Above: This web site exists only to justify my copious consumption of movies.


My own side project combining my humanities background, my love of movies, and the Hugo content management system.

Home / Projects / Filmhydra

Filmhydra is one of many small websites I have built to host my own writing about topics that interest me. This one is about movies, but I have created (and destroyed) many others. The challenge for me as a writer and as a web developer is I want a system that allows me to focus on writing but also makes it relatively simple for me to tinker with the presentation. And as great as Drupal is for universities and businesses, it’s not a fantastic tool for a technically-minded independent producer.

In the quest for something that would let me be a writer when I wanted to write but a developer when I wanted to develop I have tried everything from Moveable Type to SquareSpace, Drupal to Wix. PHP-Nuke? Yes. Textpattern? Multiple times.

Nothing has worked for me like Hugo. Hugo is a fantastic tool for independent publishers who don’t want to spend half their time maintaining software and security on their servers. Hugo runs FilmHydra, it runs this site, and I even used it at NewCity for The Long 19th Amendment. The site has a lot of features you get in other content management systems:

  • automatic cropping, scaling, and transcoding of images.
  • relationships of content through taxonomy
  • a blend of structured and unstructured content
  • multiple views of the same content item

In addition — and this is a big plus in my book — all of the content is stored in Markdown format with yaml structured data in “frontmatter.” This means I never have to export content; content is naturally within a portable and human-readable format.

Another nice feature: FilmHydra, like this site, was adapted about three months ago to use the AMP framework. Although it is possible to create AMP sites in Drupal or Wordpress, it requires a fair amount of work. In Drupal, for example, you would probably have to write a pretty flexible field formatter for images in order to cover the <amp-image> component. But Hugo templates are not nearly as opinionated as Drupal, so reworking my image templates to use <amp-image> was almost as easy as changing a tag in HTML.

Is Hugo the best tool for all web sites? Of course not. But for me it hits the sweet spot for maintainability, flexibility, and simplicity.


Contents © their respective publication dates or 2019. This John Williams did not write the theme to Star Wars. “Elfin John” was originally a Tim Conway character.