Friday, 13 November 2009

Imaginary score for a fictional soundtrack

Imaginary score for a fictional soundtrack

2012: The machinery now exists to have the audience score a film live, creating an instant symphony from the movement of hundreds of eyes.

- If you aren’t watching properly, your optical bum notes will ruin it for everyone.

- One agitator closes his eyes, interprets a new movie in his mind’s eye from the dialogue and sounds. He traces the new images on his eyelids to create a curious counterpoint.

- But two copyright cops happen to be sitting behind him. They hold a kangaroo litigation.

- Sued for stealing the "narrative algorithm" of the film, the proof is in his head: they substitute the original values back in and retranslate the new movie back to the one on-screen.

(Whilst the audience jeer him for complicating their original soundtrack.)

- Copyright criminal! His eyeballs his weapon, he is betrayed by his own neurons!!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

It's Nick's Birthday screenings: Bangkok Falstaff Barcelona

It's Nick's Birthday @ 7th World Film Festival of Bangkok
WHERE: Paragon 12, Paragon Cineplex, Bangkok
WHEN: This Thursday, 12th November 2009, 13.30
COST: Enquire at venue

It's Nick's Birthday @ L'Alternativa Festival de Cinema Independent de Barcelona
PROGRAMME: Minor Symphonies
WHERE: Hall Screen, Barcelona Centre for Contemporary Culture (CCCB)
WHEN: Saturday 14th November, 18.30 and Wednesday 18th November, 22.00
COST: 4,5€

It's Nick's Birthday @ 9th Falstaff International Film Festival
PROGRAMME: Music/Animation Strand
WHERE: Civic Hall, 14 Rother Street, Stratford-upon-Avon
WHEN: Friday 20th November, 14.30
COST: £6/£4

Monday, 12 October 2009

On Universal Ear

Update, January 2013: our official UNIVERSAL EAR website is now the definitive resource for all things Harley Byrne. What follows here is the original blog announcing the project, including the most complete back-story of pre-UNIVERSAL EAR Byrne that we are aware of:

Whilst walking the grounds of Zoomcitta this afternoon I dropped in on the workshop of our Future Films department, the office dedicated to using our infamous modified 2-D Quantum Propaganda Engine to dredge up cinematic artefacts that have not yet been created and ‘redestroy’ them for education and profit. How better to learn from our mistakes – society and filmmakers alike – than to watch them in 256 gaudy colours before they’ve even been made?

It is common knowledge that the modified Engine produces less useful results the further ahead it is aimed and, as a result, the Institute has concentrated on short-term futures, specifically from the year 2012. There is not room here to document the full extent of the department’s cinematic discoveries to date, but one particular curiosity was brought to my attention as I sipped tea with the Future Films crew: an epic serial under the cumbersome title -

“(Being An Adaptation In Serial Form Of Harley Byrne’s Memoirs Concerning His Brave Exploits In The Service Of Capturing All The World’s Music Ever For His Employers At The) Universal Ear (Digicorp, And Starring Mr Byrne Himself In The Role Of Harley Byrne, Himself)”

– or UNIVERSAL EAR, for short.

It seems that Harley Byrne is a real-life figure in 2012 Manchester and, given his celebrity, Future Films have been able to sketch out a certain amount of biographical information about him – which, as you will see, is indivisible from the dramatized memoirs that form the serial.

Earnest, confident, self-effacing but fundamentally smug, Byrne joined the postal service straight from school in order to see Manchester and avoid the university system, working his way up from the sorting office, to letter delivery, to parcels, where he preferred to stay rather than seek promotion to the offices ‘upstairs’. However, in the Christmas rush of 2011 he was attacked by an overzealous guard dog whilst delivering a DVD box set in Ladybarn and, although he managed to beat the dog to death against a gatepost, he lost a finger – and was taken off the streets. A career in routes management beckoned until the postal service won a contract to make information films for the government, as they had done half a century before. Byrne was doubtful about becoming a filmmaker but his only alternatives were clerical work or forced retirement on double pay. He quickly convinced himself that documentary filmmakers were the gentleman explorers of the twenty-first century and set about designing a holistic one-man filmmaking machine – a contraption to record and re-interpret the spirit of a given subject rather than to reproduce light on film or pixels. His intention was to “document” what was in front of him, rather than copy it by simply photographing the light it reflects (such an approach would, to Byrne, have seemed fraudulent and to ignore the deeper truths that two decades of pounding the asphalt had brought to his awareness).

