ELLINWOOD — Chad Langen, current Ellinwood resident has transitioned his love for writing stories to writing reviews of movies on his website Cinema Blaze, which gets thousands of hits per month.
“I used to write stories all the time when I was growing up,” said Langen. “It was before I knew what screenwriting was.”
Langen was adopted in 2001 by former Great Bend educator Greg Langen in 2001. “After I got my first laptop for my birthday, I visited mostly film related websites and would read reviews all the time. I spent half a day everyday just reading movie reviews. Of course, the other half I was spending watching movies. I remember seeing quotes from different film critics on the back of DVDs or during a movie trailer and that’s what really pushed me to start writing reviews.”
In 2002, Chad started his first website called The Movie Morgue, using Geocities, a free program. It didn’t allow for much customization and it was kind of a ‘build a website in ten easy steps’ sort of thing, said Chad. But, “I wrote my first review and posted it on my website.”
“Back then, I think my dad and grandma were probably the only two readers I had,” said Chad, laughing. “I loved to write and the thought that someday I would have a large, loyal group of readers was my greatest motivation. I had The Movie Morgue for about a year and during that time I discovered I had a big interest in web and graphic design.”
“In 2003, I started a new website called The Entertainment Bible and moved all of my reviews over to it. It was my very first owned domain name,” said Chad. “While I was able to do a little more customizing to the design, it was still your basic cookie-cutter website. Nevertheless, this was when I received my first screener DVD. It was from a tiny independent film studio. The movie which was “Camp Slaughter.”
“I was so excited. I had gotten my very first screener and felt like I was on top of the world,” said Chad.
Chad and his dad moved to Texas in 2004. After a couple of months, he shut down his website due to time limitations.
That time went to good use. “During the sixth months I wasn’t running a website, I was playing with web and graphic design software such as Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Microsoft Frontpage,” said Chad. “I’d gained a pretty good knowledge of these programs and decided to launch another website in late 2004. It was called The Reel Critics and it’s still up and running to this day as Cinema Blaze.
“It started out like my other websites. It consisted of movie reviews and only movie reviews,” said Chad. “Toward the middle 2005, I had nearly 200 reviews published and my traffic was around 100 visitors per month. I felt stuck. I’d been doing the website thing for three years and I just wasn’t getting anywhere. I kept thinking, ““How do I get noticed? There are thousands of subjectively similar websites out there that pull in half a million readers a month. Why don’t I see the same results?””
“So mid-2005, I did a complete redesign and decided to start covering film and television news,” the reviewer said. “Almost immediately, I’d doubled my traffic. I quickly figured out that the increase in my traffic was due to the addition of news headlines. By the end of 2005, I had about 1,000 visitors a week.”
In 2006, Langen received an e-mail from a reader who started giving me tips and tricks on how to increase traffic. Toward the middle of 2006, I got home one day to find my website was down. I had 4,000 visitors that day. I couldn’t believe it. Google had accepted me as a news partner.
“That was the point that my website finally took off. It wasn’t long before my website crashed again,” said Langen. “When my site was back online, I was shocked to see that one article had gotten huge hits in one day.
“Before long, I was running advertisements,” Chad said. “There were months when my revenue was over $2,000. Eventually, I was able to quit my day job and focus solely on my website. Still, my website wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I was interviewing D-list celebrities and the screeners I received were for low-budget movies nobody had even heard of. In 2008, I received an e-mail from a media agency asking me to join their press list. Once I did, I began interviewing more well known celebrities and receiving DVDs for mainstream movies that hadn’t even hit retail shelves yet. And from there, things just kept getting better and better.
“In late 2010, I moved back to Kansas and once again, it became hard to update my site,” said Chad. “I was back to working a day job and doing home improvement projects in my free time. I ended up selling the domain reelempire.com and decided to take a break from the whole website thing. Once I finally got settled in, I resurrected my website with the name Cinema Blaze. Since I’d had all of my industry contacts saved, my advertisement programs in place, etc, it was like I’d never gone offline.
“ I now have several freelance writers who contribute on a regular basis,” said Langen. “It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your dream is, if you work hard, you can accomplish anything.”