Life


So, you enjoy movies, watch them regularly and feel ready to take the next step. That’s right, you don’t just want to be a movie buff, you want to be a movie snob. You’ve seen those shiny boys and girls, hanging outside the local multiplex, spouting on about Kurosawa or Mise-en-scène and you’ve thought to yourself, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about but it sounds impressive. I want to be in that gang!’

If you missed the first part of my handy guide, and frankly I can’t blame you since I wrote it in what seems like 1974, you will find it here. Read and then come back. Don’t worry, we won’t start without you…

Okay, so you survived the first part. Hopefully you’ve had a bit of time now to practice your disapproving snorts, revise your directors and hone your French. Already people are looking at you with a newfound contempt! You are on your way, my friend. You are now ready for the next part of your epic journey.

 

Lesson 6 – Correct Home Viewing

The aim of any good Movie Snob should be to take the home movie-viewing experience and refine it to match the cinema experience. In fact, by removing the ‘other people’ factor home viewing can be a vast improvement on going to the cinema. No more queuing, fighting for elbow room on the arm-rest, listening to inane chatter or enduring the endless crunching of those many nachos that weren’t softened by the miserly drip of salsa topping.

Now, while it is understood that the full home cinema set-up, including wall-mounted screen, surround-sound system and a member of the family selling ice cream and popcorn in the hallway is beyond the budget of most, there are certain guidelines which the Movie Snob can embrace even without the expensive gear.

1) Lights Out
Do they leave the lights on in the cinema so you can sit there reading a magazine while the movie’s running? No, Sir, they do not, Sir, and neither should you. Just because you didn’t pay through the nose to see this movie doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get your full attention. I don’t care if you turn the lights on two hours later to find several sticky popcorn kernels between your legs, which then have to be removed with a chisel. Put the damn light out.

2) Everybody Shut Up 
Speaks for itself really, which is exactly what everyone in the room shouldn’t be doing. Gag them if necessary, but since enraged grunts can be just as distracting it might be better to procure some melatonin pills to slip into their tea beforehand. Off to la-la land, little Movie Plebs. Bless.

3) Assume the Position
It is vital that the Movie Snob reject unseemly angles when arranging his or her seating for maximum viewing pleasure. There is nothing worse than watching a movie at a neck-stretching angle, so that everyone on screen looks like they’ve been on some ridiculous diet. Perspective is nothing in this case. Face the screen, nicely centred, no turning of the neck required. Use a ruler if you have to.

 

Lesson 7 – Remakes Suck, Even the Ones That Don’t

As a bona-fide Movie Snob, it is your job, neigh, your scared duty, to rage against the Hollywood remake of foreign cinema with all your might. Yeah, we know some of them are actually pretty good, although not many, but that’s really not the point. You are requested and required to decry Hollywood’s sloth, indolence and fetish for pinching other nation’s ideas at every opportunity. ’Not as good as the original’ shall be your motto from this moment forth. Say it loud and say it proud. In fact, say it in Japanese with subtitles.

 

Lesson 8 – Cinema Etiquette

You are a Movie Snob in training now, my eager apprentice. Movies are your religion and the cinema is your church. Your trips to the Great Temple of Celluloid Worship are now to be treated with the appropriate levels of reverence, solemnity and tedious sycophancy. Fun? Fun! Who said anything about fun?

Just follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts (or thinly disguised list of my pet hates) and you’ll soon be sucking the joy out of every Saturday night at the movies.

DO arrive at your seat before the movie actually starts. The last thing people want to see as they begin tucking into their overpriced, lukewarm snacks is your saggy ass clumsily squeezing past them while you mumble half-hearted apologies, blocking out both vision and sound. Just a thought.

DON’T bring a packed lunch. It’s bad enough having to deal with the overpowering smell of soggy nachos, overcooked hot dogs and human people, without adding egg sandwiches to the mix. Picnics are for the park. And if you have to stuff your face, please do it quietly. I came to watch a movie, not feeding time at the zoo. Why is it so necessary to shovel as much food and drink as possible down your gullet simply because you’re watching a movie? Do people guzzle popcorn at the opera? No, Sir, they do not.

