The First Broadly Specific Newsletter (Patreon)

The following is the first-ever Broadly Specific newsletter on Patreon, made public to celebrate our Patreon launch. As this newsletter goes over the origin of Broadly Specific and our future plans, we thought posting it on the website will be good as well. Future newsletters will be exclusive to Patreon and won’t be posted here like this, so if you are interested in more updates please consider becoming a Patron. Thank you!

Greetings, Broadly Specific Patrons and readers! I am Bondan Syamsu, one of the founders of Broadly Specific and self-proclaimed Editor-in-chief. First of all, I would like to give the greatest gratitude to everyone who has decided to become our patrons and dedicate a portion of your monthly spending to help keep our website afloat and growing. I am aware these sorts of words almost seem like formalities that creators would give when opening some sort of crowd-funded venture, but I do mean it from the bottom of my heart, for reasons I will get into later. This will be a long one, brace yourself! But thank you for taking the time to read.

This first newsletter will be a public post and a sort of testing ground and teaser for what sort of things we will be doing with the Patreon newsletters and our plans for the future. If you are not currently a patron, I would still like to thank you for taking the time to read this message and for your continued support of the website! If you are here and reading this, you care to a certain degree and for that I thank you. In the later sections of this newsletter, two of our most active contributors Troy Vimalasatya and Pia Diamandis will also offer some words about how they got started in Broadly Specific and what are their plans for the future, so look forward to it! So without further ado, let’s get right into it. Also, I’d like to apologize if this newsletter seems a bit haphazardly written, they’re simply meant to be off-the-cuff and spontaneous! Future newsletters will be exclusive to patrons, so if you are interested in receiving these sorts of updates, please consider becoming a patron!

Broadly Specific celebrated its second anniversary on January 3, 2022. Yes, our second anniversary. If you have been following us for some time, you might have noticed that while we did celebrate the first-anniversary last year, there was a suspicious absence of any sort of celebratory posts this year. I know we do not owe anything to anyone but ourselves here, but I would still like to apologize for being missing for quite some time to the point of skipping an anniversary. If all goes right, we will definitely have something next year for the third anniversary, which is arguably a bigger milestone!

There has never been any “official” story about how we got started as a website and the timeline of events, so I would like this first newsletter that celebrates our Patreon launch to also shine some light on it. If you follow me on social media, specifically Instagram, you know that while I am rather active on the ‘interweb’, I like to keep some things private as much as I can. I do not like to post my face online, nor do I divulge personal details (although let’s be real, it’s not like I’m that reclusive, I know people with a far less online presence). While I would like to keep it that way, I can reveal that I am currently 22 years old, which means that Troy and I started Broadly Specific when we were 19. Of course, by that age range, you would already guess that I have been a university student, though I would like to keep that detail and anything else about my life private.

The initial planning for Broadly Specific technically came way before its launch date, several years before, in fact. As a kid and then teenager, I have always wanted to start writing blogs or essays, and there were numerous early projects that I created which range from review websites to a solo podcast. Of course, they will NEVER, EVER see the light of day again. Do NOT ask me where they are haha. Some things are better kept in the past. But what I’m saying here is the creative spark has always been there to share my thoughts, opinions and writings with the world, no matter how poor they are.

Then came 2019 and I was now 19 years old. Now, I was no excellent writer (I don’t think I’m any good now either). But at the very least, some amount of university education has allowed me a basic grasp of academic research and writing. Thus, I had plans to create something a bit more “serious” or at least something that I will be prouder about and feel more confident about attaching my name. In the December of 2019, I hatched up the plans for Broadly Specific. That December was also one of the worst times of my life, mental health-wise. I was on the brink of something horrible, and I nearly lost almost all sense of self. It wasn’t that I needed a distraction—Broadly Specific has never been simply a distraction—it was more like I needed an actual tangible way that I can channel the remaining sliver of my passion and will to live into; something both productive but also enriching. Hence, I decided to create Broadly Specific, a website where I can write about anything I want in any manner I choose. It would not be a film website, or any one category for that matter, but rather any form of art and topics that would be worth writing about. Of course, this did not mean I would suddenly write about food, to give a random example, knowing how broad I am making this, but if there is an angle in food that intersects with anything meaningful, why not?

Troy and I were high school friends. We were never close in high school, we only had ONE entire conversation in high school, in fact. Frankly, I disliked him at first back in high school (sorry Troy). However, after graduation, we became friends through social media and discovered that we connected and have a lot in common, and our conversations can jump in tone from humorous to meaningful. Also, I knew at the time that Troy is an excellent writer and a highly intelligent individual, I also recall he had his own blog where he would write about anything he finds interesting. At that point, I knew inviting him to launch Broadly Specific would be the right call.

