The Joys of Being in a Film Club
For a cinephile, watching a film in the big screen used to be a holy experience, but in this modern time, there are just so much more wonders one can do to elevate the experience. Instead of lingering to the clinical, a cinema can also be a wonderful place to socialize. These socializations out of films can be fruitful and can form more things. These things are what film clubs are built for.
A film club is a group of people who meet regularly to watch films and discuss. The dynamic setting of such groups makes each a unique one depending on their interests. While some film clubs are just solely for watching together, some also create outputs. There are also film clubs that host or organize events and do other meaningful projects. The possibilities are endless.
My first encounter with a film club is during highschool. Me and my friends became a big fan of David Fincher because of Fight Club, so we bought a bunch of his films in the form of pirated CDs. We built our own Fight Club, only it centered around films. Eight of us watched every weekend in the house of our friend who owned the biggest TV. We finished his movies in just a month, so we explored and watched more outside of Fincher. It became a weekly thing and lasted for around two years. I treasured that.
Now, I am part of Sine Pop’s private film club. We watch certain films every second Wednesday of the month. The members of this microcinema’s film club come from different parts of Metro Manila, but we all unite when it comes to our passion for film. Sometimes, there are also special screenings and director talkback sessions. It’s a haven.
Off the top of my head, here are some of the simple joys one can experience in a film club:
Watching films together
The fundamental cause for a film club is, of course, to watch films together. There is just a different kind of warmth and excitement in watching with someone. The shared reactions serve as an enhancer to the experience. Sometimes, it is also interesting when there is a polarization in the reactions.
The excitement is doubled most especially when you’ve already watched the film and you want to show it to a certain person. Anticipating for their reaction adds a specific thrill, in a good way. Will they love it or not? What would they think about this scene? It’s everything!
Deep discourses about films
Perhaps, the best thing about film clubs is the discourse right after the screening. In a coffee shop, roundtable, or outside the cinema, this could happen anywhere. When everyone else is reeling off with the feeling they caught from the film, they’re just excited about sharing their thoughts. The rush you feel inside is incomparable. I personally like it when a group shares what their favorite parts or aspects of the film were. The approvals, nods, and hurrahs are just the cherry on top of it.
Oddly, what’s more interesting is when there is a divide in perception. Talking with someone who dislikes the film you like is like battling for your life, but it’s also fun seeing the other side of the coin. Perspective is a film-viewer’s blessing. A polarization of perception in a film club just proves how diverse of a group it is.
Of course, discourses can go as far as the borders of cinema. When a movie inflicts social commentaries, it’s also amusing how the viewers can have different political outlooks. A discourse about films is just as likely to be political as any other conversations. Films reflect reality, and it’s amazing how you can feel that in a film club!
The opening of eyes and minds doesn’t need to stop after the film. The main beauty of film clubs can be seen through conversing and diversity in perception.
Starting projects together
Passion towards films can go beyond viewing and discoursing, members of a film club could create and collaborate too!
For starters, if reviewing a film is your passion, you can collaborate with other members. A notable example is SINEGANG, a film club created by young cinephiles inhabiting Letterboxd. The group is known for their publication website which features the members’ film reviews, articles, and video essays. They also cover film festivals and screening events in the local scene.
Some film clubs motivate their members to create and pass writing outputs such as articles and screenplays. They often submit these projects to production houses and publications. Other film clubs create visual outputs. On top of this, they also organize exhibits for their works. Film could open any other artform for its supporters. There are just countless projects any film club can do.
With just enough bravery, creativity and connection, any film club could also be a collective!
A film club’s screening is basically a social gathering or event. It’s already a no-brainer that such groups could also create and organize exciting events.
Holding a movie marathon with a specific theme or binding elements? Exciting! Hosting quiz nights to challenge the cinephile out of every member? Fun! Inviting directors, screenwriters, and other film industry personalities for a meaningful talkback session? Sounds awesome! The possibilities for a film club event are endless. Mixing and fusing events and ideas is also not excluded.
One film club from a campus I know, holds mini seminars about film-creating, and that’s just one of their hundreds of events.
Building a production
Of course, if one is passionate in viewing films, they are most likely to be just as passionate in creating one too. The grandest thing one could make out of a film club is a film production. More than publication websites, reviews or events, members can also team up to create a film!
It may be tedious assigning and learning the different roles in a production, but if one is already a cinephile, it would be just easy. With just the right number of resources, groups can create a film, even just a short one. There’s always a room for anyone in the production! Cinematographer? Writer? Actor? Production designer? Continuity inspector? Editor? Countless! It’s only a matter of time for a film club to find out and start.
It is already a universal notion that film can unite anyone. It’s just a matter of a little more effort and bravery before one realizes that a group can craft many things too, through common passion. Even in the simplest things, a cinephile could definitely find joy in the comfort of sharing interests with others.
Xian Oquendo is a free-spirited writer and camera-person from Manila. His passion connects facets of poetry and visuals. Whether inside the cinema or in the groove of the city's streets, he is always in the pursuit of the transcendental.