TIPS

Welcome to the "1001 Movies I (Apparently) Must See Before I Die" Tips Page! Here you will find, what I consider to be a pretty handy little reference guide for aspiring "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" watchers. Now, I don't want this to come off like a "here's what I did and you MUST do it like this" page or me tooting my own horn and showing off at how much work it takes to tackle this project. Truth is, it DOESN'T take THAT much work and there are probably dozens of different methods when beginning to tackle the "1001" book. I want this to simply be a helpful guide, plotting out certain tactics you can use when beginning the journey. It's something I wish I'd had when I got started.

My other intention for this page is to simply blueprint my own journey and give a glimpse into what I did in preparation for tackling THE BOOK. With about 350 movies to go, when I look back, I realize that I did a lot of list making and organizing and wish to share that with you all. So let's get to it, shall we?

First and foremost, before tackling the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book, ask yourself this question:

WHY DO I WANT TO WATCH ALL 1001 OF THESE FILMS?

If the answer is "just to say I watched them all", then I'll warn you that that's probably not the right mindset going in. Sure that has to be a PART of it, but the real reason SHOULD be because you want to expand your own knowledge of film. If you're only intention is to be someone who can simply say they've seen the entire BOOK, then I'll warn you that in order to say that, you're going to have to sit through some pretty dull stuff. There's loads of experimental and propaganda films, not to mention just flat out boring movies. I'll tell you right now, no matter how deep your filmic palate is (so to speak) you're not going to like all 1001 of the films contained here. If you're loyal to THE BOOK though and the journey that it requires, you'll reap the benefits by finding hundreds of new favorites and gems that you wouldn't have watched otherwise.

If you live in the United States, then Netflix is a MUST (I guess Netflix is available in Canada too, but I've heard it's not as good). There's simply no way you can tackle this project without some sort of way to get the bulk of these movies and to my knowledge, there isn't any outlet (other than Netflix) that makes the majority of these movies readily available. If you're outside the U.S., then I'm sure you have something comparable (for instance, I've heard decent things about LoveFilm in the UK and I'm sure there are other means that I'm not even aware of).

NETFLIX

So once you have your Netflix account ready to go and the number of movies you'll have out at a time chosen (choose any number, whatever is affordable to you. During the course of this project I had anywhere from two to eight movies out at any one time), you're going to want to go through THE BOOK, film by film and see what IS available via Netflix. It helps if you have someone there to read the movies to you, one by one, while you type them in and see which category they fall into: 1) Available for "At Home" delivery 2) Available to stream instantly 3) Listed on the site, but as "Save" or availability unknown 4) Not even listed on the site. As you go through each film, one by one, you're going to want to make a few lists:

1. Your Netflix "At Home" queue. Of course, Netflix will keep this for you, but I'll explain later why it's beneficial to add every movie right at the beginning. Netflix allows you to add up to 500 titles and depending on how much you own or have access to elsewhere, you're probably going to max out that 500 title limit. However, add as much as you possibly can and if you can't fit EVERYTHING, just wait until you've watched some and then go back and add what you couldn't fit.

2. Your Netflix "Streaming" queue. Netflix will obviously keep this one for you too and don't worry, Netflix doesn't stream THAT MUCH that you're going to have to worry about maxing this one out. Beware though, there are a few titles that Netflix streams ONLY, meaning they offer them on the streaming portion of their site, but not the "At Home" portion. Watch these first!

3. It's imperative that you keep an "Unfound List"! What is an "Unfound List"? Pretty self-explanatory - a list of movies you can't find, specifically on Netflix (or wherever you happen to be getting the bulk of your movies). You're going to want to know what you can't find, so that you can use other means of getting them. What other means? We'll discuss that later. However, while we're still on the topic of "Unfound List" - I suggest keeping two: One for films that are listed as "SAVE" on Netflix and one for films that aren't listed on Netflix at all. Keep in mind that just because certain films are listed as "SAVE" doesn't mean they'll be that way forever. During the course of my "1001" watching experience, I saw multiple movies go from "SAVE" to available, so it DOES happen, trust me.

4. Keep a list of the movies you own. You probably already know what you own, but you also want to have a nice handy list (especially if you have a large DVD collection), so that you know what you don't have to get elsewhere and just to keep things a bit more organized.

WHEN NETFLIX FAILS

Where else can I go to find hard to find titles?

YouTube has been a godsend when it comes to the "1001" project, but beware, you have to check it FREQUENTLY and when you find something WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY. Things come and go super fast on YouTube - I'm talking one day there, the next day deleted. So if you happen to find that hard to find film, do yourself a favor and watch it right away. 

Turner Classic Movies (if you have it) is also a big help. Since September 2009, I recorded approximately 20 - 30 films off of there and watched them at my own convenience. Just be sure to check it about every other month or so. This is where your unfound list is going to come in handy. Just plug the titles from your list into the TCM (or YouTube, for that matter) search box and see what you can find.

Also, one last word on Netflix. The reason you want to add everything at once is so you can see the different wait times (when applicable) of each movie. The majority of Netflix stock has no wait time and is available immediately, but, as long time users of Netflix know, some films are specified with one of three wait times: short, long and very long. If you're moving through THE BOOK in random order, move everything that is on a "LONG" or "VERY LONG" wait to the top of your queue, so you make sure you're one of the first ones to get it when it becomes available. Otherwise, these extra long wait times can sometimes end in a title becoming not available and you don't want that.

CHRONOLOGICAL OR RANDOM?

When deciding how to move through THE BOOK, there are perks to going chronologically and perks to going randomly. It's really a matter of personal taste. I chose to go randomly, because I wanted the freedom to move around and wanted a little more variety than what I was getting. However, I will say that starting out going chronologically, helped me to really appreciate some of the earlier cinema, that I may not have liked as much had I been watching it sandwiched in between films from the 80s and 90s. So pick your poison, because both work and as long as you're watching movies, that's all that matters.

TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG...THAT IS THE QUESTION

I say YES, by all means write about your experiences. Even if you don't want to publish them, create a blank Microsoft Word document and just let your thoughts fly. It takes me approximately an hour to write a review, when you add up the few minutes of research time that I do before and during the writing and the actual plotting out and execution of what I want to say. During this hour I'm given the opportunity to get a little better acquainted with what I just watched and it really helps to make each entry special, instead of "just another one of the 1001 movies". If nothing else, at least keep a list of the movies that you've discovered and liked (see my "TOP 20s" page).

If you do decide to do a published blog though, do yourself a favor and write as if no one else is reading. Write your full, 100% opinions and don't hold back. If you don't like "Citizen Kane", "Casablanca" or "The Godfather", don't be afraid to express that opinion. Trust me, there will always be people with a differing opinion than you and don't let movie snobs - you know, the ones who claim to love ALL the so-called classics - intimidate you into writing an unfelt review. 

I'll continue to add to this as I think of things, but the most important step of all is to just HAVE FUN! If you're reading this and everything is looking good, then good luck on your journey. Trust me folks, it's a long journey, but devoted movie fans will surely have a good time and reap the benefits.


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