Celebrating 15,000 Articles With a Look at Our Firsts

If I had a time machine and was able to go back in time, I’d have a lot of advice for a young Neil Miller. Things like “lay off the fatty foods, fatty,” “move to Austin sooner” and “credit cards are bad” would be at the top of my list. Nowhere in there, however, would you find any changes to the people who have been brought on over the years to write for Film School Rejects. I wouldn’t change those for anything. It would be nice to be a little thinner, though.

I tell you that story to tell you this one. The article you’re reading will count as the 15,000th published article in the 5+ year history of Film School Rejects. It’s a very cool milestone that a young Neil Miller wouldn’t dare believe could ever happen. And we’re here because of the countless people who have worked hard to bring us to this point. And just as we did earlier this year when the site had its 5 year anniversary, it’s time to celebrate. To do so we’ve taken a look back at the first articles (and words) written by some of our most prolific and longest running contributors. To celebrate where we’ve come to, we must first take a look back at where it all started.

Below you will find a collection of the opening paragraphs from the first articles of our most prolific writers. News and reviews, warts and all, this is where some of FSR’s defining voices began their lives as Rejects.

Cole Abaius, Managing Editor

Cole joined Film School Rejects in August of 2006 and has since risen up the ranks to become the site’s guiding voice and managing editor. His unique stamp is all over the site you read (and love) today, but it’s also apparent in his first article, a review of the Tony Jaa actioner Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior.

Review: Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior, by Cole Abaius (August 28, 2006): “Just as Japanese movie makers were about to claim the award for supreme dominance in the realm of martial arts filmmaking, Tony Jaa, representing Thailand, may have just knocked them back down the ladder. With audiences needing more awe-inspiring action sequences, current martial arts directors have reinvented the genre to include standard fight scenes mixed in with acrobatics that open the eyes and drop the jaw. Even more impressive, as Ong Bak‘s marketing points out, is that Tony doesn’t have a stunt double or wires. When he leaps over a moving vehicle, it’s real.”

Rob Hunter, Associate Editor

When he began writing for us in the fall of 2007, it was clear that Rob was going to be a handful. What wasn’t known to us then was just how much Rob hates writing about less-interesting movie news stories  — and in turn, how much he loves writing about films that aren’t in English — something we should have seen coming when he took on an announcement of Zack Snyder directing an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man.

Zack Snyder to Director Another ‘Illustrated’ Classic, by Rob Hunter (August 29, 2007): “A terrible movie based on a classic story collection is getting the big-budget remake treatment as Zack Snyder has signed on to direct a new film of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man. The original 1969 film stars Rod Steiger as an angry, burly, and crazy small-town sheriff who hates black- no, wait… sorry, wrong movie. Steiger stars as an angry, burly, crazy man covered in tattoos that swirl across his skin, telling stories of fate and the future. The character and his quest for the mysterious woman who inked him is the framing device surrounding three stories from Bradbury’s superior 1951 collection.”

Robert Fure, Associate Editor

Few opening salvos into the world of film criticism are quite as fitting as that which a young Robert Fure fired at the action film Crank on September 6, 2006. If you’ve followed his work in the years since, you’ll note that he’s one of the immovable forces on this site. Robert Fure likes what Robert Fure likes. And if you don’t like it, he’ll fight ya, friend. We’re glad that he still is every ounce of the man who wrote the following about that wild Jason Statham movie.

Review: Crank, by Robert Fure (September 6, 2006): “Let me be completely honest with you. I wanted to like Crank. I wanted to love Crank. I wanted Crank to be so awesome that I’d walk out of the theatre, go straight to the bank, get out $20 and wait to buy it on DVD. In continuing with the honesty, I will not be buying Crank on DVD and will more likely be buying a 30-pack of beer. Crank is the story of a retiring hitman (do any hitman ever stay in the biz?) who’s been injected with some “Chinese shit,” as its often called, that will die if he stops moving. A solid premise if I ever heard one.”

Kevin Carr, Columnist and Critic

Since the day we met (he fell asleep in front of me at a screening of The Science of Sleep), Kevin Carr and I have been disagreeing about movies. In years since, we’ve parlayed those civil disagreements into a mildly successful, mostly overweight podcast called Fat Guys at the Movies. He’s also been one of FSR’s hardest working contributors, delivering over 900 articles since March of 2007. And as much as we disagree, Kevin and I found common ground when it came to his review of the animated TMNT.

Review: TMNT, by Kevin Carr (March 28, 2007): “While I’ve been a comic book geek most of my life, I never got into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This wasn’t because it was a bad franchise, mind you. It was more that I was just a couple years too old to be in the target demographic. By the time the first movie came out, I was graduating high school, and the sequel (featuring a then-cool Vanilla Ice) hit the screens when I was in college. If I had been five or six years younger, catching the turtles when I was still not yet a teenager, I’m sure this would have been a defining element of pop culture for me.

