With an initial concept of bringing the latest short films to screen in the East Midlands crafted by a variety of innovative filmmakers, Beeston Film Festival is now in it its fifth year and hosting entries from across the globe.
The festival has earned a title of being the biggest international short film festivals in the Midlands, as its submissions have increased by 68% from over 50 countries across every continent of the globe.
John Currie, the film festival Director, and his team of over 20 local Beestonians and global jury of 18 film industry professionals from the UK, America, France. Belgium, India, South Africa and Taiwan, make up its unique programming team.
As part of the pre-festival warm up, the Berliner will screen a great night of classics on Wednesday 13th of February, showing favourites from previous festivals such as The Stomach and The App.
Returning to Café Roya, where the festival launched five years ago, a second warm up showcases Iranian films on Sunday 24th February. Roya will provide some Persian cuisine and the programme includes B’Oscar winner, 1001 Teardrops.
The festival itself begins on Wednesday 13th of March at its first warm up location, The Berliner, running for a period of five days in its four different venues across Beeston town, making it its biggest and brightest film festival ever.
This year the festival continues to expand and has introduced their newest category, Better Place; inspiring filmmakers to create either Fiction or Non-Fiction Films aiming to drive a change in the world we live in, champion causes, influence prevailing attitudes and moving the world to a better place.
Not only is Beeston Film Festival presenting a new category this year, the iconic B’Oscar will be revamped and is under development from Beeston glass artist Becs Cass.
The renowned international festival has been rated gold as well as being placed in the Top 100 of Best Reviewed Festivals on FilmFreeway that showcases over 6000 festivals world-wide.
The reviews are from filmmakers involved and guests of the festival and reflect the welcome from the Beeston community.
One review by Judson Vaughan says this: “Just great! What else can I say, just a breath of fresh air! The organisers are true film/indie film lovers that are fair, impartial and committed to the filmmakers. Great communication, great fun and if you get the chance to meet John, then what a bonus! This is our second film to be screened at Beeston and we’ll be back! Thank You John, James and everyone involved.”
As final entries are being selected, it would be a shame to miss out on celebrating film and filmmakers from across the globe showcasing their creative arts at the Beeston Film Festival this year.
Produced up the road at the Lenton Lane studios, it probably no surprise that Beeston was used for many of the suburb location shots in the show. Beeston variously doubles up for Newcastle, Birmingham and Derby (!). Beeston resident Kate told The Beestonian how she remembered the filming “They were all outside Roundhill for a day. Jimmy Nail knocked on my door and asked to use the toilet. I let him. He was some time”.
2. Van Der Valk
Der-der-der-der; der-der-der, der derder der der der…. The excellent theme tune, Eye Level reached number one in the Seventies when this TV show became a hit. The story of a cynical Dutch detective solving crime on the more salubrious streets of Amsterdam, the title character was actually a Beestonian, the renowned actor Barry Foster. Rumours that Foster Avenue was named after this son of Beeston are as yet unconfirmed.
3. Better Call Saul
Breaking Bad is often described as the best bit of telly ever made, generally by people who are obsessed with lists and will write into Q Magazine if they find some spurious
100 Best Albums of the Nineties puts their favourite obscure Indie LP at a position lowerthan they would like. But whatever, it is good, and the spin-off show Better Call Saul is also an understated masterpiece.
Set in deepest New Mexico and full of Americana you’d expect the producers to find a US band to provide the twangy, sultry guitar for the theme music, they instead got in touch with Little Barrie, a three-piece headed up by Barrie Cadogan, a through and through Beestonian and, as his name suggests, of urchin-like appearance.
4. Virtually Every Documentary in the Early Noughties
While we’re on the subject of theme music, we have to mention the majestic Bent. The electronic duo Simon and Nail hailed from Stapleford and Beeston respectively, putting out a slew of great music for a decade. Such was the excellence of their tunes they became staples as incidental music on countless shows during the time: if it wasn’t them, it would be Röyksopp or Lemon Jelly. We interviewed Simon a few years ago for The Beestonian, read it here.
Interesting fact: Bent were chosen by Michael Caine as one of his Desert Island Discs. So impressed was he by their unique sound he decided to make his own compilation of music of a similar, err, bent. This was released in 2007, and was, quite wonderfully, titled ‘Cained’.
5. Jamie Johnson
The story of a 12-year-old footballing protege with a difficult home life, this kids TV show used Beeston as its backdrop, notably filming on Hope Street, Humber Road Chippy and The Vic.
