Sunday, April 2, 2023

Pausing for a bit

Happy April!

This is just a quick note that after the  next week Unseen is probably going to wind down for a couple of weeks. Things will post daily (its set to go until mid December), but it’s going to be a lot of older titles. I’m looking to start to pick up chasing new stuff again at the end of the month when Hot Docs starts  up.

Forgive  me but I’m burnt. It happens.

This time it’s not so much from the crush of films but from other factors.

No, part of it is the films. I’ve been experiencing whiplash with some truly great films producing some of my best writing in years, mixing with a lot of good films that I don’t have words for (note all the short pieces). The passion is coming and going and while I want to say some nice things about films I don’t always have a lot to say.

The truth is battling behind the scenes to get films has taken it’s toll. Some of it is interactions with studios and PR and some of it is problems being able to physically watch the films (Technical issues with one screener site has become a long running battle that would be funny if it wasn’t so sad). The going back and forth answering emails, writing, formatting, making plans, ect eats up a lot of time every day even if it produces nothing publicly visible.

I’m having issues getting access to promised films as "plans" and release dates change, and when I do get access I’m being told I having ridiculously short windows in which watch the film. I’m tired of asking for a new link after pausing a film to go to the bathroom and then having to wait a day or two to get things sorted. I'm tired of being told I'll get you a link and then it never arrive.

Additionally with a couple of upcoming festivals I’m simply not seeing enough of a slate to commit to getting credentialed. That may sound odd, but as long time readers of Unseen know when I commit to a festival, I commit to a festival.  And since I am running into a lot of films that are resulting in very short pieces I don’t have it in me to go into things suspecting I'm going to be doing lots of short reviews. I want to go into a festival thinking I’m going to be writing a lot of long pieces, not writing just capsules for everything. If I am going to spend a couple hours watching a film I want to do the same on the back end and not toss off a line or two.

Lastly I’m getting discouraged by the changing nature of requested coverage. 

Over the last year certain PR people are asking writers for multiple reviews of the films we see. PR people want us to  do a capsule for the festival and then a longer review for theatrical. They clearly have no idea what a complete pain in the ass this is. Essentially we have to write a review, then bank it after we pare the review down to a couple hundred words. We then have to sit on the review for potentially a year or more as the film does the festival circuit. We then have to hope that we are in the loop when the film gets a theatrical or VOD release. That frequently doesn’t happen as PR people almost never circle back and let us know the film is getting released, usually because whomever buys the film has a different PR team and isn’t aware that there are banked reviews out there. I have several reviews sitting on a hard drive taking up space because I have no idea if the films were ever released

And there are an increasing number of times lately when PR people are asking us not to write on the films we don't like (some have taken it so far as to threaten some friends if they didn't remove bad reviews) I don't want to get into it here  but ultimately I have to ask why are you bothering to screen the films for critics/writers if you don’t want us to say anything- until you do?

There's more but let's just say a high level of insanity creeping in to all of this and I’m growing tired of it.

Anyway I’m going to be less focused on reviewing new stuff unless it really floats my boat​ or I've already committed to it, because I need to take a break from dealing with these people

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