Featured Blogger: Ryan Parsons of Trailer Addict
Tuesday, April 19th, 2011
According to Wikipedia, movie trailers first appeared in 1913. Since then, they have enjoyed nearly 100 years of loyal cinema-goers who purposely arrive 15-20 minutes before the opening scenes to enjoy the clips of coming attractions. Trailer Addict, born in 2008, recognized this loyal following and dedicated a site to hosting hundreds of trailers from 1950-2008. Brothers Ryan Parsons and Shawn Lewis maintain and update the site regularly with HD videos. In their words, “Trailer Addict has been built not for those who like a good trailer now and then, but those who understand that the need to watch trailers is a state of mind.” Their vast Twitter following ranges from @DisneyPixar and @UniversalPics, and over 11,000 self-labeled trailer addicts follow their Facebook page. The following features Ryan’s responses to our questions about Trailer Addict.
Q: Trailer Addict seems to cater to a niche crowd; what was the inspiration behind the site?
A: At the time of TrailerAddict’s launch back in January of 2008, there were not yet any video sites offering embeddable HD or even high-res video. Trailer Addict was one of the first to do so. This of course has changed over the past couple years, though Trailer Addict still works to match up HD bitrates with today’s Internet users.
Q: Do you handle your blog software yourself, or does someone else do it?
A: Trailer Addict was developed from the ground up with no blog software working as the backbone. Each component to the site has a particular purpose with no resources going to mundane functions. Since Trailer Addict is process oriented, it enables the quickest loads possible. The site is now run and edited directly by site admins with all work being done in-house.
Q: Does working with your brother create any conflict?
A: Working with family is always risky in business. Fortunately, in the case of running a high-traffic Web site, having somebody close involved with the site means added trust. With direct database access, it is easy for mistakes to occur. While some are just embarrassing, others can eventually lead to detrimental errors sitewide. Having somebody run the site who is close, like a brother, removes the need to build infrastructure to protect against a rogue/careless employee.
Q: How do you obtain all of the content for Trailer Addict? Is any of it user submitted?
A: Adding content to Trailer Addict easily takes the most time. Fortunately, we do have relationships with the studios, including independent distributors, and they have helped us keep up to date. We also attempt to cover all the film festivals, which usually allows for us to have first access to some clips or trailers for upcoming independent films. Though users cannot directly upload and add trailers on their own, we receive plenty of emails daily from users pointing out films and updates including video and posters.
Q: When you started, did you just concentrate on finding and sharing your personal favorites, a specific genre, or did you have another approach?
A: If you look back at our earliest videos, you will notice that we did favor the larger films opening at that time. Once we were able to fill the database with recent releases, we found time to go back and work on both older and upcoming films. Some of our first films included 300, Smokin’ Aces, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Transformers.
Q: How many of the movies for which you have trailers have you and/or your brother watched?
A: Every video that is added, we have watched. We have a tagging system that is unlike any other. We don’t just list anybody related to the film, but actors/actresses that you can actually see in that video. Henceforth, we have to watch every video to find what actor or actress makes an appearance.
Q: According to your Facebook page, Trailer Addict was founded in 2008. Has your traffic grown steadily since then, or did you have a large following when you started out? How did you spread the word?
A: Trailer Addict took off upon its official launch in 2008, thanks most in part to sites like Digg and Reddit. Within six months, Trailer Addict was already receiving over one-million visitors per month. Instead of steady growth, it would seem that every six months we encounter a 20% spike in traffic that remains with us. Nowadays we stick to Twitter and Facebook for spreading the word of new trailers. Today, Trailer Addict receives more than four million visitors monthly.
Q: When a visitor goes to TA and clicks on a trailer to view it, there is a short blurb that appears before the video starts playing. Do you write those blurbs?
A: The blurb depends on the video. Though Trailer Addict does provide the descriptions on movie clips. For trailers, we are typically provided with an official synopsis and sometimes an alternate synopsis. We work to never re-use a synopsis with trailers, so if a film does have more than two trailers, Trailer Addict admins instead describe what makes this particular trailer different from the rest.
Q: Do you also compile the related info about each movie (director, year of release, cast, genre, etc)?
A: Every video is attached to a film. We compile as much of the relevant film information as we can, including Genre, Studio and Cast/Crew. A lot of these facts do make it onto the tags as well.
Q: How much time do you devote to TA each day? Is it a full time job?
A: I typically devote 10-14 hours to Trailer Addict every weekday, and about 10-14 hours total during the weekend. Since we are still fairly new, there are a never-ending amount of updates that we could be doing. We could be working 24 hours a day each and there would still be work to do. For myself Trailer Addict is definitely a full-time job.
Q: You have some big-name followers on Twitter. What does Tweeting add to your blogging experience? How do you decide who to follow back?
A: We definitely don’t just follow anybody in hopes of being followed back. If you’re a studio, then we’re guaranteed to be following you, and most of the publications dealing with film, especially the blogs, we have listed as well. A few directors and other journalists have made the cut, too. But that’s about it. With so little time, we can’t read every Tweet from visitors and so on, so we need to follow only those who are relevant to us or in some cases at least incredibly interesting to us. We do however make sure to respond to Tweets sent to us, even if we do not follow that said Tweeter. Twitter has become a great way to get the word out on a new trailer.
Q: Has TA undergone any big design changes since it was founded? If so, was it a difficult transition?
A: Always changing. Most of the updates users won’t even notice, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. For instance, when Trailer Addict launched, it consisted of a database of 6 tables of information. Trailer Addict’s database now relays information between 37 tables. We also try to improve our user system, since user involvement is very important to us. Expect a big boost to our user system in 2011. The biggest noticeable change in the past six months was the redesign of our tag pages. We went with the all-white approach over a couple older design options. We also added the “Top Bar”, which gives visitors easy access to the top three films for each letter in the alphabet. It’s a quick and easy reference for people looking for high anticipated media.
Q: Do you frequent any other movie blogs that either inspire or provoke you? Or perhaps give you ideas for features you can add to TA in the future?
A: Some blogs I frequent include: Cinemablend, ScreenRant, Joblo, Geektyrant and WWTDD.com. Some features coming to TA in the future include a suggestion system for users, auto-HD and higher video formats.