Matt Zoller Seitz (probably one of the most talented film critics working today) recently wrote a piece urging critics to “write about the filmmaking.” That is, he was disappointed that critics didn’t write more often about filmmaking techniques and form, and how those elements can influence the effect a film has on us.
While I wasn’t a fan of Seitz’s tone and felt his piece ignored some of the economic realities of being a film critic these days, I did appreciate the overall message he was trying to get across. But one of the difficulties of writing about the filmmaking is that it’s really freaking hard, not just from a technical knowledge standpoint, but on a practical level. Since writing is NOT a visual medium, you need to first use words to communicate the details of a shot/scene that you want to discuss, and then you need to dive into in depth. If you’re writing a standard-length review, it can get cumbersome to accomplish all this (and I’m not even taking into account the possibility of spoilers, and the difficulties those can add to conventional reviews).
One way to circumvent this is to use screenshots or production stills as visual aids. I’ve recently started trying out GIFs as a method of getting across ideas and I think it’s pretty effective. I’ve produced two pieces for /Film using this method so far. I hope people find the entertaining, informative, and enjoyable. If so, there’ll be plenty more.