INTERVIEW: Film Critic and YouTuber Arturo Zurita
Arturo Zurita is a cinephile and film YouTuber based in Chicago, USA.
Arturo began The AtZ Show on YouTube and after posting movie reviews for a while he branched out to more in-depth and analytical movie essay videos and theories. His second channel Let Me Explain is where he breaks down movies in a comedic and bite-size way, hosted by his own cartoon avatar. Despite the online rumours that Art is hiding a twin somewhere, in this interview he finally confirms he and his cartoon are in fact the same person!
His movie philosophy is that "every movie deserves to be watched" it just depends on what platform. Whether it's a movie worth renting, a theatre ticket or a "work of Art," Arturo is covering it all from A to Z.
Read/Watch our interview below.
Watch the interview here:
Hello everybody, it’s Adelle here and welcome back to another episode of Roll Credits Interviews. Today I’m joined by Arturo Zurita the man, the myth, the legend behind several successful movie-based YouTube channels like the AtZ Show and Let Me Explain. Thanks for joining me Art.
Oh most definitely. Man, Adelle and I go way back. When we first started well over 1000 subscribers just doing our thing the Wild Wild West.
Back in the day
It’s been a long time
We’ve known each other online for years. In fact the way we got to know each other was through the movie reviewer community that were doing the “We Love The Oscars” ballot. Every year a group of YouTubers would get together and do picks on who would win at The Oscars. That was fun.
Do people still do that? I know when we first started, I feel like everyone goes into it because they want to be famous and they want it to be this big thing and need it to go viral and all that but I remember all us were doing videos that were getting like 100 views and the views were from one another.
Yeah so there were probably like 20 of us in the group or maybe not so many but yes all the views were only each other.
Pretty much, it was just that. That was cool. I don’t know if people still have communities like that
You know what, I think it’s a little bit harder to find I think it’s a little bit more widespread now which is kind of a shame because it was a really nice little community we had going on. In fact, I still do the Oscar ballot, just by myself now not as part of a group situation but I still have maintained my Oscar ballot every year. The tradition.
You won the last one, right? I think the last one we officially did you won that one
By a long shot because I think you were the only one who said Stallone is going to lose and we were like what is she thinking Stallone is going to lose? And what happens Stallone loses. At that point we didn’t care that you were winning we were just upset that Stallone lost
Well I care that I won and I’m a very gracious gracious winner
Congratulations. To this day you have the plaque that you printed out yourself in the back.
Hey hey, this plaque. No haha. Anyway. That’s a little bit of background about how we know each other but this is... I want to hear more about you in this interview. I’d love to hear more about how the AtZ channel got going because it’s a really awesome channel. You don’t just talk about movie reviews which is awesome you take it to that next level. It’s more like video essays and theories and those big movie topic breakdowns which I think is really awesome. So how has your channel evolved over the years?
When I first started, I started a day after… 2 days after my birthday 2013. So May 13, 2013 is when I started it and I used to be AtZ Reviews. I was supposed to be “A to Z” but they didn’t allow hyphens.
Damnit YouTube so I put a “t” instead and it was just “AtZ” AtZ Reviews. That’s what it was for the longest time and I was doing movie reviews. We were all doing movie reviews and at a certain point I realised I don’t like talking about movies without spoilers. That was just my thing. You know what I mean. My thing was like, you know when you talk about a movie and “this thing was so good.. oh I can’t tell you that scene... but his performance was really good I can’t tell you why.”
The bit where he does the thing. When you see it, you’ll know.
You’ll know when you see it. That type of stuff. It was cool to hype up something like when you see this scene you’ll know what I’m talking about. But I just wanted to talk about what I’m talking about. So that’s when I remember making the switch to the AtZ Show and that was kind of like to broaden it because I didn’t want everything to be a review. I was like, if I call it a show then AtZ would be me in a sense, then it would be whatever the AtZ is covering in his show and that’s when it went really big and explaining movies. Now I’ve never seen me explaining movies as the definitive definition. It’s always been I’m explaining my thoughts on it. What it meant to me. Because I think that’s the coolest part of movies. Not what the director’s trying to say because I love Whiplash and I think that endings insane and I watch the ending to Whiplash and I’m like “Yo you can do anything don’t let anything stop you.” But if I was explaining it from Damien Chazelle’s point of view, he says he ends up as a drug addict as a heroin addict. So, it’s like, there’s a difference between what the director may be going for and then how an audience perceives something. I like covering both. I like talking about my perspective of it but then also the whole behind the scenes stuff because a lot of people, and I’m sure you’ve noticed this too, will cover movies but not get this gist of what it takes to make a movie and I love covering the behind the scenes to it. It was probably because of Lost I’ve always been obsessed with Easter eggs. Like Lost would put a book in the background that would tell you the overarching theme for a certain character so since then I’ve been keen to that in movies. So that’s where that love came it. It was after I made that change I was like – “oh ok now I’m branching out into something other than reviews, thus I have a different voice.”
