Welcome to New Screen Slate (aka Screen Slate 3.0, aka Nu Screen Slate, aka Screen Slate: With a Vengeance), which coincides with our 10th anniversary (and, as it happens, the Governor’s announcement that NYC movie theaters can reopen March 5).
The work to update our previous incarnation predates the pandemic, but of course our effort to reconfigure a project based around supporting a local, in-person film scene became massively tied up with a year that radically changed film and media culture. In 2019, we started rebuilding our website in earnest with the intention of making it easier to update and spotlighting our editorial a little more. But in the course of 2020, we ended up creating something that is in many ways totally new as we shifted course to respond to the anticipated needs of a post-catastrophe film culture whose relationship to access, history, business models, and, of course, filmgoing, will be different from what it was during our first nine years.
Before the shutdown, developer Diego Cohen, UX designer Jeremy Fisher and I had been chipping away at a new site for several months. After the fall of New York, there were a lot of efforts to migrate programming online, so we decided to update our listings model to capture all that activity. At the same time, Screen Slate’s growing circle of contributors continued to write fantastic pieces no longer connected to the ephemeral model of featuring one NYC screening per day; this basically drove home the idea that we needed a place where their writing could flourish and the pieces’ connections to one another could register in a more meaningful way. Meanwhile, after our latest, truncated series at Anthology Film Archives, we decided to move our own programming online with Stream Slate, a series that Nellie Killian and I program to connect our audience with artists and organizations around the country.
Amid this snowballing project, we decided it would be cool to move beyond a simple design touchup. And therefore, we’ve been inexpressibly fortunate to welcome the great Bráulio Amado into the fold as designer and co-conspirator. I have loved Bráulio’s work for years and was flattered that he always seemed to like Screen Slate’s dumbest tweets. It was a total thrill that he agreed to work with us on this project and push to make things as weird and fun as possible while remaining fundamentally usable. I had hoped that we could come up with something that doesn’t appear to exist on the same internet as Rotten Tomatoes and IndieWire, and I believe we succeeded. Working with Bráulio, Diego, and Jeremy on this site rebuild has easily been one of the highlights of Screen Slate’s first decade, and I’m glad we can finally share it with you.
Our changes are not just aesthetic and programmatic, but also organizational. I’m really happy that Cosmo Bjorkenheim is stepping into a Managing Editor role, and Nellie Killian is extending her extraordinary programming talents to a virtual cinema that will run complementary to the Stream Slate live screening series. Your favorite writers are working on increasingly diversified contributions. And I currently remain the social media intern.
It feels significant to note that this project has not been the result of a grant, nor regular advertising, nor a special mega-donor, nor realized gains on $GME stock. This has been entirely funded by the people who support us with small monthly contributions, along with additional donations from readers and small charitable foundations. We hope that the people who have supported us over the decade are as proud of this new phase as we are and know that it is due to their kind generosity.
Obviously, the core of Screen Slate — beyond the friends we’ve made along the way — has been New York City movie listings. Our full database has been ported over (old stuff is temporarily hidden, but will be there soon), and we’ll resume working with venues to update them once theaters in our wheelhouse safely reopen in numbers. In the meantime, our digital listings are an active work-in-progress and by no means comprehensive, but you can help us out by submitting things here or tipping us off at email@example.com. Our newsletter will continue to be focused on a daily editorial — typically featuring something available to stream, but occasionally interviews, features, essays, etc. If you have questions about what we feature, what we list, how our virtual cinema is operating, or want to get involved, head here.
Thank you for your readership, and I look forward to seeing you in the chat room or elbow-bumping at the cinema.