High school student hopes to turn hobby into career

By Candice Monhollan Sophomore Sean Cooper is making a name for himself with his blog filled with hundreds of movie reviews.

It all started innocent enough for a young Sean Cooper when he watched Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

The following year, a fifth-grade project led him to choose Alfred Hitchcock as an important person to do his research on and from there, his love of movies began to grow.

“I just started renting movies from Red Box and the library when I was in sixth grade,” Cooper said. “I wasn’t a serious lover of movies back then and I didn’t notice cinematography or anything, but I really enjoyed those movies.”

Over the summer, Cooper began attending a young writers’ camp at Duke University to grow a talent he had already possessed since childhood.

Then in 2011, he put his love of movie together with his ability to write and created “Cinemaniac Reviews,” his online movie review blog. His first post went live on July 31 of that year.

“I had been using Flixster for two months at that point,” Cooper said. “I met another blogger who had a blog and used Flixster and so I thought I’d start a blog. I didn’t think I’d continue it for a while, but I did.”

It’s a good thing he did because now, over two years later, his blog his just 20 subscribers shy of 1,000 followers and his Twitter account, which he’ll periodically live tweet reviews from, has 735 followers.

As of Dec. 20, he has now watched 661 movies for his blog.

“I’m guessing that maybe 200 or 300 of them signed up a while ago to get the updates, maybe for even just one review,” Cooper said. “They just let my other reviews flood their inbox and don’t really care to unsubscribe.”

Whether that may or may not be the case, he still has a good of many who do enjoy what he does and continuously interact by leaving comments on his reviews.

But with the thousands of movies out there, it can be difficult for anyone to decide what to watch next and the 16-year-old is no different.

“I’ve tried some really strange methods in trying to choose movies,” Cooper said. “Now, if I’m having difficulty choosing one, I just draw a movie title from a hat. Usually, I look to see what looks good from Netflix or my personal movie collection.”

What can sometimes make it more problematic is that there is no genre he won’t venture into, but his does have his favorites.

“I have a certain inclination watch crime movies more or comedies,” Cooper said. “But I’ll watch any genre.”

The Kennett High School sophomore does still have some restrictions on what he can watch because of his age, but it’s far fewer than when he started.

“As far as I know, not anymore,” he said. “I think if there were something completely outlandish that I wanted to watch, like ‘Anti-Christ,’ I bet because of the title, they would reject that.”

Once a movie is selected, Cooper gets right to work with a notepad in hand.

“I try to keep track of who is in the movie and who distributed the movie from the opening credits before I even get to the creative aspect of it,” he said.

Despite having done this for so long and filling his blog with reviews, he still finds sitting down to view a movie as a pleasurable experience.

“I watch every movie for fun and try to enjoy them,” Cooper said. “It’s usually natural that I enjoy watching it or ranting about it if I don’t like it. I do feel the overwhelming need to write about every movie I watch.”

He hopes to build off of what he is currently accomplishing with his blog and turn it into a job one day by becoming a professional film critic.

“I want to go to college for it and then move on with it to follow in the footsteps or [Roger] Ebert,” Cooper said.

About the Author

Candice Monhollan

Candice Monhollan is a 2012 Temple University graduate. She loves to cover sports, especially hockey. She enjoys marching with the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps and has a love of U.S. military history, which includes reenacting. Reach the author at cmonhollan@dailylocal.com .