Author Topic: This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.  (Read 266 times)

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wilberfan

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This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.
« on: November 28, 2017, 05:10:00 PM »
+2
I've been online since the early 90s, and I can't remember a more thoughtful, insightful, and articulate group of humans.    It's impressive as hell.  (Seriously.)  And intimidating, too, were I to be honest.

I now find I'm very curious to know more about the place and it's inhabitants.   I think there are some "history-of" posts, and that's useful, but I'd like to know about the people here.

How many of us are there?  What is the poster-to-lurker ratio?  Is the forum exclusively male?  Do we have a sense of the age-distribution?  How have you avoided all of the rudeness, trollery, and general de-evolution that seems to be so prevalent elsewhere?  What kind of housekeeping/policing is necessary?   

What are you proudest of here?   Is there something you wish you could change about how things work, but can't? 

I get the sense that some of you have been here a very long time and that there's a core group that knows each other very well (or at least as well as you can in an online setting)*.   Is there any sense that the people (film makers) we admire, think and pontificate about are present occasionally?  (If I made films, I think it would be irresistable to poke my nose in here occasionally and see what the Xixaxians thought.)

So, congratulations.  Yer awesome.    Keep up the good work.  And thanks for letting me be the New-Guy-that's-kind-of-annoying-at-first-but-who's-kind-of-adorable-too-so-maybe-we'll-let-him-be-the-mascot-eventually. 

(Now, who's available to PM me with a personality thumbnail sketch of each of the regular posters?)  ;)
 
* I actually had the good fortune to meet a long-time member last week (it was his largesse that got me into the Phantom Thread screening).  I was fascinated to learn that he's met a dozen or more of us face-to-face in his decade-plus with the organization.  That suggests something positive about the group, too, I think?
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Jeremy Blackman

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Re: This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2017, 06:42:11 PM »
+2
Oh my goodness.  :oops:

I can try to answer a couple of these...

Is the forum exclusively male?  Do we have a sense of the age-distribution?

Exclusively male at the moment, from what I know. We have had several female posters over the years, though, who were quite active. I would say the average age is maybe 33.

How have you avoided all of the rudeness, trollery, and general de-evolution that seems to be so prevalent elsewhere?  What kind of housekeeping/policing is necessary?

Much of that just came with people getting older, I think. In the early days, around the release of Punch-Drunk Love, drama was liable to flare up, because many of us were still teenagers. So moderating the forum at that point became a trial by fire situation. Some people had to be permanently banned.

At this point, we rarely have to moderate things, because people are generally nice and can handle conflict. When something crazy does happen, though, we don't hesitate to stamp it out.

In terms of specifics, we might delete/split a post (or rarely, several posts) and then discuss it among the moderators. We've banned a couple people from the shoutbox. It's been a long time since we actually did a permanent ban for a whole user account, unless it was a spammer.

Is there any sense that the people (film makers) we admire, think and pontificate about are present occasionally?  (If I made films, I think it would be irresistable to poke my nose in here occasionally and see what the Xixaxians thought.)

Unfortunately, no, not that I'm aware. Modage once interviewed PTA with questions from Xixax users, though.

David Lowery was one of our original admins and is still around.
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ono

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Re: This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2017, 06:44:10 PM »
+3
Yeah, it's a good group.  I've been here on and off since 2003, almost since the beginning.  From what I understand, this place was borne out of the defunct PTA message boards and the IMDb PTA boards (which are also now defunct).  I imagine there are 50-100 active users, and the stats can tell you more about the 10 best, most active.  We've lost some people over the years.  Pubrick (I think he probably lurks still), godardian (no clue where he went), Cinephile (ditto), NEON MERCURY, Weak2ndAct, MacGuffin -- where did MAC go?  Did he turn in to jenkins or something?  There are some newer people who have definitely stepped up, people like Reelist, jenkins, and wilder.  We have had some people be successful in the industry.  mutinyco was way back when, I think, but I forget what he did.  I think it was some sort of journalism.  pete has done some music videos.  matt35mm has completed a feature.  I think polkablues wrote something that got produced.  And of course, Ghostboy is David Lowery.  Yeah, that David Lowery.  So that's kind of cool.  I've written a couple things, but am nowhere near where I'd like to be.  I think most people here have some sort of film aspirations, which leads to the quality of this site.

As to whether there are any women, there used to be a few more, but none that I'm aware of right now.  For some reason, they don't seem to stick around.  I think it's a parallel to how it works in the industry as well.  A shame.