DO put your phone away. Come on, are you kidding me? You’re in a darkened room, moron. Do you really think no-one is going to notice that little light come on, bathing your vacant face in a murky glow while you pointedly ignore the movie, everyone around you and all good sense so you can tweet about how cool the movie you aren’t watching is?

DON’T give away the ending to everyone within range of your voice. You know the type. Leans over to his/her companion and announces what everyone will find out for themselves in about sixty seconds. Why? Why are doing that?  You’ve seen the movie before. That doesn’t make you psychic, or smarter, or in any way impressive. Do you feel some need to prove that you can remember stuff? How these people make it out of the cinema without a stretcher is beyond me.

DO leave the toddlers at home. Do you really imagine that your two-year-old or, God help us all, your baby is going to sit quietly and attentively watching the film for two hours? Have you run mad? I didn’t pay those ridiculous ticket prices to listen to your mewling little cabbage gibber and drool while consistently kicking the back of my chair. Can’t you just put some food in a bowl and leave them at home? Jeez.

DON’T be tall. I’m sorry, but if you’re over six feet tall then you should be banned from cinemas. There should be those height guides like they have on fairground rides, except you can’t ride if you’re over a certain height. Or maybe a seating area arranged especially for tall people, with tiny little chairs where their elongated bodies and massive heads won’t get in anyone’s way except each other’s.

Living the dream…

Am I being harsh? Therein lay the fun! Here endeth the lesson, my friends. If you have any questions, comments or outraged exclamations then please leave them below. In fact, I would prefer outraged exclamations. They brighten my day!

As those of you who have been returning to Celluloid Zombie over the last few months might have noticed, my site has become something of a barren wasteland, starved of shiny new content and increasingly reliant on dusty old posts and hapless passers-by. Truth is I’ve been gut-wrenchingly busy lately and just haven’t been able to find enough of your Earth minutes to sit down and write new stuff. I need minions but unfortunately they’re too expensive. So, failing that, my good friend, fellow writer and proprietor of the entertaining Conjuring My Muse, Margaret Reyes Dempsey, has kindly offered to donate a blog post to the cause. Enjoy! ______________________________________________________________________________ For many of us who read novels or watch movies in genres that are outside the realm of “this could happen in real life,” there is a willing suspension of disbelief before we enter the theater or open the cover of a book (or press whichever Kindle button). We’re excited. We’re ready to be entertained. And we participate in the experience by opening ourselves to what realists would call the impossible. In an instant, vampires and zombies walk our streets. Strategic great whites have a place in our oceans. A writer and his guests encounter aliens at his cabin in the woods and we not only accept it, we’re chilled to the bone. It seems so easy and natural to let go of reality and believe the incredible. Then, all of a sudden, some trivial detail rears its ugly head and we are blasted out of the zone. At least, that’s been my experience, but this is where the kind host of Celluloid Zombie and I disagree and begin yet another heated debate. Case in point: I watched the first two episodes of The Walking Dead – Season 2 on Sunday night and was enjoying it. Their RV is stranded on the highway, death and devastation visible for miles in either direction. Still, the guy on the roof of the RV is using binoculars and that’s okay with me. You can’t be too cautious with hungry zombies roaming the earth. But then, he raises the binoculars to his eyes again and gasps. The camera angle shifts and there are 300 zombies in view…a mere 10 feet in front of him. Did 300 slowly shuffling and loudly grunting zombies materialize out of thin air? Did no one see them coming? Smell them? Hear them? Come on! I laughed out loud and threw a piece of popcorn across the room at the TV, which my cat gobbled and then coughed up with a hair ball. (Okay, that last part is just a bit of gory fiction.) The fact is, the inattention to detail grabbed me right out of the moment, and the suspense that I had been enjoying up until that point lost some momentum. Some 3500 miles away as the crow flies, Rich is screaming over a static-filled Skype connection. “You have no problem believing in 300 zombies but the manner in which they show up is a deal breaker???” I wouldn’t say it’s a deal breaker because I did enjoy both episodes. However, I’m unable to gloss over stupid stuff like that. Especially when it happens twice in the same episode. Another example of things that can make me willingly unsuspend disbelief can be found in the movie Hereafter, a two hour and ten minute film that follows the lives of three people dealing with mortality. Despite wonderful performances by Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard (wasted in a go-nowhere role), and the McLaren twins, this movie could not be redeemed. Afflicted by bloated, plotless scenes and poor pacing, it is slow and sleepy. And pausable. Yes, I admit two-thirds of the way through, with nothing much going on yet, I paused to get a snack. But the moment that turned what was supposed to be a serious movie into a comedy was the opening scene. Oh no! On vacation with her lover, journalist Marie Lelay steps out to buy souvenirs and gets swept away by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Just before it hits, she purchases a bracelet for a dollar from a woman and her young daughter. (We won’t question why the merchant requests dollars instead of, say, rupiah or why a French woman on vacation there would happen to have dollars in her possession.) Suddenly, there’s a deafening roar and palm trees snap in the distance. (For a moment, I thought I was watching an episode of Lost.) The impressive special effects result in genuine horror as the huge wave comes into view. The journalist grabs the little girl’s hand and they run, but the wave takes them down. She claws at the water and air with both hands, trying to recover the child but it’s no use. Seconds later, she gets caught on something underwater and rips herself free only to be knocked unconscious by debris. All is working for me until Director Clint Eastwood decides to go for the nice shot and has her slowly open her hand as she sinks in the water, allowing the bracelet to float free. The bracelet? She was still hanging on to that bracelet? That meant when she was stuck underwater, minutes from drowning, she kept one hand tightly closed around the bracelet and tried to free herself with just the fingers of her other hand? Right. For this, Clint, you are unforgiven. As the bracelet floats to the surface, it’s as perfect looking as the moment she bought it. That’s one well-made bracelet and what a bargain at only a dollar. Once again, Rich responded to my emailed rants with e-laughter and an e-shake of the head. So, I ask, do any of you out there ever have challenges suspending disbelief and staying in the zone?

