Paparazzi On You!

Well I really had to laugh as the other night someone slapped a sticker on me with Paparazzi on you! handwritten on it. I had to laugh because, of course, lately it’s been kind of true.

As the episodes continue to pile up, there’s still a lot more footage on my portable drives to share with all of you. So far 3 of the 5 episodes have been based on interviewing people. That will still continue because this documentary isn’t just about my thoughts and my opinions but of all the interesting people who live and visit here.

But there’s more to life than just talk, eh? So as you saw in Episode 5 there will be shown a lot of other aspects of life here in Romania. And one of those aspects is the nightlife, all the going out and about in the town and drinking, dancing and having fun. It’s definitely something that a lot of people who visit Romania are interested in.

I was at my friends’ bar (Cleo) for a lot of what I shot and it’s also where one of the waitresses slapped that label on me. I’m sure some of you have seem the “promo ad” that I shot and produced for them so you have a rough idea of some of the things I’ve seen – some but not even close to all ;)

Since this is a “family friendly” documentary, whatever that actually means, I guess something akin to saying that it has been (self) censored to not contain any curse words or anything too sexual, it’s been a little tricky with some of the recording. In case you’ve never, ever been to a club in Romania at night, sometimes it can get a little…ahem…wild.

I still felt that showing scenes of the nightlife here was still worth it however, to be included in my documentary. So yeah I’ve had to cut a few scenes and whatnot but it’s still rather inclusive. One of the things that is very important in Romania is this sense of it’s perfectly natural to go out and have a good time. That seems to be perfectly “obvious” to a lot of readers but I know both from my own background in America as well as speaking to visiting foreigners every week that it’s not always quite so self-evident in other people’s cultures.

Needless to say, there’s more ways to go out and have fun than clubs and bars. I’ve written many times about Romanians’ fondness for iarba verde, or getting out and enjoying nature. Certainly you heard enough of them extol their love for the outdoors in Episode 4. Romanians also certainly go to the theater (whether opera, movie or ballet) quite often as well as attend festivals and fairs on a regular basis.

But they also do love to go out and have fun in bars and club, especially the young. And there are a lot of young people in Romania. From the time a kid here is about 10 years old, he or she will be spending a lot of time out of the house, whether that’s hanging with friends in the stairwell of the bloc or else going out to clubs and bars. It’s something just about every young person does here in one phase of their early adulthood or another.

Not to mention my documentary is trying to get people excited about Romania and to that end, having some shots of cute girls dancing on the bar never hurts, eh?

But I’ve been to a few more places besides the safe environs of my friends’ bar. Knowing that your Respected Author has a rather strong fondness to dip his toes in the seedier side of Romania, I have also been to – and filmed in – a manele club. Yes, it’s true. And yes I had a good time. Hey, now you know one of my private secrets!

I must say that despite some of the technical issues, editing and arranging the episodes of the documentary has been incredibly fun and it’s a real pleasure to see a slice of the life that I live start to come to life and be shaped and shown the way I want it. Sometimes living in Romania is like living on Moon Base Alpha as you feel quite far away from everyone else, who mostly regard where you live every day of your life as some far-off outpost in the post-Communist wastelands of Eastern Europe.

Of course if you’re Romanian and you live here, very little of that is ever perceived and so some of what I’ve been doing in the documentary seems blindingly obvious. But my “business” is the strangers and I know what it’s like to come here for the first time because I did it myself and I literally meet someone every single week who is also doing it for the first time as well (although never at a manele club, surprisingly enough :P)

So the question I asked myself before beginning this documentary was the same one I had before writing my book – what exactly is Romania? In other words, which parts are you going to cover and which parts not? Or which parts are the “real” Romania and which parts unessential?

Well the truth is that I still don’t know the answer to that question :) So all I can do is write about (and now show you) the parts that I know myself. The whole point of a documentary is to document, to show what’s real. Believe me, the train that almost ran me over (in the opening sequence of every episode) wasn’t staged – it’s aaaaallll been real, including right down to yes, me shooting girls dancing on the bar in a manele club.

So keep that in mind as you sit in the warm comfort of your own house, playing these episodes on your computer or watching them on your phone or however it is you do it – I actually went out to all of these places and did all these things and spoke to all of those people and yes, drank all that tuica ;) So while yes, I call it a documentary about Romania, it’s actually a documentary about my Romania.

And of course what makes it interesting is that I myself don’t know how it will turn out!

Hope you’ve been enjoying the “ride” and thanks to all of you who have sent kind comments. I was a little tired the other day and some of the negativity was starting to irk me so please forgive any temporary outbursts, eh? It’s been a lot of fun putting all the clips together and seeing people watch them and hearing their thoughts. It’s kind of like a magic, eh? Sometimes it really is.

As the old man who rips up your ticket at the movie theater says, “Hope ya enjoy da show!”