In 2012, I launched The Apple Box. I’d spent 15 years immersing myself in movies by that point, and a decade publishing my reviews and opinions on films on various sites, going all the way back to old Xanga and MySpace pages of mine. At the recommendation of my professors at Mohawk College, though, I went full ahead with a dedicated film site.
In the years since, I’ve used it for awards coverage, “Best Of” lists, editorials, podcasts, videos, monthly features, and interviews. And, of course, reviews. Lots of reviews.
Over the last four years, I’ve written 157 reviews for The Apple Box. And with the exception of the occasional movie pass from a friend or the use of accumulated Scene points, I’ve paid for every single ticket that required. Close to $1900’ worth of them.
Around half of that money was spent on movies I wouldn’t have otherwise paid to see, if not for being intent on keeping The Apple Box full of fresh content and new reviews for the people who kept coming back for them. I wanted my readers, whether friend, family, or stranger, to get the best experience out of what my site (and my opinions) could offer.
I always hoped, being the optimist I am, that The Apple Box would also serve as a springboard to something even larger, an online portfolio of sorts. Spending three years earning a journalism degree and pivoting my life toward a career as a professional film critic, I knew my work spoke for me at my best and wanted The Apple Box to always put my best foot forward.
Despite consistently looking for a job in the industry while keeping up my critiquing, I’m now two years out of graduating and no closer to working as a critic. Largely, of course, that’s because my passion is for a field that has rapidly disappeared before my eyes.
The spread of the Internet has been a double-edged sword for aspiring critics. On the one hand, I owe the rise of the Internet for so much of what I’ve learned about film and for so many of the movies I’ve seen.
It’s also given a voice to everyone, though. Many of those voices don’t have much of value to say, but their volume is the same (if not louder) as those with substance. Not only that, but everyone gives away their opinions for free now.
What’s a person who wants to earn a living by eloquently and fairly giving an educated opinion (along with accompanying context) to do?
2016 has been the year I’ve wanted to make The Apple Box more than it was. I’ve put a number of steps in place to do that, some of which you’ve seen in my new RANKED series, my daily CORE STORY news, and the migration to www.AppleBoxReviews.com. More improvements, like a new theme and a re-launched podcast, are in the pipeline for later this year.
But the change around the bend that will affect you the most is this unfortunate reality: The Apple Box can’t remain free.
I know this isn’t thirty years ago and that film critic is a job well on its way to joining telephone operators and travel agents as one that nobody can earn a steady living from anymore. I don’t intend to get rich doing this, though, nor am I trying to be greedy.
My goal is purely to make enough money to pay for the movie tickets, the web site hosting, and the occasional transportation cost it takes to provide the content I do for The Apple Box. I’m not looking to make a profit, merely to balance out the costs.
I have set up The Apple Box through Patreon, a service that accepts a monthly charge to allow web site access. There’s no commitment or contract to using it; if you don’t think you’ll get enough usage out of it one month, you don’t bother paying until you decide you want access again.
Monthly access to The Apple Box will cost $3. That’s calculated from what my costs are and from the number of visitors I have (balanced against the small percentage of people generally willing to pay a few bucks for something they previously got for free).
For that $3 a month, here’s what you’ll get:
- 3+ full-length, weekly movie reviews
- 6 “CORE STORY” posts a week (Monday through Saturday), breaking down the biggest movie-related news story of the day (about 25 per month)
- 1 feature article each month (e.g. “2016 Summer Movie Preview,” “RANKED: Marvel Studios,” “The Best Movies of 2015”)
If $3 a month earns slightly more than I anticipate, that surplus will go directly to more full-length movie reviews. (Each month, there are around a dozen films that open in wide release; I currently just review three or four or them.)
I wish I could continue The Apple Box freely, but at this point, my only options are to either try and charge a few dollars to help support my passion, or to let it go. I care too much about doing this to quit outright until I’ve exhausted my options, which is what’s ultimately led to this decision.
If I do lose you as a follower of my work due to this, I understand why. I never liked paying for something I felt I could get elsewhere for free, and I know there are endless sites out there with movie news and film reviews. If I keep you, know that I’m going to consistently work to give you the most value that I can.
Either way, I’d like you to know that if you’ve ever visited The Apple Box, you’ve made a difference in my life. Logging in every day and seeing the page views of the individual people who have taken time out of their lives to stop for a few minutes and read something I have to say… It’s what has made me want to keep doing this every day, every month, for four years now.
With your support, I’ll continue doing it for years to come.