So, you enjoy movies, watch them regularly and feel ready to take the next step. That’s right, you don’t just want to be a movie buff, you want to be a movie snob. You’ve seen those shiny boys and girls, hanging outside the local multiplex, spouting on about Kurosawa or Mise-en-scène and you’ve thought to yourself, ‘I have no idea what they’re talking about but it sounds impressive. I want to be in that gang!’

My good friend, you have come to the right place. In two parts, Celluloid Zombie is going to impart great wisdom upon you and teach you how to blag, bluff and manipulate your way to Movie Snob Supremacy.

Lesson 1 – Know Your Directors

Take any movie, and an accomplished Movie Snob will usually be able to reel off the credits like last week’s shopping list. For the Snob, it’s not enough to be able to remember the title of a film (something that is often beyond the casual viewer), they have to be able to tell you who was in it, who wrote it, who scored it and, of course, who directed it. All with an air of insufferable smugness (see more advanced lessons).

This skill can take many years of total immersion in the field, and an equal amount of years of total exclusion from the real world, so the trainee Movie Snob should simply look to acquire a good working knowledge of directors as a solid grounding. And this means all directors. It’s simply not enough to know that Spielberg directed E.T. or Hitchcock directed Psycho. That’s like calling yourself a music expert because you know who sang Heartbreak Hotel.

Acquaint yourself with names like François Truffaut, John Ford, Frank Capra and Akira Kurosawa. Wikipedia will probably give you enough nuggets to bluff your way if you can’t be bothered to actually watch the movies. And remember, don’t forget those titles!

Lesson 2 – Use Some French Words

No Movie Snob’s arsenal is complete without a barrage of pretentious and mostly unnecessary French. Learn these words and phrases and then sprinkle them liberally in your conversations about cinema to demonstrate just how worldly and cosmopolitan you really are:

Oeuvre
The stuff that a director/actor/whatever has done.
Example: ‘Are you familiar with Capra’s oeuvre at all?’

