It's a lot of movies to see
Extreme experiments have always been something that’s intrigued me.
There's something about doing crazy things that has a natural sense of adventure. It's alluring. And I also like creating my own kind of challenges. I once ran a marathon on 3 months training. Another adventure saw me produce a play in only 3 weeks. In summer 2017 I lived on a train for an entire month, travelling over 16,000km in 32 days.
Maybe it’s natural (and it was really only a matter of time) before I turned my attention to something I’ve done obsessively for years - watch movies. My name is Tyler Collins, and in the year 2020, I'm going do something nuts: watch 365 new movies in one year.
Movie watching is great - and marathoning them is a sport in and of itself. Last April I spent three days straight watching all 22 Marvel films in the MCU in a sold-out theatre before the premiere of Avengers: Endgame. (And the theatre smelled better than you might think after 300 people spent three days straight locked in a cinema. But not a lot better.)
It’s important we go and hear people’s stories. There’s something liberating about entertainment. There’s something important about learning. There’s something exciting about good production. There’s something encouraging about a clean palate. And then there’s something magical when it all happens at the same time.
It never really gets old
That's a big part of what fascinates me with film. I've been a critic at various small outlets for seven years, and I still get dazzled watching movies, even after seeing so many. I want to be overwhelmed by my feelings when I watch something. I love to be wowed, crushed, scared, amazed, and joyful by what I see on the screen.
I love learning new things, whether biographies or in documentaries. I love to be awestruck with special effects and dramatic twists. I'm borderline addicted by the prospect of what we can see, learn, and only now understand by what we watch in film.
Video has exploded as means of communication not just in the last ten years through the meteoric rise of social media - the radical change in how we see everything changed when videography began with movies in the late nineteenth century.
Most people go to the movies between once a month and once every 8-10 weeks. For the last four years, I’ve watched movies at a pace of 2-3 every week. The stories I’ve seen and what I’ve had the opportunity to experience is marvellous - and I’m truly grateful for it.
So what would happen if a person saw 365 movies in a year?
The experiment has multiple parts
I’m interested in the results beyond what seeing such a wide array of films is going to mean. I’m just as interested in the social ramifications. How do you classify so much information? Will I remember anything important having seen so many? Is the quality of a movie measurable by science or merely opinion? Is this responsible to undertake in the first place?
Most of all, is there something happening at the multiplex today that garners our attention beyond what it currently does? Or is there a bigger picture beyond the screen we’re watching?
A college professor of mine once explained how it’s hard to make something new - but it’s important to make work that is both original and by ourselves.
The world needs our ideas to be as specific, personal and sincere as possible. As an audience, we have the same responsibility to hear these stories as storytellers have the responsibility to tell them.
Cinema has the scope and the ability to be many things. It’s a tool. It’s a teacher. It’s an entertainer. It’s a platform. It’s a canvas.
Have we learned something about what we believe movies to be? Has our use of them matured, or has it been bastardized? What are the implications and consequences of what film is becoming?
Let’s find out.
My dream project was simpler but far more restrictive: see one new release film in a public cinema every calendar day for one year. But that demands a major commitment, sacrificing all other work and also a large financial investment. Hopefully someday I can do this again under these parameters. I'm just not able to yet.
Instead, I've tried to set reasonable expectations for how to achieve my goal, based on what other work I'll be pursuing in my life this year. Here are the basic guidelines:
1. I must see 365 NEW movies on or before December 31st, 2020. New means it is a title that has premiered to the world within the last year or less, and is being viewed for the first time in its best intended way. (In a general sense, it should be a "new release".) 90% of the titles must premiere specially in the calendar year 2020, and all others must be from 2019 or 2021.
2. At least 80% of the titles must be seen in a cinema. As many of them as possible should be at a public screening with tickets generally available to most or all members of the public. Others may be streamed or seen on a paid subscription service.
3. Absolutely NO films can be pirated or watched illegally. As many films should be seen in a cinema, as intended, within reasonable possibility.
4. One film does not need to be seen each calendar day, but a date and time should be noted for all titles to accurately list when and where they were seen. All movies seen must be catalogued online with a short description of the film's details, how it was seen, and my thoughts and impressions.
5. All movies must be feature length - that means its run time must be a minimum of 40 minutes or longer. That figure can include credits, but end credits should not exceed 20% of a run time.
Ready to start?
Now comes the exciting part: actually watching all the movies. I'm going to see just as many blunders as I will extraordinary works of art. And I'm equally excited to share what I learn about with the world, both from the act of going to see movies and what's actually in the content of them.
Thank you for reading and joining me as a passenger to try something hard and exciting in an industry that thrills me non-stop. As Will Smith said in The Pursuit of Happiness, "If you want somethin', go get it."
If you’re really interested in coming along this journey with me, there’s three things you can do that I suspect will be equally important:
1. Watch some movies! Go see some new movies. If you already have an inherent interest in seeing something, that’s all the better. The cinema is meant to be enjoyed. You wanna take this to the next level? Go to an independent cinema. Meet some great staff, enjoy lower prices, and go find a cinema you love. They'd really appreciate it.
2. Read my diary. Come see the great big world of movies you know about and movies you don’t know about. Read about what makes these films different and what makes them the same.
3. Take some time doing LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE. Exercise some discipline and do something that isn’t on a screen. Play a sport. Go outside. Do something to refresh your body, because as someone who watches a lot of things on screens, humans were not designed to spend their lives staring at them.