The remake may be mere slops, but the original is a stone-cold classic. Ronnie Barker delivered the performance of his life, but the ensemble cast made it what it was, cramming some of the finest talents (and Christopher Biggins) into the claustrophobic dark stone walls of Slade Prison. Yet the relationship that really endured was that between recidivistic burglar Fletcher and his naive young cellmate Godber. The father-son chemistry between the two characters, never mawkish, never overstated, made the show something else: in real life Barker, and Richard Beckinsale became good friends.
Beckinsale, of course, hailed from Beeston where he attended College House School (where he is memorialised with a blue plaque), and Alderman White. Took down tragically early -he was just 30- by a sudden heart attack, the world lost one of its finest comic actors.
Great fact: the original script drafts imagined Beckinsale’s character as a minor part, and didn’t even give him a name, merely mentioned as ‘Lag’….this later became ‘Lenny Arthur Godber’.
Another ’80’s Central TV production, every local schoolkid would claim to have seen Michael Elphick and a mulleted Neil Morrissey pegging it around town on a motorbike. Also like Auf Wiedersehen Pet, The Star was Boon’s pub of choice, renamed The Drum. Beeston Square was also featured in episodes. Ahh, Central TV. Gave us loads of filming opportunities and, thanks to Bullseye, the highest ratio of speedboats-to -household of any major land-locked county.
8. Prisoner Cell Block H.
It is a little-known fact that our local MP Anna Soubry, who lives in Leicestershire but has an office in Beeston, was once the UK’s Prisoner Cell Block H expert. She’d regularly travel the world, giving complex lectures on the semiotics of Bea and Lizzie’s relationship, and devised the seminal work that laid the foundations for the now established academic study of Wentworth dialectics.
Her renown was such that ITV made her a regular guest on This Morning, snatching her from the fusty halls of ivy-tower academia and into the front rooms of daytime telly viewers, which saw a marked decrease in dole claimants as thousands fled to find work when she appeared.
After being called to give evidence at Home Office inquiries into the female penal system, she developed a taste for politics and successfully stood for MP, unsuccessfully campaigning for new prison walls to save money by being built of flimsy chipboard painted with a brick design.
9. Coronation Street/ Crossroads / Emmerdale
….all starred Beestonian born and bred Sherrie Hewson, who also is a regular on Benidorm, Loose Women and has even done Big Brother. Appropriately, she’s currently in panto in Nottingham, so don’t be surprised if you see her having a cheeky half down The Last Post on an afternoon.
10. This Is England / Line of Duty
While Beestonian Shane Meadows decamped to Sheffield to film the movie spin-off, he has used Beeston on of occasion as a backdrop. The stand-out, BAFTA winning performance from Wollatonian -turned-Beestonia *smatter of applause* of Vicky McClure led to her taking leading roles in Line Of Duty, the adaptation of Conrads The Secret Agent, and The Replacement. A phenomenal talent, Wollaton can do one if they think they’re having her back.
11. Beestonia: The Movie
Y’think we’d get this far without giving ourselves a plug? Don’t be daft. Filmed during the height of the tram works to show a town in transition, this epic (over 20minutes) film has baffingly not been selected for any BAFTA’s yet, but does have a cameo from a BAFTA-winning, mentioned-above Shane Meadows. Watch it, before we have to remove it from YouTube when Paramount or Disney buy the rights.
Food scenes in films have always existed to remind the audience that even though the people onscreen are much hotter, richer and more talented than the viewing audience, they still need a decent meal like ordinary folk from time to time.
This month I list my all time favourite food scenes while binge eating a bag of own brand peanuts. Please enjoy.
Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene:
Until I was 4 years old I didn’t really believe in love, I thought it was a dystopian ideal circulated by a corrupt government to get people to pay more taxes, but then I watched 2 dogs kiss by accident while eating Italian food and I knew love was real. I still think Lady could do better, though.
Jurassic Park jelly wobble:
This scene still makes me anxious. We learn that raptors can open doors and it still frightens me as much as when my toddler managed it for the first time and caught me plucking my ‘tash.
What We Do in the Shadows:
Regardless of a hilarious late-night chippie takeaway scene, seek this film out for its sheer hilarity. A bunch of vampires film a mockumentary about the perils of modern life, one of which is not having chips after a mental night out. I definitely could not be a vampire, you couldn’t even have garlic sauce on them.
9 ½ Weeks:
This entire film marked my transition to womanhood and gave me a lifelong interest in top of the range fridge-freezers. Bet theirs was A+ for energy conservation. Not sure about a blindfolded buffet though, I’d prefer toast and Netflix if I’m honest.