Rite de Passage
The journey someone goes through to go from being one thing to another thing. Usually applied to teen stories.
Example: ‘16 Candles is an engaging rite de passage story’ (even if it’s not).

Mise-en-scène
What a scene has in it. The visual landscape of a scene or its components.
Example: ‘Hitchcock uses his mise-en-scène to denote the fragmented nature of Norman Bates’.

Dénouement
What happens at the end.
Example: ‘Sinking ships turn me on so I only watched Titanic for its dénouement’.

Lesson 3 – Stay for the Closing Credits

A true Movie Snob never, I repeat NEVER, gets up to leave the cinema during the movie’s credits. They remain seated until the lights turn on and the usher ambles in to sweep up the discarded popcorn kernels and half-eaten nachos. The truly dedicated may even still be there when the next lot come in.

To the Movie Snob, leaving as the credits roll is a heinous act of gross disrespect to all the Grips, Best Boys and Assistant Third-Unit Director’s Assistants who have worked tirelessly to bring you your latest celluloid fix and ask only that you remain seated for a few more minutes so you can see their name roll slowly up the screen in sans serif, white text. What’s wrong with you? Can’t you hold your bladder a little longer? It’s all me, me, me with you, isn’t it?

In addition, it is also important to adopt a series of disapproving noises and looks to aim at those inferior individuals who do choose to vacate the premises prematurely. Tut-tutting, heavy sighs, and exasperated shakes of the head are all excellent methods for communicating your disgust. Until the target of your disdain turns around and looks at you, of course. Then it’s time to start actually looking at the credits. Avoid eye-contact. The last thing you want to do is explain your disapproval to some 280 pound guy who’s desperate for the toilet and just forked out a small fortune to watch a shit movie.

Lesson 4 – Cultivate the Correct Shit-List

It is vital as a Movie Snob that you navigate the treacherous minefield of acceptable taste while in public. Sure, you can enjoy Bad Boys II in private, but some pleasures must be kept under wraps if you are to be taken seriously as one of the elite. So, from this moment on, you no longer publicly endorse the following:

The Wayan Brothers
Ben Affleck (the actor)
Paul W.S. Anderson
Michael Bay
Star Wars Episodes I-III

However, you are actively encouraged to publicly endorse the following:

The Coen Brothers
Ben Affleck (the director)
Paul Thomas Anderson
Michael Mann
Star Wars Episodes IV-VI

Lesson 5 – Learn to Read Subtitles

Repeat the mantra after me; ‘subtitles are my friend, subtitles are my friend’. It is no longer acceptable to say things like, ‘I can’t read and watch at the same time’ or ‘they go too quickly’. Never again can you wait for the US remake, just so you’ll have the luxury of being able to take your eyes off the screen for more than five seconds without missing vital plot points. Fix your gaze screenwards and do not deviate until the final credits are rolling. And watch those too, remember.

If you are to become one of the anointed, you must embrace movies that don’t come with American accents, product placement and uplifting dénouements. It’s time to venture into foreign lands.

Come back later for part two of my pointless post! Or not.

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On the whole, today was a bit of a shitty day. Lots of technical issues, you might say. However, my Saturday did deliver one very cool thing. Ecto 1!

I live in a small, English town which really is the last place you’d expect to find the Ectomobile from Ghostbusters. We have horses, a park, lots of trees and some ducks, but full size movie memorabilia? Forget it. And yet, there it was sitting in the town centre, part of a charity event. Naturally, as an unashamed movie geek, seeing the 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor limo-style end loader combination car, ambulance conversion (thank you Wiki), with the famous logo on the sides was far more thrilling to me than to any sane person. Certainly my 14 year-old son was utterly mystified by my excitement, but I’m kinda used to that. He doesn’t really get anything from the 1980s.

"Everybody can relax. I found the car."