Brian Gibson, aka Reject #2

In our back-end system, the users of the site are each assigned a number. As the guy who installed the back-end (someone had to do it), I got the privilege of being user #1. The second user created was Brian Gibson, the only remaining Reject from those first days when we were just a group of kids who wanted to write about the movies we love and maybe get a few free DVDs in the process. I’m proud to call him one of the original Rejects, one of my oldest friends and one of the biggest home theater tech nerds I’ve ever met. A fact that was more than apparent in the opening words of his first article on the day the site was launched.

Welcome!, by Brian Gibson (February 15, 2006): “First off, I would like to thank any of you reading this for visiting Film School Rejects. Secondly, I would like to tell you a little about myself and my contribution to this website. I would like to consider myself a cinephile, videophile, and audiophile. I do enjoy going to the theater, but I mostly watch most of my movies on DVD. I will be viewing DVD’s either on a Toshiba 46? HD Rear Projection, Samsung 46? HD DLP, or a Mitsubishi 55? HD Plasma. I have a THX rated 6.1 audio receiver, HD DVD players, and everything is ran with Monster THX cables. The sound and video quality of a film matter a great deal to me, and further the value of my purchase. It is my intention to shed light on the finer aspects of a film’s presentation, in an attempt to help others regard a film in a different way.”

Brian Salisbury, Columnist and Resident Schlocktologist

Like Rob Hunter, Brian Salisbury has made his name on FSR with one blast of a column (“Junkfood Cinema”) and a slew of countless strongly worded reviews. So even I was surprised that his first words were written as part of a potential throw-away piece of news. But as we’ve come to expect from him, he made the most of the opportunity, lending his inimitable wit to a tale of Robert Downey Jr. as the vampire Lestat.

Robert Downey Jr. Talks to Universal About Biting Into Lestat, by Brian Salisbury (August 17, 2009): “Bloody Disgusting is reporting today that Mssr. Robert Downey, Jr. is chatting up the idea of playing the vampire LeStat in Universal’s reVAMP of The Vampire Chronicles by Ann Rice. Apparently audiences have gone vamp-crazy over the last couple years.  Drac-tastic media is beginning to saturate our senses in an abundance unseen since Christopher Lee made about a dozen films a year for Hammer back in the 70?s.  I heard this deal hinges on how glittery they will require Downey to be on screen.”

Landon Palmer, Columnist and Future PhD

Landon Palmer was the first of his kind: an FSR writer brought on specifically to start a brand new column. He was the first experiment in what has become one of the core elements of FSR’s current programming, the free-wheeling world of weekly columns. Since that day in February ’09, Culture Warrior has continued to be one of the most insightful and thoughtful columns in all of the movie blogosphere. And frankly, sometimes Landon makes the rest of us look like we should be writing in crayon. We should’ve known it would happen when he opened with a bunch of big words, expounding his theory on the new wave of cinematic optimism.

Culture Warrior: The New Wave of Cinematic Optimisim, by Landon Palmer (February 7, 2009): “Compared to the cinematic juggernaut that was 2007, 2008 was a pretty disappointing year for American cinema. Sure, there were the astounding mainstream achievements of The Dark Knight and Wall-E, both of which had a great deal more to say about our cultural moment than any indie or art film cared to, but the huge rollout of award season movies from Thanksgiving to New Year’s revealed nothing too groundbreaking-at least not compared to last year. Whether you personally enjoyed them or not, it’s hard to argue that 2007?s No Country for Old MenThere Will Be Blood,The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and even The Assassination of Jesse James… were anything but major cinematic achievements, carefully crafted by true artists of the medium who deliberately pushed form to its capacity. Where 2007 signaled the progress of the seventh art, 2008 merely seemed to play it safe as the joyous spectacle of every Slumdog must be taken with the disappointment of what could have been with every Benjamin Button.”

Robert Levin, Film Critic

Years later, there’s no way that anyone would believe that Robert Levin, one of our most consistently entertaining (and productive) film critics, would have started with a news article. But it’s true. Before he was writing 2-3 reviews per week with us in between all of his countless other commitments, Mr. Levin wrote us an article about a Candyland movie. It’s things like this that make me giggle.

Universal Goes to ‘Candyland,” by Robert Levin (February 6, 2009): “The creative well must be running dry at Universal Pictures. There’s no other logical explanation for the news, reported by Variety, that the studio’s tapped screenwriter Etan Cohen and director Kevin Lima to create a big screen version of the board game staple Candyland. What they intend to make of the colorful collection of candy canes, lollipops and characters with names like Mr. Mint and Lord Licorice that comprise the Hasbro property is anyone’s guess. Fans of the classic game will know that it doesn’t exactly lend itself too well to a feature narrative.”

