In the closing months of 2010, Adam Hanson, Trevor Basset and myself started throwing around ideas for a project that we could collaborate on. We were all looking for something to do in our off time, and that lead to emails being passed between the three of us over what we could build that would force us to create new work on a consistent basis. People start group projects all the time, much of them with the intent of being a vehicle for self-promotion and traffic. All we wanted was a way to keep ourselves accountable for designing new pieces in our spare time regularly. Promises are harder to break and laziness is a more difficult rhythm to fall into when you commit to people you know; doubly so when your plan expands to include relative strangers in the festivities. We wanted others to join us, which meant that flaking out became harder: when you ask other designers, illustrators, and artists to use their free time on something that doesn’t offer much of a reward outside of creative fulfillment, it helps if you’re in the trenches with them.
We decided to model the project around a book club, with film filling the role of the novel instead. Well in advance, we’d reach out out to other creatives with an assigned film for each month, giving people time to watch, digest, and create. When the scheduled month would roll around, pieces would start being uploaded at the end of the first week and would continue until the calendar changed and we moved forward. That was the plan. We’d all reach out to people, maintain the site, and participate with our own images. And every month we’d alternate amongst ourselves who would chose what film so that we all had a say in what we’d be tackling.
Silver Screen Society launched on February 4, 2011 with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later... leading the way. Over two years, several hundreds of artists, and a large serving of films later, the site is still moving along. Adam left in June 2011 because of an increasingly busy schedule, so Trevor and I have been steering the ship since, trying to keep the idea fresh while learning from mistakes made along the way.
You understand quickly that commitments don’t always pan out; planning months in advance doesn’t guarantee that people will follow through. It’s understandable - priorities need to be managed, and a side project that lets you have a little bit of fun can’t always compete with work that puts bread on the table. Film selection reveals itself to be more of a mystery than anticipated. We throw titles back and forth, trying to build a schedule early so that we avoid favoring one decade or genre over another. Long gone are the days when we tried to predict how a choice would play out - one’s you feel will ignite a flame of inspiration crumble under a sea of dropouts, while small foreign films will inexplicably pull everyone together. Except The Hourglass Sanatorium. We had a feeling those that didn’t bail out would never forgive us for assigning them an offbeat Polish film from the 70’s. And they never did.
Taking chances and willing to be diverse, though, has given the site a longer lease on its life than most other collectively-based design projects. Once or twice a year we host a double feature, choosing a linking element between two films (like a director or a series) and letting people select which they’d rather tackle. At the end of 2012 we co-curated a gallery show in New York that brought past contributors in to create alternate endings for their favorite films. And at the beginning of this year, we partnered with Earwolf and the podcast ‘How Did This Get Made?’ to have people make art and design based off of cinema’s decidedly less spectacular efforts. Legalities have shuffled our idea for a book in 2014 permanently off to the side.
Hey guys, Film.com Senior Editor David Ehrlich here to hijack this post. I'm
obsessed with a fan of Silver Screen Society to a totally rational degree, and – when Brandon understandably declined to play favorites and post his top ten SSS posters – I decided to post my favorites, instead.
The picks below are obviously and solely reflective of my particular tastes, which is especially important to stress considering the gobsmacking range and variety of styles that Brandon, Adam and Trevor have brought into the fold. With SSS, there's really and truly something for everyone. These are the ones that were most for me. Be sure to hit up SilverScreenSociety.com and pick your own!