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M. Leary

Creating Film Critic Circle?

New Film Critic Circle   15 members have voted

  1. 1. Would you apply to join?

    • Yes
      10
    • No
      1
  2. 2. What metric for application would be appropriate?

    • 25 Reviews Published
      3
    • 50 Reviews Published
      4
    • 100 Reviews Published
      1
    • 8643 Reviews Published
      0
    • Other
      3
  3. 3. What awards would you like to see?

    • Best Film
      11
    • Best "Spiritually Significant" Film
      2
    • Best Director
      9
    • Best Cinematography
      5
    • Best Actor cetegories
      6
    • Best Animated Feature
      5
    • Best Documentary
      7
    • Best Family Feature
      0
    • Other?
      0

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

77 posts in this topic

We once had such a group (Faith and Film Critics Circle), which is now defunct. We had a rudimentary voting system that resulted in a few years of "awards" (2009). I think I bowed out at one point, due to time concerns and disagreement with some of the basics of the award (including the name and separating "Best Film" categories from a "Spiritually Significant" category IIRC).

 

But I want to gauge interest on starting this again in a very simple way (e.g. Skandies). A few potential stipulations:

 

  1. We would vote on three or four categories and call it a day (Film, Director, Documentary, Animated).
  2. We would set some basic requirements for membership (such as # of reviews published).
  3. We would have a very basic mission statement.
  4. We would use A&F for voting/discussion and find a central location to post results...
  5. We would vote with space offered for argument prior to voting. But this would be similar to any local critic society in that it would be a straight vote from among options. If this approach is taken, the polling system at A&F could be utilized.
  6. We would broadcast via the mechanism used for the Top 100 (should Image be interested).

 

What do we think? Poll above and add comments below.

Edited by M. Leary

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Link to the thread where I expressed interest in reviving the FFCC (or something like it) two years ago.

 

Incidentally, there has been so much talk about "faith-based" films this year that I've really gotten tired of "faith" as a euphemism for "Christian". If there was a way of avoiding that word in the name of whatever group we come up with next, I would be all in favour of that. (Of avoiding that word, that is.)

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M Leary wrote:

: We would vote on three or four categories and call it a day (Film, Director, Documentary, Animated).

 

I agree on limiting the categories. My experience with the Vancouver Film Critics Circle is that we tend to end up echoing the same top two or three names that every other critics' group names. There's no need to stretch that out over ten or twelve categories or whatever.

 

That being said, I'm a little leery of having an "animation" category -- as much as I love animation! -- because I'm not sure how much there is to pick from there, really. I have a feeling it would end up being a coin-toss between Pixar and Ghibli every year.

 

I get a perverse kick out of the idea of recognizing cinematography but *not* acting.

 

: We would set some basic requirements for membership (such as # of reviews published).

 

Reviews specifically? What about other kinds of coverage?

 

: We would have a very basic mission statement.

 

[ nod ]

 

: We would use A&F for voting/discussion and find a central location to post results...

: We would broadcast via the mechanism used for the Top 100 (should Image be interested).

 

Depends on whether Image/A&F would want to be that closely associated with the group. The FFCC was originally named after a group that Jeff was involved with (Promontory), if memory serves, and/or it was then very closely associated with A&F (Arts And Faith Film Critics Circle, or A2F2C2 as it was called), and in both cases the name was changed very quickly to create some distance between the organizations and the critics' group. All the deliberations were conducted via e-mail, too, partly perhaps to keep that sense of distance. Is Image interested in a closer association with such a group?

 

: We would vote with space offered for argument prior to voting. But this would be similar to any local critic society in that it would be a straight vote from among options. If this approach is taken, the polling system at A&F could be utilized.

 

And would there be a nomination process (even an announcement) before the final vote, as many critics' groups do?

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FWIW, a "faith-based" (read: Christian) critic outside our A&F circle has been (or at least was, a few months ago) quietly exploring the possibility of putting together a group of "faith-based" film critics -- and while I share Peter's discomfort with that term, I appreciate that this critic wanted to keep the doors open to Jewish and perhaps even atheist writers, if they wrote from a perspective broadly informed by what are sometimes called "the big questions." 

 

One thing I liked about that critic's proposal was that it was potentially associated with a media organization with some infrastructure capabilities that might be leveraged to building us a better Web-based home than Promontory or the FFCC ever had -- potentially, a Rotten Tomatoes style site in which reviews could be sorted by film or by critic/outlet. Not that I suppose such a resource is necessary; regional critical groups like NYFCC and LAFCA get along without them, I guess. 

 

Mike, are you proposing a circle officially associated with A&F? An Arts & Faith Film Critics Circle? A name like that would get "faith" in while avoiding both "faith-based" and "Christian." 

