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Writing for Metaphilm

1. Context

Cinema is for us the highest medium of electronic culture, the medium to which and from which all other media derive their inspiration. This is why TV actors always want to make it into film. It’s why film actors always say, “What I’d really like to do is direct.” And it’s why novelists always say, “I think I have a natural gift for writing visually,” despite their readers who see the adaptation and always say, “The book was much better.”

In any movie, there is at the same time something profound going on and something missing. Cinema is always an idealization from someone’s point of view. It is as close to a dream state as you can come in your waking life. Cinema is always about something being presented at the same time something is being hidden.

Metaphilm is about filling that void, bridging that gap, and enjoying the late-night conversation about—you know—what the movie “really” means.

And sometimes we just get fed up with what everyone else thinks, and we think you might too, so we come up with our own counter-intuitive interpretations just for the hell of it. Sometimes playing devil’s advocate is at least half as fun as rooting for the other guy.

We started our site off by separating ourselves from the herd: there are thousands of “movie review” sites online. We continue to believe that we are not one of them. Our original tagline said, “We don’t review films. We interpret them.” Our new tagline incorporates that sentiment and also broadens our mission because, at the end of the day, there’s nothing inherently wrong with reviewing a film—so long as the review is a re-view, and helps people see through cinema (with whichever emphasis you choose to parse the phrase).

It strikes us as odd—and we wonder why the industry itself isn’t insulted—that the world’s most expensive art form (save for some architecture) gets “covered” by mass media critics who take their notebooks into the theater, see the film once, write a 100–300 word review for their next-day deadline, and call themselves professionals. We grade undergraduate book reports by higher standards than that. That’s like taking one look at a building and giving your assessment of its structural integrity without ever walking through it. (Though if your building happens to be a façade on a Hollywood set, maybe film reviews are doing the job the industry pays them to do: don’t look too closely, don’t walk inside and look around; don’t ask questions about structural integrity.)

We get accused of “earnestness” from time to time, because, after all, it’s just a movie. But if more people go to movies than read books, than vote, than go to church, than do anything else of cultural, political, and metaphysical significance, then we think it’s time movies were given the serious and yes, even earnest attention that they deserve.

2. Text

If most folks experience cinema as “just a movie,” then we want you to help them experience it as so much more—and so much less. If you like our approach, consider writing for us. If we like your stuff, we’ll publish it.

You do not need to spell out whether you’re being serious or silly. If you interpret a film, our readers will repay you by interpreting your interpretation. This is why the site allows for as much commentary, dialogue, and interaction as possible without going ridiculously heavy on bandwidth. If you write for Metaphilm, prepare to be argued with by your readers. They generally maintain a sense of decorum, but their secret suspicion of what the film really means may be just as strongly felt as yours.

Write something pithy for the phlog. Write something long for the main section.

In addition to film interpretations, we now invite you to submit “re-views” as well, meaning that the film (or films) in question has been seen at least twice by the re-viewer.

Write something you’re passionate about. Or write something that needs writing. Or—since we’ve got more ideas than time to write them—try taking on one of our ideas. The blog on the right has ideas for you.

Many films can carry more than one interpretation. If you have an idea about a film we’ve already covered, by all means run it by us.

We are not looking to confirm a particular viewpoint, ideology, or philosophical stance. Primarily we are interested in effects. We wish your writing to produce one or both of the following effects on the reader: A) to wish they could “see” movies the way you do and B) to wish to be able to go out with you after seeing the film you’ve just written about and share a beer.

What this means is that we want intelligent humility on our site. We want writing that says, “Don’t you think?” more than it says, “Look at me.”

On the other hand, any essay that amazes us, for whatever reason, is also fair game. Sooner break any of our above guidelines than produce a formulaic piece of predictability. Please.

3. Technique

Send us your submissions as attachments in MS Word or RTF formats or in the body of an e-mail. And save us all some hassles:

::: Phrontpage :::

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