, full time staff.  It’s a nice fantasy, but I seriously don’t see that happening.

The second reason it’s extraordinary is that we’ve been blessed with some amazing people over the years who’ve selflessly volunteered their time and efforts to put out a great magazine month after month.  Many of our writers have come and gone over the years, but I’d like to take a moment to thank a few personally who have basically been the foundation and the heart and soul of Rogue Cinema.

Brian Morton, Josh Samford and Danny Runion (in addition to myself) have all been with the magazine from the very beginning.  We were originally in a group of b-movie review sites called The Rogue Reviewers, which for the most part doesn’t exist anymore, even though I still host the website for it.  We all still have our own personal review sites that are members of that group, but once Rogue Cinema started, that’s basically what The Rogues turned into as a group.  Though the Rogues was once a strong collection of sites, and we’ve had many members cycle in and out since it began, we few are the only ones left, and I’d like to personally thank Brian, Josh and Danny for all of their hard work over the years, and for sticking with the magazine for so long.  I really hope they all know how much their contributions are appreciated.

Nic Brown and James L. Neibaur haven’t been with us from the beginning, but they have both been with us for many years now, each contributing in their own special ways.  Nic has provided us with tons of interviews, reviews and the occasional coverage he does of various film festivals, while James has reviewed a lot of great classic DVD releases and books about classic cinema.  A huge thanks to both of them for all the hard work they’ve done over the years and the contributions they’ve made to help keep the magazine great.

In recent times, we’ve had a variety of new people join our writing team, and I’d like to acknowledge their contributions as well.

Cary Conley, has been an absolute work horse.  I really don’t know how he does it, but he’s a reviewing machine.  In addition to the tons of reviews he’s provided us, he’s done some great interviews as well!  Philip Smolen and Jason Lockard, who both do classic film related articles for us, have also done an amazing job of integrating themselves into the magazine and shedding new light on some great classics that should never be forgotten.  Their articles have become a wonderful addition to each issue, and I personally look forward to checking them out each and every month.

Emily Intravia, Katie Wynne and Matt Barry are all pretty new to the staff, and yet they’ve already made an impact with their dedication, great attitudes and their obvious love of film.  Matt in particular is new to this issue, but you can expect to see a lot more of him in the future.  To you three, a big thanks for joining us.  You’re all great writers and wonderful to work with.

I’d also like to say a quick thanks to all of the past writers who’ve contributed to the magazine.  You helped to keep us going and to continue building into what we’ve become.  There are too many of you to mention here, but to all of you, I’d like to say thanks.

Lastly, I’d like to thank our Sleepover Girls.  The Sleepover Girl feature has been a fun addition to the magazine, and it’s given us a chance to spotlight various actresses in the indie film community.  In particular, there’s one I’d like to extend an extra thanks to, and that’s this month’s Sleepover Girl, Rachel Grubb.  A while back I sort of unofficially dubbed her the Queen of the Sleepover Girls, but in fact, that’s truly what she is.  Not only has she appeared as a Sleepover Girl more times than anyone else, but she epitomizes everything I had envisioned the feature to be.  I wanted it to have a sort of a classic pin-up style, and she has that style in spades.  Not only does she do some incredible classic pin-up modeling, but her modern shoots take the class and style of the classics and bring them up to date.  She also happens to be a great actress, a wonderful person and really awesome to work with.  So while all of our Sleepover Girls have been simply amazing, Rachel truly is the Queen of the Sleepover Girls, and for that I can’t thank her enough.

One of the unfortunate side effects of doing what we do, and doing it as long as we’ve been doing it is that many of us are burned out.  You can only do something creative, like film reviewing, for so long before tedium starts to set in and you begin to feel like you’re repeating yourself in your reviews and in the questions you ask in your interviews.  It becomes harder and harder to find new and creative ways to express yourself.  This is inevitable, and an unfortunate aspect of what we do.  Imagine if you had a bowl of wax fruit sitting on a table, and once a month someone would come in and change the fruit in the bowl to a different arrangement…say, six times, and you had to review the good and bad aspects of each different arrangement, and in addition to that, you had to interview the guy who changes the fruit about one of the particular arrangements.  Eventually you’d run out of creative new ways to express yourself, and you’d find yourself asking the same tired old questions, despite your own burning desire to keep things fresh.  It’s a constant battle for people who do what we do, and one that becomes highly frustrating at times.  Sometimes we need a break so we can return to things with a fresh perspective, and any of the writers of Rogue Cinema are welcome to take a break whenever they need it.  I however, am not.  Running the magazine and putting each and every issue together personally, doesn’t allow me that luxury.  I also feel a responsibility to take my share of the load as much as possible so as to lighten the load on the rest of the writing staff.  I know the stuff I take doesn’t lighten things up much, but every little bit helps.

I personally have kind of reached a point where I’d love to have enough writers so that I could just step away from things and have my role simply be that of "The Editor", handling the day to day operations of the magazine, putting the new issues together, etc…, while still occasionally taking on the odd screener just to keep my fingers in it.  I think we’re currently maybe one or two writers short of me achieving that goal, but who knows.  Maybe someday…

All in all, we’ve carved out a nice little niche for ourselves in several areas.  There are very few, if any other magazines that cover the range of films that we cover.  If it’s indie, classic, cult, obscure, exploitative, Asian or any genre related film, we’ll cover it, as long as it’s not Hollywood mainstream stuff (with the exception of genre films).  We’ve built up a decent sized, and I’d like to think loyal following over the years, and we’ve built ourselves a good reputation in the indie film community.  How long it will continue, I don’t know.  I guess as long as we have a staff of writers who are willing to volunteer their time and an editor who’s willing to shell out his time, effort and money to keep it going, Rogue Cinema will continue to exist.  So far we’ve existed for six years.  How much longer we’ll be around, only time will tell.  One thing is certain however.  As long as we do exist, we’ll continue to do what we do, and do it with pride.  We hope that you’ve enjoyed all of our hard work over the years.  It’s been a labor of love, but it’s also been one hell of a lot of hard work…and it’s been worth it.