Stuff that occurs to me

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Sunday, 4 March 2012

Is there a Songkick for films?

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Because the utterly wonderful Radiolab introduced me to sound designer / sound editor (and film editor) Walter Murch (hear also their "Blink" podcast) I went to see The Conversation a year or two ago at the Birkbeck Film Society with more aware ears. Similarly I'd quite like to go and see Apocalypse Now on a big screen with a good sound system [mission accomplished, thank you Somerset House, Summer 2012] - but what's the best way of finding out when it's showing in London?

There's a bit of software called Songkick which works as a smartphone app and is embedded into YouTube. As far as I can tell it's rather clever. I noticed it because I was listening to the theme tune from Jurassic Park and it told me that John Williams was doing a concert in London (it turned out to be a different John Williams but we all have our glitches). What interested me was that I hadn't gone looking to find out if the conductor / composer was 'on tour', I just wanted to hear a piece of music, and this software had pushed interesting information at me.

Bruce is on tour apparently.
This seems like an efficient way of doing things. Rather than a band's promo people releasing news of a tour on an official website, fans picking it up and sharing it on forums and others gradually getting to hear about it, it seems much simpler to place information on a central Songkick hub which can then disseminate it much more widely.

One thing that Songkick does is scan your music library and automatically let you know if any of the bands have tours - this means that you don't have to enter the name of a band you're interested in manually.

I'm not sure if this format could work well for films though. Probably most people still have their movies in a physical format (DVD, VHS) though of course plenty have videos and films on smartphones and tablets too - as it happens I don't have too many digital versions, it's mostly DVDs.

Probably I'd have to type in the names of films I was interested in seeing, or directors and sound editors I might want to hear from (I recently went to hear director Terry George and film editor Nick Emerson at separate events at the Belfast Film Festival talking about their work - they both worked together on the film Whole Lotta Sole aka Stand Off if you're in North America).

RadioTimes has a watchlist which lets you know when a particular programme (TV or radio) is going to be broadcast on UK channels, but you still have to type in the name of the programme to search for it, then add it to your watchlist (and of course be logged in to the system).

Would any of this help me find out when Apocalypse Now is next showing at a London screen (or any screen in some geographically defined area)? [Edit: it's showing in August at the Somerset House open-air screening. It did in 2012, it was fab]

I'm probably going to either miss it or hear about it quite coincidentally as the only way I can think of to spot it is to keep a close watch on the amazing LondonNet's A-Z list of films showing in London (this is an immensely useful resource). If this page had an RSS feed I'd hear too frequently about updates on films I might be less interested in, so I need something at the fine-grained level of an individual film.

IMDb is a great resource for film in general but I tend to think of it as an after-the-fact type of resource in much the same way that I don't go to Wikipedia for news. Also, useful as IMDb is it's not really a hub for news or film listings (though if you stick /releaseinfo after the web address of any new film's page you'll find details of when it will be released, but this depends on that information being filled in of course) and I'd not think of going there to see if anyone's posted about Apocalypse Now playing in London. It's pretty unlikely because IMDb's a global thing and if everyone did that it would probably have to have listings of every film to be comprehensive and currently these would all have to be manually entered. If YouTube can pick up stuff automatically from Songkick I expect IMDb could be tweaked to do so for the film equivalent as well.

If a band is playing a series of gigs then probably quite a lot of people will go along however if an older film is shown as a one-off (eg Night of the Hunter, or the 1960s version of Bedazzled that's showing today at BFI) then probably the potential audience is much smaller, so perhaps it's not really that viable. 

Has anyone heard of an equivalent hub site for film listings or know if one's in the pipeline? Perhaps it's too niche... Anyway I'm afraid I've no idea how to create one so can't contribute very much.

1 comment:

  1. Happily Apocalypse Now is playing at Somerset House in the open air season later this year :)


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