Whatever Happened to Those Film Discussions?

Ghost Town Photo Credit: Bust it Away Photography via Compfight cc

A few of you probably know I did a series of film discussions this past year via Google+ Hangout every two weeks or so. You may have also noticed that these discussions suddenly stopped, without much warning, and my blog and YouTube channel became a bit of a ghost town once 2014 rolled around.

To give some account about why that is, my thinking behind it, and what my plans are going forward, I thought I would post a "year in review" of sorts.

2013 in Review

I want to start by thanking all of you again who participated in any form with my film discussions this last year. Last January, I posted my blogging goals for the year, one of them being to transition my previously in-person film discussions to an online format. And I'm happy to say I completed my resolution and, apart from a few months off while we moved back to Southern California, we had almost 20 discussions on some great films. Here are some of the stats from last year (as of today):

Num of Films Watched 24
Avg Num of Participants 3.16
Total YouTube Views 21,152
Avg Num of Views per Discussion 1,244.24
Most Watched Discussion Fight Club (5,345)

For an experiment, I would say it was fairly successful! I learned a lot about Google+ Hangouts, leading discussions, and movies. Most importantly, I really enjoyed the discussions and took away new insights from each. None of this would have been possible without all my friends who showed up faithfully for each one, discussed what questions I could muster for each movie, and I'm deeply grateful for you all helping me see this resolution through.

Why I Stopped

As successful as the discussions were, I have decided that (for the time being at least) I won't be doing future discussions in this format.

This is largely due to my ability to offer a worthwhile discussion for you all. As the discussions continued, I found it harder and harder to make time to do the research and thinking to prepare questions and discussion points for each movie. Part of this is due to my demanding work schedule, but I think eventually part of it was some fatigue in consistently coming up with fresh content and how to best dialogue about the movies we were watching.

Should I have asked some of you to take a leadership role in some of the discussions? Should I have scaled back how often the discussions occurred? Should I have asked for more feedback from you all and perhaps experimented with the time or format before I got to this point?

Maybe.

Either way, I found myself at a point where the discussions were becoming more a burden than a joy, and I felt less and less return on the investment each time. Interest in these discussions seemed to die down as well, which I don't blame anyone for but myself, as I think it was largely due to me not providing a well-prepared discussion each week.

I think the schedule was too aggressive for us all. I was assigning too much material too often, and passing the fatigue along to others.

Going Forward

After coming to this point of realization, I decided to put the discussions on hold until further notice. If you look back at my goals post, you'll notice that while successful with the discussions, I also had a goal to write more, which sadly I neglected in my preparations for discussions. Hopefully with the discussions on hold I can focus on my writing habit and develop those muscles before I take on discussions again.

I'm by no means saying I will never do these again. I really did value the time we spent, and I already miss having a time set aside to discuss my favorite storytelling medium every couple of weeks. If you feel I'm making a mistake, please let me know and convince me to start them up again. I doubt I will be ditching this forever, I just need to reevaluate the format and my role in carrying out these discussions successfully.

I'd love to hear your reaction, and I apologize for dropping them without much notice. Your opinions really do matter to me, and I would love to hear your thoughts on what was successful and what could be improved.

Thanks for a great year, and I look forward to many good discussions ahead, whatever form they take.

Ben Brandt

Ben is a front-end developer with a love for all things web. When he isn't coding for his 8-to-5, he's usually running, watching movies, or playing with new web frameworks and languages.

Portland, OR

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