Bubbawheat back again with another edition of Interview with a LAMBpyre. I wanted to showcase some of the Lamb members and what better way than to ask them a few questions about themselves and their sites? I’m starting out by going through some of this year’s Lammy winners and hope to bring back some less active Lambs in the future. Also, if you’re a Lammy winner from this year and would like to participate, E-Mail me and I’ll get back to you. This week I’m talking with Jessica of The Velvet Café.
Bubbawheat: First off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your site?
Jessica: My film blog was born in the summer 2011. I decided to call it The Velvet Café because that’s what it looks like in my imagination: a small and cozy café in red velvet style, barely lit up by the dampened lamps, a handful of armchairs and sofas, looking as comfortable and inviting as a cinema from the good old days.
I often go and see movies alone, which actually is quite nice, as long as you don’t care about social conventions. It’s only as I’m on my way home that I feel that something is missing.
It is as if I don’t get access to the full experience of a movie until I’ve processed it a bit further, put the thoughts and emotions it evoked into words. I need to talk about what I’ve just been through with someone.
And that’s why my blog exists in the first place. That and the fact that I have a very crappy memory. I live in the illusion that writing about movies will help me to remember them a little better than I would otherwise.
I look at my blog as my virtual home where I shamelessly can think aloud as much as I like without worrying about being annoying, ignorant or plain boring to listen to.
It’s not a consumer guide website where I rank movies in a serious, insightful manner.
It’s not a place for education or information or the latest news from the World of movies.
The Velvet Café is just me, a middle-aged film loving woman talking to herself about movies and anything related to it over a cup of coffee or occasionally something stronger.
Free from obligations I let my thoughts wander as they like, enjoying the freedom of writing for fun, out of enthusiasm rather than for a living.
As of the personal stuff: I’m a mother of two and a trained journalist, but not working as one. Apart from spending a ridiculous amount of time watching movies and writing about them, I enjoy travelling, hiking in the mountains, reading and medieval dancing. I’ve also got an old friendship with anything geekish, such as sci-fi, fantasy and the fandoms that surround it.
BW: What is it about foreign and independent cinema that appeals to you?
JE: I love movies that change me in some way. Movies that make me think, movies that surprise me, movies that make me see the world in a slightly new way, movies that will remain with me for a long while, while I let them sink in. I think I get this more often from films that are made outside of the regular Hollywood machinery, which often tries to cater to the lowest common denominator, and therefore risk to become bland and full of clichés. This said: it’s not one thing or the other to me. I want a mixed diet of movies and I can really enjoy big budget spectacles as well. The Avengers and Prometheus are both among my top movies of 2012.
BW: You won the Lammy this year for best new Lamb, what do you think made you stand out from the rest of the new blogs added this year?
JE: I think I often get a little more personal than many other bloggers. I don’t have the ambition to become a film critic and I don’t even try to write proper reviews about the movies. I would rather call them reflections or musings around the films I’ve watched recently. I use the blog as an outlet and sometimes the film is just a take-off spot, an excuse for me, to write about something that I want to get off my chest. My experience is that the more personal I get, the more do people want to take part in the discussion and share their views in comments. Be open to others and they will open up to you.
Another circumstance that sets me apart a little is of course that I’m Swedish, and consequently blogging in a foreign language. This means that my language isn’t perfect. I use grammar and spell check tools of course, but they can only take you so far. Fortunately people seem to be very forgiving about it.
Thirdly I’m 44 years old, which I believe is fairly old among film bloggers. It doesn’t make me a better blogger, but it definitely brings me a perspective I didn’t have when I was younger If you take a film like Scenes From a Marriage, I didn’t understand half of it when I was a teenager, while it resonates a lot to me now after 26 years of marriage.
BW: And do you have any suggestions for this year’s new Lambs?
JE: If you’ve joined LAMB, I hope you’ve checked out the LAMB forums already. If not, please go ahead and do so. There’s a lot of inspiration and good advice to be find there. I would especially recommend the sub-forum “Blog Talk”, where we share our tips and tricks about how to improve our blogs.
New bloggers often worry about how to get more readers to their blogs, how to get noticed and how to get more comments. Sometimes they look a lot into statistics and try to figure out how to change their blogs in order to attract more traffic. My advice to those is to stop worrying so much about the numbers. First and most blogging should be about your own enjoyment, about your urge to write and your passion for movies. If someone else likes your writing – the better. But you need to be able to continue writing for a long time without getting much attention or appreciation. Building up an audience is a slow process that can take months, even years.
Providing good content at your blog is number one. But to reach out you also need to network. The LAMB community is an excellent starting point for this and the more active you are in it, the more interaction will you get with other members. Unless you’re a celebrity of some kind, a huge part of your audience will probably be other bloggers. LAMB is the place where you can find them.
The easiest way to reach out is to comment on other people’s blogs. Don’t write stupid, lazy comments that are only about promoting your own blog. That’s frowned upon. But write intelligent, interesting and well written comments that will add value. That will raise the curiosity of the owner of the blog you’re commenting at and they will probably check out your blog. If they like what they find, you might have made yourself a blogging friend.
Of course you also need to take good care of the comments you get. Try to answer to every comment you get. Put yourself in the place of the commenter! You want to feel that your comment is read and appreciated. Even a very short comment like “Nice post” should be acknowledged with a brief “thank you”. It costs so little of your time and it makes it much more likely that the person will comment again.
I think those pointers also are valid if you’re aspiring to win a Lammy category. Campaigning is overrated. Put your energy and focus into your blog. Be active in LAMB, participate in the activities and make your voice heard in the forum. Get involved with other bloggers.
And remember to have fun. That’s why we do this in the first place, right?
BW: I believe that’s true for most people, it certainly is for me. Thanks again for talking with us and I’ll be back next week with another interview!