Twenty years is a long time in the movies.
And 20 years is how long it’s been my pleasure and privilege to review movies for The Yorkshire Post. Averaging two movies a week – sometimes more – means that I’ve racked up in the region of 2,000 films over two decades. That equates to several thousand hours sitting in the dark and several million words in print.
I started writing for the YP in the mid ’80s. Back then it was star profiles of people such as Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Paul Newman, Peter Cushing and Rutger Hauer. Coincidentally Hauer was the first actor I ever interviewed at a Press conference for the sci-fi/horror flick Split Second in the summer of 1992. Over time I also interviewed Cruise (in Berlin) and Nicholson (twice) but, alas, never Mr Newman. Cushing I met and spoke to on his book tour for his autobiography in 1986.
I began writing seriously on film for the YP late in 1994 when I joined as a staffer. It was an interview here and there, people such as Robert England for Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Sean Bean for When Saturday Comes. By the summer of 1995 I was covering some of the bigger releases – Braveheart, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Apollo 13 and Waterworld, which, bizarrely, gave me the opportunity to interview the veteran director Fred Zinnemann as I contrasted the $200m behemoth that was Waterworld with his $2m historical pageant from 1966, A Man for All Seasons.
My tenure as film critic began with the launch of Yorkshire Live on October 6 1995. Since then the YP’s cinema coverage has gone through various incarnations, slipping in and out of the main paper, briefly into the Saturday magazine and then back into a Friday tabloid. Currently it’s entitled Culture and run with great success by features editor Sarah Freeman.
And from 1999 to 2003 I was the film critic for Yorkshire Television (now ITV Yorkshire), appearing on Tonight, Live Lunch, Calendar Lunchtime Live and two seasons of The Buzz. Mike Best was my patron and Mark Witty my ever-supportive editor. Two great guys who steered me through a glorious period that boasted interviews with everyone from Harrison Ford (in Rome) to Robin Williams.
On radio I was invited to partner with Andrew Edwards on BBC Radio Leeds on a segment entitled Movie Monday. That ran for nearly five years, starting in September 2010. Previously I’d dropped in as a guest for Georgey Spanswick on her Film Flashback strand.
The landscape of film has changed enormously during that time. Piracy means fewer films are screened to the Press in the regions and the rise of blogging and online reviewing has had a huge impact on print reviewing.
But I’m still here. What’s more I retain an enthusiasm for movies that is undiminished. Over the years being able to rub shoulders with Nicholson, Cruise and Co has led to a treasure chest overflowing with stories, anecdotes and memories. Some of the film folk I’ve met have also become my friends.
There have been nominations for awards. No wins, mind you. But a bunch of certificates and some good (if hazy) memories of awards bashes with friends and colleagues.
What does the future hold? Who knows? The industry is changing fast. What I do know is that I continue to seek out new pictures and new talent, to boldly go in search of the good, the bad and the indifferent in order that audiences can save time and money in not wasting time on bad experiences.
It’s all been enormous fun. Roll on the next 20 years.
See you at the movies.