Goodbye Filmstruck

I am, like film lovers everywhere, pretty goddamn pissed that Filmstruck didn’t make it. Chances are, if you’re in the US in a big city, you have access to a good part of their collection through your local library, but it was just so convenient, and so well-curated, and it made me happy. And now it’s gone.

one of Filmstruck’s greatest cinema contributions was putting thousands of classic film gifs on Giphy.

Criterion will apparently return from the ashes, as it usually does, but I don’t really care. The Criterion collection is aces, obviously, but you can actually stream a good chunk of their films through Kanopy (try your library) and other services. You just have to be a little clever about it. It’s the TCM side of things that sucks a wide variety of inappropriate spherical objects. Because yeah, I can pirate every Leslie Howard movie ever made. But I won’t like it.1

Setting aside the fact that I will certainly be reduced to the clicking of a common criminal to get my fix in horrifyingly bad resolution, there’s a least one non-selfish reason I feel like killing Filmstruck is a major blow for the future of film overall: it makes it look like curation doesn’t matter. You can piece together this collection all over the internet if you want. But the collection aspect matters. It really does. Maybe that’s just the librarian in me speaking, but it’s something I truly believe.

On TV, you can kind of get away with a constant stream of quality content to bring viewers back. But added value was a really great feature on Filmstruck. Most streaming services are just a cluttered yard sale of trash. Filmstruck was not. Plus they did a great job keeping users invested, and adding just enough optional content to give new and old viewers a foundation for what they were seeing, and what they might want to see in the future. Their interface, mind you, was a dumpster fire. It was a total wreck. But the idea was good. And I really feel like it was the foundation of a website that would be great for younger people just getting into film. Younger people who, by the way, aren’t going to subscribe to expensive as fuck cable just to have the two channels they like.

Anyway. It’s all been said before. Frankly, I know it doesn’t really affect me personally that much: I’m a library super user with memberships all over the DMV. But I’ll miss it. At least my gym has TCM.

  1. Did Leslie Howard ever play a pirate? Actually he probably would have made a fairly silly pirate. Nevermind. Not every man must be a pirate. Although some should have been pirates more often. Like Kevin Kline.