My love of film probably goes back further than 1997 but anything earlier would be apocryphal. In 1997 the American Film Institute (AFI) announced a list of the 100 Greatest American films (although Lawrence Of Arabia at #5 is actually British). I began making regular trips to the video store and saw most of the films before the passion for film largely went into hibernation. In the early 2000’s I bought my first TiVO and soon replaced it with a one that had a built-in DVD burner. On December 28th, 2003 I began keeping a list of every movie I watched. A few years later, with help from IMDb, I added every film I had seen prior to starting the list.
With my special TiVO I began to put every film that was recommended on Roger Ebert’s TV show into the Wishlist section. This meant that once the film eventually made its way to cable, it was recorded, burned to a DVD, and waited patiently for me to watch it. This is why the year that I have seen the most films from by year of release is 2004 with 100 films. Finding TCM and taking courses on film at Diablo Valley College are the reason there is a steep drop off after that year.
The passion that AFI had lit in the 1990s was reignited when I saw A Trip To The Moon (1902) on January 19th, 2006 in a class on American Cinema up to 1950. My teacher followed it with The Great Train Robbery (1903) and The Lonedale Operator (1911). Around the same time I discovered Roger Ebert’s Great Movies essays. I didn’t read them. I didn’t need too. If he said they were worth my time then I wanted to see them. While I was getting a lesson in American cinema at school, Ebert was beginning to give me a taste of what foreign cinema had to offer. I would later find out that I had been watching a foreign movie over and over as a child. How was I supposed to know that The Adventures Of Milo And Otis (1986) was actually a Japanese film when the voices had been dubbed into English?
In my remaining semesters at Diablo Valley College I took the second half of American Cinema and World Cinema after 1960. Sometime in there I discovered the website They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They?. I printed out their list of the 1000 Greatest Films and was overwhelmed at how few I had seen. I was also very aware of the difficulties of seeing those movies when I had to rely on the video store. I put the site away in the back of my mind. In the spring of 2007, I signed up for Netflix and was accepted to UC Berkeley as a junior transfer in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
In the spring of 2008 I was looking for something to do with my college roommate because our room had been invaded and wasn’t going to be vacated until they were done. I printed out They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? 1000 Greatest Films and began checking off what I had seen. It was probably around 400 or less but availability of the material had changed thanks to Netflix. Still, I put the list away in my mind again. For my last two years at Berkeley I had a roommate named Rocky. He was a Chinese national who had been living in America for a while and liked to watch movies but only if they were made in the last 10 years. Despite little issues like that, we got along well. I would even con him into going to a showing of the silent Soviet classic The Man With The Movie Camera (1929).
In October of 2008 I was watching a lot of Blaxploitation, Spaghetti Westerns, and Kung Fu movies. Then for reasons I can’t recall, I pulled that list out again and decided that now was the time. Among other films, I watched Michael Snow’s Wavelength (1967), Jacques Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), and Glauber Rocha’s Black God, White Devil (1964). It was during this time that I found two blogs from people who had taken the same task upon themselves as I had: Kevin B. Lee of Shooting Down Pictures and Andrew of Shooting Lessons: 1000 Pictures. Probably because it was December 31st, I decided to make my New Year’s resolution to blog my way through the list like Kevin and Andrew. To choose the name I took a page from them and decided that “Shooting” had to be in the title. I love film noir and the genre tends towards declarative titles such as He Walked By Night (1948) or I Walked With A Zombie (1943). Therefore, my blog was entitled I Shoot The Pictures with its first post on December 31st, 2008 on Murder By Contract (1958). I began the blog having seen 534 films on the list.
I started watching and posting like crazy. Sometimes I would write something, but often it would only be a screenshot and my verdict. I was on a mission and it was for me. During that period Andrew became a regular commentator on my blog and was joined by Kyle at Enter The Movies. On April 12th, 2009 I was contacted by Iain Scott of 1000 Nights In The Dark (then The One-Line Review) who wanted to include me in a film poll. I would do another poll with Iain later on and the two would be incorporated into the very list I was working on. The end of the semester brought a bit of a hiatus for I Shoot The Pictures. It really didn’t get going again until the Winter of 2009-2010 when I started a series of posts on an East Asian Cinema Binge that I was in the middle of.
While complaining about the end of a Filipino film on IMDb, I met a Filipino on the message boards who was willing to share what he knew. This meant two things for me: 1. I was able to discover the largely overlooked gem that is Filipino cinema and 2. I was now able to find films that had eluded me before. I posted sporadically for my final semester at UC Berkeley before I turned my attention back to the blog. At this time I had seen about 840 of the 1000 films on the list.
This time around I went all out. I redesigned the blog and began to reach out to others beyond my very tight circle. I found a new blogger named Rachel at Endless Reading (then Reading Rachel) who was working through a comparable list for Literature. She became a regular commentator and a comment I left on her blog caught the attention of the sweetest blogger I know. That blogger is Patrick Tillet who made his first of many comments on my blog. After that I met Warren Zoell of The Great Canadian Model Builder’s Web Page who makes wonderful models. I met Minoccio, a Russian lawyer who helped me to translate some Russian intertitles. I met Kalli of Spectacular Cinema: From the Classics and Into the Beyond. I met David Blakeslee of Criterion Reflections. Joem18b of Does writing excuse watching?, Chris of Moviesandsongs365, and Andrew A.K.A Movieman of 1001 Movies I (Apparently) MUST See Before I Die.
Later that summer and into the fall, I joined both LAMB and the CMBA. CMBA brought several people into my life including Patricia of The Lady Eve’s REEL LIFE, Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood, and Page of My Love Of Old Hollywood. I blogged like a madman till shortly after January 2011. That’s when I lopped off my ponytail and took another hiatus. I still wrote from time to time, but spent most of the time volunteering at my city’s historical society and wardriving.
I actually became afraid of posting during this period. Somehow no matter what I wrote, it wasn’t going to be good enough to post. But come Fall, I found that I needed to understand WordPress to do some work. I bought myself a proper domain name and transferred my blog away from Blogger to WordPress. Being a techie I joined Google Plus and it was there that I rediscovered posting for my own enjoyment. After all, that is what I started this blog for in the first place. I have been back on track since and hope to make it through the new year without another hiatus.
The majority of the time you can find me here and on Twitter. I have Tumblr blog called Screenshooting Pictures that I use as a bottomless bucket for sharing movie screenshots. I do try to check in on Google Plus and post links to my blog posts, but I don’t do much there yet. I use ICheckMovies to keep a public listing of the films I have seen. When I check a film there, it isn’t a check-in, but a check-out. With that in mind, I am toying with GetGlue as a check-in service for film.
I intend to follow up this post with at least one more post. I will be putting together 3 lists of the 10 best, worst, and gems from the films I have seen since I started this blog. They will not be confined to ones I have written posts on. I will also put up some summary “words of wisdom”. These may all go into one post. It may be spread across four more posts. They may include video of myself. I’ll have to play it by ear.