It wasn’t until a few hours after I watched “The Day of the Doctor” that my mind cycled back over that last scene and realized, in addition to it being that last scene, i.e. the best kept secret in the world wherein the youngest living and oldest surviving Doctors met onscreen to cap off the rather wonderful 50th anniversary of Doctor Who… it was also, right there, my Doctors. Tom Baker and Matt Smith, Four and Eleven, the one who sent me running behind the couch as a boy, and the one who brought me back out. That’s just a bit of luck, of course, but it personalized the experience gigantically. No knock against Five to Ten, or Twelve or Thirteen or the War Doctor, but those two up on screen shot a beam of time straight through me. “I grew up!” Amy Pond objected in “The Eleventh Hour,” to which the Doctor replied, “I’ll soon fix that.” Well, mission accomplished.Read more
I have a things for the ones that don’t make it. You’ve probably noticed it. Anytime I’m talking about Spider-Man 3 or Alien 3 or The Phantom Menace, I’m digging into it a little bit. Anytime I name Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End my favourite movie, it’s there. There’s a reason I have a doorstop-sized ceramic refrigerator with Indiana Jones inside it on my bookcase. There’s a reason The Night of the Doctor, last week, was so bloody exciting for me. No, I didn’t like the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie any more than you did - but Eight didn’t get a fair chance. And I looooooove my broken toys.Read more
I don’t think I completely understood how bad things must have been for me last winter until I smelled the hand soap in my parents’ main bathroom this week. I’ve been up there cat-sitting, and the first time I washed my hands in that bathroom last Wednesday, I was whalloped straight backwards nine months to the winter I spent living there, and into a mental state I had conveniently moved past / forgotten. I’d no idea, when I was in it, how deep the crack was. Now, besides being given a tactical refresher on the communicative power of sense memory, I’m also sort of amazed I got out of that house in one piece.Read more
We met yesterday as per the original plan and watched the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, an event which demonstrated in one shot how far we’ve come while staying largely the same. “We” in this case was Steve, Dave, Chris (who actually owned the house in which we watched this thing, a terrifying thought) and Daniel (who I, when Gandalf interrogated Bilbo’s “good morning” with seven variants of what that comment could possibly mean, turned to and said “this is what it’s like talking to you”).Read more
I won’t tell the story of my personal experience with addiction issues. I mean, I’ve told it in person; my friends and family know what I’m talking about. But it will never grace this blog, or any article or column I ever write, or any podcast I record. I wrote a crackerjack screenplay that reflected a portion of my experiences a few years back; I’ll never see it produced. If what I’m describing had happened to me directly - i.e., if I were the addict in question - I’d probably have published a book about it by now. But I only got to deal with the fallout, the tangents, the collateral damage that is part and parcel of every addiction story; and as much as that story is “mine” in terms of my own experience, and might even have some use in the public sphere, I won’t further violate the privacy of the others involved in order to tell it.Read more
When you’re 14 years old, the game is pretty much up, Hallowe’en-wise; or so I discovered, on or around the 31st of October, 1990, when I was - in fact - fourteen. I think we can all agree that I hit puberty when I was 13, depending on what you consider to be the advent of boy-puberty (I have my theories), and sometime between dressing up as Batman in the fall of ‘89 - because 1989 was, in all regards, Batman - and finding the most kickass mask ever to dress up as the Phantom of the Opera in 1990, I went over the ledge, hormone-wise, and consequently trick-or-treated in ‘90 looking absolutely nothing like a kid and way too much like an adult in the opinions of pretty much every parent who opened every door on St. Leonard’s Avenue that night.Read more
"He’s just someone who’s there," it was said, and I was. The hardest thing to do in this world (if you’re me) is to claim to be more than that; to claim it, I mean, the way America claimed the moon. I’ve given it away for years, either due to a profoundly useless sense of self, or because I like looking after people, or because the metronomic balance scale in my brain tells me that if I look after the people around me they will naturally be obligated to look after me. (Spoiler: they won’t.) “High school is a battlefield for your heart,” Angela Chase said, which seemed a fine line at the time, but should really be amended to “[Life] is a battlefield for [everything].” You don’t get what you don’t claim.Read more
In which I wander down nightmare lane to my very first horror movie, back when I was eleven, and all the ways it fucked me up wonderfully: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS. Read more
So what can I tell you? I fucked this up, didn’t I. Everybody loves Mamo 324, except for me, and my reasons are entirely vain - I feel like there was an opportunity for me to interact with what Matty Price was saying, thinking, and confessing, that I didn’t get on top of in the moment of truth. Now, as per the usual with Mamo, the moment of truth is literally the - i.e. only - moment of truth. We don’t do retakes. We don’t edit (much). And we almost never talk about what we’re going to bring to the show before we bring it to the show, because that would rob the episode of its conversational nature - we want to respond to one another’s ideas in real time. So, I responded in real time to Matty Price’s ideas about how his dislike of horror movies was linked to a shame response triggered by his experiences being bullied as a child - and I sucked at it.Read more
I’ve been making movies for, what? About exactly 25 years? I must have started when I was 11 or 12, or earlier. It’s become increasingly clear to me in the last little while – in the most comforting, serene, wonderful of ways – that I may be done. What does “done” mean: it means only that for the majority of my life, a quarter of a century even, there was a persistent “pull” in the back of my mind telling me that I should be making a movie, which alternately inspired or tortured me with flights of creativity / a profound sense of failure as I went along. That “pull” seems to be gone.
