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Juggling commitments
Slarek | 30 June 2012

Here's a poser. When you start a site blog to keep people informed about why reviews have been a bit slow in coming, what do you do when the demands of the real world get in the way of writing that blog? Well you write this, I guess. A little too late and just before the site goes off-line for a week (more on that in a minute), I find myself in a rare moment of relative calm, one tainted by the knowledge of crap soon to come.

The simple fact is that when you're running a site in your spare time, real life sometimes gets in the way. Recently that's happened a lot. For the past two weeks my day job has gone ballistic and the evenings have been spent taking care of my mother, whose illness plummeted due to the inaction of the private company – Concordia, if you're interested – who were stupidly appointed to run the health centre at which she is a patient. If you're looking for evidence for why private companies should stay the fuck out of healthcare, these guys will give you everything you need.*

This very week the intrusion of real life may have buggered up an opportunity to interview Todd Solondz. I'm still not sure it would have happened, but I was due to film it and had to cancel at the last minute, and that still eats at my gut. All of which has prompted me to wonder what my life would need to ideally be like to better manage the site. The thing is, for every fanciful answer I came up with there's a reality grounded counter-argument waiting in the wings.

1. Get rich and leave work to focus solely on the site.
That would be great, wouldn't it? Watching and writing about movies all day. Of course it's not going to happen. I've never been driven by a desire for wealth and am unlikely to start now, and a job change forced on me just yesterday makes it quite likely I'll be looking to jump ship soon. And besides, if someone threw money at me I'd probably spend part of it funding and working on Camus's second feature – making films is more fun – and the rest on travelling, pausing to write only when it amused me to do so. Nah, that's not going to work.

2. Chuck the job and embrace unemployment.
Could happen, too, and soon given that job change. But I've been unemployed before and it doesn't pay the bills. And if I was made redundant I'd probably be spend my time occupying government and corporate buildings in political protest and making films about that, so would be just as busy, only with more purpose.

3. Reverse the aging process and go back in time to be young again.
Ridiculous, obviously, but it's easier to become fully obsessed when the worries of the world have yet to fuck you over. In many ways I actually prefer being older, for the experience I regularly draw on and the clearer perspective I now have on life, but I do occasionally get nostalgic for a time when I could devote every waking minute to the wonderful world of film without having to spare a thought for the demands of work, family or personal future.

4. Widen my innate misanthropy to include my immediate family.
To say I'm not a people person is a spectacular understatement. But like most of us, I guess, I'm kind of devoted to the few I hold dear, and when one of them falls ill or worse (and I've seen a few too many that fall into that second category) my priorities shift. Then a film that a few days ago was the highlight of my week becomes a distraction from the immediate task at hand, and the review ends up being written in fits and starts. Which never really works. But that's not going to change. Scratch that one, then.

5. Get more people writing for the site.
Makes sense. Formatting reviews of others takes time, but a lot less than writing and formatting your own reviews, and we could cover a lot more titles if we had more writers. But when the reviews are as long as the ones we tend to publish, you don't find yourself overwhelmed with volunteers. Indeed, those who have come on board and later departed have usually done so because they couldn't make the time to continue writing reviews when they changed jobs or started university courses. It's a problem that was highlighted by producer Keith Griffiths, whose enviable CV includes films by the likes of Jan Švankmajer, Christopher Petit and the Brothers Quay.** We were talking before a screening of Švankmajer's Lunacy, which he was there to introduce, and I happened to remark how tough it was to recruit reviewers for the site, to which he replied with a small laugh, "I'm not surprised given the length of your reviews." But as I've said before, it's a bit too late to start reeling them in and I'm not sure we'd actually be capable of doing so.

But I can't let it go. Just when I think I can't balance the demands of the site and the pressures of my over-complicated private life, I catch a movie that proves special enough to make the bad stuff go away for a couple of hours and get the urge to write about it, if only to convince others they should see it too. And I make a quiet pledge to get back up to speed, to really knuckle down and get writing. It's just happened again, as it happens.

But all being well (and it very nearly wasn't), in two days I'm off for a sorely needed holiday. For once I'm choosing to leave my malfunctioning laptop at home and give myself a complete and proper break (I'll post more on this tomorrow). Yet despite having done no packing or procured the required Euros, I've already ripped a number of review discs and loaded them on my iPad, just in case I fancy something to watch. And write about, of course.

* You'll find a video of a recent protest outside the centre here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DrW5-XqfGE&feature=plcp

** You can check of the eminent Mr. Griffiths' filmography here:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0341702/