Video Streaming Services and Design (A Comparison of The Criterion Channel and Mubi)

A rant that becomes a comparison of how The Criterion Channel and Mubi designed their services.

This is an odd thing for me to write. Anyone who knows me would be quick to point out that I am not a design person. In any way, shape or form. I am someone who will complain, at great lengths, about poorly designed things. I may, in fits of desperation, blurt out my thoughts on how to improve something that is terribly designed. Despite this, in my heart of hearts, I am not someone who knows much about or is capable of sharing in an insightful manner about design.

Which is why I have chosen today to write about video streaming services and how they are designed. First and foremost a revelation I had of late – I have been lumping all streaming services into the same category. Which is to say that when I think of Netflix I regard them in the same manner as I regard The Criterion Channel, Disney Plus, and Peacock TV. Which is completely wrong.

One of many titles that have disappeared from HBO Max (and broken my heart)

Let us address one streaming service first: HBO Max. My frustration with HBO Max over the past two months has stemmed from me being positively baffled as to 1) why so many shows and films are disappearing from their service and 2) why they have so little new content I want to watch. If you think of HBO Max as being the same kind of entity as Netflix, a streaming service which creates new films and television shows (and apparently games) as well as hosting films and shows they did not make then what HBO Max has been doing is bizarre. Yet if you think of HBO Max as a different iteration of the HBO channel then what they are doing gets downgraded to weird.

For the longest time I have wondered why so many films made by Warner Brothers are not on HBO Max. That is because I assumed, incorrectly, that the good people at HBO would be trying to gather all of their properties (since they are owned by Warner Brothers) to their streaming service. Instead they seem to be following the HBO model of getting new films and shows onto their service for a limited amount of time and expecting subscribers to watch what is offered and be happy about it. The creation of films and shows for their service seems to operate independently of the content available on the service.

I belabor this point because it is easy to mistake HBO Max as being a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu because they do not offer purchases/rentals through their service and because they make original content. Part of this is a design problem and part of this is a streaming service problem. I don’t claim to have the capacity to fix either but today I would like to make an example out of two services in the hope that this might lead to overall changes to streaming services and, potentially, benefit the rest of us.

The two services in question are Mubi and The Criterion Channel. To begin, since The Criterion Collection has been available to stream I have been using services that allow one to do so. First they were on Netflix, then Hulu then FilmStruck and for the past three years there has been The Criterion Channel. Other than FilmStruck I have used/belonged to these services when The Criterion Collection has been available to stream.

In that time I believe I have watched a handful of films. Part of the reason for the lack of watching is and has been the terrible design displaying their offerings. Netflix has always been lackluster in presenting the movies and shows on their site. Between the ever changing poster images, buried subcategories and the carousel main view, finding what they offer has never been easy. The Criterion Collection had it’s own menu when it was on the site but the offerings were small and changed on a regular basis. I am not sure if I watched anything while Netflix had it.

The same was true with Hulu whose design was only slightly better because at the time they had a Staff Picks section which often showcased excellent films the service offered that were buried deep in their catalogue. Which I believe is why when FilmStruck launched I never subscribed to the service (despite having a subscription to nearly everything else and hearing wonderful things about FilmStruck).

For some reason when I heard that they were launching The Criterion Channel I believed I would love the service. I signed up before it launched, was given this weird thing and have been a subscriber, despite watching almost nothing, ever since.

In some ways it feels a bit like Patton Oswalt’s bit regarding giving money to NPR. You do it because you believe in the work and you appreciate the service but dear God don’t make me listen to it.

But rather then run them down unfairly I would like to provide some evidence to what I would like to call “The Design Problem of The Criterion Channel”.

First and I don’t know how to explain it, the design is pretentious. The moment I open the app or go to the site I am bothered by the look and design of everything. The black and white (I see the grey as well) color scheme just shouts “We are important!” and makes me want to go elsewhere. At the time of this writing this is the splash page when you visit from your computer.

I’d like to point out that the image itself changes depending on whether or not your browser is full screen. The above image is full screen, you can see only Michelle Yeoh’s eyes are visible. Whereas,

This is what you get if your browser is not full screen.

So the site is incorrectly formatted (at least for with Firefox and Safari). There are four menus at the top which are unhelpful. You can Browse, Search go to All Films or, bizarrely leave this site to visit Now as someone who likes language and uses many streaming services (listed in no particular order here: Netflix, Amazon, The Criterion Channel, Mubi, Hulu, Disney+, The Roku Channel, Plex TV, Kanopy, Hoopla, HBO Max, PBS and Apple TV) I cannot say with confidence what the difference between the Search menu and the Browse menu are. Let’s find out.

Clicking on Browse takes you to their main page, which resembles the app. Here you have the carousel view of their content with the main large image at the top of the screen. As of today it looks like this –

This is a screen recording of what it is like to scroll down through this page (recorded last month when I started writing this, be kind to me) –

I don’t share this for the sake of overkill, if I am going to criticize I’d like to do it correctly and be fair. This is a ton of information. They have so much on this site and it is organized in many different ways. The problem, I find, is that it is too much. I find that when I want to watch something I need to have it already found and in my list before I get to the site, otherwise I end up scrolling, clicking and looking for an hour. At which point I’ve either run out of time to watch something or I no longer have a sense of what I’d like to watch.

It is also interesting to note that the header, with the menu options, does not follow you as you scroll through their offerings. Meaning if you decided you’d rather search than browse, you have to scroll all the way to top to do so. It’s not a big deal but it’s poor design.

Clicking on the Search menu brings up a search bar. Using this leads to interesting results. This morning I was curious which films they had from the director Park Chan-wook. When I searched using the app on my television I had quite a few results, many having nothing directly to do with the director. Searching now on the website I get these results –

My final comments regarding this site/app would be the All Films menu. When you click on it you get the following page –

Personally I love this. To be able to sort and filter the entire catalogue in this manner is appealing. Their filter options are great as they allow you to sort by genres, decades, countries and directors. I think those are interesting and unique filtering parameters. The sort option lets you do so by title, director, year and country. Again, I like this, it’s different and allows you to get creative with what you watch. I certainly have bouts where I want to watch films from a particular country or time period. The thing I would note here, which is not a design issue, is the total number of films.

I recognize that what they offer changes on a monthly basis and that there are strange and mysterious reasons as to why certain films can be shown at certain times – but 2,849 is a small selection. Part of my frustration with this site and all streaming services in particular is the limited selection of films and shows. I’d rather see services merging (or sharing with one another or creating some new entity) in order to have more offerings than this current situation where I have 14 services and often (very often) cannot stream what I wish to because it is not available. Today that happened with I’m a Cyborg But That’s Okay (and yesterday it was Oldboy and so on…).

