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Thoughts on… My Most Watched Actors (2019 Edition)

Back in October 2017 I posted about which actors I’ve watched the most films from. Two years later, I thought it’d be fun to revisit that and see what might have changed. I get these stats from Letterboxd where I have a pro account. I love the stats Letterboxd can give you as it’s not just your yearly film-watching stats, but also there’s stats that take into account every film you’ve ever watched.

First thing I noticed that’s changed over the past two years is the amount of films I must’ve watched in general and it’s made getting a spot on my top 20 list quite competitive. In 2017 my most watched actor (Samuel L. Jackson) had 35 film to his name and the least watched actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rachel Weisz) each had 19 films to their name. That’s changed a lot in just over two years and now my most watched actor (still Samuel L. Jackson) has 43 films to his name, while my least watched actors (Rachel Weisz, Jim Broadbent and Maggie Smith) each have 24 to their name. I think this is partly down to how last year I watched 365 different films – don’t ask me how I did it, I’m not sure but I’m definitely not putting that kind of pressure on myself again – plus, you know two years going by means there’s a lot of time to watch films from a variety of actors.

I’m happy to see over the past couple of years that there’s more female actors making into my top twenty most watched actors list. Keira Knightley (whose films I’ve watched a lot of this year) and Maggie Smith have joined Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson. Also got two more black actors here with Idris Elba (who has actually made my most watched actors list two out of the past three years I’ve had Letterboxd and he’s comfortably going to be on it again this year) and Denzel Washington.

It would obviously be nice if more women and people of couple made my top twenty most watched actors of all time but baby steps. I know for a fact there’s some actors like Anna Kendrick, Anthony Mackie, Dwayne Johnson and Emma Thompson that are just missing out on a spot. Still, based on a quick scan of Letterboxd, at the moment it’s more likely that a white woman will get a spot on my most watched actors list than any other person. This is obviously down to my taste in films, and what films are available to me in the cinema or via Netflix of similar, but it reinforces the fact I still want to broaden my film watching horizons.

Though saying that, I do watch more films not in the English language and more independent films and more films made by women each year. I think the problem is that historically I didn’t have the statistics to look at (I got Letterboxd in 2016) so there was over 20 years of film watching where I watched what I wanted without any real thought about who was in it bar whether or not I liked the actors. And that’s fine because for most of those 20 years I was a child/teenager where I just watched what I liked and what was available without a care in the world.

I know making my film viewing more diverse will take time and that’s OK. I still watch what I want to watch, whether that’s because it’s got a certain actor in it I like, or the trailer looks good, or it’s a genre I like, without feeling pressured that I should be watching highbrow films that are from a certain niche area.

In short – watching diverse films with diverse talent is a good thing that I want to continue doing, but this revisit to these stats two years on shows me that making a big dent in this will take time. But I have my whole life to watch as many films as I like with many different people starring in them, so while I will probably continue to check in on these stats every couple of years to see how things stand, I won’t stress about it too much.

My final thought about looking at my top twenty most watched actors list today is; it does make me smile that in two years I’ve only watched one more Bruce Willis film since 2017 (I told you I wasn’t a fan of his) but he’s still got quite a comfortable spot there.

CREATOR INTERVIEW: Dave Morgan

Today I have something a bit different to share with you all. Meet Dave Morgan, a writer, director and RTS Award Winning producer, who is currently running a crowdfunding campaign for his spy web series Discretion. I asked him a few questions about the project, the team that are bringing it all together, and what it’s really like to crowdfund a project.

First of all, please introduce yourself and Discretion
Well, as your intro brilliantly stated, I’m Dave. Hello! I’m a writer, director, and Royal Television Society Award winning producer from Liverpool. I mainly work on independent short films and web series’, but I have also worked on much larger productions all over the country as well.

