Who is John Reviewer, and why does he stan #BCFilm?
On the surface, John Reviewer doesn’t seem like the type of person I usually profile on YVR Screen Scene. For starters, he’s a film reviewer. Some might argue that he’s a direct competitor.
But I don’t see John that way. I see the bigger picture – how John and I are both elevating the same voices, albeit in different ways and to different audiences – and what I see fascinates me and should be of interest to anyone who is making film in Vancouver and wants to know how our local stories read outside of the 604.
John Reviewer – not his real name, but his “reel” name – is based in Washington State. He runs About to Review, a weekly film review podcast that aims to amplify diverse voices in media. To date, About to Review has released upwards of 150 episodes.
In recent years, John has become a familiar at Vancouver film events like the Vancouver Short Film Festival, Vancouver Web Fest, and the Vancouver Badass Film Festival, often seated at a makeshift podcasting booth where he’s interviewing filmmakers like Mayumi Yoshida, Kyra Zagorsky, and Juan Riedinger for the About to Review podcast.
This blows my mind. It can be hard enough to get Vancouver entertainment journalists interested in the indie filmmaking scene, but here’s this busy American podcaster who loves our content, who drives up from the States to celebrate our films in his popular podcast. Why is he interested in our local films when so many of our own journalists and reviewers aren’t? What can we learn from his interest in our local industry?
After appearing with John on a diversity panel last year, and seeing him in action at a few local film events, I decided to ask him these questions myself.
“I am a firm believer in that idea that everybody is a film critic,” says John in a recent interview.
He’s always been into movies. “Some of my first memories are movies, so with that, I have always been a blossoming film critic, and I was reminded recently when I was talking to my best friend, who I have known since fourth grade and still talk to all the time, and he said, ‘Remember when we used to take your dad’s tape recorder and do a radio show?’ And I legitimately do not remember. I have always been on a path to this, and with the podcast, it is a medium that makes sense for me. It is using the power of voice, which is incredible. Everybody has a voice, so whether it is loud or soft or persuasive, everybody has a voice.”
John’s first YVR film event was the Vancouver Short Film Festival in 2017. “I fell in love with it,” he says. “I met some incredible, creative filmmakers and creative people in general, and from there, I started being contacted by other Vancouver companies who had listened to those interviews that I did, and they started asking what I do, and would I like to come up and cover theirs?” Of course he wanted to – and so he did just that.
The reason John keeps coming back up to Vancouver is because, he says, “every time I go up there, I continue to get inspired by all of the creative work I am seeing… Every single time, I am inspired by the passion and the level of craft in BC filmmaking.”
So, there you have it, folks: American podcaster John Reviewer covers BC film because he thinks BC film is worth covering. I couldn’t agree more.
As I mentioned at the top, John Reviewer is a nom de plume – erm, nom de podcast. Even I don’t know his real name. I do know what he looks like – because I’ve met him in person, and we’ve Skyped – but he doesn’t show his face on social media. He places a 1940s comic book detective face over his own whenever his photo has been taken.
“I wanted it to be about the content, and not about me,” says John. “I really wanted [my podcast] to be driven by the content, and so to have this mysterious persona played into that. If people want to know more about me or what I do, here it is in audio content, and then it is less about my face selling it.”
John Reviewer will be in Vancouver March 29-31 covering the Vancouver Badass Film Festival.
If you’re a local filmmaker who’d like to connect with John, you can reach out on pretty much every single social media platform; just look for @abouttoreview.
For more about the About to Review Podcast, visit http://www.abouttoreview.com/