Friday, July 24, 2009

For movies, who tells you where to go?

Jeffrey Goodman, director of the locally made indie "The Last Lullaby," is pondering some intriguing contradictions today on his MovieMaker blog. He wrote:

We’re in an interesting time. Easiest time ever to make a movie. Hardest time ever to monetize the finished product. Easiest time ever to find an outlet for your finished movie. But with a proliferation of outlets comes a decrease in the importance of each outlet.

It’s fragmented out there. Everyone is getting their information from so many different sources. How as independent moviemakers, with very limited marketing budgets, do we possibly break free of this quagmire?

Click here to join the conversation.

A follow-up statement catches my eye as something worth pondering on LaMovBlog. He writes:

It’s become harder for distributors to market their movies. They have to spend more to get people’s attention in an increasingly noisy and fragmented world.

Let's turn this around and help the director: If the moviegoing world is getting increasingly noisy and fragmented, where do you, as a moviegoer, learn about new movies? A website? Word of mouth? Facebook? Celebrity/industry Twitter follows? Trailers? An iPhone ap? A theater? A blog? A news aggregator? A newspaper? A magazine? My friend Steve? (My advice: ignore Steve.)

Put another way: In the last few months, what media source/buzz source has most influenced your moviegoing habits?

Where do you get the most reliable movie news (and do you consider it news or something else)? One source, or many? And do you read it, or watch it?

Me? I'm traditional. I like great writing. For reviews, I'm hooked on The New York Times, The Washington Post and reviews I find through For buzz? My inbox. Festival coverage. Entertainment mags. I also watch a lot of classic film, so I rely on critical anthologies like a current favorite, "American Movie Critics: An Anthology from the Silents until Now."

Heck, even Netflix's recommendations have changed the way I find movies. (Have to hand it to that algorithm thingie. It works.)

I also prize recommendations from filmmakers and film industry sources. Case in point: Jon Rothell (who made the short "Silent Treatment") recommended "Songs from the Second Floor." Superb. Chris Jay drew me to "Goodbye Solo." Again, superb.

Who tells you where to go?


Chris Jay said...

These days, mostly four sources: Film Comment magazine, word of mouth, the Filmspotting podcast, and Spoutblog. The Filmspotting podcast is hit or miss, but they have a 1 hour, 15 minute program on Chicago Public Radio, so they really have time to drill down into a film. I see just about everything that Film Comment touts, which is like the members magazine for the Film Society at Lincoln Center, lots of writing from Kent Jones, Amy Taubin, and others in there. I heard about LET THE RIGHT ONE IN from Film Comment, but they also tore apart THE WRESTLER, so I don't agree with everything I read there.

Jillianne said...

I go to Ain't It Cool, I have reviewers I follow on Twitter, The Robinson Film center's upcoming trailers, Magazine newspaper. I mostly work by trailers, though. If the trailer is interesting, I'll do more research about it.

JB Jones said...

I'm think I'm fairly traditional. I still find out about most mainstream films from television or from trailers.

I find out about the more obscure films from Indie websites and like-minded friends.

But I totally HATE those ads at the top and sides of websites. So annoying. I don't want to see "The Haunting of Whatever" so stop freaking me out with the muted trailer!

I tend to follow various film news sources, so I usually know about films long before they come to local theatres. I hear about some while they are still in the developmental stages and follow it to fruition. I usually know what movies did well at festivals too.

I don't know. I guess I'm not as traditional as I thought.

Alexandyr Kent said...

This is good. More, more, more.

Hunter said... helps me get a quick (and fairly reliable, as averages go) grasp of the critical response to a given movie... it's been invaluable in affirming or destroying hunches that I will or will not enjoy a film, and collects all the major critics' opinions in one easy-to-read place.

It's similar to metacritic, but more organized and systematic.

Evan said...

Ain't It Cool News is my favorite. They offer a wide range of reviews on most major releases with some user reviews of early screenings as well as breaking news on upcoming projects, casting, whatnot.

I also occasionally enjoy reading Roger Ebert's reviews.

