ART, TV & SUB-CULTURE
I first started making films with a super 8mm camera my Mum brought me in a second-hand shop as a teenager. Sadly all of these are either lost as a result of my nomadic lifestyle or were chewed up in a S8mm projector as a result of failed attempts to edit with a film splicer and chemical cement (which at least got me as high as a kite even if it didn’t result in Eisenstein-like film montages!) These films were portraits of the boys and girls I grew up with: The Punks, Skins, Soul-boys, Mods, Glam-Rockers, Council estate kids, Squaddies, Asian bad-boy martial arts experts (who went on to be stuntmen in the Bond movies) and even the odd Rastafarian. Content-wise they really were just snapshots of us playing football or cricket, doing karate, gang fighting, chasing girls or hanging around – home movies from a lost English council estate. As a film-maker who owes as much to punk, reggae, youth subculture, anti/fascist politics and the martial arts as he does to a high Art or formal Film school education, Youth, sub-culture and what can be called ‘Occulture’ have always fascinated me. Not least of all because of their misrepresentation in the mainstream media which all too often is far too quick to condemn what it doesn’t or refuses to understand.
At the heart of all the films included here is the theme of transgression – not necessarily in the stylised fetishistic sense – but more in the form of anti-social and anti-establishment styles and body actions that are a challenge to power and orthodoxy. Sometimes violent, sometimes sexy or sensitive, and always passionate and angry they are the epicentre of the beating heart of youth. All the films I’ve included here mess and experiment with reality and the film medium. They are, above all else, films that I hope tell different narratives and capture some of the magic and lost sweat of youth.
A defining image from: World of skinhead
THIS WAS ENGLAND
World of skinhead was commissioned by Channel 4 as a part of its ‘Tribe-time’ strand in the mid 1990s. Marginalized and misunderstood – just like the subculture the film explores – by the station that commissioned it and subsequently uncredited as an inspiration on Shane Meadows and his This is England series of films World of skinhead – despite the copyright issues in clearing more than 25 tracks of music – has gone viral (just Google it!) At some-point in the future I am thinking of revisiting the story of this film with many of the same characters, more as a story about growing old than anything else. I am also looking at making a film about skinhead girls and am planning a video installation based on downloaded pirated versions my film: www.orld of skinhead.
If anyone wants to see the full version of the film as it should be seen, then I have a limited edition DVD which also includes a Directors commentary track. For copy-right reasons these are only available to share with personal collectors, cultural and academic archives and are for non-commercial exploitation. Please contact me via this site for more details.
A Pictorial Heroes Production for Channel 4 Television UK
A short film portrait and an exploration of noise and silence with the legendary pioneering dub-reggae Producer and Mix-master Adrian Sherwood. The film was a pilot shot in an afternoon in North London for a longer project which sadly never saw the light of day, partly because no-one wanted to listen (partly because Sherwood went on to collaborate on similar ‘art’ ventures elsewhere, but mostly because I went off to Baghdad to work on Minefield) It’s a short film above all else about one of my own personal pictorial heroes with whom I share increasing hearing loss as a result of a well-spent youth!
A series of 3 ‘Mondo Movies’ commissioned by Channel 4 for ‘Renegade TV’ XXXTripping that explore underground culture’s obsession with transgression. Featuring many well-known counter-culture figures such as graphic novel legend and Occultist Alan Moore, Film-makers Beth B and Richard Kern, skinhead writer and artist Stewart Home and the legendary Genesis P.Orridge the films are what we termed at the time ‘Hyper-Docs’: Edgy fast paced short films that explore the themes of Magic, the Body and Death in a digital dimension.They were pioneering at the time in their use of blogging and the internet – even though the broadcaster involved couldn’t see the point of it!
XXX2: The Body
An unofficial portrait of the Watchman
During the filming both of XXXtripping and also later in Victim of Geography I was lucky to get a chance to film and spend time with the legendary Allan Moore in his native Northampton hood. What followed was a day and night filming and drifting from Light into Darkness with a camcorder in the company of Moore through his territory and imagination. Some of this was eventually included in the ‘heart of England’ contribution to Victim of Geography. What follows here is a more detailed retrospective and creative exploration of the psycho-geography of Northampton in the company of a graphic novel legend who the late Cathy Acker referred to as The Watchman of Western Civilization.