Byrne’s documentarian adventure was short-lived. On his maiden project, the notorious Girls of Unfortunate Climes (aka Icy Video@Abel’s Vagina), the filmmaker was taken captive by the indigenous teenagers he sought to study and – before his subjects were all killed in a freak weather incident – had his spirit-capturing filmmaking machine integrated intimately into his digestive system. By the time he had the strength to check himself out of rehab, his job had been taken by media studies graduates.

Byrne was not to be kept down. A chance meeting with the surgeon who had led the recovery team was to prove fruitful when the cutter, having been impressed with the craftsmanship of Byrne’s errant filmmaking contraption, happened to mention that his wife held a lofty office in the Universal Ear Digicorp. The digital music conglomerate was in trouble: having made a point of boasting their intention to make “all the world’s music, ever” available, they were now the target of a class action by misled consumers. Universal Ear had to appear to be attempting to fulfil their intention, however unfeasible its attainment.

From Universal Ear’s perspective, employing Harley Byrne was a purely token gesture. But once the contracts were signed, Byrne set his mind on the impossible problem of making available for download “all the world’s music, ever”. By cleaning and recalibrating his spirit-capturing movie camera, he was able to use it instead to digitally record the most obscure forms of musical expression - as long as he was in the right place, at the right time, and the right conditions were achieved. Geography and the elements were no barrier to a man who’d spent his best years on the postal routes of Manchester. The precise conditions for recording each stray track would have to be discovered and evoked on a mission-by-mission basis. This left, however, the brief’s unavoidable temporal factor to be resolved.

When all other solutions proved inadequate, Byrne overcame his pride and tracked down the brother he had disowned many years back. Santiago Byrne, a “cripple” of below average male strength, had been raised in the protection of his brother Harley and the two had nurtured a rare and proud fraternal love. Unguarded once his brother went into the postal service, Santiago had fallen into artistic circles and began to drink regularly, undermining the fitness regime that Harley had taken pains to set out for him and refusing to see the error of his ways when Harley found out. The situation had simmered for several months until Santiago deliberately provoked Harley into violence with his degenerate opinions on postage stamp design. Hospitalised and unrepentant, Santiago revealed his ulterior motive had been to have his brother render him unfit for even the white collar work a man of his puny stature was surely destined. Used and betrayed, Harley did not speak to his brother for nearly two decades until he was forced to admit he needed the help of Santiago and the techno-artistic coterie with whom he was associated: the so-called temporal cubists, whose reconceived representations of time, whilst dangerous enough to cause massive controversy and force the group underground, were in effect a potential path into the fourth dimension. If the temporal cubists were unapologetic recartographers of time, Harley Byrne was the one man brave – or foolish – enough to tread the routes they imagined.

The serial itself tells the story of much of what followed, and came about as a result of Byrne’s reluctant ascent to celebrity as his successful expeditions took him thousands of miles and sometimes millions of years around humankind’s – often hitherto unheard of – cultural history, frequently having to adjust his narrow 2012 definitions of “world”, “music” and “ever” and thus constantly extending the task ahead of him. Whilst contemporary time must have seemed to move slowly as Harley returned from each trip to the torpor of 2012 Manchester, for Santiago it was a period of constant activity as he exploited the moral ambiguities of his brother’s imperialist mission, using Harley’s name to draw ever more attention to the work of the temporal cubists. Reluctantly, Harley in turn began to write his own account of his exploits in order to prevent Santiago mythologizing them beyond recognition.

