Thursday, 28 August 2014

The People In Your Life

I'm fascinated by change; how time takes something, and slowly morphs it into something new. I've discussed, at length, on this very blog about how I've changed, or how my job has changed. One thing I haven't really ever touched on is my opinion on the others around you - those who live through your change, whilst juggling their own metamorphosis.

They are the people in your life, and they are an important part of our lives - then, now and to come.

I think we can separate people into two different types:

1) Those you want to be around.

2) Those that you don't.

The latter category first - and these are usually classmates, or work colleagues, or (occasionally) the outer branches of our family tree, like cousins, or their parents.

Unfortunately we're often stuck with these urks. They remain in our lives, simply because we cannot walk away - not without quitting our job, or moving school. Sometimes we have no relationship with these companions of our's; I saw many a face at school that I had zero conversation with. More often than not, however, they remain an awkward thorn in our side - constantly expecting pleasantries, or social updates.

These people should learn to accept that they are not a significant part of your life, and when you are not around them, they simply cease to exist in your mind!

Luckily, we often grow apart. When we do, nobody suffers. It's a painless separation.

What's most interesting, however, is what comes next. I'm talking about those almost inevitable 'reunions' we have, years later. When you bump into somebody from school in the Post Office, or you see a former co-worker from years before in town. At those moments, it suddenly comes back to you - the reality of the world you shared. Suddenly, you can see how mundane school life was, or how great/horrible work use to be.

Sometimes you can overlook these details, or misremember them completely - because the people who you stuck by with from this time (i.e. the people who you endlessly discuss the 'good old days' with) have changed with you - they morphed into new people too, and after discussing the same stories on that endless cycle you can no longer rely on either your's or their memory to be entirely true. Take my friend Dan - when we look back at life as staff at the cinema, from circa 2008 its now with rose tinted glasses ("Wasn't that great?" "It was so fun?" "Why are we boring now?") that actually it's nice to meet somebody else who contradicts that, and reminds us work was a bitch!

In that way, these people in our life, eventually, end up gaining a significance that lacked before - because they start to form a history of you.

Moving back to the people in your life you actually do want around...

They're the best aren't they? Nobody likes to be alone, and these people ease that pain. They are friends, or partners, or family. They stick by us at times of crisis, when we are most vulnerable to change, and help ease us into our new selves. Of course, if we're good friends, or good relatives, we do the same for them - and it's a circle of change.

Sometimes we lose people on the way. For me, that's grandparents, my uncle, old friends (work/school) and past girlfriends. Again, they stay with you - a significant part of the who you were, and if you're lucky, having known them shapes who you are in the future.

Then there's the current lot: the people in your life right here, and now. I think we neglect them, honestly I do. These people aren't valued as much as they should be - it's only after they leave us do we look back and realise how great they were. We should love them more, and encourage them to blossom. I do think people drift apart because jobs change, or whatever... but the number one reason why friends don't stay friends? You gave up on one another, or grew bored. So try and grow the relationship - change with it, not against it.

So there we have it - a very brief snapshot of my mind, and some considered thoughts on those special people I've shared the last 25 years with.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Frightfully Eventful

Working in a Leicester Square cinema, I run lots of events - but not many like Frightfest.

Held every year during August Bank Holiday, Frightfest is a long weekend of horror film programming. Screens are packed with audiences who arrive first thing in the morning, and watched films until the last thing at night.

The festival has been held all across the square - starting at the Prince Charles cinema, and growing to the big screen at Empire. This year, the event has moved again... to its new home, and my workplace.

First of all - I confess, I'm bloody knackered. The thing exhausted me. I ran the evening half of each day - starting at 5pm, and going home in the early hours of the morning. Inbetween, it was my responsibility to ensure that each screen went in on time, and that any operational issues were dealt with as quickly as possibly.

We had to overcome a number of obstacles; the biggest of which was ticketing. Yes, this was a major issue (not from site level, I might add!). The company's servers acted up when tickets went on sale last month, meaning that all sorts of ticketing troubles were caused. Fans couldn't book, or double/triple booked. A nightmare.

Then there were the fans and the organisers, who were not at all bought into the idea of switching venues. At the end of the festival, they did a goodbye and 'thank you' speech in each screen, and explained that they thought my cinema was very clinical and that we couldn't get our heads around the concept of Frightfest, or its fans.

By the end of the festival, I hope we proved them wrong.

See, I was well aware of these issues, so really tried my hardest to make this the best festival it could be. I researched how the Empire had hosted the festival before, and realised that the bar space was important - and so emphasised that space at my own venue. We dressed the bar up so it could sell everything that the downstairs concessions counter could, and I bought enough beers to last the weekend. Oh, did I buy beers!! We had thousands of bottles ordered in especially... and we still almost ran out!!

Most films went on on time. The toilet areas were kept tidy. There were no technical problems (well, none we at site were to blame for!). I spoke to fans and organisers as much as I could, trying to get the message out there that my cinema 'got' them. I think it worked. They seemed very, very happy by the end of the weekend.

There we have it then! Frightfest 2014. A success I think, and fun too.

Shame I won't be around for next year's...!


Some highlights:

* Meeting Robert England. I loved the Nightmare on Elm Street series growing up!

* Meeting Jan Harlan - legendary producer of The Shining (and Kubrick's brother-in-law!). That picture up above is him during an amazing Q&A session I sat in on, moderated by Kim Newman.

* Discussing Peter Capaldi with an actual writer from Doctor Who, James Moran!

* The After Show party.... I am still recovering. I'm not a big drinker, so that was like all my drinks for the next 2 years absorbed at once!

