Viewers’ Advisory in the Digital Age January 2011
presented by Tom Warner Librarian Sights & Sounds Department Enoch Pratt Free Library/Central Library Baltimore, Maryland
Just the Facts, Ma’am: Challenges Facing Multi-Media Librarians A/V librarians need lots of options on hand for recommendation these days due to: Increased customer demand for DVDs, TV series, documentaries as teaching aids Ever-changing formats (DVD, Blu-Ray, whatever’s next) Ever-fluctuating popularity of titles and genres (vampires, ESL, etc.) Economic downturn will only increase demand for individuals and families seeking cost-cutting entertainment, as well as relying on library film programming
Viewer’s Advisory: a double-edged sword We must not only recommend at the point-of-transaction (answering a question) but also anticipate needs based on demand and topicality. E.g., vampire movies like Twilight are popular, so do you… Program screenings of vampire films at your library? Purchase similar titles, such as HBO’s True Blood TV series?
Anticipating demand: the Basics Think topical – what’s hot? Who died? Anniversaries? Think seasonal – holidays? Back to school? Think retail when displaying DVDs and change displays often to increase interest and excitement. Group movies by genre for grab-and-go. Be prepared to do reference interviews for movies for what’s new, anticipated release dates, etc.
The hardest question you can ask a librarian is very often: “ What’s good?” Oh no!
… which is a query that puzzled even Aristotle… What is the nature of “goodness” ???
Patron Profiling General questions like this can be difficult because, unlike a specific request (e,g., “Do you have Twilight ? Do you have any vampire movies?”), they require that you determine each individual’s tastes and viewing habits .
And as we all know, when it comes to taste, one person’s prime rib is another’s Hamburger Helper … vs.
The Viewer’s Advisory Interview What kind of movies do you like? (Classics, Horror, British, Costume Dramas, Blockbusters, Action, etc.) What was the last good movie you saw? Do you have a favorite actor or director? What kind of movie are you in the mood for today (Chick flick? Date movie? Action movie?) Defining what is “good” for individual patrons requires you to ask questions about their viewing habits and likes/dislikes, which leads us to…
Viewer’s Advisory Interview (cont.) What movies have you seen recently that you did not enjoy? Why do you dislike that movie? Are violence or sexuality an issue? Are ratings or age level important?
Viewer’s Advisory Interview Entertainment vs. Educational/Doc Films: Do you want an instruction film showing how something is done? (Foreign language, ballroom dancing, home improvements, crafts, commercial driver’s license, GRE or SAT test prep?) Is this for class? What exactly do you need to complete this assignment? For example, if you’re studying slavery or the Middle Passage, would a docu-drama with actors like Roots be acceptable or do you want a more scholarly PBS documentary? Travelogues: Are you going on a trip or are you studying this country for school? Most travel DVDs are geared towards holiday travelers - not students. Are you a teacher ? Is this for instruction? What age group are your students?
Appeal Factors Genre Characters (actors) Author (director) Plot Setting/place Language (English or foreign/subtitled?) Time period Pacing In other words…what factors make a movie or TV show appealing (or unappealing) to a patron? Many Readers’ Advisory appeal factors also apply to Viewer’s Advisory : Mood Relationships Ideas/themes Authenticity Sexuality/Violence Audience/age appropriateness (adult, young adult, children) Series, remakes
Readers’ vs. Viewers’ Appeal Factors Patrons’ appeal factors can apply to both books and films A discussion of book interests can help determine movies of interest (especially if the book spawned a movie: Stephen King, Alan Moore, Ludlum, Grisham, Dan Brown, etc.) Movie interests can also affect what books a patron may enjoy (i.e., you saw the movie, now read the book)
Appeal Factors in Detail Action/War/Adventure Martial Arts Westerns Drama Comedy Sci-Fi Horror Crime/Gangsters Epics/Historical Films Musicals Children’s Documentary feature films Instructional (“How To”) videos/DVDs Genre: Like books, films and TV shows are classified into genres. There is no definitive list, but generally they reflect those of a video rental store.
