Hey, have you seen …?

11/19/22 –

I watched a movie today and did not (nor do I plan to) write a long-form review of it. I haven’t been able to say that since June 6th, 2006—the day I saw THE BREAK-UP and wrote my first review for the now defunct “spreeblog” at Buffalo Spree magazine, where I worked as a graphic designer at the time.

Since then I’ve literally written a review of every film I saw regardless of whether it was new or old, a first-time watch or revisit, a feature or short. I did this because it enriched my own enjoyment of the art. It forced me to dig deeper into what I saw, recognize how it made me feel, and articulate my thoughts in a way that would ensure I didn’t take any of what each film’s respective hundreds of cast and crew members created for granted.

It’s a lot of work, though. And I never got (nor sought out) payment for the time and effort it took. I just genuinely loved engaging with the movies and would spend most of my free time watching and writing about whatever I could get my hands on. Spree led me to creating my own blog. That led me to writing for The Film Stage. I started going the Toronto International Film Festival annually, joining critics groups, and eventually being approved on Rotten Tomatoes. Suddenly, despite living in what the studios now consider a “dying market,” I was able to pretty much watch whatever titles I wanted—whether they came to a local theater or not.

Sadly, these past couple months have been hectic for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal. With my full-time job and other responsibilities demanding that my free time get truncated, I started getting stressed out about the films. I declined a ton of pitches because not having the time to review meant I didn’t have the time to watch either. The entire enterprise became a chore that I had to talk myself into performing when watching a Sabres game or TV show meant devoting less time and energy.

My hope with this Substack is therefore to free myself of that wholly self-inflicted obligation. If I have time to watch something, I’ll watch it. Rather than worry about writing five or more reviews a week, I’ll commit to one or two while scribbling a few thoughts about the others here.

That’s good news for publicists as I’ll be able to accept more pitches. It may also be bad since accepting a pitch won’t guarantee a long-form review as it had in the past. Hopefully all press is good press and whatever brief thoughts I do share will be enough. I won’t know until I try.

I’ll still do my usual few reviews a month for The Film Stage and my own site—but mostly just those films for which I have something to say rather than merely forcing myself to say anything.

As I stated above, I started writing for my own edification. Discovering that other people wanted to read and enjoyed what I had to say was and still is a welcome surprise. But I’m forty now. Time feels weightier. Sixteen years devoting one to two extra hours on top of every film’s runtime to write has proven enough.

The moment to pivot is now. Hey, have you seen …? will be a weekly FREE newsletter with my ruminations on everything I’ve consumed during those seven days as well as f-bomb gifs, scanned press kit materials, and whatever else I decide to add. Maybe I’ll add a paid option in the future. For now it’s more of the same—just different.

Hopefully those who’ve enjoyed my words will follow along and that this new venue will introduce me to more readers. I look forward to finding out.

Check it out here and/or subscribe.

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