Stephanie Sokol for OU News Bureau
They meet every Wednesday, watch a movie and discuss it. Unlike typical moviegoers, however, these young men share their opinions with others by taking their tradition to the Web.
OU Journalism senior William Gibbs and friends Alex Murrell and Nick Blauvelt are the trio behind Midwest Film Nerds, a film critic blog and podcast.
“I started with just wanting to write. I’ve always enjoyed writing and been pretty good at writing,” Gibbs said. “So I wanted to take that and apply it to things I liked — mainly movies, video games and comic books. I’m kind of a nerd, so those are things that I like.”
The men met working at Family Video in Berkley.
Gibbs and Murrell are film fans. Blauvelt, who studies film at Wayne State University, provides the technical perspective.
“Movies seemed the most universal and approachable for us, from our work schedules, and for listeners, as well,” Gibbs said.
After realizing they shared a love for film, they decided to start the podcast.
“For some reason, the storytelling in movies can really get to me,” Murrell said. “There’s so much that goes into making a good movie that just kind of experiencing that and tearing the movie apart to look at all of its individual parts is interesting to me; and that’s part of the reason the podcast exists.”
A growing trend
Podcasts provide a different media outlet, with the recorded discussions available on a variety of topics.
The first podcast was created by Volomedia, in 2003 as “a method for providing episodic content,” according to Mashable. They have grown in popularity since.
Small Business Trends said through 2013, at least 37.6 million people will download podcasts monthly.
“I think podcasting is a very distinct thing,” Murrell said. “And I know there’s a lot of people out there who listen to radio who haven’t really given (podcasting) the time of day. If you’re listening to talk radio, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be listening to podcasting. It’s always a good idea to go out and listen to people’s ideas about things, and I hope that podcasting sticks around.”
Gibbs discussed their podcast about the “Dark Knight,” which they put out last summer after seeing the film.
He said they try to keep the blog and podcast focused on new movies to help others decide what they want to see. Keeping reviews current also brings more people to the site.
Building a fan base
Uploading the podcast feed to iTunes, in addition to networking with other bloggers, has helped Midwest Film Nerds attract followers.
“I can say that as soon as we finished the first (podcast), I knew this was something I wanted to do,” Murrell said. “But the biggest challenge so far has been getting listeners or getting word out to try and have people listen, getting a wider fan base.”
Murrell set up the account with iTunes, linking to the blog from the store. He said the requirement is a host location for the feed to reach, but iTunes makes the podcast more available to listeners.
To further reach their audience, the podcasters use social media as an outlet. They have also had their podcast mentioned on the podcast of a popular slashfilm.com blogger.
“I try to maintain a Twitter account, post things up on Reddit and get it out to friends on Facebook, but there’s some untapped potential, some ways to reach more people that I just haven’t found yet,” Murrell said.
A future for the film nerds
The men want to see the blog make it big, but for now are focusing on sharing their passion for film and entertainment with others.
Gibbs discussed possibly expanding to include video game reviews or bringing in other podcasters, but the current goal is to have fun and share insight with listeners.
“We get so immersed in talking about these things, why not record it and put it out there?” Gibbs said. “It gives people a perspective and I think that each one of us comes to the podcast with something different.
“There’s so much debating going on today about really important things, it’s kind of fun to have a debate about something that’s not going to change the world. It’s nice to have a friendly debate.”
Follow the Film Nerds on Twitter @MidwestPodNet