Posted August 21st, 2015 by Ben

BettyThe Mobile Cineastes
This blog started 10 years ago as my field notes from trips round the UK with Shooting People’s Mobile Cinema. Over the years since it has charted the changes to the British independent film scene, profiled some of the more interesting characters who populate it and shared many of mine and my brother’s mistakes, failures and occasional successes culminating in our utterly independent and uniquely British feature “Nina Forever”.

Part funded through our successful Kickstarter campaign and made under the aegis of a strict creative manifesto, “Nina Forever” is not just a story we had to tell, it also expresses some of our deeply held ideas as to how a film should be made. You can follow the history our film through posts on this blog dating back to 2012 and if you’re in London at the end of the month you can follow that story right up to date by attending the film’s UK premiere on 31st August at Film4 Frightfest.


Our world premiere at SXSW was daunting but (appropriately enough for a horror festival) our UK premiere is something more terrifying still, something much more personal. This is when we show our film in our own backyard. This is when after years of theorising from the sidelines I finally put my neck on the line and show you something I poured my heart and soul into. Tickets are still available and I would love to see you there.

Chris and I join a panel discussion led by Film4’s Catherine Bray about Kickstarter and DIY Filmmaking on Sunday 30th August and we’ll also be at all three of our Frightfest screenings for Q&As after the film. We are also going to be joined by our three magnificent leading actors, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Cian Barry and Abigail Hardingham, our producer Cassandra Sigsgaard and many others from our cast and crew.

I’ve been a member of Shooting People since the year 2000 and no other organisation has offered me more support. No other community has taught me, angered me and inspired me more. No one else better expresses the passion and energy that still drives me to make films. I would love to share my film with you all in the cinema on the 31st August.

Buy your tickets here.


What’s On: Brian Hill Retrospective

Posted August 17th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

Doc-lovers! A little message from SP’s friends at Bertha Dochouse – check out their exciting programme for this week below…

Marking the release Brian Hill’s latest film, The Confessions of Thomas Quick, Bertha DocHouse is celebrating one of the most radical and respected directors in the UK with a selective retrospective of his work.

Over the last decades, Brian Hill has consistently pushed the bar for documentary by finding inventive ways to make films that challenge audiences and stimulate debate. Brian’s ability to explore powerful social messages through innovative and engaging forms is unique. A retrospective to celebrate his wide-ranging body of work is long overdue.



The Confessions of Thomas Quick – courtesy of Bertha Dochouse

The Confessions of Thomas Quick

Brian Hill’s latest film is a real-life noir thriller which uncovers the truth behind Sweden’s most notorious serial killer, Thomas Quick.

Saturday Night & Drinking For England

A double bill of Brian Hill’s first collaborations with poet Simon Armitage takes us to Leeds on a Saturday Night and into the lives of England’s drinkers.

Feltham Sings & Songbirds

This pair of emotionally resonant films see Brian Hill collaborating with poet Simon Armitage to give voice to young men and women of Feltham and Downview Prisons– voices we rarely hear.

The Not Dead

A quieter and more intense film than others in this retrospective, The Not Dead carries a political message addressing PTSD across three generations of soldiers. The use of poetry is much subtler and more profound in this, Brian Hill’s last collaboration with Simon Armitage.

Courtesy of

The Not Dead – courtesy of


Mon 17th Aug:

18.20: The Confessions of Thomas Quick

20.30: The Confessions of Thomas Quick

Tues 18th Aug:

18.30: The Not Dead + Introduction by Brian Hill

Weds 19th Aug:

18.30: Double Bill: Saturday Night & Drinking for England + Q&A with Brian Hill

21.00: The Confessions of Thomas Quick

Thurs 20th Aug:

18.30: Double Bill: Feltham Sings & Songbirds

21.00: The Confessions of Thomas Quick

Bertha DocHouse is the UK’s first documentary cinema based at Curzon Bloomsbury. Book tickets and find more information here.