I am relatively new to Mubi. I joined their service two months ago so I am seeing them with fresh eyes. Why did I join them? Because they had a holiday special of getting three months of service for $1 a month. I could not resist and I am glad I didn’t.

As of this writing this is what the homepage (and app) looks like. First and foremost – look at the color. Look at the titles (and text). Instead of trying to impress me with a splash page telling me the site is a ‘Movie Lover’s Dream’ their main image is of their Film of The Day. I love that feature.

I love that the search bar is built into the top of the screen and they highlight the current tab I am using. The tab next to Now Showing is their Watchlist (List) which is great to have available at the top of the screen. Their version of (minus the selling of DVDs and Blu-rays) is Notebook which has plenty of great written content for those of us who also like to read about film. Mubi Go, which is a separate membership, is their weekly service that allows you to go and see a film in theaters. Your account icon is by default Totoro (points for this) and then a drop down menu with numerous other options.

To say I prefer this design and interface is an understatement. They’ve managed to make it welcoming, packed full of useful (and familiar) features, but also convey that this is a place to watch movies. If you look at the screen recording below you will see that what they do with their site is similar to The Criterion Channel (many different categories, the carousel display). To me, because of how it is designed and interacts with the mouse, I find it helpful and not overwhelming.

When I scroll over a film in my Watchlist is shows a check mark to convey this information. Titles that will be leaving the site soon have a banner on their image which informs me of this. Comparing the two main pages what I see is that Mubi has considerably larger images, which I find pleasing and appropriate for a film site. I would like to note that their header also does not follow when you scroll which is disappointing. As you can see from the screen recording the site goes on for a ways and having the header follow you would be a welcome feature.

I’d like to conclude with a comparison of how the two services handle the presentation of the same film. I give you: Lady Vengeance.

Right away I feel my point is made. The Criterion Channel has so much unused, negative space. The entire right bottom corner is empty. The Criterion Channel has a poster for the film and then their own little display they do for films. This feels unnecessary and redundant. My eye is drawn to the grey bars in the middle of the screen which are the least important pieces of information being.

When you look at Mubi, the image dominates the page. The faces are clearly seen and yet all of the information concerning the film is there and easy to read. The screen has the playhead in the middle to indicate how easily you can watch the film but it is small and tasteful, not obscuring the image.

Among the things I think Mubi does better (or I just appreciate) – they offer the title of the film in its original language. Both sites are in English because that’s what I speak, but this feels respectful. I also like that in addition to the synopsis they have the “Our Take” for their films. I have found that I no longer bother reading the synopsis because I want to hear what this person has to say about this film. This is the personal, human touch I long for when it comes to film recommendations.

I’ve done a final screen recording to try and convey the differences.

As you can see with The Criterion Channel the image I captured is all of the information they provide for the film. For many films they have supplemental videos that they include at the bottom of the page. The Criterion channel has an astounding number of “extras” for their films but due to how the site is designed you may miss many of them without knowing. I have had two versions of the same film in My List not realizing that one link is for the movie and the other is for their collection concerning the film. This would be easy to fix.

With Mubi they show you the collections the film belongs to, the awards the films have won and the director and cast pictures which you can then click on to see more about. They embed the trailer on the page (despite having a link to it above) they have articles from their Notebook section and reviews about the film on the page that you can read in their entirety. After which they have reviews from other people who subscribe to Mubi and they conclude with Related Films.

I find this so pleasing and helpful and vastly superior to how The Criterion Channel has designed their site. It feels unfair to make comments about their offerings because I know they have just as many as Mubi. Unfortunately they have not showcased them in a user-friendly manner like Mubi and I think this is why I use their site so little.

Thank you for joining me on this strange deep-dive into the websites of Mubi and The Criterion Channel. I’m not entirely sure how this happened but I am glad it did.

Learning Something New About Stock Footage Websites

A post about stock footage and saving money.

Last year I wrote about stock footage. In that post I wrote about Artgrid, using stock footage and why I decided to cancel my account. Flash forward to December 2022 and I am upgrading my Artlist account (royalty free music and sound effects) to an Artlist Max Social account. This reads like an advertisement but I assure you it is not.

If there is one point I have tried to make clear since starting this site it is that I am not making any money. None. Not from writing, not from making videos – not from anything I am putting online. Which is why every time I write about a camera or editing software or using a service like Artlist I try and be upfront about what I get out of it and whether or not it makes any sense. The short version for nearly everything is that it doesn’t.

If I could go back in time and offer younger me some advice it would be “don’t spend that money”. On almost anything. If you have something you can use, like my first beautiful Panasonic camcorder, just use that. Don’t upgrade. Don’t listen to people online telling you what you need. Just make do and be happy.

Back to December: I upgraded this account. Despite my advice of not spending money I spent money. Why would I do this? The cost for one. My old plan was $300 a year for music and sound effects. I use both a fair bit despite not having much of an online presence. When I joined Artgrid last year (so I could have access to stock footage) I was charged another $470. $770 seemed like quite a lot of money for something I was not really using (aside from making fake trailers – which since I now have an active account I can share).

Because my yearly cycle begins/ends in February I was prorated when I made this change to my account. Looking at the website the cost will be either $360 a year for the social plan (which is what I have) or $480 for the pro plan. So given that I was spending $300 a year for access to music and sound effects, this is a pretty good deal for me. I pay $60 more a year and I now have access to all of their footage. In addition to that they have templates for Final Cut Pro X, LUTs and plugins (in the above video I used some of their transitions).

I’m not entirely sure this makes sense from a financial point of view. My intention, which it seems is always the case, is to do more this year. Post more on this site, create more videos for YouTube. I plan to create short form content for Instagram and write more fiction. Will it happen? I hope so. The past two years have been lacking in the creation department and I certainly have been feeling the loss.

Having access to music that I can use and share is an absolute blessing and if you take a moment and compare the various royalty free music and video sites I think you will find that Artlist is more than competitive (again not an ad but this is something I have struggled with). To prove this point I am going to look into the various sites that offer music and stock footage.

You may not have noticed but I have spent a good deal of time finding sites and comparing them. I began making a chart, taking screenshots and attempting to find a way to share my findings in a way that is visual and easy to follow. I have failed at this because there are too many sites with too many options to make this streamlined. Instead and I am going to speak to the three sites that are comparable.