The TV director Francis Dove happened upon an article that Santiago wrote detailing the Girls Of Unfortunate Climes fiasco, found the whole tale hilarious and approached Harley to propose a pilot episode for a potential serialisation of his music hunting memoirs. Byrne instantly refused, telling Dove that “in life, you don't get a pilot episode”. In fact, Byrne must have been worried about the mischievous glint in Dove’s eye: anything less than a completely serious chronicling of his adventures would fail to do justice to Byrne’s character. But shortly after his initial approach to Byrne, Dove’s wife contracted a rare strain of avian flu, a condition which caused extensive brain damage and severe amnesia, such that she could only ever remember a five-minute period precisely 4½ years before any given point. Possibly on Byrne's advice, and with a great deal of heartache, Dove had her permanently committed to an amnesiacs hospice in Northumbria. Finally, he had the sense of gravity needed to take on the Universal Ear project, and production began with Byrne playing himself as the roving huntsman of sound, forever frustrated by his own shifting concept of what does and what doesn’t count as Music.

It has been said that over 1,000 episodes were made, though Byrne was only directly involved in the making of 70-80% of them. Byrne and Dove argued over the use of synthesized sounds where original music files had become corrupted, Byrne arguing that the missing music “belongs lost… playing to itself eternally in nothingness” and that synthetic versions would constitute new music which would, of course, need to be added to Universal Ear’s collection – creating a conflict of interests and potential audio-ethical paradox. In order to keep his memoirs pure Byrne successfully picketed the production of the contested episodes, only for Dove to piece together new performances from outtakes of the existing episodes. This was particularly galling for Byrne as, although the mocked-up episodes are aesthetically indistinguishable from those he intentionally performed in, “spiritually”, he felt, his character came across as “weak; unprofessional; stuttering; desperate” due to the necessary use of incomplete or fluffed lines of dialogue. Despite his contempt for Dove, Byrne approved of and continued to act in the episodes for which the authentic music was available, so as to honour a contract between men. In truth, the contract had only ever existed as a handshake and a long hard stare, which Byrne of course perceived as a moral bond far profounder than any legal document.

The Institute hopes to bring you the fruit of this agreement: the epic, avant-garde yet deeply accessible cycle of true-life adventure films that lay testament to Harley Byrne’s adventures in space, time and sound. And to that end, I put down my brew – cold and untouched – thanked the Future Films whitecoats for their story, and left them to continue their good work, oddly reluctant (as I continued my stroll around the grounds) to put my earphones back in, for what I might – or might not – hear.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

It's Nick's Birthday at Antimatter

Most pleased to announce the Institute's work will once again be represented at the Antimatter Film Festival in Victoria, Canada, as our "bilious Mancunian musical" screens there this week.

WHAT: It's Nick's Birthday @ Antimatter Film Festival
PROGRAMME: Der Spiegel
Cinecenta, University of Victoria Student Union Building, Victoria BC
WHEN: This Tuesday October 13th, 7pm
COST: $5.25-7.25 - see

Monday, 21 September 2009

It's Nick's Birthday screening this week :: Abandon Normal Devices (Liverpool)

Our Super-8 musical It's Nick's Birthday will show at the very exciting and completely inaugural Abandon Normal Devices festival in Liverpool this Thursday:

WHAT: It's Nick's Birthday @ Abandon Normal Devices (AND)
PROGRAMME: AND Short Fims Programme 1

WHERE: The Box, FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool, L1 4DQ

WHEN: 12 noon, this Thursday 24th September

COST: £7/£5 (members & concessions)

Friday, 11 September 2009

Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom at Nexus Art Café, Sept-Oct

Our redestruction of the 2112 televisual curiousity Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom will be available to watch in the most civilised setting of Manchester's Nexus Art Café for the next 6 weeks, as part of their She Laughs exhibition:

WHAT: Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom as part of She Laughs
WHERE: Nexus Art Café, Dale Street (opposite Vinyl Exchange), Manchester, M1 1JW
WHEN: 11th September - 21st October 2009 (Opening Friday 11th September 7 9 with performance)


An exploration of humour in this context.

What does humour do, what does it say or can it simply function as something to be enjoyed?
From the slapstick sketches of Draycott & Trimm to the mysterious drawings of Tom Adriani this exhibition highlights the different styles & modes of humour within contemporary visual art and culture.

