Freelance Journalist Interview with James Wright
As George Orwell once wrote about the future: "If you want a picture […], imagine a boot stamping on a human face – for ever." If you find that a rather morbid way to think about what's coming up for you, however, perhaps reading freelancer James Wright's rather more positive take on working towards the future will cheer you up…
After all, it's resulted in features for Little White Lies, FHM, ZOO and GamesMaster, so things are going pretty well. All James asks is a glimpse into future events from all you PRs in the know…and an interview with James Cameron. And maybe world peace.
About your journalism
Hello James! Take us through what you write about…
I’ve been writing about films, games and a broad selection of men’s interest topics since I was at University. My background is mainly in film reviews, but I’ve never been afraid to try my hand at anything put in front of me. My work for Little White Lies magazine probably demonstrates this best, since it showcases features that focus on everything from the history of stunt car racers to Xenotransplanation.
We definitely know what that word means and didn't have to Google it. Where are we likely to see your work?
All over, to be honest. If I’ve got an idea that I think people will want to read, I’ll make sure someone, somewhere takes it. So you might spot my work in men’s magazines such as ZOO, FHM, Zip [alas, Zip closed last month, so you can see James' work there no longer *sob* – Ed] and Loaded, or film magazines such as Empire and Little White Lies. I’ve also done a lot of work for GamesMaster, 360 Gamer, Clash and the British Independent Film Awards. There are so many smaller titles and websites I could also name, but I fear we could be here all day. Suffice to say, all of my work can be viewed on my website: www.jameswrightonline.co.uk
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I’m really proud of all of my work, but the one piece that really sticks out in my mind is the first feature I wrote for Little White Lies magazine. It was the first time I’d ever pitched a feature to a magazine before and I was so taken back when they said they wanted me to write it up. At the time it meant so much to me because a) I knew that the editor Matt Bochenski didn’t take any old rubbish and b) it confirmed that I wasn’t dreaming and that writing for magazines was something I could achieve as long as I put my mind to it.
Well, as George McFly once said "if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything…" What interview or features are you putting your mind to for the future?
I’d love the chance to interview James Cameron. However I wouldn’t want to do it as part of a junket, because I’d have too many questions about his back catalogue. If I had the chance to just sit down with him for an hour over a pint I’d be so chuffed. That’s what I did with Clint Mansell when I interviewed him (in a pub near Leicester Square) a few years back and I still feel it’s one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever submitted.
About you and PRs
Where do you source ideas for articles?
More recently, working for more commercial outlets and magazines, my ideas will come primarily from press releases sent through from PRs – they’re my bread and butter. Outside of that, Google is my friend. There’s really no excuse for writer's block in today’s day and age, given how resourceful the internet is.
How can PRs be useful to you?
Most of the PRs I deal with are already pretty great, to be honest, as they’re sending through info and press releases pretty much every day, which is great. The only thing that could be more useful is the occasional email outlining what work they have coming up in the upcoming weeks and months.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
I prefer email – firstname.lastname@example.org – because I can sift through the information at my own leisure, but I definitely wouldn’t ignore a phone call.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Truthfully, I think they’re more useful than a hindrance. Not just because it allows you to engross yourself in a product more fully, but because it’s a great opportunity to get to know the PRs better and get a handle on what work they’ve got coming up in the near future.
Anything about PRs you'd like to change?
I wouldn’t change a lot, to be fair. Most of the PRs I’ve dealt with have been really helpful and always accommodating with any requests I’ve made. The only thing I’d say is to make sure that what you’re sending over is 100% relevant for the person you’re sending it to. For instance, I recall that a couple of weeks ago I was sent a press release that began: "Hi James, As World Breastfeeding week approaches…" and as an entertainment journalist, that was something that was never going to interest me, no matter what way you spin it.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Well, I work during the day as a social media exec for Substance, managing everything from Facebook pages to Twitter feeds for some of the biggest film and TV shows released in the UK (HBO, 'Game of Thrones', 'Ted', 'The Hangover').
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I’ve always wanted to create a free magazine distributed at universities around the country, where the copy is written predominantly by students. I’ve always felt that it’s a market that has never been fully exploited. So, I’d probably put the money towards that project.
Do you tweet?
I wouldn’t say I’m the biggest tweeter in the world and it’s not because I dislike Twitter. It’s just when your day job consists mainly of living and breathing social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and so on, you really need a break. That said, I always dip my toe in now and again – especially if it’s to promote something I think’s cool and worth sharing with others.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
At the moment I have Empire and Little White Lies in my bag; 'So Paddy Got up' by Andrew Mangan on my iPhone; 'Generation Xbox: How Videogames Invaded Hollywood' by James Russell on my iPad; and a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s 'The Road' on my bedside table.
That choice of bedside reading is almost as depressing as the '1984' quote that opened this interview…
As well as "guarding the realms of men," a.k.a. overseeing the 'Game of Thrones' UK Facebook page, James Wright is tweeting @JamesWright_UK.