Matt Damon becomes a farmer on Mars. Stay with me, he does science stuff too and is funny with some actual jokes, but mainly he’s a space farmer. How many crops have YOU grown on Earth? EXACTLY. Impressive stuff if you like extreme farming. Which I do.
Do yourselves a favour and rewatch The Banana Boat Song scene on Youtube. I’m assuming you know what I mean, and if you don’t then I’m afraid we probably can’t be penpals any more. I once showed this to my daughter and she had nightmares about hands coming out of soup for months. She just really doesn’t like soup.
The room upstairs at the White Lion was packed on Sunday 12th March as the winners of the 3rd Beeston Film Festival were announced to a very excited and eager audience.
Thanks must go to Sergio the landlord of Beeston’s most sociable pub, as it has been the base for the festival, since John Currie and James Hall launched it back in 2015.
After months of planning and preparation, some 90 short length films from across the world have been screened over four days, with the launch taking place at the University of Nottingham’s Sir Clive Granger Building on the Thursday. This first evening saw the inaugural Three Counties Festival Night, which was split into two categories; short films of up to five minutes in length, and long films, which were up to fifteen minutes in duration. Prize money was on offer too, courtesy of the Matthew Martino Benevolent Fund. All the other films were shown at the White Lion.
There were a number of categories that a number of the films were shortlisted for. Thirteen judges from around the globe had viewed all the films to find the best in each of the areas, such as horror, comedy, script and cinematography.
It just goes to show the amount of talent that there is in the East Midlands. The 2018 festival is going to be bigger and even better.
No cash prizes here, but the winners did receive a wonderfully crafted ceramic award: the B’Oscar, created by Nottingham artist Anna Collette Hunt.
So on to the fifteen winning films and filmmakers:
Best horror film: Woods
Best Animation: Cuerdas
Best Drama: Soldier Bee
Best Documentary: Cecil & Carl
Best Comedy: Braquage Serenade
Best Script: Braquage Serenade
Best Actor: Shauna Macdonald for Soldier Bee
Best Director: Pedro Solis Garcia for Cuerdas
Best Cinematography: Stewart Whelan for Cinephiliac
Best Sound: Cinephiliac
Three Counties Short: Portrait of a Craftsman
Three Counties Long: Cadence
Rising Star: Night Owls
Audience Favourite: The App
Best Film in Festival: Braquage Serenade
A number of Beeston-based shops and companies sponsored the B’Oscar awards. They were:
Art, Culture, Tourism
Pamela Sietos Clothing
Rye Café & Bar
I caught up with a weary but ecstatic John after the ceremony to find out how the four days went. “It’s been the best one so far”, he replied grinning from ear to ear. “It just goes to show the amount of talent that there is in the East Midlands. The 2018 festival is going to be bigger and even better. The support that the festival has received has been phenomenal. All the students from the university that have helped out have been fantastic.”
I also spoke to James, who was busy packing away the IT equipment, and asked for his thoughts. “It’s been great, but much harder work than helping to organise the Oxjam music event.”
Finally, one face that I recognized in the audience was that of local actor, puppeteer and storyteller Melvyn Rawlinson. I asked Melvyn whether he had been involved in any of the productions. Yes he said, I appeared in the film ‘I Am God and Severely Underqualified.’ This tells the story of a writer struggling with the dreaded writer’s block, and how he gets over it.
John and James will shortly be e-mailing a weblink to those that attended the festival, so they will be able to watch their favourite films again, or catch up with any that they missed. For everyone else, you’ve missed out. Some may make it to a cinema release, or might turn up on YouTube. You never know, there may even be plans to create a ‘Beeston Film Festival’ compilation DVD. Now wouldn’t that be exciting!
It seems that every few weeks our local media announce the imminent arrival of a cinema in Beeston. The large empty space where the fire station / Blockbuster / that dead cheap offy once stood is, we’re told, dead close to getting a place to watch flicks.
We’re not, at least, not yet. No deal has been signed, and, even if it was, building on the site (known as ‘Phase 2’) would not begin for some time. What seems to be happening is no more than testing the water, gauging opinion.
You can already catch a film in Beeston: the wonderful Beeston Film Festival is planning its third incarnation; The White Lion puts on occasional film nights and one day soon we’re hoping to get our arse in gear and restart the Café Roya Film Club. The popularity and diversity of these events suggest we could happily welcome something more permanent and regular.
