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To Watch or Not? What’s Your Process in Deciding Whether an Unfamiliar Film Is Worth a Look?

To Watch or Not? What's Your Process in Deciding Whether an Unfamiliar Film Is Worth a Look?

As a follow-up to the piece I wrote before this one (on diversity and Hollywood studios), I’d like to now point my lens at you folks… 

Running this blog for over 5 years, I’ve obviously had enough time to observe reader interests and habits. I typically know whether a post will draw traffic or won’t, before it’s even published. And after a post is published, I can see which ones get mostly skipped over, in favor of others. I’m able to track broad traffic statistics for the blog, which is how I know these things. And not-so surprisingly, independent films (as in, those films that feature *unknown* actors, directed by *unknown* filmmakers), as well as non-American films of the diaspora, are mostly ignored. As I said, it’s not a big surprise, as, I think, on an even broader stage, the results will be the same. Human beings are attracted to what we already know, and are comfortable with, I suppose.

But a goal of the site is indeed to highlight those films and filmmakers who you probably would not read about, and thus not become familiar with, otherwise. So, we certainly hope that we’re providing a useful service by introducing them on this blog. It’s a bit disheartening to know that the majority of those posts won’t be read and acted on by most of you, which obviously defeats the purpose. 

Why is that? It’s not an indictment. I’m genuinely interested in knowing, even if only so that we know what’s working and not working for you folks.

I challenge myself constantly by watching films that typically wouldn’t come my way if I didn’t hunt for them. I think it’s good for the cinematic soul. Plus, it gives me a much broader perspective on what we all call cinema. So instead of avoiding the unknown, or the unfamiliar, I’m instead drawn, like a magnet. How about you?

Here’s a scenario for you to respond to: there you are, looking for a movie to watch, but not quite sure what you’re in the mood for, or don’t have any particular titles in mind, and are feeling impulsive. You’re strolling down the aisle of your local video rental store (assuming there’s still one in your neck of the woods), or, you’re on your couch, scrolling through Netflix’s immense library of streaming titles, or Amazon’s amazon-size lot of movies.

Eventually, something you’ve never heard of gets your attention – hopefully; you finally stop on a film, pick it up (or click on it) to find out more, and, if you’re in a position to do so, you look up the film’s trailer and watch it, eventually deciding, after all the information in front of you, that the film is either something you’d like to watch, or it isn’t.

Let’s visit those moments, shall we? What I’d like to know is, what is it about this film that first got your attention, when you stopped to investigate it – especially if you don’t know any of the faces on the cover or poster, nor the director? And after you investigate it, what factors help you decide whether you want to actually take the time to watch it, or NOT watch it?

I think your answers might assist those who decide how to package a film and how accessible they want it to be to audiences, especially those without studio-size marketing budgets. So, when you’re deciding to watch a film you aren’t at all already familiar with, starring actors you don’t know, and directed by a filmmaker foreign to you, if you’re like me, you have a list of criteria that you mentally check off as you move from one step to the next, in deciding whether you want to watch an unknown film or not.

I’m interested in your process in making those decisions, so do share…

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