Seasons Greetings from me and The Belated Birthday Girl: to celebrate, here's a happy little tale for the kiddiewinks. (And in case you think that the guy who wrote that is some sort of psycho, he's also done this. Pass it on.)
The story so far. A month or so ago, The Guardian closed down all of its talkboards with literally no warning. Opinion is still split as to why this happened - most theories involve the intervention of lawyers at a very high level, so let's play it safe and not go any further into that. But this action left several groups of people high and dry, including the Film Unlimited crew that I'd spent many happy years with both online and offline.
People moved fast during that first weekend after the closure, and within 48 hours many of the regulars were gathered on a temporary messageboard wrapped in metaphorical blankets and sipping on virtual cups of hot sweet tea. And the question was asked: where do we go from here? The temporary board was all well and good, but it was a private affair limited solely to members of the old FU environment. One of the things that made FU so vibrant was that it was linked to an established media outlet: people came to read reviews and articles on the Guardian site, noticed that there were discussion boards attached, and stayed to chat. If we were just a talkboard with no articles to talk about, we'd die out pretty quickly.
Looking at it one way: you can't deny that Film Unlimited had a good innings. When The Guardian's film talkboard finally shut up shop on February 25th 2011, it had been in operation for coming up to thirteen years, and had been in a virtually unchanged format for the last twelve of those. How many other websites do you know that have stayed that stable for that long? If you accept my previously stated hypothesis that internet years are the same as dog years, then 13x7 adds up to a long and venerable lifespan. We should all stand in admiration of its longevity.
Looking at it another way: imagine Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger stabbing your 91-year-old granny in the throat with a broken chianti bottle until she dies. Because that's what it actually feels like.
We've just passed the eleventh anniversary of the launch of digital film distribution in the UK - Toy Story 2 came out on February 4th 2000, and appeared in digital form in a grand total of three cinemas. I remember the scare stories about how they had to keep a 35mm copy of the film in the projection booth at the Odeon Leicester Square, for those occasions when the hard disk version crashed. But, as a distribution technology, it's matured: a large number of upcoming UK releases have that tell-tale (D) next to their title, and the absence of physical prints has subtly skewed the way in which film distribution works. More and more big films are getting UK releases on the same day as the rest of the world: more and more small films are able to get a reasonable showing across the arthouse circuit, without the crippling expense of making copies and shipping them from town to town.
But all of this counts for nothing if you don't actually have an arthouse cinema close to you. Which is why I think that Curzon On Demand is a major step forward.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Three weeks into the new year, and there's been no activity since the usual first-of-the-month post. "Pressure of work" is a bit of a cliche to use in these circumstances, but it's true: I've barely had chance to draw breath over the past few weeks, and shouldn't really even be taking time out of my schedule to write this bit.
So, apologies for the lack of content here recently. There's definitely stuff in the pipeline, including the full story of our Christmas 2010 holiday (see if you can guess where we went this time), and the track listing for last year's Pick Of The Year CD. But you're used to those things appearing on here late, I guess.
To tide you over, with acknowledgements to the mad editing skillz of The Switcher, here's a video that cheered me up no end when I first saw it. If you fall inside the tiny Venn diagram overlap between fans of Hayao Miyazaki and fans of The Lonely Island, it may cheer you up too. Everyone else, on the other hand, will probably just be very very confused. Enjoy!
Look, I promise I'll stop banging on about the deletion of my YouTube account after this one. But I've already hinted at what I think is the greatest tragedy resulting from that incident: the loss of all my Felix Project videos, and the loss of the huge number of comments and hits that I got from them. (At the time of deletion, the most popular one, Lucinda, had just passed a quarter of a million views.)
It all started back in 2007, when I was scrabbling around YouTube looking for videos for songs on my latest Pick Of The Year compilation, only to realise that I could steal an idea from the Old Grey Whistle Test and make my own from old Felix The Cat cartoons. Since then, I've put together a couple of videos every year, either to accompany another compilation or just because the fancy took me. I never got any real heat from IP lawyers over them - certainly not like I did for the Japanese TV material that caused all this mess. A few of them have had adverts appended for the original songs or for the current Felix rights holders, and that seems fine by me.
So, as this series appears to have been partly about the evolution of my editing style, it might be fun to finish off this collection of highlights with a nine minute video that only has three shots in it. (If I'd had my way, though, it would only have been two...)
I'm still re-uploading my videos after The Great YouTubeocalypse (previously), and I've reached the one that The Belated Birthday Girl and I made in Prague during our Christmas 2008 holiday. I do realise that I'm in this mess because of my habit of uploading material that's at least partially owned by others. But this one should be okay, surely? Its soundtrack features a song by the utterly obscure Czech funk band Monkey Business: who's going to pick up on that?
Within seconds of the upload completing, I receive an email from YouTube informing me that "your video may have content that is owned or licensed by Sony Music Entertainment." Shit! Those guys! I go back to my video, and I find that YouTube have already embedded a set of adverts and an iTunes purchase link for the track A Song For All Nations, which their robots appear to have identified almost instantly without any clues from me. How in the holy name of Václav Havel do they do that? (That's a rhetorical question, by the way, and this is the answer.)