On 22 November 2017, my first film review was published on Ready Steady Cut. That’s right: not just my first review for RSC, but my first film review at all. They took a chance on me, knowing I had opinions to share and knowing I was able to express myself. I don’t think they’re regretting it, but they have started doing a bit more due diligence since then. Anyway, it worked wonders for my confidence, just knowing someone wanted me to write for them (it would never have dawned on me to write for myself), but as a complete novice, it took a while for that confidence to really grow.
Still, I was made to feel part of the team straight away: I was invited to contribute to the top ten best and worst films of 2017 features and followed a little while later with a top ten feature of my own: Top 10 Contemporary Found Footage Films. That’s turned into a conversation starter several times, and I’m considering another top-ten article soon.
That was also the first time I got properly engaged with the filmmakers on Twitter while promoting my article. It’s great chatting with film directors on social media, sometimes leading to extra insight about the film, or invitations to review their new title. I feel I’ve gotten to know some of them quite well that way… and I can only think of one who’s stopped talking to me. The Ferryman was the first film I reviewed via a screener sent to me from the director; and then, I plucked up the nerve to ask for The Endless; and then I started to find screeners in my inbox without my even asking!
When I first started writing for Ready Steady Cut, I felt really awkward about saying anything too negative: a lot of work goes into a film, after all (and besides, Suburbicon was written by the Coen brothers!). But then I offered to write about BBC’s Requiem and I found it didn’t actually have to be that difficult. There have been some really dreadful titles: where the work shows promise, and I have hope for better work to come, I will say so; but if it’s hopelessly puerile or full of clichés, I will say that too. Always learning, and always practising.
Writing for Ready Steady Cut has also meant learning and practising in terms of being part of a remote team: I’ve not met most of the gang, and there are always risks in communicating electronically (both plans and opinions), that we might not get through to the other person at the right time, or we might take things the wrong way. My day job is in IT project management, with all kinds of teams, so I’ve carried forward some learnings into work. It’s happened the other way too: I’ve brought some work learnings into my RSC activities, particularly around planning for events and planning my time.
I covered two terrific film festivals during this year: one remotely, and one there in person. I would heartily recommend the festival experience to anyone interested in films: there are plenty of genre festivals, as well as big mainstream ones, or you can simply find what’s going on locally. I will certainly try to attend at least one of them next year, but I hope they are spread apart a bit more, as I’m not sure my stamina could cope!
My #100DaysOfHorror project ran from 26 July to 31 October, with those two festivals taking place in the first half of October. I will almost certainly repeat that exercise but must plan better so I don’t wipe myself out so thoroughly next time. That brought me nearly to the end of my first year, only managing to write a couple more reviews during November.
I have reviewed some socially important films in the last year, as well as shorts, indie features, Netflix originals and blockbusters. If I prompted anyone to watch a film you’d not considered before, I’d love to know. But whether you have or not, I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved during the last year, and pleased to have been part of this growing team.
My RSC articles over the last year