Posted August 16th, 2015 by Ben

This is what it feels like to premiere your film at the Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal.

It is, as the local english speaking population would say, awesome. Later that night I discuss the word “awesome” with Mitch who runs the festival who was politely saying how he preferred my use of the more British word “wonderful”, but I like “awesome”. Break it down and really taste the meaning, taste the awe, that breathless, heart stopping glimpse at the blissful scale of reality. Awesome makes you tiny before something vast.

I sometimes think that the process of flying has to be awful, otherwise we’d be too aware of how awesome it is. If you could just be on a plane and look out of the window at that tiny legoland city with its neatly scattered parks and decorous bridges, the boats ploughing white lines up to the Old Port, if you could do all of that in an unfettered instant then your mind would explode at the audacious beauty of it all. So we have to have airports. We have to have airport signage that directs you confidently and clearly to almost exactly where you shouldn’t be. We have to have airport security checks and pissy rules about volumes of harmless liquids. Airline food is surely scientifically balanced to stop your brain bursting with joy by being exactly just utterly foul enough to distract you from marvelling at the fact that you are a monkey in a tin can hanging thousands of feet in the cold blue air above Montreal. It really is awesome.

Old Port Montreal

I’ve never really thought about Quebec but suddenly I’m in the middle of it; a strange through-the-looking-glass world that is both recognisably North American and also utterly French. A vision of the future we could have had if Napoleon had won Waterloo and turned his attentions West. I assumed I’d find a melting pot culture where baguettes and burgers were on every menu, but though most people are easily bilingual the anglophone and les francophonie share little beyond a strange addiction to gravy sodden chips with cheese. “It has to be squeaky” I’m told in a bar “Squeaky Canadian cheese!” Actually the addiction isn’t strange, chips, gravy and cheese is clearly moorish but the civic pride in the dish of Poutine is truly astonishing. Without fail everyone I ask about Poutine drops instantly into unaffected raptures that would make Proust blush and hurry up dunking his madeleines. But beyond Poutine the divide is surprisingly deeply felt, though the remark “they don’t even speak proper French!” sounds tellingly like the withering remark of an old married couple.

On my last day in the city I also wander across a First Nations dance ceremony. First Nations because there are three indigenous communities who somehow lived here for hundreds of years without either chips or gravy. It’s hard to tell if the dancing, which has drawn a large crowd of tourists, is a ceremony for them or us. I’m jetlagged and walking through a dream and find something forlorn in the drumming of their feet on the burning tarmac of the car park of a multi-storey office block, the hot ground refusing to crack open to reveal the ancestral earth below.

First Nations

These are not the only tribes I encounter in Montreal. Fantasia is a genre film festival founded in 1996 but the introduction of an international film market a few years ago has seen the event blossom into a near month long marathon of all that is weird, wonderful and bloody in international cinema. By the time I arrive the festival is in its last few days, the market has finished and no one has to dress up to look like a zombie. I turn up just in time to see the midnight screening of “TURBO KID” which played in SXSW with us. It’s a pastiche of ’80s sci-fi and video-nasties done with such total devotion and love that it is impossible not to fall in love with it in turn. Seeing this film play its home crowd is a whole other experience though, many of the cast are locals and their many and ingeniously gruesome deaths are met with whoops of delight. The rapturous response at the end is no surprise since the film got a standing ovation before it started. Something else happened before it started too – as the cinema lights dim the crowd start mewing like cats. This happens before every film at Fantasia, apparently a tradition that started out of admiration for the British animated series “Simon’s Cat” which played here a few years back. There are a couple of muttered complaints about this caterwauling but I’ve not felt many cinemas become so completely owned by their audience before.

“NINA FOREVER” is amongst the last films to play and the festival team are delighted and a little surprised by the size of our audience. I’m simply astonished. Awestruck. They applaud, they mew, they laugh, they give great gasps of shock at one point I’m not going to tell you about and they applaud all over again as the credits roll.

