Saturday, October 3, 2009

Week-end Post: Internet Movie Data Base (and what it means)

Most of the readers here probably know what the Internet Movie Data Base is, or as it's known in the business, IMDB.  As in, "so you're not in IMDB yet" or "check his credits on IMDB." First I'll go over what exactly it is, and then what it represents and what to be careful about should you be on it.  What IMDB is, essentially is a complete listing of every movie ever made and and full credits from star to production assistant. It has become the place to go to check on anyone's credits. 

You want to know about me, go to or you can click "my credits" on the left side of this page.

You want to check the list of credits for Martin Landau, just type his name in the IMDB search and you will see everything he's ever made, from TV shows to movies to anything else with his name in it.  It is an incredible resource and its free. Almost.  You can subscribe to IMDB PRO which gives you even more information, the person's agent, company, practically everything but where he/she eats.  And even that might be coming someday.

IMDB was started in 1990 by a group of individuals who listed movies and directors and actors. From there it continued to include virtually every category of filmmaking.  In 1996 it was incorporated in the UK and continued to grow until it was purchased by Amazon. In that short time it has become both a boon to filmmakers and a liability.  Anybody can access it, just go to IMDB.COM and enter any movie title or actor name or even gaffer and it will take you to that person's page. 

The most interesting thing here is that all of the information, everything,  comes from outside contributors and some of the company's work.  All of the credits on my page were entered by someone I never met, although a friend of mine wrote the biography.  The website has become the place to go to check on anyone in the business.

For good or bad reasons. 

For example, I belong to a WGA writer's website and had noticed one WGA writer posted over 2000 posts in discussions and often disagreements with other writers.  I went to IMDB and found he had no credits.  In other words, he'd never written anything.

I was spending way too much time disagreeing with someone with literally no experience.

The site is also where one can announce their movie to be made.  This is somewhat controversial as anyone can say they're going to make a movie. There's really no way to confirm this and what you often get are listings of movies "in development" or "in preproduction" that stay on IMDB for years. 

The reality is there is no movie, just someone who is trying to put one together.  My friend Paul Lynch has several of these projects in development, all of which came about because he had a coffee with a producer and said he'd be happy to direct their film.  Next thing he knew is his name was listed on a upcoming movie. The fact that the producer hadn't even found the money didn't seem to matter.  

If you check my page, there's a project called Ghosts of Odessa listed.  It's a screenplay I optioned to my friend David Winning and Dave put it on himself.  Personally, I don't like to post a movie on IMDB until I know it's going to happen. That's why Travel Day isn't on IMDB yet. And there's another reason, many of the alleged projects in development are listed so that anyone checking up on you can see that you are busy.  You don't want your last credit being 5 years ago.  Like mine.  Like I said in another post, I might as well be dead.  But, there is Ghosts of Odessa listed.  And I know it isn't going to happen, at least this year.

Another annoying factor is birthdays. They often list birthdates which, if you're over 40, don't really want it advertised. I'm sure some producers have rejected me due to my age. And there isn't anything I can do to delete it.  It's obviously harder on actors, no actor over 40 wants to admit it since roles over that age are few and far between, especially for women.  My advice to everyone in the film business, never write you age on anything you don't need to, you may be 26 and think it doesn't matter.  Until you turn 40, or 50, or even 63.

But IMDB is here to stay, whether I like it or not. You can find reviews of Ghostkeeper there, some very good and some really bad, but you learn to live with them. And ultimately, my ever envious and dark side still want to know how old anyone I might be working with really is.

As in my teen goddess Brigitte Bardo is 75!!!

I am getting old : )


  1. Still enjoying the blog Jim and just to add to the IMDb: most of the actors I know have loads of missing productions that, for some reason, never make it to the IMDb. The biggest problem is that when I have tried to add things they want the production number or title (if it's episodic for example)and you know - for some reason I can't remember the episode numbers of the UK version of General Hospital that I was in (who could?) but I agree it's bad showing our ages.
    The thing I don't like is that your IMDb starmeter is based on the number of hits your page attracts each week; number ones recently have been Michael Jackson, David Carradine and next week it will probably be David Letterman; so it's notoriety that gets you there along with Robert Pattinson.
    That wouldn't usually matter much but agents and casting directors have started to ask for submissions only from the top 30,000 on IMDb's starmeter and I'm sure at least 30% of the top 100 are dead - John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe et al are still there.

  2. Yes, agree its' very difficult to add or change things when you want and it's impossible to get through to them. Sort of like credit reporting companies.

  3. Absolutely fascinating. I'm looking forward to seeing this movie. Will be so interested to see how it all turns out. You'll show 'em!

  4. Hey Kevin, good to hear from you, thanks for the encouragement.