Robin Ruinsky, Journalist and Critic

She may be the lone lady on this list of the most prolific FSR writers, but I doubt she’ll be the only one on the lists we do in years to come. What I do know is that she’ll be there, because Robin has been one of the most consistent and diligent contributors we’ve ever had. When she came to us in December of ’07 she brought with her a work ethic and a unique perspective that didn’t quite exist in those days of FSR. When she jumped right in and began her reviewing career by taking on a romantic comedy starring Hilary Swank, we knew we had brought on someone who we play an important role in balancing out our addictions to martial arts movies and Michael Bay.

Review: PS, I Love You, by Robin Ruinsky (December 29, 2007): “P.S. I Love You, written and directed by Richard LeGravanese, is the screen adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s novel which was set in Ireland but has been transported to New York City to create a vehicle for Hilary Swank to show her softer, funnier side. Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry (Gerard Butler) have been married for ten years. They live in a nice size apartment complete with wide screen television, wide screen computer monitor and Holly’s multiple pairs of designer shoes. Holly says they’re poor. We should all experience that kind of poverty.”

Jack Giroux, Featured Interviewer and Child Prodigy

When the site began, I considered myself a young guy. 22 at the time, I thought I was ahead of the game. Little did I know that I would later come into contact with Jack Giroux, a prodigy among movie bloggers. You’ve undoubtedly come to know him through in interviews. His conversations and the stories they bring have become a hallmark of our film industry coverage, and his tenacity is unmatched. We knew he was a gunslinger back in the day, one year to this date, when he brought us an exclusive piece of news with his first article.

Exclusive: Kevin Smith on the Religious Themes of Red State, by Jack Giroux (April 11, 2010): “Kevin Smith’s long talked about Red State may now finally be hitting the big screen. After years of trouble getting financing, Smith has actually landed backing. For a while now we’ve known very little about Red State. Besides the fact it’s a horror movie, the plot itself still remains a mystery. That is, until now…”

Jeremy Kirk, Columnist and Box Office Guru

To his credit, Jeremy Kirk joined the site after I had seen his work on various other blogs around town. He was a strong writer, a hard worker, smart as hell and above all things, one of the nicest guys I’d ever met on the festival circuit. It was perhaps that last part that allowed me to convince him to start writing one of the most difficult (and long-running) columns on the site, The Reject Report. As if having to know the future wasn’t tough enough, he had to own up to his own box office predictions every week. But he does so with style and charisma, just as any great Reject should. What’s interesting then, is the fact that his opening work didn’t involve a prediction or chart, it was all about Mark Strong’s endless string of villainy.

Kick-Ass: The One Where Mark Strong Plays a Bad Guy, by Jeremy Kirk (April 9, 2010): “I remember way back in the day (December 21st, 2009, to be precise), sitting down to watch Guy Ritchie’s fun-filled Sherlock Holmes, the one where Mark Strong plays the bad guy.  Before the glory of Robert Downey, Jr. trying on a British accent overcame us, we were greeted with the highly anticipated, new trailer for Kick-Ass, the one where Mark Strong plays the bad guy.  It was also around this same point in time the first trailer for Robin Hood hit.  Robin Hood, the one where Mark Strong plays a bad guy.  Yes, there’s a blatant pattern that has emerged here, and, though the tongue is planted firmly in cheek in bringing it to your attention, the results are no less apparent.”

Adam Charles, Columnist and Criterion Addict

If you’d like to read three of the most entertaining editorials we’ve ever published, I’d urge you to dig into the archives and read the first three Adam Charles joints we published. They are all solid gold. Before he was dazzling you with his knowledge of important cinema in “Criterion Files,” Adam was laying down some of the most discussion-inducing op-ed pieces of the day. His sense of humor and wonderful insight were no more apparent than they were when he submitted his first article, challenging us all with the question of whether or not The Oscars really matter.

Academy Awards: Do We Still Watch The Best Pictures?, by Adam Charles (February 8, 2010): “‘Who cares?’ The above quote is the most oft-uttered phrase I hear whenever the Academy Awards makes its way into a conversation, implying that said person probably won’t be watching the ceremony.  I’m intrigued as to the potential reasoning behind the response so I interrogate as to why they feel (at the very most) indifferent to the telecast that’s supposed to honor the best examples the year has offered of the most widely popular form of “art as entertainment” that we have.”

For those wondering, this article was compiled by looking at writers who have been with us for a long time (more than a year, which is a long time in our business) and have contributed a great number of articles. We look forward to our next great milestone, where we’ll surely be celebrating the work of some of the fresh new voices we’ve brought on in recent months.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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