24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Web/Tech

Letterboxd: Social website for film fans launches

April 24, 2012 |  5:22 pm

These days there's a social website for every interest: Book lovers swap reading lists on Goodreads, foodies rate restaurants on Yelp and shutterbugs post photos on Flickr. Now the website Letterboxd, which launches today, offers a place for cinephiles to chronicle and discuss their movie-watching habits.

On a Skype call from New Zealand, co-founder Matthew Buchanan described Letterboxd as "a social site for sharing one’s taste in film."

Letterboxd users can keep an online diary of films they've seen and mark them with simple "likes" (as on Facebook), give star ratings from a half-star to five and write reviews. Films can also be saved to a watch list, a reminder for later viewing, as well as organized into user-created lists according to any topic.

The latter might be inspired by genre ("French horror new wave"), history ("Academy Award nominees for best picture") or an overarching theme ("Films that make you think about your place in the universe").

Users can also follow one another, much like on Twitter, to receive updates about others' opinions and activity.

The site is elegantly and intuitively laid out, populated by thumbnails of movie posters, each of which links to an individual page displaying reviews, ratings, movie trailers and tags for a film's director, cast members and year released.

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McG and Bryan Singer pull a Joss Whedon and go Web

September 21, 2010 |  5:22 pm

EXCLUSIVE: This one's not strictly a piece of movie news. But given how we've been hearing for a while that film directors will be be turning to the Web both as a source of income and an outlet for creativity, it caught our attention.

Two up-and-coming-directors are joining two established filmmakers for a pair of Web series that will be financed and distributed by Warner Bros., sources familiar with the projects say.  

Mcg First, "Sorority Row" director Stewart Hendler is coming on to direct "H+," a futuristic story about a virus that wipes out a significant portion of the human population. The story takes place a decade in the future, when many people have had their minds wired to the Internet 24/7, leading to the disastrous viral incident and a new social order.

Bryan Singer, director of "Superman Returns" and "The Usual Suspects," along with "House" production company Bad Hat Harry, were earlier announced as producers, and they remain involved in that capacity. (The project had initially been pitched to Bad Hat as a TV series by executive producers and writers John Cabrera and Cosimo De Tommaso before it was reconceived for the Web.)

Meanwhile, Thor Freudenthal, director of breakout hit "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," is also taking on a new Warner Bros. Web series. Titled "Aim High," the Heath Corson-Richie Keen project is described as an international-espionage series set in a high school, with the main character a teen operative simultaneously conducting hits and falling in love with a girl in his class.

Adding to the filmic credibility: McG's Wonderland Sound + Vision is producing the series.

Warner Premiere, the production arm of Warner Home Video, is financing both pieces of programming through its digital unit  -- the division previously had concentrated on animated content but has been looking to move into live-action  -- along with Dolphin Entertainment, the tween-programming specialists behind "Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide."

Other heavy-hitting names are involved too: Peter Murrieta, the former showrunner of tween-fantasy hit "Wizard of Waverly Place," is producing "Aim High."

Both series are expected to be a paid piece of programming available on a host of online platforms, with each totaling roughly an hour. Shooting is likely to begin this fall on each, and expect releases as early as 2011 via Warner Premiere sister unit Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.

Ever since Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible's Sing-along" became an online sensation two years ago, fans and Hollywood have been waiting for top television and film names to start making the jump to the Web. Among other advantages, the development of online series can move a lot faster than the glacial pace of film.

The talent influx hasn't quite happened yet -- among other concerns, there's the matter of paying movie directors and actors Internet prices -- but the addition of these names should give the category a boost.  The Web may gain ground on conventional entertainment yet.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: McG. Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Bieber Who? Emma Stone will be latest star to take over 'Funny or Die'

September 1, 2010 |  1:25 pm

Emma On April Fool's Day, tween star Justin Bieber "took over" the Funny or Die website, appearing in several skits, poking fun at his image and spoofing popular YouTube videos with bits such as "Bieber Goes to the Dentist."

Now months later, Bieber Fever has begun to wear off. So who will be the next star to dominate the comedic website?

"Easy A" actress Emma Stone, who says she'll soon film some sketches for the site.

"We're doing a Funny or Die thing;  I think I'm taking over the website. I'm flipped out," the 21-year-old gushed during an interview this week in Beverly Hills while promoting her upcoming comedy, out Sept. 17. 

Stone -- who has had supporting roles in smaller comedies such as "The House Bunny," "The Rocker" and "Superbad" -- finally gets the chance to show off her funny girl chops with "Easy A." She stars as a brassy teenager who mistakenly becomes known for her sexual prowess.

Asked how similar her Funny or Die stint will be to the Bieber takeover, Stone said, "I'm not sure if we're doing the exact same thing, but I know there's a live stream interview and I'm taking over the Twitter. We are filming some stuff, but I'm not sure what," said the actress, who has now returned to Mississippi, where she's in the middle of a four-month shoot for the DreamWorks drama "The Help."

On Thursday, she said, she was supposed to have a day off from promoting "Easy A" and shooting the new film -- until the Funny or Die crew decided to head to the South to film with her.

-- Amy Kaufman


Photo: Emma Stone stars in "Easy A." Credit: Adam Taylor/Columbia Tristar.


Justin Bieber makes us laugh -- in a good way

DreamWorks gets 'Help'

The wisdom of Festival Genius

April 8, 2010 |  3:34 pm

Anyone who's surfed a film festival website knows well the joys of a good site -- and the perils of a messy one. Bad interfaces and wonky presentations lead to all kinds of mishaps. The Soviet Union employed better technology.

Things have been improving thanks to a database and tech firm called Festival Genius, which has come on strong in recent years. The technology has been widely praised by the independent-film world, and festival-goers, by all anecdotal accounts, have been pleased.

The firm was on, unfortunately, its way to extinction after owner B-Side shut down March 1. But thanks to a nifty indie-world maneuver, it will survive.

A New York-based company called Slated has acquired the intellectual property rights to the technology and has in turn licensed it to the nonprofit IFP. Former B-Side executives Chris Hyams and Mike McCown have joined Slated, while other members of B-Side's festival team are now at IFP.

More than 200 film festivals have used the technology to build online program guides and schedules. Several, including Sundance, Fantastic Fest and NewFest, have already committed to using it again. So the next time you're surfing and want to find out what's playing at a festival, you might actually, well, find out.

-- Mark Olsen


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