Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The terrifying reality of middle-age

I'm not one who particularly enjoys the fact that I'm middle-aged. Passing the '40' mark three years ago was a bit of an existential crisis for me and every now and again I stop and pause to reflect on the reality that I'm old. Like, really old.

Of course, it's all relative. My parents are much older than me. In fact, there are millions of people out there who are older or would consider me a bit of 'spring chicken' – even though I definitely do not feel like one – and I have even outlasted a quite a few of my fellow human beings so far. I know I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

One thing, however, that has struck me recently is that my generation is in the middle of taking over from the previous one.

This has become noticeable at church. I'm not sure if church is the best reflection of wider society in general, but it's interesting nonetheless. Wifey and I became church leaders last year (she an Elder and me a Deacon). Two of my friends are also elders – and they are younger than me. Ulp! Often, there will be preachers at church who are either younger or roughly the same age as me.

It used to be that I would sit in the congregation and look up to the Elders and Deacons – wisened leaders who were trying hard to discern God's will for the church and to ensure it functioned smoothly. They were the ones with all sorts of important responsibilities, making difficult decisions in order to keep this weird thing called church going.

Now, I realise I have become one of them – one of those supposedly 'wise' leaders who youngsters of today might look to for guidance and counsel. My generation is gradually becoming the one 'in charge' now, as it were.

And that is scary as heck.

Whilst it's nice to be all 'grown up' and responsible, it also feels like I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time and am constantly 'winging it' to get through the various challenges of life.

What is comforting though, is the fact that most people are likely doing the same. No matter how old or experienced you are, I think it's something of a universal truth to say that a lot of the time you're making things up or just hoping it will all work out in the end.

I wonder if we'll ever get to the point where politicians, business leaders and other such 'lofty' people will own up to this truth and admit that they don't have all the answers and rely on a 50/50 chance of getting things right most of the time.

If they did, I think the world would be much better place.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

This week I have been mostly... wb 07/05/18

Week beginning: 07/05/18

No. of evening meetings: 2
Films watched: 1
Healthy eating: Good
Mental health: Could be better

This week has started with a renewed health drive as Wifey has started Slimming World and so we've been basing our meals around that. I have to give SW some credit, in that they are not about 'diets' as such but more about healthy eating and eating foods that will fill you up rather than make you starve most of the time. I'm a bit dubious about the food that they market, as it's probably not any healthier than the other 'health food' junk you can buy. You pay a premium for the branding in return for some kind of peace of mind. Even so, you don't have to buy their products and the emphasis on eating fruit and veg can't be argued with. There's also the social motivation aspect which I think helps. Again, SW makes money out of this - but peer support is probably a huge factor in the fight against obesity so it can't be knocked.

Wifey has lost some weight already, which I'm really proud of her for, and I find it's easier to join in rather than watch from the sidelines so hopefully I will lose some too. I've been trying to get healthier and thinner with limited success, but I figure trying is better than not trying. I'm also probably being a bit hard on myself. I don't think I'm obese (I'm probably a bit overweight but not by much), and I don't eat that much crap. Occasionally I will give in to a bit of cake or chocolate but I've never been one to eat junk every day. I've also gotten into the habit of eating lots more fruit and veg (more than the standard 5-a-day), partly to fill up but also partly to try and fend off any future nasties i.e. cancer. My problem is that I want to flatten my belly a bit more and, well, being a forty-something is going to make that especially hard. If I was really fat, I'd probably lose quite a lot of weight quite quickly, but I think it's the latter stages of weight loss which are exponentially more difficult.

I could go to the gym, but I don't really have the time and space to commit to that (nor the financial resources) and anyway I really hate exercising. I do a bit at home (weights and stretches) as well as brisk walking but doing a full on workout is something I just don't have the inclination to do.

I struggle with motivation if I'm honest, but at least Wifey is doing something as well so we can support each other. Also, we've got a trip to France coming up in August so I really want to be as fit and healthy as possible for when we go.

Because then I can blow out on bread, croissants, chocolate, cheese and wine!

Viva Vacances!

Monday, May 7, 2018

This week I have been mostly... wb 30/4/18

Week beginning: 30/04/18

No. of evening meetings: 2
Films watched: 1
Healthy eating: Average
Mental health: Could be better

A fairly uneventful week this week. I spent work either editing or filming (which admittedly is what I usually do), although interestingly my work took me to the place of my old comprehensive school. I've been through the town a few times recently and it's always a bit of a shock to see how things have changed since I was a teen. The most significant change is the demolishing of one of the blocks where my form room used to be, and the building of an Asda supermarket right on top of the school playing fields. They've constructed a completely new school complex which looks like something from the future (which it kinda is ... well, would have been to a kid in the 90s).

Returning to the place of my adolescent youth stirs up many emotions for me. It was a formative time in many ways and not without its drama and angst. I fell in love (but hideously crashed and burned), had my first brush with alcohol (the first of many), faced up to bullies (and lost) as well as made decisions that would ultimately affect me for the rest of my life (I'm not kidding).

Visiting my old stomping ground saddens me a bit. Everything feels just as tired and rundown as it used to be. I suppose I didn't have any frame of reference at the time but even when I was there it felt a bit sad. Some of the old shops are still there, while others have been taken over by the familiar chains such as Greggs. There were a fair share of empty shop units (thanks austerity/Brexit!).

