I interviewed the author and editor David Sutton at the October 2016 meeting of the Birmingham Horror Group, the text version of which subsequently appeared in the magazine Fear. We first met at the third Fantasycon, held at a nearby hotel in February 1977, so we were well familiar with each other’s work (I’m holding a copy of the journal I co-edited, Critical Wave, which carried a feature on Fantasy Tales, the award-winning digest he co-edited).
Photo by Chrissie Harper
The Birmingham Horror Group held its second ‘Mini-Movie Marathon’ last night, at the Victoria pub in the heart of the city’s theatre district. One of the evening’s unexpected pleasures was meeting and hanging out with Irish filmmaker Simon O’Neill, who’d flown in from Dublin to represent The Man With My Name, his documentary on Italian screenwriter Giovanni Simonelli (A Cat in the Brain, Bloody Psycho).
Photo by Chrissie Harper
Don’t worry, this isn’t the way I raise the production budgets for our movie projects. This photograph was taken by Chrissie Harper after the first of two days’ filming at our friend Blake Woodham’s home in Harborne, Birmingham, which was doubling for both a retired professor’s cottage and his psychiatrist daughter’s office in our forthcoming release Terror at Bell’s End. The replica gun was sourced by our male lead, John Messer. We were about to head up the road to the Cotteridge home of his co-star Melyza Fay, where the two of them would be pursued by an unseen killer through her back garden.
And here they are…
We had a great night at the Victoria public house in Birmingham’s city centre, when cast and crew were finally able to see Network 23’s inaugural short films: Who is Bette Noir? (a mock news report introducing key characters from Club Vamporama), Hail Cthulhu! (a ‘minisode’ featuring Club Vamporama regulars Jenni and Marie) and the psychodrama All Bad Things… (which actually wrapped filming on Saturday night).
The event was hosted by horror author Jasper Bark and kicked off with a magnificent rendition of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ by local actor William Hayes. Jasper interviewed Melyza Fay about playing ‘Jude’ in Club Vamporama and her forthcoming role as ‘Elizabeth’ in the giallo tribute Terror at Bell’s End, then talked to All Bad Things… co-stars Demelza O’Sullivan (‘Alex’), Liam Woon (‘Mike’) and Sham Zaman. The programme ended with Jasper reading his own short story ‘Taking the Piss’.
All three films will receive their public premiere at the Gunmakers Arms’ Halloween shindig At the Brewery of Madness.
Above, first row: William Hayes gets his teeth into The Tell-Tale Heart; Jasper Bark talks to Melyza Fay.
Above, second row: Demelza O’Sullivan, Liam Woon and Sham Zaman chat with Jasper; Jasper closes the night with some toilet humour.
Below: Chrissie Harper’s poster design for the Gunmakers Arms’ event tomorrow evening. She also took these photographs.
[From Solihull Observer, 12 October 2017:]
(Click on the image to open a larger version.)
Further to yesterday’s Club Vamporama update, here’s a screengrab of myself interviewing manager “Jude” (Melyza Fay) at the titular nightspot (portrayed here by Birmingham music venue Route 44, thanks to the generosity of owner Brendon Daly).
Above left: Dru Stephenson as “Jenni”. Above right: Melyza Fay as “Jude”.
In addition to our short film All Bad Things, work continues on our proposal for a tv series adapted from the comic strip Club Vamporama. My colleague Chrissie Harper and I spent the afternoon at Route 44 in Acocks Green, Birmingham, where we shot the second of three mock news reports featuring characters from the show; the third (with Lizzie Hastings as “Marie”) is scheduled for Friday morning.
It’s been a fascinating experience, not least because Chrissie roped me in to play the interviewer; I won’t pretend to have anything like the talent displayed by the actors I was working opposite, but I think I managed to avoid total embarrassment.
The project I alluded to in a previous entry moved another step forward on Tuesday evening, when Chrissie Harper and I met with Rob Hoffman, owner of Birmingham’s Robannas Studios, and Kerrang! Radio presenter Johnny Doom. It so happens that Johnny and I both used to appear on Made in Birmingham TV, and experienced much the same unceremonious farewell, so it was good to get together in a more upbeat environment.
Discussions are still at an early stage, but we will be making an announcement about this project very soon. In the meantime, those of you on Twitter can follow us here.
Chrissie and I were invited along to Birmingham’s Electric Cinema on 28 May, to meet Annabel de Vetten, founder of speciality bakery Conjurer’s Kitchen, and Victoria Price, author of Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography. The resulting interview turned out to be our final appearance on Made in Birmingham TV, as we finally lost patience with a company which treats its outside contributors with utter contempt.
It’s four days since I posted about the Birmingham FearFest, during which time I believe we’ve sold one additional ticket. I’m giving it until next Monday before making a final decision, but it would take a major shift in reality for this event’s fortunes to turn around. We’re grateful to everyone who tried plugging it via their social media outlets, but it appears to have little or no impact. Then again, neither did a print in The Dark Side, back in mid-February, so traditional media seems just as ineffectual. It’s not just that I don’t know the answers, I’m no longer even sure what the questions are.