It is a tremendous honour to share our film with this audience, in this space which after three weeks has clearly become home. The psychogeography of Montreal is layered and complicated and makes more sense from the air but that room is very definitely free from the constraints of being either French or Canadian. That room belongs entirely to Mitch and whoever he is kind enough to invite to share it with him.

Grierson Trust Awards 2015: Shortlist

Posted July 28th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

A very well deserved congratulations to all 14 members who have been shortlisted for The Grierson Trust awards 2015.

There are members in pretty much every category (obviously, no surprise there…)

Up for the ‘Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme’ are Ruth Nicklin with Excluded: Kicked out of School Ep.1 and Brian Woods with Raining in my Heart. Brian is also looking at picking up the ‘Best Science or Natural History’ award for Curing Cancer.

Curing Cancer - Brian Woods

Curing Cancer – Brian Woods

The success run for Laura Poitrais’ Citizenfour, distributed by SP and Britdoc’s Luke Moody, is still going strong – it’s up for ‘Best Documentary on a Contemporary Theme – International’. James Bluemel with The Romanians Are Coming is also in the running.

Shortlisted into the arts category is 20,000 Days On Earth, by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard (also shortlisted for ‘Best Newcomer’). Ben Steele, who won ‘Best Documentary on Current Affairs’ last year, has another film up for the same award this year – Gypsy Matchmaker:

Everyone loves a little bit of history – this year Joanna Lipper with The Supreme Price is in the mix for ‘Best Historical Documentary’. In the ‘Best Entertaining Documentary’ category is Colin Rothbart‘s Dressed as a Girl, which premiered at BFI Flare earlier this year.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 13.33.03

Virunga – Orlando Von Einsiedel

Up for the ‘Best Cinema Documentary’ award is Jesse Moss‘ The OvernightersAlso in this category is Oscar and BAFTA nominated Virunga, directed by long time SP member Orlando Von Einsiedel. We caught up with Orlando earlier this year – on top of his invaluable filmmaking career advice, he had a rather amusing story involving gorillas to tell.

In the ‘Best Newcomer’ category, members Chloe Fairweather with Mr Alzheimers and Me, and Andrew Hinton and Johnny Burke with Tashi and The Monk have both been shortlisted. The Wolf, The Ship and the Little Green Bag, by Kathryn MacCorgary Gray has been shortlisted for the ‘Best Student Documentary’ award.

Of course, they’re not out of the woods yet and nominations will be announced on Tuesday 15th September. 2015 has been such a strong year for documentaries, with much competition, so it’s a huge achievement to be shortlisted. Making SP proud guys – wishing you the best of luck.

The Wild East.

Posted July 5th, 2015 by Ben

Well look at that, not only are we suddenly something like half way through the year but we’re also deep into the middle of the East End Film Festival. Now in its 15th year the EEFF has become one of the capital’s most exhilarating sprints through everything exciting in contemporary filmmaking and this year has been no exception.

I’ve been meaning to post up some of the programme’s gems, including Deva Palmier’s fantastic short film “The Box”, however I’m late to the party and that film screened three days ago! Apologies.

Charlie Macgechan & Francesca Dale in Dee Meaden's "Sibling"

Charlie Macgechan & Francesca Dale in Dee Meaden’s “Sibling”

Luckily though you still have a chance to see “Sibling” by the luminously gifted Dee Meaden which screens as part of “Shorts: Running In The Family” on the 8th July at 9pm in the Genesis. This is Dee’s third short and again she displays her skill at creating an atmosphere so dense you can almost see the intense tension between the characters.

The Genesis is also host, on the 9th of July, to the world premiere of “Containment” directed by Neil McEnery-West and written by David Lemon. I’ve not yet had a chance to see this film but it’s one of those “it” projects were great talents on the independent circuit come together across a sublime idea. It’s definitely always struck me as one of those indie films with real break-out potential.