My new web series is called Discretion. It follows the story of Tom, an ill-prepared newly recruited MI5 agent on his first assignment that goes very wrong. Tom’s boss and the head of MI5, George, is called into an Inquiry where he leans that both of their jobs are on the line. But things are much worse than expected, Tom has disappeared, two terrorists have broken out of Belmarsh Prison, and Sophie, Tom’s partner at MI5, has no leads to finding them.

Where did you get the idea of Discretion from?
The idea spun out of my love for the James Bond and Jason Bourne films, as well as the TV series’ Spooks and 24. I had many different ideas for crime films that I wanted to write, but they all had quite similar characters and tones to the stories, so I decided to rewrite the outlines, unify the characters and universes of the films, and turn them into a TV series. And thus, Discretion was born.

Why have you chosen to tell Discretion as a web series?
The reason we’ve gone with a web series is because that’s where most of an audience is now; Online. The BBC recently moved one of their channels online because of that exact reason. It’s where our audience is.

Espionage is also moving into a very digital age, so we’re trying to keep in line with that.

Who are you working with to bring this story to life?
We have an amazing crew lined up for the series including myself, Neal McAndrew, a lifelong friend of mine who is co-writing and co-producing the series with me. We have James Pearson of Pearson Casting who is our Casting Director, James Llyal who is one of our Cinematographers on the series, and Matthew Hirons who is our script editor. That’s just to name a few, we’ll have more big announcements in the coming months so keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

We all believe passionately that independent talent and independent film and TV for that matter, is something that needs to be pushed and promoted in the industry. So that is what we are doing with Discretion. We’re getting a group of really talented people on board and showing their skills to the world.

Neal McAndrew (left) and Dave Morgan (centre) on set

Why did you choose to crowdfund the project and what’s your aim with the campaign?
Most people assume that if you go to crowdfunding then you’re desperate for the money, but that’s definitely not the case with Discretion. The reason we’ve chosen to crowdfund the budget for the series is to raise awareness for Independent filmmakers and Independent films and series’.

The big leagues of the film world are dominated by remakes/reboots, sequels, and things we’ve seen hundreds of times before. What I want to do with my company, DLM Media, is look to first time Writers & Directors and find brand new, fresh talent in the industry and get some really new ideas on screen. Discretion is the perfect example of what we can achieve through crowdfunding with the help of likeminded people who also support Independent films.

When it comes to crowdfunding, what are the most surprising or difficult things you’ve encountered?
By far, one of the most difficult things about crowdfunding is getting people to give their hard-earned cash to a stranger on the internet, in that it is only becoming more and more difficult with the amount of people who are turning to crowdfunding.

There are many challenges to crowdfunding, but, personally, I find that getting people to just take a few minutes and look at the crowdfunding page is the most difficult. You really have to tap into your communities that the film represents. And when you’re a brand-new company, with a new, original idea, that is very difficult to do.

Where can people learn more about Discretion and follow your campaign?
The best places to go to are the Indiegogo page, our Twitter and Facebook pages, and of course our official website (www.discretionws.com).

The Indiegogo page is the best place to look for what you can get out of the series and what you can do to help us. We have some amazing perks on offer and a chance to spend some truly personal time with the cast and crew over dinner, on set, and during the table read. There’s also the opportunity to be in the film yourself!

My favourite perk has to be the film stills. I will personally be choosing 2 stills from each episode, printing them onto celluloid, and presenting them in a framed collage with information about the series and an exclusive “collection number”. These will never be on sale anywhere else in the world so now is the time to get your hands on one!

Thank you to Dave for taking the time to talk about Discretion. Make sure you check out the Indiegogo page and follow Discretion on social media so you can keep up to date with the journey to bring Discretion to screen.

Thoughts on… My Most Watched Actors

I have a Letterboxd account and it’s pretty great. Letterboxd is the movie version of Goodreads so you can log what you watch, write reviews, make lists and follow different users. If you get a Pro account (which is only $19 a year which is about £15 and I think that’s pretty good value to be honest) you get to see what your various movie-related stats are each year you log films and overall on all the films you’ve ever marked as watched.

