The Duluth man runs Cinephile Studios, an independent YouTube channel with reviews of film series and Blu-ray box sets, in-depth analyses, Patreon requests and more.
Wilton launched Cinephile Studios in 2012, its logo a cinnamon bun emerging from a file folder. Light-hearted comedy is a constant.
Wilton, who grew up in Floodwood, Minn., began making films in high school, including a comedic take on “The Old Man in the Sea”; a Quentin Tarantino-inspired prison break movie; and a short about tiger-design T-shirts that come alive to kill.
“Very silly idea, very Joe Dante-esque,” Wilton said.
A corner of Justin Wilton’s basement is decorated with movie posters and a glass-topped coffee table displaying 20 VCR tape box fronts. (Steve Kuchera / firstname.lastname@example.org)
He learned how to make movies on YouTube alone, and today, his channel has more than 2,500 subscribers.
These days, Wilton reviews family movies such as “Space Jam,” oldies such as "Great Guy" with James Cagney to Oscar winner "La La Land."
His channel also has some collaborations.
On “Forced to Watch,” he and fiancée Stella Davis reviewed “Sweet Home, Alabama” and “Breaking Dawn.” He has also worked with high school friends on podcast Cinema Swamp.
Wilton films and produces about four reviews a month.
“I just really love movies, so I need some avenue to express that,” he said.
He makes it a point to be open to all types of film.
“I’m not the horror guy, I’m not the animation guy, I’m not the musical guy. I’m the I-will-watch-pretty-much-anything guy.”
Justin Wilton talks about some of the more than 1,000 movies he has. (Steve Kuchera / email@example.com)
Q: Name the first movie you bought with your own money.
A: Not as a gift? I think “Zombieland.”
Q: What's the first, and last, movie you saw in the theater?
A: The first one was “The Tigger Movie” in 2000, and the last one was “Tenet” (#SaveTheTheaters).
Q: Let's pretend you can watch only five movies for the rest of your life. What are they, and why'd you pick them?
A: “Hot Rod,” my personal favorite and funniest movie of all time; “Back to the Future,” the best written screenplay ever that has everything I love in movies: ’80s, teen comedy, sci-fi and time travel; “Toy Story,” Pixar's first (and to me their best) movie that is incredibly written and rewatchable; “Star Wars,” the original classic that paid tribute to all the genres and movies in general; and “The Nice Guys,” an extremely underrated modern classic that gets better with every viewing.
Q: You have a hefty collection. How many movies do you buy on average, and any plans on slowing or stopping?
A: I do a lot of online deals and pawn shops. One day, I buy a ton, then I'll go about a month without purchasing anything else, but on average, I probably get two a week. Since my peak in 2017, I've definitely slowed down, but I'll fully stop once I'm satisfied (or when Blu-ray dies and out-of-print resale prices go too high).
Q: How do you choose which films to buy, and which to review?
A: I love getting my favorites, the classics, a director or actor's filmography, or a complete series (like all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or “Star Trek” movies), but sometimes if the artwork or story catches my eye, I'll get it for a low price. Like a $1 VHS of something called “Mutant on the Bounty,” I HAVE to see this.
As far as video reviews, unless I'm requested something specifically, it's really just a matter of what interests me and what kind of style I'm going for. I've done serious looks at “Home Alone” and “Inception,” but I've also done a comedic review of the bonkers “Show Dogs.”
Q: You can dine with three people, alive or dead (and safely). Who are they and why?
A: Conan O'Brien, my favorite talk show host who I quoted in my graduation speech. He has always evolved with the changing media landscape, so I think he'd have a lot of good advice.
Jim Henson. A creative genius who was a game-changer in so many different forms of media and was gone too soon. Reading his biography, I felt that I related to him a lot.
Dave Chappelle. He was doing clubs at 17, had the biggest sketch comedy show ever, and walked away from $50 million dollars because he needed to stay true to himself, returned to his hometown in Ohio, and came back 10 years later as the smartest and funniest comedian. Don't you wish to be on top of the world, walk away from it all, return to your Midwest roots, and STILL be just as good?