To think, a decade ago I started a strange journey in my life, and yet, upon reflection, the person I was ten years ago is someone who I would barely recognize any more. Ten years ago I was working in a somewhat self created role that would later be listed on my CV as "DVD Supplement Producer. Despite having conversed in three languages, conducted located numerous well known and obscure actors, directors and film technicians, written and directed a documentary and been interviewed by a national UK newspaper, The Guardian, various unimaginative, uncreative recruitment agencies would relegate those two and a half years to a single sentence; proclaiming those experiences to be irrelevant to the (generally banal) roles they were considering me for. That said, although I am aware that those experiences and that work was part of who I was, I find it difficult to maintain much of a connection with that time in my life.
After it all came to an end in Spring 2004 I found myself feel uncomfortable discussing those experiences and reminiscing with people about them for many years. Partially because, I guess, I thought that no one was especially interested, and for the most part because I felt ill at ease discussing those times. To be honest, unless I am in good company, I still do. It was only when I met Adam, who was soon to become a good friend, and his infectious enthusiasm for European cinema, and his desire to hear stories of those trips to Rome, to California, to Torremolinos that I felt sufficiently comfortable to talk about them again. If Adam hadn't unlocked that doorway to my past then, to be blunt, I feel that I would not have talked about them again. This reluctance to discuss this period of my life was accentuated by the release of a DVD by my former business partner entitled Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered. Mike had originally conceived of this DVD to accompany an unpublished book of interviews with a large plethora of individuals who had worked with an Italian film director, Lucio Fulci, idolized by Mike and numerous genre cinema fans the world over. Despite having worked extensively to locate a lot of the people who spoke on the disc, I did not wish to finance it, nor spend hours compiling the translations for Mike. As a result, and I suppose a misguided sense of betrayal on my part, I was bestowed with minimal, nominal and almost token credit on the disc. Furthermore, Mike was soon after to express his disappointment in a number of interviews relating to the release of the DVD which built up further barriers between me and my affiliation with European cinema.
FF: It sounds amazing really. Oh... You actually will only have 49 of the limited edition copies because one is definitely mine. There's a lot of talk about what you are doing with the DVD yet no mention of Kit's involvement...
MB:...He’s distanced himself quite a bit from me, but even more from our once business partnership. I really don’t want to speak badly of him because I love him like a brother, but personal issues have plagued Kit since I’ve known him, and this past year has been especially bad. He had no real interest when I was initially putting the Paura site together over a year ago.
Is it any wonder that I have distanced myself when my former business partner klaxons on a public forum in an interview that I have had personal issues plaguing me for as long as he has known me. And now, Mike is seen by his fellow Americans as a champion of European cinema because he has brought numerous guests to conventions for fans in their black t-shirts to meet and ask them to sign their glossies, or their posters, etc. Yet ten years ago, Mike had no real idea who Alida Valli was (other than that she had appeared in Suspiria) or who Romy Schneider was after we befriended her half sister, Sascha, and ate at her home on several occasions. To Mike, it was not a priority nor of any real import to know anything other than sketchy basics on these actors and their careers (cue print outs culled from the IMDb) nor to be able to communicate in any language other than English (I had to act as translator too). Even learning the basics in Italian might have added a dimension to meeting people, yet Mike saw this as unimportant and almost "surplus to requirement". Pointing a camera and penning a few questions was enough, it seems. My self respect took a bashing then for various reasons and on various levels.
