Two IUP graduates and former editors of The Penn recently published a book about the future of cinema in a world of smartphones and streaming.
Cody Benjamin and Chris Hayes graduated from the journalism and public relations department in 2016 and 2018 respectively. After graduation, Benjamin quickly went from being a staff writer for Ogden Newspapers to a sportswriter for CBS Interactive while Hayes works as a marketing assistant for Tri Rivers Musculoskeletal Centers.
Brought together by their mutual love of movies and writing, the pair decided to collaborate on “What About the Movies?,” a comprehensive look into the history and future of the cinema industry.
“’What About the Movies?’ is part love letter to cinema, part exploration of its place in today's society,” Benjamin said, “where so much of our entertainment is consumed individually, at home or on the go. Its mission is basically to answer the question: Do the movies still matter? Theaters have been around for more than 100 years, but do they have a future in this world full of streams and smartphones?”
As people born in the mid-90s, Benjamin and Hayes are both old enough to have experienced a world without smartphones and at-home entertainment and young enough to have grown up during a technological boom in the 2000s.
“The book is kind of unique,” Hayes said, “because it’s from the perspective of two guys who still remember the days when everyone went to the theater and bought DVDs and stuff like that, but we’re also young enough to be on the front lines of the transformation of the industry into what it is today, which is obviously a lot different than 20 years ago.”
To compile the information needed for the book, Hayes researched topics like the history of popcorn and the world’s most unique movie theatres. Meanwhile, Benjamin interviewed dozens of movie executives, critics and other people involved in the industry. The most challenging part of the project was “combing through all the quotes and information we got from industry sources,” according to Benjamin.
“Everyone involved, from cinema owners to movie critics and so forth, were so helpful in offering insight into the business,” he said. “The challenge was taking all of that and giving the reader a clear, concise narrative.”
Even when separated by a thousand miles, the pair was still able to work together on the book by using Google Docs and shared Word documents. After finishing their final rough draft, they used Lulu, an independent publishing company.
“It was also super rewarding to read and edit the entire thing, which was the final step,” said Hayes. “To see the finished product on bookshelves and online is awesome, too.”
Their collective academic experiences at IUP were invaluable to the creative process of writing the book.
“The basic journalism classes were instrumental in shaping my grammar and style,” said Benjamin. “The civic journalism projects taught me about interviewing and compiling a breadth of sources. And all the experience outside of class, from editing and writing at The Penn to working on IUP-TV, made me a much more refined reporter. IUP was a true building block for the career I have today, and I'm very grateful for all those who helped mold me along the way.”
You can buy your copy of “What About the Movies?” at Amazon or on Lulu.com.