But for the most part, I can get from a trailer whether a movie is worth the price of admission or not though. I don't generally base whether or not to see something on other people's opinions. If I read a review, it's more out of curiosity or entertainment (for example Ebert's review of Transformers 2 covers both).

And if I overlook something, I have a forum of fellow filmmakers that will bring it to my attention.

Evan said...

Also, to kind of expand on Jeffrey's comments, I think we're entering an era of incredible choice. Lots of filmmakers making lots of movies and lots of opinions and ways to follow them.

My hope is that in the future this will lead to better quality films from Hollywood. They can't just put out anything anymore. And meanwhile the good indie films have a very easy way to get exposure. Word of mouth (or word of type) is more powerful now than it's ever been.

Alexandyr Kent said...

From Kathryn Usher (because I pressed the wrong moderation button):

Wow, such great sources are being revealed in this comment thread.

I get all my hip info from Rolling Stone magazine. My daughter Katee subscribes so I get the leftovers. But just because I'm aware doesn't mean I purchase. I go out to the movies maybe once a year. So my movie viewing is way behind. Right now I'm more into documentaries.

What movie "purchases" do I make? I slide through Sundance and IFC to see what I want to record for the week. I'm sure there's a faster way to do this (like their websites). I also have HBO.

Unfortunately, I spend most of my disposable entertainment money on drugs. Drugs and health care and health insurance. I'm slammed by those skyrocketing costs so I have very limited funds for fun.

P.S. Charlie and I had a great time at the Robinson Film Center last night. So much fun in fact, he's talking about getting a membership. Zowie! And while the memberships are very affordable, I just don't know how we could chunk that much out at one time.

Alexandyr Kent said...

From Melissa (because I again pressed the wrong button):

A lot of my interest comes from trailers in theaters or on TV. Sometimes I find out from "news" sources (talkshows, etc.), or sometimes from websites ( for instance).
Mostly, though, I am directed to movies by word of mouth from my friends (sometimes even this guy Alex who has a blog).
The biggest thing is that once I get interested from one of these sources, I often will employ any source I can find (usually online) to find out more to see if that's really what I want to see. I also always take critics' opinions with a grain of salt, because I know that my taste or interest level is not always the same as theirs.

Alexandyr Kent said...

All right, I'm turning off comment moderation because it's a pain. Play nice. Stay on topic. Badgering won't be tolerating.

Hugs and kisses.

Anonymous said...

I read Goodman's
I found the comments to be more imformative and truthful. My opinion, sticking to it. Just read the WHOLE blog for yourself.

Evan said...

Yeah, I'm very much enjoying the comments.

Alexandyr Kent said...

That lasted all of 32 hours. Comment moderation is back on. Sorry, but I'm not going to tolerate repetitious nonsense.

Casey Moore said...

For me it is certain writers,but most of those writers are online:

Devin Faraci at
Russ Fischer ar /film
Jeremy Smith aka Mr Beaks at
Drew McWeeney at HitFix

If one of those guy's recommends a movie either on their site or twitter feeds, I will hunt it down to watch because I have learned to trust their picks.

But I follow other writers and film people on Twitter, so if certain directors or writers recommend something, I try to hunt it down (such as John Rogers who writes and produces the tv show Leverage).

Anonymous said...

Wow, that last comment by Alex sounds very much like censorship!! Whatever happened to free speech in this country?

Repititous nonsense? lol

Question Alex? Since when is one persons opinion deemed nonsense? Are we not all entitled to express our personal opinions?

Or is it okay just as long as it is in step with the usual propaganda diatribe?

Whoever wrote their opinion of Jeff's blog had a right to, and has the right to express themselves.

Ever hear of the first amendment?

Your remark has cost you a reader of your blog, but not like you care, right? As long as you do what your boss wants you to do, to get your wkly check, it makes no difference.

You are wrong for making a statement like that.

Since I know you are filtering comments I doubt this gets posted.

Alexandyr Kent said...

To my knowledge, I haven't deleted any comments regarding Jeffrey Goodman's blog. The latest one I received, which was yesterday, has been posted here:

Evan said...