Funny things are made to attract us or make us think. Belly laughs, giggles & nervous titters give us different experiences within the humour in this exhibition; something ‘she laughs’ seeks to highlight.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Taken from Proverbs 31 describes a hard working, content & well regarded woman who can laugh because of her confidence in life. This phrase was chosen as inspiration for the title of this exhibition as an aspiration; how often can we laugh at the days to come? This exhibition hopes to celebrate life - a moment of laughter in what some see as an uncertain world.

This exhibition is designed to explore Nexus as a community art space; a project started by the church to create a space to meet & spend our days & nights together in the heart of Manchester.
Nexus is constantly changing & developing the ways in which it approaches visual art. Not being a ‘white cube’ adds a number of things to the work that is shown in the space & this exhibition, designed by Liz Gaunt & Dylan Thomas takes that forward in its installation. This space has been transformed as a heightened reflection of its Northern Quarter surroundings. There are many visual references to the shabby chic vintage shops & record stores all around making this exhibition something familiar. The visitors to this show know how to flick through records & are welcome to use the same action with the 12’ mounted pieces. Like there rest of the northern quarter enjoying the comfort of nostalgia, rummaging through like old records, absorbing their images the way you might next door or across the road."

Monday, 31 August 2009

September Screenings: It's Nick's Birthday in Budapest & Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom in Manchester

Two of the Institute's short films will screen in fully two different countries over the next few days, as It's Nick's Birthday plays Budapest and Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom returns home to Manchester.

It's Nick's Birthday will show at the BUSHO Budapest Short Film Festival, former hosts of both Pilot and our debut A Case Of Making The Knife Fit The Wound. If you’re in the area, the Institute heartily endorses spending at least a day and a night and a mealtime (oh sweet, sweet pasta!) at this intimate and friendly festival.

WHAT: It’s Nick’s Birthday @ BUSHO Budapest Short Film Festival
PROGRAM: Information Screening Mixer 2
WHERE: VÖRÖSMARTY SMALL HALL, VIII. Üllői út 4, Tel: 311 4542, Metro: M3 to Kálvin tér

WHEN: This Thursday, 3rd September 2009 @ 21:00


The Manchester Pilot screening is a different sort of arrangement. You will certainly remember that Manchester's Kinofilm festival gave both the film and the Institute our debut screening at their 9th incarnation in 2005. In the run up to the relaunched Kinofilm 11, the organization is putting on a series of short film nights, and Pilot will feature in next week's courtesy of guest programmers Cinematopia.

WHAT: Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom @ KINO SHORTS 5
Presented in association with CINEMATOPIA.

WHERE: Green Room, 54 56 Whitworth Street West, Manchester, M1 5WW

WHEN: Next Wednesday 9th September 2009 @ 20:00

COST: £4 full/ £3 (conc)

Some sort of public interrogation will take place after the screening, for which Pilot director Graeme Cole will represent the Institute. Please note it is advisable to email johnw[at] in advance to reserve tickets.

This from Cinematopias comms dept:

“Just to let you know we're running the BEST OF CINEMATOPIA 09 programme at KINO SHORTS in Manchester. If you missed it at Glastonferret now's your chance to see it, if not come and see it again on a reet big screen!

As usual in normal Kino style, a number of the filmmakers will be present to talk about their films and be grilled by our eager audience of Cinephiles. Questions posed by Manchester's one and only John Robb, legendary punk-rocker, journalist, writer and media commentator."

Friday, 14 August 2009

It's Nick's Birthday screening :: 15th Sarajevo Film Festival

Our short Super-8 musical It's Nick's Birthday plays at the 15th Sarajevo Film Festival this weekend. If you, like my personal hero James Nesbitt (actor), are in town for the premier film festival in the Balkans, these are the details you will need:

WHAT: It's Nick's Birthday @ 15th Sarajevo Film Festival

PROGRAM: New Currents

1st screening


WHEN: This Sunday, 16.08.2009, 20:45

COST: BAM 5,00 KM and KM 6,00

2nd screening


WHEN: This Monday, 17.08.2009, 12:30

COST: 4,00 KM and 5,00 KM;

Glavni Box Office/Main Box Office
Bosanski kulturni centar, Branilaca Sarajeva 24

Right click-save to download the festival brochure

I won't be able to get away from the office, but if you happen to spot Mr Nesbitt and fellow guest, the lout Mickey Rourke (former pretty-boy),do set the former on the latter on my behalf - we'll soon see who the real so-called "Wrestler" is!

