by Patrick Bromley
Last week, I realized that I am at some bizarre crossroads in my life. I am in the throes of a pretty deep depressive episode and find myself paralyzed, unable to write, unable to get back in touch with loving what I do. After doing this for over a decade and running this site for almost eight years, I found myself more or less ready to give up on writing and podcasting about movies. I posted something to this effect on Twitter and was blessedly flooded with support from friends, from readers and listeners, from writers and filmmakers and actors who I have championed and whose work I greatly admire. It was humbling and incredibly moving and it reminded me that while we are just another little movie site, we have a voice and our voice hopefully still matters.
"The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." - William Somerset, Se7en, quoting Ernest Hemingway
I wish I could say that it was this outpouring of encouraging words -- for my health above my writing in every case -- that shook me out of this funk and got me back to work. That would be the obvious happy end to this story. That it didn't play out that way is not to diminish the impact that people's words had on me, nor is it to suggest that I did not appreciate how kind and supportive everyone was. It meant a great deal to me. It meant so much to me, in fact, that it forced me to ask myself why it hadn't magically turned things around for me, since that's exactly how it would have happened if this was a movie. Without that support, I would have probably quit a week ago and would not be writing this right now. With it, I at least made myself look inward to try and see in myself what others saw enough of in me to offer a few words of encouragement. It's a process that's still ongoing and one without any clear answers. I've still been watching a ton of movies, but I'm having a hard time finding anything to write about because I feel like I have nothing left to say. Each time I try to write something new, I feel like a fraud. And I hate it.
Leprechaun podcast made them laugh, or if we have helped someone through a difficult time, I'm not ready to give that up. I know that we're just one little movie site on an internet filled with thousands of movie podcasts and tens of thousands of movie sites, but to a small group of people, I think we matter. And that matters to me.
"I know it's almost impossible to succeed, but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt." - Celine, Before Sunrise
I never intended for F This Movie! to be my livelihood, because I'm smart enough to know that the model is broken and it's almost impossible to monetize a website or a podcast in a way that actually brings in an income -- especially without having to sacrifice your own integrity for some CinemaSins clickbait bullshit. I have never measured success by hits or by dollars earned, because that's a side of the "business" of running a site for which I have no propensity and because it's not why I got into this. I got into this to talk about the kinds of movies I want to talk about in the way I want to talk about them. At the same time, I have been feeling lately like all the writing and podcasting I do both here and at Daily Dead has gotten to be too much work for it to not actually be my work. I don't like feeling that way. It hasn't felt like work before, even when it was a lot of work. I'm not sure what's changed now, but it's a big part of the reason why I feel like something is wrong with me. I want it to go back to feeling like something I love doing and not just a non-paying job on top of all of my other jobs.
"Thank you for my life." - Joe, Joe Versus the Volcano
As I have mentioned before, one of my favorite movies ever is Joe Versus the Volcano, the directing debut of screenwriter and playwright John Patrick Shanley (who has, it should be said, only directed the film adaptation of Doubt since). It's a movie I've thought about a lot in the last week or so -- specifically the scene in which Joe (Tom Hanks), diagnosed with a terminal brain cloud, rafts his way towards a remote island where he plans to sacrifice himself and hurl himself into an active volcano. Sun poisoned, dehydrated and close to death, a comatose Meg Ryan by his side, Joe sees the moon from his raft. It is luminous, gigantic and beautiful, and for the first time (maybe ever), Joe says "Dear God, whose name I do not know, Thank you for my life." It's my favorite moment in a movie full of favorite moments and it never fails to make me cry, because it's a scene about a guy who is willing and ready to die finally appreciating the gift of being alive. In my clearer moments, this is me.
I'm not using this piece to announce some sort of hiatus. The podcast will be back next week, and hopefully every week after that for the foreseeable future. This is all just stuff I needed to get off my chest, like poison I need to vomit out before I can begin anew. In seven years of running this site, I have never experienced this kind of self-doubt or hit this hard a wall. Sorry if this is all too personal or too self-indulgent. It's just the most I can muster right now, and I'm afraid if I don't say something, write something, it's only going to get worse. For the time being, I will keep doing my best to fight for the world. To appreciate the moon and be thankful for my life. I can't promise I will always succeed, but for now the answer must be in the attempt.