Before I share this I want to point out the following: there are many different companies providing these services. In my travels I looked into many that were already familiar to me (The Musicbed, Filmsupply, Epidemic Sound, Pond 5, Adobe Stock) and I was surprised at how much the pricing differed. As much as I adore The Musicbed and Filmsupply I doubt I’ll ever use their services as I simply cannot afford them.

Filmsupply, I love you but you are pricey.

Many of the other services have more reasonable prices but they greatly limit the number of downloads. Shutterstock costs $60 a year less than Artlist and Storyblocks but at that price only allow ten downloads a month. I digress, let’s move on to the important part of this post.

Artlist Max$30
Envato Elements$16.50

I’ll be honest I want to be incredibly in-depth and helpful here but even narrowing this down to three sites leaves a good deal of variables. For me, I need the basic creators license that Artlist and Storyblocks offer – the ability to post on social media and access sounds and video. I don’t work with other people, I am not making worldwide commercials or films and I don’t make wedding videos. So, for me these are the prices for the plans that make sense.

That being said one consideration to note is the ability to keep the videos/content I’ve made if I decide to no longer use the service. In the past I found that the service Epidemic Sound did not offer this option – meaning that if/when you stop using their service you have to replace the music in your videos. That’s just a terrible feature. From what I have gleaned all three of these services allow you to keep the footage/music/sounds in your videos even if you not longer subscribe to the service.

My subscription is set to renew on the 12th and to be honest when I started writing this I had no intention of using another service. Since discovering Envato Elements and looking through their site I am no longer sure. They have a ton of assets, the quality looks good and the cost of using their service is almost half of the other two. As I keep reiterating I want to pay as little as possible and after spending a couple of weeks looking at these services Envato Elements seems like the smart choice.

Music Video Appreciation Post #9 – Kaleo

A short post about the music videos of the band Kaleo.

I think the best song I’ve heard by Kaleo is “No Good”. It rocks. It rocks on such a level that when I first heard it all I could think about was who to share it with. I love it. As far as I can tell it is an anomaly in their catalogue (thinking of you My Song 5). That being said the music video is a touch lackluster. I don’t like being negative but that song deserves and equally amazing music video.

Thankfully the band has no shortage of excellent music videos. Apparently they decided that their niche would be to film on location in Iceland. And by location I mean things like –

they perform on an ice floe. I mean, there are ideas for music videos that seem a little crazy and then there is this. I like the song but really you could watch this muted and still enjoy it. This also makes me think of those memes about why women live longer than men. I feel confident that they took steps to be safe in doing this but…

Another incredible music video is for their song “Skinny” where they are performing live on an active volcano. I have no words. This is incredible and terrifying and really something else.

I’ve written about the ingenuity of the music videos that Ok Go make. That a band from Iceland would somehow top their incredible achievements with natural phenomenons makes me quite happy. I wish I had more to say about this band, their sound is largely subdued and not as rocking as “No Good”. Which is fine, I would just love to hear more in the “No Good” vein.

I am including a final video because, again, they went kinda nuts with it. Enjoy!

Great Big Story Returns

The return of my favorite YouTube channel.

It is not every day you wake up and see something that fills you with glee. Today is one of those days. I am certain I have shared videos from Great Big Story on this site before but for those of you unfamiliar GBS was a YouTube Channel/website that featured videos about nearly every topic. It is/was fantastic. I watched it alone and with my family and all of us enjoyed it greatly. It closed not long into the pandemic which made me quite sad as I knew I was moving to the New York area and very much wanted to work with them (and it meant I could no longer watch all of their incredible videos).

Flash forward to today and I see an announcement from former employee and current YouTube sensation Beryl Shereshewsky in her Instagram stories (news travels oddly these days) that GBS shall return. So far that is all that I know. But it excites me. Not only because I’d still love to work with them (although they appear to be based in London now) but also because it means that I’ll be able to watch new videos they will make.

The range of topics varies from human interest, food, scientific discoveries and animals to pretty much anything in-between. Whenever I have considered trying to build a YouTube channel I have thought of GBS as the format to follow, simply because they are free to pursue whatever they find interesting. Always entertaining and informative, new videos from GBS tend to make my day.

So despite a number of somewhat negative and gloomy posts of late I thought I would share this – some good news. Perhaps you won’t find it as exciting as I do but I assure you if you look at some of their videos you will change your mind.

iPhone Cinema – Life is But a Dream (Park Chan-Wook)

A short post about a great film made with an iPhone.

I am once again writing about a film made with an iPhone. I don’t feel like I need to do this but after watching Life is But a Dream I want to do it. For those of you unfamiliar with Park Chan-Wook he is an incredibly successful Korean filmmaker. I’ve not seen all of his films but those I have seen certainly made an impression. The Handmaiden in particular knocked my socks off. If you have not seen it do so – and go in knowing as little as possible.

Today I want to share the video he made with the iPhone 13 Pro – Life is but a Dream. I had assumed, incorrectly, that after the Lunar New Year video Apple would not be trying to promote anything else until next year. I am happy to be wrong.

What can I say about this film? It’s interesting. It does not feel like a film made with an iPhone. It tells a unique story and it is not a small production. I certainly could not have made this film. I am posting it below.

I appreciate that they now share the “making of” videos to accompany these films. It is interesting to see how they are made. It’s more than just the gear being used, you are able to see the techniques and tricks they employ.

At this point it really is just a behind the scenes video about making a film. The capture device is simply different.

Let’s Talk About Drones

Some thoughts and musings about drones and filmmaking.

To begin: I am not (yet) a licensed drone pilot. I want to get this out of the way as it means I cannot make money from anything related to drone photography/videography. Since I do not make money from this site I can post images and videos here from my drone flights without violating any rules or laws. I have registered my drone with the FAA and I do follow the rules everyone must follow in order to fly a drone legally. Let’s all rest easy knowing we are standing on the right side of the line.

Christmas 2020. My wife listens to months of hints that I would like to finally buy myself a drone but I feel it is an unwarranted expense. She removes the guilt and gives me a DJI Mini 2. I am beyond pleased. I unwrap it and get things charging so I can take my first flight. Three minutes into that first flight I know that I was correct (I love it) and that I should have asked for the mid-level model, the Mavic Air 2.

So I spend the next two days flying the drone and taking pictures and getting video while I place an order for the new drone. I return the Mini, get the Air 2 and fly away like the little drone pilot I was meant to be.

