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Real People Review Movies for Reelz

Dec 2, 2007  •  Post A Comment

ReelzChannel is venturing into the world of user-generated content with “Movie Mob,” a new series that proves the maxim that everyone’s a critic.
The proliferation of webcams is what makes “Movie Mob” possible, said Ian Valentine, senior VP of programming for Reelz. Debuting on Dec. 4, the Tuesday show features the self-recorded opinions of 10 “regular” filmgoers about the motion pictures released the previous weekend.
Viewers will be able to vote online for which reviewers will return. Each week the three with the fewest votes will be replaced by other film fans who have submitted a video to the network via its Web site.
“The webcam has given us permission to do something really innovative and unique, which is to gather a group of these people who care passionately about movies and compensate them to review movies,” Mr. Valentine said. “And for our audience to then see not some kind of Hollywood-based or critic-based point of view, but from the mob, a group of people who are just like them.”
Reelz was launched a year ago. It is unrated by Nielsen Media Research but is in about 31 million homes. Program budgets are fairly small and this show’s costs run about average for the network, including the $100 per week the reviewers are paid.
The webcam shots, which are intercut with scenes from the movies, give the show a unique look.
“It just has a pace and an energy to it that is unique. It’s not polished,” Mr. Valentine said. “You’re looking behind people and you’re seeing what their real homes look like. They’re essentially in focus, but their hair is sticking out this way and that. It’s really a fun, very kind of innovative way to come at the whole reviewing thing.”
Reelz couldn’t afford the show if the footage wasn’t user-generated.
“It’s an economical show that delivers high production values,” he said.
Reviewers will go to the movies over the weekend and record and submit their comments. The show will be produced in time to air Tuesdays. If all goes smoothly, Mr. Valentine said, the network would consider moving the show to Mondays.
Reelz cast a wide net to find its first batch of Mob members. Some, like David Ross, known online as Scary Dave, already produce videos for YouTube and MySpace.
Others, like Ian Pfaff, 23, who works at a Chicago post-production house, got the gig after a college buddy who is an editor on the show said the network was looking for “some obnoxious people and thought that I would be perfect for it.”
Mr. Pfaff, who doesn’t have cable at home, watches about five movies a month in theaters and another 20 on DVDs. He had a bone to pick with some professional reviewers.
“I’m excited about the opportunity for regular people to show their opinions are just as good. It’s a cool concept,” he said.
Mr. Pfaff said he’s usually a pretty easy critic, but when he sees a film he doesn’t enjoy, he likes to make sure everyone around him knows about it.
He plans to send out a few e-mails to let fans know when he’ll be on, but he hasn’t come up with a campaign strategy to keep him on the air after the first week.
He’ll need something good if he wants to compete with reviewer Sara Fletcher, who has done a number of Web videos. She’ll be appearing on “Movie Mob” under the name Naked Girl, so she’s sure to be popular.

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