Media Interview with Dave Sztypuljak, editor of Hey U Guys
David tells us about the site's humble beginnings and how developing relationships with PRs helped it grow from a part-time hobby to a full-time job. Lights, camera, action!
About Hey U Guys
Tell us a bit about your blog.
We started about three and a half years ago. I’d done a blog before and it was something I wanted to do again, and with this one we never really knew what we wanted to do; it was just going to be a bit of fun. So, one day I was a bit bored at work and I asked my colleague John if he would like to start a film website (as we both liked films) – he said that he was up for it. That evening we were thinking up names, and that’s when 'Hey U Guys' popped up. So that’s what we decided to call it. We bought the domain, built the website, and off we went.
It was probably around three months after we started that PRs picked us up and started inviting us to screenings. This sort of blew our minds; it was basically free cinema so we couldn’t see a downside. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength. We got invited to our first premiere and now we go to loads. We get to do all these amazing things; I still don’t believe it's happening because it was just a random idea one day and we didn’t know where it was going to lead. Now we get to interview people that we’ve respected for a long time. So it has been a funny journey and it all started with a random idea.
What sets Hey U Guys apart from other film blogs?
We love what we do; there’s never a dull day that goes past and we try and keep our feet on the ground and realise we’re in a privileged position. We’ve had a few lucky breaks, met a few of the right people. We managed to get into a sector where there was maybe a gap in the market. We try to be thankful for things when we’re given opportunities that other people may not necessarily get. Everything we get given we try and excel at: we don’t do the bare minimum, we try and do as much as possible to try and please the PRs or please whoever it is who has given us the opportunity in the first place! So basically, trying to do everything as well as we possibly can do.
How do you hope to develop your blog in the future?
When we started it was never meant to be a full-time job, it was just for fun, so we quit our jobs a couple of years after it started because it was taking up so much time and said, 'we might as well give it a go'. Now we're trying to work out how to keep the longevity of it. We used to do a lot of the posts without any gain for ourselves; we just did it because the PRs asked us to. Now it’s a case of trying to work out: is something we’re going to put up going to get traffic? So we’re looking at a lot more of that sort of thing. Getting more feature exclusives and competitions. Meeting new people and trying to push the website to do things that we haven’t done before, or that no one else is doing.
Do you work closely with PRs?
Thousands of them, no, hundreds of them, loads of them.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
It sort of varies; every film of note that comes out has a PR company attached to it, so we chat about features, exclusives, premieres, competitions, interviews. You’ve got the studio, PRs, then us – they’re sort of the intermediary between the two. We go to them, then they relay what we’re doing to the studio.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you what would it be?
I do like it when they pick up the phone, because sometime that’s more personable. I get hundreds of emails every day; sometimes I’m selective on which ones I answer because I don’t have time. Say someone emails me with, ‘do you want to interview James Cameron this afternoon?’ in the subject line, then that goes to the top of my list. I’ve started using things like instant messaging because it cuts down on hundreds of emails. I'll have a fair few PRs on my Skype Instant Messenger and it just means that they can ask that question and I can answer immediately, cutting down on two emails already. Then if they’ve got a follow-up question they just ask it then and there and I reply – that would be four or six emails just to get the same information. I’m a massive fan of instant messaging and I’m not sure why more people don’t use it.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you?
I wouldn’t say there is a good time. I work funny hours; when the Oscars are on we work all night covering that, also when the Superbowl is on – that sort of time. We’re in an industry where lots of it is governed from the US; the working day here finishes at five or six for most of us, in America on the West Coast that’s quite early in the afternoon. For us, we deal with PRs all day and night as we deal with quite a few US ones as well. So I wouldn’t say there is a best time to contact us really; they tend to contact us whenever a press release is sent out or whenever there’s a question they need an answer to.
What film highlights are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m a big fan of blockbusters, so I really want to see 'Prometheus', 'Snow White and the Huntsman', 'Dark Night Rises', 'The Hobbit'. The best film I’ve seen this year is 'Lockout' with Guy Pierce – a completely bonkers film, but I really enjoyed it. Everyone should go and see it; it's great.
What books are on your table, magazines in your bag, blogs on your screen?
Books on my table: zero, because I don’t read much.
Magazines: Empire and Total Film. I’m a bit of a geek, so I read T3 and Stuff magazine. We cover a bit of tech and there’s massive crossover between tech and films because of TVs and surround sound stereos, 3D, that sort of thing.