Encoding Culture (The Watch List)

Last week on timotheories (I’ve always wanted to do that), I wrote about archetypes, common sense, motivation, and how watching films can help in learning about human behaviour (see my post, Motivation and Movies). This week I am going to get a little more personal and write about one of my longstanding goals that has become both a great effort and a great help in staying motivated to glean more from the world around me.

Before I fill you in on my goal, I am going to speak to the activity known as list making. List making is an ancient practice that I would argue goes as far back as the beginnings of the written word, and I may be generalizing, but I think we would be hard pressed to find proof to dispute that matter… And if someone does, then I have no problem withdrawing this statement, but I hope its worth the time, effort, and energy to said person to prove me wrong!

Moving right along.

There are lots of uses for lists – examples can include breaking up projects into tasks, prioritizing chores, planning out our days, keeping an inventory, arranging items in a particular order (ex. Top 10), putting together playlists, bookmarking information or for sharing with others, among other uses. In brief, lists are an awesome method to organize information in such a way that we can digest life more easily.

So what is my goal you ask, dear readers? Well my goal is to watch approximately 1100 movies within a 2-3 year period. I’ve decided to affectionately call this project The Watch List, because I think that this title succinctly wraps up the purpose of the list.

Now you are probably wondering, “well how did you come up with this list Tim?” And that is a very good question as there are thousands of movies out there and I don’t necessarily want to watch them all, but I do want to view those movies that have cultural significance, cult status, or a combination of both.

I decided to start my list by visiting the most straightforward of places, by looking at IMDB’s Top 250 list. For those of you who are unfamiliar with IMDB, it is also known as the Internet Movie Database, one of, if not the most, popular movie websites on the Internet. And according to ebizmba.com, it receives approximately 115 million unique monthly visitors each month.

I’m not going to delve into detail about what movies are on the Top 250 list, otherwise I wouldn’t have given you a reference link above. I highly recommend you check it out if you are interested in an amazing cross-section of film, but some of the highlights include The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather: Part II, Pulp Fiction, Schindlers List, Inception, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Going through that list initially, I determined that I had already seen more than half of these movies, but what I didn’t immediately recognize upon first glance is that IMDB also indexes films based on a group of 22 sub genres. Examples of these genres include, action, comedy, drama, film-noir, musical, sci-fi, and western.

The more I started to dig the more excited I got though. And so the idea finally hit me in a way I could articulate, why not look into every single sub genre and start writing down all of movies I hadn’t seen? That way I would expose myself to genres I was less comfortable with like war, film-noir, and biography. But that would also mean I was sure to run into some movies more than once, and so I set myself up to the task of creating a Google docs spreadsheet that could house all of the movies, and I could then search by title, decade, year, genre or a combination thereof by taking advantage of the filter command available in Google spreadsheet. Below is a screen cap of what my list looks like. I might get around to sharing it at some point, but this should do the trick for now.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 10.20.51 PM

I have colour coded the list for myself so that I can remember what movies I’ve watched over a certain period of time, as well as identifying which movies are available at the Edmonton Public Library or on Netflix. Lets face it, it would insane for me to buy such a great volume of movies right out the gate, but that is something that I may get around to, once I start rating the films myself, but lets stick with baby steps for now.

And that’s all the theories I’ve got this week – until next time. But please let me know what you think of my list, and if you have any ideas of how to improve upon it or if you want to know what the list is made up of, leave a comment or send me an email!


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