And though the festival is built around a celebration of contemporary filmmaking I couldn’t go without mentioning a screening of Sydney J Furie’s outstanding adaptation of Len Deighton’s “The Ipcress File” which plays 4pm on the 9th at the Genesis. This is simply the most perfect spy movie that has ever been made and if you have any plans for Thursday afternoon less important than a matter of national security you really should cancel them. This screening is free for the over 60s and a must for anyone who just can’t get over the 60s.

See you there.

Film of the Month: Asif Kapadia

Posted July 1st, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen


Huge welcome to our July Film of the Month judge, award-winning British director Asif Kapadia. His most recent film  is the much-acclaimed documentary Amy, which is screening at the East End Film Festival on 2 July with a special Q&A with Asif and out in cinemas on 3 July.

Asif’s previous work include the critically acclaimed documentary Senna, which garnered awards all around the world including the BAFTA for Best Documentary, and fiction feature The Warrior, starring Irrfan Khan, which nabbed the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film in 2001.

Prepare your films and submit them to the leader board before the 20th June to be in the running for his feedback.


Shooters in the Pub and Q&A with Sideways Films

Posted July 1st, 2015 by Xenia

shooters in the pub banner fb

This Tuesday is Shooters in the Pub, we’ll be meeting from 6.30pm in the The Arts Theatre Club, 50 Frith Street, Soho, W1D 4SQ. Join us for some drinks and catch up with your fellow film creatives: directors, writers, actors and more.

We’ll be talking to Kazz Basma from the documentary sales agency Sideways Films, whose docs have been screened across many channels including BBC and HBO. They are continuously on the lookout for new documentaries to represent, so if you’re looking for distribution or would like a consultation on a project you have in development, Sideways Films would be the guys to contact. The talk starts at 8.00pm and will be hosted by Shooting People’s Business and Marketing Manager Anna Bogutskaya, followed by a short Q&A and the usual networking drinks.


To find out when your next local Shooters in the Pub meetup will be keep an eye on the Shooting People calendar. Or you can join the Shooters in the Pub London Facebook group for regular updates.

See you there,


Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015: Day 3

Posted June 8th, 2015 by Kelie Petterssen

Planetary (dir. Guy Reid) Meditation Session


Yes, I meditated to a film – this was a nice little retreat from the hustle and bustle of the festival. Taking yourself away to a ‘mindfulness meditation’ session to the audio of Planetary; a poetic and cosmic journey into global perspective. It’s a visual reminder that every living thing is connected that will question your own environmental awareness. The soundscapes are mesmerising, so much so that I completely missed the bells ringing for the meditation to end – only coming to once everyone had packed up. Strong stuff.

Planetary is actually available on VoD now.

Deep Web (dir. Alex Winter)

Alex Winter’s new documentary is a solid companion piece to his previous work Downloaded, attempting to explore of  the man at the centre of the Silk Road, an online black market, that was brought to trial last year

Almost There (dir. Dan Rybicky & Aaron Wickenden)

An under-the-radar gem of a film, this doc was in the making for 8 years after the filmmakers met a fascinating old man at a pierogi festival. That man turned out to be outsider artist Peter Anton, a local character living in a run-down old house overflowing with paintings, drawings, collages – and cats. They follow Peter for years, slowly uncovering layers of a cranky, energetic and endlessly creative personality. The film becomes an intriguing tug and pull game between documentarian and subject, erasing the fine line that exists between the people behind and in front of the camera.

If you missed out on its Doc/Fest screening, Almost There is coming to London on 10 June 8.30pm at DocHouse.

The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead (dir. Wes Orshoki)

Unfortunately, you won’t see a Vanian, James, Rat Scabies and Senisible reunion – what you will get is an entertaining and intimate insight into the life of ‘The Damned’ then, and now. Wes Orshoski spent 4 years following and getting behind the scenes with the origins of the punk rock movement. From their unruly behaviour, to the ‘curse of the Damned’, this film will certainly leave fans with aggressive nostalgia, and is a living testament to the fact that punk isn’t dead.

