An Origins Story
Due to the fact my parents had to work alternate shifts, keeping a child entertained must have been somewhat of a challenge. No tablets of endless internet entertainment; console gaming was only in its 8bit development stagehand no online libraries of fantastical literature or never-ending streaming services; not even a cartoon channel. So what did a kid do back in the eighties to keep himself amused for hours on end whilst his parents took turns sleeping/working/parenting?
Though the above paragraph may appear bleak to some, I was admittedly spoilt in my childhood; being fortunate enough to have an AMSTRAD and a NES; I had piles of comics and sticker albums, also Transformer episodes on VHS. I had real life friends too, some I'm still gladly close to today some thirty years on and I would draw if my imagination would let me.
There were times I had exhausted all of the above options and to stop me from staring blankly into nothing for hours; which I did from time to time, we rented films from the local video shop. These magical places were a constant source of visual pleasure, even the visit itself was an adventure for me. The walls plastered ceiling to floor with those extra thick cassette covers and spin displays, all sectioned into genre, like books in a library. This was a place I would soon become a regular.
I obviously started where any kid would, with the fantasy and animated features. The Disney films, Flight of Dragons, Dot and The Kangaroo and Watership Down (the latter two not being exactly kiddie friendly!) I grew up watching films like The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Krull and Beastmaster. Sci-fi classics like Explorers, E.T and of course Star Wars; even Battle Beyond The Stars. I would sneakily stay up late and catch films like Top Gun, Big Trouble In Little China, Beverly Hills Cop and Die Hard. The Karate Kid was a gateway to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan actioners and I soon started watching anything that was considered a movie.
Soon, my passion for films had turned to an obsession and by the time I hit my teens, my bedroom walls, ceiling and wardrobes were covered in large movie poster the video shop had always gifted to me. Smaller spaces on my walls were filled with movie postcards (which I still have) bought from the Vintage Magazine Shop in Soho, London. I had amassed piles of free magazines, the ones video stores use to dispense like today's property weekly and my own collection of VHS, some purchased, others mostly recorded off the tele.
My interest and literature didn't stop there, it was just the beginning. I bought many films magazines over the years, but Empire being the one I've been most faithful to, my first copy being issue 62 back in August '93. Impact was another magazine I frequently purchased, edited by Bey Logan becoming a massive inspiration who actually went on to star alongside superstars like Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen. I would watch Barry Norman and Johnny Vaughn on TV and had those filmographies that were larger than any phonebook or mail order catalogue. Variety, Halliwell's and legendary movie critic Leonard Maltin's among them. I would go through the encyclopaedias stacking my own edits with post-it notes and postcards within them.
My cinema visits obviously increased as I grew up, going to see films like Se7en and Usual Suspects at Odeon One in Leicester Square. I would sometimes see films more than once, maybe more than twice even with The Last Samurai being the current record holder of fives times; sometimes revisiting a films twice in one day!
I started collecting scores and soundtracks; Hans Zimmer's Backdraft and Black Rain being the first. Followed by Vangelis' Blade Runner and 1492: Conquest For Paradise. James Horner and of course John Williams soon followed. Owning CD rarities like Transformers The Movie (1986) and Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Akira.
When IMDb came about it was and still is the filmographer's dream come true doing away with the mammoth directories. I use to complain about these filmography encyclopaedias not being complete enough missing what I considered important details. IMDb remedied all of that in one full swoop.
And now I'm here blogging about my first hobby. I've probably said way too much and would love to hear your own movie journeys. Hope you enjoy my blog and feel free to comment, share, debate and request something from me to review or suggest a topic to discuss. Hit me up on Twitter, Letterboxd and Instagram or join our Facebook group.
Thanks for reading!