If you write films for a living, or if you aspire to, then how many hours of films should you be watching a week?
It's a question that I'm always asking myself, as I am a terrible procrastinator (well, actually, I'm a very good procrastinator - see, I'm even putting off the end of this sentence), and ploughing through a stack of DVDs is a good way of avoiding proper work. But it is nonetheless vital to be aware of new films, analyse their structure, read their screenplays, keep up to date with trends and commercial and critical performance, and so on.
I'm almost reluctant to tell you this, as it is so uncool, and because once upon a time I was Mister Cinema (it was a little embarrassing, I had to change it by deed poll in the end). I would have seen and had an opinion on every release within days of it opening, or I'd have seen it months before at some festival or other. But, since I became a rookie parent, I've found myself going to the flicks less and less. I'm on a six to twelve month delay on all new releases - that's how long before they filter through from my lovefilm.com list, and I finally find a moment to watch them. And I'm more than ever aware of this around the Oscars ceremony: five best film contenders - know of them all, read the reviews, seen their box office reported on in Screen International. Seen 'em? Nah.
But if I have spare time, I feel I ought to be using it for writing, and if the opportunity of a baby-sitter comes up, my wife objects if I suggest "ten films" as what we should do with our evening.
Should I worry? What's the right balance to have? I don't know, but I'm trying my best to find it. That's another reason why it was so nice to have attended the 'Look at Me' premiere this week. It was great to see a film in a darkened theatre, and it was not just any old film but the first produced work of fellow screenwriter/blogger, and my good mate, Jason Arnopp. Read all about it here (I'm the fellow with a beard and specs in the second picture down - fame at last!).
And if you come back here in six months time, I'll give you my views on which is better 'There will Be Blood' or 'No Country for Old Men'.