Creative Director Michael Read provides a behind-the-scenes look at Fandor’s Journey into Film – a fun and informative curated series of streaming movie playlists
When I was a kid there was only one way to watch a movie: in a dark room, on a big screen, with a bunch of strangers. Fast forward to the present; today we reside in a digital cinemascape with only our tastes and proclivities to guide us. Piped into our homes is a veritable river of pleasure and culture. We enjoy on-demand access to thousands of films spanning hundreds of genres and the entire history of cinema.
Problem is, with all these options it can be hard to pick something to watch. At Fandor, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can help our members discover movies they’ll love. We also strive to capture the energy and excitement of the film festival experience, where astute programmers provide context for cinematic works, filmmakers participate in spirited Q&As and audience members exchange perspectives on what they’ve seen.
This past June we launched Journey into Film, a series of streaming film playlists curated by respected film critics and Fandor staff that explore shared themes, motifs or concepts. We started with eight Journeys—This Sporting Life, Seven Deadly Sins, O! Pioneers, Fantastic Flights, It’s Raining Cats and Dogs, Love Letter to New York, Fairy Tales and Descent into Madness—and followed those up with Femmes Fatales and Bad Boys. They’re a unique, Fandor way of interacting with and exploring movies, distinct from anything you’d find on other movie-streaming services.
Last week we published our latest Journey into Film playlist. Curated by film writer Dennis Harvey, The Romance of the American West offers a fascinating look at the evolution of the Western film from its early beginnings on location in New Jersey on through to some of its far-flung contemporary incarnations, including a classic spaghetti western, a blacksploitation flick and an irreverent punk rock treatment featuring Joe Strummer, the Pogues and a pre-Kurt Courtney Love.
In designing the Journeys experience, we wanted to create something that was fun, engaging and enlightening. The concept was conceived to evoke an immersive, CinemaScope feel and to celebrate the visual language of film with big, beautiful images. Fascinating film notes and carefully-chosen film clips connect the dots, revealing the path between one film and the next.
For me, developing the Journeys experience has been pure pleasure. I’ve always been a photography passionista and I love nothing more than sifting through archives of film stills, searching for the ones that really sing. But also, the project has given our small film-loving company the opportunity to collaborate in creative ways, between departments. Half the company got involved in one way or another, whether through brainstorming sessions, film-picking marathons, design critiques, marketing powwows or engineering reviews. So there was plenty of fun to go around.
Journey into Film is but one example of how Fandor is changing the way people find and watch movies online. Happy travels!