There was a bit of a crowd so I had to take these pictures quickly. I apologise for the quality. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get my son to take a picture of me next to it, if only to add to his bemusement, but childish excitement muddied the waters of my mind. Such as they are. I’m also kicking myself that I didn’t try to steal it, but the practicalities did seem rather insurmountable. Too bad. It would have looked good above the fireplace.

"Just needs a little suspension work... And a muffler... And maybe brakes."

Isn’t it just about the coolest thing ever? Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that next Saturday I’ll find Dr Emmet Brown’s DeLorean sitting in the town centre. Trust me, this town could use being dragged to the future. Especially now the ghosts have been busted.

I was born in the year 1970, which means I was an active human presence on this planet through that entire decade. However, other than Star Wars, the better episodes of Doctor Who and a few fashion traumas, there isn’t a great deal I remember about the Seventies. So, when nostalgia comes calling for me, it comes bearing the stamp of the 1980s. And when my nostalgia turns to movies, one year stands out above the other nine: 1984.

What a year for the summer movie that was. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins, Beverly Hills Cop, Star Trek III, The Terminator. Oh boy, oh boy, it was a feast of flavoursome seasonal celluloid. And the icing on the summer cake turned out to be a tasty confection called Ghostbusters. It was one of those mysterious and elusive creatures, the Sleeper Hit™, coming out of nowhere and stealing the summer.

I seem to remember spending the best part of the summer of ’84 standing outside the local 3-screen cinema. I was 14 years old, and beginning to gain more traction in that tug of war for more freedom with my parents, and going to the cinema was the activity of choice for a lot of us. Sure, you could hang out at the park, but the cinema was better. Well, it was to me, anyway. Come on, the cinema had movies. The park had grass and a fountain. It was a no-brainer. Yes, I was one of those peculiar teenage guys that sat in the darkened cinema, girlfriend at my side, with every intention of actually watching the movie. I did not go there to snog and cop a feel. That’s what the park was for. Okay, I may have made an exception with Out of Africa, but it was long and boring as a dog’s ass.

Spengler, Stantz, Venkman and Zeddemore - love those surnames.

So, yeah, Ghostbusters. Sorry, may have drifted from the point there. Nostalgia will do that to you. I remember the summer of ’84 was the summer of Ray Parker Jr. asking you who you were gonna call. And then telling you. Incessantly. I confess to you here and now and with no sense of shame…well, maybe a little, that I bought that damn record. Oh, give me a break, it was catchy. A lot of people bought it. And like a lot of people, Ghostbusters blew me away on that first viewing.  It was witty, original, the special effects were fantastic and I think even my girlfriend stopped wondering why I wasn’t trying to put a clumsy arm around her. Maybe we went to the park afterwards, I can’t remember.

With most movies which you saw for the first time all those years ago, you don’t really recall the event. You just know you saw them at the cinema. However, I can remember vividly watching Ghostbusters. We were sitting on the right hand side, near the back (but not right at the back, which was reserved for couples who should have been at the park). I remember the opening scene, the appearance of Slimer, and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man all from that particular angle. Isn’t that strange? I don’t recall what I was wearing but, this being 1984, that’s probably for the best.

So much better than watching a fountain in the park.

One more thing that I will always remember, with absolute fondness, is the Ghostbusters novelisation, by Larry Milne. I read a lot of novelisations back then, but this one was by far the best. It was written in the present tense, which was rare for that kind of book, and somehow this made it even funnier than the movie itself. It had such a dry humour to it. It could have been written by Bill Murray. I must have read that book three times, at least. When my girlfriend wasn’t around, of course.

Some films travel with you through time, always remaining in step with you, never triggering feelings of nostalgia. Ghostbusters will always be like an old song to me; a song that takes you back to your youth, and the summer you spent exploring new freedoms and discovering movies that you would love for life.

George Orwell was right about a lot of things, but for me 1984 was a great year.

