I recently had the opportunity to interview Matt Rorie, super cool guy and editor for Whiskey Media’s movie site, Screened. Matt, like the legendary Prometheus, graced us with his fire as I prodded him for insight on life as a movie journalist and more important things: like Babylon 5. Read on after the break!
FleshEatingZipper: Before we talk about your time on Screened, you worked as a games editor and went on to do PR work for the publishers. What was that like?
Matt Rorie: Well, I never actually worked for a publisher; I worked for a developer. That’s kind of a different job, and probably a bit more difficult one, at least in terms of doing PR stuff, where you have to check with your publisher to ensure that you’re not stepping on anyone’s toes every time you want to put something on Facebook. So it was interesting! It was definitely a fun time, and I can’t wait to see what Obsidian announces next. I’m looking forward to playing Dungeon Siege 3.
FEZ: You worked for Obsidian, a company backed by great minds from the Black Isle days, but it seems like they just can’t get a break when it comes to releasing a product that doesn’t feel largely unfinished, regardless of the game’s profile (KOTOR 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol). Why do you think this is?
MR: I can’t really speak much to the development side of things, which I wasn’t intimately involved in. Obsidian makes ambitious games, I suppose, and sometimes the price of ambition is a few bugs. I also think that having to work with other company’s engines was often difficult, so I’m hoping that their internal engine for Dungeon Siege 3 will help make that game a smooth piece of action when it comes out this summer.
FEZ: Why the transition to movie journalism, and more specifically, why Whiskey?
MR: Well, not having had any special background in movie journalism, it seemed like an interesting challenge, and it definitely has been that. Plus I really enjoyed living in San Francisco, and taking the job allowed me to move back up here. Nothing against Southern California, but I like being able to walk and bike everywhere, whereas in SoCal you often have to drive to lunch (a shocking concept to me when I moved down there). It’s been good for my health, too, as I lost a bunch of weight when I moved up here.
Why Whiskey? Well, Dave Snider started talking to me about the site a few months before it launched, and one thing led to another and I was offered the job a while later. It’s a great group of people to work with, which I of course knew, seeing as how I had worked with most of them before.
FEZ: What’s it like to work in a completely open environment like we see in all those Giant Bomb videos? Headphones can only go so far…
MR: It’s tough at times. I’m definitely somewhat noise sensitive, especially when I’m writing a script for something, but I keep a fan running next to me all the time to keep a little white noise going. Everyone’s pretty quiet for the most part, but if things get noisy there are a few other rooms, like the bar, that you can retreat to if you need to work on something. And everyone’s pretty flexible about working from home when you don’t need to be in the office for a shoot or something, so I take advantage of that if I have a bigger feature that I need to work on.
FEZ: What was Whiskey’s commission to you and Alex in creating Screened? Be the best?
MR: I think we just wanted to embody the spirit of Whiskey while bringing that energy to a new medium. We’re still trying to figure out some of that, but we’re looking forward to the summer when we’ll be trying out some new things.
FEZ: Emma Stone. She should be headlining in more films, but what? Action films? Rom-coms?
MR: I don’t know, but it’ll be exciting to watch! I think she’s set herself up as the next America’s Sweetheart, in the Julia Roberts mold, so I don’t want to see her get too dark. She’s a ray of sunshine in everything she’s in, though, even the dire stuff like Paper Man, so I’m really curious to see where she takes her career. So long as she stays away from the hooker roles, I’ll be happy.
FEZ: Opinions on Babylon 5 – the greatest science-fiction show ever made?
MR: I have not seen much of Babylon 5 – I watched the first few episodes and found the banged-up starship milieu to be a bit oppressive, but this was probably ten years or so ago. I’ve heard that it gets much better, but shows have to impress me pretty quickly to get me hooked. I’m kind of shocked I stuck around with Buffy, which has a terrible first season. But I guess all of Babylon is on Netflix now, so I’ll try and give it another whirl sometime.
FEZ: How do you feel about the demise of print publications and the well-known journalists (that we knew growing up) going along with it? Latest example, McCarthy at Variety. Is it a matter of being on the right boat at the right moment?
MR: As the 21st century poem reads, change is good, necessary, and inevitable. I think talented journalists and real critics will find outlets for their writing after the downfall of print, especially given the networks that the big, big critics have put together amongst themselves, but I’m sure many of them will have difficulty adjusting to the speed with which writing on the web forces you to work. But hell, I’m sure I’ll be the old man in 10 years when the twittervlogs are where everyone’s going for their movie news.
FEZ: How much time do you use to prep for the weekly podcast? We spend about an hour finalizing our notes.
MR: Ah, not as much as you do! Generally we have a pretty loose idea of what we want to talk about when we go in there and let the conversation take its course from there. We don’t keep it too rigid, but we have a general flow that we follow that works fairly well for us. We record on Monday afternoon, so there’s the usual beginning-of-week madness that makes it difficult to prep too much. But that’s probably as much a blessing as a curse.
FEZ: Last question: What kind of phone do you use? We at FleshEatingZipper have a bit of a fight going on…
MR: I had a Blackberry Bold for the longest time, but recently I snapped up a Motorola Atrix on the first day it was available. Expensive, but a great upgrade. It does greatly suck to have to use a touch keyboard after using a Blackberry keyboard for a couple of years, but everything else apart from that is great, and I can actually use it to upload puppy pictures right to my Tumblr account without having to wait for my Blackberry to churn like it was a 486 trying to run Quake.
I’d like to thank Matt Rorie again for his time! And while we will forever be bitter enemies – one entertainment site to another – may we enjoy this Christmas in the trenches together.