A few things are clicking into place. The first is the absolute absence of ideas – I have none. There is nothing “in the basement,” as Rocky put it. Nothing kicking around in the back of my head on the (till now) ceaseless laundry list of things I’d like to put on tape someday. It’s not a lack of drive or ambition; there is nothing being suppressed or unexpressed here, which used to be half the problem. It’s just that there’s nothing waiting for me to work on it. I think maybe those things died with Who Remembers How It Ends? Not because that was any kind of final work of anything. It just happened to be the last one. (The title, at least, finally has a purpose.)
There’s an obvious catalyzing factor, too. I am transitioning, and have been for a while, from one phase of my life to another. It took a frustratingly long time to get here. I think I have been leaning towards this new lifestyle for a few years now, unable to move any further than “leaning,” for a variety of reasons beyond my direct control. Now, all of a sudden, the gate is wide open – and I see a possibility, a strong, bright, golden one. It excites me all up and down, but it has nothing to do with the thrilling pull inside me that used to slowly, one by one, tease movies out of my unconscious and into formless shapes that slowly became less formless over the months and years it took to commit something like them to tape, and show them to a crowd.
And it was always something like them, as I guess every content creator on the planet is well aware; nothing ever came out of my efforts that was anything more than, say, 15% similar to whatever pure energy it represented at its inception. That made the final products seem frustrating and rudimentary, like I was fumbling for a language I couldn’t speak, based only on the street signs of a foreign city I was visiting for the first time. I got to a point, a place in my ability to express myself in visual ideas, and got no further - and even allowing that everyone must feel this frustration to an extent, I also know for a fact that there are people who do get further. And I’ve been aware, and have been for a long time, that there was a line between me and the people who really oughta be doing this for a living. Before the pull went away, that awareness drove me crazy, made me feel awful about myself, made me feel like a Failure with a capital F that struck down right to the bottom of my soul. My inner 16-year-old self was screaming at me, all the time, and especially for the first five years of my thirties.
And then, thank goodness, thank the stars, thank all the good things under the bright brilliant sun, the pull went away - and it stopped.
That autumnal feeling that walked me through Sherwood Forest when I was a teenager, dreaming up shots for The Hunt or Fate of Dietrich; the pulse-quickening drive that propelled my feet independent of my body as I walked into the womens’ washroom at York University while inventing Light & Magic. Even whatever slow, eggshell-dry artistic certainty held strong enough to defiantly, if meekly, see Who Remembers? through to the end. Finally, that inexorable need - by which I was judging myself, rightly or wrongly, every day - became a need for something else, and altogether warmer, and more loving, and better.
I thought of something last week, while riffing with Rajo on Twitter, called The ABCs of Puberty, a better sequel to The ABCs of Death than the re-run ABCs of Death 2. I immediately called “C is for Cum Rag” – because I could write, and make, a hell of a 3-minute cum rag short, based on my own, real-life experience. I’ll tell you about it sometime. But for the purposes of this story, on the night in question, I felt a bit of something like that pull. And was then aware, just as quickly, that a) it was real, authentic pull, just like all the others, and yet b) I could put it away, and live the rest of my life without ever acting on it. Because other things make me happy now, and that old pull just passes through me, like a friendly, comforting old sigh.