Dear Movie Pilot and Creators Community,
My journey at Movie Pilot started three and a half years ago as a result of stubbornness, mistake making, and most importantly, luck. What seemed like a three-ingredient recipe for a rocky life resulted in a fruitful career that has brought me more joy than I can physically put into words (with this letter being my best attempt at that). But before I get too sappy, let’s start with a younger, more naive Marco to give you context.
Movie Pilot wasn't my first job out of college. It wasn’t even something I thought about what a job could actually be.
I was what you called one of those 'lost soul' millennials. I left with two Bachelor degrees from a top university in California, one idea of how I dreamed my life would be after college, and zero opportunities. That is not a workable equation, and trust me, you learn the value of money really quickly when you have to pay off a $60,000 loan as soon as you take your first step off the graduation podium. I went the practical route and jumped at the first job opportunity I could get.
Little do people know, I worked on the stock market as my first job. Imagine Wolf of Wall Street, but a whole lot more tame: no drugs, no alcohol, no crazy parties with naked women on planes, and absolutely no Leonardo DiCaprio. Actually, don't imagine Wolf of Wall Street at all—my life was much more dull than that. I realized I hated post-grad life the first day I stepped foot into a corporate building that had over two thousand business casual employees strolling around. Slacks were uncomfortable, button-ups even more annoying. However, the worst part about this 8AM - 5PM life was the simple fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do in life. But at least having a job was just a tiny bit better than aimlessly walking around not knowing what to do. And I persuaded myself that this was normal for nearly two years.
You can only go along convincing yourself to be happy for so long before the facade falls apart, and you’re stuck staring at a mirror that ultimately leads you to asking yourself the question, “What am I doing?” A trifecta of occurrences happened and it seemed to be the proverbial stars aligning moment. The lease on the house I was staying in Irvine was coming to an end, my father’s free standby flight benefits were expiring for his now independent son, and most of all, I disliked my job and really wanted to leave. I still had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew that my idea of life was not what I was living. I gave my two weeks, gave up my biweekly income, and gave up my social life as I moved in with my parents miles away.
How I Found Movie Pilot
I moved back home with a weekly income of zero and my first order of business was to...spend all the money I had to travel for two months on my own.
I traveled to a total of six different countries all by myself. Though my trip was filled with tasty foods, beautiful sights, and crazy stories, I was still burdened with the quiet knowledge that I was avoiding reality and still needed to figure my future out. Seven thousand miles between me and home didn’t change that.
Every single country I visited had one thing in common—amazing people. Language barriers only served as minor obstacles; if you found a similarity in anything, you were linked together. You find out quickly that we have much more in common than we have differences.
And then it hit me. My passion had everything to do with connecting people together and building communities, whether it was through food, sites, sounds, or the love of entertainment. The simple joy of being able to connect with someone who's not in your immediate circle amazed me. And what's a better way to do that than through social media?
The original paradigm of social media shifted in my head. What had seemed on the surface to be just a way to post and get the most likes changed to a love story for platforms free to anyone with internet access to be able to connect with anyone in the world.
My journey into finding a career in that world was tough. I was extremely stubborn in not simply settling for any position, and though I'd been offered a couple of opportunities throughout my six-month funemployment, nothing felt right and I declined each and every opportunity that came my way. I didn’t want to put myself in the same situation as before, dreading every morning where I'd have to wake up, go through the daily morning routine, drive myself to work, and throughout my day, dream about how much I just wanted to go home and sleep, only to rinse and repeat four more times until the weekend.
Then one day, I found a listing online for a Community Manager position at a company called Movie Pilot, and I went for it. I was contacted within hours and set up a meeting for the very next day. After a number of interviews, I finally felt at home. This new company’s goal was to find, cultivate, and curate passionate voices on the internet about all things movies. A home where you didn’t have to read a review on Rotten Tomatoes and immediately agree with it because they were a critic (but if you wanted to, you certainly could do that, too). It was a home for fans, by fans, to geek out about whatever they wanted. This job spoke to me. The platform needed to take shape and I wanted to be the one to do it. I started immediately one week after my interview.
The Creators Story
What started off as a position I barely had any experience in transformed into opportunity ‘clay’. I had the power to shape, form, and spin the direction of what this platform would turn into. Each e-mail written, tweet sent, and blog researched contributed to an infinite game of pottery throwing with each final version looking smoother, more detailed, more functional than the last.
We started off finding specks of gold in the internet by messaging passionate fans and building what was known as the Movie Pilot Contributor program one individual at a time. But beyond the writing, we wanted to do something different. We wanted to bring the fans to the front lines of La La Land, show Hollywood that there’s more than just professionals who have opinions. Thus was the beginning of the Movie Pilot Perks program. Over time, we were connecting with studios, telling our story, and getting our then-contributors to early regional screenings, press conferences, and conventions. But if our idea was to shake the industry up, we needed to do something bigger than just that. There’s only one red carpet location for premieres. If we couldn’t bring the red carpet to our contributors, we had to bring the contributors to the red carpet. We started off with one opportunity to test the waters and it then swiftly evolved into us flying two to three Contributors out per month soon after that. We were finally able to connect with our users beyond the letters on our screens.