If ratings are important: http:// www.filmratings.com/filmRatings_Cara / ) This MPAA*-approved site enables you to search by title for the official rating of any film released since 1968. It is part of the Classification & Rating Administration (CARA) website. The industry standard is FILMRATINGS.COM: * Motion Picture Association of America
If age appropriateness is important: Parental Advisory Sources Kids-in-Mind ( www.kids-in-mind.com ) The aim of this web site “is to provide parents and other adults with objective and complete information about a film's content so that they can decide, based on their own value system, whether they should watch a movie with or without their kids.” Movie Mom ( www.moviemom.com ) In this easy to use web site, you can search by genre and age group as well as by movie title. Parent Previews ( http:// movies.go.com/parentpreviews / ) Parents Television Council ( parentstv.org ) The PTC's states that its mission is “to promote and restore responsibility and decency to the entertainment industry in answer to America's demand for positive, family-oriented television programming.” Mainly of interest to those parents that want to control their children’s viewing habits by referring to the PTC’s Family Guide To Prime Time Television , which enables you to look up TV shows and movies and determine their appropriateness according to a traffic-light rating system of red (unsuitable for children: contains gratuitous sex, explicit language, or violence), yellow (may be inappropriate for children: contains adult-oriented themes and dialogue) and green (family-friendly show “promoting responsible themes and traditional values”).
Library Subject Guides/Lists You may want to consider creating print or online subject guides/lists for frequently requested subject areas. For example, you can help teachers planning their curriculum see what visuals materials can augment their teaching units. For example, Pratt offers its series guide: Teaching Aids on Video/DVD . and “ Pratt Recommends ” movie lists, such as: Bollywood Videos & DVDs British Mystery Series
Other Library Subject Lists Skokie Public Library : http://www.skokie.lib.il.us/s_audiovisual/av_lists/av_ls_Movies/index.asp Award winners Mystery and crime Books, authors, and writing Romance Comedy Series, sequels, and remakes Cultural interest Special interest Family Special occasions and holidays Skokie’s librarians have compiled thematic lists that feature selected film titles, such as:
Other Library Subject Lists Nashville Public Library http:// www.library.nashville.org/bmm/bmm_movies_listsjs.asp 25 Essential Horror Films Broadway Musicals Coming of Age Films Essential Films in Glorious Black and White Essential Romance Films Middle-aged Adults as Characters in Films Nashville’s librarians have provided additional movie lists, such as:
Movie Lists The “What do you recommend?” query can be answered either by your personal experience or by referring to the opinions of leading film critics and their essentials or genre lists – of which there is no shortage of print and online resources – as well as award-winners lists!
Movie Lists - Online Academy Award Winners ( www.oscars.org ) AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies ( http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/movies100.pdf?docID=264 ) New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made ( http://www.nytimes.com/ref/movies/1000best.html ) Tim Dirks’ 100 Greatest Films ( http:// www.filmsite.org/momentsindx.html ) National Film Registry ( http:// www.loc.gov/film/filmnfr.html ) 1989-2008, searchable by year or title A sampling of the innumerable lists… The critics say…
Movie Lists - Books 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die . Stephen Jay Schneider, editor. Barron’s, 5th edition, 2008. 501 Movie Directors . Stephen Jay Schneider, editor. Barron’s, 2007. The Great Movies . Roger Ebert, 2002. The Great Movies II . Roger Ebert, 2005. Have You Seen…?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films . David Thomson, 2008. Rough Guide to Anime, Gangster, Independent, Kids, Noir, Sci-Fi Movies , etc. Innumerable movie list books have been written – probably too many (see bibliography handouts)… “ How utterly fascinating!”
Following are some of the best print and online resources you can use to keep pace with the never-ending onslaught of information, blogs, tweets, databases, web sites, and epinions about films and television shows in the Digital Age. Use them to help a patron find what they want - or what leading critics think they should see.
