Wednesday, May 20, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 24)


Doing this chronologically has meant that the final movie in the 24 movies that have had the biggest impact on my life is tinged with a bit of a down-side. Marvel's big movie, The Avengers (or as we in the UK got it Avengers Assemble, because we didn't want to get confused with John Steed and Emma Peel) was a bit of a landmark, and coincided with some major and not great changes in my life...

Okay, let's set the scene. I grew up reading Marvel comics. I loved Iron Man, Thor, Dr Strange, and especially Spider-man. I was one of the first in that darn queue to go and see Iron Man when it came out and absolutely loved it. Blown away by how cool it was, and by how true to the comics it felt. I loved Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and I especially loved Captain America: The First Avenger. These were all brilliant movies in my eyes and I was loving what Marvel were doing with their films.

Let's just get this straight here - my opinion has not changed in the slightest. I love the MCU movies, and don't think there is a bad one in there. My favourites, just for the record, are Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Doctor Strange.

At this time, I was blogging for the SyFy Channel, and doing some writing for a couple of other websites including Forces of Geek. Thanks to this, I'd managed to get on the press lists for some of the big movies coming up, and managed to go and see some movies in advance so that I could review them for websites.

However, the biggest one was to come when I was invited to the press screening of The Avengers, and an invite to attend the UK press conference the following day.

So, I headed down to London. Press invite printed out, name on the list, I went to the Odeon Leicester Square along with loads of other press people, and eagerly awaited the biggest movie of the decade. It was raining when I got there, but it didn't matter. I was going to see The Avengers. They took my name, saw my ID, watched me turn my phone off, and in I went...

The movie was brilliant. Absolutely loved it. I was a massive Joss Whedon fan, and as always he managed to weave a story with an ensemble cast that made sure everyone got screen time, everyone had a storyline, and it all made sense. Fantastic!

I remember staggering out of the movie amazed and happy.

I took the tube to my inlaws where I was going to sleep that night, ready for the following day's press conference, and tried to turn my phone back on. Nothing. It had gotten completely soaked in my jacket pocket and was dead - it really wasn't going to come back on. Nuts.

Eventually, a couple of tube rides later I arrived at my mother-in-law's to discover that people had been trying to get in touch with me all evening. My phone was off, and wouldn't come back on, so it was all news to me... but while I was in that screening watching some of my favourite childhood heroes leap about on screen, my mother had been taken into hospital and it wasn't looking great. I couldn't get home, the trains were no longer running that far up the country, and there was nothing I could do. I spoke to my family to see how she was and how things were, and once in hospital she was doing okay. She was going to be in there a while.

In the end, reassured that there was nothing I could do and that she would be alright, I was convinced by everyone that I should stay where I was, and go to the press conference. It was a big deal, and my mum would have wanted me to go and experience something as amazing as this.

So, reluctantly, I did.

The following morning, I phoned around again to check everything was okay and that I was doing the right thing, and then I headed back into the city to go to the press conference. My phone was still dead, but I had my camera - but I wasn't allowed to take photos during the conference as that honour went to some of the professional reporters and photographers, and the video camera crews from places that had more clout than me.

I took a photo before it started - a swanky hotel ballroom had been transformed into this massive conference hall, with chairs and cameras set up facing the wall of heroes and chairs for the actors...

I managed to get a seat about seven rows back so I wasn't too far from the actors as they came out.

Selfie at the conference before it started
When they did, it was amazing. I've reported about this before on the blog back in 2012, but actually being in the same room as the whole cast of The Avengers was electric. You can tell why these people are in movies, because up close they are all so darn attractive. They're all gorgeous people.

And there was me, like a bald potato sitting in the audience. Star-struck, stunned, and my head spinning in circles confused by what had happened the previous night and whether my mother was going to be okay.

The press conference itself was about thirty minutes. Robert Downey Jr stole the show being the living embodiment of Tony Stark. Being in the same room as Scarlett Johansson is a little disconcerting. These were the biggest actors on the planet, just about - and certainly would eventually be the biggest actors in the biggest movie franchise, and in the biggest movie. And there I was, fifteen feet from them. That expression in the awful selfie above? Yeah, that was pretty much my expression for the whole thing.

Not my photo, I wasn't allowed...

And then it was over. They bid their farewells, and wandered off to the one on ones in various hotel rooms with the press that would be used on every entertainment programme from around the world.

I grabbed my bag, and headed home - made the two hour trip back home, showered, changed, repacked a new bag, then started the six hour trip back to my hometown so I could visit my mother.

She was okay, but it was the start of things going bad. She was in hospital for weeks after that as they tried to work out what was wrong and to assess the situation. Eventually, she was released into a care facility in my hometown, but never returned to the family home. The Avengers night in question was April, and she died in August. During those last few months I spent a couple of days every week when I had time off from work up there visiting, but I've always felt guilty that I couldn't be reached that night.

On those visits my mum said that I did the right thing, that she was okay, and she listened to me relating the story of the press conference and being in the same room as the stars.

It wasn't the last press conference I went to, and I managed to go to the Thor: The Dark World one (the video of which is on my Youtube channel - my most watched video as it has Tom Hiddleston in it), the Guardians of the Galaxy one (which just reinforced my infatuation with Karen Gillan - I managed to bring Debs along for that one, but unfortunately Vin Diesel was a no show), and the first Ant-Man one.

In time, the invites stopped coming. I couldn't afford to keep going to London to see movies for press screenings, and the last one I attended was to see part of The World's End, where I met Edgar Wright. Pair this with the websites I was writing for shutting down, and my time as a movie journalist had come to an end.

It was fun while it lasted.


And that's it. My twenty-four movies that have had the biggest impact on my life. It was hard to narrow it down to just twenty-four, movies have been such a major part.

Hope it wasn't too boring!

I'm thinking of doing one more of these things - possibly books? - but not as many. The time to go back to the day-job is looming ever closer.

In the meantime, stay safe everyone. Look after yourselves and those around you.

No comments: