That'll Do, Whale: Saying Goodbye to Film Criticism


My first film festival badge as press.

This is my last post as a film critic.

Seems like only yesterday two guys had a dream to make a fun movie website to belt out their affinity for all things cinema. Gordon and the Whale was born, and Rusty Gordon and I turned our passion into something great. We built a solid team and people started listened to our wit, charm, professionalism, and all around silliness. It was a wild ride of awesome. 

Four and a half years later, I shut down (read about it here). It was a the hardest decision I ever had to make, and months after, I questioned if it was the right decision. It was weird seeing my writers, who became family, disband and fade away in my life. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’ve learned that people come and go in our lives. Change is hard, but each and every person I’ve come across on this now six-year journey has influenced me in one way or another.

As soon as GATW shut down, the founder and editor of this very site, Todd Brown, asked me to write for Twitch. Being a fan of the site since I can remember, this was intimidating and terrifying and wonderful all at the same time, but everyone welcomed me with open arms. Twitch is a family that has each other’s backs when things get hairy (unpleasant pun for you). I learned a lot about my writing through Twitch and the site really molded the film critic I’ve become today. Gordon and the Whale gave me a voice, but it was Twitch that shaped how I wanted to be heard.

Today I get to announce something new and incredibly exciting in my life: I’m taking what I’ve learned as a film critic and putting my passion and heart into another side of the film industry: distribution. On Monday, I will be working for an wonderful company that champions independent film from all around the world, Cinedigm (New Video and Docurama). I’m incredibly honored and so grateful to be offered a position for this company. Growing up, my desire was never to make films, but to tell the world about them. Being a film critic gave me a voice. Now I get to apply everything I’ve learned over the years towards an innovative company who shares the same passion as me: movies, movies, movies. There, I’ll be doing what I know best: celebrating some of the best independent films from all over the globe.

As a film critic, I’ve been able to cover SXSW, Cannes, Sundance, TIFF, and various kinds of great festivals around the world. I became a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, the Austin Film Critics Association, Rotten Tomatoes, and Criticwire. I was a speaker on a film criticism panel alongside greats David Denby and Kenneth Turan. I’ve met the best and brightest journalists, directors, actors, producers, film festival programmers, and people who love movies just as much as me, if not more. And, the Gordon and the Whale logo I co-created with my team in 2007 appeared in a major motion picture. How far I’ve come as a film critic starting from a little movie website from college is staggering. A little courage and a lot of determination can take us a long, long way.

So, my announcing that this will be my last post as a film critic should be read as a celebration. Film criticism was a large stepping stone for my future in the film industry. It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve learned so much. It took a lot of faith, courage, and understanding (and let’s be honest, a little therapy too) to stick with film criticism when it got tough - and boy it sure did at times. But my life wouldn’t be what it is without Gordon and the Whale, Twitch, my colleagues, and all the discoveries that came my way these last six years. I’m very, very grateful.

And don’t you worry, you haven’t heard the last from me. I’ll still be the loud little man on Twitterand Facebook, discussing movies, my new career, life in New York, my wonderful niece Rylan, and all the things that make me smile from ear to ear. As clichéd as it sounds, dreams do come true. You just have to give them a little push.

Before I’m off, here’s a list of people I want to thank for encouraging me along my journey. Each and everyone has moved me in their own special way. Without these folks, this article would be non-existent.

In no particular order (except for my mom, of course - she kicks ass): 
Mama Whale
Rusty Gordon
Sally Smolenski
Everyone at Moroch Entertainment
Cameron Sanderson
James Wallace
Everyone who’s ever written for GATW
Tim League
Todd Brown
Eric D. Snider
Kate Erbland
Drew McWeeny
Erik Davis
Peter Hall
Emily Hagins
Megan Hagins
Peter Martin
Ryland Aldrich
Twitch Family
XYZ Films
Josh Brunsting
Nash Edgerton
Alex Billington
Cecy Correa
Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Lauren Lester
Davis Guggenheim
Matt Goldberg
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Noah Segan
Rian Johnson
Peter Sciretta
James Oster
Hollie Gullion
Don R. Lewis
The Playlist
Mark Bell
Kellvin Chavez
Rodrigo Perez
Duncan Jones
Neil Miller
Amy McGee
Susan Clarke
Everyone at Levenson & Hill
Rubin Safaya
Boo Allen
Todd Jorgenson
Bobby Miller
Brea Grant
Ryan Ellis
The Fons PR
Adam and Andrew Conway
Don Simpson
AJ Meadows
Dave Campbell
Matthew Orwig
Cole Dabney
Austin Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Rotten Tomatoes
Sundance Film Festival
Cannes Film Festival
Austin Film Festival
Focus Features
Yannina Diaz
Gianluca Lignola
Fox Searchlight
Warner Bros.
Betsy Abendroth
Dallas International Film Festival
Bobby Miller
Josh Radnor
Max Winkler
Farah White
Dallas Observer
Merritt Martin
Lawrence Wilczewski
Roderick Stoker
Jessica Martinez
Marianne Mitchell
Jennifer Bedwell
Karina Longworth
Al and Linda Lerner
Jo Ellen Brantferger
Tonya Polydoroff
Chet Whitmore
Lara Trail
Chris Laverde
Moisés Chiullan
Tania Khalaf
Charlotte Cook
Nathan Davis
Beth Miska
Sam Rockwell
David Gordon Green
Carolee Mitchell
Samm Levine
Scott Weinberg
Luke Mullen
Russ Fischer
Amber Arnold
Brandon Rohwer
Shiloh Fernandez
Eric Steele
Texas Theatre
Frank Mosley
Robert Longstreet
Clay Liford
Kelly Williams
Matt Reeves
Shane Carruth
Every movie studio that gave me a chance to see their films for review consideration
Morgan and Spencer Susser
Blue-Tongue Films
George Hardy
Michael Stephenson
Lindsay Stephenson
Nick Robinson
Jarod Neece
Janet Pierson
Rebecca Feferman
Harmony Korine
Drunk History dudes
Dutch Southern
Katey Rich
Nathan Rabin
James Rocchi
Josh Tyler
Brian Kelley
Drew Tinnin
Kevin Polowy
Ryan Gallagher
Weston Green
Jordan Vogt-Roberts
Cary Fukunaga
Alamo Drafthouse
Fantastic Fest
Zack Carlson
Sean Hackett
Mike Breiberg
David Gil
Lauren Wolkstein
Jordan Raup
Raffi Asdourian
Scott Hutcheson
Jeremy Kirk
Brandon Peters
Jason Whyte
Melanie Marquez
Dor Dotson
Mike Sampson
Tamar Teifeld
Lindsay Turner
Roxanne Benjamin
Matt Singer
James M. Johnston
Ned Vizzini
Sabra Embury
Noah Lee
Silas Slesnick
C. Robert Cargill
Ethan Anderton
Jette Kernion
Erik Childress
Sam Strange
Eric Vespe
Brent Lang
Micah Prude
Edward Douglas
Scott Beggs
Addam Hardy
Jen Yamato
Katie Graham
Jenni Miller
Alexander Flores
Sean Byrne
Mike Mills
Hunter Hauk
Angelika FIlm Center
Jesse Averna
Vince Mancini (AKA Film Drunk)
Kacey Close
And everyone who supported Gordon and the Whale

To end, here’s the motto I live by, courtesy of my favorite Talking Heads song: “Feet on the ground, head in the sky.”

Your friendly neighborhood movie lover,
Chase Whale