Jobs to get Jealous of – Marc Fennell, ‘That Movie Guy’
This week Vulture chatted to Marc Fennell about what it’s like to have his job(s).
Marc is best known as ‘that movie guy’ from Triple J, film reviewer for Showtime and Channel 10’s The Circle, host of YouTube series Coming Soon, and Radio National’s Download this Show, writer of That Movie Book, presenter, reporter and producer of ABC’s (sadly missed) Hungry Beast, and generally a really nice guy.
Marc says when kids were out getting Vitamin D, he spent his childhood afternoons watching a tonne of TV, or more specifically programmes from the previous night taped on VCR. Catching up on these videos, Marc spent hours forming complex arguments on character and plot, and painstakingly creating elaborate, photoshopped labels for the tapes of his favourite shows.
Marc was in his final year of high school when all that nerdiness began to pay off, winning an Australian Film Institute competition for best young film critic. And as Marc proved a natural in front of the camera and on the radio, things began to snowball.
Marc talks us through an average business week for him now.
“Well it gets kind of packed because in addition to doing film reviews for Triple J, Channel 10 and Showtime, I also do a show for Radio National about technology and digital culture, which is the other kind of stuff I’m interested in I guess,” he said.
“I’m beginning to write a second book, and I’m doing a web series with some friends from Hungry Beast called Coming Soon where we review movie trailers. We thought it would be fun to examine how well a movie trailer sells a film, because there’s a really unique art to movie trailers,”
“I generally see around 4 films a week, sometimes closer to 6 when it’s busy,”
“And spread throughout that are film interviews, interviewing movie stars for Channel 10 when they come to Sydney,” he said.
Whilst considering how to kidnap Marc and assume his identity, Marc explains the drawback of watching 250+ movies a year.
“It is awesome, but one of the things people don’t realise is that while some people see about three films a year, I have to watch them all, and a lot of films that come out are shit,” he said.
“And I’m not complaining because I get paid to watch movies and talk about them, but there are times when I’m sitting in a cinema watching something that is fucking awful, and I think, ‘Oh my god, can someone just shoot me in the face right now.’”
We asked Marc which is more fun to review; a movie he loves, or one that sucks.
“You can have so much more fun with a negative review, and it’s a good opportunity to make good radio, particularly on a radio station like Triple J,”
“It’s almost like you’re getting revenge for having to watch a film that was terrible. I think the audience has the most fun that way,” he said.
“And in some ways writing reviews for movies I love is quite hard, because there are only so many times I can say ‘good acting’ or ‘good plot’,”
“For me the golden area is when movies are interesting and ambitious but flawed and don’t quite work, and I can really get into the nitty gritty of why they work and why they don’t.”
While Marc says he generally enjoys all film genres, he was very specific about which is his favourite.
“I am very partial to disaster movies where giant landmarks get destroyed, and people look up into the sky and say, ‘MY GOD!’”
“Those are my favourite. If you have a movie where a major landmark is destroyed, it doesn’t matter how bad the dialogue is, I will love it. I could say that I’m a fan of Sci-Fi and Rom-Coms, which I am as well, but ultimately, if there’s one genre that gets me every time it’s the giant-fuck-off-landmark-being-destroyed movie, or disaster porn as I call it.”
And in particular…
“I’m the world’s biggest defender of Armageddon. It’s so bad in so many different ways but I love it. Because it’s dumb, and sometimes you just want a big, dumb, movie. And as far as big, dumb movies go, that one’s pretty big.”
“It’s got to feel conversational, and it’s got to feel passionate whether it’s good, bad, or kind of somewhere in the middle,” he said.
“You’ve got to pull people in, particularly for Triple J reviews because they’re played between songs. It’s not the same as someone tuning in to At the Movies. On radio you’ve got to assume that the audience is listening in the car and doesn’t give a shit, and you’ve got a 15 second hook to make them interested. And that’s where all the time goes, into finding the right hook. As much as it’s about film reviewing it’s also about being a decent broadcaster as well.”
Reviewing film, technology and digital culture today, taking over the world tomorrow.
You can see Marc perform a live episode of Coming Soon with Nicholas Hayden and Nicholas McDougall from Hungry Beast at the Sydney Film Festival on Thursday June 14th. For more information see the website.