I apologise for any violent sentiment that may be implicit in this last paragraph. Really they should talk it out. I just wish I was there.

There are further screenings coming up at the BUSHO Budapest Short Film Festival at the beginning of September and the 7th World Film Festival of Bangkok (November 6 to 15) - more details when we get them.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Loops in a Gimli box office

In tribute to Marina Abramović's promise of a certificate in exchange for feats of protracted art consumption, we at the Institute would like to offer a similar incentive to residents of and visitors to Manitoba this weekend, as It's Nick's Birthday (our "indie-rock opera in traditional DIY style") plays on a loop in the box office of the Gimli Film Festival.

WHAT: Its Nicks Birthday @ Gimli Film Festival
Festival Box Office, 66 1st Ave, Gimli, Manitoba (on the corner of 1st and Goldfield Drive)
WHEN: On loop, 24th-28 July, 10am-8pm

While I personally would consider a ten hour marathon of our short Super-8 musical to be reward in itself, the Institute's Office of Certification, Incentives and Coercion have created a limited edition carbon-derivative certificate to be awarded to each of the first 250 festival-goers who provide evidence that they have spent an entire day watching the film, at the venue on the banks of Lake Winnipeg. At my insistence, the OCIC have allowed for this to include a fifteen minute lunch break, to be taken in installments only during periods when the credits are rolling. All claims to be sent to the usual address.

Right-click save to download the festival brochure (pdf)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

My artistic credentials

my childish handwriting undermines the fact I got given this certificate for doing something very grown up

7pm, and in our compulsory - as they should be - lab coats, the evening begins with Abramović's The Drill. Forced to stare unblinking into strangers eyes, we are slowly disarmed, but school hall conversation between initiatiates undermines our mutual separation and suspicion. Marina's personality is authorative but the exercise lacks discipline. No explanations, Marina, just drill us!

The tests continue during the more rigorously dogmatic performances, 13 of them, that take place simultaneously for the remainder of the four hour show. My companion unintentionally breaks the rules by getting close to a boy pressing himself to the floor and being sad with an iPod. This behaviour is clarified by Amanda Coogan's turn, in which she repeatedly climbs half-naked up the stairs to think for a while, then with dignity toss herself from her perch to a "mountainous mound" below. The challenge is clearly set: which one is the more upset?

Into the next room, and here is the man who has taken all the shoes. No! Half the shoes. The other half are where you left them. Subsequent debate reveals a divide in olfactory appreciation of the performance. Were the pigs heads real? No they weren't, I didn't smell them; yes they were, I smelt them. We will return to see whether or not the shoe-hatted twig man has moved or not, though either eventuality would be disappointing.

Eunhye Hwang's orchestration of four transistor radios, variously between her armpits or legs or those of the audience, works, and no-one knows why. Perhaps the faux-naivety of the giant 80s specs or the willingness to both feed and be fed jelly by us animals conveyed a generosity that inspired trust and receptivity. Absurd bird dancing may be just what we do in life, when you think about it, in the same way that crawling on the floor or rolling our Sisyphian selves upstairs and off institutional precipices may be just what we do in life, when you think about it, but Hwang's conviction is mainlined through instinctive, improvised relationships. On the other hand, it matters more that the habitual art of the competing miserables is always going on, even when you are elsewhere. Returning later to see what Hwang is up to now, we find Garth Williams (among other animals, targeted with intense arbitrarity) of the Institute's It's Nick's Birthday cast has been handed a transistor. He will later suggest the jelly was apple.

It is Williams, too, who suggests the lack of male nudity versus the lots of female nudity may be down to the inconsistency - and unpredictability - of the male organ over a four hour period. There would be no guarantee that all the participants would have a fair go.

In the basement, the man smashing a rock or something on some metal or something or vice versa is definitely the most saddest artist so far. He is audible from the staircase down which (rather than off which) another nudie lady falls slow-motionly. I wonder what will happen if she reaches the foot of the stairs before the four hours are up? "Only a fool looks at the staircase when there is a bare bottom on show." A fool or a well-brought up boy from Surrey.