This issue, then, celebrates cinema and its connection to Beeston. We have interviews with some local stars, an examination on Beeston’s crucial contribution to films over the years, some words of advice for cinema goers and more. Plus, the usual pic n’ mix of great writing, lovely design and general Beestonian excellence. Now, top up that popcorn, slurp that coke and settle down to the main feature…
I love film and films – although not, it should be said, many of the Robin Hood films out there. Most are sadly a bit bland and uninspiring and the only one I find infinitely rewatchable is the classic 1938 Errol Flynn version (the one with the green tights, ‘Robin Hood hat’ and a real sense of cinema and adventure, rather than any ‘dark, gritty reimaging’ – I’m looking at you, Russell Crowe).
Nottingham was lucky enough to have a shared premiere of Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, jointly shared with Nottingham and the Cannes film Festival, although who knows why Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett decided to go to the sunny south of France rather than the Cornerhouse in Nottingham? Sal and I got to go to the Nottingham premiere in their place though, which was actually more fun than the film itself.
As noted elsewhere in this issue, Nottingham and Beeston have a great cinematic history and it’s something we can all be proud of – whilst we wait to see if we’re going to get a ‘proper’ cinema in the vast wasteland next to the tram station we have several independent cinema clubs, not least those run by our previous editor Matt at the White Lion and Café Roya. Matt was also a driving force behind Beestonia: The Movie which was a fabulous celebration of all things local and I even got to have a cameo in it, which
was great fun.
In fact over the past few years I’ve done quite a bit of filming, mainly promotional videos for Nottingham in my guise as Robin but also, strangely enough, for a couple of ‘proper’ films…
We were actually on the red carpet alongside Daniel Craig, which really was astoundingly fun
Being a bloke of a certain age I love James Bond films (well, most of them anyway, I could live without Never Say Never Again and A View To A Kill and for my money On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale are the best). Anyway, via an internet Bond fan group I became friends with a group in Chicago in the US who buy, restore and look after loads of the vehicles used in previous films and I’ve travelled over there a couple of times to visit both the vehicles and my American friends – it’s great fun to sit inside amongst other vehicles the huge red Mustang from Diamonds Are Forever, the Aston Martin from The Living Daylights or some of the boats from Live and Let Die. In fact speaking of premieres it was via this group that Sal and I got to attend the Royal Premiere of Skyfall at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where we were actually on the red carpet alongside Daniel Craig, which really was astoundingly fun.
One of the friends I met in the US (some of whom are now such good friends they’re travelling over for Sal and my wedding later this year) is a film-maker specialising in low-budget horror films. He thought it would be fun to have an English actor ‘introduce’ the films and so he asked me to create a character named ‘Lord Victor Fleming’, supposedly a ‘master of the macabre and historian of the occult’. This meant I had to smarten myself up, put on my DJ and try to generate some gravitas as I intoned dire warnings about the terrible story and horrific scenes contained in the film. With Sal as
my camerawoman we decorated our front room to look like an Edwardian-period drawing room and set to filming. We even did some location shooting at Wollaton Hall, carefully cutting scenes to look like the interior scenes we’d shot were actually done inside the Hall. So you can say both Batman and Robin have now filmed there!
So if you ever get the chance to watch the masterful cinematic classics that are James Baack’s Dracula’s Orgy of the Damned or the equally terrifying (for any number of reasons) sequel Werewolf Massacre at Hell’s Gate (both available on DVD from Amazon US) then you’ll know that at least part of them were shot in our own home town of Beeston – which makes it even weirder than a number of online reviewers commented on my ‘phony English accent’. It seems that as with Robin Hood films, there’s just no pleasing some people…
A couple of months ago, Beeston Film Club had a special screening of ‘I Believe in Miracles’, a superb documentary about the astounding success of the Forest side of the late 70s/early 80s. Taking in place in the upstairs room of The White Lion, a great night was had by all.
The film is very accessible to fans of Forest and those of other clubs (and even people not that into footy), mixing archive footage of games and interviews, together with plenty of commentary of the stars of that time. An added bonus at the showing was the presence of one of the key men, striker Garry Birtles. He very generously gave up his time after a long trip down from covering a match at Sunderland (he now works as a pundit/co-commentator for Sky), in order to come.
Garry is a local lad, having lived in the Long Eaton and Chilwell areas for the majority of his life. Definitely had no trouble navigating his way to a pub in the middle of Beeston! Forest signed him from lowly Long Eaton United as a young man (you just have to say ‘young man’ in a Cloughie voice!), and after a few years he had won a bagful of medals, including two European Cups. He was also capped by England on three occasions.
