The Snoot Letter
Issue #5 – October 7, 2019
First things first: this newsletter used to be called “Internet Movie Big Deal” until today. I thought it was funny to have a newsletter that abbreviated to IMBD, but it’s honestly not that funny and I think it just confused people. So here we are with the newly branded Snoot Letter.
We’re five issues in to this newsletter, and I’m still figuring out the voice and content for these missives. Even though this is called “The Snoot Letter,” please don’t assume it’s just going to be a bunch of advertising for my own movies. Even though Little Monsters comes out this week with a special one night only screening in hundreds of theaters on Tuesday October 8th, for which you can buy tickets right now online. The movie is a blast with an audience, and I recommend seeing it that way. But if you’re a homebody, it will be hitting Hulu later in the week as part of their Huluween lineup.
But yes, in general, the Snoot Letter won’t just be a place for me to advertise my own movies. It will be a place for me to share my thoughts on film, technology, and culture. And recommendations for things that I love.
Jess and I started our company in 2004, and since then our primary focus has been on independent movies. We’ve dabbled a bit in studio filmmaking, and it’s an area that we want to pursue more, but we hadn’t really thought much about television, other than as fans. Over the last few years, that has started to change. We’ve started taking meetings with TV executives and agents, and we’ve had a surprisingly warm welcome. I say “surprisingly” because it seems like when we meet with film executives, they are mostly befuddled by the types of movies we’ve been making. I assumed the same would be true in television, but I’ve been proven totally wrong. TV executives get it right away! They want TV shows that feel like the movies we’ve been making. Movies with original ideas, fresh voices, low budgets, and an abundance of style.
I feel like an idiot, because of course that’s what works in the modern golden age of television!
So we’re starting to expand into television. It’s probably several years late, but that’s our new initiative. Our first series was just announced! We’re doing a spinoff series of Blindspotting at Starz, and I couldn’t be more excited. I have found the world of television to be a lot more welcoming than studio filmmaking and a lot more straightforward than independent film, and hopefully this will just be the first of many projects in this exciting medium.
As a result of this new focus on television, I’ve started thinking a lot about what makes a project more suited for film or for television. For film, I think the key is that you’re trying to tell a story that has the biggest emotional impact when the beginning and the ending can be experienced within the same viewing period. The type of story that benefits from meticulousness of craft in all areas.
For television, the key seems to be setting up fascinating characters with long-term conflicts that you know might never be resolvable. The audience doesn’t necessarily need to remember how the conflicts started, but they know the shape of them, and want to see these characters keep trying to resolve them.
At its best, film is a single perfect multi-course meal at a destination restaurant. Omakase at the knife of a great sushi chef.
Television feels more like the neighborhood restaurant you love. It’s easy to get to, you know you’ll have a great experience there, and there are favorite dishes that you’re happy to eat dozens of times a year. It feels like an extension of your home. You’ll keep going there until they change the chef or the menu to something you don’t like, or they shut down unceremoniously. On a rare occasion, the restaurant will announce they’re closing in advance, and you’ll swing by for one last perfect meal.
When I’m considering the story-area for a new project, I find myself coming back to this analogy. Is this more like a perfect meal or more like a perfect restaurant?
This Week’s Recommendations
🎬 David F. Sandberg (director of Lights Out and Shazam) made this delightful animated video explaining and debunking a lot of the myths about “test screening” movies
🎬 Director Bong Joon-ho’s new movie Parasite comes out this weekend, and it’s a masterpiece.
📨 Jamie McKelvie is a comic book artist and writer. He just finished a long run on the groundbreaking “The Wicked and the Divine,” and is embarking on a new comic project that seems to take place in space. He also just launched a newsletter that you should subscribe to!