Why write about this? I’d like to share some insights and thoughts I’ve had since getting a drone and flying it. There are a number of people on YouTube who make great videos about choosing a drone, or how to get set up for your first flight. I am going to put two videos I found helpful below.

If you have already chosen the drone you want and would like to watch a comprehensive video that walks you through every aspect of the device watch one from Jeven Dovey. I’ve put the Air 2S above but he’s made one for all of the DJI drones. As I mentioned I have now owned two different models and his walkthroughs for each helped me tremendously. He’s thorough, if you watch the entire video all basic aspects of the physical drone and how to use it will be covered.

Aside from having a channel name that I dislike there is nothing but goodness with QuickAssTutorials. He talks fast, doesn’t waste time with nonsense and offers practical advice. If you are looking for something other than a walkthrough about basics I would recommend looking at his videos.

I always say this but I think it is true – if you are anything like me then buying a drone probably does not make sense for you. I wanted a drone for impractical purposes. I keep writing screenplays and having establishing shots, the town center or the lonely house on the hill, and when I think about how I would execute these shots I am stumped. Or I was. Because I would need something like a drone to capture these images and I did not have one.

Now I have a drone and largely I am still not shooting these projects because this $1,000 device I own did not solve the other problems keeping me from making that short film. Namely that I don’t have actors or locations or a crew. So to bang this drum one last time – if you are anything like me (thinking and hoping but not actually doing) reconsider the purchase.

Some Things I Did Not Realize About Drones That I Should Have

My primary interest for drones concerns videography. So if you are reading this as a photographer, I am sorry, most of my thoughts and comments probably are not that interesting to you. Let’s state the first obvious point that escaped me: drones do not record audio. I know that this is glaringly obvious but if I can help one other person realize this then my job is done.

When you watch a video with drone footage and there is sound: ambient, voices, whatever, that’s all coming from elsewhere. The drone is capturing nothing. Most of you (maybe all of you) know this. I did not. It’s not major but I was surprised as I filmed my kids only to later discover I had no audio to go with it. It means an extra step if you are looking to capture audio at the time of capture.

The next big point: most drones have a fixed aperture. I’ve written about this with the iPhone. If I ever write about my action camera it will come up there as well. People do not address this enough: the aperture is fixed. What this means is if you are flying in some difficult lighting conditions, which you most likely will, you only have the ISO and shutter speed to control the amount of light hitting the sensor (it is another reason why having ND filters for your drone are a must).

This only applies if you are buying the lower end models of the DJI line. The Mavic 3 and the Mavic 2 Pro allow you to control the aperture. This is important to remember because if you try and rely on the auto features it could mean some really wonky settings for your video. For photography it is less of a big deal.

Something else to consider would be the obstacle avoidance feature. The Mini 2 does not have this (despite being the entry level drone) and what that means is the drone will not protect itself from flying into things. My Air 2 does have it and it is a wonderful feature. I am not overly careful when I fly (the video here shows that) and even with this feature engaged I still end up in trees. I’ve only found one person on YouTube who stressed this point and I think it matters. If you are just starting out it is helpful to have features that protect you from yourself.

Final point of this nature – internal storage. The Mini 2 does not have this feature and the Air 2 does. I cannot tell you how many times I have left my SD card in my computer and gone out to fly. I now keep a second SD card in my bag but before that I was so pleased that I could record onto the internal storage for the drone. It holds 8 GB which is ample and allowed me to do what I wanted to do. This is a really wonderful feature to have especially if you are traveling for the express purpose of shooting drone footage.

All of this is well and good but it is information you could get from anyone else – so why am I writing this? What I have learned about done videography over the past year is that it is a small part of filmmaking. Much like owning an action camera, the number of shots you actually need one of these devices for is quite low. I keep using my drone because I like it. I take pictures whenever I fly and I shoot a lot of video. But for me, a person who presently is only a hobbyist, I have little to no use for any of these things.

I post to Instagram and occasionally Twitter. Largely I edit together clips and they sit on a hard drive. If I make a short film I put a shot or two into the video and that is it. I love the drone, I love flying the drone but I am continually amazed at how little I need it.

Who you are and what you do is going to differ, greatly I imagine, from me. What I have found since getting a drone is that when I watch films or even YouTube videos (that are not reviews of drones) is that the shots are quick and few. If you were to look at the average length of a drone shot in a YouTube video that is not a review I would guess it is about three seconds long. Even the travel videos designed to highlight drone footage cut very quickly. Often they will incorporate a person is these videos, standing on top of a car in the middle of an empty expanse, and still the quick cutting.

Matti Haapoja is a master of standing on top of things.

In films they tend to be longer but there are perhaps three to five shots over the course of a feature length film. Which is not me disparaging the shots. Only to point out that I thought this would be a huge component of everything I would be making, now I find myself with a lot of footage and nowhere to put it.

These are specialized shots, almost on par with something like that probe lens that took over the Internet two years ago, for particular situations. I write this to offer up something that should have been obvious to me – this isn’t going to be the tool that allows you to suddenly make everything you want.

It’s fun, it just isn’t necessary.

Top down shots for life!

Zhang Meng – Lunar New Year (iPhone Cinema).

Yet another excellent short film from Apple made to showcase the iPhone.

Show of hands, who knew that Apple had been commissioning films for Lunar New Year for the past five years? It wasn’t just me? Great. Moving on.

Last week I discovered a new film, shot on iPhones, made to celebrate the Lunar New Year. You may recall I gushed over Lulu Wang’s film, Nian, which was also made on iPhones to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This is neat.

I really enjoyed this film despite being a bit put off by the beginning. It is big and fancy and not what I was expecting. Turns out, that was the point. Stick with it.

I love this kind of film. It has a simple story told in a heartfelt manner. I’m sure this why I like the Nian so much, these are just my kind of movies.

I also love seeing the videos that show how these films were made. There is a lot of ingenuity and creativity in their filmmaking process. Simple solutions to get interesting shots. I am posting both videos below – enjoy!

2021: A Year End List

A long list of the noteworthy things I watched in 2021.

Last year I derived a lot of pleasure from making this list. This year not so much. In fact as I write this I have not complied a full list. Typically I have a word document I update every week with what I have watched. This year I stopped in April. There was no good reason other than lack of interest in keeping a list. That being said I found that what I wanted to watch this year was quite different than usual..

A number of incredible films and television shows came out in 2021. Things that in a different time and headspace I would have loved to watch and think about. This year the thought of watching Underground Railroad was simply too much (which is a cop out. I watched The Last Duel a few days ago and it is amazing – just because you are sad does not mean you cannot appreciate sad things. Forgive me Mr. Jenkins!).