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I share your concerns PTC and SDG in the "faith" nomenclature, which was an initial issue I had with maintaining FFCC membership. 

 

For this group, I had in mind

 

  1. Something similar other critic societies, which are based on common interests and mutually agreeable entry requirements. I really prefer the standard of X published reviews/essays/interviews of 400+ words and/or substantial contribution to cinema (the OFCS guidelines are a good example). A defined set of members serve as the application review panel. Membership applications are taken on an annual cycle (deadlines are usually somewhere toward the beginning of each year).
  2. Something more like NYFCC, LAFCA, or Skandies, which have the very narrow goal of posting a set of awards at the end of each year. I think attempting to collect or rate reviews requires a lot of time and money to do properly - I can't see the benefit in our case. It certainly didn't work in the FFCC case.
  3. If we use A&F and the built-in polling system as a base, then we have that entire chunk of the administrative component solved. Requirement for membership would then include A&F membership for polling purposes. Nominations and final voting could all be contained here. When things have to happen via email, they get too messy and time consuming.
  4. I would want to abandon the focus on "Christian criticism" the FFCC had and present a more broadly worded mission statement. We have already hashed much of this out via the Image Top 100 list, so I can imagine us settling on a title/mission statement more easily this time. 
  5. We would need to identify the right outlet for announcing the award. I have a few ideas (Image, Patheos, etc...), but we could talk that through.
  6. I don't see why we couldn't be A&F related, as that would make the membership, nomination, and voting process very simple and time-efficient. "Arts & Faith Film Critics Circle" is okay as a name but still doesn't quite get there as a banner for the award. Heck, something as generic as the "Significant Film Society" does the job for me. In fact, I kind of like the feel of that as it plays with our "significant" lists also done here.
Edited by M. Leary

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The advantage of the A&F brand is that it already stands for something and we're already invested and identified with it.

 

Anything brand new = "Who are these people and why do they think anyone cares what they think?"

 

Arts & Faith = "Oh, them." Or at least "[Googles] Oh, them." 

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I'm definitely interested, though I've been doing more editing than writing lately.

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I think our admission guidelines could be written to take those with editorial roles into account, given that your editing constitutes a significant contribution to film criticism. The OFCS, ChicagoNYFCC guidelines are good benchmarks.

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Maybe we should hold off on participating in a "Will you participate in this?" poll until we've defined what it will be more clearly. If it's a Christian film critics' circle, I'll pass. If it's defined more generally and attached to media organizations, I might.

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SDG wrote:
: FWIW, a "faith-based" (read: Christian) critic outside our A&F circle has been (or at least was, a few months ago) quietly exploring the possibility of putting together a group of "faith-based" film critics . . .

 

Ah, right. Thanks for reminding me of that.

 

Also, I was going to say that one other reason I'd be wary of associating any film critics group with A&F specifically is because quite a few "faith-based" critics who would be good to have on board (e.g. CT's Alissa Wilkinson, Patheos editor Rebecca Cusey, etc.) are not associated with A&F at all.

 

M Leary wrote:
: Heck, something as generic as the "Significant Film Society" does the job for me.

 

Eep. That's kind of like calling your publication "Relevant magazine".

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Maybe we should hold off on participating in a "Will you participate in this?" poll until we've defined what it will be more clearly. If it's a Christian film critics' circle, I'll pass. If it's defined more generally and attached to media organizations, I might.

 

It is a "would" you. Just interested in gauging interest. It would only be worth sinking time into that discussion if there were enough interest. I very much agree with you on that note, though.  

 

M Leary wrote:

: Heck, something as generic as the "Significant Film Society" does the job for me.

 

Eep. That's kind of like calling your publication "Relevant magazine".

 

Ouch. See? Much wisdom in many counselors, Q.E.D.

Edited by M. Leary

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M Leary wrote:

: Heck, something as generic as the "Significant Film Society" does the job for me.

 

Eep. That's kind of like calling your publication "Relevant magazine".

 

 Does the "Significant" attach to "Film" or "Society"? I'm afraid it sounds like you're saying that this is the one Significant Society of Film.

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I can add that into the poll to weed out the non-significant.

 

How significant do you think you are? 

 

A. Significant

B. Mostly Significant

C. Kind of Significant

D. My Mom Said I Am Significant

Edited by M. Leary

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I see that about 2 years ago, in the thread Peter links to, I wrote:

 

I would have no objection to some sort of association of film critics with who share a Christian perspective (however broadly that is defined), though, given the past, overlapping history of conflicts within the members of that group and/or this board , I don't have a lot of confidence that any attempts to band together first and make rules or bylaws later would be successful. 

