My cinephile-friendly web project, TheFilmsaurus, is going to be upgraded to better serve cinephiles around the world, and I am writing to ask for your assistance.
The site, which will be called MaybeSee [dot com], will allow users to create and manage two kinds of to-see lists:
1) Films they saw & liked, and want to push their friends to see, and…
2) Films that are being recommended to them by their friends.
This is distinct from Letterboxd in that it’s not a viewing log, or a clearing house for user-generated reviews. It’s a highly functional to-see database that will cure what some cinephiles have called “option paralysis.”
The way you cure option paralysis is, you give yourself one choice at a time. Not a queue – I’ve lost count of the number of times just glancing at my Instant queue has ruined whatever urge I’d had to watch anything at all.
When you visit TheFilmsaurus, the present incarnation of my help-cinephiles-everywhere project, you get one recommendation (at a time):
When you create a MaybeSee account, you log the titles you want to see (and I mean really want to see, not just Instant queue overload), the “random pick” will be extracted from your self-curated lists.
Want to run a mini-retrospective for one of your favorite directors, or a filmmaker you want to get better acquainted with? How about something like my “Go Silent” project, where I’ve committed to watching only silent pictures for the month of February?
How about a combination of your top priority, must-see titles from your “pile o’ screeners,” expiring stuff on Netflix Instant, and some other stuff on Hulu?
How about a dozen westerns starting with the letter H?
Once you create a list – or two lists, or a dozen lists – you can share titles or lists of titles with your friends (i.e. anyone you’ve permitted to “push” recommendations to you).
With sharing a funny thing happens, one I hope to cultivate as I build a community on MaybeSee: you become aware of a growing consensus around you and the people you socialize with. You could use MaybeSee to aggregate all the “essential” titles that are making their way down the pike; consensus among your cinephile friends and colleagues may differ radically from what earns acclaim from mainstream critics.
On the other end of the spectrum, you could also use MaybeSee to catch stray recommendations from friends who attend festivals and retrospectives – a great Romanian drama here or Hong Kong romantic comedy there, that wouldn’t otherwise have appeared on your radar…
Finally – since the avenue moves in both directions – is your recommendations to others. You’ve seen something at a festival, at the multiplex, on DVD, on YouTube, on Instant, at a friend’s house, on a cross-country flight over someone’s shoulder, and youliked it. You liked it well enough to tell your friend, “Hey, check this film out.”
Open MaybeSee, enter the title, and send it around.
In order to achieve this upgrade, which will allow users to create secure accounts, I am seeking to raise $1000.00 USD. The money will go towards a talented team of developers who have committed to make MaybeSee [dot com] functional for trial members by the end of January.
There is no Kickstarter for this. I do not represent any intention to offer equity in my company or this application. There are no T-shirts or mugs. Contributors of any dollar amount will be invited to open an account when the site is ready to go – target date February 1. You will also have my undying thanks, and, if MaybeSee reaches the point where a celebration party is even remotely appropriate and feasible, you drink for free.
Those who know me may also know I’ve been slow-cooking this project for almost four years. It had to be just right, at just the right scale, and it had to be different. And personal. And not reliant on bullshit algorithms.
At the end of the day, I really just want to connect cinephiles with the cinema. I know the sheer volume of movies can be daunting – that’s another problem I’d like to solve. I also know you’re more likely to listen to certain friends who tell you to see something than, for example, the ceaseless barrage of advertising and hype that seems to attack us from every corner. (If you see a little rectangle on Netflix that says Computer Chess, you might think, “Huh,” and keep scrolling. But if certain of your friends have told you to see Computer Chess, you say, “All right, I will.”)
If you like making lists, especially lists that aid in productivity, and you don’t like the idea of a great-sounding film falling through the cracks because so-and-so mentioned it on Twitter last August and it’s now March – won’t you help MaybeSee become a reality?
Very respectfully, and with the warmest thanks for reading this entire solicitation,