This is Written in Response To a Question that Plagues Me
As par usual, there’s an issue that I would like to raise and address. The only way that suits me to do such a task is to take an extremely long way around. Would you like to join me on this treacherous little hike?
Here is what I’m contemplating:
Is There Such a Thing as Watching Too Many Movies?
Next up, there is a bit of a spoiler: I’m going to arrive at the conclusion of “Yes.” There’s nothing firm or dependable about this aforementioned conclusion, and I honestly believe it varies on a case by case basis. However, at this moment in my life, I will say that there is a condition known as: “watching too many movies.”
This will be a bumpy ride on the way to the “yes.” There’s going to be way too much sharing, some venom spit, and perhaps a few tears shed. (That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but how would you know? You can’t see me...)
After that, we’ll get a bit of explanation of my motives for writing this particular piece.
Where to start? Oh, yes, I know...
The “Great Movie Off” Part One: That Beast Called “Reality.”
There is yet one more element that I didn’t mention: this entry includes some time travel. Does this mean you finally get to see the Old West? No, sadly, it does not. Let me substitute my apartment for an old ghost town...and a giant TV for a stage coach. The year of 2010 was when I turned the fated age of 30, and inherited all the wonderful emotional baggage that comes with it (remember Logan’s Run? I do.)
My “30” was accompanied by its own special circumstances:
- I had been obsessing about filmmaking for years, but I hadn’t done it until by (industry standards) later in life. After directing my first film at 29, I now had solid proof that it was something within my abilities to do. That’s a double edged sword: the unpleasant truth is that movie making on an independent level (i.e., Mom and Dad and Credit cards) is very hard. This involves an unusual amount of begging, borrowing, and stealing on a regular basis. The result is most definitely worth it, but the amount of emotional straining is something to be dreaded. I was faced with having to go through the whole affair again. Would it even be possible?
- There had been a growing gulf between myself and my filmmaking “friends.” Petty jealousy, lack of communication, and some disagreement about artistic direction had surfaced and was continuing to grow. The breaking point happened when my cronies started making movies without even inviting me to the set. This might not sound like much, but it was infinitely more hurtful than I can convey here. Remember Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street?” I lived it...and yes, these people “had a lot of nerve” to call themselves “my friend.”
- What was the side effect of losing my filmmaking circle? “Counting flowers on the wall/that don’t bother me at all...” I was incredibly isolated, having finally lost the struggle with having anything resembling a normal social life.
- I had a job that was about as far away from what I wanted to be doing as humanly possible. There’s nothing wrong with getting a pay check, but is it possible to hate yourself in the morning for it?
- The job that I might hate myself for in the morning for eventually vanished. There was plenty of notice, but still...
- One more thing: I was starting to age, and not well...
- In short: The beast of “reality” was knocking on the door. As a creative person, I have some serious issues with this monster. My brain and soul create ways to avoid it at all costs.
I was originally going to save this little baring of the soul for later in the entry. That said, you need to have a basic understanding of where I was at the time. Now what was going on in my head (which might as well have been on an entirely different planet)?
The “Great Movie Off” Part Two: “I’m Going to Be a Filmmaker When I Grow Up!”
My thinking behind the “Movie Off” was a haphazard “connect the dots” stream of logic:
- I’m a filmmaker now...and I need to see EVERYTHING to continue my “education.”
- Study that above statement and see its inherent flaw: “Education” would imply that I had lesson plans, fixed goals, and a desired outcome. Am I saying that the need to see “EVERYTHING” wasn’t enough? In this particular case, it wasn’t even close. There was no methodology outside of sorting through DVDs in a stack and making the drastic decision of exactly how to kill two more hours of my life. That was further complicated with my Netflix Instant Queue, the public library, and two or three cable stations. In other words, I had no plans...no set direction, just a blinding need.
- My taste in film is extraordinarily bad, and that was also a troublesome factor. I kept meaning to “watch the classics,” but was constantly derailed by junk. If I have a choice between The Bicycle Thief or Eaten Alive, then it’s a no-brainer on my part. (Everyone already knows how The Bicycle Thief ends anyway, don’t they?)
The “Great Movie Off” Part Three: When the Smoke Cleared...
This all ended in a state of total exhaustion for me. The thing that became abundantly clear was that I was using film as a form of self medication. This wasn’t about “seeing EVERYTHING”; it was mostly about not wanting to deal with “ANYTHING.” I was watching movies to such an extreme that I was neglecting basic life tasks (eating, cleaning the house, showering, and you should have seen my finger nails). I didn’t realize the extent of my seclusion until my financial situation forced me to sell the place I lived in at the time. Change snaps everything into an unpleasantly sharp focus.
I would now like to reiterate my original question.
Is There Such a Thing as Watching Too Many Movies?
I have previously offered my answer of “yes,” so there is no surprise here.
Film is a wonderful medium, and offers us endless opportunities to explore the human experience in an endless variety of expression. The slippery slope appears when you realize how easily you can substitute “the movies” for “real life.” There is a reason why we have invented the term: “to live vicariously.” I was doing quite a bit of that when I finally decided it was time to get off the roller coaster.
One or two movies a week is more than fine. Scrambling to watch one or two a day (at least for me) was just excessive.
The Real Motivation for Writing This (Or as Close as I Can Summate)
Are you still here? If so, you might be wondering why I just went to all this effort to ask a simple a question.
Yes, I still do have one in mind, and this is it (again):
Is there such a thing as watching too many movies?
That leads to another set of subquestions:
- How do you know when to cut yourself off?
- What is your breaking point or methodology?
- Most importantly: What keeps you coming back for more? When did you decide to “break the fast” and start watching films again?
This is what I have heard referred to as a “think piece” (thanks Almost Famous). Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section. I also intend to spread this entry around a bit, as I am genuinely interested in the answers fanatic movie fans have.
(Though I might just be fishing for readers. I’ll never admit to that, though.)