When I started Renegade Cinema back in 2013, my idea was to create my own movie website based on what I had learned both from working with Chud.com and 411mania.com and from what I learned about SEO and more from my content writing. I started it with my cousin, and fellow film enthusiast and writer, Derick “D-Rock” Dotson, and we brought on some really solid writers in Jesse Blume and Devan Gill.

My biggest mistake was thinking I could start a website on my own, with no real financial backing, and expect any of the writers to stick around. For the last three-plus years, I have found some great writers to come on and help, including Bethany Lewis, Caleb Masters, Ruby Le Rouge, Rick Tym, Derek Johns, Sandi Davis, Allison Fleischer, Patricia Marquez, Danika McClure, Caliber Winfield, Derek Ciapala, Aidan Green, James C, Tony Beaulieu, and Sandy Stachowiak.

One by one, everyone fell because, and this is completely fair, no one should be expected to work for free, even if it is just a passion project. The big problem is that there was little to no money to be made from Renegade Cinema. Every month, I made less money on Adsense than I pay in web hosting fees. I can’t pay the writers and I would never, ever, expect someone to write for free and understood every time a writer left the site due to outside commitments – including D-Rock, who I started the site with.

Hey look, a tumbleweed! By Jez Arnold (Tumbleweed) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Hey look, a tumbleweed!
By Jez Arnold (Tumbleweed), via Wikimedia Commons
When I moved to West Texas, after my wife was transferred here with her job, I was kicked out of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and lost most of my chances for screener reviews (including the prized end of year screeners). I also lost out on advanced critic screenings because there are none in West Texas. Because of that, I am stuck with just my own connections – and I still have some of them.

With that said, I will be shuttering Renegade Cinema in the form that it was built to be – a site for movie geek news for movie geeks. I will be building a new site before I close the original and will reopen it as a strict review and column site. Trying to write movie news, even for movie geeks, is not worth the time on my own site anymore because there is too much competition and it is too hard to succeed in Google, even with the best SEO practices, because of the competition.

I have a family to support and running the site takes so much more time that just writing for a site, so I needed to finally admit that I can’t run Renegade Cinema anymore.

As a result, I will simply post my reviews under a new Renegade banner and invite others who want to write reviews to have a place to post them as well. I will review movies, as I always have done, as well as books and TV shows, but more likely seasons and not individual episode recaps (although I might still recap and review season premieres and finales).

I will be doing this as a way to continue my work as a film critic on a platform that I own but it will be for my own library of film criticism and not as a way to profit from the website. I will also be conducting more interviews and working with festivals and conventions as well for coverage there.

It is a slight change, but there is no reason to pretend that Renegade Cinema is a source for movie news when no one writes there anymore.

However, there were some amazing stories written for Renegade Cinema. Many of those will be ported over to the new site, specifically the great columns by writers like Jesse Blume and Bethany Lewis and the reviews from the former site.

Samples of some of these columns include:

As you can see, I had some amazing writers working for me and I want to preserve their work on the new site. As for me, expect more reviews and columns on a regular basis on the new site when it arrives, as well as blogging here and the soon-to-be-released Fallen Star novel, which is still coming later this year.

There are smaller reasons for blowing up Renegade Cinema and starting over, but the main gist is that I want a fresh start with the site and feel that there needs to be a major change to emphasize the new direction. Soon, Renegade Cinema will be no more. But, there is still something new on the horizon when it comes to Shawn S. Lealos and movies.