This won't be my last post on Movie Pilot. I'm quite determined to stick around right 'till the end, and frankly my sense of humor is tempting me to try my level-best to make a post from me the last one that goes live on Movie Pilot. That said, it'll be visible to everybody that the site's gradually slowing down, as D-day approaches.
As (hopefully) all members of the Movie Pilot community know, on November 30th, Creators.co will essentially be shutting its doors. It's come as a shock to all of us, and led so many of us to reflect back on our writing journey with Movie Pilot. For myself, I've actually called Movie Pilot home since mid-2015, and in March last year I became one of the first wave of Verified Creators. Now, over a year and a half later, I'm registered as self-employed. Naturally I'm sad to see Movie Pilot go.
My Movie Pilot Story
For me, Movie Pilot has been a tremendous opportunity. Quite frankly, I'm a Christian, and I view this opportunity as a God-given one. James 1: 17 says that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (a nice, flowery way of referring to God). While I don't believe my writing to be anywhere near perfect, I do believe that God's given me a gift of putting fingers to keys and writing things that people hopefully enjoy reading. I view it as both my joy and my responsibility to find fresh, new ways to develop those gifts.
In light of that, Movie Pilot has given me a chance to take my gift seriously like never before. I first became involved with Movie Pilot back when I was Head Writer of ComicsVerse, who tended to syndicate articles on the site. Little by little, I began building a working relationship with Movie Pilot's staff, and I was offered a place on the old Movie Pilot University. There, I had the privilege of being mentored by Eileen Holmes, an editor who earned my unabashed respect, and who I truly hope will remain a friend for life.
At the time, I'd just gone through quite a painful redundancy, so the opportunity to grow and develop in my writing meant a lot to me. When I left ComicsVerse in October 2015, I decided to set up a personal profile, and toss up the occasional article. It stopped me getting rusty.
Then came the shocker. Eileen got in touch with me once again, and offered me a place on Movie Pilot as a Verified Creator. My hobby could actually pay! I was still out of work, and the opportunity to make money — rather than just exist on benefits, signing on Job Seekers every fortnight — meant so much.
Within a couple of months though, I began to realize things were going to work out very differently to how I'd expected. People were actually reading my articles, and as a result matters were getting pretty complicated with the Job Seekers. The income was causing problems, as the amount of benefits I was paid was always fluctuating due to wildly varying income levels every month. Budgeting was becoming impossible.
Then I hit the one-year point on Job Seekers, and was told I'd be going on training sessions, and signing on weekly. The training frankly sounded to be about as much use as a chocolate fireguard, and worse still it would mean I wouldn't be online to write. (It would also have meant switching Job Centers to the one right next to my old place of employment, and in all honesty I wasn't sure I was emotionally ready to be looking up at that building every week.)
So it was that I realized I had to make a difficult choice. I well remember standing in front of my church, and tearfully and tensely explaining my situation. I asked for the prayerful support of my church family, and then signed off of Job Seekers. From this moment on, I'd be committed to working as self-employed, and Movie Pilot would be my main source of income.
The last year and a bit has seen me go from strength to strength, and there have been two reasons. The first is that, like a muscle, any skill becomes stronger through use. The article counter on Movie Pilot is now broken, but the reality is that I've written more than 1,300 articles over my time with Movie Pilot. My gift has been used, and it's become stronger than ever before.
The second reason is that Movie Pilot is more than just a website, it's a community. Where many of Movie Pilot's writers moved from editor to editor, I spent most of the time assigned to Eileen. In fact, we stuck together as part of Team Eileen right up to the sad day a couple of months ago when she left the company. But Eileen isn't the only editor I've had the privilege to work with. David Opie was essentially Eileen's second, and he took over as my primary editor after she left the company. David and I actually got to work together when we both represented Movie Pilot at Heroes & Villains Fan Fest this year, and he's been a delight to get to know.
Meanwhile, I've also learned to respect several others in Berlin. I've worked particularly closely with Eleanor Tremeer — we both write a lot on Star Wars, and she's been a real pleasure to co-ordinate articles with. We first started working together because we kept accidentally stepping on one another's toes, pitching the same theories at the same time, but that became the basis of a friendship I truly value. Others, such as Allanah Faherty and Kat Bacon, have regularly dipped in and out of my digital life. I've learned so much from each of them.
And then there's the LA team. I tend to pitch out-of-hours a lot, as I'm something of an insomniac. That means I've spent a lot of time working with the LA team, and they've tutored me a lot on the film industry itself. I'd particularly highlight Alisha Grauso and Marty Beckerman, whose banter has been a constant source of amusement. I share Alisha's love of analysis, and I've found chatting about the industry with her to be a tremendous source of encouragement. More recently, I had the pleasure of working with Allie Gemmill, and she earned my respect and friendship. Andrew Marco, meanwhile, arranged for an unforgettable trip to the Warner Bros. edit day in the run-up to Wonder Woman. I've never stayed in such a pricey hotel before, and I'm not sure I ever will again!
These are just some of the editors and staff I've worked with. I'm not going to name any of the Movie Pilot writers who've impacted me, because I'd be gutted if I forgot anybody. The members of the old Team Eileen know who they were, and the others who I've crossed paths with through the Pitch-Perfect group will have a good idea too. The reality is that I've learned almost as much from my fellow writers as from the editors.
Naturally, the closure of Movie Pilot presents me with some very real challenges. I'm now in an uncertain place, where I don't really know what tomorrow will hold. But for all that's the case, I'm quietly confident. In my view Movie Pilot was a gift from God that came at just the right time. There's a famous verse that springs to mind:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path striaght."
I'm holding to that verse. It's held true for me through many times of uncertainty before, and I believe it will continue to do so.
My heartfelt hope and prayer is that my fellow writers will continue to practice their craft. I believe that Movie Pilot has given so many gifted writers a chance to hone their talents. Some have taken the site's closure to heart, and are stopping writing. I truly hope that's only temporary, because it's been a joy to see my peers go from strength to strength. I'm eager to see what comes next for my friends.
Meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers go to every one of Movie Pilot's paid staff, including writers and editors, who are sadly being made redundant with the site's closure. The media industry is in a pretty difficult place right now, and you're all feeling the pressure. Morale must be low, and it can't be pleasant to be competing with one another for the same jobs. But again, I've seen how good you are, and I believe in you guys against the odds.
The future is an undiscovered country. In truth, we never know what tomorrow holds, it's just that times like this make that reality unusually evident to us. To all my friends and fellows at Movie Pilot, I wish you all the best as you continue your journey.
Keep in touch!