Tales from the Soundstage

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Brighton-based media bod Wayne Imms has been involved in a variety of projects over the course of his career: presenting shows and creating features for hospital radio in Kent; producing a number of accomplished documentaries for the BBC; curating a pop festival and presenting a magazine-style radio show on local independent station, Radio Reverb FM. For the last six years he has been the creative director for The Space, a Brighton-based arts and entertainment organisation presenting star-studded evening events at various venues around the city, including Latest Music Bar, Komedia and The Basement.

His latest venture, production company Soundstage Events, promises to build on the reputation of The Space, and indeed, shares a similar format to previous occasional Space events hosted by Brighton’s Duke Of York’s Picturehouse. Two such events have been staged to date, a James Bond 50th anniversary event featuring past and present crew members in round-table style conversation, and a special screening of The Evil Dead to mark three decades since the infamous ‘video nasties’ censorship scandal of the ’80s; the latter followed by a panel discussion of movie experts.

Feedback from the public and local press has been positive so far (see also my synopses/reviews below for more details) and the next event in January marking the 40th anniversary of art horror classic Don’t Look Now threatens to be the most memorable yet, set to feature an appearance from a very special guest indeed. Details to be finalised, so check the Soundstage Events website for updates over the next few days and weeks.

Bond on the Big Screen: 50 Years In the Secret Service – 07/10/2012.

Few screen characters can lay claim to the iconic status, never mind the longevity of James Bond. Last week, the release of Skyfall featured leading man Daniel Craig in his third outing playing the secret agent. He’s the sixth actor to take the part in an official franchise now twenty-three films strong, spanning a half-century. Not bad for a character dismissed by his own employer as a ‘…sexist, misogynist dinosaur [and] a relic of the cold war…’ seven movies ago.

To celebrate Bond‘s longevity and the ongoing popularity of the franchise, Soundstage Events in association with Brighton’s Duke of York’s Picturehouse presented Bond on the Big Screen: 50 Years In the Secret Service, an evening of interviews and audience Q&A with a number of leading figures from Bond movie crews.

  Featuring guest appearances from:

  WILLIAM P CARTLIDGE: The Spy Who Loved Me/Moonraker –

  Associate Producer,  

  You Only Live Twice – Assistant Director

  CHRIS CORBOULD: Skyfall/For Your Eyes Only/Licence To Kill –

  Special Effects Supervisor

  PAUL INGLIS: Skyfall/Quantum Of Solace – Art Director

  PAUL WESTON: The Man With The Golden Gun/On Her Majesty’s

  Secret Service/Moonraker/Octopussy –

  Stuntman/Stunt  Coordinator 

  Hosted by: KIERON BUTLER – Brighton-based Editor/Screenwriter

A selection of Bond themes from over the years set the mood in the auditorium as the audience took their seats before Butler took to the stage, resplendent in  007 trademark tuxedo. Butler, incidentally, was also responsible for compiling the several movie montages that provided visual counterpoint to the discussion that followed. Each two-minute teaser, focusing on characteristic elements, such as Girls, Gadgets, Vehicles and Villains, helped to shape the conversation, ably guided by questions and interjections from Butler himself.

Given the rich and changing history of the 007 franchise and the thousands of talented individuals who have contributed it was a given that this ninety-minute event was only going to scratch the surface. But the audience got what they came for: insightful and often amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes, including an incident during the shooting of Live and Let Die when a crocodile nearly had stuntman for lunch; the day producer Cubby Broccoli had to step into an absent caterers shoes and rustle up a Spag Bol for the crew and why, far from perpetuating misogynistic stereotyping, latterday Bond movies have created new openings for women in previously very male-dominated areas such as the stunt department. A fascinating and informative evening.

The Evil Dead and the Rise of the Video Nasties – 25/10/12

Featuring guest appearances from:

BEN WHEATLEY: Kill List/Sightseers – Director

CHRIS HEWITT: movie critic – Empire magazine

CRAIG LAPPER: Senior Examiner – British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

and hosted by

JONATHAN GLENDENING: Brighton-based Screenwriter, Director and Editor.

In a manner of speaking, this was an altogether more straightforward event than the Bond one the previous fortnight: simply a screening of the movie followed by discussion and an audience Q&A. Much of the talk centred around the socio-political climate of the time – the Thatcher era – and how the Conservatism of that administration was echoed in the conservatism of film regulation – as much as the film itself. Lapper also highlighted parallels with the later controversy around the James Bulger murder: instances of a government abdicating its social responsibilty in favour of media scapegoating. It must be said that, upon viewing The Evil Dead for the first time in many years, it scarcely seems believable that it generated the hysterical reaction that it did from politicians and, infamously, Mary Whitehouse and her National Viewers and Listeners Association. By today’s standards the violence is laughable, cartoonish. In this and other respects it stands apart as a very different kind of movie to other  notorious ‘nasties’ such as The Driller Killer and Cannibal Holocaust, a matter much-discussed among the three commentators. If the film is guilty of anything it’s the kind of casual misogyny, paper-thin characterisation, ropey script and illogical behaviour on the part of the protagonists without which few horror movies would actually work. Most of the gory sequences provoked laughter rather than fright or distaste; including, a little disturbingly, the infamous ‘tree rape’ sequence.

The dynamic onstage for the round-table discussion was interesting – the contrast between the loquacious Lapper and dry-as-a-bone Wheatley couldn’t have been more striking. Both concurred on the merits of The Evil Dead, though the latter, along with Hewitt espoused a preference for its sequel. Lapper – who revealed at one point that his first choice of career would have been as a train driver! – possessed something of an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema as well as the history and regulations of the BBFC; a fluency he utilised to great effect both during the event and keeping our party entertained during a post-show dinner. He ended up almost single-handedly fielding the questions in the following Q&A. Between them, the three provided a plethora of insights and observations, with the geek crowd – actually quite mixed and not at all the sausagefest one might have expected – hanging on every word. Good stuff.

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