Free Inside! Today was my weekly grocery shopping expedition. I use the word expedition because that’s what it sometimes feels like when you don’t drive. Lugging three bags of groceries home is good exercise. Fascinating stuff, right? Don’t worry, I am working toward my topic. It was while I was standing there in Aisle 2, perusing the boxes of cereal, that I realised something astounding; not one brand of cereal was giving away free gifts inside the boxes. Wh … Read More

via Blah!

Entertaining piece from my friend Margaret concerning her terrifying experience with M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Signs, Whitley Strieber and a mylar balloon. Trust me, it all makes sense when you read it.

It is Friday night and the movie Signs is on TV. I settle in to watch it with my ten-year-old son at my side, snuggled under a throw. I’ve seen the movie before, years ago, but all I remember of the story line is that it involves extraterrestrials. This will be my son’s first, official scary movie. A bit over-protective, you say? Perhaps, but Jaws ripped a bloody hunk of wide-eyed innocence out of my childhood, so deal with it.Maybe I’m a wuss by … Read More

via Conjuring My Muse

My name is Richard, and I am a writer.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s the one thing about myself that I’m always proud to tell people (for ‘people’, read ‘anyone who’ll listen’). But, am I? A writer, I mean. What is a writer? At what point, or by what criteria, can one rightly refer to oneself as ‘a writer’? This may seem, at first glance, a rather odd question, but it is one I wrestle with from time to time. Usually around the time I tell someone I’m a writer and feel a faint lack of authenticity, coupled with a loathsome voice in my head, telling me I’m a total phoney.

‘I’m a writer’, I say.
‘You’re a total phoney’, the loathsome voice says.
‘I have every right to call myself that’.
‘Yeah, but you’re not telling the whole story, are you?’
‘I’m relating the important bits’.
‘You’re a big phoney and you smell of poo’.

Let me explain, and at the same time assure you that I do not smell of poo. Not that I’m aware of, anyway.

I’ve written seven screenplays, two of which were optioned for a short while. I’m in the process of writing two novels and I’m a semi-conscientious blogger. I write. I love to write. It’s what I was meant to do. However, like most writers, I haven’t yet reached the point where my craft is my primary source of income. So, I am currently cursed with what people call ‘a day job’. You know, the thing that people advise you not to give up? Actually, my day job is a night job. I work the night shift in a hotel. It’s a thankless, tedious and demeaning job and certainly not the kind of thing you’re going to tell people you do. Not if you have a plausible alternative. Which, God be praised, I do. You see, I’m a writer.

‘Phoney’.
‘Oh, fuck off’.
‘Touched a nerve, have we?’

You see the issue?

So, the questions is, what labour defines you? The work which pays the rent or the work which you love but presently pays you little to nothing? Have I earned the right to tell people I’m a writer, or should I, in all honesty, tell people I work the night shift in a hotel? It’s like being Clark Kent, forever compelled to present that mild-mannered persona to the world, while desperate to tell people you meet that you’re actually Superman. After all, you really are Superman. Clark Kent just pays the rent. Ironically enough, he’s a writer too. I wonder if he gets the loathsome voice in his head?

Is it, in fact, the case that the simple of act of writing makes you a writer, regardless of whether you ever get paid for it? Surely it’s the act that earns the definition, not the result of that act. I mean, is a musician only a musician if his songs are recorded? Is a rapist only a rapist if he gets convicted? No, of course not. That’s just ridiculous, right?

So why, when I tell people I’m a writer, do I feel like such a fraud?

And how much thinking is too much thinking?

I love movies. I love them. I’ve always loved them and I always will. I love watching them, I love writing them and I love collecting them. To me, there is no other medium like it. I enjoy music, I enjoy books, but it is in cinema that I find the true spark of passion and joy that can only come from knowing you are where you belong, you are in a place where everyone speaks your language. It’s in the shiver that runs down my spine when the camera slowly moves toward Harrison Ford’s face, as he studies the golden idol he is about to steal in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s in the way my heart breaks when Al Pacino opens his mouth and lets a lifetime of regret emerge as an animal howl at the end of The Godfather III. It’s Morgan Freeman’s eyes in Seven, the Orca sailing out to sea through the teeth of a shark in Jaws, or John Hurt starting to cough during dinner in Alien. It’s two hours in another world. It’s magic.

