The Moviesite Spotlight: The Velvet Café

Welcome to a new edition of the Moviesite Spotlight. For those who wonder what this is:

Every week I read a lot of great movie related blogs and I thought it was time to give the ones I visit regularly a chance to shine in the spotlight, by interviewing its writers.

This week’s interview is with Jessica, writer of The Velvet Café, and what an interview it is!

What’s the history of your site, why did you start it?
In the spring 2011 I stopped playing World of Warcraft after spending a few years in Azeroth and all of a sudden I had more free time at my hands. That’s when I came to think of an old interest of mine that had been slumbering for quite a few years, namely film watching.

I had previously been listening to gaming related podcasts, but now I switched them for movie podcasts to see what other people were up to and that’s how I encountered Filmspotting. What makes this podcast special compared to many others is that it’s connected to a quite big and active forum and in the summer I started to do what many other members did: posting short write-ups about the movies I’d watched recently. But back in my head an idea started to grow, that I might want to start my own film blog. I felt that I wanted a place of my own. In a forum you’re pretty much out if control of your writings. It disappears ever so quickly in one of the hundreds of ongoing threads. A blog would give me means to keep my stuff where I could find it and I could also reach out to people who weren’t forum members.

I still hesitated a bit since I know what a time commitment you make running a blog, at least if you want to keep it fairly fresh and updated. But in July I had made up my mind and opened The Velvet Café, a decision I haven’t regretted.

What makes your movie blog different from the other ones out there?
Well, for one thing I’m a Swedish writing in English. There are a couple of more of us that I know of, but we’re really not that many. I suppose that apart from providing a few laughs and giggles at the errors I unavoidably make, it gives my blog a slightly different perspective compared to the majority of movie blogs, which come from North America. Aged 44, I’m also a bit older than the average. And I believe female movie bloggers are still in minority. If you combine those factors – Swedish, middle-aged and woman – I think I’m fairly unusual.

As of the content and my way of writing I think it’s hard for me to evaluate myself compared to others. But I think I probably add a little bit more of personal flavor to my posts than many others. I don’t think of them as proper reviews. They’re rather reflections, inspired by movies.

What do enjoy most about your site and what is the reason you keep doing it?
I’m passionate about movies and I’m passionate about writing, so of course it gives me a lot of pleasure. I have a background in professional writing, but this is something I do purely for fun. I’m not chasing wealth and fame, I don’t bother too much about statistics and I don’t even have ads. This gives me a freedom that I cherish. It’s really an outlet where I can stretch my writing muscles and be as creative as I want to without any pressure whatsoever. Some bloggers are aspiring writers who hope to make a living out of writing about movies. I don’t have any ambitions in that direction, which makes this a pure hobby, a very enjoyable one.

What gives me a lot of joy is of course also the interaction with my readers and with the rest of the blogosphere. Sometimes a blog post spark a lot of discussion and this gives me a huge energy boost. I’m still humbled by every comment I get.

The networking aspect of blogging is also pretty fantastic. I’ve met up with Swedish film bloggers in real life on a couple of occasions and that was awesome. They felt like old friends. When you follow each other’s writings the way we do, you get to know each other pretty well I think.

In which ways has your blogging changed the way you watch movies?
My blogging definitely makes me watch more movies. But it’s not just because I’m blogging about them, it’s also because I follow so many blogs and podcasts and get a lot of inspiration to see movies I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of or at least wouldn’t have considered seeking out.

If I watch them differently? Perhaps a little I think I pay a little bit more attention to my own reactions, above all I dwell over films more afterwards. If I didn’t blog I wouldn’t give them as much thought as I do now. For me a movie watching experience doesn’t stop when I walk out of the theatre. It continues for days as I’m trying to make up my mind about what to write. This certainly gives me more value for my money!

