“Who Is Britgeek?” Interview with Adam Steven Kelly (“Britgeek” of Ain’t It Cool News)

At 21, Adam Stephen Kelly now has a little over five years work experience in journalism, a field I’ve spent a little over five years studying. The idealist in me congratulates this gentleman making it in a world that absolutely loathes you for your opinions. The realist sees one-year from now and despises him for his successes.

“Employers tend to look at people who have actually done what they say on their CV as opposed to what they say they can do. I think they’re valuing experience over qualifications, I think a lot of students study and sort of expect to get the career or job they want to without having any experience at all and I think that’s the wrong mindset,” said Kelly.

Yes, well, why couldn’t you be my mother when I made this life decision? I suppose for any number of reasons that don’t need to be addressed here. But academics are not without hope. Kelly admits Journalism Studies are very helpful but a combination of studies and experience will always be better. Fair enough.

But how did Kelly go from 16 year-old journalist still attending school to “Britgeek” cinephile and UK representative of Ain’t It Cool News (AICN), an internationally known movie blog started by Harry Knowles. Well, a combination of networking and writing and just a whole lot of luck.

While researching Kelly I couldn’t find anything interesting about his biography. This does not mean I didn’t find a few reels of footage on him. He stands 5’11’’; he was born 16 July 1990 in West Sussex, England; he is a Cancer. He might try a dating site with this information, and even though this was all I found; I still gave him a call.

After chatting a while with Kelly it was clear he could get lost in a film if given even the smallest opportunity. Horror is clearly his genre of choice. At age four or five Kelly invited into his life his first scare-inducing movie Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. “I’ve grown up on sick and twisted horror movies ever since,” laughs Kelly. “I like all genres but horror is probably what I watch the most of. But there are probably more horror movies made per week than any other genre.” He is quick to also bring up renting Alien Resurection, chuckling, “the people at the video store didn’t seem to care that I was eight or nine, so whatever.” As a kid, no matter what side of the ocean you’re from, it’s a fun feeling to see something you weren’t supposed to.

Kelly isn’t about looking too early though. He admits to not following any critics and avoids movie trailers whenever possible. Spoilers are one reason but otherwise he’s just not interested in what other people have to say about film.

“If I read the synopsis of a film and I think it’s interesting, I’ll watch it. Everyone has different opinions. In a sense it’s kind of ironic because obviously a critics opinion is just that, an opinion. And opinion, like film, is subjective and what some person likes another person hates. So I don’t actually tend to listen too much, if I read a review I don’t take much of it in, much of it to heart, it’s just an opinion,” Kelly said. “Even though I write reviews myself. People can do the same to me.”

Starting out as a reviewer for ScreenJabber.com, Kelly logged in over 500 reviews for the site, which he left September of last year. Though he said he wised it could have been under better circumstances he still considers ScreenJabber his home, the place he crafted his writing style and skills.

It was after two years of working for ScreenJabber that Kelly got into contact with Eric Vespe – “Quint” – of AICN and discussed the possibilities of working with them. Vespe offered a few notes and how to contact Knowles and Kelly ran with it.

“That very night I had Harry asking me to write a sample of what I wanted to contribute to the site. I didn’t expect to get a response let alone find myself in the position of writing something for publication, but there I was, furiously typing away and getting my inaugural column written. Harry is a man of few words – at least from my experience – and extremely busy, so I’m still not sure of his thought process behind welcoming me into the Ain’t It Cool family, but I’m more than happy that he did,” says Kelly.

Since July 2011 Kelly has been writing under the pseudonym “Britgeek.” Unfortunately he is not writing much in terms of news. Movie reviews, DVD/Blu-Ray releases and interviews with the likes of Hank Azara are his focus because he doesn’t yet have the ability to post directly to the site. Instead he has to send his work back to the States to have someone upload his post. This tends to prevent the newness of his news.

“Pretty much you’re your own editor. Especially since I’m covering the UK I have to field everything on that side of things. Pretty much most everyone is an editor wherever they’re based,” Kelly said. “People are pretty much doing their own thing.”

Although Kelly is contributing to an international site he still deals with the fears others face. The job is day to day, no contracts. One day he could be expected to contribute the next he may no longer be needed. That’s why it’s important for Kelly to always look forward and to see the opportunities a head.

As I furiously take notes on this bastard of talent and experience he mentions another thing to stir my jealousy. It seems along with being an accomplished critic by the time he’s legally allowed to become a bitter drunk in the US, Kelly has also dipped his pen in the ink that is screenwriting.

At the moment, Kelly has found another project to concentrate his time on. Oddly enough his project is a documentary, a far cry from the horror he has always loved. But doesn’t documentary have its fair share of mystery and suspense?

“About a month ago, someone who I live very very close to and see many many times, in a former life, I discovered they were a superstar in the world of music. And a lot of people don’t know this person is still around actually,” Kelly said. “I read a lot into this person and I got in touch with this person and I thought it would make a good documentary. As I was getting to know this person, they were very interested as well. It’s early days but maybe making a documentary on this person who related to music but as I say I can’t go into details really.”

Aside from this musician who is in fact a person, I couldn’t convince Kelly to disclose more details about his project. He did mention the person is from the UK so get out there gumshoes and find yourself a musician long thought dead.

Kelly said he wants to be involved in every facet of his documentary, which is why he’s keeping quiet about it now. “If everything goes ahead, I’d like to get as close to it as possible. So, from a directing standpoint as far as you can direct. Definitely a hands on cog in the wheel if you like.”

Before he begins his career to become the new Martin Scorsese of music documentaries, Kelly has another project on the back reel. Already having been given partial production credits on two feature films – Incest Death Squad 2 and Mediatrix – it seems Kelly is just beginning to build his CV in the film industry. Later this year he will begin filming with director Cory Udler a screenplay he wrote called Bugchasers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, allow me to explain: Bugchasing is the term used to describe people who pursue sexual intercourse with known carriers of the HIV virus in the hopes of contracting HIV. Giftgivers are HIV positive people who are more than happy to provide the bugchasers with their desired disease. Kelly laughed as he said it was a little twisted and weird. I tried to help him simplify that description to being completely fucked.

By the time I was 20 my biggest accomplishment was solving the rubric’s cube. No small accomplishment indeed but after speaking with Kelly, it’s clear I ought to get my priorities in order. I joke about this with him and he kindly laughs but doesn’t disagree either. Age means nothing anymore, and experience and study are only as good as the people you know. It’s up to young writers to write their own life script and be a beacon for this most fascinating of art forms. For now Kelly is happy to shed a little light on the subject before he takes off and becomes the subject.

David Rowley

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