This place has had a colored history of which I used to have a somewhat encyclopedic knowledge.  But my lack of participation has eroded that a bit over the years.  Many threads and inside jokes from those times.  Along with Mac and modage (who we came to depend on for most news), I was known for being able to either reference or quickly find information from threads of months or years past, and that helped build out this history and make this a more useful resource to people.  Unrelated, I think at one time Jeremy Blackman put together a wiki of resources compiled by another user, whose name I'm blanking on right now.

My interest and participation levels have waxed and waned throughout time.  The early 2000s were the golden age of film and Xixax itself.  I've learned so much from participating, but most importantly from lurking.  I wish I could say my interest in film criticism is what it was back when, but it's not.  Slowly trying to work my way back into it, but you never have as much time as when you were younger.

Jeremy Blackman

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Re: This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 06:54:00 PM »
+1
Unrelated, I think at one time Jeremy Blackman put together a wiki of resources compiled by another user, whose name I'm blanking on right now.

http://xixax.com/wiki/index.php?title=Film_History_Resources

Wilder put all of that together.

(I only set up the blank wiki... which, incidentally, gets incessantly spammed/hacked if we make it editable, so it's a static page.)
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wilberfan

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Re: This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 06:55:58 PM »
0
I would say the average age is maybe 33.

Yeah, it's a good group. I imagine there are 50-100 active users.

That's fascinating.  I was asking the Xixaxer with whom I saw PT about the forum, he cited those exact numbers.
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wilder

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Re: This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2017, 07:08:41 PM »
+5
Like JB and ono mentioned, xixax has been around a fairly long time (it stretched back even before the earliest posts on this forum from 2003 - the original board got wiped). It’s always sort of been the closest thing to a digital version of having a conversation face to face, with an emphasis on in depth discussion when members find the time to engage in it.

Many of the original members were film hobbyists with professional aspirations (and some now call film their career), and were making short films back in 2001, 2002, when video wasn’t as ubiquitous and there was just a higher barrier to entry. That alone sort of attracted the most passionate, dedicated of fans. You can tell who's been around the full 15 years because many of the original members are admins.

I also think, with so many of these members existing before the internet made everything totally accessible, that this forum sort of adopted the culture of the pre-digital film industry, with all of the social darwinism that comes along with that. This place used to be more “mean”, as in “ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer”, and there was always an emphasis on acerbic wit. That kept people on their toes enough to bring their A-game. It’s become a lot more laid-back and inclusory in the past 5 years or so (for good or ill). Polka and Reelist are the kings of comedy around here, keeping that old torch burning. I've reposted this sentiment before, but it really sums this place up - SiliasRuby once posted "[xixax] has always been for everyone but if you can balance your immaturity with your maturity when it comes to writing about film people will respect you more around here."

For a several year stretch this place was a ghost town in the mid to late 2000s. I think people only found it because they remembered the url by heart. The lack of an influx of new members for half a decade or so has inadvertently made this place pretty intimate. I think most new people find it through JB’s Inland Empire Analysis, which tends to turn up in search results. I’m curious how you found it, yourself?

Most of us are in LA and NY. And we have a couple members in San Francisco, one in Seattle, France, Germany/Norway, Sweden, Australia, India, Mexico, Scotland, New Zealand, Minnesota… It’s a pretty varied group. Minnesota is a country, btw.

wilberfan

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Re: This place is impressive. I'm curious how it got that way.
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2017, 07:43:19 PM »
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I’m curious how you found it, yourself?

I think I discovered this place way back in the day.  Probably around Magnolia or Punch-Drunk Love, but didn't spend much time here and eventually forgot about it, I guess. (I have a specific memory of watching Magnolia--with possibly only 3 other people in the theater--and thinking to myself (about the director), "Who is this guy?!" I was absolutely enthralled with what I was seeing... (Was it even possibly raining that day?) I think that moment was when I became fascinated with PTA and his creative output.)

More recently, I was talking to someone who had a tiny, non-speaking part in "Boogie Nights".  He had his laptop open while we waited for the pizza to arrive, and he had Xixax open on his laptop.  The layout and visual look of the page triggered some long-buried memory of this place for me and I vaguely recalled that it had a PTA-relatedness about it.  He has a personal connection to PTA, and I thought, "This place must have some legitimacy if this guy has it bookmarked."   

That, a healthy obsession with Boogie Nights that developed a couple of years ago, my two years of butt-hurtedness over my disappointment with Inherent Vice, and the upcoming Thread (and prayers for healing), all compelled me to start hanging out here again. 

There's no one in my "real" life with any appreciation of PTA nor his films.  Boogie Nights taught us that everyone needs a family, and this place (as well as /r/paulthomasanderson and /r/boogienights, where I moderate) have become my people. 
"There's shadows in life, baby."

 

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