What’s your favorite article you have written?
It’s always nice when your posts spark a lot of discussion. I’ve written three posts that I think somehow managed to invite people to share their experiences and thoughts. They were all very uncomplicated – easy to write, easy to read and easy to comment on:

Beyond the popcorn experience – musing over cinema snacks
How to pick a perfect seat in a theatre
On the habit of taking notes and spitting wine – does it steal a bit of the magic?

But the post that I actually like most is one that to great extent was directed towards myself, a post where I talk about how the responsibility that comes with being a film blogger – how we can be the curators that help the good movies to reach out.

Sean Hood’s challenge to the film loving community

Could you name five of your all time favorite movies?
I’m glad it’s not “name your top five movies ever”, because then I’m afraid I’d never be confident enough in my own picks to answer. But here are five movies of different sorts that I’ve loved and that I believe always will have a spot on my top 100 list:

Lost in Translation

Blade Runner

The Remains of the Day

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Fanny & Alexander

How many movies do you watch on average each week?
I think between three and five, which would make an average of four, right? (I can do maths too!)

Do you own any movie related items that you are very proud of?
I’m really not a collector of merchandise. I guess my choice will sound a little strange, but I’m actually proud of having the highest level of the loyalty program card at my local theatre. This certifies how much I go to watch movies in real theatres – on average at least once a week. This is an obvious choice for me since I think theatre experiences are superior to watching movies at home with all the distractions that come with it. But it also means that I support the film industry and the local theatre a great deal. It’s thanks to people like us that they can keep going. I’m proud to be a supporter, not only by giving the movies love in my blog, but also by paying for it.

Anything else you want to tell us about yourself?
I’m probably the only person, if not on the planet at least in the film blogosphere, not to be on Facebook. I just prefer the blog medium. Recently I’ve fallen for the peer pressure to open a Twitter account. I’m not too sure how much I’ll use it since I’m a far too wordy person to stick to 140 letters. (I think that’s apparent from this questionnaire!) But if you want to poke me at some point, you’ll find me at @thevelvetcafe.

25 thoughts on “The Moviesite Spotlight: The Velvet Café

  1. Jessica and The Velvet Cafe is probably one of my favourite stops on my reading rounds. She always has the best and funniest spins on the films she has seen.

    Great to hear a little more of an insight into the writer!!

    Thanks Nostra and thanks for sharing Jessica

    • Thanks Scott! You’re one of my best customers and there’s always a chair and a drink on the house waiting for you in the café as you’re making your rounds!

  2. Pingback: Oops! The spotlight is on me! « The Velvet Café

  3. I knew I had found an excellent blog when I found The Velvet Cafe last year. Your favorites very closely resemble mine and I’m overjoyed to find someone else who loves Lost in Translation. I love your posts since they go deeper than just general news.

  4. It’s great to see Jessica’s blog on here. It’s one of my favorites, and it was fun to chat with her recently on the Lambcast. Very informative comments! I’m also a big fan of Blade Runner, Eternal Sunshine, and Lost in Translation, so Jessica has excellent tastes!

    • Thanks Dan! It was a pleasure to see you there! I’m more of a writing person than a radio personality, but it’s nice to get the chance to talk to the people behind the blogs once in a while. And I believe you and I have a lot in common, especially a sweet spot for science fiction. 🙂

    • Hi there! Nice to see you! I didn’t know of you before but now that I’ve checked out your blog it looks great! I’ll become a regular visitor for sure.

  5. The Velvet Cafe is in my top three movie blogs. Jessica is a great writer and it is always a pleasure to read her perspectives (even when she’s wrong 🙂

    One of the great things is that if you comment, then Jessica will respond thoughtfully. She is such a wonderful host.

  6. This is so great, I love reading about my fellow bloggers… some people try to keep their blog quite unpersonal, which is okay too, but I always like to read about the persons behind the (computer-) screen.
    And I love The Velvet Cafe 🙂

    • Awww. That’s lovely! I like it to be personal too. In a way I think it’s more honest. Is there really such a thing as objective writing about movies?

  7. Well, some people try, but the only one I liked reading was Jack L. – unfortunately he’s on some kind of hiatus.

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