Notes to past self | Writing about films

The following was originally a twitter thread

Hit 10k! LONG thread ahead, where I share what I have learnt from my own mistakes and personal experience of writing about films online. Could just be notes to my past self, but might have some takeaways for your consideration as well. Excuse the vagueness on some counts.

  • [1.0] Some context: I started Reviewpuram in my teens. In retrospect, I regret getting an audience that early. It was before my formative years as a young adult, which I believe began only in college. That’s when I shred borrowed perspectives about life and could grow new ones of my own.
  • [1.1] There’s a risk with having an audience early in this space, because the mistakes you make are in a high-stakes environment. Film appreciation comes with a responsibility towards the art, artists and stakeholders; starting that young can mean failing to grasp its gravity.
  • [1.3] The artists deserve your constructive criticism more than flowery language. The art deserves your reading, not your reaction. The biggest stakeholder (arguably), the audience, deserves your own perspective and not just a validation of theirs.
  • [1.4] I can pacify myself by saying I was only learning. But I have come to believe this is not the kind of job one should be learning on. Not from scratch at least. This is up for debate, but the very nature of the job might be about thriving at the expense of another’s work.

Yes, at this point it’s valid to think I’m taking myself too seriously.

  • [2.0] This one’s in general: Try not to flaunt your age off to promote a venture in case you’re starting off early. You’ll probably think you’re looking wise for your age, but no, it’s easier to look stupid.
  • [3.0] an Unpopular Opinion™ – We are nobody to decide which film is/isn’t a must watch. People can decide for themselves. We may rave, but need not dictate…
  • [3.1] …Internalising this helped me in focusing my writing around what the film made me feel rather than on persuading the reader to watch it. Good writing can do that on its own. I am still working on this thought.
  • [4.0] Can’t stress enough: Exploring film history is important to get a deeper understanding the medium. Inception might have got me thinking/talking about films but Nolan’s learnt from somewhere too, obviously. Take your time to trace those influences back to their roots.
  • [5.0] Talking about cinema is, in more ways than you think, talking about life. Even with a sizeable following early on, it’s likely that you won’t be able to maximise it owing to limited life experiences. It also helps to be aware of this limitation when hating on certain films.
  • [5.1] Talk about subjects within your reach. Try not to bite off more than you can chew on. It’s okay if we haven’t reached a stance on that debate that’s breaking. Understanding something for yourself is more important than showing others that you understand.
  • [6.0] Appeasing fandoms is pointless because they can cancel you as fast as they validated you. Learnt this the hard way. If you can’t avoid altogether, show that you can also talk positively about their culture/demigod without even using their sacred, homegrown tools (hashtags).
  • [6.1] It’s very easy to slip into stan culture language, which is perfectly fine, but maybe not if you want to be taken seriously? I’m unsure of this myself, and it’s a feedback I have received on multiple counts. But yes, for now, I do believe that no artist is above the art.
  • [6.2] In the context of writing – Expressing excitement is genuine, and also easy. This is sure to get a big audience. But we could also calm down at some point and read through films, rather than just reacting at them.
  • [7.0] Prioritise growing up in real life while working towards growing an online presence. The former is more important, any day. It might be hard to be self-aware of this though, would recommend having the right people critiquing you along your journey.
  • [7.1] That would not really apply to someone like me who is almost an introvert here compared to the prolific pace of socialising(?) seen on this platform. But I was very active on fb groups, and taking a break from virtual connections to focus on real ones helped me, personally.
  • [7.2] Take your critics seriously. If a person is taking time out of their day to share their opinion about your work, acknowledge them. It also isn’t as hard to understand what constructive criticism looks like as opposed to judgements or insults.
  • [7.3] But at times criticism coming from a good place can also end up sounding harsh. Engage, but politely. If they truly have the energy and good intentions, they’ll get back. Value that.
  • [8.0] I am embarrassed of the pretentiousness I put out early on. Growing out of that person, and then realising that almost three years of work in a public domain is not something I relate to anymore, was demotivating…
  • [8.1] …To top this, realising that my taste and opinions are changing very fast made me get all the more indifferent to this venture. These are the inner troubles being fought behind an online presence. Prominent or not, I wanted to spill them out.
  • [8.2] Forgiving yourself for your past self’s immaturity sounds big but there are chances that it’ll only make you tread closer to complacency. Rather, forgive your mistakes but don’t forget them – so that you’ll hold yourself responsible to deliver better work at every step.

fin. Thanks a ton for reading until here.


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