You kind of changed gears in a little bit.
Exactly, something different to offer I guess
Can you recall one of the first movies were that changed your path from just doing straight reviews to really wanting to delve deep?
That’s the one I always go with. It’s interesting because a lot, I’m sure you’ve noticed, a lot of people do explained videos now. I’m not the Fine Bros I don’t own the word explained or anything. It’s interesting because the more the bigger YouTuber’s do explained videos I always get someone coming on like, “why are you copying them?” I’m like, I got receipts, go check the date on these videos. It was a slew of them, it was Predestination, Goodnight Mommy and a couple of other ones where I was like, there are people who are looking for the explanation to this. They want to know what it’s about. That’s my market! That’s what got me into it. I wanted to fulfil a need and I’ve seen that with a lot of the people… because I get inspiration from more than just movie channels. I watch men’s fashion channels and they’ll tell you, the way that we started building out brand is knowing there is a need that males’ need out there and we provided it. Filmmaking channels. Knowing that not everyone can afford school, so they took their film knowledge and made that. Even BuzzFeed and their food stuff. Not everyone may be the biggest fan of BuzzFeed but even then they went out an found a way. Be it the Try Guys and different challenges they would do. They provided that entertainment for people. That’s what spawned for me, I wanted to fill a need, but seeing big corporations do something. BuzzFeed had multiple channels, right. There’s like a bunch of others. Like Screen Junkies has multiple channels and I started thinking - how do you personalise a big business when it’s just me for the most part running everything? My family helps out but that’s when I was like, what if I divvied it up. Because like you said, I was covering a lot of movie stuff and people kind of knew me and “the movie guy” but then I did music stuff and those videos were doing better than the movie ones
You get an issue. We subscribed for music so what are these movie videos. We subscribed for movies but what are these music videos. You know what I mean? That’s when the next step which has been this year, has been divvying it up for Let Me Explain to be all movies and you see, I’m just as surprised as anybody else
Let Me Explain, your channel has just blown up!
I can’t keep up with it. It’s wild.
You just recently passed 100,000 subscribers on the channel. Congratulations. It’s been a phenomenal growth in such a short amount of time
Yeah. Thank you
How long has that channel been up for?
That was a secondary channel that I had that was sitting there for the longest time. Then I decided to rebrand it. The story behind that is when I started.. like I said Predestination was
But it was specifically 10 Cloverfield Lane that got me excited. When I realise you know what, I don’t have to cover every movie. I just want to cover the ones I’m passionate about. I think it’s the Cloverfield movies which always rejuvenate me as well. They’ll come out and I’ll be really excited to cover it and make a video on it. One of the biggest shifts that I did, I remember doing a video on Nocturnal Animals and I’m sure you’ve seen the movie and it was a very serious movie and I had cartoons, way back, because I had all the cartoons on AtZ. And people were like, how do you talk about rape revenge with a cartoon figure?
Right because you use cartoon Avatars to explain your feelings
They wouldn’t take me seriously because they were cartoons. So I stripped all that away and the AtZ Show started growing more and after a while it was specifically this year. We started in December, but January was when we went full-fledged with it. I decided why not use all the cartoon’s there and be light hearted. There’s a huge demographic that doesn’t like the Nerdwriter videos, surprisingly. You know, that doesn’t like the very deep analysis explained they just want an easy peasy, “let me know what happens in the movie” type of thing. I am the complete opposite of that. That’s never been the AtZ Show but I looked at that and saw there is that market there, again, and I went and I started just making videos that not having to worry about every single little detail like in the AtZ Show making sure every thing. I mean, if you’ve seen any of the Let Me Explain videos, the persona that it’s a cartoon explaining a movie to you. That’s all it is. People relate to that cartoon more than they do with me the person. It is the weirdest thing in the world so yeah, I just got that plaque for the AtZ Show and Let Me Explain is already there. And I get emails every day going how they don’t like the AtZ Show, they like Let Me Explain and I’m like… we’re the same person.
Haha. Wait what?!
That’s right there’s a running joke that Let Me Explain is your twin
My twin brother, yeah. And some people still believe it and I’m going with it. Yes, twin brother. Twin animated brother.
That’s kind of cool because then you can separate your two channels, or those two because you have more. Those channels have helped you separate your two streams of thought out which is pretty cool.
Definitely that’s been the biggest thing making the AtZ Show more to cover a specific thing that I want to talk about. So I don’t have to cover every single movie, you know like Skyscraper came out. What big analysis video can I make for Skyscraper? Nothing. But I can make an LME cartoon who’s just bashing The Rock for whatever the shenanigans he does there
Yeah like hanging off a building by his leg
With duct tape, yeah
I actually haven’t seen Skyscraper and I do love The Rock. I watched your Let Me Explain video on it without having seen the movie and enjoyed it.