It started with my father. And, no doubt, some genetic predisposition, since my brother did not develop the same passion. From an early age, dad passed to me this love of cinema. I would sit and watch countless movies with him, while he would explain to me why certain shots were set up a certain way. How, for example, Hitchcock would often frame his characters claustrophobically, using stair banisters to simulate bars and signify their entrapment. Through years of viewing, I began to understand the language of cinema, recognising the style of certain directors, the signatures that appeared in their work. I would smile when Spielberg used a shadow because I could name all the other times he had done it. I recognised the way John Carpenter took the basic premise of his favourite movie, Rio Bravo, and made a series of brilliant horror movies from it. I saw the symbolism of oranges in the Godfather movies. No, honestly. Oranges. Oranges signify death. Watch all three movies again and you’ll see.

I’ve accumulated a vast wealth of, let’s face it, potentially useless movie knowledge. I mean, who cares if Scorsese slowed the frame rate of a certain zoom on Robert De Niro in Goodfellas, just ever so slightly, because it made him appear more menacing? Who cares that Hitchcock made Psycho in black and white because he didn’t have enough of a budget to make it in colour? I care. Because this is my passion.

I’m old enough to remember a time when movies were almost a once only experience. It was either a trip to the cinema or catch them on television, three years later. So, I look back very fondly at the early eighties, and the advent of home video. The sense of wonder I felt at the fact that it was now possible to own a movie, in a box with a cover, was absolutely overwhelming. The local video rental store became a holy place for me; thirteen years old and staring, wide-eyed, at the store walls, lined with movies. In boxes, with covers! I could choose one of those movies, take it home and watch it whenever I felt like it. It was incredible. And what a choice! At the cinema it was a choice of three. Here, I had a choice of hundreds. My appetite increased in direct proportion to the nourishment available.

Of course, when I try to convey that sense of awe to my son, himself now thirteen, I’m met with the same kind of amused condescension I used to give my dad when he told me how cool his Davy Crockett hat was when he was thirteen. The wheels keep turning.

Movies have been the one constant in my life. While other loves have come and gone, my love for film has remained, concrete and undiminished. This, I’m afraid, is carried through to my love of movie memorabilia. I’m not an insane collector. I can’t afford to be, but I do have my own little movie shrine set above the fire in my lounge. And on the walls. And a few other places. They say that men never truly put away their toys, they just move up to more expensive ones. For some it’s cars or bikes, for some it’s sports, and for some it’s hi-tech gadgets. For me, it’s movie memorabilia. Posters, books, and yes, toys. You can call them that, if you must. I mean, I don’t run around playing with them. They just sit there, which to my mind puts them under the category of ‘ornaments’, right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I always had aspirations towards working in the movie industry. As a child, I vacillated between all manner of the more whimsical ambitions. Actor, stuntman, special effects, storyboard artist. Each month I moved onto a new career path. In my early thirties, I took the more pragmatic step of running my own video rental store. I hoped I could recapture the magic of those places from my childhood, but by that time the rental industry had become commonplace, corporate and regimented. The magic had gone. I was just a faceless guy in a T-shirt, handing out video cases to an undemanding public.

So, finally, I sat down one night and decided to start writing a movie. I don’t know why it had never occurred to me before, and I couldn’t tell you why I decided, on that particular night, to start. Something in my head just clicked. A few months later, I had my first completed screenplay, Dark Road. I immediately started another, and shortly after that, Dark Road was optioned. The option was dropped a few years later, but my fourth screenplay, Debunking Dad, won the BAFTA/Rocliffe New Writers Forum in 2008. There have been successes and failures, and the ultimate success has not yet been reached, but I’m confident I will get there.

Who knows? Maybe one day, a scene from one of my movies will give someone a shiver down their spine. Maybe one day, something I wrote will inspire someone else to do the same. And maybe, just maybe, there’ll be magic. And toys.

Sorry, I mean ornaments.