I am slightly too young to remember Garry in his pomp as part of that amazing Forest side at the time. I was also brought up elsewhere in the country supporting a different team. They happen to be the side where Cloughie cut his managerial teeth though, so I like to think that without the gritty experience of managing Hartlepool United, he never would have enjoyed the success he did. Therefore, I Believe in Miracles filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge about the astonishing rise of a middling, unfashionable second tier side who went on to become the best side in Europe within a couple of years.
After the film finished, the questions and answers began. Garry was an absolute star, pulling no punches with the answers to a variety of questions. I managed to rile him unintentionally by asking how he would compare the exploits of Leicester City to what Forest achieved. He quite rightly pointed out that people in the media now tend to have fairly short memories, and that football definitely existed before the birth of the Premier League in the early 1990s. Perhaps if Leicester win the European Champions League next year they can start to see if they might measure up.
I often thought that I might have affected his game, but now I realise that I maybe just ruined his marriage and made him sell his house.
Perhaps the funniest moment of the night came when a member of the audience didn’t ask a question, but instead issued an apology. Ace local carpenter Peter Urbacz confessed to being the little scrote who used to ride his skateboard down Garry’s drive at various antisocial times! I asked Peter about this afterwards, and he explained in full.
“In my teenage mind, Blenheim Drive in Chilwell was like one of those wide Californian streets. The banked concrete driveways with a channel of steps were steep enough to skate and a perfect obstacle to do a backside kickflip. Every morning and often very late at night I would pass his house. I would skate down there and do a Frontside Ollie over his channel of steps.
I must point out that the trend then was to have very hard and small wheels, so it would have been proper loud. I often thought that I might have affected his game, but now I realise that I maybe just ruined his marriage and made him sell his house.”
I managed to catch up with Garry whilst he was covering the Euros in France. Over the phone I hasten to add – I did fancy a trip over there to see him in person, but it would have been a bit dearer than the cost of a day ticket on the tram and a couple of pints.
He very kindly spared some of his time during a hectic schedule, chatting about the success and popularity of the film, what a great time he had as a player, and how there is no comparison to be made between NG9 and France. Also how badly run Forest are at present, in sharp contrast to his time there, when Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor were thoroughly trusted to do what they thought best.
He also talked about his time at Manchester United, when he wasn’t able to buy a house in the north west due to difficulties in selling his home in Long Eaton. This really struck me as indicative of the vast wealth players of today enjoy. When explaining to my wife who Garry is and what he achieved, it made me think of what he would have been worth these days.
A bang average Premiership player these days is more or less guaranteed to be a millionaire if they have a career in the top flight lasting 5 or so years. The monetary rewards are now astonishing for those winning a sackful of trophies and playing for England.
Garry lived in a modest house, drank in his local – ‘The Cadland used to be a truly great pub’ – and is still an incredibly down-to-earth and approachable bloke. I for one am really glad that the film has shone a spotlight on the achievements of Garry and the rest of that Forest side, and together with the success of Leicester City, proves that the beautiful game doesn’t have to be all about the biggest clubs with the most money.
Not only was Richard Attenborough’s family from Beeston (well, that bit to the South with all the water), but Gandhi himself came a waltzin’ here way back in the 30’s to have a look round. The late Dickie somehow left this crucial moment out of the blockbusting biopic. A remake perhaps, mostly set round the Rylands?
Right this is a big one, so strap in. You’re probably going to assume that as the latest Batman (not the one with him pointlessly fighting Superman) was filmed up at Wollaton Hall, we’re going to go for that. Nah, too easy. We’d like Wooly Park and Hall to be part of Beeston, but selfishly Wollaton rather prefers to keep it. So we won’t go with that.
Perhaps the Gotham link, then? Just over the Trent is the village where Batman’s home city was named (it’s a long story, but it’s not a coincidence: all about fools, kings, and nicknames for New York). Maybe we can ride on the coattails there? Too easy.
So perhaps, we could look at the 1989 film version of Batman, directed by senescent withered goth Tim Burton? As everyone surely knows, the crook who becomes the latex-friendly vigilante’s first victim is played by the actor Christopher Fairbank. That’s Christopher Fairbank, who played Scouse carpenter Moxey in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Which, as previously reported here, was filmed in Beeston. But no. He was also in Alien 3 and The Fifth Element, so too easy.