That’s what I get. A lot of people say I know you’re going to cover spoilers but I don’t care. That’s the biggest compliment
Well a big compliment from me because usually spoilers really get me. I’m very very anti-spoilers. So it’s a big compliment from me to watch a video
I’m gonna print out that plaque and put it there. Adelle watches my spoiler videos!
Especially about The Rock. In fact I think you have another video about The Rock Theory over on the AtZ Show
The AtZ Show, yeah
Which is great. I really enjoyed that, The Rock Theory being that… can you explain it a little big more
So I was watching Rampage and he pretty much came out and there’s something, I like Rampage. I like The Rock probably as much as you do. There’s just something with the ending to that one, I was like ugh, and I went through it and I just found all these things were The Rock says he refuses to ever have a bad ending. Which made me think oh ok. But The Rock?! You have so much potential if you, not necessarily have a bad ending but his good endings aren’t just good endings. It’ll be like the world, like San Andreas, the whole world is ripped apart and no one will die by the end of it. So I said, The Rock has the potential to have this, what’s that imaginary friend from Inside Out?
Oh um. He’s got a weird name.. Mr..
You know when he says
Exactly when he says “let’s go.” The Rock, you are that imaginary friend.
So if you ever wanted to have the most impactful endings of all time, you can! So that was my theory. One of these days he is. He’s going to find a movie, I’m gonna tell you it’s going to sky rocket The Rock into something
You know, before I watched that video I actually hadn’t put 2 and 2 together that he never… he always had happy endings in his movies.
And he always wears that grey shirt. In the Jungle. Always finds himself in the jungle.
It’s amazing that he is so phenomenally popular, yet he only got, the brand is so huge but he’s only got two looks about him. Do you know. He doesn’t really have acting chops he’s just got oodles of charisma.
He knows he’s selling himself
And he does it very well
Can we talk a little bit about your movie rating system that you have because I think it’s really interesting. I personally don’t have a movie rating system, I get asked this a lot over on my channel. People ask me why I don’t rate movies. I don’t rate them because the ratings fluctuate all the time depending on my mood.
I agree, 100%, yes, thank you
It’s so difficult to rate something 5 stars and then as the year goes on, it’s really 4 and a half. Was it? On re-watching as well, thinks kind of change
Yes. I was going to tell you subscribe to her but if you’re watching this then you should already subscribed!
Yes, you should be!
I think you’ve had this train of thought for the longest time and I did as well. My thoughts on the movie should explain themselves. If people want that rating system
Which does kind of does make sense because that rating system should reiterate and sum up really short and sharp what the overall discussion points are
But then why do people say, why did you give it a 6? Watch the 10 minute video
This is true too. So I personally don’t have, haven’t yet made the leap into rating movies. I’m not quite there yet I’m still more discussing and I’m so often on the fence about movies, so often because I don’t do really many spoiler reviews. I want my reviews generally spoiler free and they’re trying to get people exciting about the movie and encourage people to see a movie that they might not otherwise have heard about or see. But I’d love to get into your movie rating system because you have a good one. I really like how you’ve broken it down. Can you take me through it?
My way of avoiding that. Of someone going “you gave this a zero?” “you gave this a masterpiece” is to just make these things, they can practically all be the same thing. It goes like this: the philosophy is, I believe every movie should be watched. Where, is the thing. There’s never really, very rarely, that’s so bad you don’t want to watch it. There’s a bunch of terrible movies but we get something out of it. So the worst rating I have is a COASTER RATING, I rarely use it but when I do it has to be something that ticks me off, that really infuriates me. That being the movie is so bad I wouldn’t watch it I would just use the DVD as a coaster. It’s just my little Let Me Explain guy slamming it on. Then the rest are kind of interchangeable. The next is STREAM IT which pretty much just means, how many movies do we stream on Netflix and just forget about it. So it’s not a positive rating, it’s just stream it at home. So you put the least amount of effort. RENT IT to me means that you’re willing to get out of your butt and go rent a movie, you know what I mean. To watch it with the family at home. You’re still not leaving the theatre for it but you’re willing to spend…
Pay a few dollars
Exactly yeah. Then there’s the JUNIOR PRICE which is practically a matinee. Definitely see in the theatre. COMBO PRICE which is probably the highest one I usually give movies and then the very rare one, very very, oh man, I get emails upon emails from producers, please for your consideration give us a WORK OF ART rating.
A work of Art
Now like I say because I was using the cartoons while I was still on the AtZ Show and so, my name big Art… Work of Art, yeah
You have a great name to be able to make wordplay out of
If I ever start a production company, calling it Works of Art would be the most genius name. At the same time that would be such a Kanye thing to do. A Work of Art? Who is this guy?
