If you click over to my IMDb profile, you’ll see two new projects: “Phil Coulson: Agent of Shield” and “Coulson’s Day Off.” I’m listed under the writer section, having contributed characters.

Only I didn’t. At all.

I’d never heard of these shorts until I saw them on my profile page. Yes, I worked on the original Iron Man, but I’m not a credited writer and didn’t have any input whatsoever on the character played by Clark Gregg in the franchise.

I’m fairly certain the director simply attached my name — along with Joss Whedon, Fergus & Otsby, Marcum & Holloway — to attract attention to his Marvel fan film. And now that I’m blogging about it, he probably will get some attention.

He’ll also probably get a scary letter from Marvel legal.

Maybe I should feel bad about that — but I really don’t. Fuck him. He’s drafting off my name (and Whedon’s much bigger name) by misrepresenting my involvement in his short film.

If he wanted me to see his movie, he could have sent me a link. Lord knows I’m accessible. I often plug stuff I like. But he didn’t give me that chance. So, as I said, fuck ‘im.

Now, it’s possible that the director himself didn’t link my name to this.1 IMDb credits can be edited by just about anyone, so someone else could have done it.

Which is why I’m saving the bulk of my opprobrium for IMDb.

C’mon, IMDb. Why do you have to suck so much?

My team can make a browser plug-in that makes your layout less terrible, but we can’t fix your data. That’s on you. You have to do better.

Here’s a simple way you can start: I’m a registered user, so why doesn’t your system kick out an email to confirm a change like this? I know I didn’t work on this. It should never have showed up on the page.

I have a movie coming out, and I’m starting to do publicity. All is takes is one lazy journalist looking at IMDb to assume I’ve been reduced to doing crappy superhero knock-offs.

True, one idiotic fan film isn’t going to hurt my reputation much, but what happens when I’m listed for acting in a porn film, or producing a inflammatory religious documentary? To me, that’s a lot worse than revealing an actress’s age.

Because there’s no real competition, we’ve come to rely on IMDb. That’s a mistake, but there is not yet a viable replacement.2

For now, I could use some reader help — and if you have a few minutes, it’s a useful exercise for seeing how the current IMDb system can be gamed so easily.

  1. If you have an IMDb login, head over to my page and click the Edit Page button. (Less IMDb has to be turned off to access it.)
  2. In the Filmography > Writing Credits section, choose Correct/Delete.
  3. Click Continue.
  4. On the next screen, choose Delete for the two Phil Coulson credits.
  5. Click “Check these updates.”
  6. You’ll get an error message asking you to state why these credits should be deleted. I leave this to your creativity.
  7. Click “Recheck these updates.”
  8. Click “Submit these updates.”

And you’re done! Maybe! There’s nothing to indicate whether a change is really in the works. Some updates show up quickly, but the auto-generated email lists 7-10 days as normal.

Which says a lot about how seriously IMDb is taking its mission.


Eight hours after posting this — and three days after first filing the credit notice — IMDb has excised the two Phil Coulson shorts from my profile. Thanks to everyone who submitted on my behalf.

I suspect some higher-up at IMDb paid attention, because the other writers who had been listed (including Whedon) are also now unlinked. But the same director is still drafting on credits for other filmmakers. IMDb has corrected one mistake, but not their system.

  1. Click through his other credits and you’ll see the same pattern.
  2. On The Talk Show, we speculated that Apple might come out with their own Siri-integrated solution for film credits.