Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oz Film Blog-A-Thon Announcement

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

It looks like I just jumped up on my soapbox and started shouting on Twitter: "let film journalism be done, though the heavens fall." Well, if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, a duck it must be. Just not a lame duck, that wouldn't be much use at all (see Democrat's White House as of tomorrow).

News just broke that the Australian Film Critics Association is seeking submissions for its 2010 Film Writing Awards, which is all fine and good, but wouldn't it be even better if we looked upon the 31 December deadline as an opportunity to light a fire under journalism and criticism in the Australian film industry? When I say on Twitter we don't have that much to be proud of, I didn't mean we don't have many writer's to be proud of, we do. From Luke Buckmaster's Cinetology to Tara Judah's Liminal Vision, Thomas Caldwell's Cinema Autopsy to Matt Ravier's A Life In Film – all homes to damn fine writing and, of course, not alone.

But let's face it, a lot of our actual debate takes place on Twitter, outside of which the most provocative discussion of late was Lyden Barber's rally against games as art (I'm sure he hates me bringing it up again, but it's certainly a conversational highlight of the year). As we all know 140 characters is hardly conducive to thorough conversation and the number of those exchanges cut short by the protagonists admitting 'too complicated for Twitter' is impossible to count.

So what am I proposing? Well, with a 31 December deadline plenty of time away, I suggest an Australian Film Commentary blog-a-thon. If you've never heard the term 'Blogathon' before Filmsquish offers an nice explanation here (also lists a number of past blogathons), but basically it is a marathon or a festival of writing on a particular subject, with all the works submitted and compiled on a host blog.

It is my contention that we Australian film writers, whilst creating many insightful reviews and providing spirited Twitter commentary have failed to raise our game to coincide with the increased quality local filmmakers have served up. We have failed to challenge distributors and exhibitors with provocative analysis of decisions that affect our community. Whilst busy serving up a great volume of movie reviews and regurgitated news from American productions, we've failed to engage with local issues.

Let's take the opportunity to write something about the local industry that contributes something genuinely constructive and insightful to our cinematic landscape. If you could change one thing about the Australian film industry in 2011, what would it be and why? Saw an Aussie film in 2010 that inspired you? Saw an Aussie film with controversial themes that were brushed over? Local picture house closing down? Failure of distributors to support local content producers against tidal wave of American websites? Embargoes drive you mental when US reviews already live? Making friends with directors on Twitter – what are the boundaries of film journalism? Scared to ask tough interview questions in case you don't get asked back? Sick of same five films playing at all your local cinemas every weekend?

And it doesn't have to just be gripes, what locally has inspired you but never gets press? How about the fact local magazines and websites favour American films first, Australian films second and local film culture somewhere around council meetings. Perhaps you want to create a compendium guide to alternative Australia film events. When was the last time YOU wrote about Australian short film? Maybe you want to write about the diversity of the Australian screen in 2010 and the lack there of come Awards time.

This is your chance to write those Things We Think And Do Not Say, this is the Oz Film Blog-A-Thon. I will post an article here myself 29 November, one I've been mulling over a while, and I'd ask anyone who cares to join me to aim for then too. I'll also aim to serve up a couple more pieces over the course of the week.

If you'd like to take part, all you need to do is email your links to or post them in the comments of this post and I'll update the site. Participation can take the form of ALL MEDIA (video, audio, written word). You can even send the links for old work and we'll repost the link. If you don't have somewhere to post your writing, email it to me and I'll host it here.

Most of all, be fearless.

Oz Film Blog-A-Thon
Start: 29 November – NOW 6 DECEMBER
End: 5 December – NOW 13 DEMCEMBER

To ape Culture Snob's contribution criteria:

• Write (or record) something about Australian film industry that's been on your mind
• Contribute links to old articles that might be a little 'touchy feely'
• Participate by commenting or generally spreading the word

With that, I hope you all take this in the spirit it's proposed. I value the film community I like to think I'm a part of here in Australia and I'd love for us to come together and create a debate and provoke change worth talking about.

Recommended reading
White Elephant Blog-a-thon
The Misunderstood Blog-a-thon
Short Film Blog-a-thon
Jim Emerson's Contrarianism Blog-a-thon