I’ve been writing about the films I’ve seen for almost 15 years. The first review was on January 28th, 2003, covering the fairly terrible Jackie Chan movie, The Tuxedo. That was about a fortnight after I started this blog.
I’ve had a Cineworld Unlimited card for almost as long, from around February 2003. It was originally a UGC Unlimited card, but let’s not quibble on the details. Since then I’ve tried to watch at least a film a week in the cinema and have done a pretty decent job of keeping that up.
Two years later, in January 2005, I said I’d stop writing film reviews, at least in part because I was struggling to keep up with writing a few paragraphs on each film. That’s how the first Film Fight was born: a new format to lighten the load a little.
The idea was to write a single paragraph for each film released in a month, and write about all of the films in one post. I can’t remember why, but I decided to pick a “best” film each month and then, from those monthly winners, a best film of the year. Now, this contest aspect has never been something I’ve taken too seriously. There are good and bad films, but mostly films are contextual. I’m not going to love the best drama of the year if I’m in the mood for comedy.
Anyway, in 2009 I decided to tweet about the films too. Within a few days of seeing them, I’d tweet a short 140 character review, and then put a link to that tweet at the end of the monthly Film Fight. That seemed like a good idea.
Jump forward 9 years, and the format hasn’t changed much. It’s still a single paragraph, with a link to a tweet, in a silly knockout competition format once per month.
Well, that’s not quite correct: for the last few years, I’ve struggled to keep up with even the monthly schedule. My time is going into other things (family, tech community, writing talks, other interests etc). With Netflix also putting out far more original movies, the problem is worsening.
(As an aside, the Netflix originals being included meant someone asked me what was eligible for Film Fight. My rule of thumb has always been it has to be the first realistic chance I’d have to see a film. For a cinema release, that’s from the day of release to it disappearing from cinemas. Re-releases don’t count. If I made it to a special advanced screening or preview, that’d be allowed in, but if I didn’t make it the film wouldn’t be excluded at it’s main release. For non-cinematic releases (Netflix, straight to video, or VOD), my rule of thumb has been a month since its original release.)
Given I’m not keeping up with the reviews, it’s time for another change. So what am I going to do? Given Twitter have increased the length of tweets to 280 characters, I’m going to embrace that. Where needed, the Twitter reviews will no longer stick to the 140ish characters as before, and will take up the full space available. The monthly posts will then just be an amalgamation of those longer tweets, with a monthly winner picked at the end. That’s much easier to keep up with, I hope.
Finally, I might start doing something I’ve considered over the years: longer one-off pieces on films that I think warrant it, where the tweet doesn’t feel like enough. We’ll see.
So, that is what’s ahead for Film Fight. Onwards…