Let’s instead look at Alfred, Batman’s butler. Michael Caine covers the role, but beneath that oaky cockney veneer lies a secret. Caine is a secret aficionado of avant-garde chill out tunes. No really. On Desert Island Discs a few years ago, he chose as a favourite track ‘Swollen’ by Beeston band Bent, who we featured a couple of years ago. Caine also released an album of chill out music called, wonderfully, Cained. Go on, check. Have a look at the track listing while you’re there. Oh, see track 14? Beeston through and through.
There are other links but unfortunately we only have 16 pages so we’ll leave it there.
THIS IS ENGLAND / DEAD MAN’S SHOES / ETC:
Beeston hasn’t directly featured in any of Shane Meadow’s major films (though a chunk of TIE was filmed in Bramcote), but the director has made this place his home and regularly turns up at local events. Vicky McClure, who has gone stratospheric is also a local lass, living close to the terminus the tram named after her frequently pulls up at. Rumours that This Is Beeston, an epic feature about the adventures of the staff on a local magazine, are not yet founded.
The Movie: Sitcoms that aspire to movie form are always crap. The recent, turgid attempt to put Dad’s Army on the big screen is the latest example in a long line of rubbish. On The Buses. Are You Being Served? The Inbetweeners. Admittedly the first two were crap anyway, but rather than even attempt to polish the proverbial turd, the films just added more turd. Porridge: The Movie is a very rare example of excellence, a film that instead of throwing a ton of gimmicks into the mix, actually has an engrossing story. It’s grittier than the series, and has the ironic device of prisoners trying to break in to jail underpinning it. Ronnie Barker and Beeston’s Richard Beckinsale shine, their chemistry fizzing. Sadly, Beckinsale’s film career was thwarted by a fatal heart attack that killed him suddenly aged just 31, a fortnight after filming was completed. However, the name lives on….
Kate Beckinsale is of course a brilliant actor in her own right and the Underworld series proves it. She’s had an astonishingly successful career, but took time out from filming a few years back to visit Beeston and unveil a blue plaque in memorial of her father. She also bought along her friend David Walliams, the father of her child and top-notch thespian Michael Sheen, and her then husband, the Hollywood producer Len Wiseman. That’s Len Wiseman, not Len Goodman. If a certain former editor of this magazine actually got the two mixed up when he met him, then we’re not going to talk about that here.
All used the ultimate protest anthem “WAR” by Edwin Starr, a resident of Chilwell until his death in 2003.
LORD OF THE RINGS:
Yeah, it was filmed down the Weir Field, wannit? No we’re joking, but we do have a connection: the film’s star, diddy Elijah Wood, released a single with Beeston band The Sound Carriers a few years back, the psychedelic “This is Normal”. It’s rather long, but unlike those films with the little lads running round on hairy feet, quite superb.
WITHNAIL AND I:
Every person whose life has ever lurched towards the dissolute is a fan of this staggeringly funny period piece. The tale of two unemployed actors at the arse end of the sixties who go on holiday by mistake is one for repeated viewings. Little known is its connection to Beeston. Y’see, Withnail was based on a real character, the actor and ‘splenetic wastrel of a fop’ Viv MacKerrell. Many in Beeston still recall the times MacKerrell would stalk the pubs of Beeston, never shy to give up his opinions or accept a drink. Sadly, the drink caught up with him, and he died in 1995 aged just 50. Also, the film stars Michael Elphick as a Cumbrian poacher – that’s Michael Elphick who starred in Boon, largely filmed in Beeston.
TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY:
This supremely tense and talent-stuffed film version of John Le Carré’s novel is a must see, and as well as starring This Is England’s Stephen Graham, was also released in a limited edition reprint of the novel designed by Beeston stripe-specialist Sir Paul Smith. Also, Barry Foster, aka TV’s Van Der Valk, was in an earlier film about the spy unit in 1982’s Smiley’s People.
Come on, did you really think we weren’t going to mention this underrated gem? Written by Lord Beestonia and his faithful whip Christian, masterfully directed by Melvyn Rawlinson, and starring Beeston’s answer to Jonathan Meades, Jamie Claydon. It took us a year to make. That’s twelve months of; dragging around camera equipment; chasing sunlight like we had vitamin D deficiency; fighting with the public, carpark security guards, and ducks (we’re still not sure which was worse); smacking our heads against an editing suite; and of course having tons of fun as well! The sequel is coming. No amount of family, paid work, or global annihilation (Trump?!) will stop us. 3-5 years tops!
