Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Festivals

I'm well aware that I've been absent from these pages for the past 6 weeks. It's been one of those times when life is just crazy busy, and something has to give. In this case, as much as I love doing it, blogging had to fall by the wayside.

The chief reason for my absence, then, being Film Festivals. I've previously posted about one - Frightfest, back in August. Across September and October I helped manage two more - the popular BFI London Film Festival, and the lesser known, underground Raindance Independent Film Festival. For both, it was second time running the festivals.

Raindance kicked off at the tail end of September, and was immense fun. My General Manager pretty much left me to it, and so I ran most operations from my company's point of view. I took ownership, and ran with it. I worked well with the Raindance team, and it was genuinely exciting to meet emerging film talent; not yet tainted by pretentious behaviour or conversation. At the end of it. Raindance invited me to their legendary after-show party... and too much alcohol was had by me.

Aaah, my liver...

3 days later, and the BFI L.F.F. started. Now, last year, I found it to be a very prestigious festival, and through that prestige, I became excited to be working it, and playing my part. This year, especially after my relative freedom during Raindance, I was so bored! There wasn't much to do, and the punters rocking up for each screening weren't the same talkative crowd that I'd grown use to at festivals prior. All in all, I just felt like I wasn't needed, and contributed nothing!

(Also, no BFI after show party. My liver = :) )

So there we are... my life in festivals. But it's not the only thing I've been up to recently. When I find the time over the next few days/weeks I'll update again... and it's pretty exciting.

Monday, 8 September 2014

When Exactly Am I?

I woke up around 1pm this afternoon. In those first few seconds of conscious thought, my mind panicked; confident in where I was, but completely unsure of when.

That sounds strange doesn't it?

It's not just a case of not knowing what day of the week it happened to be, as it goes further than that. For a brief 30 seconds or so, I was almost out of time; not constrained by 'today' at all. I could have been alive at any point in history; my thoughts universal to the life of all humanity.

The seconds passed by, and then the surreal moment ended. I opened my eyes, and realised it was a Sunday in September, 2014, and everything became normal again.

But it got my thinking. Recently, life's been a bit of a blur - because I'm so busy living my life that I don't really stop to think where exactly I am in it. Every potentially spare moment is eaten up by lots and lots of different (great) things - no time to pause, as there's lots to do to keep me moving forwards.

After Frightfest, my routine felt shattered. Normally my work weeks begins Friday and ends Thursday. You know it's the weekend as it's busy, lots to do, and there's people everywhere. However, Frightfest lasted 5 days, with lots of preparation before and after. It felt busy for so long, that I couldn't tell where the weekend started... or ended. It didn't help that the following weekend I was off on holiday, thus shattering my expectations even more.

I think today happened, because I haven't quite caught back up! (Due to a combination of shift patterns, quieter than usual shifts at work, and a busier than usual social life)

I also think this will happen more the older I get, and that routine of mine is challenged over and over. When I get married, things will change, and routine will shift around. Having children will put a new emphasis on how I live my life. Changing jobs. Retirement. Etc. Each change bringing a new circumstance, a new routine, and need to adapt.

I should roll with the punches, adapt... and check my calendar on a regular basis.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Acting Stupid

Here are three examples of people acting out (or as I prefer to call it, just plain old stupid, as to everybody else this is how their behaviour appears):

1) Accusations

Somebody at worked told me to watch what I say to foreign staff members, as one of them had told others I take the mickey out of their poor English. Now this simply isn't true, and I couldn't allow such rumours to persist, so I called a staff member who I now knew had discussed this rumour with others into the office.

My tone was unforgiving, as I searched for why he would think I was racist. Of course, he backtracked and said he didn't think I was... but others did. When he wouldn't name names, I let him off with a severe tongue lashing and went back to work.

Then it hit me who would have actually started the rumours... and why. I won't say much, but I recently sat down with a staff member and conducted their appraisal. It didn't go as well as they probably thought it would. One of the issues I raised was communication. I dealt with the subject matter in a professional but sensitive manner.

Nevertheless, annoyed at the conversation (and how it didn't go their way...) the staff member has clearly gone around, and exaggerated their version of events to others. They have made me the bad guy - no, worse than that... the villain.

All because they weren't happy with my criticisms, and this is the only power they see they have to respond.

2) Ignorance

I went to watch The Guest before, and had a great time (go watch it!). Then... my mood was almost-kinda shattered as the credits rolled. Two staff members stood at the exit to the screen, silently waiting, and willing the customers to get up and leave. I felt uncomfortable with the watching, so complied with their silent request. As I did so, I recognised one of the two ushers. I use to work at this cinema a while ago, and this staff member hadn't moved on. I remembered him well... and evidently, he remembered me...

See he did his best to be visibly rude to me. When he spotted me he leaned over and whispered something to his colleague, and both then looked at me with disgust. Next, as I moved down the auditorium steps and closer to him... he fake yawns. Aaaa-hhhh!

I'm getting closer to the bottom step now, and will soon be near him... My brain wracks itself, trying to think up something throw-away to say. In the end it plumps for "It was a good film!" - to which this staff member doesn't respond. Worse than that! He watches me for what feels like an eternity, with a cold stare - almost as if he were attempting to stare right through me. But I know the truth. He's just putting on a 'hard man' routine; it's part of his act.

