Listings magazine The Skinny featured A Small Cinema project in its launch issue for the new NW edition. I was very flattered to be asked, and did a skype interview with film editor Jamie Dunn. The resulting article is a really touching summary of the journey the project has been on since 2008, up to the Moston Small Cinema in 2012 (and which continues to take up much of my time now!).
‘Our Club, Our Rules’ is a short film about fan-owned club FC United. The film was created as part of the Moston Small Cinema project.
Soon after I began exploring Moston, it became clear that beyond the residents groups, Sure Start centres and knitting circles, there was also another community network with a strong presence in North Manchester. FC United’s plans to build their stadium opposite the Miners on St Mary’s road had brought about a range of opinions form the community as to how it would affect the area. FC’s network of fans was very active across Manchester, as was their community work with young people and disadvantaged, and yet the proposed stadium move was a controversial issue for Moston, with people as vehemently opposed to the move as other were hopeful of the opportunities that it might bring.
Being a football fan myself, but equally a cynic of how clubs have related to their local communities, I was intrigued to learn more about the ethos of FC united in relation to community. I attended two matches at the end of the 11/12 season, speaking to people about what the club stood for, and why they believed in it so much. I came away feeling that not only was the stadium a potentially very positive development for Moston, but simply the presence of FC in North Manchester was nurturing a kind of community activism that was really powerful and would have a positive impact locally. In addition, the alternative model of a football club run for the fans and the community seemed to chime with the model of cinema that I have been trying to explore with the Small Cinema project for the last four years. As much as I tried to remain ‘neutral’ as a film-maker, I was just blown away by the enthusiasm of the fans, and the vision of the club. Everyone I spoke to seemed energised by the idea of FC as a vehicle for change in sport, culture and community.
Roughcuts of the film were screened to M40 residents and FC branch members in order to share my process and also discuss my aims with the Small Cinema in Moston. As crazy as it may seem to build a cinema, I always felt that the FC network were far more crazy for building a new club, and so I think there may have been a common understanding. Indeed, many FC supporters volunteered their time to help build the cinema, and the FC network in general helped spread the word about what we were trying to achieve. The cinema couldn’t have been built had that creative, activist, community minded network not already existed.
The final film was screened on 4th November, before Looking For Eric, which featured FC united in the storyline. Actor Steve Evets said a few words about working on the film with Ken Loach, drawing parallels between the themes of Looking For Eric, (camaraderie, collective action, community, sport) and what had been achieved in Moston with the Small Cinema. It was a huge compliment, and much appreciated, but the groundwork for those things already existed in the community. FC seem to be tapping into the potential of North Manchester to be at its most radical.
Filmed by Sam Meech and John O’Shea. Edited by Sam Meech. Produced by Re-Dock as part of A Small Cinema in Moston.
(a dvd / blu ray of the film can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org)
A film about language, craftsmanship, cinema and peoples’ stories. This is a short film about Shane O’Brien and his plaster casting business on Oldham Road, Manchester (‘Fine Castings‘). As well as being a fine craftsman, Shane is also fluent in 3 other languages (Spanish, Italian, French) and is a lover of world cinema, often visiting the Cornerhouse. Shane contributed to the Small Cinema in Moston project by creating the Oscars that were handed out to volunteers on the launch night.
Last week at Screen Deva I ran a workshop where people could screen print their own Cinema Memory Posters. It was the first time I had run the workshop and with typical optimism I totally underestimated the time each print would take to prepare, but we had a great day nonetheless, producing over 20 different posters with kids and parents. A lot of the memories were related to the films, but some touched on other aspects such as going to the cinema with mum and dad, or it being someone’s birthday.
The poster template worked really well as a place for people to put their memories. They first had to think of an experience they wanted to share, and then boil ot down to just a few words. They would then lay it out in illustrator (with the help of Neringa) which would then be sent to the vinyl cutter. Once weeded, this vinyl provided the stencil for printing. I prepared 150 posters with the blue template the day before, and the kids would screen print their words onto the template. It was nice and hands on and at the end they had a really nice poster that looked great but was also really personal to them.
The closing words of a screening seen by a tiny audience of 28 in a packed out shop-space turned movie house. Once again A Small Cinema took over my life recently, this time in Widnes. Not just my life I suppose but also the lives of a few others, namely volunteers Karl, Steve and Mena who took on the roles of cinema staff with gusto. They brought a great perosnal character that made this cinema event unique – Karl with his local connections and natural authority; Steve with his own history and experience in working in a Widnes cinema (the Empire), along with his wife Mena who, having met Steve whilst working as an usherette back in the day, brought a sense of style to the presentation. We put on 12 screenings over two days – quite a marathon.
It was a really great weekend and we showed a hell of a lot of short films to a lot of people, young and old, from Widnes. Working to find the shop-space and get in ready for the event was intense, but worth it. I felt quite sad to pack it all up afterwards. More pictures (there are some crackers) can be seen on the A Small Cinema blog, along with Tim Brunsden’s film of Steve and Mena which was made specially for the event, plus a video document of the day.
A Small Cinema in Widnes was another project developed by Re-Dock. Thanks to Halton Borough Council for its financial support.
This Friday and Saturday, every hour from 11 till 5, Re-Dock presents:
A Small Cinema in WIDNES!
For the first time since 1983, Widnes will have it’s own movie theatre.
A family-friendly short film event in the guise of a traditional cinema experience.
A temporary picture-house installation in a small shop in Widnes town centre.
Each show lasts just over half an hour.
Kid’s Matinée – 11 and 12 o’clock
Classic cartoons and new shorts for kids. All adults must be accompanied by a child!
Eye Widnes – 2 and 3 o’clock
Archive films, new animations, familiar faces – Widnes as you’ve never seen it before.
Featuring new work by Owain Bentley and Tim Brunsden
Scrambled Eggs – 4 and 5 o’clock
An eclectic selection of bizarre short films for an Easter Saturday at the movies.
advertisements for local shops!
local memories of cinema!
classic trailers for films you love!
Local heroes – films by local film-makers!
Ushers to show you to your seat!
popcorn and ice-cream!
64 Albert Road, Widnes
(just next to Barclays bank, opposite the Imperial pub)