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The fine art of YouTube curation and hypemanship.

The fine art of YouTube curation and hypemanship. (photo)

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Killian Fox’s Observer article about the current state of up-and-coming UK filmmakers is called “Digital: a short cut to the cinema,” which makes it sound like a decade-old article just now predicting the rise of digital movies, but don’t be fooled. It’s a bleak little piece in which Fox profiles four up-and-coming British filmmakers working against the tide of limited opportunities and financing, with the most optimism coming from Film London director Adrian Wootten, who says, “Instead of it being a threatening time, I think this can be a very exciting time for a young British film-maker.”

Though Wootten’s words ominously sound like being laid off and sent to a career counselor who tells you how lucky you are to have this chance to turn your life around, there have been bright spots emerging from the rubble. I was particularly struck by Zam Salim, who learned how “to make less and less worse films, quietly,” thanks to how cheap working digitally can be. Having ducked labs and grants until he was comfortable with his own abilities, Salim struck YouTube gold in 2006 with “Laid Off,” a 10-minute short (see below) that worked as a calling card in two ways: with close to 500,000 views, it served as a demonstration of Salim’s ability to connect with semi-broad audiences and as an easily identifiable source of material to be blown up into a first feature.

But, government grants and all, if and when the movie gets into production and into theaters, Salim is going to be sharply dismissive of anyone praising “low-budget” ingenuity. “People think it’s really funky and fantastic to make films with no money, but who pays for ‘low-budget’?,” he notes. “People are being constantly asked to do this and the one-off successes start strangely becoming the model for production. That’s a bit worrying.”

It’s all fine and well to do things for love rather than money, but that should stop at the YouTube level. The double-edged sword of YouTube is the stupid thinking that if something can be done on the cheap for 10 minutes, you can do the same thing for nine times as long with very little more money. And that eradicates the whole point of the calling card: instead of moving on up, you’re stuck running in place. It eliminates the place for technical professionals you need to keep standards high (unless you’re some kind of Shane “Primer” Carruth-level technical savant). It encourages diminished ambitions as the default mode of filmmaking, which is bad news for everyone.

In any case, here’s Salim’s clever little short, a kind of depressive B-side to Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “After Life”:

[Photo: A scene from “Laid Off,” Zam Salim, 2006]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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