A Peek Behind the Scenes with Film Club Host Stephen Whitty
So, what do you want to see tonight?
At my home, that’s a fairly casual question, and often a spontaneous decision. For Film Club, though, a lot more planning is needed.
First, what’s available? In the NY area, there are often anywhere from five to a dozen movies opening during any given week. But which ones are the studios willing to share with us for what’s known as a “word-of-mouth” screening? Giving smart moviegoers a sneak peak at upcoming pictures can give movies a box-office boost, but comic-book blockbusters generally don’t need the help (and really bad movies don’t want the early attention!) A lot of factors come into play and getting the OK can take some persuading.
Second, what’s appropriate? Each season of Film Club runs six weeks, and is often fully booked a month or two in advance; during the year I catch films at festivals, go to early screenings or get the studio to pre-screen them for me online. As a long-time reviewer I’m open to just about every genre — I have to be –— but programming Film Club I also have to keep in mind what members seem to be most interested in. Intelligent dramas, provocative documentaries, witty comedies –— yes, please. Gory films or impossibly artsy experiments? Not so much. Getting the right mix is important, too, so that the season has some variety. I don’t expect folks to equally enjoy every film, but I do hope they’ll at least find them worth talking about afterward.
Finally, I’m always looking for some participation from the filmmakers, too. The pandemic definitely seemed to shift things in terms of personal appearances; these days, fewer directors are flying in from California just to promote their movies. But we always try to induce them to come up and spend some time with us or pre-tape an interview from home. Actually hearing from the filmmakers themselves is, I think, one element that makes these Wednesdays more than just another screening. The most important element, though, of course, is you.
Our new season bows October 12. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve found.