The wolf in sheep's in bear's in woman's in wolf's clothing is fully explained in the programme so nobody is daft enough to participate. But the paranoia starts pulsing on arrival at the disembodied mouth of Vitaly Titov. Has the artist invented the moment in Russian medical history here recreated, in which the victim of a factory mishap was kept alive for 20 days as nothing more than a head? Or has he fallen foul of, or paid tribute to the Soviet state's notoriously imaginative way of lying about its scientific breakthroughs? Is the artist an artist at all, or just a man? Possibly a Soviet plant? Is the set, complete with antiquated hand-washing basin and "glory hole" through which participants are variously requested to feed or apply lipstick to Titov's disembodied mouth really here, or is it all done with mirrors? Are mirrors a genuine phemonenon, or is what I have come to think of as mirrors in fact just a continuum of of hard-working lookey-likeys?

After a pub debrief, I return to find my bicycle has been locked in the grounds of the Whitworth Art Gallery. Manchester's queer vegan poet and I proceed to unlock it through the gaps in the railing and are able, with mutual co-operation, to lift the contraption to freedom. A frenzied flurry of activity taken to satisfy fleeting subjective needs framed by an uncaring institutionalised urban space performed for the passive consumption of the UK's excessive surveillance network - just what we do in life, really, when you think about it.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Glaston-Ferret Weekend

Pop up yer tent and take some drugs - it's Glaston-Ferret weekend at the Mad Ferret in Preston, with the full Festival package: "turfed pub, live bands, barbeque and real scrumpy (and the outdoor area’s roofed so you don’t need to worry about the British weather)". Our short Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom will be playing as part of The Best Of Cinematopia on Friday evening. Tents and drugs are not allowed.

WHAT: Pilot For A 22nd Century Sitcom @ Glaston-Ferret
EVENT: The Best Of Cinematopia Outdoor Film Screening
WHERE: Mad Ferret, 55 Fylde Road, Preston,
WHEN: This FRIDAY 26th June from 7pm
COST: £3

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

In Edinburgh? Industry?

It's Nick's Birthday is available for industry professionals to watch at the Edinburgh International Film Festival Videotheque from today until the 28th of the month.

"The Videotheque helps industry professionals make the most efficient use of their time at the Festival, and is used by sales agents, distributors, producers, acquisition executives, talent agents, exhibitors and festival programmers, with priority access given to buyers."

The official Institute line is: mug a suit and watch our film with his pass.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

It's Nick's Birthday screening :: Bourges

WHAT: It’s Nick’s Birthday @ 11th International Festival Bandits-mages
EVENT: SI_11 (Rencontres internationales)
WHERE: L’amphithéâtre,
ENSA Bourges (école nationale supérieure d’art), 7 rue Édouard-Branly, F-18000 Bourges
WHEN: This SATURDAY, 9th May between 2pm and 8pm

Please check their
programme for details.

The film features in their dynamically unwieldy cyber-
catalogue of the future on p.144.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

It's Nick's Birthday honoured at IndieLisboa'09

It's Nick's Birthday received a Special Mention from the Jury at the 6th IndieLisboa International Independent Film Festival, at the awards ceremony last Saturday night.

Barely more than a greyish-brown speck in the massive auditorium of Lisbon's art deco Cinema São Jorge, our representative Mr Cole made his way up on stage to collect the menção honrosa in the style of the film - stumbling, flickering and slightly out of tune with himself.

The full list of awards is available for perusal here.

the certificate as I found it in the Institute canteen this morning

Friday, 24 April 2009

Sun and Sangria on the Humber

In a strange and unexpected moment at about 11.45 on Wednesday morning, the charming proprietor of Sabrini's cafe (Princes Road, Hull) plonked a chilled jug of pink sangria on the terrace table in front of Mr Brown and myself, and we two out-of-towners squinted through the bright sunlight at each other: we had arrived, young gods on the Yorkshire riviera.

