Origins: Anomalous Material

13 07 2010

It’s two for the price of one today in “The Origins Project” with Castor and Red from “Anomalous Material.” Over the past few months, I’ve watched (with envy) as their site has grown into an enormous community.  They use the subtitle “Where Movie Lovers Show Up To Mingle” to describe their site, and it’s been nice to see the blogging community rally around it.  They are constantly making improvements to their blog, be it through the captivating design or just providing quality content.  Recently, they’ve undertaken the massive endeavor of creating a 128-movie “Greatest Comedy Ever Tournament,” which has proved to be smashingly successful and a whole lot of fun for all involved.  Castor and Red are two distinct personalities, and their answers give a great glimpse into what has made them enjoy such success.

What movie began your love affair with cinema?

CASTOR: I don’t think it was any one movie that began my love with cinema which has progressively grown over the years. For the sake of picking one, I would have to say Jurassic Park which is the first movie that I saw in theater that truly blew my mind.

RED: While I had watched plenty of movies before them, I would have to say the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When they first came out, I was 13 years old and thought they looked ridiculous. After finally giving Fellowship a shot, I fell in love. Not only with the story, but how it was told. Those movies are absolute technical monsters, and opened my eyes to what exactly a film could do. So many aspects of the movies were groundbreaking, and I’ve been comparing newer movies to them ever since.

When did you start blogging?

CASTOR: Anomalous Material began in November 2007. At the time, the blog was used for every single interest that I had and it was mostly about the stock market and my journey to Marine Officer Candidate School. Movie reviews were peppered here and there when I felt like I might have some thoughts about a movie I just saw. 90% of my visits were for my stock market analysis and about 9.9% were for my OCS posts. Needless to say, my movie reviews went mostly unread for a very long time. It was only very recently that Anomalous Material became exclusively a movie blog (about 6 months ago if I recall?) and started taking off.

RED: I somewhat started last October. I had my own blog, but after only a couple posts, I went a month or two without posting anything. I realized that running my own blog just wasn’t for me, and that’s when I joined with Castor in Janurary.

Why did you start blogging?

CASTOR: Initially, it was only to check out what this whole “blogging” business was all about. I signed up on Blogger and simply started typing stuff about some of my interests. I actually stopped for a few months before picking blogging back again. Soon enough, I received some fairly decent traffic for my daily stock market analysis as well as my posts about preparing for Marine OCS and I kept doing that for some time. Eventually though, it got boring and fairly thankless sharing market insight for no good reason –receiving hundreds of visitors and not one single comment!– so I stopped. I enjoyed writing about movies though so I kept doing that and here we are 😉

RED: Several reasons. Obviously I love to watch movies and share what I think of them. But growing up in a farm community in Nebraska and not really having anybody else around me that would be interested in the same movies as me, blogging opened up another entire world to me. It’s also an excellent release from the “real world” that is nice to escape to.

What has kept you going?

CASTOR: In large part, the blogging community since I discovered LAMB has been what has kept me not only going, but going for more. It truly is satisfying to look back and realize that you built up a meaningless little blog that received like 10 visitors a day for months (well the movie section was) to a relatively popular place that has a warm and supportive community that helps every one of us push ourselves to be better movie bloggers.

To all the bloggers out there who wonder whether it’s possible to go from an unread blog which seems to be read only by you to a place that has people regularly participating, I can tell you from personal experience that it is possible!

RED: Our awesome community with excellent fellow bloggers like Marshall! Our blog has certainly taken off within the past few months, and getting such a positive response is so uplifting. And besides, if I quit, what would I do with all that free time? Go back to ripping of mob dealers? No no no, our blog….completes…me.

Has there been a particular person (or people) that has helped you along the way?

CASTOR: I can definitely attribute the people who first started to comment on my blog regularly as the ones who have really jump-started Anomalous Material. When you are used to get no comments for months and no signs that anyone is reading what you are putting out there, I can definitely tell you that when a few people start leaving those first few comments, it really is a great feeling and you want to keep the momentum going! Although there was a few people who dropped by on an irregular basis before, Magnum and Ventilation Shaft from Cool Awesome Movies, Heather from Movie Mobsters, Jose from Movies Kick Ass are some of the very first “regulars” on Anomalous Material and I will forever be thankful to those guys! Finally, it’s always awesome when real life friends tell you that they read this or that on your blog or give you some future topic ideas for the blog so thanks to all you as well.

RED: Definitely got to give some props to Castor. I’m not exactly computer savvy, so I’m sure I have asked more than enough questions to annoy him. But he has been very helpful, giving me advice along the way, as well as a place to post all the silly things that I like to talk about.

What’s the best part of being a blogger? The worst?