If I had to sum up my viewing habits this past year it would be thus: 1) I needed to watch things that did not deepen my sense of dread and despair and 2) I only finished about half the things I watched.

It is strange looking back at all of the movies and shows I simply stopped watching. I do not usually do that. Even if it’s a season of television, I typically muscle through and finish it. Partially to see if it improves and partially out of respect for the people who put the time and energy into making it. For some reason I gave up this year. Quite a lot. I gave up on enough things that I managed to circle back to some and, lo and behold, discovered that they were very good. Be patient with me.

If there is one thing I have tried to remind myself through the year it is that no one wants to make something bad. I have attempted to keep this in my mind even when something has struck me as awful. I have looked for the intention of the project. Perhaps this is unnecessary. I would rather be looking for the light than just sitting in the dark wallowing at this point.

So, without more blathering, a list!


I didn’t plan on watching this film. It was one of those terrible moments where I was in the mood to watch something and nothing looked good. The concept of this film was not appealing. But the trailer, oh the trailer, it did the trick.

Quick side note: trailers are my favorite thing when it comes to film and video. I wish more people felt this way. Watch them. Use Apple’s site to watch them so you can avoid commercials and advertising. Take back the trailer!

Anyway, this film is funny. It is laugh out loud funny. Unlike many things that I attempted to watch last year regarding the pandemic this does not try to coddle or offer solace. It just pokes fun at every idiotic thing that was done (and not done) to deal with a global pandemic. Everyone in it is incredibly funny. Laurence Fishburne (as the narrator) easily has the best lines (and delivery of those lines) from any film. Ever.

The Magicians: Season 5

In the past I wobbled a bit as to why I was watching this show. I read the books, thought they were decent, and gave the show a chance. Some of the changes they made were interesting (I liked the name change to Margot to avoid confusion with Julia) others seemed like typical Hollywood nonsense.

What I found over the seasons were the common annoyances of any show – forced storylines or big problems that suddenly do not matter because the people writing the episodes no longer wish to explore them (or a character that is forced on you, repeatedly, for some unknown reason).

What I like about this show and why I am glad I finished it:

  1. They improved the Penny character. In the books he does not have much depth or much purpose. Here they gave him an interesting arc and by season five a lot of complexity. I dig it.
  2. Margot. Dear lord everything Margot. This may be the best example (perhaps Steve Harrington from Stranger Things is tied) of an amazing character pivot. In the books this character was not interesting to me. In season one – same thing. Just a boring, vapid character that I felt brought nothing to the show. Somehow, somehow! They managed to take this one dimensional uninteresting character and, in my humble opinion, make her the star of the series. Margot went from “Why is she here?” to “Why isn’t she in every scene?”. It’s incredible.
  3. The character of Josh (and to a lesser degree Fen) are also wonderful examples of supporting characters who grew and flourished and became important and lovable. I am glad I was able to see that.

It’s not a perfect show and there are certainly forgettable parts but I am very pleased I finished it.

Better Than Us

Netflix has a long history of making/releasing movies and television shows and doing absolutely nothing to promote them. I suppose all of the streaming services are doing this now but I’ve been paying attention to Netflix the longest so their sins strike me as the most egregious. Better Than Us is a prime example of this neglect.

It is a Russian television show about a society dependent on robots. What I like about this show is the focus isn’t just on the haves and the have nots. It’s not a dystopian show that wants to wallow in a future society where the one percent have it all and the rest are slowing dying in the sewer. I mean, it’s Russian, so there are absolutely elements of people dying in the sewer. I’m just trying to say that the focus is not the same old, same old and I appreciate that.

I haven’t been keeping up with all of the robot/synthetic shows so it is possible that this borrowed from Humans. For me it’s a fresh story that focuses on a man and his estranged family. There is also a mysterious robot and hijinks.

What I love most about a show like this is that because it is Russian none of the actors have any baggage for me. I’m not continually spotting the police chief and saying, “Oh it’s that guy”. Everyone is fresh and new. It helps with the storytelling. Especially because there are twists and turns that I don’t think a Hollywood production would have made. It’s different and interesting.

Jupiter’s Legacy

Just before I watched this show I realized I was getting sick of watching superhero films and shows. We have reached a point where so much of what is being made is a comic book adaptation. Most of those seem to be about superheroes. Which up until recently I did not mind, having grown up reading these comic books. But, you need variety (both in terms of the kinds of things being made and the stories being told).

That being said I watched the trailer for this series and it looked interesting. Rather than just a story about a family with super powers Jupiter’s Legacy is largely about the mystery of how did these people get these super powers? The biggest compliment I feel I can pay anything I watch is that I did not see the ending coming.

Throughout this season the present day action is intercut with how the original group came to become superheroes. It is very well done. At no point was it clear to me what, exactly was going to happen next. It was interesting and surprising. Enough so that when the season ended I was quite pleased I had watched the show. I was genuinely looking forward to what the next season would be like. It was immediately canceled. Thank you, Netflix.

Search Party

I think I heard about this film when it came out. None of the three leads were people I really knew and it did not look like much of a film to me. Then, in 2021, I saw it on Netflix. The trailer spoke to me. It said, “You can watch me and have a good time. There is no sadness within”. This was what I needed and I watched.

I have yet to watch Silicon Valley so perhaps that helped the experience. I do not know. This was fresh to me in terms of seeing two of the leads interact with one another. Aside from some basic sexism and misogyny, thrown with some force at the always wonderful Alison Brie, it’s a fun and funny film.

There are a number of unexpected moments, some truly comedic moments where people like J.B. Smoove let loose and deliver the goods. It’s a late night watch that won’t make you cry and right now I appreciate that greatly.

The Witcher – Seasons 1 & 2

When the first season of The Witcher came out, I watched. I wasn’t really excited about the show but it looked like it could be interesting. I did not love it. I am not sure if I liked it. My response to it was a step above indifference. I finished it, felt no need to think about it or discuss it. It had happened.

Last month season two was released and after watching the recap of season one I dove in again. What can I say? Season two is vastly better. Enough so that when I finished it I watched season one. Then season two again. For all the cleverness of the scene where that scamp of a bard, Jaskier, fires back at his critic with comments designed to defend the first season, it does, ultimately, fall short. Because season one is needlessly convoluted and confusing.

It’s not only that they made no attempt to ground the audience in the different times the story takes place but they also intentionally told the story out of sequence without an indication of when in time you were. Personally I think season one would work better if it were linear, like season two, as there is so much happening that you do not need to rely on a narrative trick to keep the audience entertained.

