Film Stories magazine is one year old, and I wanted to have a bit of a chat about that.

Last Friday, quietly, I had an extra cup of coffee to toast the first birthday of Film Stories magazine. I didn’t want to put anything out then, for two reasons. One: I was knee deep in the next issue, and two, it was Black Friday. I figured it best to wait until today to have a natter about it all.

For on Thursday 29th November 2018, the first issue of Film Stories magazine officially landed in people’s homes, after a Kickstarter campaign, and an exhausting and exhaustive effort to launch Britain’s first new mainstream film magazine in decades.

A few self-indulgent observations, though. Take this as a year one report if you will. But it’s not that posh.

You people are wonderful

I have to start there. Film Stories – be it podcast, magazine or live events – has no big corporation behind it. It’s entirely independent and – save for a few studios and organisations who have thankfully advertised – it doesn’t have the financial support of the UK film industry.

Instead, it has you. It has individuals, a few companies and a bunch of people on our side that’s powered us this far. I can’t thank you enough.

Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to put out the 11 issues of Film Stories and two of Film Stories Junior to date.

Thank you.

There is so much talent out there, who just need a break

When I started Film Stories, the monthly magazine worked with the promise of giving at least two writers every issue their first paid writing work. It’s important to me not only that all writers are paid (working for exposure pays nobody’s bills, and if your business is publishing writing, you should pay for it), but also that the drawbridge of opportunity is lowered.

It’s such a common question: how do you break into writing for magazines and websites, and be paid for it? I was determined to provide an answer to that, but also a little concerned that I was committing to something where I couldn’t be sure the talent was out there.

Boy, was I wrong to be worried. Thus far, across Film Stories and Film Stories Junior, 81 people have been given their first paid writing work. Hundreds more have had articles printed and paid for. It’s been a flat-out privilege to provide a platform for so many brilliant writers.

What’s more, it’s been a privilege too to feature so many independent UK films too alongside the mainstream movies we cover. Dozens of them. Hopefully more to come too.

It’s been bloody difficult

I’ve been doing magazines and websites for over two decades now. This past year has been the absolute hardest by a mile. I’ve tried to be open and honest about that, primarily because I’ve tried to be honest and transparent from the off about Film Stories. As those who put up with me on Twitter know, there have been a lot of late nights, and some significant bumps.

I should also note that the transparency doesn’t mean I’m going to run off with anyone’s money, by the way! I’ve been open about the struggle to get everything to break even, but please be assured that writers and subscribers money is ringfenced! I’m just aware that many are also trying to do independent publishing, and I’m keen to share the highs and lows. In fact, I think it’s important to do so, and to try and pass on what I’ve learned. Thus, I have. I could write a book and a half on the last 18 months of my life. Panic not, though. That’s not on the schedule…

The worst bit

Without question, learning people have been pirating the magazines online. What a slug in the guts that day was. But moving on…

The best bit

All of it in a strange way. I’m way too close to it to assess whether the magazine is strong, how it compares, that sort of thing. Nor am I fishing. I think the magazines are good, and I work my damnedest to make sure everyone who supports us gets a thumping good read, and value for money. That’s really important to me.

The best bit has been it existing. Getting to do the magazines, meeting so many brilliant people interested in it, and the fabulous readers who have lifted us on their shoulders. It’s been a metaphorical rollercoaster of a year, and it’s reaffirmed my belief that most human beings are good. I know that doesn’t tend to scan well on the internet, though…

How can you help me?

Well, the challenges keep coming.

December is clearly a key time for magazine subscription sales across Film Stories and Film Stories Junior. Gift subscriptions too. I spend our income on paying writers, which leaves nothing as things stand for marketing and promotion. Anything you can do to spread the word is gold dust.

Furthermore, the hunt is on for corporate sponsors who can help support our drive for even more new writing talent. To give even more people the opportunity to write about film. Is that you, or do you know someone who may be interested? Do feel free to put them in touch: simon at filmstories.co.uk.

Other than that, every retweet, every bit of support, every click: it all helps. But only if you think we deserve it.

How can I help you?

Finally, these are the opportunities I have open.

  • Writing for Film Stories: pitch articles to simon at filmstories co uk, although you may have to wait a few weeks for a reply. As I said, it’s not a big publishing company here!
  • UK filmmakers: it’s the same address if you’re looking to secure coverage for your films
  • Under 15s: write for Film Stories Junior! Send ideas to junior@filmstories.co.uk

Keep an eye on the website too in the coming weeks, as if all goes to plan we start showcasing independent UK movie websites, and more indie UK podcasts too. I want to use our platform to pay forward some of the support you’ve all given us.

And mostly…

Thank you. 18 months ago, I had no idea that this is where my life would lead me. The support has been humbling. You are all brilliant. From myself, and the small team of people who have been clinging on for dear life with me on this adventure: thank you, thank you, thank you.

Simon Brew
Editor/founder/coffee-drinker
Film Stories

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