Monday, 25 August 2014

"Well, Here We Go Again..."

On Saturday night, Peter Capaldi made his debut as Doctor Who* and as change orientated as I am, it got me thinking what regeneration must be like.

In the past I've written the "Versions of Me" posts, and they're fine and dandy. But! Unlike the Doctor, I don't change overnight. It's a gradual thing. More of a renewal, than a full on regeneration. I wonder - what must it be like to change completely, in the blink of an eye?

I'll never know - but I can get a sense of what it's like for the new Doctor to look back on his past life, and make judgement. I say that, because I do it all the time. Just 5 minutes ago, I was reading an ex's blog** - realising how bizarre it is now to think I ever went out with her. What was I thinking? She's strange, and cold, and completely alien to me. The Anthony of yester-year that dated her must have been a different person to the one who sits here now, typing this, because I can't see how a connection with this girl could be made today. At the very least (!) he was certainly more tolerant of her quirks!!

There's other examples, ones you probably share too. How many times have you looked back on old photos, at old hair styles or fashions, and just thought an agonising "Why?!?!?"

It must work both ways. I guess the current me can't comprehend the changes that will come in my life. I think it must be strange there, in the future, for the simple reason that things have changed.

What's my fashion like in a year's time, or how is my sense of humour in ten?! It's scary knowing that I'll soon leave today behind, and wake up tomorrow, in the same night clothes I wore to bed... but the first thing I'll want to do is shed them, and make my own mark on the new day, with a new fashion (much like the Doctor).

It's fun then to treat real life like actual regeneration. But that's enough of that! Back to Frightfest...

* If you don't count his cameo in last year's Day of the Doctor. Or Time of the Doctor. Or the internet leaks of his scripts... and completed episodes. Or the world tour previews. Etc. You get my pedantic point!

** For no other reason than to confirm that the relationship I have today is better than the one back then!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Best Films of 2014 (So Far...)

Inspired by this lovely chap, here's a rundown of my favourite films of 2014 so far.

Shamefully, you'll notice a few noticeable absences of this list of everything I've seen up until now - the likes of Under the Skin, Blue Rein and The Grand Budapest Hotel were missed. Terrible, I know... but sometimes there just isn't the time to see everything!


Honourable mentions: The Wind Rises, The Lego Movie, The Raid 2

10: Guardians of the Galaxy
9: Edge of Tomorrow
8: Nebraska
7: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
6: X-Men: Days of Future Past
5: Next Goal Wins
4: Inside Llewyn Davis
3: 12 Years a Slave
2: The Wolf of Wall Street
1: Boyhood

As a bonus, I'd intended to write up my favourite TV shows of the year... when it hits me, how little I've actually watched on TV this year. Damn.

It's been a better year for comics. I've read a mountain of the things! The following list is compiled of lots of books, published over many years:


Honourable Mentions: Bedlam, Daredevil (the Ed Brubaker run), Batman - Batman & Son.

5: Batman & Robin - Book 1 (DC Comics)
4: The Manhatten Projects - Volume 1 (Image Comics)
3: Daredevil (Marvel Comics, the Brian Michael Bendis run)
2: Fatale - Volume 1 (Image Comics)
1: Daredevil (Marvel Comics, the Mark Waid run)

Here's to the next half (ish) of the year!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Fool: The Album

I'm back at it again; writing The Fool, my sequel to 2007's Self. I've been spurred on by the ridiculously good Boyhood movie. It's my on-off journey, asking "what happened to Horatio Maguire?"

Last time I was this productive on the idea was July 2013. A full year on, half a new draft is written and, d'know what? It isn't half bad (if I do say so, myself!).

As with every script I write, I do so listening to a number of different songs - that emotionally grab me, and help set the mood/tone for what I write.

Here's what I'm currently listening to, and how the song is contributing to what's going through my creative mind:

"Make Your Own Kind of Music" - Mama Cass

Self ends with this playing. In my mind, it's a reminder of where we left the character of Horatio before, and from that I form all sorts of ideas about what happened after the original film ended. What did he do next? What paths did he fall upon, and where did that lead him in life?

 I think it's probably the most important song in reminding me what the project is, and where it should be heading.

"Poison" - Alice Cooper

I see this playing at the end of The Fool, almost as if we end with a newly confident Horatio who is writing again; perhaps cocky, and feeling more than a little anarchic? I think he needs that, having spent the last 7 years of his life living an oppressed existence, hiding even from himself what he truly is - a writer.

"Get Happy" - Frank Sinatra

Ah, good old Frank.

It sounds like it could be lifted straight from Self. It's an old fashioned life-is-good sort of swing. I think Horatio would hear, and judge it with a sense of irony. His life isn't good - and he's anything but happy. Frank's taunting him when the song plays - almost laughing at him.

But then... could Horatio's life be good again? Of course! It's a hint of what's to come for our hero.

"Hero" - Family of the Year

Taken from the Boyhood film/trailer. It reminds me of the power of that film, and pushes me to get this passion project of mine completed!

"Somebody I Used To Know" - Gotye

The whole theme of the film!! In a song!!

"Japanese Boy" - Aneke

Horatio would like this sort of cheesy 80s pop, I think. I dunno why, it'd just be his 'thing' - in the same way we played Adam & the Ants during Self.

"Sound & Vision (2013)" - David Bowie

There's something simple, but haunting about this remix of Bowie's track. When I listen to it, especially vs. the traditional 70s version, I hear something hollow, and stripped back. This is exactly how I think of Horatio now - so far removed from what he once was, and could be again.