Monday 18 November 2013

Photo-stories (a little slice of history)

When I was a kid, it was a major ambition of mine to make a film.  I was an avid watcher of "Clapperboard", I bought books and magazines about behind the scenes stuff and I loved it when Mum & Dad let me stay up to watch Film (whatever year it was).

I grew up through the 70s and 80s, when video cameras were a pipe-dream and cine cameras were expensive (more so than my family could afford) so you can perhaps understand why this became a kind of Holy Grail for me. To try and create something visual, I ended up making various "photo-stories", which satisfied me for a while.
(for those who don't know, "photo-stories" were a staple of more modern boys and girls comics back in the day, replacing hand-drawn panels in a comic strip with posed stills.  Girls comics used them for problem pages, whilst I remember Eagle comic using them for a strip called Doomlord, amongst others.  There were also photo-novels - novelisations using film stills rather than prose - but the less said about them, probably the better).

What reminded me of all this was discovering some photographs over the weekend, of one such 'strip' I wrote.

The above picture was taken in 1981 and features my Dad, me and my school friend Geoff Burbidge. We were making a story about a bounty hunter (or in effect, a very close homage to a strip called "Man Tracker" from The Crunch comic).  I also used this image as the cover of a novel (or, as it'd be deemed now, a long-ish short story) I wrote in 1982 called Hadley Hall Comprehensive.

Left - my friend Nick walks away as Geoff (in my Dad's old trilby) threatens me.  Look at those clothes - Harrington jackets, jeans and trainers!  What a look!

Right - Nick's brother Chris (I recruited absolutely anyone who expressed an interest) takes aim at Geoff and Nick.  Not a bad shot as it goes but it's also one that inadvertently captured history.  That billboard (and the wasteground Chris and I were standing on) is long gone and standing in its stead is the new library.  Beyond the awning, there's a private house with a green lower part under the windows - that's now a Tesco Express store.

I never gained the means to make films of my own and so I never got the chance to enter the Clapperboard Young Filmmakers competition.  I did eventually make some films on VHS, with a school friend called Matt Ratcliff, but that was much later in the 80s and into the early 90s and all of them were zero-budget horror flicks.  I'll tell you about them one day.

Now I do have the means - a Sony Hi-8 video camera and an HD one on my Nikon - but I much prefer writing (though Dude & I have made several LEGO stop-motion epics).  I wonder how things would have turned out if I'd had the technology at my disposal then that I do now?


  1. How amazing! Plus, it's awesome how much your Dad looks like you, and you look like Dude!