As an Austrian body builder with zero acting range, a cyborg that is unable to covey any emotion was the role Arnie was born to play. I remember the hype around this film, everyone at school wanted to see and there was always a lad at school who claimed he had already seen all of the blockbusters years before. He had an uncle in America who had a camcorder and sent back recordings to his dad hidden in the belly of a Care Bear on a British Airways flight into Leeds Bradford airport.
Of course this was in the days where camera technology wasn’t very advanced, they were massive for starters, they looked like something you’d win on Bullseye. Smuggling a family sized bag of Maltesers is one thing but a 3-foot Sanyo camera that weighs the best part of a sack of gravel would’ve been impossible. It was a false economy anyway; £10 to watch the back of a blokes head, and the awkward moment when he whispers that he needs the toilet and you are forced to watch him taking a leak.
Terminator 2 was a certificate 15. My dad took a friend and me, we were both 12, but he was lucky enough to have a face ravaged by puberty. Surprisingly getting me in was okay; I just tucked in behind my father, strode confidently and remembered to keep puffing on the cigarette.
Marley and Me (2008) Nottingham Showcase Cinema
Many films are classed as date movies, which often means a film which I have no interest in seeing but will see to appease my wife. Marley and Me was one such movie. Owen Wilson has all the charisma of a dish cloth and Friends star Jennifer Aniston frankly reminds me too much of Iggy Pop. It was a film about a family who buy a dog, the dog becomes part of the family and then the dog dies. Now we have never owned a dog, we’ve never wanted a dog, yet my wife was inconsolable. Even my offer of nachos or a hot dog (not the greatest suggestion on reflection) could distract her from her grief.
I’m not totally unfeeling don’t get me wrong. I understood why she was moved to tears. There are many films that often turn me into a gibbering wreck with puffy eyes, like Rocky 4. Sylvester Stallone’s’ heartfelt speech at the end, clumsily delivered, full of anti-Russian sentiment and blundering American pride, often makes me want to grab a US flag, order a burger and weep like a baby.
Saving Private Ryan (1998) Curzion Cinema Loughborough
When I was a student the local Cinema in Loughborough would offer a student night where you could go and see the latest releases for £2.50. Amazing value. One night we decided to have a night off from studying (drinking) to see Saving Private Ryan. We sat there passing down snacks, which we’d smuggled in, and then settled down as the film started.
Now those first twenty opening minutes are probably some of the most raw and visceral things I’ve ever witnessed, they took your breath away. I remember looking round at that packed cinema and noticing absolute silence, we were all spellbound and remained so for the entire film. That’s the power of cinema, a total immersive experience. I love it.
50 Shades of Grey (2015) Leeds Odeon Certificate 18
One of the most anticipated films of last year and nearly two hours of my life I will never get back. My wife wanted to see it. I was concerned. I’d heard Christian Grey converted his own basement into a dungeon. DIY isn’t my forte. It took me two weeks to put up some shelves. I think a dungeon is beyond me, and it’s not like I could ring my dad for help.
My wife said stop being ridiculous, we were all adults and that we were going to go on a double date with my brother and his girlfriend. We sat in couples to make things less uncomfortable, because the last thing you want during the sex scenes is to see your own brother.
Pulling off the Heimlich manoeuvre during in erotic thriller would have been awkward to say the least
I had another worry during the screening too. I get involuntary muscular spasms; it mainly affects me at night before I go to sleep. But we were at the concession stand buying popcorn. As I was about to pay I had a muscular twitch and chucked about £8 change into the popcorn. Things were tense enough. Now every mouthful she took I worried she was going to choke on a pound coin, and pulling off the Heimlich manoeuvre during in erotic thriller would have been awkward to say the least.
The film is dreadful and one of the most confusingly misogynistic films I’ve ever had the misfortune to see. The message seems to be if a bloke’s obscenely rich, good looking and buys you things, then happily sign up to be his slave. I’m sure the attraction to Christian Grey wouldn’t have been the same if he was a fat lorry driver from Wigan who took you to his mum’s when she was at Bingo to spank you on the bum with a Gregg’s Steak Bake.
The nerves are starting to build as I sip on a red wine at Middle Street Resource Centre. In a few minutes, Britain’s best film / TV director will be arriving for a night of film, followed by a Q+A, which I’ve been asked to compere. Of course, I couldn’t refuse, but as my stomach flips again despite the best efforts of the booze, I start to question my judgement.