Why? I was a tough member of management there, and I didn't accept slackers. He was one, and so saw the stricter side of my management!

3) Graffiti

Westfield London use to have lovely toilets. Tonight, I went in a cubicle and the place was covered in dozens of horrible scratches, or ink marks on the walls. The graffiti reads horrible things like "Cum is Yum", or gives out mobile telephone numbers with sentences underneath describing the owner as said number as some sort of sad, perverted individual. There are also at least seven images of a penis, in various states, positions and sizes.

These toilets were not unisex. This means that it must be a man, or various men, writing these things on the walls. Quite why they'd want to, I can only guess. Sexually repressed, I think.

It's a horrible practise though, using art this way. It feels... wrong. Horribly so. It is the most desperate, and most vile of attention seeking means, and I don't fully understand it (nor want to).

***

Like I said, all stupid really.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Preventions

I think everybody shares the same general ambition when they are younger - to live the best life possible. It's a dream, really. It's something we hope for, but will never quite achieve, as things (more often than not) will be compromised, more than we ever really considered as children.

People can still be happy, and comfortable - but there's no denying that through that compromise their lives are not the 'best' they could be.

I'm a good example. Let's look first at my dream - to be the best writer I could be, and then examine the reality of my life right now.

Growing up, I had most evenings to myself. I had a simple routine: Get home from school, have dinner and then write whilst watching TV. Routine in this way is good, as it meant I had a habit that I could commit to, and at the end of the day I saw positive results (a finished short story, or comic strip, or plans for an upcoming storyline).

So far so great... but then I hit year 10/11, and exams loomed. More and more of my time was sent studying, or completing coursework. The same goes for college. I think we give our children so much to concentrate on at school that they almost lose themselves for a number of years - they can have no identity outside of the pressures of study. It was true for me.

Like I said, after school came college - and it interrupted my writing for the same academic reasons - but this was also the first time that my social life came into the equation for the first time. It's important to note here that I don't view healthy social relationships as a distraction. Oh no, if anything they add to life's experience, and enhance it, so that when I do write I am all the richer for it. But whether I do class them as a distraction or not, the fact remains that they do still contribute to time taken away from writing (but I'm fine with it).

Then the biggest bug bear of all... work!! Argh. The bain of my life right now.

Due to having such a shitty rota, it's hard to plan anything... and when I am free (like right now) I'm often too tired to commit to any writing, as my head isn't in that mental zone it needs to be in.

A typical week at the cinema is me working any different combination of shifts. Here's one example of how my rota holds up, and I'll follow-up with a commentary in a moment.

Wednesday 3/9/14: 5pm to Close (I left work at 3:45am)
Thursday 4/9/14: 4pm to Close
Friday 5/9/14: Off
Saturday 6/9/14: 12pm to 8pm
Sunday 7/9/14: Off
Monday 8/9/14: 10am to 6pm
Tuesday 9/9/14: 8am to 4pm
Wednesday 10/9/14: 9am to 5pm
Thursday 11/9/14: 4pm to Close

OK...

Following the close last night (3/9/14) I didn't get home until close to 4:30am. After sleeping, I didn't wake up until 1pm today.

My next shifts is *supposed* to start at 5pm, but I've been called in for an all manager's meeting at 4pm. Firstly... I do not get paid for extra hours worked. Secondly... that's an extra hour of my day gone.

When you factor in commute time - I will have to set off at 3:30pm, which means... I need to shower and get ready, eek, any minute now.

So, from waking up at 1pm I have 2 hours to myself before I have to repeat the commute-work-commute cycle. Then I won't get home until late again... so it's likely I won't wake tomorrow until 1pm.

"But then it's your day off!" I hear you cry... Well, yes. But I work such long hours, and in such a frenzied way that usually my days off are my recovery time. I'm so fatigued that I don't have the energy to write anything until my batteries are charged back up. Don't forget that I need to use these days off, too, to do my shopping, laundry or to call Mum back at home.

Then Saturday I'll get a couple of hours in the morning to myself, and then after leaving work late (which always happens, and it's not my fault!) and commuting, I won't get home until 9pm or later. I can watch a DVD or something... probably the new Doctor Who episode... after which I'm too zoned out to do much more than sleep, or browse the internet.

The weekdays are a little better. It's unusual that I get 3 early morning opens on the trot. That will work in my favour this week, and means I have a dedicated 4 or 5 hours to myself at night to do whatever I want... but again, only if I leave work on time!

You get the idea. My biggest obstacle is my shift pattern. It's not something my GM understands, because the nature of his job means he has a hell of a lot more freedom with his rota than I do. I know it's the nature of my job, completely I do, and that's one of the biggest reasons I want to leave - I can't doo it anymore. I can't allow it to stand in the way of me writing, because if I let it, I'll never get that script writing job that I want.

It's horrible, having a dream, but knowing there's so many things standing in your way, preventing you from reaching them.

That is the way of life. Question becomes: When you hit an obstacle - how do you react? Do you let it block your way, or do you fight your way through?

I have my answer.

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.