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Wahoo natives tackle social networking with film site
Nick Barry of Lincoln works with Filmcrave.com, a niche social networking site he developed with another fellow Wahoo native and another friend. (Micah Mertes)

Gut your Facebook profile of all its clutter, except the “favorite movies” section.

Now imagine that “favorite movies” section all bulked and caffeinated, and you have a pretty good idea of the look, feel and function of Filmcrave.com, a new social networking site with local ties.

“People seem to think that Web site companies only come out of the east or west coast,” said Filmcrave co-founder Alex Olson, who’s originally of Wahoo and now lives in Kansas City.

“They find it hard to believe one can come from the Midwest. Hopefully, with this site we can show that not every site starts in southern California.”

Olson and fellow Wahoo native Nick Barry launched the site in August with a college buddy of Olson’s.

Filmcrave allows users to create their own Facebook-esque profiles within a social network that centers on movies. You establish your identity solely on your cinematic loves and hates and can make friends or foes with other cinemaniacs based on your tastes.

The site also offers features similar to Netflix and Internet Movie Database, such as user reviews, trailers and buzz on upcoming films.

“When we started out in college,” Olson said, “we just wanted to write movie reviews. But that didn’t really work out.”

As undergrads at Northwest Missouri State University, Olson and friend Josh Collins worked together on campus and had a lot of downtime. They’d spend that time talking movies and pondering the possibility of writing public reviews. They applied to write for Rottentomatoes.com, a site that consolidates reviews from professional and novice critics. However, the site’s criteria were stringent, so Olson and Collins gave up trying. But after graduation, they found a new ambition.

“We wanted to have a place where people could look up information, as well as read reviews and talk to friends about movies,” Collins said. “The idea behind it was there are so many critics out there. And you have to read a lot of newspapers to find a critic whose opinions align with your own. We wanted to create a site that made it easier for you to find friends you can agree with on movies.”

Olson and Collins had the marketing and design background to make Filmcrave happen, but not the programming skill. For that, Olson called Barry, the older brother of a high school friend.

“When they told me about the site, I thought it was a great idea,” said Barry, who lives in Lincoln and works at Midwest MicroSystems. “And I thought, ‘Hey man, I can do this.’ I’d been looking for a side business. I’d done some small stuff but never a big social networking site like this.”

Then they charged full speed ahead. Since the site is only a few months old, membership isn’t booming yet, but the guys think this could be a movie buff staple as soon as it slips onto people’s radar.

“Tons of people don’t know about it yet,” Olson said. “But we’re pretty confident it’s going to get out there eventually. It’s just a matter of how fast.”

Olson notes that Filmcrave is not trying to compete with Facebook or IMDB.com. With juggernauts like those ruling the social networking universe, “niche” networks like Filmcrave are emerging. And for those irritated with Facebook’s huge bureaucracy, these sites are paring down their scope to special interests, like movies.

“We really pride ourselves on listening to what our members want,” Collins said. “They drive the future of our site.”

Reach Micah Mertes at 473-7395 or mmertes@journalstar.com.

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