So, You Want To Write For CdC?

About the magazine.
Before I even get into the nitty gritty, here's the scoop. Cashiers du Cinemart doesn't make money. It loses money. So, I can't pay you a penny for one word that you write for the mag. This is a labor of love. If you've got a side business or whatever, I'd be more than happy to run an ad for you. But, please, be reasonable. Don't provide me with a paragraph of text and expect a full page! Otherwise, writers get a complimentary copy of the magazine when it comes out and, if they ask nicely, maybe a couple extra copies to give to their friends/family.

Cashiers du Cinemart is run on a nonprofit basis by its staff and is not affiliated with or supported by any institution. Begun in 1994, Cashiers du Cinemart publishes material on film, television, video and related media and cultural analysis. As a print publication, Cashiers du Cinemart circulates 7000 copies per issue in North America and internationally to a wide range of readers including students, academics, media professionals, film and video makers, and others interested in the analysis of mass culture and opposition media.

I am open to publishing material on older films, tapes, and programs when the article involves a significant reevaluation or uses a well-known example to develop a critical or theoretical point. Our range is all types and forms of media from Hollywood's commercial dramatic narrative to independent documentary and experimental work. I am especially interested in neglected areas such as so-called "cult films" and under-appreciated filmmakers, stars, works, etc.

Every issue of Cashiers du Cinemart has several standard features such as review essays, reports, editorials and so forth. Typically every issue covers several "indie" features. Such pieces go in the front of Cashiers du Cinemart and have the widest appeal to the readership. Meanwhile, the deconstruction of Hollywood pap provides opportunities to develop a political and aesthetic analysis of the dominant cinema in terms of current work that many people have seen. I encourage a variety of styles and approaches.

My primary concern with review essays is that they provide thoughtful and provocative analysis. Because Cashiers du Cinemart is not a frequent publication, the typical journalistic consumer guide review has little appeal. I'm not interested in reviews that are essentially no more than strong opinions forcefully expressed. I expect an analysis that discusses both the ideological nature of the work at hand and its artistic expression.

Cashiers du Cinemart's readership is very diverse, and I want what's published to be accessible to the largest number of readers. You should assume that the reader has an interest in your subject, a basic vocabulary of media terms (for example, knows what jump cut is), but no specialized knowledge. This is not to say you can't be theoretical and intricate, but it is to say you shouldn't be esoteric or pedantic. If it's worth saying, it can be made reasonably understandable.

Tape Requirement
This might prove to be the most "unusual" thing about Cashiers du Cinemart. You know that I'm a stickler for details and even though I know you're not some sort of maniac I still have to ask for a copy of what you're reviewing; be it a video, TV show, or album. No, I'm not simply stocking my private library--I'm just double checking everything not just for accuracy but if there's anything I can do to help enrich your article then I'll do so. You've got to admit that I can't really provide any sort of constructive criticism if I'm unable to see or listen to what you're writing about! And, unlike other publications, I just feel better knowing that I'm familiar with everything going into each issue.

Likewise, writers should be aware that many readers may not have seen the film or tape being discussed, and thus should introduce and provide a context for the analysis. For example, issue-oriented documentaries often need an explanation of the issues and the history of organizing around the concerns. Reviews of such works often benefit from the reviewer showing them to different groups and seeing the responses. Similarly, because many of our readers are unfamiliar with contemporary avant garde media, giving an aesthetic, historical, and/or institutional context for such work is often helpful.

Editorial process
Submissions can be by postal mail or by email to any of the editorial offices. If sending a print manuscript, please send three copies; writers should retain a copy. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. You should receive an acknowledgment within ten days of receipt. If you don't, feel free to ask. We will not accept manuscripts that are being considered elsewhere; if we are considering a piece, it should not be submitted to another publication.

Submissions are read by the editors and, on a few occasions, an outside reader. If we reject, it is usually with comments, so you should get some feedback. Almost everything accepted goes back for revision. This process can take 6-8 months and sometimes longer. If you wonder what's happening, write. Cashiers du Cinemart is a labor of love and commitment and the editors have other jobs and responsibilities. I sometimes get behind.

My guiding principle regarding revisions is to be faithful to the writer's aims while being responsible to the readers. Most of my comments will be along the lines of clarity and readability. After a manuscript is returned, it will be given a final style edit which will be sent to the author before publication.

Cashiers du Cinemart is prepared on a PC; if you can supply a revised essay on floppy disk or CD (but not ZIP or JAZ discs). Do not, however, initially submit disks. Please send documents as either MS Word (.doc) files or Text (.txt) files. Or, if that's not an option, feel free to send them via e-mail. However, if sending a Text file or Email, please indicate underlined or italicized items with the following tags around the words: <U></U> and <I></I>.