If anyone doesn’t know your name is Art. They would think. Who is this guy?
Who does this man think he is?
I actually wanted to ask what’s your movie background how did you get into this movie passion in the first place?
Have you heard of Blockbuster?
I sure have. We had one here for ages. Oh well, the chain here
They cancelled them too?
Yeah there’s no more Blockbuster Video in Australia. All gone.
Rest in peace Blockbuster. So I used to go to movies all the time with my dad. I would go with him, he would watch I don’t know what and I would watch Finding Nemo 7 times. That was the story that got me really into watching movies all the time. Then with Blockbuster I remember we used to always go in there. The blockbusters were constructed for the outside to be the new releases and then after we’d binge all the new releases we made our way into the inner stuff. All these older movies, the blue ones not the red ones, they were 3 day rentals but the 5 day rentals. I remember befriending the people who worked at the blockbuster and they would give me a lit. Because we had this deal, it was $40 and you could rent 2 movies at a time. You could literally go there when they open at 10, get 2 movies and go back, 2 movies go back. I remember the person at Blockbuster would give me this list of movies to watch. Memento, The Prestige,12 Angry Men and IMDB was poping at that point. The height of that “250 List,” with Shawshank on it. All that stuff. I was making my way down that list and I still have it, I think it’s in there crossed out. I was trying to watch everything
My goal was like, yo I want to work at Blockbuster… they closed
I was that guy! I worked at Video Ezy
Oh yeah, you just made a video about that and I commented on your video. You get it 100%. See you understand this. We should do an interview together.
Oh, we should do an interview together?! Haha
Yeah you made that video
I was at Video Ezy “E-Z-Y” was the video chain here that was a rival chain to Blockbuster and that was my first high school job and man. Also when it was quiet on the weekends they had a big television screen up in the store so we’d get to choose what would be on the screen. It was just watching movies all day. It was so good.
I wanted to be that. What ends up happening? Doesn’t go that way. So then I go to film school for a little bit and I remember taking a couple of classes and the biggest thing that drove me to creating the channel, I was already watching movies I just wanted to record my thoughts because I’d seen a bunch of other people recording my thoughts and I thought maybe I could bring my voice. Took me a couple of years to finally find my voice but eventually found it and the biggest goal being, when I was in film school. Did you go to film school?
Yeah I did, I did.
I never finished it. I went 2 years. I met a lot of great people, a lot of cool stuff but I saw people getting themselves into 40,000 dollars in debt. A little bit more than their movies. Then nobody saw those movies because they never had the audience. So I’ve been wanting, the biggest goal is to build that audience of people who see movies the same way I do. So when I finally make my movie, they can critique me
Oh my gosh, that’s so poetic.
So yeah, that’s been my thing right there
Oh I like that a lot. That’s really cool
That’s the end goal
Well you’re well on your way, just to say. I mean your audience are strong and in the comments section they’re pretty reasonable, I know a lot of people online, there’s a lot of hate a lot of troll but I feel like the people in your comments section are pretty passionate about movies and you’ve got a good community growing
They’re dope. Shout out to them! And the ones who don’t know we’re the same person. Shout out to you too.
Art does not have a twin
You heard it here first
The cartoon ain’t real.
Well I’d love to finish up with a question I love to ask people is: if there was one movie character, one fictional character, you could hang out with alive or dead, who would be your go to person you’d love to hang out with, go to the movies with, just pick their brain?
That’s a loaded question
I know. I know. And for me, if you were to ask me the question. The same thing about rating, it would fluctuate it would chance depending on my mood. Right now we’re just talking about The Rock. Even though he’s not a fictional character. But his brand is like a fictional character.
That would be a good one. I don’t know why Mike Wazowski was the first thing. I wanna chill with Mike Wazowski
Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. I don’t think you can go back
I’m not even going to think of another one, right there, Mike Wazowski
That was on the tip of your tongue, Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. Great choice. What would you guys do?
He would hang out with me Let Me Explain cartoon character. We’d try finding all the Easter Eggs, probably, I don’t know he seems like a chill dude. He’s a hard working guy. He’s got an eye for things
He sure does. And you know what he gets excited about thing. If he’s in a commercial, even if you can’t see him. He has the passion
That’s what it is. When he’s got the barcode over him. I think that’s one of my favourite lines of all time. He’s got the barcode over him. He’s like oh my goodness.. I’m in the commercial
I was in TV!
Yeah for me it would probably be Mike Wazowski. I quote him the most. Literally I quoted him yesterday at a Mamamia screening. Somebody took something out of somewhere and I literally said, “you better put that thing back where it came from or so help me.” So there you go, Mike Wazowski. Of all the movies in cinematic history.