Now online in full, for the first time: my 2011 comedy documentary Video-8. It’s the hilarious story of me and my old schoolmates reuniting to watch a terrible, terrible feature film we made when we were fifteen.
The full director’s journal I kept during the making of Dark Side of the Earth in 1995-96 can be read online, complete with irrevent present-day annotations, at www.darksideoftheearth.com/original
Yesterday I met up with most of the guys from the Dark Side reunion again, to watch all the other films we made in our teens. Nearly five hours of surreal, puerile comedy that wouldn’t make sense to anyone else and barely makes sense to us. I also showed them the finished Video-8 documentary (you can see the trailer on the video page) . I’ve shown it to a few other people as well and it’s gone down quite well. I may well enter it into some festivals.
A few months back on this blog I mentioned that I was looking to buy a new camera and disucssed some of the issues I was weighing up. Well, last week I finally threw my hat in the ring that is the DSLR revolution, about two years late, but, like I keep saying, I’m old now and I can’t be expected to keep up with you young ‘uns any more. I purchased a Canon 600D (or Rebel T3i as it’s known Stateside) and various accessories including a Proaim shoulder rig with follow focus and all the gubbins. I’ve played around with it a bit, but I’ll wait until I’ve shot something proper with it before I give you my thoughts on it.
Yesterday’s Dark Side ’96 reunion was a lot of fun. Six of the eight cast came along: Matt Hodges (known to some as the frontman of defunct West Midlands punk outfit King Monkey), Chris Jenkins (known to fewer as “Jenkins” from The Beacon), Dave Abbott, Gaz Parkin, Si Timbrell and of course my humble self. Sadly we had been unable to get hold of Conrad Allen or lead actor Lee Richardson. But we were joined by a very special extra guest whose identity I shall not reveal. Camera duties fell to my good friend Rick Goldsmith, while Ian Preece did sound work in more ways than one.
It was a lovely day and once again it hit me how completely we failed to appreciate the beauty of Malvern when we were growing up there; it’s only when we visit it now that we realise how lucky we were. Chris was particularly lucky, having a huge dell for a back garden – and it was this garden that drew us to film there back in the day, and indeed back in the yesterday.
Just like back in the mists of time, burning things featured high on the agenda, and many cans of WD40 were cast into the flames. But the makers of this flammable product seemed to have wised up to its explosive capabilities and redesigned their cans so they just leak a massive jet of flame instead of blowing up when heated, so Gaz bravely went back to the fire and inserted my Nivea For Men deodorant, which promptly gave us a proper explosion. (Don’t try this at home. We tried it at home and it worked out totally fine, but you might be an idiot.)
I was relieved to find that it wasn’t just me that remembered things about the shooting. I was interested to hear the responses people gave when I asked them why they took part in the film – some of which were quite amusing.
Although things seemed quite tight time-wise, and we did go past the planned wrap time of 6pm, we got it all done and everyone got to leave at a reasonable hour.
While I’ve been writing this entry, Gaz called to tell me – sod’s law – he’d just bumped into Lee. Apparently his phone had been in for repair and he was gutted to discover he had missed the reunion.
This coming Sunday is the 15th anniversary of production wrapping on the original amateur version of Dark Side of the Earth. To celebrate, I’ll be reuniting with many of the cast in Malvern Wells, where much of it was shot. As is always the case with shoots, however simple they might seem, complications arise. In this case we’re under a little time pressure because the cameraman isn’t available in the morning, and the cast all have to travel back to other corners of the country in the evening for work the following day. Can we get it all done? Will anyone be able to remember anything? And how will we get around the absence of lead actor Lee Richardson? Watch this space.