So, Rybeone and I did a thing. Reel Film Chronicles has been humming along pretty smoothly for a couple of years now, so we decided to take the plunge into the world of podcasting. I know that for many of you of a certain age (and who are obsessed with pop culture), there's a specific episode of The Simpsons that probably comes instantly to mind at the mention of starting a podcast these days:
"We've all thought about counterfeiting jeans at one time or another, but what about the victims? Hardworking designers like Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Antoine Bugle Boy? These are the people who saw an overcrowded marketplace and said, 'Me too.'"
I think it's safe to say that podcasting has taken on a life of its own since the early days, and if any descriptor fit the podcasting scene these days "overcrowded" could certainly be said to apply. I remember back in the halcyon early days of podcasting when the phenomenon was still just catching on, a few friends and I started a podcast, and managed to put out fifty or sixty-odd episodes before I blew the whole thing up by moving away. In those days, it was a lot easier to stand out, and considering the audience we built up and the success of a few podcasts that started around the same time as us and had reached out at the time for cross-promotional opportunities, I still think about what could have been.
When Ryebone suggested that we expand the scope of our little ongoing project at the Reel Film Chronicles from a website to a website and a podcast (and a bag of chips), my first thought wasn't about being able to climb to the top of the podcast heap and get rich with advertising deals and sponsorships (although, it would be nice). Instead, I was reminded of why my friends and I had originally started a podcast way back when. It wasn't about any delusions of grandeur or fantasies of making it big; it was simply an excuse for us to get together every week and hang out and talk about shit that seemed interesting to us. Without that weekly standing appointment, we might have missed out on each other's company, which I fully admit, I got the better bargain on.
So now, ten years older, and hopefully a little wiser, I find myself embarking on a new adventure in podcasting. This time the endeavour is guided by Ryebone's singular, inebriated vision, but still ultimately driven by the same motivations: we just want an excuse to hang out, if only virtually for the time being, what with the global pandemic still disrupting any sort of in-person social interaction.
I'm a little biased here, but I also think that the Reel Film Chronicles podcast has something to offer to the cultural dialogue, specifically movies in our case. Ryebone and I both share a passion for movies, and as anyone who's spent any significant time in the hobby will tell you, the more you watch, the more you tend to diversify your viewing habits in terms of content. Especially, I think, for those of us who are still collecting physical media and are exposed to a lot of the boutique labels that have sprung up over the years, we tend to get a lot of exposure to films that are a little more off the beaten path. It's not a knock against blockbusters or the mainstream; it's just an acknowledgement that the really popular (and well-financed) movies that make it to the big screen every year in big multiplex theatres are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the sheer amount of content available out there waiting to be discovered and supported.
Because of our experience - and the sheer amount of time we've dedicated to watching movies, going down rabbit holes of increasingly obscure movies and genres, and a disproportionate amount of time spent analyzing movies just for the love of doing it - Ryebone and I have developed a healthy appreciation for films of all varieties and a great many aspects of the incredible effort that goes into making any movie a reality.
That isn't to say that we are somehow the arbiters of what is "good" or "bad" cinema. We have our likes and dislikes when it comes to films, just like anyone else. Though we often get very passionate about movies that we really, really love or really, really hate, I think we've both reached a point in our lives where we acknowledge that just because we love or hate a movie, that those opinions are not an objective indication of that movie's quality. I think that's part of the value that Ryebone and I bring to the ongoing dialogue about film; despite loving or hating specific movies, what we care most about is moving that dialogue forward in a positive way, trying to foster an environment where people can discuss their overall love of film, and engage in that age-old art of civil disagreement. What's important isn't that we agree with each other or anybody else about the artistic merits of any given movie, but that we try to encourage an overall appreciation of the artform.
Hopefully, as we've tried to do with the Reel Film Chronicles website, the Reel Film Chronicles podcast will help to spread our love of movies as Ryebone and I share our insights from the perspective of life-long fans whose lives have been enriched and inspired not just by the movies we've watched, but with the people we've watched them with.
Two hundred sixty four. I still look at that number and question its authenticity; while it’s true you could probably knock a few titles off that list depending on your standards, it’s my own count and it holds true as I compare it to other years gone by (and yes, I will eventually make a more refined count later on, one that does not include short films or certain television episodes – looking at you Black Mirror). 264 represents a fairly sizable increase and upward trend: 2018 saw 245 and 2017 saw 203 titles in the log. As you may be aware, I log everything through Letterboxd, and pay for the yearly stats so it can point you in the direction of my obsession:
Hopefully your eyes don't hurt too much after rolling them when you came upon my latest site because yes, it's true: Ryebone has launched another site. If nothing else, it's what I do. And you're at the latest iteration.
The Chronicles of Ryebone has been suffering for quite a while, which is probably a good indicator of my state of mind over the past few years: I simply could not write. It's not for trying either; over at Letterboxd, I tried my hand at some short reviews, and even some longer ones, but nothing really felt good. There are numerous document files on my computer with half-written articles and my trash bin became full of my own failures. I kept asking myself two things: first, does anyone care? Second, why am I so bad?
Does anyone care? They may not, but that's never been the point. I've spent a lot of time reading and watching great essays and reviews on movies and other favourite pop culture, and I never felt like my voice could be heard in the environment. I'm bad too, because in reading this high quality content from others, I really began to doubt my own abilities. Nobody wants read some half-hearted, poorly written reviews of old movies; at least, not when there's so much else available out there.
Then I remembered: it doesn't matter. From the beginning, I never did these sites for anyone. I never really wanted recognition, or fame. I did it for myself; it's why I kept coming back. The writing can feel forced at times, but that feeling when sentences and paragraphs flow so easily is unparalleled and addictive, like chasing the next high.
And here we are, at The Reel Film Chronicles. Over the past few months I've been rolling ideas around in my head, including branding, and focus. I've given this advice to others in the past as I know it's been a limiting factor on my own site for years: stay focused. People don't really go to personal blogs anymore - we have social media for that. They follow content. When the platform is specific, be that movies, video games, books, or what have you, it has to be focused. The catch-all site I've run in the past is too daunting. And it has to be reflected in the name; the design of everything.
I want to keep it simple: you're going to find movie-related things here. The Chronicles of Ryebone lives on, but will stay neglected, although I hope that the interest in writing here will spill over into non-movie related pieces. The Twitter account is going as well, and for some time, things will be simple.
I'm pretty happy with this so far. Let's keep it going.