Stuart Brown ('Nick') beams at his proximity to an array of hanging sombreros

Feeling rather marvellous, we were ushered inside by our genial hosts - Messrs. Boyce and Jensen of the Hull Film organisation - where the Importance Of The Medium program began with Eva Weber's ethereal documentary on cranes and their drivers. Following a break for nachos and cigarettes, the moment came for It's Nick's Birthday to be unveiled to the public - a lunchbreak public 20-strong and united in festival spirit. The homemade and accident-happy ethos of the film was channelled into the atmosphere of the room through the guitar amp sound system and reinforced by the phlegmatic purr and splutter of the coffee machine and obsessive brush-strokes of the hot chilli-oriented hung paintings. Afterwards, Mr Brown and I were interviewed to video by Boyce's people, a process that could have been torturous had the sun and the breeze and the people (and the bellyful of punch) not been configured so divinely, and which was all the same makey of pitsweat.

For weeks in advance, we had awaited with childlike anticipation our trip to Hull's Glimmer short film festival, so it was perhaps inevitable the hit-rate of our daydream-embellished expectations would be at best off-centre, if never off-target. Having been tipped that Hull would smell of death (it did a bit) and planned in mouthwatering detail the fish and chips we would acquire for our midnight train journey back to Manchester (we didn't feel like eating after an unsettling aperitif of top-drawer David Firth animations), we met reality half-way on discovering that Hull wasn't in fact a coastal port and the big bit of water by it was (to quote Mr Brown) "merely an estuary". We had promised ourselves we'd see the sea, and the see the sea we would: Mr Brown, and myself, and a young lady from Australia whose acquaintance we made over sangria at Sambrini's, stared out at the glistening brown Humber, alone and together, imagining it to be the ocean for the best part of forty minutes. Although we stood in silence, the synchronised remapping (more accurately re-demapping) of three neural networks (one of which was Australian) was felt to be an adequate riposte to the tyranny of fluvial geography. (Mooring fees in the area have not been affected).

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

It's Nick's Birthday screenings :: Hull & Lisbon

WHAT: It’s Nick’s Birthday @ GLIMMER: The 7th Hull International Short Film Festival
EVENT: The Importance Of The Medium 1
WHEN: This WEDNESDAY, 22nd April, 12 noon – 1pm
Sabrini's Café, Princes Avenue, Hull, HU5 3QX

WHAT: It’s Nick’s Birthday @
IndieLisboa ’09 International Festival of Independent Cinema
EVENT: International Short Competition 4
WHEN: This SUNDAY, 26th April, 9.30pm
& THURSDAY, 30th April 6.45pm
Cinema São Jorge, Screening Room 3
COST: Around 3,50 € (
click for concessions/groups)

Monday, 20 April 2009

It's Nick's Birthday

It’s Nick’s Birthday, the new short film from L’Institute Zoom, is all done, feather-dusted and ready to shamble on out into the bright and boisterous world beyond the Zoomcitta walls:

It’s Nick’s Birthday

UK, 2009, Super-8mm (digital transfer for exhibition), 35 minutes
Music by Aidan Smith :: Written & Directed by Graeme Cole

A home-made Super-8 musical. Over an all-day drinking session, the dreams of a troubled romantic and his companions are worn away by ennui and isolation. With songs and dancing.

Capturing the unconventional handcrafted aesthetic of Aidan Smith’s songs, this is a musical for those who wouldn’t normally go near one. The dancing creaks and the vocals strain when four ordinary folk attempt to impose meaning and colour on their mundane and aimless lives. Sundays don’t come with a three-act structure, and we don’t have hidden reserves of magical talent: we have mood swings, private theories and temporary epiphanies.

The film was shot in early 2007 and has been waiting patiently for release while the post-production crew’s intense sleeping schedule and neurotic imperfectionism weaved their influence into the finished artefact. It’s Nick’s Birthday will receive its public premiere in Hull (home town of Nicholas D. Hill – the aeroplane enthusiast, misfit and L’Institute Zoom bit-part player who inspired the title character) this Wednesday 22nd April.

Next stop on the It’s Nick’s Birthday mini-tour of European ports is Lisbon, where the film will have its International Premiere next Sunday, and a further screening on Thursday 30th.