Reverse Shot started as an independent publication in 2003 run by Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert, and for the past decade they’ve hosted great articles and features, given a home to idiosyncratic writers, and have generally been a source of consistently terrific film criticism. But this morning saw a burst of new content timed to a special event: the site’s redesign and relaunch as an official publication of the Museum of the Moving Image.
The site now has an elegant new design, a better player for their original videos, and new features including a series on film culture around the world (starting in Iran) and a series on the relationship between video games and movies. They’ve started a new Symposium (their popular series of articles on any given subject, usually lasting a month) on Martin Scorsese, beginning with essays on his early features and shorts and one by Koresky and Reichert on the links between his films. The new redesign also makes it easier to navigate through the site’s history, so readers new and old can easily find everything they’ve written about Wong Kar-wai, Claire Denis, Steven Spielberg and more.
Criticwire spoke with Reverse Shot co-founder Michael Koresky about the relaunch and redesign:
What drove Reverse Shot to partner with the Museum of the Moving Image?
We have had an excellent relationship with that wonderful institution for three years now. In October 2011, the year they reopened the Museum after their incredible renovation, we pitched them our idea on a screening series called See It Big, which has become a mainstay of the Museum’s programming calendar. The idea for that was to just exploit their huge screen (really the best place to see rep movies in New York) and get people to watch movies the way they were meant to be seen. Anyway, we have really loved working with David Schwartz and Aliza Ma (and before Aliza, Rachael Rakes). In fact, Schwartz wrote for our Linklater symposium way back in 2004!
So we came to them and pitched the idea of making Reverse Shot more of an official relationship. We had been doing RS for over a decade, and it’s always been a passion project, a labor of love. But let’s be serious: that’s not sustainable. Our loyal writers (some of the best film writers working today, without a doubt) have toiled long and hard with us, so making it official is also a way to thank them. Plus we felt we could have a mutually beneficial relationship with MOMI. Bring our devoted readers to them, and they could bring a vast new audience to us.
What’s the motivation behind the new design?
Angel Ortiz is the man behind the new look. He’s the Museum’s official new designer and he’s done a fantastic job. Along with Mike Wu at Bandwidth Productions, he really helped bring together, in an eye-pleasing way, the various articles we’ve written over the years. On the old site, it was hard to get a good grasp on the full scope of Reverse Shot’s history, but the new layout allows the reader to easily scan through our archive, see all the symposiums we’ve run, etc.
How long have you been working on it?
We began talks with the Museum in early summer 2013, so it’s taken a little over a year to come to life.
How will your partnership with Museum of the Moving Image affect articles and other features, if at all?
Other than that we hope to cover happenings at the Museum more often (in addition to See It Big screenings) we plan on turning out the same basic content as we always have, only with some additional departments to offer a broader scope and range on the world of the moving image, including a hopefully monthly column on video games!
Today alone saw more new content on Reverse Shot — an article on cinephilia in Iran, an “Artificial Intelligence” video, the start of a Symposium on Martin Scorsese — than there’s been in the past month. What determined which articles would be part of the relaunch?
We were saving all this good stuff for today, so we could launch with it. We hadn’t run a symposium since spring, with our television-movie series called Home Theater. We’ve been planning and editing Scorsese for months. It seemed like a good thing to launch with, since he’s so widely loved and it might bring some uninitiated RS people to the table. As for the other new columns and features, we felt they were different and special enough to highlight.
What features are you most pleased with?
We love them all, of course! Well, there are some great articles to come as we roll out Scorsese, in addition to the terrific openers today by Mark Asch, Justin Stewart, and Kristi Mitsuda. We’re particularly thrilled with the piece on cinephilia in Iran, by Azadeh Jafari and Vahid Mortazavi. It’s so expansive and insightful. A very poignant piece that wrestles with cinephilic history and contemporary identity in a place we might not know much about in terms of movie culture. And we’re just as excited about our inaugural video game column, by a superb Australian writer, Brendan Keogh. As you can tell, this is going to be a theoretical but accessible examination of the experience, texture, and visual pleasures of video games, and he found an fascinating, counterintuitive way in.
On top of all that, we now have all of our video content (including the great Talkies interview series, from Jeff, Eric Hynes and Damon Smith) in one place and easily accessible, rather than dispersed on Vimeo and elsewhere. Which brings me to another feature we’re thrilled with: our new “movie” (trying to stay away from the term “video essay”) about “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” a film that was very important in the creation of Reverse Shot.
What might people miss about the way the site works now?
Hopefully it’s all clear, but a couple more hidden things are new author pages, where you can see everything an author’s written over the past 10 years in one place. There’s also an alphabetical list of all films reviewed. We didn’t have that functionality before. We’re really happy with how navigable it is and how pleasing to look at. The symposium landing page will give you a sense of the clarity and sleekness of the design. That’s over a decade of content nicely laid out!
Now that Reverse Shot has relaunched, is there anything you’d like to do with the site that you weren’t previously able to do?
We’ll take it one day at a time, but our mission remains the same: high-quality, judiciously edited, carefully conceived and written content with zero click bait!