BAD JOURNALIST RANT #1
Awhile ago, I called attention to the professionalism of Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Cary Darling because he actually emailed and picked up the phone to call me to follow-up and verify details from a press release I had distributed about one of my film festivals.
And that is kind of unheard of now.
So, the last couple of days, saw the reverse of that good journalism. As you’ve seen on this site, the Women Texas Film Festival (WTxFF) announced its lineup for this year’s edition of the fest. It also announced a brand new presenting sponsor – Studio Movie Grill, as well as a great new screening location and hub for the film festival (Studio Movie Grill’s Northwest Highway theaters at 10110 technology Boulevard in Dallas, Texas).
I had two journalists send me emails with problems they had with the press release. One wrote to say, “which studio movie grill there’s like 20 ???? might want to let folks know which location ?”
I replied, saying and demonstrating by cutting and pasting from the press release that the location and address was in the very first paragraph of the press release. And also noting that the information was repeated again, later in the press release.
His response: “your right John problem is most folk won’t should be in the title intro”.
The second journalist: “Hey, there’s no location address, dates or time for the films.”
Same response more or less went to him, and he replied: “Yes, how could I have missed an address given in parentheses in the middle of a paragraph of a 14-page press release? My apologies.”
So Cary Darling will email and call to follow-up on a story and get more specific or detailed info and others can’t be bothered to read the first paragraph of a press release because the entirety is 13 pages long (since it lists titles and descriptions of all the films).
But typical. And meanwhile great film and entertainment journalists and critics like Steve Dollar, Susan King, and Ed Douglas aren’t getting raised on a pedestal by the people who employ them. Or frankly, not employed nearly as much as they should be. These are pros. People that do this stuff the right way. I don’t remember one of them having issues reading through the first fucking paragraph in a press release. But where is Steve Dollar’s “Greater New York” New York City repertory film column in the Wall Street Journal now? That was one of the best things about that paper. Gone now. And with the Metrograph and the Quad revitalizing that film scene, it strikes me New York needs his column more than ever. Every single time a film legend passes, Susan King posts about two or three experiences she had interviewing them because she interviewed EVERYBODY. She is the epitome of the legit film and entertainment writer with a warehouse of knowledge and appreciation and respect for the people who make the great work happen. Ed Douglas is a pro. Bottom line. Versatile in what he can write about, knows his shit, actually has an opinion and not afraid to call people out lest he upset someone. That’s what you are supposed to do. That’s what a journalist SHOULD do. And yet, currently his vaunted weekend box office reports don’t have an official home. Why do people have to go to the Aero Theater in L.A. if they want to enjoy Susan’s way with actors and filmmakers on a regular basis? Riddle me that. And in the meantime, I’m dealing with jokers that can’t do the basics of their job and when they get called on it, they just blow it off with snark and excuses.
It’s another reason I revamped Festworks.com to be more of a news site than simply a launching place for our film festival consulting services.
BAD JOURNALIST RANT #2
Again, this begins with the coming Women Texas Film Festival (WTxFF). Naturally, I’m reaching out to female-centric or female-focused outlets, sites, and journalists. Well, one journalist in particular who is noted for being really singularly focused on the representation of women in film, and in fact, years ago took me to task for a film panel at Lincoln Center that purported to include a new wave of impressive up-and-coming filmmakers, yet only found room for one young woman with a dozen or so males, replied to me that she didn’t have time to do an interview because she was going on vacation.
And that was it.
There was no “We’ll post the film lineup.” Or “I’ll assign another writer.” Or anything along those lines. Just “I’m going on vacation.” Translation: tough luck. And that is fine if you haven’t been hammering not just your site but social media and every personal interaction about your insistence that women are constantly getting the shaft when it comes to production jobs, respect in the workplace and industry, and a dearth of opportunities. Nope, nope, nope. That response does not cut it.
This is about the ONLY full-fledged female-focused film festival in the ENTIRE state of Texas. Texas. This is a state that politically is about as anti-woman as it gets. If they could get away with it, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick would gleefully roll out his “barefoot and pregnant” directives with Governor Greg Abbott eagerly ready to sign the legislation. Unless you dressed in a gorgeous gown arm-in-arm with your wealthy husband, then the state of Texas would prefer you to just keep your mouth shut and have some more babies (but smile because you’re pretty when you smile), since they officially don’t see much use for you.
That is where the Women Texas Film Festival has taken root.
And in its second year, it has joined forces with Studio Movie Grill, with that company both coming on as the film festival’s presenting sponsor as well as hosting the film festival at one of it’s great theaters in Dallas, Texas. Unlike that journalist, this is a company that DOES get it.
Now, to be absolutely transparent to the uninitiated: My wife, Justina Walford, is the founder and artistic director of the Women Texas Film Festival. She began the film festival because she wanted to volunteer for a female-focused film festival and upon discovering that other than a one-night showcase of short films, that didn’t exist, does what we always do and decided to just do it herself. And I am the publicist. So, there is that. She also recently started working for Studio Movie Grill which helped bring them onboard as a sponsor for the festival.
But there is something about Studio Movie Grill that sets it FAR APART from other theater chains. READ THIS: SMG Outreach is committed to localizing the SMG brand in the communities we serve. We tirelessly contribute to issues impacting our teams, their families, and friends. We want our involvement to extend past the walls of our theaters with an authentic and clear vision to make the world a better place by opening hearts and minds, one story at a time. At SMG, being a good neighbor is just good business.
