Just as there are millionaires who made their fortunes in doing really fun stuff, like building inflatable jump houses (versus, say, selling alarm systems), there are YouTubers who have found their success in doing really b*tchin’ channels that are more fun than “regular channels.” CinemaSins is one of those amazingly fun channels because it exists solely to pick apart Hollywood movies and expose the anachronisms and incongruities found within — and to do it all in a comical manner.
Sure, sometimes the creators of said films aren’t the biggest fans, but it’s done in good fun and with a lightness of spirit that enhances the watchability of many of the mentioned films. The beauty of CinemaSins is that it gets you watching every movie with added interest as you yourself try to spot issues of plot or prop. And it’s hard for filmmakers to argue that you paying MORE attention to their art is a bad thing (besides, it sounds like the guiltiest of filmmakers could benefit from watching the CinemaSins channel).
NMR sat down, digitally speaking, with Jeremy Scott, one half of the CinemaSins duo — his partner, Chris Atkinson, was swamped with fine-tuning a Neil Degrasse Tyson-voiced episode of CinemaSins in which they pick apart last year’s Oscar contender “Gravity.” Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. As far as excuses for being busy go, that is a hell of a good one. You know the drill: read the interview, gush over how awesome CinemaSins is and subscribe to their channel. Pretty simple stuff, people.
How did the idea of CinemaSins come about and how did YouTube figure into it?
Jeremy Scott: CinemaSins was born out of years of watching movies together and cracking jokes. Chris and I met years ago working as managers at a movie theater. So each week we’d pick one or more of the new Friday releases, and watch together the prior Thursday night to preview the prints.
I think the wisecracking just came naturally from our personalities, but there’s also something about a non-public showing, where no one else is around to be bothered — that loosens up the joker inside of you.
We saw so many films during those years, I guess you could say we got a little pickier than the average moviegoer. We saw all the good films, but we saw all the crap too, and there was a whole lot more crap.
Fast-forward to a few years ago, and both Chris and I were writing or editing for ReelSEO.com — a news, tips, and information site for online video creators and marketers. After writing about it for so long, we just eventually got the itch to try creating content ourselves. After a few failed attempts that are best left in the past, CinemaSins was the channel that eventually found success.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is pretty much “the get” of guest stars for the internet. How did you get him? And was he a fan of your work previously?
We just asked. It was Neil himself, really, that set this all in motion (though he didn’t know it) back in the fall when he tweeted out a stream of nitpicks regarding the movie “Gravity.” He loved the film, but the scientific questions he raised struck a chord, and there was a lot of media coverage about it. We definitely noticed — I think we even tweeted out something about how good a Cinema-sinner he would make or something.
When we found a spot for “Gravity” on our schedule that made sense, we realized it would be a wasted opportunity to not at least ask the guy if he’d like to make an appearance. Much to our delight and honor, he agreed. We can’t speak for him, but we like to think he sees in our videos what we have kind of always thought was obvious: that we love movies … AND we love nitpicking them.
What’s your process for picking a film to review? What do you stay away from?
Well, we want to attract as many viewers as possible, so for sure we tend to drift toward the bigger titles — whether current or in the past. We also try to time our releases, whenever possible, with new films hitting the theaters. So we put out the “X-Men: First Class” and “Wolverine” videos ahead of “Days of Future Past.” On top of all that, we factor in the fan requests from Twitter, the comments on the videos, and our call-in hotline (405-459-7466).
We try to stay away from outright comedies, mostly because when a comedy is bad … it’s just bad. There are only so many funny ways to point out something that isn’t funny. We don’t think those sins videos would be very much fun for anyone. Other than that, we don’t really have any rules.
Do you both sit down together and watch the film over and over again? Or what is your method for creating a CinemaSins review?
The process is pretty straightforward. We both watch the film on our own — the number of viewings mostly depends on whether we’ve seen the film before, and can range from one to a few. After we’ve both written sins separately, one of us takes the editor role and combines them, reworks them, hones them into a final script of sins.
Sometimes a film will require extra viewing if it has a particularly complicated plot (like “Inception”) or is entirely in song (like “Les Miserables”), just because we want to ensure we haven’t missed or misunderstood anything.
What is your least favorite and most favorite movie from a CinemaSins perspective?
Well, from a general perspective, Chris loves “Back to the Future” like no other, and my favorite movie is “The Matrix.” In terms of which films we’ve covered that have the fewest or most “cinema sins,” I believe “District 9,” “Inception,” and “Jurassic Park” are the ones with the fewest … and I think “2012” has the most — not counting the Bonus Round multipliers we occasionally tack onto the end.
The sin totals don’t directly correlate to quality or enjoy-ability of a film, though they sometimes can seem to run parallel. The sin count is just the sin count, an emotionally-detached list of observations and critiques. Several movies we greatly enjoy have received high sin counts. In fact, we both really enjoyed “The Amazing Spider-Man,” which was the target of our very first sins video.
A great movie can be sinful, and a terrible film can, at least in theory, be light on sins. I was surprised “The Matrix” ended up with as many sins as it did, but when we held it up to the light of this “sins” definition we’ve created, it came out with 85. A movie’s length, by way of example, can greatly increase the sin count, just by virtue of there being more footage to review for sins.
We couldn’t get a preview of your latest video because, according to your publicity guy, you’ve had sites leak your videos early. True? And will you trash the sites who have done it publicly?
Well, to clarify, CinemaSins hasn’t ever had anyone leak a video, but I personally have with projects in the past. I won’t out them. It was a total accident, but still killed the release. Hopefully you guys aren’t offended by our reluctance to share, because that was not the intention. We just didn’t want to even run the slightest risk of this surprise being spoiled, even on accident, that’s how excited we are about it.
What is the biggest “sin” a film can commit?
Ignoring its own rules. We truly don’t care what the rules of your movie are. You can have magic fairies, or talking goats, or jedi, or whatever you want … just stick to your own rules. Don’t tell me Godzilla is so huge and heavy that he’s dozens of stories tall and shakes the ground for blocks with a single footstep, and then tell me he disappeared in the center of New York City … twice. Don’t tell me it’s the early 60s, but then give a character a near-HD-quality news broadcast signal in a submarine under a bunch of ice.
The Harry Potter movies are always earning sins from us for having the spell-casting be such a mystery — sometimes they need wands, sometimes just a hand will do, sometimes they need wands and a spoken spell, etc. (I’m sure the Potter books explain this in great detail, I have no idea, but as usual, we don’t think the books matter when judging a film, and the films don’t even care at all about explaining this issue).
What do the actors/directors think of your critiques?
It’s hard to say. We have only seen feedback from a few. It was pretty split. Kevin Smith sent us a ton of fans early on by tweeting about us, but a couple directors have been less than thrilled to see our critiques. Which is completely fair. I haven’t ever made a movie, but I imagine I wouldn’t necessarily just automatically enjoy seeing a video nitpicking it — especially if it was my first experience with such a video and I thought the creators were being serious.
What’s your favorite/least favorite thing about your CinemaSins partner?
Well, I can only answer this question for myself. My favorite thing about Chris: he’s funnier than me. My least favorite thing about Chris: he’s funnier than me.
Share this article because it will doubtlessly ruin one of your friends’ favorite film for them. Hehehe.
Here is more Hollywood in YouTube:
Jimmy Kimmel Reimagines Classic YouTube Viral Videos as Big Budget Movies with Top Hollywood Stars