Where have all the good films gone? Until the 1980s, film-lovers had to travel for miles to seek out a cinema screening of a Hollywood classic or international arthouse gem. Then came VHS, which brought every movie under the sun to a Blockbuster near you, followed by DVD, which upped the picture quality to more cinematic levels.
Then came the streaming revolution. No longer did you even have to leave your home: every movie ever made was now available at the touch of a button.
But in practice, you try finding a good selection of classic movies made in the previous century on the major streaming services. You’ve probably given up. So you’ll be as glad as we are to discover FilmStruck, the new streaming service for discerning film-lovers that combines the best of the mighty Warner Bros back catalogue with Curzon and Criterion Collection gems.
That was the premise of our FilmStruck campaign across The Times and The Sunday Times. But we went much further, reawakening in our readers the dormant desire to see the truly great films rather the latest release – forsaking the sugar rush of motion-capture blockbusters for the more lasting satisfaction of emotion capture.
We explored the different tricks the great directors use to arouse emotion, from editing and music through to the most lasting of all: simply showing fascinating, relatable characters tested by extraordinary circumstances.
We asked critics to write in The Sunday Times Culture magazine about the FilmStruck films that changed their lives, eliciting from TV and radio personality Jason Solomons a heart-felt recollection of his Oxford days when he started out love-struck – and ended up FilmStruck thanks to the movie Dangerous Liaisons.
In another Culture feature we asked ten leading critics to pick their top five FilmStruck movies, showing the quality and the enviable breadth of the offering. Great films deserve great writers, and we persuaded the cream of the crop to contribute. Culture editor Helen Hawkins was so taken with FilmStruck that she herself contributed to the campaign, along with The Sunday Times lead film critic Tom Shone and Culture senior writer Jonathan Dean – an unprecedented marriage of branded content and key editorial staff. Other critics included TV and radio personality Karen Krizanovich, former Empire editor Ian Nathan, horror and sci-fi guru Kim Newman, and former Time Out film editor and BFI Southbank programmer-at-large Geoff Andrew.
And we saved the best for last: an innovative “film decision tree” in Culture, designed by Bridge Studio’s art director Jo Raynsford. She commissioned two of London’s leading experts in photomontage to bring her ideas to life. Illustrators Eleanor Shakespeare and Michelle Thompson used FilmStruck’s original archive images to create contemporary and edgy artwork to support the editorial content. The idea behind the“decision tree” was that with FilmStruck, you have such a wealth of excellent options, it can be hard to know where to start. We broke it down into a simple decision tree, where you answer questions based on current mood to arrive at the perfect FilmStruck reel for you.
When we started the campaign, FilmStruck was all but unknown in the UK. We are confident that it will now be the name on every film-loving Times reader’s lips.