Den of Geek founder crowdfunds movie mag to prove print doesn't need to 'cost the Earth'

Simon Brew, the founder and former editor-in-chief of entertainment website Den of Geek, has embarked on a new mission to prove that print has its place in this day and age - to do so - he is crowdfunding a new magazine called Film Stories.

Brew departed Den of Geek in July after 11 years at the helm, leaving mag giant Dennis Publishing to launch his own independent title.

The journalist founded Den of Geek in 2007, and under his leadership, saw it grow from a small website to an international media operation with offices on both sides of the Atlantic.

He told The Drum: “What I’m trying to show, and I know I might fall flat on my face, is that there’s another way. That it’s possible to produce a magazine, pay people a fair wage, and not have it cost the Earth to do.”

To fund the project, he sought a modest £10,000 on Kickstarter. The pledge has been surpassed and now sits at more than £13,000 with 17 days left to go. Brew branded this "a really lovely surprise".

He said: "It’s very humbling to know that so many people trust me with their money, and I’m determined to give them something that’s worth it."

Brew has promised to pay all contributors to Film Stories and give at least two new writers their first paid work each issue. He also hopes to cover films that slip under the release radar.

He is aware of the risks of going all-in on print in an era of cutbacks and declining sale figures. Especially when the UK’s top film publications, Empire and Total Film, reported 11% and 15% drops in circulation respectively this year.

Brew possesses a cautious optimism and hopes a direct-to-consumer sales model, Kickstarter pledges and ad revenue will help Film Stories be a success. He said: “There’s a huge risk in print as everyone knows, but, before Den of Geek, and even while I was there, I’ve always worked in print. I’ve edited weeklies, monthlies and everything in between. I know how to get a magazine from A to B.

“The big stumbling block to get into print is the news trade. To get a magazine onto supermarket shelves is exorbitantly expensive. In this instance, we’re cutting that out and focusing on selling direct to readers. Our sales will primarily come through subscriptions, but we’ll also be about at events to be face-to-face – which I think is hugely important.”

On whether this approach would be the future for print products, Brew was understandably reluctant to make any grand predictions but admitted that publishers have to be more flexible when it comes to strategic decisions.

“I think the future of print is still a bit hazy and up in the air. It does not help that there are those in the industry who keep on doing things the way they’ve always been done.

“I think the huge growth of social media has allowed publishers to be that bit nimbler. I’m basically putting my money where my mouth is here. It might not work, but I’ll be damned if I don’t give it a good go.”

Things are looking optimistic for Brew with the magazine funded and still accepting donations ahead of the page’s conclusion on 19 November. “This is a wonderful place to be and hopefully the start of a journey – even if that sounds really pretentious,” he concluded.