JoBlo: From movie fan to film critic to movie producer…

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

ARCADE DREAMS Kickstarter campaign RIGHT HERE!

I thought I’d take this opportunity with Thanksgiving taking place in the USA, to look back at my professional life thus far and be grateful for everything I’ve received to this point and share some of my story with others, in the hopes that it possibly inspires some of you in regards to your own goals.

When I was completing my MBA in my mid-20s, all of my classmates were applying for business jobs in the fields of finance and pharmaceuticals, pretty much a bunch of stuff that didn’t interest me all that much. One day, I remember one of my teachers saying something that stuck with me: “You guys will have top-end degrees after this. If you want to live a happier life, try to apply to companies whose main engine is a product/service that interests you. If you like flowers, try applying to a flower company. If you like movies, try applying to movie companies, etc…

Since I was very much into movies at that point in my life (I watched 30-40 a month), including the fact that I had written 4 full-length original screenplays during my two years at McGill, his statement lit a lightbulb above my tiny brain!

I spent my last semester in Rotterdam, Holland as part of the exchange program and one of the things I did in my spare time was to visit Cannes, France, as I’d never been there before. While there, I sent myself a postcard back home in which I said “I will come back here one day in a professional capacity, mark my words!” This was before the Internet even existed and JoBlo was nowhere to be found. I also wrote my parents a postcard asking for more money but that’s another story altogether (see that letter HERE).

During my time at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, I had to do a presentation about what “We wanna do with our lives” and I basically stood up and said that I wanted to be a MOVIE PRODUCER. Needless to say, mine was a different kind of presentation as everyone else in my class but thanks to my teacher at McGill, he allowed me to look past the tip of my nose and follow my passions, even via my career. 

After I graduated around 1996, I sent out around 200 applications to movie studios in Canada and the USA. I was hoping to get in on the lower levels and work my way up but instead, I received hundreds of rejection letters. Seeing as I couldn’t get a job in the field that interested me the most, I decided to get a dinky job at a local computer distributor in Montreal, in the meantime.

Within a couple of years, this thing called the “world wide web” was all the talk and as per my usual style, I threw myself into it personally, learning about how it all worked, even teaching myself HTML code so that I can create my own fun “personal page” on the so-called 'information superhighway'. I still remember the name: Berge’s Rippin’ Page. Yeah, just go with it…

That page ultimately evolved into JOBLO’S MOVIE EMPORIUM (you can see one its earliest incarnations above) whereby I designated myself as “JoBlo” (I had already started to write movie reviews in our weekly MBA newsletter at McGill and the feedback from folks had been positive) and started to write movie reviews under that pseudonym (your “every day” kinda guy) and it wasn’t long before the site became successful and I started to add more sections and more people to it.

One of my greatest moments was early on when I wrote one of my favorite film critics an email, the late (great!) Roger Ebert, and not only did he email me back, but I ultimately ended up conversing with him over the years and I even sent in an “audition tape” to guest host on his SISKEL & EBERT show when his partner, Gene Siskel, passed away. You never know unless you try, kids!

Part of the full circle of this story is that years later I would return to Cannes in a professional capacity — as was one of the first online websites to cover the Cannes Film Festival — and lo and behold, I even got to meet, sit down and jab with Roger Ebert himself!

I wrote all this because even though over 20 years ago my “goal” was to become a movie producer, even though I tried my best early on and it wasn’t successful, I kept myself close to the industry that I loved, wrote over 1,500 movie reviews in the meantime (which led to a book, with a foreword by Kevin Smith, another very supportive person in the industry early on), got back to Cannes various times in different professional capacities but over the years, I also managed to help finance some of my best friend John Fallon’s movies including one of the ones I’m most proud of, starring Michael Pare, entitled THE SHELTER.

But most recently, my life came even more “full circle” when I ran across a documentary about arcade games/pinball machines entitled ARCADE DREAMS, which ultimately led to me backing the film as executive producer, which was astounding to me since I spent most my teen years either watching movies or playing arcade games.

ARCADE DREAMS is currently completing its final days on Kickstarter and has around 80% of the funds required, but if you are interested in this topic and want to support the home team, please check out the TRAILER below and the Kickstarter campaign RIGHT HERE.

Source: Arcade Dreams