In other words: It ain’t just about the money with this company. They actually give a damn about the community, about the greater good, about making a god damned difference. So, it makes A LOT of sense that they would take WTxFF under their wing and support it.
And here is a little tidbit that happened recently that I alerted the female entertainment website editor about in my response to her:
When WONDER WOMAN premiered, Studio Movie Grill held an event where they painstakingly chose (from hundreds of nominees across the country) a dozen or so women that had made a great impact to their communities and families and then flew these real-life wonder women to Dallas and gave them the red carpet, rock star treatment the evening of the film’s opening. It was a true celebration, a concrete demonstration of appreciation for what those women had accomplished and what they meant to the people they had helped or influenced in their lives. It was the kind of event that transcends the often rote hoopla and fanfare that film premieres and openings can be.
So, from several cities across the country where Studio Movie Grill theaters are located (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Rocklin/Sacramento, Scottsdale/Phoenix, Simi Valley/Los Angeles and Tampa), these women were flown via Southwest Airlines to Dallas (home of SMG’s corporate headquarters) to see WONDER WOMAN and have their red carpet moment. But that wasn’t all. Prior to the film, each honoree was presented SMG’s “Opening Hearts and Minds” Award, and a $1,000 donation was made to each honoree’s charity of choice.
By the way, here is a list of those twelve amazing women:
Beauty Baldwin- Atlanta, GA
Baldwin was the first African-American female school superintendent in Georgia. She has worked with multiple Georgia governors in many posts and opened the Hopewell Christian Academy. In 2016, the Beauty P. Baldwin Elementary School became the first school named after a living educator.
Pastel Corbett- Rocklin/Sacramento, CA
Corbett started the annual “Give Back Sac.” event to give care bags to the homeless in Sacramento. In its first year, the program distributed 50 sacks filled with personal hygiene products and clothing. The next year, more than 250 sacks were distributed. She also teaches art to local preschool students.
Ophelia Garmon-Brown- Charlotte, NC
The Family Practice Physician directs a free clinic to treat patients without insurance. She also gives free physical exams at schools in the area. Despite her recent diagnosis of incurable brain and kidney cancer, Brown continues to work towards helping citizens get quality healthcare.
Mary Hadsall- Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ
Hadsall used her belief in a patient’s “right to risk” to help students with diseases such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis get horseback riding lessons. She is the Executive Director of Camelot Therapeutic Horsemanship, a nonprofit in Arizona.
Melanie Hudson- Philadelphia, PA
Hudson uses her story of escaping financial hardship and hunger to show it is okay to ask for help. After getting support from Philabundance, a community hunger relief organization, she became a lead volunteer and recent college graduate.
Thea Jorgenson- Bismarck, ND
Jorgenson uses her fitness studio to host multiple causes including clothing and food drives as well as exhibitions for artists who otherwise might not get to show their work. She is a part of the nonprofit Red, White and blue to support veterans and works with middle and high school girls to fight bullying.
Paige Litterer- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
Litterer helped launch the Dallas restaurant and training facility Cafe Momentum. The cafe trains at-risk youth to give them life and job skills they can use in the real world.
Tamar Manasseh-Chicago, IL
After multiple local shootings, Manasseh inspired other mothers in the area to sit on their street corners to keep shootings from happening. These actions led to the foundation of Mothers Against Senseless Killings which continues to expand.
Robyn Mellin-Tampa, FL
Mellin left a career in movie production to work with homeless children in Los Angeles. She moved to Tampa to be with family and now leads Mighty Kids, an after school program supporting children who have experienced homelessness with tutoring, counseling and more.
Monique Rodriguez- Houston, TX
Rodriguez helps transition army veterans into everyday life. The veteran and social worker helps former soldiers find resources to prevent homelessness and mental health problems.
Lindsay Stawick- Indianapolis, IN
After her high school friend was murdered by a boyfriend, Stawick studied social work and now teaches teenagers about the warning signs of dating abuse. In addition to giving support to sexual assault victims through the Community Health Network, Stawick launched anti-violence clubs at area schools.
Sandra Young- Simi Valley/Los Angeles, CA
After becoming a nurse at Las Islas Medical Clinic, Young was inspired to shorten an observed cultural divide. She founded Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project to strengthen the indigenous community in the area and support members with multiple training and outreach programs.
But what received an overwhelming majority of the press coverage at that time? The fact that Alamo Drafthouse had decided to do a female-only screening and naturally a bunch of “bro-flakes” got upset because they weren’t invited to the party for that one single, individual screening. As Alamo Drafthouse often does, they succeeded in exploiting a moment to great effect and got a lot of attention for it. It was a fine example of slacktivism. In fact, maybe the finest example of slacktivism. Because everyone ate it up with a spoon. Men Right’s Activists stomping their feet because they weren’t allowed to attend a single screening.
Meanwhile, Studio Movie Grill organizes and produces an event to literally honor real female heroes. They created an event that will be remembered as a lifetime highlight to more than a few of them, and while they received some local notice and press as well as mentions in the hometowns of most of the women, it did not “go viral” or make the national mark that the other thing did. Bad luck? Luck of the draw? Maybe.
Or maybe, again, it is bad journalism. Maybe the fruit just wasn’t hanging low enough to bump enough journalists in the forehead so they could see it and be inspired to cover it or write about it.
Because, as we now know, it’s not enough to just put that information in the first paragraph of your press release.