[Guest post] One man against the movies

Chris – of Vs Cinema fame – set himself the target of watching one film for every day of this year and writing about it. This is what it’s done to him…

I’m trying to watch and review one film for every day of the year. I go through a weary routine, once a day, of deciding what to watch. It’s usually late, and I scrape through the ever-growing stack of DVDs to find the one nearest 90 minutes in length (less if I’m lucky) that I haven’t watched. As a result there’s a group of historical epics that are taunting me from the corner, but that’s a lot of Sunday afternoon material to wade through.
I’m not complaining: this has been a revelation for me. At the start of the year I faced another 365-day stretch of my twenties wandering through a life brimming with potential I had no intention of ever tapping. A sudden decision on 1 January to watch a string of films I’d had knocking around became a nascent idea. The idea, with some help from a few friends, became a set of rules, and then a website (with an AWESOME banner from artist Ed Clews). All of which follows gently in the tradition of Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace, but with less booze.
I’m forcing myself to write constantly as a result. I’ve always fancied earning some money through writing – it seems like a wheeze, right? The Vs Cinema idea has given me something I haven’t had before: structure. It’s given me a focus on writing and I couldn’t be more pleased about that. It’s also forced me to admit one thing I may have taken for granted at the outset – I’m not actually that good at writing. I’m working on, it but I’m certainly not happy with what I produce yet. There are moments, but they aren’t common enough to be called form.
There been some other huge benefits from this. Initially I asked around for some help on gathering some of the classics but it wasn’t long until the requests started. People in my office brought me DVDs unsolicited and asked for a review; some arrived by post wanting my input and my opinion on the blog. It’s a fantastic feeling, such a boost to an ailing ego, to have even the tiniest interest from anyone else – even if you do end up giving their film a kicking.
Then there’s the downside. Watching the endless stream of disappointing, turgid dross that some people actually like. At times I feel like cinema’s own self-appointed Simon Cowell watching one entry after another, with deeply average results. Except I don’t get millions of pounds for it: I don’t get a penny. So far, my one attempt at pitching an article to a publication resulted in one of the most disappointing brush-off emails I’ve ever read. But I’ll have another crack at it.
This year hasn’t turned out to be the quiet 365 I expected. Firstly, I’m due an addition to the family in a month or so. I hope he likes historical epics. Second, I start training to be an English teacher around the same time. Some pretty big changes that suggest I’m not going to hit the target. Nowhere near at a guess. But I’m not too bothered – I’m enjoying it too much.
I’m pretty certain that I’ll be Vs Cinema for a while now, perhaps not as prolific, perhaps with a touch more quality control and probably with a quick change to that banner too. But still battling on through the stacks.

© Chris Warrington, 2009