I’ve met Shane on several occasions, and he’s disarmingly lovely each time. A relaxed, funny, friendly chap who never acts starry -you won’t see his legs clad in leather trousers, his eyes will never be hidden behind £900 Oakleys – nevertheless, he’s an artist who has cut a unique swathe through British film over the last two decades. He probably has Spielberg and Scorsese on speed dial.
He arrives, I chat to his wife and tell her of my nerves. “Oh, don’t worry. He’s really nervous tonight”. As he’d been on the telly a few days before receiving a BAFTA in front of the UK’s finest, this is both baffling and consoling.
He’s here for a fundraiser. Beeston Resource Centre has had a rocky time in the past, with funding always uncertain and closure often looming. However, it’s wonderfully wavered all storms, due to the invaluable support it gives many. We are never less than amazed when we visit at the sheer amount of stuff they do there: it’s an incredible resource, hence the name. However, the charity that runs it, Beeston Community Resource, can’t be too complacent, so when Shane offered to help out with a themed evening, there was no hesitation in their response. And here we are, with Shane putting together a fantastic set of films.
He had been spending time recently viewing some of his early short films – two had snapped in the projector so he realised he needed to digitise them for archive purposes, doing a bit of tidying up on the way. At the Centre he treated the audience of eighty to an insight into some of his earlier work: ‘The Datsun Collection’, made in 1994 was, he said, the second film only he had made and the first to feature other people! From 1995 he showed ‘The Zombie Squad’, a film completed and shown in a single day, and which had never had another public viewing. Having given himself the challenge of ‘a film in a day’ far more volunteers turned up to be in the film than he had expected and his solution was to create a group of zombies who didn’t need to learn any lines. A surprise for many of us was that Shane himself appeared as actor in these two early shorts, and in the scatalogical ‘Le Donk and His Arsebag’ featuring the comic genius of his good friend, Paddy Considine.
A break for wee and wine, and we’re back for the Q+A. Any nerves dissolve as Shane joins me in front of the audience. He recalls when I gave him a Beestonian t-shirt at a Café Roya Film Club “I’ve still got it. You gave me one in small. I’ll get into it one day”.
Our family growing up never made it on the telly -well, Crimewatch maybe…
I ask about his appeal, his unique touch “back in my childhood I remember being able to shifting from belly laughs to utter fright in no time at all. That ‘light and dark’ has subconsciously made its way into what I do” He tells of how when making Dead Man’s Shoes, perhaps one of the most terrifying revenge films ever made, the cast and crew would be belly laughing off camera throughout.
That’s his favourite film, as well “I was really depressed at the time. I’d made a bad mistake and had a horrendous experience trying to make a big, celebrity driven piece, rather than go with my instinct (he’s referring to Once Upon a Time in the Midlands) . Y’know how there is that saying “the phone stopped ringing”, well, that’s very true, it literally didn’t ring”.
“I knew I had to trust my instincts and make a film that was mine. We made Dead Man’s Shoes for just £700,000, not a lot in film. I threw myself into it, and it worked”.
He talks about his previous ambitions as a singer -he was in a band with Considine, who talk the duties behind the drums – and looked perplexed when I asked him what he’d have done if he’d not made film making such a success.
What does his two young boys think of daddy’s fame “They’re just starting to realise that I do a strange job. It’s not the fame, I don’t think that is apparent, but they see me on telly and that makes them sit up. It’s strange. Our family growing up never made it on the telly -well, Crimewatch maybe….”
There are some real surprises thrown in. The incredibly complex scene in This is England ’90, where Vicky McClure’s Lol confesses to murdering her father round the dining table, was done in one take, using a complex nine camera set up “You should have seen what that room looked like. Looked like the TARDIS”. There is the very real chance of another instalment of the This Is England story, but not on the telly “It might be interesting to do a film sometime along the line. Get the characters together. Whatever year we do, we’ll show it in that many cinemas…who knows?”
More likely to appear soon is his much delayed biopic about legendary British cyclist Tom Simpson, who -spoiler alert – died while tacking a mountain on riding the Tour de France. The project, working with the brilliant screenwriter William Ivory, has been on the cards for some time, delayed in the past when Shane was invited to film the return of The Stone Roses, which became the rockumentary -thank you – Made of Stone.
That would be a departure from his past work, but that’s what makes Shane such a fascinating director: his obvious pleasure in having the chance to follow his interests and his instincts. We are very lucky to have him in our midst.
The night finishes with a vote of thanks courtesy of Radio Nottingham’s John Holmes, and a final glass of wine. A great night had by all, and £1,000 in the Resource Centre’s coffers. Cheers Shane. CUT!