I’ve been looking at which actors I’ve watched the most overall and there’s some interesting things there but it does make me want to try and change some of my viewing habits.

Out of my top twenty most watched actors, just two of them are women – Rachel Weisz and Scarlett Johansson. Scarlett Johansson was someone I was surprised to be there as she’s not one of my favourite actors nor someone who I’d go to see a film just because they’re in it. Her being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly helped give her a boost and for a younger actor (she’s 32) she’s been in the business for a while and has an eclectic filmography. Rachel Weisz is a new addition because I have been watching more of her filmography recently, trying to get her (and more women in general) into my top twenty. In comparison to Johansson, Weisz is an actor who I love and will seek out films just because she’s in them but she usually stars in dramas or films that aren’t so mainstream hence while she is someone I do really like, her filmography isn’t always to my taste. (more…)

Why I love… Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

I love Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. They are two of the greatest tennis players who have ever lived and they are my favourite players. I am one of those people who likes and supports both of them, no matter who they are playing. When they end up playing each other I’m often torn because I love them both and never really know who I want to win, but I do know their matches will be incredible.

Theirs has been a rivalry that’s been going for thirteen years now. They’ve played each other 37 times so far, with Nadal leading with 23 wins to Federer’s 14 wins. Probably their most famous match is the Wimbledon 2008 final. It was pure magic and one of the first tennis matches I remember being riveted by, it was an example of phenomenal tennis. They’ve made each other improve their game and have set so many records individually and together. They’ve each had their problems and injuries and for them to come back in 2017, with Federer 36 years old and Nadal 31, and win the four major Grand Slams between them is incredible. This year Federer won Wimbledon for a record eighth time, and met Nadal in the Australian Open where he won in five sets. While Nadal won the US Open and he won his tenth French Open title (another record) and firmly cemented himself as the King of Clay.

Last month was the inaugural Laver Cup, a tournament organised by Roger Federer in the style of golf’s Ryder Cup, with Team Europe playing against Team World. It was an event that had its critics before it started as it doesn’t affects any players standings and was seen as more of an exhibition tournament more than something players want to win. Doubters were proved wrong as everyone involved was desperate to play their best and to win.

One of the highlights of the tournament was that Federer and Nadal, both playing for Team Europe, played a doubles match on the same time – the first time they’ve ever played together like that. It was a thrilling match and their opponents from Team World, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock, put up a fight, especially in the second set but Nadal and Federer went on to win the match, even if there were some slight mishaps where they were unused to playing together. Team Europe went on to win the tournament after Roger Federer defeated Nick Kyrgios, when in his excitement Rafa went and jumped into Roger’s arms!

The Laver Cup really highlighted how these two sportsmen not only respect each other, but how well they get along off the court. They are some of the fiercest rivals in sport ever but they have also become almost friends. It was wonderful seeing them on the same side, supporting each other and the younger players on the team. To be honest I don’t think I’d ever seen Rafa smile and laugh as much as he did that weakened, especially whenever he was with Roger. It was such a great tournament – and being able to watch their doubles match live was the best £6.99 I’ve ever spent (I got a Sky Sports 24 Hours Pass on Now TV).

They are both getting older, and they will have to retire at some point, but until then I’ll enjoy watching them play – both against one another, and against anyone else. I could write even more about Rafa and Roger and why I like them so much, but really it can be narrowed down to two things that applies to them both. 1. They are very talented tennis players and 2. They seem like generally nice, charismatic people. I could say so much about them, using their own quotes to describe each other, but I don’t want this post to be even longer than it already is.

I love them both and I’ll finish this post with a video from the Laver Cup someone highlighting Federer and Nadal’s friendship. Though I also have to mention this video, where Roger and Rafa are supposed to be filming an advert for a charity match and they cannot stop laughing – if I’m ever feeling down I watch this video and it always makes me feel better.

