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Making the Case for Keeping a Film Journal

There are casual fans who watch a few flicks a month for the purpose of entertainment. Then there are serious movie aficionados who watch movies as a form of learning and artistic appreciation. If you fall into this latter category, you may consider starting a film journal.


What is a Film Journal?

A film journal is basically a journal you use to create a documented record of your movie-watching experiences. It can be physical, digital, or pretty much anything in between. Examples include:

  • Printed film journal. The classic film journal is one that’s archived by hand in a physical journal. You can either purchase something like a leather-bound journal or spiral ring notebook, or you can design and print your own film journal according to your specific wants and needs. If going the latter route, use an online printing service, which is fast, convenient, and inexpensive.
  • Blog film journal. Prefer to document your film experiences in the digital world? Try creating your own blog where you create an entry for each film watched. Depending on your own personal preferences, you can make this blog private or public.
  • Video film journal. Another option is to develop a video film journal, in which you record videos of yourself discussing the film. Depending on how creative you are, you can even splice in clips from the film to coincide with your analysis.
  • Audio film journal. Audio notebooks are a popular way of quickly archiving thoughts without having to spend a lot of time worrying about writing or production. A simple audio recording device – like your phone – will suffice. Though if you want better quality, investing in a professional microphone is a good idea.


Every individual’s film journal is unique, and the format you select says a lot about your personality and purpose. Don’t let anyone else make this decision for you. Choose a style that fits your idea of what a film journal should be.


Why Use a Film Journal?

Everyone gets something different out of a film journal, but the most common benefits include:

  • There’s something satisfying and rewarding about journaling. Whether you’re writing, typing, or talking to a camera, the journaling process forces you to verbalize ideas and form opinions. It can be a cathartic experience.
  • From a practical perspective, a film journal gives you something to look back on and remember a film by. Your recollection of specific films may fade, but you’ll always have journal entries to refresh your memory.
  • Do you have other friends and peers who love films? A film journal gives you an opportunity to share your insights with others and have friendly debates and discussions.
  • There’s something cool about knowing you can look back in 25 or 50 years and have a journal filled with ideas and experiences of films (some of which will end up being classics, and others that will be all-but forgotten).


Tips for Starting a Film Journal

If you can’t tell by now, there isn’t a strict methodology for starting a film journal. It’s all about tailoring the experience to your own needs, wants, and expectations. Having said that, here are a few suggestions:

  • Journal immediately after watching. The longer you wait, the more you’ll forget. It also becomes less likely that you’ll actually do it, which defeats the entire purpose of having a journal in the first place. Do it quickly after the movie concludes and your insights will be freshest.
  • Maintain consistent formatting. It’s nice if you can create a consistent framework for all of your journal entries. For example, you might start with the date in the upper corner, followed by the titles of the movie, the directors, and the main actors. The actual content can have a consistent theme, too. And perhaps you can include a grading scale as well.
  • Take time to enjoy your journal. Most people journal and then toss the book on the shelf until the next time. However, there’s something to be said for pulling out your film journal on a regular basis and flipping through it. You’ll be surprised by how such a simple exercise can spark so many memories.


From Viewer to Aficionado

Most people enjoy movies, but there will always be that contingency that loves film. Your decision to keep a film journal marks your transition from a viewer into a film aficionado. Congrats on the promotion – and happy viewing!

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

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