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.)
One of the long-term plans for the Birmingham Horror Group when it launched in December 2015 was for members to host an old-style horror event in the city, as opposed to the soulless, commercially-orientated merchandise and autograph fairs which have proliferated since “geek culture” became fully monetised. After all, what’s the point in hanging out with friends in a pub, discussing old episodes of Doctor Who or your favourite comics, when you can stand in line to pay £45 to be photographed next to John Barrowman (£10 extra if he wears his “Captain Jack” overcoat) or buy five versions of the same superhero reboot with different covers but the same identical Manga-style interior art? In fact, why even hang out with friends in the first place, when there are thousands of “friends” willing to give pretty much any passing comment a ‘like’ on Facebook?
Well, I believed there was still life in the original concept — and boy, does it look as though I was wrong. Running the monthly group has long ago ceased to be the fun it should have been, the erratic turn-out proving most “fans” are now only willing to show up if there’s some kind of gimmick, like a guest speaker or a free screening, and prefer to scurry back to the warm glow of their computer screens as soon as that part’s over. As for the Birmingham FearFest, ticket sales have been embarrassingly lack-lustre, and we’re currently facing the very real likelihood of having to pull the plug on its incubator. It’s been suggested to me that it could simply be postponed until later in the year, allowing a new round of publicity, but I’m not convinced I have a sufficiently deep reservoir of energy or optimism.
A little over thirty years ago,so many people turned up at a Novacon I chaired in Birmingham that we ran out of programme books, and we’d printed more than 500. These days, I find myself quite literally unable to run a party in a brewery. The world has allegedly evolved, but I’m not sure whether I want any part of this latest mutation; it clearly wants no part of me.
Updated 4 May.
Had a rather busy Saturday. Even as I was driving into Birmingham for the latest gathering of the Birmingham Horror Group at the Gunmakers Arms, Lee Bannister was introducing Chrissie’s and my report from the Blue Orange Theatre for Made in Birmingham TV’s Birmingham News Weekend Magazine.
Shortly afterwards, I was on stage with author Adam Nevill, discussing his influences, his new novel Under a Watchful Eye (a terrific read, by the way) and the impending movie adaptation of The Ritual, which had only been announced two days earlier. The conversation was filmed for use on two separate Made in Birmingham TV shows, the general material for Lee and the film-related footage for his colleague Carl Jones’ daily cinema slot. In addition, the interview will be transcribed for a forthcoming issue of the magazine Fear.
[Photograph above by Chrissie Harper]
As well as launching a new venue for its monthly meetings, Birmingham’s historic Gunmakers Arms, the Birmingham Horror Group held its first movie event on 7 January, when I got to introduce no fewer than 14 short films and a handful of trailers. Several of the directors sent along pre-recorded introductions, whilst local film-maker Carl Timms turned up to introduce his zombie comedy Still in person and discuss it with me afterwards on stage. The interview was filmed for Ghostwords TV, and Made In Birmingham TV wants to look at a three-minute extract for airing this Friday.
Update #1: Free tickets for the 4 February meeting are now available online.
Update #2: The extract was screened on 13 January as part of The Week with Carl Jones, and repeated twice during that weekend.