10 September 2008

how do you blog?

That is, when you're writing about a film, how do you do it? What's your process?

Do you write immediately after seeing the film? Do you let it sit for a couple days? Do you watch certain sequences over and over?

What's the method?

** and, yeah, i realize i haven't updated this in a while. i've been traveling and/or on vacation. hopefully i can do better.


Moviezzz said...

For me, I watch films once. If on DVD, I might take notes. In theatres, I don't.

For theatricals, I normally write after seeing, when I get home. For DVD, maybe a day or so later. Although sometimes, I might never get around to writing a review (I think I have notes on 30 DVDs I never wrote up full reviews for).

I rarely watch a film more than once.

lucas mcnelly said...

i tried to take notes once. it was a disaster.

when you say you rarely watch it more than once, do you mean to write about it? something tells me there's films you've watched over and over again, right?

Moviezzz said...

In the past say 15 years, there are only a couple films I've seen more than once. But there are many films from the 80's that I watch numerous times.

lucas mcnelly said...

is a comfort thing with the 80's? b/c i can think of a bunch of current films i'll watch over and over

Jonathan Pacheco said...

Me, I almost always watch films more than once. I usually don't want to, but find that I need to (refresher, notice new things, etc.) It will usually help me add something more insightful to an "okay" review. If it's in the theater, I probably won't see it multiple times, though.

I've tried taking notes in the theater, as I watch the film, but I didn't have good results. Eventually I would forget to take notes. I find that writing notes in my Moleskine pretty soon after seeing the film works well for me. For example, on some Sundays where I'll see two films, the inbetween time is always spent writing notes about the first film.

There's usually a gap between taking notes and writing about the film, and that works for and against me. I like that it gives me a little bit of distance and clarity instead of a knee-jerk reaction, but at the same time the film isn't as fresh, so it can be difficult to pick up where I left off. There's no momentum.

A few weeks ago I did something I don't remember doing in a long time, and that's getting home from a film and just writing a review straight through. No lists as I usually do, I just sat down and wrote 1300 words. Now, it's obviously a rough draft, but it felt amazingly good. I'm hoping to try it more often, see if I have the same kind of success.

My problem is waiting too long before I go through it again. I want to wait long enough so that I have enough distance to see the flaws in my writing, but if I wait too long, again, the film isn't fresh in my mind.

For some video essays I've started doing, I watch the films several times over. It can get tiring, because for these specific pieces, I'm pausing and looking up things, then trying to make connections as I watch the film (for example, a name of an apartment complex in a film turns out to be a reference to a book. What's the book about? How can it connect back to the film? etc).

But for the most part, lists are the way I go whether it's a review, an opinion piece, or whatever.

Within the review, I just simply focus on what I would talk about if someone asked me in person what I thought of a film. I'm not going to refresh them on the plot or name the actors. I'll say I noticed this, and that was a stereotype, etc. Ideally, those become springboards for much more interesting topics.

For example, in writing about The Strangers, I was writing about the boneheadedness of most male characters in slasher films, and eventually that got me going on a tangent about sexism in horror. Not brilliant stuff, but it's better than the typical "this was scary, this was not, she was terrible."

Only after I've gone through a review several times do I finally add a few sentences in reference to the plot. I hate these sentences, and maybe I'll try writing a few reviews without them just to see what happens, but unfortunately I feel inclined to insert them. It's one of those things that's hindering us from breaking out of the "newspaper writing" mold, I think.

I'm sure that was way more than you were asking for :-)

lucas mcnelly said...

that's almost exactly what i was looking for actually

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

It depends on the way I saw the movie, I guess.

If it's at the theater, typically I've only seen the movie once before I review it. First impressions are big then - whatever sticks, pops, or remains fresh in my head.

DVD is different. I tend to own movies that I like. It's hard to review a movie I've seen over and over and over again because I'm fairly familiar with it. I'll take screenshots, look at my favorite scenes, and think about why I like a particular film as much as I do.

If I'm writing up a Netflix DVD, odds are I'm writing about it at the same time. Little things, whole reviews, it depends on what comes to mind.

I really need to try not to focus on plot as much as I do - I think I give way to much away. With a flick like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this isn't necessarily bad...it just isn't good. With something like Wall-E, giving a lot away is kind of a bum deal. It's a fine line to walk, I guess.

There's a lot of movies that I saw in theaters this summer that I've yet to write about. I have no idea how those will go. It'll be interesting, if only to see how it changes my style. Maybe it'll be an improvement.

GUO SHAO-HUA said...


elgringo said...

One thing I like to do is watch a movie and then right away, put it in the computer to do screen caps. That way, all the things I want to write about stay in the front of my brain. That's how I did it for Jacob's Ladder the other day and I'm pretty happy with how that turned out.


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