Big things have small beginnings.
In August of 2013 (almost three years ago), I decided to undertake a second “Epic Film Challenge.” The original movie watching and video making challenge was one born out of a desire to watch more films. I had been a movie lover for my entire life, but in my early 20s I realised that I had really slacked on one of my greatest passions. So the idea to watch 366 films in one (leap) year was one that greatly appealed to me, plus, I could make it a series on my YouTube channel.
I started on the 14th July 2011, and ended it exactly a year later in July 2012. My fiancee Connie also joined me on the Epic Film Challenge whenever she could, and making all of those video reviews was a lot of fun. For the most part they were very simple, one take videos filmed very roughly, and that’s all it ever needed to be, documenting the process. Occasionally for landmark episodes I would make them feel a bit more special, with an edited review, a skit, or even a montage video including a clip of every film we had watched, in order, up until that point.
EFC #150: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) – The first montage “supercut” video.
The views on the series were not good, some videos didn’t even break ten views, which was disheartening, but ultimately the sum was greater than the parts, and 366 videos later, I felt like I had not only achieved something, but changed my movie watching life forever. While I still hadn’t quite embarked upon the broadening of my horizons that would blast open all the possibilities film has to offer, through the years and across the world, I definitely made the first move. I watched Seven Samurai.
It was a formative experience that made me realise just how incredible this old, black and white Japanese film was, and I wondered if there were more classics out there, perhaps films I’d never even heard of, that were of the same quality. Now for argument’s sake, I still haven’t, and Seven Samurai remains for me the best film I’ve ever seen, half a decade since I first saw it. But man, that’s a pretty high bar, and coming underneath it is really not bad. Since The Epic Film Challenge I have branched out to areas I never would’ve dreamed of exploring, like the silent era of film, now one of my favourite periods, containing some of my absolute favourites. This is something a pre-Epic Film Challenge Luke would never have conceived of.
A year after that first Epic Film Challenge, or EFC I, for short, I felt an urge, a tingling. An itch that needed to be scratched, and that itch arrived in the form of Steven Jay Schneider’s collection of films and reviews in the book: 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.