Saturday, August 7

Do you IMDB?

The LA Weekly runs a piece on every movie geek's best kept secret. The International Movie Database started as a game all American college boys played while the Internet was still being tested in campuses. They'd go online and compare notes on cute actresses and which movies she's starred in. The list expanded and "actresses begat actors, which begat directors, which begat writers, which begat cinematographers, which begat plot summaries."

The database was up and running for 5 years before they had to face a crucial decision: Do they go commercial or fold up? Volunteer editors were buried by an avalanche of work when their little website started pulling in 18 million hits a month. Their backyard business turned truly commercial when in 1996, they got their first ad campaign for Independence Day. Then in 1998, IMDb was acquired by Amazon and now everyone knows all about it.

And it's pretty much amazing how this site compiles the bits of information on a lot of movies, tv shows, video games and soundtrack listings. It's a network of some 100 people scattered around the globe, people whose names we don't know, but whose knowledge turns up in entries in what would have been obscure movies: “We get our info from disparate sources, but these contributors are our lifeblood. It’s a large group of trusted users and submitters in whom we’ve gained a level of confidence, much like you begin to trust a movie reviewer,” Simanton says. “It could be a professor from UCLA, the screenwriters of the film themselves, the maiden aunt of someone who died years ago. But it’s the gleaning aspect and process that really makes the IMDB what it is.”

Read the rest of this fascinating article here.

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