A few days ago I had an email from Ian Christie, CEO of ChannelFlip. It looked like one of those blanket emails I get occasionally, and asked if I'd be interested in a partnership deal that involved embedding a video player in my web site to promote a film review show the channel runs that could earn me advertising revenue.
I've had similar requests in the past (especially when my web site was attracting ridiculous amounts of traffic when I was producing the Lord of the Rings web logs) and have always turned them down. I've always thought there's something a bit tacky and desperate about blogs and web sites that carry advertising material. They annoy readers and usually turn out to earn the web site author mere pennies in revenue anyway.
Ian's note about the target audience for the film review show being 'savvy young men' (that'll be the 'young, dumb and full of cum' audience filling our multiplexes with endless American 'humour' and dumbed-down action movies then!) sounded alarm bells from the get-go. However, having only just blogged about the lack of a good DVD review show on the web I decided to have a look anyway.
I nearly gave up when the latest show kept giving me a 'Video not found' error every time I clicked to watch the latest show (a review of Don't Mess With The Zohan), but fortunately the problem seemed to have been rectified when I tried again 24 hours later, and I have to confess at the end of my first viewing I was left rather impressed.
The show, presented by Justin Gayner, is horribly mistitled in my opinion. As a film review show it lacks the appropriate timing of the excellent Spill site which publishes amusing cartoon-based reviews of films in the week of American release. And the iPlayer can always be used to watch the British Film 2009 if films are your main interest. ChannelFlip's show is actually more of a DVD review show since it typically reviews 'films' a week or so after they've come out on DVD, months after the theatrical release. The first editions of the show suffer from the usual 'how do you make a talking head interesting?' problem (an issue I struggled hopelessly with when I posted early 'alpha' editions of 'The Shiny Discs Show' around this time last year). This 'talking head' problem is one that even professionals on multi-million pound salaries haven't been able to solve, as viewers of Jonathan Ross' well-scripted reviews on the BBC's Film 2009 will testify, but it's good to see that more recent editions of the ChannelFlip film show have latched onto the fact that a few appropriately timed After Effects animations, as well as the usual film clips, can dramatically improve the pacing and entertainment value of the show.
The presenter is passionate and energetic, can write, and clearly knows his stuff, although admittedly the somewhat theatrical presentation style will not be to everyone's taste (I'm a bit bored with this shouty 'Project! Project! Project!' style myself if I'm honest).
But, all-in-all I do think the show has pretty much got it right, which is a bit scary when you're about to launch your own effort into what you thought had been a pretty empty playing field. The ChannelFlip film show doesn't outstay its welcome, running for a pert five or six munutes, is entertaining and amusing for the most part, gives more of the flavour of a film than a purely written review can do and, perhaps most importantly of all, doesn't freeze or stutter while you're trying to watch it. You can also subscribe to it via iTunes. All-in-all it's a pretty impressive debut.
Regular readers will know that I'm not keen on American comedies of the type that unfortunately make up the two most recent shows, but if you look back you'll see that the programme makers have shown great taste in the past, highlighting some really excellent films. I've chosen to embed (above) the show that reviewed one of my favourite films of last year - Man on Wire - from a few episodes back, so that you can watch it directly (click on the image up near the start of this blog entry). If you like what you see make sure to pop over to the ChannelFlip web site to see more of the same, and find a link to subscribe via iTunes.
ChannelFlip also produces short web shows that cover comedy, the web and gadgets amongst other things. Well worth checking out if you get the chance. In the meantime I like the show enough to have added it to my iTunes feed so that's a recommendation right there.
In the meantime, ShinyDiscs.tv, when it finally launches, will be premiering with a weekly show of about the same length (just under 10 minutes), but will be focussing entirely on Blu-Ray reviews, with a main 'Blu-Ray of the week' review, a quick precis of the other releases of the week, a look at the sales chart and a brief news section covering upcoming releases. I'm also looking to launch in simultaneous web/video and pdf editions so that those who don't have time to watch video can read at their leisure. Look for an official announcement about the launch here at the end of March.