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015: Day 2

Posted June 7th, 2015 by Anna Bogutskaya

Mavis! (dir. Jessica Edwards)

A force of nature would be a mildly accurate way to describe Mavis Staples, and does not do her justice. As a teenager, Mavis was fronting The Staples Singers, a family gospel group that provided the soundtrack for the early civil rights movement after being inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Now 75, Mavis is still unstoppable, constantly touring, recording albums and cheekily reminiscing about Bob Dylan.

Cobain: Montage of Heck (dir. Brett Morgen)

imageIt’s intimate, it’s aggressive, it’s punk. Brett Morgen’s carefully constructed journey through Cobain’s personal diaries, home videos and self-recordings shines light into many of the unseen corners of his life. Through lively animation, piercing soundscapes and archive that publicly illuminates both his expression and vulnerability – Cobain: Montage of Heck is a roller coaster your emotions won’t forget.

It’s available on VoD, DVD and Blu-Ray now.

The Circus Dynasty (dir. Anders Riis-Hansen)

imageTwo of the worlds leading circus’ protégés are on their way to joining forces and creating the greatest circus Europe could ever see – but the pressures and expectations of this intimate culture are trying; love and commercial potential are entwined. The Circus Dynasty is a poetic and enchanting snapshot into this way of life, that will leave you feeling endeared. This is no big fat gypsy wedding.

See it on Tuesday 9th June, 8:45pm at The Guardian Screen at Curzon.

How to Change the World (dir. Jerry Rothwell)

image‘The idea was simple: send a boat to bear witness at the scene of the crime.’ Jerry Rothwell’s exploration of the history of Greenpeace is an inspiring journey, taking you through the early and groundbreaking environmental movements of Bob Hunter his tribe of ‘eco-warriors’ from Vancouver, Canada. With tongue-in-cheek psychedelic references and archive that engrains itself into the mind, How to Change the World  is an entertaining and powerful piece. It’ll make you want to leave your day job to become a environmental flower child; a rebel with a cause.

Catch a second screening on Monday 8th June at 9pm, ITN Source Showroom 4.

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015: Day 1

Posted June 6th, 2015 by Anna Bogutskaya

Welcome drinks

To kick off the 22nd Sheffield Doc/Fest, SP took over Tudor Square for our annual welcome drinks reception. The sun was shining, the drinks were kindly sponsored by Pond 5 and there was the sweet scent of pulled pork and baking dough in the air – the perfect setting?

It was great to see founding members and Shooters in the Pub hosts make an appearance, there were so many! It’s so positive to see growth of shooter communities nationally. Also, it’s encouraging to see new people wanting to check us out and learn more about what we do. On that note, what was even more sensational was people actually networking and swapping business cards. These things tend to be super awkward – so to witness that on the first day of Doc/Fest festivities is a win.

If you’re at Sheffield and you’ve clocked us and know who we are – come have a chat, we don’t bite.

The Look of Silence (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)

Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence was the first opening night event of the fest. A semi-sequel to the acclaimed The Act of Killing, each film works individually and as pair, each narrative working independently of one another and acquiring a deeper meaning when put into context together. Where The Act of Killing focused entirely on the perpetrators, this film is the gut-wrenching confrontation between murderer and survivor. After it’s sensational Doc/Fest reception, The Look of Silence will be hitting UK cinemas on 12 June. Find out more here:


The Greatest Shows on Earth: A Century of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals (dir. Benedikt Erlingsson)

An exquisitely edited archival documentary tracking the history of 19th and 20th century circus performers, music halls, freak shows, variety entertainments and fairgrounds, with a sprawling original score by Georg Holm and Orri Pall Dyrason of Sigur Ros, in collaboration with Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson.