John Zipperer's Weimar World Service Blog has a long and interesting interview with my friend Carr D'Angelo about his days as an editor for STARLOG, a magazine I worked for a lot as a freelancer back in the early 1980s. Reading the article brought back a lot of memories. Here's an excerpt:
ZIPPERER: Tell me a bit about what it was like to work there. How much control did editor David McDonnell have over the magazine – i.e., did he have a lot of freedom to plan it the way he wanted, or were the publishers heavily involved? How much influence did you have?
D‘ANGELO: The magazine was definitely working according to Dave's plan at that point editorially. Generally, working with the possible movies and TV shows that were coming out that would fall under our domain, Dave would assign a writer to do an article or usually a series of articles on the upcoming project. In my opinion, I think we generated too much inventory on certain projects. Since we were always working months ahead, it would sometimes happen that a movie came out, flopped and we still had two or three articles coming out. That sometimes made the magazine feel behind the curve.
The magazine was designed to be a mix of the new and the old, and that was its strength and weakness.
I remember the overkill. On a typical movie, I'd write a "set visit" piece, then write individual articles about each star, the director, the screenwriter, and often the special effects supervisor or production designer (or both!) as well. It was great for freelancers like me… it meant that one day of interviews on a film set could lead to six or eight articles for STARLOG (at a mere $200 each). But that didn't count the additional income I could earn by reworking the same quotes into new articles for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, the San Francisco Chronicle, or other potential buyers.
It was hard, low-paid work, but I loved it and learned an enormous amount about the movie and TV industries. And I picked up some valuable work habits, and writing skills, that continue to serve me well to this day.