“Little White Lies” is committed to delivering authentic and intelligent conversations about films, creating their motto: “Truth and Movies”. A one of a kind publication, each issue is a carefully curated selection of film reviews and interviews, all accompanied with meticulous illustrations. Created in 2005, the platform has grown its audience and is now one of the most pertinent and original creators of film discussion and content. With their weekly podcast, “Truth and Movies”, covering the latest films - and even some old ones too, it has become a soundboard for people who are endlessly passionate about film. This brings life to the magazine’s reviews in such a way that is at once unpretentious and clever.
By consistently enhancing their website, encouraging people to treat each published magazine as a collectable, and by managing to keep the podcast fresh and intriguing week after week, “Little White Lies” provides one of the most well rounded platforms for candid insights and commentary about film today. Editor David Jenkins took the time to answer some relevant questions for Strand Magazine’s readership, from his experience as a magazine editor to how to tackle writer’s block.
First of all, what drew you to film journalism?
I grew up loving films. Mainly bad ones I'd rented from our local video shop. My father also was a subscriber to Time Out magazine, and it was one of the first things that got me into reading. I was particularly fond of the film reviews, and would almost take them as an instructional guide: if Time Out said a film was good, then I would have to see it, even if it meant trekking into central London and catching a weekday matinee at the ICA. Then, at university I started doing DVD reviews for the student newspaper. From then, I was hooked.
To new readers, how would you describe what “Little White Lies” does differently from other film platforms?
In terms of our magazine, we try and maintain quite a tight focus on a few films rather than attempting to cover everything in great detail. We use a lot of illustration (as we're trying to guilt trip our readers into keeping it on the shelf rather than tossing it into the trash). We embrace individual voices and are less beholden to a strict style guide. I want each piece to feel like it's a person talking to you, rather than at you.
What has been your largest professional challenge, and how did you overcome it?
It's probably trying to keep the magazine fresh and exciting. Because our template is very loose, it means that with each issue we can start from scratch – there are fewer slots that need filling. We just have ideas and fit them into the space. I always think if we're not excited making the magazine, then potential readers aren't going to be excited reading it.
Can you explain the origin of the title “Little White Lies”?
It's a strange one. It actually came from the founders of the magazine, many moons ago. It's an obscure reference to a Radiohead lyric from the track Exit Music (for a film). I think the feeling was that it just sounds cool!
How do you organise for each weekly podcast? (Do you just ask who particularly wants to cover what upcoming film? How do you go about approaching external people to join the show that week?)
We have a spreadsheet where we have all the films we want to cover maybe three or four weeks into the future, and try and connect the right people to the right films. Often it's just random to be honest – we're just looking for a mix of diverse, interesting voices giving their opinions on the new releases.
As the editor of the publication, can you go into more depth about what your role entails?
We're an independent magazine, so as editor I have a very long list of responsibilities. I commission everything in the magazine, but I'm also sub-editing, laying our pages, helping with the advertisements, helping with marketing. The pay off is I have a lot of freedom.
To you, what does a good film review/article achieve?
I think it's a review that avoids the clichés of film reviewing. It's a critique that you can read where, maybe for a moment, you don't realise you're reading a film review.
What’s your opinion on Netflix Originals not being eligible for Academy Awards unless they have a cinema release?
This issue is something of a technicality. As these films become more prominent, the Academy will no doubt step into line and follow the trends and drop this antiquated rule.
Do you have any tips for “writer’s block”?
Go and read a novel for a bit. When you find a word you really like, work out how you can incorporate it into the piece you're writing.
What is your favourite genre of cinema?
Any film that can't be ascribed to a genre is my favourite.
What would your response be to the statement that “there is no film canon like there is a literary canon”?
Yeah, I agree. There was a canon at one point, when cultural viewpoints were limited by the medium, and it was white, middle class and male. It's nice to have that canon there, as it's good to have something to subvert and challenge.
Listen to the latest podcasts on iTunes or here: https://lwlies.com/podcast/
Check out the current issue, focussing on Barry Jenkins' new film, "If Beale Street Could Talk" based on James Baldwin's classic novel of the same name, here: https://lwlies.com/back-issues/if-beale-street-could-talk/
Edited by Evangeline Stanford