Film Resources - Books 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Steven Jay Schneider, editor (Barron’s Educational Series, 5th edition, 2008) Where other anthology-type books simply summarize the plot details and list the actors, 1001 Movies tells you specifically why each film belongs in your must-see list. Good general guide for patrons who want to see what the experts think are the film essentials. Films are listed chronologically by year of release, from 1902’s A Trip To the Moon to 2007’s Atonement . Includes indices for Genre, Title and Director. Lists country of origin, language & major creative contributors (director, producer, screenplay, director of photography, etc.) Lists all Hollywood and film festival nominations/awards.
Film Resources - Books VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever Jim Craddock, editor online @ Movieretreiver.com An A/V Librarian’s best friend, the Hound is bred to answer the question, “What should I watch next?” Hound is renowned for its comprehensive Movie Lists and Category Indices, from Abortion to Zombies, with clever subcategories like Eat Me (characters end up as food, Jurassic Park, Soylent Green ) or . Includes indices for Cast, Composers, Cinematographers, Writers, Directors, Video Sources, Awards (Academy, British, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit, Raspberries). Includes “Kibbles and Series” index listing movie adaptation sources (literary, theatrical, cartoon, TV), as well as Recurring Characters (James Bond, Indiana Jones), notable Screen Partnerships (Abbott & Costello, Martin & Lewis) and behind-the-scenes people .
The VideoHound’s Litter VideoHound’s Cult Flicks & Trash Pics VideoHound’s Dragon: Asian Action & Cult Flicks VideoHound’s Family Video Guide VideoHound’s Groovy Movies VideoHound’s Horror Show VideoHound’s Independent Film Guide VideoHound’s Sci-Fi Experience VideoHound’s Vampires on Video
Magazine Resources Sight & Sound ( http:// www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound / ) This is the British Film Institute’s monthly magazine, which is international in scope and is also available online. Besides featuring topical and retrospective articles, coverage of all major festivals and film events, and interviews with leading directors, it provides extrensive reviews of all new theatrical and DVD releases, as well as book reviews, arranged in easy to read alphabetical order. More so than other magazines, SaS includes detailed credits in its film reviews. Sets the standard for film reviews. Variety ( http:// www.variety.com / ) Recognized and respected through out the world of show business, Variety is the premier source of entertainment news. Since 1905, the most influential leaders in the industry have turned to Variety for timely, credible and straight forward news and analysis - information vital to their professions. Also available online. Renowned for its timely review s of all new film, TV, and music releases, as well as “legit” (legitimate) theatrical productions on and off Broadway. Video Librarian ( http:// www.videolibrarian.com ) Video Librarian is a video review magazine for public, school, academic, and special libraries, as well as video fans who are interested in a wider variety of titles than what's found in the average video store. Written by staff, librarians, teachers, and film critics, Video Librarian offers over 225 critical reviews per issue, alerting readers to upcoming new releases of special-interest, documentary, and video movie titles. In addition, they inform their subscribers of video bargains (and free videos) and track technological trends.
Video Librarian has helpful columns & categories New videos and newsbriefs Books into movies Mixed media (video games/TV series on DVD) Video movies Classic films/TV…plus reviews by genre Video Reviews by Genre : Children’s Psych/Self-Help Teen Issues Religion/Philosophy Education Language Arts Nature, Math & Science Health & Fitness Food & Spirits Sports, Games & Recreation Travel & Geography Seasonal Music/Dance Social & Political Issues
Jinni.com - “watch what you wish for” A viewer's advisory resource for movies and TV based on title, genre, plot, mood, structure and other factors. http:// www.jinni.com / Search in your own words Enter plots, moods, title, people Get recommendations from the Movie Genome Web Resources
A sample Jinni search: For example, let’s say a patron liked the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series books or movies. Using Jinni.com : In the Find field, type “Twilight”.
Sample Jenni search: Select Twilight (2007) from the search results. Then select the More Like It tab.