 

 

 

That's about where I still am. I would be less likely to join (if invited and I were eligible) if membership were conditional upon membership in A&F or if this board were used as a proxy for association business. A lot would depend, too, on who was running it. I would not particularly care whether it were specifically "Christian" or more ecumenically defined, 

Edited by kenmorefield

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I'm interested, but I seriously doubt I'd be eligible, unless Letterboxd or a personal blog counts as a publishing platform (which even I'm not sure it should).

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I'm curious whether Image would find some value in sponsoring/organizing such a group and how that fits with M's thoughts.

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SDG wrote:

: FWIW, a "faith-based" (read: Christian) critic outside our A&F circle has been (or at least was, a few months ago) quietly exploring the possibility of putting together a group of "faith-based" film critics . . .

 

Ah, right. Thanks for reminding me of that.

This is what's holding me back from the "Yes/No" voting option above. I've essentially voted "yes" for that other organization and, having made a commitment there, am not sure what this other proposed group would do differently. I suppose it's no sweat to join more than one group, but being part of one nonreligious voting group and having turned down invitations to be part of other nonreligious voting groups, I'm not sure why I'd want to double up in the faith realm. So I'm holding off for now in the vote above. I wish there were a "maybe" option.

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SDG wrote:

: FWIW, a "faith-based" (read: Christian) critic outside our A&F circle has been (or at least was, a few months ago) quietly exploring the possibility of putting together a group of "faith-based" film critics . . .

 

Ah, right. Thanks for reminding me of that.

 

This is what's holding me back from the "Yes/No" voting option above. I've essentially voted "yes" for that other organization and, having made a commitment there, am not sure what this other proposed group would do differently. I suppose it's no sweat to join more than one group, but being part of one nonreligious voting group and having turned down invitations to be part of other nonreligious voting groups, I'm not sure why I'd want to double up in the faith realm. So I'm holding off for now in the vote above. I wish there were a "maybe" option.

 

It is possible that the visions of the "there" and the "this other" might converge. I don't know how likely that is, but it's at least possible. Maybe we should all talk. 

 

Christian, have you heard anything about that other group within the last month or two? 

Maybe we should hold off on participating in a "Will you participate in this?" poll until we've defined what it will be more clearly. If it's a Christian film critics' circle, I'll pass. If it's defined more generally and attached to media organizations, I might.

 

Can you clarify what you mean by "attached to media organizations," Jeff?

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I'm interested, but I seriously doubt I'd be eligible, unless Letterboxd or a personal blog counts as a publishing platform (which even I'm not sure it should).

 

I'm in this boat. And since I'm currently pursuing full-time academic studies, publishing elsewhere than Three Brothers Film isn't a high priority at the moment.

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Christian, have you heard anything about that other group within the last month or two? 

Not since the initial email, no.

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It is possible that the visions of the "there" and the "this other" might converge. I don't know how likely that is, but it's at least possible. Maybe we should all talk. 

 

 

I am open to that. We do something very ecumenical here in St. Louis in a jury form, and it has always worked very well.

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That's about where I still am. I would be less likely to join (if invited and I were eligible) if membership were conditional upon membership in A&F or if this board were used as a proxy for association business.

 

I think that concern, which may be shared by others, could be mitigated somehow. Other polling mechanisms exist.

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Mike, 
 
The previous discussion was initiated by Rebecca Cusey at Patheos. (Rebecca had asked those she contacted to keep it confidential, but she just emailed me and said it's okay to talk about it openly.)
 
Here is part of what she wrote at the time: 
 

I have tentative funding for the site, which will likely be an independent site with an independent domain (hopefully faithbasedcritics.com) using the infrastructure of Patheos but not under the editorial control of Patheos. That is not written in stone and could change if additional funding becomes available. The tentative funding is via a Patheos donor not affiliated with any studio, PR firm, or Hollywood entity. We will be fully independent and credible.
 
I do not wish this to be either a Patheos project or a Rebecca Cusey project, but something that represents all professional faith-based critics.  I am planning on shepherding the site into existence, although that is certainly negotiable.

 
Rebecca says she'd be happy to talk about what we're interested in, what she's interested in, etc. Do we perhaps want to open an email discussion? Or invite her here to A&F? Or what?

 

Note: "Faith-based" has been Rebecca's preferred term, but I don't get the sense she's married to it or anything.

Edited by SDG

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My first thought is that we have been down the "Faith and" route before and it didn't pan out. 

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I don't mind "faith" if it refers to religions in general (a la Patheos). It's just "faith-based" as a euphemism for "Christian" that bugs me. If we're going to be Christian, then fine, let's own that (and let's not surrender the word to the "Dr." Ted Baehrs of the world). But if we're going to be multifaith, then obviously we need a more general term. (And, hmmm, what about explicitly atheist reviewers like our very own Secular Cinephile? Patheos does have an atheist "channel", after all.)

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