Website FILMS FOR TWO Targets “Busy Couples”:
Couple Learns that Men and Women
Really Do Watch Movies Differently
CHICAGO—Five years ago, on Valentine’s Day, husband Richard Miller and wife Jan Lisa Huttner launched the website
FILMS FOR TWO: THE ONLINE GUIDE FOR BUSY COUPLES (www.films42.com) to help busy couples avoid lousy movies. In the past year its reader base has increased by more than 50%, due in part to simultaneous increases in ticket prices, the DVD explosion, and a significant drop in the number of new multiplex films that appeal to educated adults.
Rich believes that he and Jan have learned three important lessons during the site’s first half-decade. “Because we see many more movies now than we used to, we have become painfully aware of how many bad and/or mediocre movies are out there,” he reports. “Second, we have learned that we have to be more articulate about what we like and dislike, so that we can convey what’s specifically good or bad about a film in our 50-word mini-reviews, which we call ‘movie haikus.’ And third, in the process of discussion after we’ve seen a film, Jan and I have learned that men and women really do see things differently. Even when we’re in basic agreement, I typically value genre conventions, production values, and special effects, whereas Jan almost always focuses first on character development and relationships.”
In 2005, Jan, once a healthcare computer consultant, was admitted into the Chicago Film Critics Association, won numerous writing awards, became a go-to source for information on women filmmakers, and founded a virtual organization
(“WITASWAN”) of thousands of women who have pledged to watch one film per month either penned and/or helmed by women. Meanwhile Rich, who serves as Controller for one of Chicago’s largest academic medical centers, sees lots of movies and keeps the money flowing both at home and at work.
Jan and Rich watch about 300 movies every year now (either in theaters, or on DVD or cable television) — including many foreign and independent films, as well as routine Hollywood studio fare — writing up only those they think merit a rating of three or higher on a scale of one to five. Pics with a lower rating only receive the terse description: “Does not meet criteria.”
In addition to the couple’s film ratings and haikus,
FILMS FOR TWO also features interviews with scholars, directors and screenwriters; excerpts from movie-themed books; trend reports; and tributes to film legends. “The whole purpose of
FILMS FOR TWO is to identify options for couples — two people with two points of view and the need to balance their entertainment choices,” Jan says.
In addition to working on FILMS FOR
TWO, Jan is the film critic for The Woman’s
Newspapers™ (including CHICAGO WOMAN and TAMPA BAY WOMAN), and she recently created the popular “Second City
Tzivi” column for Chicago’s Jewish community monthly the JUF NEWS. In 2005, Jan won the National Federation of Press Women’s award for “Best New Article Written for the Web.” She also garnered five first place awards and three other honors from its Illinois chapter, the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.
Jan is also the creative force behind the WITASWAN
(“Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now”) initiative, which is boosting nationwide attendance for movies written and/or scripted by female filmmakers. To spread the word about
WITASWAN and “the Celluloid Ceiling” which currently restricts women’s opportunities, Jan speaks frequently on college campuses and at women’s group meetings all across Illinois.
All of these activities keep funneling new readers to
FILMS FOR TWO, pushing current traffic to more than 5,000 unique visitors per week. “There is so much good material available now that there’s no reason for couples to waste time and money watching junk,” Jan declares. “Our chats, features and tributes point people to quality films and trends they might have missed. We don’t target teenage boys or family films for people with kids.
FILMS FOR TWO is designed specifically for educated, reasonably affluent adults who want to watch smart, original movies, either in theatres or at home on DVD, after they put the kids to bed.” “With higher theater ticket prices and the explosion of DVDs,” Rich explains, “it’s harder to find the good stuff — which makes our website even more valuable now than it was when we first started it.”
|| Jan Lisa Huttner