And entertained I was with season two (and I might add with season one after watching season two – because I then had a sense of who everyone was and what was happening). The show is well made and is a feast for the eyes. The character development with Ciri worked very well. It was nice to see them improve upon the first season and makes me hopeful for what comes next.

Homecoming – Season Two

What I like best about season two is that they didn’t try and replicate the first season. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the weird cropped image that was used to portray Julia Roberts in the present day in season one. That was strange and off-putting. Honestly this modern mania for altering aspect ratios from shot to shot (and so often now within the same shot) needs to stop. More often than not it is simply distracting rather than illuminating. It took me reading several interviews about Legion before I could “understand” what, exactly, they were trying to achieve with their numerous aspect ratios on the show.

I digress! Did I like season two? About the same as season one – which is to say not overly. I watched season one for Julia Roberts. The actor I know best in season two is Chris Cooper and frankly I don’t feel he was given enough to do. Everyone in this show is great, they all do a wonderful job with their characters and I no mean to slight them in anyway. I became invested in everyone and I felt that each character had a unique perspective. It’s just a tough show to like. The overall story and message is not easy.


If there are two things I like, it’s movies I cannot predict and Anthony Mackie. Anthony Mackie has become one of those actors who manages to appear in five movies a year without you noticing. Julianne Moore did it and I swear I am the only person who caught on. It’s a neat trick and when it works well you, the viewer, reap all of the rewards (I mean I’m sure they get paid but…you get it).

Synchronic is the good kind of low budget science fiction. I think the movie Kin almost nailed what this movie gets right. You can’t do a lot of big fancy stuff so you have to imply things. It’s like Steven Spielberg and Jaws. If his shark had worked correctly we would have had a very different and possibly less scary movie. This film greatly benefits from what is not shown.

I don’t want to say much of anything about the plot, this is a good one to see knowing little. Both actors gave solid performances and I enjoyed watching the movie.

Zach Snyder’s Justice League

Of the many things you simply could not get away from in 2021 was this film. Long touted as a myth, Zach Snyder and HBO did the weird thing and released The Snyder Cut. To say it is an anomaly is an understatement. To allow a director to come back, shoot new material and radically recut a film for a rerelease on a digital platform – it’s a first is what I am saying. No one has done that before.

Sadly it looks like it will not be happening again any time soon, which is a shame. All of the other DC directors who publicly clamored for the same treatment where systematically shut down. I am not a money person, so I can appreciate that from a financial perspective it probably makes no sense to do this. But from the perspective of a viewer (and aspiring filmmaker) I am at a loss. No one on the Internet seemed to talk about anything else for months. There is definite interest.

I have no idea how successful this film’s release was but the film itself is a vastly better film than the original. It is long. It is so terribly long. And it is in 4:3 format which just smacks of weird.

Yet it’s a much better movie because suddenly those moments from the original film, when the big thing happens and it is supposed to matter – they matter in this film. You are given the time and context to understand that the big circular building is filled with Amazons. Or anything relating to Joe Morton has an actual backstory and consequences.

There are about fifty moments in this film that make sense, that offer an emotional payoff, that were not there in the previous version. Lois Lane not only has an arc but her presence when Superman returns actually makes sense (rather than her being the “big guns” that Batman and Alfred refer to in a previous scene). I keep saying that but it is true – there are so many elements of this film that make sense from a storytelling perspective that did not in the prior version. That is nice to see.

I feel odd saying something that takes away from this film because it is so vastly superior to its predecessor, but, it’s not amazing. It is really, really long. And not all of the stories pay off or make sense. But I am glad, both as a viewer and aspiring filmmaker, that this was made. It gives me hope that there are actually people in the Hollywood system who want to support filmmakers.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Keeping with the DC films I saw this year I need to mention Birds of Prey. My expectations for this film were so terribly low. Between the trailer and the reaction when it was released I thought it would be terrible film. Much worse than Suicide Squad (not The Suicide Squad which had not yet been released). I was wrong.

This is a very good movie. It many ways it makes me think of Hustlers from last year. I want my daughter to see it. Maybe not yet, but someday. I like the message of the film, I like the way it was made and I really enjoyed this version of Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie won me over in this movie. This character was truly alive on the screen and I enjoyed going on this journey with her.

The rest of the cast was good as well. The men were all quite terrible as they were meant to be. I had heard about the breakfast sandwich scene and on paper it did not seem like it would be good. But as a person who has fallen in love with foods (and as a man who has watched his wife when she has fallen in love with foods) I can safely say I enjoy that sequence. It feels correct and earned. I’d love to see Cathy Yan get a chance to do her version of Justice League with the film (as she has expressed a desire to do so). I’m very happy with how it is, so it would be interesting to see what she was forced to exclude.

Mare of Easttown

I’ve been watching Kate Winslet forever. In that time I have endured a fair number of films that I would rather not have watched. I have done so because I think she is a fantastic actress. That was certainly the case with Mare of Easttown. This show does not fall into my happy/fun/unchallenging category of 2021. This is a tough watch and for me it was compounded by the whole “living in a small town despite you always wanting to get out of a small town” thing (even though her small town seems quite large). Parts of this hit close to home.

Thankfully the really bad parts do not. I am grateful for that. This is a well made show with a ton of great performances from the supporting characters. Once again Kate Winslet demonstrates she is an amazing actress with no fear. I can’t imagine that many people would want to play this role (or at least play it the way she did). It isn’t glamorous or flattering. It is also not so far in the opposite direction as to be “awards acting” (thinking of Charlize Theron in Monster or Nicole Kidman in The Hours – I don’t mean to put these performances down, it’s just a different kind of performance) but is a very grounded, realistic portrait of a woman in this particular place and time.


There are several films I have been putting off writing about and Tenet is near that top of that list. That this film did not receive universal acclaim is beyond me. That it is not the best film I saw in 2021 is astounding.

I’m not someone who praises Christopher Nolan because I consider him a great filmmaker and infallible. On this site I wrote about my struggles with the ending of Inception. It makes no sense. Michael Caine revealing that he knows the true ending only makes it worse. I found Dunkirk to be a well made movie that did not need to be made. I am trying to earn my praise for this film and I fear it is not working.

The amount of thought that must go in to writing a script like Tenet is baffling. Everything has to be known and understood before they begin any of the preproduction planning. I cannot imagine. When I think about sequences of this film, like the section on the highway and the case being passed between the vehicles I blanche. Perhaps when you write that you just put something in like, “some cars are inverted, things are complicated, the case gets passed” I’m not sure. But you have to know who is where and when, how that would work if some are inverted, and so on. It makes my head hurt. That type of work feels more like engineering than writing to me.