This article is not an attack nor diatribe against Mike and the way that he (and by extension, I) conducted ourselves after our work at Media Blasters came to a rather abrupt end back in 2004; Mike and I are of different mindsets, all the more now as, next year, it will have been a decade since we last saw each other. I still hear of Mike from people we both met met and have befriended, and thanks to Facebook, I have managed to retain some degree of contact with as I always feel rather nervous and hesitant to pick up the phone and "touch base" with those I haven't spoken to in many years. When I met these people it was partially due to a fascination in their lives and their careers that spurred me on, but when that was forged into a friendship, partially due to a sense of being awestruck that X, Y, or Z would want to befriend me but also a lack of self confidence in my making friends with people; famous or not. My hesitation in helping Mike with his conventions has arisen from liking a number of the people he represents and my inner worry that by acting as some sort of "manager" to them, I would lose their trust and friendship. To me trust and friendship is vital to any connection with someone which one cares about. I also am aware that I have had the tendency to disappoint and to let people down, so I didn't want that flawed character trait of mine to interfere and possibly damage any friendship I might have. Also, to be honest, I feel I would be totally out of place with Mike and his friends, who hang around with him and these personalities; many of Mike's friends are adorned with tattoos and wear black t-shirts embellished with horror film titles or heavy metal bands (Neither of these fit my outlook, persona nor taste).
Italy came into my thoughts because I was talking about cities in Italy and also I was conversing in Italian in one of my dreams last night. I am so out of practice with my spoken Italian and it was horribly rusty last year when I was in Venice that I felt embarrassed speaking it in the hotel and lacked confidence when I was looking around the bookshops for art books. I still feel I can understand enough when reading it and when hearing it. I guess I am lacking the inner confidence and well, having spoken in French on a regular basis since 2005, has made me blot out a lot of the Italian I acquired. I still feel that my vocabulary is reasonably strong yet erratic, however it is that old bugbear of syntax and grammar that continues to elude me. Also, I have returned to being more self-conscious, uncomfortable and introverted and one of the side effects of this has manifested itself thus. Furthermore I am getting older and my memory has neither the capacity to retain information, nor is it as strong as it once was. I find it difficult to remain focused as well.
My passion for cinema, in particular Italian cinema, has largely dried up since those days in Italy. I am certainly no longer interested in collecting unusual and obscure b-movies nor the materials connected with their release, be they movie posters or lobby cards. Another reason why I find it difficult to identify with that person who a decade ago was collecting DVDs, watching movies and creating databases in an attempt to identify cast members, or cataloging releases of these movies around the world, or such like. I cannot see that person anymore, I cannot recognize him and I do not identify with him anymore. He seems so far away. A different person, a different time, a different dimension. In some ways it feels like a great loss but at the same time it feels like one is mourning for a person who one never knew. I suppose I feel somewhat jealous of those who have had lifelong interests and passions such as cinema whereas most of mine I tend to tire of, they wilt, they fade, and they get forgotten. There is also a degree of snobbery at play as well, I suppose, in as much as I feel like I have grown up and that my interests have become more attuned, more mature, and more sophisticated as I have advanced into my thirties. Yet these interests actually tend to hark back to a period prior to my becoming interested in cinema; those interests being art, history, archaeology, books and languages. These seem to be important supportive pillars to my being, my personality, and are constant, rather than mere diversions and deviations along the way.
At the moment in life I feel rather plagued by self doubt. I long for consistency in my being and that seems to be sorely lacking. I find this not just in myself but generally in the friends around me. It makes me question my validity as a friend owing to their inconsistency in keeping in touching, in retaining and remaining contact with me and I am continually ascribing blame to myself for this shortfall in a number of friends and my feeling that it is me that makes the first move, more often than not, to retain some form of contact with people. This is not always the case but sometimes it does seem to be terribly one-sided in nature. I question whether, as has been the case, that weeks, months, years would drift by. I find that when I tend to think about people I will want to get back in touch. Also people who once were enthusiastic about our friendship mostly seem to vanish. I fret, stress, worry and wonder what happened and whether it was something I did wrong to make them lose interest in me and our friendship, or simply they did not want to stay in contact with me. Maybe I am low down in their list of priorities. Maybe they did not value me on the same level in which I valued them. I treat all my friends with equal respect, value and worth, and those people who aggravate and annoy me with the same disdain and contempt. For sure, years of friendship can and does add value and worth but I feel disillusioned by those who claim to value my friendship yet simply disappear without reason. It diminishes my fragile worth all the more and makes me worry for how I am perceived and what impression I gave and whether it was because of simply being myself that they fade into the ether.