“We created Letterboxd so that we could share our enjoyment — or otherwise — of film with online friends.”
I’ve been around the web for a while, even before the days of launching Film School Rejects. And I’ve been a fan of film since I was ten years old, seated in a theater in Cleveland, Ohio, having my mind splattered across several rows of seats behind me by the wonders of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Since the first time I logged on to the web through a 24.4 kbps modem in the mid-1990s, movies have always been a part of that journey. To think of how far we’ve come from that time. Message boards, news sites, waiting for 30 minutes to load a trailer, reading the movie ranting of people all over the globe (particularly that of Garth at Dark Horizons, back in the day) — all the way to stream films on our Apple TVs, Netflix on iPads, a billion movie blogs and voices, comments, YouTube mash-ups. Film fandom has come a long way in the Internet Age. But it’s only recently that I found a service that has truly changed an important part of my film fandom. Even in years of internetting, I’ve never found a great replacement for writing out the movies I’ve seen in a list in a Moleskin notebook. Keeping a tally of movies online has never been simple, easy, or intuitive. That is, until I met Letterboxd.
A Service Worthy of Our Time
You see, the issue at hand has always been ease of use and accessibility. Sites like GetGlue are great when it comes to sharing what I’m watching with friends on Facebook and Twitter. IMDb has a Watchlist feature, but that site’s design is a mess. For a time, I’ve kept a spreadsheet on my computer with a list of films seen, the date I watched them and a 1-10 rating. But even that has felt cumbersome. Call me an optimist, but I’ve always felt that a better solution was out there.
In its own way, Letterboxd is a much better solution. The ability to keep track of movies seen, rate them, find out more information about them, and create arbitrary lists to enrage one’s friends is easy to navigate and to manage. The design is intuitive and as soon as I can use it with a similarly intuitive iPhone app — which I’m told is coming — I’ll be more than happy to anoint it the greatest thing to happen to anal-retentive movie fans such as myself since the creation of IMDb. I can keep a diary of my films, keep track of my own ratings (something that comes in handy during Year in Review time) and keep track of what friends are watching.
Behind the Scenes of Letterboxd
Launched and maintained by a small team in Auckland, New Zealand, Letterboxd is a service designed “as a social app focused on sharing opinions about, and love of, film.” When I contacted co-founder and director Matthew Buchanan, he was more than happy to elaborate. “The core idea was two-fold,” he explained. “A film ‘diary’ of short reviews, and a way to compile arbitrary lists. To this we added social features to enable users to follow the reviewers they enjoy and trust, and a mechanism to quickly let the site know if you’ve seen (or liked) a film. We’ve also made a start on integrating popular film-related services: you can connect your Netflix account and add films directly to your instant queue, and we have importing of Netflix ratings, IMDb lists and Delicious Library catalogs all close to completion.” (It’s worth noting that since we spoke, Matthew and team have implemented these features successfully. Having my Delicious Library imported into Letterboxd has been huge.)
For months now, I’ve been busy cataloging my movie watching. Creating lists (both public and private — I can’t reveal my Best of 2012 until the end of the year, of course) and adding films to the diary is as easy as advertised. The only feature missing, as I mentioned, is a quality way to access the app on the go. To be able to log a film on my iPhone as I’m exiting a theater. For someone who spends a lot of time running from one thing to the next, being able to do it on a mobile device is important. As Buchanan explains, the solution to such a problem is on the horizon. “A better mobile experience is our most-requested feature,” he responded when I broached the subject. “We have begun work on adding a mobile-optimized view to the site, and are readying a public API which will enable third parties to create apps that utilize our platform. We’re avid mobile users and want all this stuff too!”
You Should Try It Too, And Here’s How
With the promise of having it on the go on top of all the enjoyment I’ve already got from the app thus far, it’d be silly of me not to recommend it to friends, colleagues and the readers of this site. They’ve got a great thing growing over there and you should definitely check it out. Even though they’ve moved into Public Beta, you still need an invitation code to set up an account. As it turns out, we have been given 50 beta invite codes to share with our readers. All you need to do is email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Letterboxd Me’ in the subject line. The first 50 readers to do so will receive an invite directly from yours truly. Who knows, maybe we can even be friends and share thoughts about movies. I like movies. You like movies. If you don’t, what are you doing here?
For more on how Letterboxd works, visit their FAQ.