I love this film. I love that it opens and just goes. I think you are into the action in the first two minutes of the movie. I love that it shifts and coils and unfurls and that at each stage you feel like you have a handle on things. Then ten minutes later, despite having seen it five times this year, you find yourself trying to work the logistics out in your mind. To then have something happen onscreen that breaks your concentration and makes you realize you don’t really understand how all the pieces fit together.

What I appreciate most about this film is how incredible cerebral it is and how you can just sit and let it wash over you. It works on all levels, as spectacle and thought-exercise. It is incredible. Of all the stellar cast members I was most impressed by John David Washington. I had a similar response to him when I watched Black Klansman. At first he doesn’t seem quite right, a bit too timid or out of his depth. Then there is a moment in the film, for me it’s the fight scene in the kitchen, where you just realize how perfect he is. Each time I watch that scene I am amazed at how well done it is, how the action is clear and his power is undeniable. It is truly impressive.

For the life of me I do not know why people failed to respond to this film. I am grateful that it exists and that I am able to watch it, again and again.


It feels odd to say it but I was quite nervous about watching Dune. There was so much that was unknown and I had allowed myself to get excited about it. The trailers were all very, very good. I read the book about two years ago and I was amazed at how well the trailers captured the essence of it. My hopes were up and so often, it seems, that leads to disappointment with movies.

My first viewing of Dune was mixed. I was not quite sure. There were parts I enjoyed very much. Others were odd, or lackluster. It was not what I expected. In the month that it was showing on HBO Max I think I watched it five times. It is a film that holds up to rewatching quite well. It is a long movie that feels like a long movie. Tenet is a long movie that knocks you about enough that you stop paying attention to its length. Dune is so calm and controlled that aside from a few sequences you notice the passing of time but that passing is pleasant. It is like a warm afternoon that you spend in your backyard sitting in silence with someone you care about. It is comfortable.

There is something special about this film, something different, that pleases me greatly. It is not just the fidelity it has to the book, although that is wonderful. This story has a calm center to it, to my mind it is like a person that has achieved inner harmony and feels neither fear nor desire, that is pleasant to be around but is also unknowable. It is a unique experience and I look forward to the second film to see if the two halves are greater than the sum of their parts.


The best film I saw in 2021 is easily Girlhood. I do not feel qualified to write about it. What makes this film so good? It feels like a documentary rather than a narrative, fiction film. Somehow I feel as though I have been a fly on the wall in this young woman’s life and seen so many amazing moments – yet I feel none of the ickiness that comes with such voyeuristic moments in documentaries.

Of the many things I appreciate about this film I love that race is not the issue. I am assuming this is possible because it is a French film, I do not really know. When I was watching this film I kept being struck by the idea that a white woman in America could not have made it. For many reasons. I have a sense of how things are here, in America, and to not attempt to address these issues would be dishonest. Does the same hold true in France? I don’t know. I do know that I love that the film does not have to deal with the same issues and can simply be what it is. A complex coming of age story with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in a film. Celine Sciamma is getting no shortage of praise lately but after seeing Girlhood I am certain she deserves more.

The Wheel of Time

My expectations for this show were on par with The Witcher. I was aware of the books but never read them. From the promotional material for the show I only had the sense the Rosamund Pike was the center and it would be something like The Lord of The Rings. The trailer did little more to help (except show some not great looking creatures, they do not look as terrible in the show itself so perhaps they were unfinished).

What I ended up watching was quite lovely. The young people are, well, young people. They are pretty, they are rather dim and not all of them are developed (as characters). But the rest of the characters, even those who are only slightly older, are interesting and a joy to watch. The relationship between Moiraine Damodred and Lan Mandragoran in particular is rich and rewarding. You have a sense of it and then it shifts and then shifts again.

I think the most interesting aspect of this story is the notion that only women can access the one power without going mad. Yet this does not stop men from trying to access the power nor does it mean women are the rulers. It is a painful and accurate depiction of the problem of power between men and women. The numerous dynamics this creates in the show are what I found most interesting and rewarding.

I saw this in December, after a year of watching many things on numerous streaming services. It struck me (I believe I watched this after finishing The Witcher) how good everything looks now. Even low budget films like Killerman which was shot on film. We have reached a point where the technology and the know-how is so advanced and good that things just look fantastic. It’s wonderful, it really is. I don’t say this in a dismissive way, I think the writing on The Wheel of Time was quite good and I was impressed with the relationships on the show. It’s a fantasy show and the language is somewhat unnatural to my ear, but it works. It is just as impressive to me that they went to these amazing locations, shot at the correct time of day, and captured so many stunning images for what just a few years ago would have been “just a television show”.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

One of the bigger surprises for me in 2021 was this film. I had never heard of let alone read the comic. I had never seen Simu Liu in anything. I didn’t know that Tony Leung was in the film until it began. To say that I enjoyed this film is an understatement. It is everything I want right now in a movie. It does not put me into a three day funk where I question life, my place in the world or how this is all going to affect my children. It is fun, it is funny and it has some truly inspired action sequences.

I highly recommend anyone who wants to learn more about this film and how it was made to look at the Corridor Crew videos:

These videos do such an excellent job of showcasing all that is wonderful and good in this film. In particular the stuntmen react video gives you a sense of how much the people working on this film cared and wanted to do a good job.

The story is interesting and the relationships believable. Each part adds up to something more and there is true character development and growth over the course of the film. The villan, Shang’s father, is completely understandable and relatable. So much care and love was put into making this movie and it is obvious from the result.

Free Guy

Much like the rest of the world, I have been won over by Ryan Reynolds and his social media presence. What started as commercials for his gin company has spiraled and morphed into something unnamable and wonderful.

Because of this I have been aware of Free Guy for some time. He mentioned it often and how much he loved it. Which I found amusing since he had a decent number of films come out just before or after it that he said next to nothing about. Perhaps I am the only person who finds that weird.

Regardless he built up my expectations for this film and I have to say they were met. The premise of the film and its execution are both solid and satisfying. The conclusion felt true and justified. It’s a fun movie and it is a funny movie. Jodie Comer does not feel wasted in the film and Lil’ Rey Howery all but stole the show. The movie has a lot of heart and it isn’t afraid to show it. I like that.