Sample Jenni search: 4. Jenni’s Movie Genome suggests 22 vampire movies matching Twilight .
Web Resources VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever is also online @ Movieretreiver.com A search there for “Twilight” lets users vote on the film (love it or hate it) so there is viewer feedback. In addition, the Hound lists: Its VideoHound bone rating (0-4) A listing of more movies by director Catherine Hardwicke A listing of more movies starring Kristen Stewart Member reviews Related movie news about Twilight
Internet Movie Database ( www.imdb.com ) The most extensive film database on the Internet covers over 150,000 movies with over 2,000,000 filmography entries. The IMDb provides links to reviews by leading critics (Roger Ebert is usually first), images, credits, and other pertinent information, as well as to Amazon.com for purchase information . Allows title, name, keyword, and advanced searching. A personal fave! Though not infallible, IMDb is my first choice for: Accurate filmographies (director, year of release, country of origin, language, running time, studio) External reviews by leading critics Finding out if a movie is still “in print” – because IMDB is a subsidiary of Amazon, if the Amazon link isn’t highlighted, you can bet it’s unavailable. Linking to IMDb Pro (if you subscribe) for distributor, agent, industry info (also useful for finding determining film clearances for programming/screenings)
IMDb’s Advanced Searches The Complex Name search enables you to search by Actors, Actresses, Cinematographers, Composers, Directors, Writers, Production designers, costume designers, editors, producers, art directors, animation department, or All Departments. The Complex Character Search lets you search by an actor or actresses’Character name (e.g., call them “Ishmael”) Advanced searches enables you to look for People Working Together (e.g., Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts, Lewis and Martin) or Common Cast/Crew and Common Name Search – in which you know the name of a couple of movies, but not the people that worked on them . You can also do “advanced” searches on IMDb, though the results can be mixed at best.
IMDB – Movies tab IMDb’s Movies tab provides links for movies currently playing in theaters (Now Playing), Top Movies (by box office and other criteria), Showtimes & Tickets, DVD & Blu-Ray, Independent Film, Top 250 movies (as voted by IMDb viewers), My Movies (make your own movie lists), and Browse IMDb.
IMDb Movies Browse – What To Watch Selecting IMDb Movies , Browse displays the “What To Watch” page, which provides a wide variety of information and aids to help you find a wide variety of choices for your viewing pleasure as well as assisting you in determining which of those choices will best suit your tastes.
IMDb’s “ What To Watch ” hints User Reviews : Registered IMDb users can post brief reviews of any film or other production in the database. You'll find a recent comment under the credits for those titles that have them and can access all comments by clicking the &quot;user comments&quot; link in the &quot;Awards & Reviews&quot; section (lefthand column of a title's pages). User Ratings : Shown above the credits for any film with at least five user votes is an average vote on a scale from 1-10. By clicking the &quot;Vote Here&quot; button or the &quot;user ratings&quot; link in the lefthand column (&quot;Awards & Reviews&quot; section) you can see a detailed breakdown of the voting, including a demographic breakdown (i.e. men's votes vs. women's votes in various age groups). Search By Ratings : Our User Ratings Browser duplicates some of the tops/bottoms lists from the Top Movies page plus it allows you to search for movies that fall within a certain user ratings range. You can also specify a genre and year or range of years... or not. Reviews Around the Web : In the &quot;Awards & Reviews&quot; section (lefthand column of a title's pages) there is an &quot;external reviews&quot; link. This goes to a page with links to reviews from around the Web, ranging from major newspapers and critics to little personal sites where would-be pundits post their reviews. If the reviews are in another language than English, the review language is usually noted in parentheses. Top Movies : Handy links to all sorts of top movie lists... Top 10 at the U.S. & UK box-office, top 250 films of all time, top 50 films by genre or decade, etc. Award Winners : Our awards section catalogs nominees, honorees, selections, and winners from hundreds of award ceremonies and film fests past and present. Also look for the &quot;awards & nominations&quot; link in the &quot;Awards & Reviews&quot; section on the lefthand side of a film's page. IMDb Movie of The Day : Each day (Mon - Fri) our editors pick a movie available on video. Find it on our home page or get it delivered daily in our FREE daily newsletter . We also have a Movie of the Day archive . Automated & User Recommendations : Check out our IMDb Recommends section. When you enter the name of a film you know you like, we'll direct you to a few more you might. You can also reach the recommendations by looking up a film normally and then clicking the &quot;recommendations&quot; link in the &quot;Awards & Reviews&quot; section (lefthand column on the titles's pages). Plot Summaries : In the &quot;Plot & Qoutes&quot; section (lefthand column of a title's pages) you'll find &quot;plot summary&quot; and &quot;Maltin summary.&quot; If these are grayed out, no information is available. If they are linked, you can read a brief synopsis of the film. The Maltin summaries also include Maltin's ratings on a 0 (&quot;bomb&quot;) to 4 star scale.
