Thirteen years. That’s a long time for any independent, non-corporate website, and it’s certainly far longer than I ever thought we’d be around.
Rogue Cinema put out its first issue in June of 2004. I came up with the idea to put out a monthly magazine when I was in the Rogue Reviewers, a group of review websites that were dedicated to reviewing all manner of b-movies. A guy named Todd (can’t remember his last name unfortunately), one of our members, was a web and graphic designer. He was supposed to put the magazine together as a whole, and then put out the monthly issues. He started building the site in a flat html format, did some graphics for it, etc…, but then he had to hand it over to me because his wife got pregnant and he didn’t have time to do it.
So…I looked at the files, had no idea what he was doing, and decided to scrap the whole thing except for some of the graphics he’d done. It was at that point that I found PHPnuke, set up my own web server, and started the magazine in a content management system rather than using the flat html file format. This was all before the first issue even came out, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was even worth putting it out at that point because of how much time and effort it was taking to put it all together.
Once we got everything up and running, we started having internal conflicts within the Rogue Reviewers over how often we should put an issue out. There were some who didn’t want to deal with putting out a monthly magazine, so they insisted that we put out quarterly issues. My argument against that was that people would forget about us in between issues, and as such, we wouldn’t survive for long. After thirteen years of monthly issues, I think I was proven right in my argument. My other argument was that by doing quarterly issues, some of the reviews would no longer be relevant by the time the next issue came out. If someone’s having a premiere and they miss the deadline for an issue, they aren’t going to want to wait three months for another one. The information in some of the articles and interviews would also be far less relevant if we had gone that long between issues.
Eventually, the people who didn’t want to commit themselves to doing monthly issues fell along the wayside, only to be replaced with new writers. In fact, over the past thirteen years, we’ve had a rather large number of writers come and go. I am the last of the original Rogue Reviewers group to have stuck with it for all this time, which only makes sense since I’m the one who runs the whole thing. Wouldn’t really have worked if I left, would it?
Some of the writers that went their own way were a great loss to us, while others…not so much. Invariably, when you do something like this, you’re going to meet up with some really dedicated people, and some total flakes as well. Some people started out dedicated, and then flaked on us after a certain period of time, and one of my biggest frustrations over the years as been trying to find and maintain a dedicated writing team. Every time we’d lose one or two, I’d have to put the feelers out to find replacements, which was more often than not a fruitless endeavor. It’s a volunteer position, so finding people who’ll take it seriously, and who’ll dedicate themselves to getting their work done and meeting the deadlines for each issue was often a challenge.
For years now I’ve been burned out on the whole thing. In fact, I’d say for about the last six years or so, I had no desire at all to do anything at all related to the magazine, and yet I carried on, even to the point of migrating it into WordPress at some point a while back, which was a very time consuming process. Why? Because I felt like what we were doing mattered, and it was a big part of who I was. I also wanted to have a slicker looking magazine, and to streamline the issue posting process, all of which was achieved by moving it into WordPress.
Unfortunately, the fact that I’ve had to pay for the magazine out of my own pocket for the last thirteen years was a big part of what led me to the decision to shut it down. It wasn’t the whole reason, which I’ll get to in a moment, but it was a big part of it.
Here’s the issue. I was paying for literally everything to do with the magazine. Donations were few and very far between, and even when we needed a new server, I was only able to raise enough money to pay for half of a cheap box to run it on. The rest came out of my own pocket. That was disheartening to say the least, but I kept on going, and never once considered doing some of the things that other sites were doing, like charging people money for reviews. That wasn’t how we operated, and I swore I’d never do that. I did try to offer advertising space, but the only advertisers who ever wanted to buy space wanted to post contextual links in articles, which is again, something I would never even consider doing.
The final straw for me, financially at least, came when I was forced to change to a new internet connection that was more expensive than the one I had previously. When the two-year discount runs out, it’s going to get even more expensive. I started a Patreon, hoping I could get a good number of our readers, as well as the people who took advantage of the free PR we offered them, to contribute a dollar or two per month. Nothing much really, but if enough people cared about the magazine and what we were doing to help cover the monthly operating expenses, then I’d have kept it going. I wasn’t in a position to offer anything decent as rewards or anything, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. Unfortunately, after giving it several months, we only ended up with two contributors, one of whom was a former member of the writing team. To me, it spoke volumes about how much people actually cared about the site. People have said they’re sad to see us go, and they do sad reacts on Facebook when I post about the magazine shutting down, but when given the chance to help us keep things going, there was nothing but virtual crickets. I won’t lie. After thirteen years of keeping this thing going, and all that we’ve done for the community, I’m somewhat bitter about that. I’m just being honest. I mean, put yourself in my position for a moment. How would you feel?
In addition to all of that, my job was consuming a great deal of my time and mental energy, so trying to deal with both that and the magazine wasn’t leaving me any time for myself or my own writing. The simple fact is that after thirteen years, I’m just tired. I’m also still in a bad place financially, so after the end of the year I’m going to take the site down and auction off the domain name to try to recoup some of the losses. I hate to do it, but to leave the magazine up when I could make back some of the money I’ve shelled out over the years to keep it running would make no sense.
So, this is it. This is goodbye. We’ve had a good run, but nothing lasts forever. Will we be missed? I’m sure that some people will miss us, but I have a feeling that most will forget all about us soon enough. That’s just the way of things, and all the work we’ve done will soon disappear into the ether. It sort of feels like a waste, but in a way it doesn’t. I’ve worked with some great people, and we’ve done something we can all be proud of. Even after it’s gone, nothing can take that away from us. Whether what we’ve done over the past thirteen years mattered or not, we did it together, and we did it with the utmost integrity, so we have nothing to be ashamed of.
Where do we go from here? Some of our writers have already found places for themselves on other websites, while others will probably just focus themselves on different pursuits entirely. As for me, I’m an author. Rogue Cinema has taken a back seat to that for almost four years now, so writing novels will continue to be my main focus.
We’ve had a lot of really dedicated people write for us over the years, and to them all I would like to give the most heartfelt of thanks. You all did a ton of work for no pay, and so did I. It was a labor of love, but our labors have now come to an end. The magazine survived because of the dedication of its writing team. You all made it what it’s been, and you have a lot to be proud of. I’ll miss you all very much, and I wish you all the best. It’s been an honor working with you.