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Site of the Week – The Four Word Film Review

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Benj Clews had a problem: He wanted to run a movie review website but didn’t want to write or read lengthy movie reviews. Out of sheer laziness, The Four Word Film Review was born. His lack of effort paid of — it’s a fun and freeing format for writers that is also immensely entertaining for readers.

“The most popular review at the moment is for Saving Private Ryan ‘s ‘Brother gets own bedroom.'” Submissions don’t have to be funny or clever, but those tend to be the most popular. “It’s tricky to nail down what makes a good fwfr,” he says. “It’s down to getting the most use out of those four words.”

Why four? Why not five or 10? “I scribbled a bunch of short reviews
that amused me on a piece of paper,” says Clews. “Some were one word, a
few were maybe 10 words, but overwhelmingly the average was four. So I
decided to stick with that.” It might not be the most scientific
approach but it’s working. There are over a quarter of a million
reviews on the site and it gets two to three thousand hits a day. “I
got lucky,” says Clews. “Some people describe it as their daily
crossword puzzle — something to get their brain ticking in the
morning, others just find it a fun diversion from real work.” It also
helps that there are people with far more ambition than Clews competing
to create the most reviews.

“Everything has grown and expanded
except for the word count,” says Clews. The growth forced him to add
new features, such as allowing films to be added by members, in order
to save himself more work. Still, he has no regrets about his (limited)
labor of love. “I’ve made a lot of international friends,” he says. He
was thrilled to meet some of them when he traveled around the world
last year. “One even sorted out free accommodation for us when our
hotel booking fell through, even going as far as to drive us around for
a couple of days showing us the sights,” he says. “It was just
unbelievable, the generosity we received just because I had this silly
idea all those years back.”

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