IMDB – TV tab IMDb’s TV tab provides access to its new TV Blog, TV program listings, TV episodes & clips, and Fall TV Preview. New!
IMDb’s TV Listings Grid A good resource if Comcast’s cable schedule drives you crazy!
Web Resources - Reviews Metacritic Film & Music Reviews ( www.metacritic.com ) Metacritic.com provides a cross-section of reviews by respected critics and assigns a “ metascore ” (a weighted average of all reviews, from 0 to 100) to show a critical consensus (e.g., Twilight Saga: New Moon received a 45 score, reflecting mixed or average reviews from 31 national critics.) There is also a user’s score reflecting online reader’s comments. Green scores are generally favorable, yellow are mixed, red are unfavorable. Metacritic.com also provides a cross-section of reviews by respected critics of popular television series from 2005 to the present.
Metacritic.com Sample reviews (top down, highest to lowest) of The Road .
More Web Resources - Reviews DVD Verdict ( http:// www.dvdverdict.com ) Very detailed reviews by a panel of film “judges” who give a thumbs up (innocent) or thumbs down (guilty!) review of over 18,000 titles available on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-Ray. The review archives include lists for “Top 100 Rated Films,” “Top 100 rated Discs,” “Bottom 100 Worst Rated Discs,” and “HD DVD and Blu-Ray Reviews.” The site also features Cinema Verdict (for movies playing in theaters), TV Verdict , and Pixel Verdict (for games), as well as an extensive list of Upcoming DVD Releases . Midnight Eye ( http:// www.midnighteye.com /) The best English-language resource for reviews of contemporary Japanese cinema. The site also features interviews, feature articles, book reviews, a calendar of events, and DVD release information. Founder Tom Mes also co-wrote (with Jasper Sharp) the comprehensive guide The Midnight Eye Guide to New Japanese Cinema (2004).
More Web Resources - Reviews Movie Review Query Engine ( http:// www.mrqe.com ) A central gateway to many movie reviews on the Web. Linked reviews come from many sources: national and international newspaper film critics, reviews from internet sites, and newsgroup postings. Rotten Tomatoes ( http:// www.rottentomatoes.com / ) Rotten Tomatoes compiles hundreds of reviews from movie critics in one place. Users can see excerpts of many reviews on one page; ratings are given based on the number of bad reviews and the number of good reviews. Once you select a movie, it presents news, chats, other websites, and many more tidbits related to that movie or to the performers in the film.
More Web Resources - Reviews Senses of Cinema ( http:// www.sensesofcinema.com / ) Senses of Cinema is the online version of the quarterly Australian film journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema. Provides some useful links to reviews, DVD distributors, film festivals, screen organizations/societies, and magazines/journals. Video Librarian ( http:// www.videolibrarian.com ) The online version of this magazine limits access for many features to its subscribers, but still offers free access to many reviews of new and classic movies, documentaries, television series, and games available on video, DVD and blu-ray.
