BBC Oxford's James Luxford's life in movies....

As you read this, I will be doing something that’s nothing to do with cinema at all. Most likely I will be at Cotswold Wildlife Park having some close encounters with, well, wildlife.

Why the midweek skiving? Well, today is my 30th birthday, and I’ve decided I want to spend it with one of my favourite people in the world, my 18 month old nephew, Toby, who will no doubt be charging about with abandon and throwing a soft toy around.

He is a wee bit too young for the multiplex, so we’ve gone for a slightly more Toby-friendly destination (although Atomic Burger might be on the cards later, just to replenish the geek factor).

As I write this, however, I’m in the final days of my twenties, and it’s given me a bit of an opportunity to reflect. It’s been a big decade – starting, oddly enough, in Portsmouth where I was a student. My friend James held my hand aloft at a party and declared: “This (expletive) just turned 20!!!” Since then, I’ve met every movie person I could hope for, moved to Oxford and, in the final weeks of my 29th year, got married.

bviously that last thing was the most significant, but you’ve heard all about that already. So instead I’ll write about arguably the second most significant – when I briefly lived in New York. ‘Twas the summer of 2004 and I had enrolled into the New York Film Academy for a filmmaking course.

I lived in a tiny apartment in Greenwich Village with a Norwegian pop star as a roommate for three months, which may not sound a lot but given the daily school routine (often 12-13 hour days) I really felt like a local. I was getting groceries, doing my laundry, and gorging pizza in my lunch breaks. My classmates and I ran around the streets of Manhattan with 16mm film cameras and dogeared shooting scripts. It was exactly as fun as it sounds. But if it was so great, I hear you cry, why am I reviewing movies and not making them?

Technically, I think I was a pretty good director, but artistically? Difficult to say. I was 20, and so hadn’t particularly lived enough life to tell that many compelling stories. By the time I had graduated, I decided that the amount of commitment it would take to pursue filmmaking as a profession just wasn’t in me. Don’t feel too sorry for me though – I fell into journalism, found that I loved it more than anything I had done before and so accidentally stumbled upon my dream career. So, while my Big Apple adventure didn’t directly lead to a career, it gave me a lot more.

I lived in a beautiful city for a short time, made friends from all over the world, and most importantly learned what it was like to be excited to go to ‘work’ (or a work-like environment) every day, to be doing what you loved. I’ve done a lot of great things since, but the summer of 2004 is one that will always stand out.