Even so, I still have a fondness and affinity for the place. It featured in a large chunk of my life and I can't change that. I hope things eventually pick up.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Vote for Revenge of the Rabbit in My RØDE Reel Competition

I recently worked on a short film to enter into the My RØDE Reel competition along with my Purple Hat Productions mates (who also made Hey Mal, Timcide and Refuge).

Please take two minutes to vote for our film (if you haven't already!) by clicking here:


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

This week I have been mostly... wb 23/4/18

Having failed to write up my previous two weeks, I am sheepishly playing catch up. I have been doing lots of stuff:
- Celebrating no. 2 son's sixth birthday. It was a full-on weekend affair with bowling, pizza and seeing lots of family.
- Previewing the latest short film I've helped make at Chapter Movie Maker in Cardiff (you can find out a bit more here).
- Filming a weekend conference in Dinas Powys. This has resulted in a project that is over 300GB in size. Yikes!
- Making some much welcome progress with the Offworld feature film. There's still lots to do but I think we're not too far off from coming into land.
- Starting a BSL (British Sign Language) course through my church, which is fun but hard work in terms of learning the zillion signs. Not sure how well I'm going to do at it. Ulp!
- Helping to film an entry into the My RØDE Reel film competition. I don't have high hopes as we will be up against filmmakers from across the world ... but we might win a teeny weeny prize. You never know. The main thing is we shot and edited it within a week, which is a small miracle.
- Finishing my Christian leadership course after 2 years. I'm not going to miss getting up early on a Saturday once a month to go to this, but it will be a bit sad to finally say goodbye.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Films I've seen of late (April '18)

#28 Valerian and the city of a thousand planets (2017)
Luc Besson's wildly ambitious sci-fi adaptation of the French comic is good, but doesn't quite hit the mark in my opinion. It feels like it's going to up the pace at some point but never seems to get round to it. The leads (Cara Delvigne and Dan DeHaan) are great, but unfortunatly lack a certain chemistry. Still, the CGI and world-building are amazing and you can see that all the money spent is firmly up on screen.

#29 Ready Player One (2018)
Ernest Cline’s pop culture love letter would be a difficult book to adapt for most people, but if you’re going to get anyone to tackle such a story, Spielberg is the man to do it. RPO is more than just about all the film, TV, comic book, music and video game references – it’s actually a film that explores themes of loneliness, reality and corruption. Some of the adult themes seem unnecessary, and its Spielbergian ending feel slightly out of place, but altogether it's a terrrific popcorn movie.

#30 The Godfather (1971)
A classic Oscar-winner that gave birth to a plethora of gangster tropes, it's amazing to think how old this movie is and yet how influential it's been. Marlon Brando's performance as Don Corleone is probably one of the most iconic in all of cinema – a fascinating and sympathetic portrayal of a mob boss facing a new and unfamiliar post-war America. Al Pacino's Michael Corleone is just as mesmerising as (relutantly as first) he takes the family business forward into the unknown. Unmissable, The Godfather is the Godfather of all movies (see what I did there?).

#31 Pulp Fiction (1994)
Comprising four tales of criminal life in LA, Pulp Fiction is Tarantino firing on all cylinders as writer, director and actor. Pul featueres a string of great acting performances from the likes of Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Uma Thurman and Samuel L Jackson – and countless memorable lines that will forever be synomonous with the early 90s.

#32 The Breakfast Club (1985)
A slice of pure 80s teen drama, The Breakfast Club is only dated by the fact it's over thirty years old. Sure, there's no internet, smart phones or Trump in the White House – but it's just as relevant today as it was during the heights of Reagan's presidency. Teenage angst distilled into 90 minutes, The Breakfast Club is a simple idea but is so much more that five kids stuck in detention all day.

#33 Robocop (1987)
Part Man. Part Machine. All Cop. What an iconic tagline! Robocop is a classic 80s sci-fi flick that's more than just a dumb action movie, with layers of satire and social commentary. It has had numerous imitators and remains an enduring cultural icon (even having a Robocop statue being built in Detroit). Great script, great performances and great action scenes. 'nuff said.

#34 Cars 3 (2017)
After the disappointing Cars 2, a lot of work was needed to rebuild trust in the franchise. This third (final?) instalment manages to just about do that with a story with heart and emotion about Lightning McQueen facing up to old age and taking up the role of mentor to a ‘younger model’. Even though it seems a bit odd that McQueen is already hitting retirement (it's only 10 years since the first film), I guess he's a bit like football players who are only at the top of their game for a brief spell. As usual, the CGI is gorgeous. Just don't think too hard about the logic of the 'Cars Universe'.

#35 Alien: Covenant (2017)
This sequel to Prometheus is both frustrating and intriguing at the same time as it recycles a lot from previous Alien films while at the same time going deeper into the questions surrounding creation and creator. Michael Fassbender steals the show as two identical androids with conflicting motives and there is plenty of gruesome gore to please the fans (a bit too much for my liking though).

#36 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
The fourth MI film sees top IMF secret agent Ethan Hunt tracking down a terrorist intent on starting nuclear war using stolen Russian missile launch codes. Packed with high stakes action and nail-biting stunts, Ghost delivers well on all levels.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My latest short film

Check out another short film I have helped to make recently.

I say 'recently', it took about six months to get it made - mainly because the editing process was quite painful (in terms of CGI effects) and life/work got in the way.

Still, I'm pretty proud of it and quite a few people who've seen it have enjoyed it, so that makes me happy. ;-)