The Harder They Fall

I had never heard of Jeymes Samuel before this film. After watching and looking him up the use of music suddenly made a lot more sense. The trailer gave me an impression that the main character would be Idris Elba. This is not so. The opening sequence disabused me of the notion that Mr. Elba would be the hero – decidedly not so.

I almost did not include this film because my reaction to it was split – I did not love it. But I am happy that it exists, that it was made and it is so rough and nasty, and that I get to watch it and debate whether I like it or not. This was the second project I saw Jonathan Majors in this year (I have still yet to watch Lovecraft Country) and that the other was Loki, the range the he displays is impressive. The cast of this film is amazing and the locations are incredible. It is just another great example of people going out into the world and capturing stunning locations.

The Mosquito Coast

So I haven’t read the book and I could never bring myself to watch the film. I love Harrison Ford but he had several films from the late 70’s and 80’s that just looked unappealing. This was certainly one of those films.

The trailer for this show is solid. I felt going in I had a sense of all four of the main characters and what the story would be. I did to a point. I have a feeling that this will be the kind of show that once you have more episodes you can appreciate the breadcrumbs that were sprinkled early on.

What I loved about this show, Justin Theroux’s masterful portrayal of Allie Fox. By the end of the first episode you are absolutely smitten and charmed by him. By the end of the season you are a bit disgusted and afraid of him. It’s a wonderful character arc and it feels fully earned.

Despite a few questionable moments with the children I also enjoyed their journeys and how they were handled. Some moments, like when the family is hiding in Mexico and both parents just leave the kids for a day, did not feel right. The children have been sheltered from the world, hidden away and taught nothing about how to navigate on their own…and these overprotective parents are out the door and thinking not at all about the kids? It doesn’t work like that.

I digress. The only aspect of the show that felt a bit like watching a television show concerned Margot and her “secret”. It becomes clear somewhat early on that she has an important secret, that all is not as it seems. To end the season with that unresolved felt a bit too manipulative for my taste. I can’t wait for the next season though and I hope they are able to explore the characters further.

Riders of Justice

I had felt that I had finished my list (largely because I don’t have a full year accounted for as I normally would) when I saw something about Riders of Justice and remembered the film. When I saw it I thought, “This might be the best film I’ve seen this year” and it certainly is one of them. I try not to rank (despite doing so with Girlhood) but sometimes it is hard.

This film, based on its trailer, really seems to be one thing. I had thought it would be a simple, straightforward story about a man bent on revenge. I was pleasantly surprised to discover it is much more than that. It is a rich, layered film that sneaks up on you. There is nothing formulaic or predictable about Riders of Justice and I love it for that. So many moments are singular, they feel spontaneous and unrelated to the rest of the story. But they belong and they are connected and what ultimately unfolds and is a fantastic film.

Despite having seen him in many movies and one utterly disgusting television show, Mads Mikkelsen continues to defy my expectations. He is such an interesting actor, capable of great humor and terrible violence, and watching him in this film is a treat. That being said the supporting characters steal the show. There is no question that the three men who come to be his “team” and his daughter and her boyfriend are all important and interesting.

This film pleased me and excited me when I watched it. It made me want to get to my computer and get writing to try and tell stories as interesting and wonderful as this.

I am concluding my list here. I have, yet again, not including any of the cooking or food related shows and films I watched this year. Why? I do not know. It doesn’t feel right. I have no documentaries on this list but honestly I don’t watch that many. I think I watched two this past year. A lot of food and cooking programming though. I think that needs it’s own list so perhaps I will do one soon.

Last year I included a list of films and shows I was anxious to see in the upcoming year. At the moment my mind feels too scattered to put that together properly. There are always things on the horizon to be excited about and I certainly am.

A Man and His Mug

So I started shooting this short in March. I quickly lost interest and gave up. Then, sometime in October I realized that other than random drone footage I really had not shot much this year (I only just realized that my last post on this site was February 14th 2021). So I tinkered and rethought what I wanted to do.

Let me link this video before I say more –

It isn’t Citizen Kane but it also isn’t terrible. I’m happy about that. 2021 was supposed to be a year where I did some formal interviews and took the test so I could use my drone footage to make money. Neither happened. A lot of homeschooling happened as well as a lot of waiting for a vaccine (June for me) and all of the other nonsense we’ve all been dealing with.

What made me happy about taking a break from this video is it went from being a lot of footage of brewing coffee (I shot about an hour’s worth) to being something kind of fun and playful. It’s absolutely the kind of thing I wanted and needed to see and do this past year.

Hopefully someone watches this. If you do and want to tell me what you think I’d like that.

YouTube and Me

A new plan for making short videos.

In an effort to be more productive and stop skulking around the house I’ve decided to start making short films and upload them on YouTube. As a result I will be posting here about that process and linking the videos. What. A. Treat.

This past week the company Moment uploaded a review of the new Sony A1 camera. The review was made by the filmmaker Joshua Martin . He’s made a number of videos for Moment this past year and I’ve enjoyed his laid-back style. He started this review with a cinematic short film to demonstrate what the A1 is capable of. I enjoyed that greatly as most reviews are just a person sitting and talking at the camera.

I enjoyed the short so much that I stopped the video when that ended and found myself thinking about how I would like to make a similar video and the proceeded to daydream about what I would do for quite some time. The following day I had time to myself so I went out and shot two hours worth of footage and make my own version.

Once I had everything ingested into my computer I went through the footage and saw all the mistakes I had made. I shot near noon, which is never a good idea, but it was a sunny day. For portions of the video I was shooting handheld and moving the camera in front of my face and body. Shadows of the camera and mic kept playing on my face and chest, ruining the shots. There were a number of other mistakes I had made, forgotten shots, things being out of focus and it became obvious that I would have to reshoot most of the footage.

I spent the night brooding on this and thinking of how to improve the story I was telling while also adding new elements and not making mistakes. A number of firsts came out of this process, like making a shot list and mounting my gimbal onto a tripod for shots in my car and I am pleased with the results.

Did I get it all right? Not even close. I still forgot shots, misunderstood the placement of my camera and shot at a terrible time of day in unflattering light. As tempted as I was to redo everything again I didn’t, I worked with the footage and came up with what I think is a decent video. It’s not perfect but it’s done.

So this is part of my new plan, I hope to write more here that isn’t just about cameras or plugging my videos – in addition to making videos on a regular basis for YouTube. There is more certainly a stigma attached to doing such things and interestingly I am finding freedom in this particular act of self-publishing. There is an audience, not cost to the creator and absolute unchecked creativity in what is possible. It’s kind of amazing.

Please take a look and let me know what you think.