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Interview with Ben Smith from Shelf Heroes

12 januari 2017, Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum

Independent movie magazines, there are not too many but there are a few good ones. Shelf Heroes is on of our favourites. Every issue is about one letter from the alphabet, issue E just came out and has articles on The Elephant Man, Eraserhead, Enter the Void and The Exorcist. The magazine is full of illustration and is clearly made by a movie addict.

We asked editor and creative director Ben Smith some questions about his fantastic magazine.

 order issue E here

SH4

 

Why did you start Shelf Heroes? And why do you print it?

I started Shelf Heroes because every year I watch way more old films than new releases, and thought it was a shame that most other film magazines concentrate on the new stuff. I wanted to put out a publication that allowed everyone to celebrate the films that mean something to them, in whatever way they choose. Hence the brief, “Watch a film that begins with the letter _. Go create something”.

And I print it because it’s a magazine! You’re supposed to hold them, and smell them, and read them. Movies belong on big cinema screens, and magazines belong on paper.

 

SH3

 

Since you use one letter for an issue, are you already thinking about future issues, which movies you are going to feature for issue M for example?

The most frequent question I get from everyone is ‘what are you going to do when you get to XYZ??’. Answer: that’s 10 years away, I’ll worry about it then.

 As each issue is driven by the contributors, I let them pick the movies. Which is why we get such a cool mix of blockbusters, and weird left field stuff. I’ll tweak the brief, format and layout, but I see each one as a big collaboration that feeds from the films themselves, to the writers/illustrators, and finally to me to organise and compose into the final printed form.

 

 SH2

 

Why do you use illustration instead of photography?

 

Really trying to get photography in future issues! (if you’re a movie loving photographer, get in touch!)

 

How do you find the illustrators for the magazine? Are there illustrators you always work with on every issue?

 

It originally started with a tight group of friends, and friends of friends, but as each issue grows I find most people contact me with their ideas. It’s always cool to see all that amazing fresh talent out there.

Shout out to longtime Shelf Heroes family members Ed Tuckwell, Kate Copeland, Robert G. Fresson, DK Goldstein, George Sandison, Pippa Toole, Rosie Toole, Jonathan Andrew Taylor, Ben Armson, Ryan Finnigan

 

 SH1

 

Will you publish only 26 issues?

 

If I make it that far! This is also a frequent pub conversation, what comes next?

Maybe numbers? or ‘The’s?

 

SH 5

 

What’s your favourite movie of 2016?

 

Super tough question, it’s been a great year!

Here are 10 in no particular order.

 

Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Koreeda)

American Honey (Andrea Arnold)

A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)

Creed (Ryan Coogler)

Sing Street (John Carney)

Your Name (Makoto Shinkai)

Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)

Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven)

The Witch (Robert Eggers)

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