Thursday, February 20, 2020

It's been 10 years of Unseen Films- Can I stop now?

Now we are ten.

Let me say that again. Unseen Films is 10 years old which means as this posts we have been posting at least one film a day for ten years. If it wasn’t a review it was an essay or an interview. That's a lot of stuff.

Over the last 10 years we've gone to places I don't think any of the Unseen Film family ever thought we’d go. We have pissed some people off, but mostly we have made a lot of friends along the way- HELLO FRIENDS!!!!!.

It has been one long grand trip- and despite my protesting and trying to pull the plug it doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon.

And yes if you have been paying attention over the last few months I real was planning on pulling the plug. The plan sixth months ago was this birthday post was going to be a grand goodbye, but something happened on the way out the door. I tripped.

Seriously after ten years of the running of the site devouring more and more of my time I was going to call it quits and walk away (seriously I had it all planned out), but things happened I finished up way earlier than I planned  (about five months early) and in deciding to fill my time constructively I decided to go a little longer and now I have things programmed into October with older films, and I have end up with plans to cover a bunch of festivals which means I'm heading into an 11th year and I am almost at a 12th year of this nonsense despite my better judgement and probably a need to step away.

And after posting almost 10,000 pieces over 10 years this has gone from being a distraction to keep myself sane into something that grew and prospered and became a second job- except it doesn’t pay except in movies and in some very cherished friendships. In the end it is the friendships that keep me doing this- the ability to hang out here and there with the family and to meet people that has me saying – one more festival, one more screening, one more movie- because there is always a chance some sort of connection might come…

When I started this I just did it. I just sat down and began writing. Then I asked my friends, Randi, John (and Bully), Eden. Ken and the late and much missed Gregg Osborne if they had any movies they loved, that no one was talking about, that needed highlighting. I told them about Unseen and  despite mostly being comic writers and fans they said yes. Most amazingly Ken thought this could go somewhere and started to push it on social media and it started to grow.(Not sure if I should kiss him or smack him). Not long after that I added in Rob Melville, who lists as Robert Grimes, who did one of the biggest pieces ever on the probable origin of the Saw Franchise. I brought in Dave (aka Mondocurry) because he was an Asian film encyclopedia and through him I met Mr C, and Chocko... and they introduced me to Ariela Rubin and then Jared...

Press screenings brought me into contact with Peter Gutierrez who liked what we were doing and wanted to join. Then I got to interview Donnie Yen and found myself sitting across from Hubert Vigilla. We started to talk and a decade on we still are. Hubert sent  Alec Kubas Meyer my way. Next to swing in was Joe Bendel who not only occasionally throws stuff to Unseen but also runs his own daily film festival at JB Spins.  And one day with Joe while waiting for a Tribeca screening we stumbled into Nate Hood. Our most recent additions to the semi regular writing staff and Leslie Melville, Rob's wife, who came aboard this past summer and hasn't looked back, and we also just started to publish the work of the wickedly talented BC Wallin.

And while that forms the heart of the corps of writers at Unseen it doesn’t begin to do justice to the friends we’ve made from Lesley Coffin and Lauren Humphrey Brooks and  Liz Whittmore, and... Chris Bourne, Nora Lee Mandel, Nobu,  Kenji Fujishima, and Sam Juliano and…..that's just some of the writers who are friends and doesn't include the filmmakers and regular film fans I converse with on line and at screenings and festivals

The question at my house is "don't you know anyone who isn't connected to Unseen?" To which I always answer "only if I work with them or are a blood relative."

And today, after 10 years I'm taking a break. I think this is the first time in a decade where the piece hasn't been a review or interview or something wholly film related. Today it's just this marking of time and nothing more.

One day "off" after ten years isn't bad.

But what of the future?

I know I have threatened to stop but I think at this point I am more like Paul Simon's Boxer remaining despite it all. Unseen is going to go one for the foreseeable future. I know most of you will be happy with that, and I know some, like the guy who keeps saying I get things wrong, will not. (Hey stop reading).

For now it's going to remain at least a post a day least November.

I am going to take it easy and cover what interests me and post what interests my writers. I am still not getting paid despite my best efforts, so for now we just are going to go with it. We will continue to lean into the inde and the off beat and the unloved because that's what we do, that is our niche and it brings us lots of friends and lots of great movies.

Truth be told I would love to cover the big films with regularity but the big studios don't have us on the radar. That's not a bad thing since after ten years of covering film one thing I know for certain the big studios are not turning out the best films. Its the small filmmakers who are struggling to get eyes on their films. Ask anyone who goes to Slamdance or  to Neighboring Scenes or The Winter Film Awards or Oxford or Blood In The Snow Canada or Camden or Queens World. The best films, the ones that move you and stir your soul, are hiding in places most people aren't looking...but we at Unseen Films are.

As we stumble into the next decade we're going to keep looking in the small fests and hidden places for the films that you need to hunt down. We are going to scream to the heavens about the great filmmakers we encounter like Jason Kartalian and Patrick Meaney and Jon Kasbe and Shaun Clark and Timothy Cox  and all the people who I love and who I have just failed to mention.

Truth be told I don't know what the next week will bring much less the next decade. When I sat down at the computer in my dad's room and started to bang out reviews a decade ago I never expected to actually become a real member of the press, or meet some of my favorite actors and some of the best filmmakers in the world. I never expected  that we'd be quoted in trailers and on posters. I thought it was just going to be  place for friends to talk about movies and not something that would get us interviewed by papers in Pakistan about the political films about their elections or to speak about Godzilla to Japanese publication.

This has been one crazy ride and it seems it still isn't over.

As we drift on down the road I want to thank you all for coming along this far and simply say if you're curious where we are going to end up next just keep reading

And a huge thank you to John DiBello for making the 10th anniversary header.

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