Z is for Hans Zimmer

I love film scores, they’re the best thing to listen to while writing in my opinion. There’s so many brilliant composers out there but Hans Zimmer is my favourite. I saw him live a few years ago at Hammersmith in London and it was the best experience, and probably my favourite gig I’ve ever been to. I wrote (more like gushed) about his concert on my blog here.

He’s composed so many iconic scores, from the superhero films like the Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, to epic films like Inception, The Last Samurai and Gladiator. He spans all genres, has worked with so many great directors and still manages to bring something new and different to each of the films he works on.

I find it hard to pick a favourite soundtrack of his. I think The Dark Knight was the first film score I bought so that has a special place in my heart, The Lion King gives me goose bumps and I adore both Sherlock Holmes and Inception.

I love how kind of mainstream Hans Zimmer is becoming. He’s got a world tour this year and he performed at Coachella a few weeks ago – can you imagine a film composer performing his scores with a full orchestra at a music festival like Coachella a few years ago? It’s kind of mad but brilliant. It makes people listen to the scores, and seeing all those people on stage really shows how much time, effort and people power it takes to make a film score.

Below is a compilation of some of Hans Zimmer’s best, or most famous, film scores – I’ve been listening to it as I write this post!

Y is for Anton Yelchin

Anton Yelchin was one of the actors I’d go on an actor-binge for, just buy and watch films only because he was in them never really mind the genre or reviews. I watched Charlie Bartlett (2007) that way and Middle of Nowhere (2008) which I watched last year and it really is a delightful film.

I think the first film I saw him in was Star Trek (2009) and he made a wonderful Chekov and he was instantly my favourite character. The same year Terminator Salvation was released and while it’s not the most liked film in the franchise, I enjoy it and think Yelchin made the best young-Kyle Reese. It was great because you could see the baseline for the man he’d grow up to be aka Michael Biehn in Terminator (1984).

I don’t know where I got it from but downloaded music from Anton Yelchin’s band – The Hammerheads. It’s loud and manic, very different to what I’d usually listen to but I do like it. I do love Yelchin’s vocals, and another great thing about Green Room (2015) besides it being a brilliant film, is you get to see some of Yelchin’s musical talent on screen.

Anton Yelchin was a really talented actor and it hurt when I heard of his death via social media. It was one of those that I didn’t believe and was in denial about until the news as being picked up on other sites. It was such a freak accident and I couldn’t believe it. His was the first “celebrity death” that really hit me and made me cry. I think it was not only because he was super talented and one of my favourite actors, but because it was such a shock giving the circumstances of his death and how young he was.

I’ve still got unwatched films of his, for an actor so young he’s made a hell of a lot of films, so it’s nice to go back and see him on screen.

W is for Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington is a babe. He’s funny, charming, talented and good-looking. He’s another one of those actors I’ll watch films just because I know he’s in it – that’s how I watched Courage Under Fire (1996), a film that wouldn’t normally be high on my to-watch list.

I’ve not yet watched two of his biggest films American Gangster (2007) and Malcolm X (1992) but I do have the DVDs sitting on my shelves. They’re films I really want to watch but feel like I have to be in the mood to really concentrate and give them my full attention when I’m watching them, recently I just like easy-watch kind of films.

Still, I’ve seen a lot of Denzel Washington’s filmography. He’s brilliant in Training Day (2001), his performance won him an Oscar, making him the second black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, I love the dramas he makes and stars in but I also love it when he stars in action films like The Equalizer (2014) and Safe House (2012). The films he made with Tony Scott directing were some of my favourite, especially Unstoppable (2010) which I talked about a few days ago in the A-Z Challenge.

Denzel Washington’s won two acting Oscars and been nominated for six other Oscars, he’s been nominated nine times at the Golden Globes and won three times, and he’s been nominated for and won so many different awards in different categories at different institutions it’s hard to count. I really do think Denzel Washington is one of the best actors in the business right now.