Best TV Resources Epguides.com ( http:// epguides.com / ) This site contains a vast, searchable archive of episode guides for over 4,800 television series past and present. You can search by show title, episode title, main characters, and main actor names. You can also search by categories like US Dramas, UK Comedies, Canadian shows, and Australian shows. The link for TVRage.com additionally lets you search by plot summaries, guest stars, writers, and directors. For best results, put multiple words or people’s names in quotes, as well as any hypehnated words like “x-files.” Locate TV ( www.locatetv.com ) his site lets you find TV shows, movies, people on TV, on DVD, and online. A valuable resource for movies and TV shows that are not available on video/DVD or online because it will tell you the next time your title will screen on TV and what channel it is on, if available. However, it will only look for titles airing in the next two weeks. By registering online, users can set up a “personalized TV schedule” of their favorite movies and TV shows and be notified when they air.
Best TV Resources (cont.) The PTC's states that its mission is “to promote and restore responsibility and decency to the entertainment industry in answer to America's demand for positive, family-oriented television programming.” Mainly of interest to those parents that want to control their children’s viewing habits by referring to the PTC’s Family Guide To Prime Time Television , which enables you to look up TV shows and movies and determine their appropriateness according to a traffic-light rating system of red (unsuitable for children: contains gratuitous sex, explicit language, or violence), yellow (may be inappropriate for children: contains adult-oriented themes and dialogue) and green (family-friendly show “promoting responsible themes and traditional values”). Parents Television Council ( parentstv.org )
Best TV Resources (cont.) TV DVD Reviews ( http:// www.tvdvdreviews.com / This site provides reviews of hundreds of television shows that have come out on DVD, from classic to cult favorites and from PBS dramas to campy kitsch. Reviews can be searched by title or categories like “British Invasion,” “Crimetime,” “Kids Korner,” and “TV DVD Essentials.” TV Party! ( www.tvparty.com ) TV DVDS are the hottest selling segment of the home video market and this site, run by TV Party! Author Billy Ingram (as seen on cable TV’s VH1, Trio, and Bravo channels) reviews everything from classic TV series to current favorites, as well as the occasional movie. Especially valuable its information about “lost TV shows” (shows that were never preserved or archived) and such visual ephemera as classic TV commercials and Saturday morning TV shows.
Best Release Date Resources DVDBeaver ( www.dvdbeaver.com ) DVDBeaver offers a variety of DVD information for the discerning cinema fan, including a film/DVD release date calendar. Reel: The Planet's Biggest Movie Store ( www.reel.com ) Provides up-to-date information on upcoming theatrical, video, and DVD releases, including local showtimes, reviews, and purchase information. VideoETA ( http:// videoeta.com ) This is a handy source for finding the release dates of upcoming theatrical films, games and DVDs. There are countless others, including:
Closing thoughts… Like Readers' Advisory, collection knowledge is the key in Viewers’ Advisory. If you have cable, watch TCM, Sundance Channel or IFC for programming ideas Keep up to date by checking print and online reviews. If possible, augment your research and anticipate trends by attending film festivals (like the local Maryland Film Festival, AFI SilverDocs, etc.) Keep watching!
This entire slide show presentation may be viewed at any time by accessing the “ Viewer’s Advisory Slideshow ” link on SLRC’s Sights & Sounds Department web page: http://www.prattlibrary.org/locations/sightsandsounds/index.aspx?id =44422 View this slideshow online Viewer’s Advisory Bibliography For your convenience, we have compiled a bibliography of helpful print and online resources that can be viewed at any time by accessing the “ Viewer’s Advisory Resources ” link on SLRC’s Sights & Sounds Department web page: http://www.prattlibrary.org/locations/sightsandsounds/index.aspx?id =44422
Contact Information Tom Warner Sights & Sounds Department Enoch Pratt Central Library 400 Cathedral Street Baltimore, MD 21201 [email_address] (410) 396-4616 “ Keeping it reel!”