CASTOR: The best part is being able to voice your opinion out there and knowing that there is dozens (or hundreds) of people out there that you know are reading the stuff you are posting and that maybe, you might affect their life even if it’s just a tiny bit on whether they would like to check out a certain movie or pay more attention to some aspects of movie-making. Not only that but also maybe affecting in some infinitesimal ways people’s taste for movies and the way those movies may be made in the future (I’m dreaming). Also, being able to engage in a discussion with the numerous participants on AM is always something to look forward to every day.

The worst part about being a blogger is related to content. Churning out content just for the sake of keeping the site “fresh” can get a bit boring every now and then. It doesn’t have to but you constantly have to be on the lookout for new topics and new potential material that can engage your readership. This can be fun or exhausting depending on the days as every blogger does go through some type of burnout every now and then.

RED: Being able to expand your movie knowledge. Like I said, I’m still trying to catch up with everybody. There are so many classics that I am ashamed that I haven’t seen, and blogging helps me discover which movies that I need to see. The worst part would be almost the same thing. With so many great movies being unwatched, who I am to say that I know what I’m talking about?

Has blogging increased or diminished your passion for movies?

CASTOR: I don’t think that blogging really increased my “love” for movies since I would enjoy movies whether I blog or not. However, I can say that it did increase my hunger to learn more about every aspects that go into making movies, good and bad. Hence, we could say it made me slightly more knowledgeable on the topic which is never a bad thing. Additionally, it has expanded my taste and I’m much more likely to see movies that I probably would have never attempted to watch before.

RED: Oh, definitely increased. While I can admit that I don’t watch as many movies that I did maybe two years ago, but I can’t say that my passion as diminished. I’m not working at Blockbuster anymore, so I don’t bring home 10 movies a week like I used to, but blogging sure does help out with the anticipation of upcoming movies and just improving your overall movie knowledge.

What’s your proudest moment as a blogger?

CASTOR: Getting a couple thousand visitors within a few hours after Heather posted my Top 100 Movies of the Decade on Reddit was definitely a early highlight of AM (At the time, we were only getting 50-60 visitors a day). Being able to help other bloggers a little bit to get their movie blogs to the next level and contributing in the overall movie blog community are also two things that feel great.

RED: The overall response to the Greatest Comedy Tournament so far. That first post received 190 comments with 350 movies nominated. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get that many movies mentioned. Though I did have to pay the price and get that number down to 128!

What advice would you give to someone looking to follow their passion? To someone starting a blog of their own?

CASTOR: Make sure to blog about something you truly feel passionate about. It’s the only way you will find the commitment to keep blogging for any extended period of time and be willing to put yourself out there. Yes, to create some sort of relationships with your reader, you have to be willing to reveal at least a few things about yourself. Additionally, ensure that you have a clear focus on your blog as this was one of the main mistake of my early days. Finally, be prepared to work hard and put in a lot of effort for very little results, especially early on. There is literally millions of blogs out there but only a tiny minority ever find some kind of following. Networking and posting good content are two of the most important things that you can do to put yourself ahead of the game.

RED: Just do it, because otherwise you’re going to regret it. It’s better to follow that road and then realize that it’s not for you, than to not take that road and always be asking yourself “what if?”. As for starting your on blog, just be patient. Your’re not going to get 20+ comments on every post right away. Just be humble and keep the ideas flowing on the site, and eventually you will get a following.

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11 responses

13 07 2010
Mad Hatter

It’s like reading about how Mozart started composing.
Thanks lads – keep up the great work.

Likewise Marshall, if I haven’t already said so, thanks for hosting this amazing event. It’s really been quite intriguing to get to the bottom of all these spaces that i love so much.

13 07 2010
Dan

It’s intersting to read about Anomalous Material’s background being almost completely removed from movies, especially when you look at the site now. I think the first post I read on the site was the ‘How to’ guide to movie blogging, and I haven’t stopped visiting pretty much everyday since then.

13 07 2010
Red

Thanks fellas.

And thanks to Marshall as well for hosting this! I haven’t been able to comment as much as I would like on most of them, but I’ve read every one so far. Great stuff!

13 07 2010
Kaiderman

You 2 rule… and are such a cute couple! 😉
Don’t forget your boy Kai… I was number 2 in comments behind Heather before all this comment contest nonsense! haha

14 07 2010
Castor

Thanks Marshall for this outstanding project. I will link this momentarily 😉

14 07 2010
Castor

@ Kai: Absolutely! You have been one of our very most active reader the past few months and we are infinitely appreciative of your support!

14 07 2010
Origins: Anomalous Material

[…] Read more over at Marshall and the Movies >> If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! […]

14 07 2010
Simon/Ripley

I love you two.

Great project, Marshall.

15 07 2010
mill1924

Great interview I like the project and to know that you started small just like everyone else. It’s something to shoot for.

15 07 2010
Aiden R.

Great advice, guys. I’m right there with ya’, there’s no better feeling than just going for it. What’s the worst that could happen? You guys are effing powerhouses and should be super proud of the product and community you’ve created. Keep on kicking ass.

16 07 2010
Red

You people are going to make me blush…

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