How were you introduced to Letterboxd?
It may have been my friend John Siracusa who brought the app to my attention. I’ve always been more than a little obsessed with tracking what movies I own on physical media, so obsessively tracking the movies I’ve seen was a natural progression. As a kid growing up through the VHS home-video revolution, I collected movies; not just retail VHS movies, but recordings of movies off of television.
When laserdiscs hit the scene, I was an early adopter and even made VHS backups of all my laserdiscs. When I went to film school I brought literally hundreds of movies on VHS and laserdisc with me, and needed to keep track of it all. So you could say that I have some experience organizing and logging my cinema experience. The services that Letterboxd provides is a natural progression of my instincts to catalog the art form I love so much.
I became a Patron because something snapped in me one day—I realized how much I was relying on the service, and how generally pleasant the app is, and was embarrassed to realize that I had not already become a Patron. It was a slam-dunk decision for me to become a Patron. I want Letterboxd to be around for a long, long time. Forever, preferably.
Which feature do you find the most useful?
The simple act of logging the movies I’ve seen is the killer feature from my perspective. Any bozo with a text editor can do this on their own, but Letterboxd makes this simple task easy and pleasant. And the ability to create lists, to rate the films, to review the films, creating a watchlist, adding reviews, and being a part of a kind and civil social network—that’s all gravy to me.
I’ve been using IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes since their inceptions, and they’ve both become big, bloated messes that try to be all things for all people, including advertisers and privacy trackers. They’re invaluable resources, but they’re not fun to use; using them is like being required to open up a poorly wired electrical panel to turn off a few lights in your house. There’s a lot of data on those websites but it’s not intuitively laid out, nor are a joy to use.
I don’t follow too many people on Letterboxd—my follow list is mostly people I know personally. I haven’t really dived into that end of the pool too deeply. But, quite literally, the simple act of tracking the movies I’ve seen has been invaluable for me. I think it was back at the end of 2014 when I said, “I’m going to try this out. I’m going to log every new movie I see starting in 2015.” After about a couple of years of doing it, I realized I was using my list to help recommend movies to people more often.
One of my biggest pet peeves in cinema fandom is a combination of two things—one, people childishly saying something like “they just don’t make good scary movies anymore” and two, my poor memory. I’d like to quickly respond with a list of scary movies made in the last decade off the top of my head, but I can’t. With my Letterboxd history, I can just quickly bring up my profile and rattle off titles like Hereditary, The Babadook, Green Room, The Guest, It Follows, Get Out, etc.