Anyway, I went all in on the website from the get-go, purchasing a domain and designing the layout. If you don’t know, the current version of the website is already version 3.0, and our website has been slowly growing in aesthetic. Honestly, we have settled quite comfortably with the current version and we might not change it anymore unless we can afford an actual web designer who is capable of elevating the design to the next level. I am no designer, after all. I believe the current version is the best that I can come up with. The name ‘Broadly Specific’ was meant to encapsulate the core philosophy of the website: we will take from a broad range of topics and different creative mediums but write about something specific from that chosen topic. Of course, this is how research works in general so this is nothing groundbreaking, but still, I am not very good at naming things. ‘Broadly Specific’ is also meant to be an oxymoron that contradicts one another, why? I don’t know I just like the sound of it haha. The logo also has evolved over the years, but we settled with Michaelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’, mostly because I like how the deity’s form is meant to represent the human brain and ingenuity, and thus divinity is mankind’s own self-reflection… or something.

Our first ever article was an article on Wong Kar-wai’s Chungking Express. It was my first time ever writing anything like that. All of my initial experience was writing poorly-written film reviews. I still think I am a poor writer, and that Chungking Express article still left me wanting, but it represented a big step forward for myself. Our first-ever ‘viral’ hit, published close to the launch of Broadly Specific, was Bengawan Solo: How an Indonesian Folk Song Became The Post-WWII Asian Zeitgeist. The success of that article still leaves me in awe to this very day. I was simply writing about an interesting phenomenon I found while researching the song Bengawan Solo after hearing it in multiple films, I did not expect it to reach that many people. I believe the current total readers of that article numbers nearly 11.000, and a lot of the initial following for Broadly Specific came from it. Amazing things have also happened because of that article: I met a lot of people that still support Broadly Specific, some researchers and universities promoted the article, it got translated into Bahasa Indonesia by two scholars, and it’s cited in Wikipedia as a source (haha).

I would not like to prolong this newsletter any further so I will skip a lot of things. We met valued Broadly Specific contributors like Pia, we had that special Halloween month back in 2020, some of our other articles have had moderate success with some being cited in other works as well and providing real contributions to the discourse, and we started a podcast, and so on. The COVID-19 pandemic provided somewhat of a boon to my writing. Being locked in and finding myself spending a lot of time alone, creating things for Broadly Specific was not hard in the beginning, and inspirations come often.  As messed up as it is to say, I think Broadly Specific would have been one of my many abandoned personal projects gathering dust if the pandemic did not happen.

I would also like to be honest about something. I sometimes like to portray Broadly Specific as being ‘quality over quantity’ and a lot of readers I have talked to echoed this and that they do expect a long gap in between articles and our active periods. However, the truth is not that simple. For the other contributors, they are, of course, doing this in their spare time during their busy schedules, so I cannot speak for them nor do I expect them to always be active. For me, it is not simply that. Of course, I have periods where I am busy and cannot afford to spend any time doing much else. But I am a proponent of the notion that if you care about something, you WILL make time for it no matter how busy you are, and there have been periods where I chose to write articles instead of finishing a deadline; that’s how much I care about it. The long gaps between my articles and the long mini-hiatuses that Broadly Specific have had can be attributed to me. My last article was released on May 6th of last year. And ever since 2021, Broadly Specific have experienced delays and periods of radio silence, I would like to apologize for this. I can mostly say it is a mix of real-life busyness, writer’s block, and depression. I can’t say we will suddenly become active or anything, but please know that I am trying my best to be active in Broadly Specific despite any real-life issues and that it’s a slow process.

Broadly Specific has certainly changed my life’s trajectory in meaningful ways and I am committed to always creating content for it indefinitely for years to come. I am still regretting not celebrating the second anniversary, as I have mentioned, but I will try better and hopefully, we will have a nice celebration next year. On the plus side this year, The Broadly Specific Podcast released a fair amount of episodes this year. It still left me wanting, but I still want to record more episodes.

So to end my first newsletter section, I would like to outline some of the things that I have planned in the back of my head for the future of Broadly Specific and the role of this Patreon moving forward. I will give a more concrete plan with definite release dates in future newsletters, but this is supposed to simply be broadly what I have in mind personally.

Firstly, one of my other passions other than cinema is gaming. Not only video games, but I am also an avid TTRPG (Tabletop Roleplaying Games) player as well and I like to play Dungeons & Dragons. That is to say, I would like to start covering and writing about games that I feel deserve a closer look. Broadly Specific is already ‘broad’ in topics and there’s usually no need to announce this at all since we write about topics ranging from film to architecture. I also debated making this a sub-division of Broadly Specific with a separate identity. However, I feel that game is art and I see no need to somehow put it on a separate page—away from the eyes of my usual readers—it would be a disservice and perhaps an insult to the medium to do so. I also believe that there is a considerable lack of accessible games scholarship that treats the themes and narratives presented in video games through an academic and analytical lens other than some fringe excellent YouTube video essays. I may be ignorant of some other sources that may have something like this, but I would certainly like to offer my own contribution in this field. Essentially, they would be the signature Broadly Specific’s ‘deep dives’ about games. Stay tuned!