Contributors always sounded a bit traditional. You join a website to write, you become a contributor to that site -- simple as that. We weren’t a traditional website. Movie Pilot’s users were creating. Creating new theories and ideas, creating beautiful thought pieces and opinions, creating voices and empowering themselves. That’s when we decide to rename the users on our platform as Creators.
Creators were joining us left and right, but with the increase in users, many individuals were left on the periphery of what it took to get their articles featured on Facebook and optimized for reads. So then came Movie Pilot University (which we later renamed to Creators Academy). We created a quarterly writing course dedicated to assisting our Creators with online journalism for the digital age.
Over time, we wanted to provide more than just opportunity to get our Creators’ voice heard, we wanted to provide them all with the possibility of supporting themselves. A revenue-sharing model that benefited the Creator, if you will. We launched Verified Creators and began a program that could provide an income for those who truly wanted to turn their passion into something that could be monetized. Our model worked and our system branched out to our editorial team in the form of Master Class, where users had personal relationships with the editors who worked closely with the Creators to hold them to a high standard in writing and make them better.
Looking back on the things we’ve done, we’ve accomplished a lot. We gave voice to the voiceless, sent Creators to Los Angeles to experience the Hollywood you see on screen, and provided a revenue model to help monetize their hard work.
We’ve always tried to shake up the industry, but with decreased article views and an increased emphasis on visual content, our business made the pivot to video and sadly our Creators model had to close its doors.
How Creators Helped Me Find Myself
Here’s where it gets a little emotional, so rather than giving you a spoiler alert, a much better equivalent would be a sappy alert. I’ve learned way too many things as the Head of Community here to list, so here it goes.
(Please avoid reading if you’d like to sidestep the tears on my keyboard taking shape into words in this article.)
I’ve always loved movies. It was one of the only times I’d have all of my family members in one place at the same time. Whether it was buying a ticket at the local AMC or popping in a VHS, movies were a huge part of my identity growing up. But being a big nerd of films wasn’t something to be openly proud of when I was going through school as I didn’t really have a community of people to talk to. Movie Pilot proved to me that your passions, whatever they may be, has a home and a community. There’s no such thing as a niche on the internet and when you zoom out beyond your inner circle and contextualize it within the world, there are others, just like you, all over. Don’t be afraid to be you—there’ll always be a Robin to your Batman. Or another Batman to your Batman. Or a Batwoman. Or Batgirl.
I don’t think I truly understood passion until I worked here. It quickly became clear that my “love” for movies was more of a “like” when I compared myself on the scale of Creators. Passion so intense that a 140 character tweet would turn into 2000+ characters on the page. Passion so deep that a single frame of a film could lead to the biggest discovery. Passion so dedicated that you could spend hours on a single article to prove your love for a franchise. Now I know what passion truly is and what it looks like.
Be proud to be a movie, TV, or gaming fan. You drive the conversation, you drive where things are going. There's always power in people and fans are the true voice. Trust me, I’ve heard thousands of them through this website.
I’m sad that our platform is coming to an end, but I think the memories burn deeper than the pixelated words on our screens. Thousands of people found a home within the single click of the “Create” icon on our dashboard; it was an outlet for their feelings of excitement, happiness, and anguish. Where I found myself a home was with the people on the platform. Writing brought us together, but the Creators and connections made it real. And from one lost millennial to others, whose stories seemed to be similar to many others, that’s all we truly needed.
If you have ever shared a single word, conversation, or article with me, thank you. You’ve affected my life in more ways than you know. The end of Creators.co and this platform doesn’t mean you stop being a fan. It just means that you have to fan out even harder.
Shout-out to my Community and Editorial Dream Team. All of you were amazing people to work with, and truly have exhibited the type of drive that was needed to do something great!
Shout-out to all of the Creators that I’ve ever chatted with on the platform, you all are more than just individuals on a screen—you are all my friends. Still happy that we can nerd out together regardless of the shutdown.
Shout-out to all of the Creators who received opportunities through Movie Pilot, whether it was a simple regional screening or us flying you out to LA. You have all made an impact on this site and on me. I have enough stories that I can count on my hands and toes ten times over, and I’ve loved every single moment I’ve spent with all of you. There are too many of you to name individually, but you all are the best and have made the past three and a half years life-changing.
I'll still be around with Super News and hope that you can check out our videos, we'll be keeping the nerd voice alive!
Head of Community, Creators.co