Example <U>Book Title</U> and <I>Record Title</I> as it saves us time and effort.

The Editor Is A Dick
Yes, I'll admit it. I've ruined a few friendships with Cashiers du Cinemart. I don't like prepositions without objects nor do I like writing that sounds like bad Chinese subtitles. I'm not a wordsmith but I sure can put on airs that I am one. I reserve the right to change your stuff but I'll never change it and not run it past you before going to print. Just be aware that I'm an undereducated cretin.

Many Cashiers du Cinemart writers repeat the same writing problems, including me. This guide points out some of the most common errors and suggests emergency corrections.

You can quickly identify passive verb forms, a common problem in academic writing, by "to be" verbs before a form of the main verb. They slow down your writing, sound unnatural, and rob verbs of impact. Active verbs help readers, provide variety, and add punch. Limit yourself to one per paragraph on rewriting.

Passive construction and the coy use of "one," "the author," etc. are evasive and lack personality. Use "I" to speak of yourself and "we" to refer to what you, as writer, and the reader can do together. (E.g., "I will argue..." or "From this we can see....") Obviously, co-authored articles are an exception.

Pay attention to the difference between precision and mealy-mouthed qualification. Be careful in using "might," "should," "often," "would seem," "perhaps," etc. Excessive qualification makes you look timid and your argument halfhearted.

Strings of prepositions slow down your writing; you can reduce them by using possessives, adverbs, and adjectives to make the same point. Put brackets around each prepositional phrase and see how many you can eliminate.

Stand back from your writing and look for tired and trite expressions such as: "intensely personal," "the bottom line," "there are a number of" (for "numerous").

While I'm always ready to help nonnative speakers of English get articles in shape, I have little time for interesting pieces with severe style problems from native speakers. It's up to the writer. Any standard college composition and grammar book will elaborate on the above. One simple way of checking for these devilish detractors of sentence structure and impact is the "Grammar Checker" in Microsoft Word. As you type, it will signal when you're employing a passive structure or a cliché.

Film titles are IN CAPS
Names of books are underlined
Record titles, Magazine titles, Newspaper names are italicized
Song titles are "in quotes"
Names of TV shows are "in quotes"

For books, please provide ISBN #'s or Publisher information if available.
For records, please provide record label address and website info if available

I used to know a bit more how many words converted to pages in my mag but I've long forgotten. I always use a very sexist rule that I was taught in high school about the proper length of articles. Said Mr. Menard, my History teacher, "Your paper should be like a woman's skirt - long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep it interesting." That's the same advice I give to you.

If you have a sentence that just won't fit in or something outside the flow of your story that you'd like to say, feel free to make it a pull quote and just denote it as such at the end of your article.

We are concerned with the attractive presentation of your writing. If you can supply production stills, frame enlargements, stills from a TV monitor, or other visual material, let us know when first submitting the piece. We need the distributor's name and address for independent work, and a one-sentence bio for you.

The advent of VCRs/DVD players allows repeated viewing, closer visual analysis, and the opportunity for frames from a film or tape to be used in an article. You can supply this. Many university computer centers are now equipped to do grab frames from video/DVD, and the people there can help. Essentially what you want to walk away with is a set of digitized images saved in a widely used file format (such as BMP or TIFF). You can print these out on a laser printer. I will need your computer files for final printing. Save the images at 150 dpi in color.

Another method is photographing from a TV monitor. Using a 35mm camera, with a moderate telephoto lens, if possible, and a tripod, use a digital camera. Take a light reading off the screen (adjust the monitor to low contrast), shoot at 1/15 sec and set aperture accordingly. Bracketing exposures (shooting one f/stop over and under in addition to the light meter reading) usually helps get a good result.

Having Photoshop/Illustrator at my fingertips, I can open just about any and all file types. However, being on a PC, things can get a might tricky, as I know graphically aware folks are prone to hit it and quit it on a Mac. So... I'd ask that if you're sending electronic files that you stick to the basics - bitmaps, tiffs, eps, photoshop documents, or even jpegs. Resolution should be greater than or equal to 300 dpi. Images can be in either color or black and white (b&w is probably how they're going to end up in the mag, though). If using a straight illustration program such as Freehand or Illustrator, send those files as .eps files, please. And, have you noticed those .extensions? Please include those for a poor PC boy like me.

If you're working with paper/pen/pencil it's fine if you just want to send stuff to me in it's original form. I've got a pretty good scanner. If you're scanning yourself, try to get as high resolution as is feasible. If the file size ends up being HUGE, just e-mail me and I'll send you info on how to get into my FTP server.