Sometimes I worry that my life revolves too much around film. I’m not a particularly sociable person and I spend most of my days in darkened rooms watching other people – characters, rather – live their lives, as tragic or as blissfully happy as they are. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? But then, film has always been a massive part of my life, from embarrassing cinema trips as a little ‘un to covering film festivals as the budding writer I am today. And I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without it.
It all started in 1993 with my first memorable cinema-going experience when my dad took my brother and me – a fair-haired four-year-old – to see Jurassic Park at the Hoyts Belconnen, a multiplex cinema in the heart of Canberra, Australia. I don’t remember much about the experience itself, other than the fact my dad had to carry me out halfway through on account of me being too scared by the ferocious-looking dinosaurs that were rampaging across the screen. Did it put me off? Of course not.
Jurassic Park was superseded by Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie and The Goofy Movie, in 1995 and 1996 respectively. Neither of these films were masterpieces, not even close, but they each made their own individual impact on my appreciation of cinema as an art form. Well, on my appreciation of bad cinema at least. (The next film I remember seeing is The Lost World: Jurassic Park at a small cinema in Perth, Scotland, which is a step up at the very least, though doesn’t exactly display a particularly broad taste.)
The years that followed are a bit of a blur, film-wise. I do, however, remember two cinema trips when I lived in Germany that spring to mind for comedic reasons, one to see Shrek (I left my retainer in a popcorn bag that resulted in a panicked search once the lights had come up) and the other to see The Mummy (my friend, the unfortunately named Matthew Purcell-Herbert, decided to leave his ID at home, meaning we didn’t actually see the film – oh, what a terrible shame).
[Oh, and there may have been a time when Scary Movie resulted in me having terrible nightmares, but we won’t talk about that.]
It was on a trip to Berlin in 2001 – I was 11 at this point – that my interest in film started to take proper shape. I was with my parents and my brother and had decided to visit the famous Filmmuseum at the heart of Berlin’s entertainment district Potsdamer Platz. The museum was nothing short of astonishing, and the cinematic atmosphere was palpable. Suddenly, not only did I have an overwhelming urge to watch films, but also to learn as much as I possibly could about the art form itself.
This started immediately after with a trip to one of Berlin’s many IMAX cinemas. Here, I saw a made-for-IMAX film titled Haunted Castle. It was breathtaking in its simple yet complex design. From this point on I started to alter my life to incorporate film as much as possible. It wasn’t easy, but I made it work, whether it was through my Film Studies A Level course (I regularly stayed behind after class to indulge in film-related discussions with my teacher) or through the various cinema trips and video rentals we were allowed during my time at boarding school in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
All those years of attempting to appease my ever burgeoning love of film in ridiculous ways has paid off. In the past two years, I’ve achieved more than I ever imagined, both cinematically and personally. So, whenever someone asks me why I spend so much time watching and writing about films, or whenever I have those moments when I wonder what my future might hold, I think back to when I was standing amazed in the middle of the Filmmuseum or the moment my jaw-dropped during the first time I watched All About My Mother, and smile because I know I’m doing exactly what my inner self always dreamt of.
If you’re left feeling in any way nostalgic after reading this post, then feel free to share how your love of film came to fruition in the comments section below.