Secondly, I would also like to release more podcast episodes. The problem with the usual roundtable talk-style format is that I would need to schedule it with the contributors and their busy schedules, and we sometimes have to wait until we have an overlapping theme to cover together. Thus, I would like to either create more of the audio essays seen in the early Post-Watch Blues episodes or create my own solo podcast episodes. This solo podcast will be another series within The Broadly Specific Podcast banner. For now, I’m thinking of calling it “Lonesome Prattle” and it will simply just be yours truly alone talking about anything I find interesting. This way, the podcast will continue even if I am the only person available to record. If you have any suggestions or feedback on whether a solo podcast is what you would find interesting, please let me know. Alternatively, I am always open to guests if you are interested in being in our roundtable “B.S Film Club” talks.

Finally, some rough plans about the future and how Patreon will fit in. The two plans above will be in effect as soon as I can, but the plans I will lay out here will take some time to make concrete. We have entered the audio realm with podcasts, but I have always wanted to also create videos. Thus, perhaps further in the future, a YouTube channel is on the card at some point. My plan is to “adapt” essays that we have written into videos. As for Patreon, once our number grows and I can have extra income to spend on tools, software and perhaps someday for me to treat this as an actual part-time job, I would like to be more active in Patreon with Q&A, community showcases, film (and any other medium) clubs, and who knows, maybe even live streams or a public discussion. It would be great to also have extra writers or contributors, but I am picky with new people and do not want to take anyone in simply. However, it would be great to have a submission system for that as well.

I would like to end this section by saying that unfortunately, I will still be partially busy in real life for a while, but I am going to try hard to fit in creating things for Broadly Specific in my busy schedule. Also, if you follow us as a watcher of cinema, we will still release new deep dives into films so don’t worry about it being discontinued completely! It’s still one of my passions after all. That’s it for now from me! Sorry for the long newsletter. Look forward to more news from us. Thank you for everything! The following sections will be from our contributors.

Troy

Hello hello, I’m Troy Vimalasatya, infamously known around these parts as the guy who helped co-found Broadly Specific. You’d have read Bondan’s section, where he had done a great job laying the groundwork of what and why Broadly Specific is, so I am going to use my section here to talk a little bit about myself.

I am very recently an architecture graduate who got his bachelor’s degree in the UK, just super fresh off Uni, looking for a bit of work experience before going on a masochistic journey en route to a Master’s degree. You know, I never knew I wanted to do anything architecture-adjacent in my life up until the last year of high school. I believe I was looking at nice photographs of a building on Dezeen—can’t remember what project it was—but there and then, I made a snap decision to pursue architecture in my further studies. If I hadn’t made that decision early on in my last year of high school, I would have danced around and entertained the idea of studying lots of different majors, like Computer Science, Mathematics, Law etcetera. From your perspective, dear reader, I have absolutely no clue how what I’ve just told you about myself would serve you in any way, shape or form. But hopefully, this tiny tidbit helps shed a modicum of light on my character or personality, get to know me better, you know.

Peering into what lies ahead for me and Broadly Specific, I’m looking to continue fortifying my post as the resident architecture and design expert, writer, speaker, thinker, you name it. I am going to continue writing about architecture, but on top of that, I’d like to be contributing to Broadly’s other ends (like the podcast), diversifying into other subjects a bit (like film) as well. Fingers crossed, you’ll read or hear plenty more from me in the future.

Pia

Hi everyone! I started contributing at Broadly Specific during the height of my pandemic boredom. Back then, I had a museum job that rationally made sense for an Art History BA, but it wasn’t engaging or nourishing me. I was constantly giving and not receiving. And Broadly Specific became a place where I could escape and write what I want, bounce off ideas with peers from my age group, and gain further insights. Here, growth (and experimentation) is very much so, more than anything, possible.

My first approach to Broadly Specific was to purely write about contemporary art. I wanted to work with young artists whose vision I shared and empathized with. Writing in-depth articles about their work was challenging, as they often do not have written materials available on their work for me to refer to. With my background, I felt the need to carefully trace where their influences came from and how they envisioned further discussions of certain topics, styles, or mediums, to hopefully bridge an understanding with viewers and give the next person who encounters them more materials to work with. I certainly look forward to writing more of these articles in the near future, and also ones of established artists.

On top of that, Broadly Specific was also one of the first places where I felt comfortable talking about films, openly and without much of the bravado and ego battles that came from other communities. Folks behind Broadly Specific are level-headed and sober, passionate and still grounded in the greater context of the society in which a creative medium lives. Along with this experience, my career trajectory has taken an organic shift down the rabbit hole of horror films, especially ones that are so garish that they would warrant you strange looks if you so much as talked about them.

I was recently commended for my thesis on the future of body horror in films and contemporary art, and I aim to dive further into this rather strange cocktail of art and films in my professional life. On Broadly Specific that would be more than possible to be done with quality.

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