Category Archives: Documentary

Documentary, Social History, Fact or Folly?

The Public West BromwichI don’t consider myself a social commentator, I’ve always felt that my comprehensive education and working class background didn’t afford me the luxury of judging society’s flaws. But as I’ve wondered (not lonely as a cloud) through life, I’ve found illogical situations created by my elders and supposed betters.

One such situation revolves around an arts complex called The Public in my home town of West Bromwich. After years of controversy about whether or not the building should actually exist at all, The Public is now at the centre of a new row. The local Sandwell Council have announced, without any apparent consultation, to close the burgeoning arts and theatre venue and turn it into a sixth form college.

After moaning for many years that the 73 million pounds of ERDF (European Regional Development Fund) or anagram for someone else’s money) could have been better spent, this latest refit will cost a further 20 million pounds. Not a huge amount of cash by today’s standards but unusual as there are already two other empty schools within a 5 minute walk and….well….schools…..not… centres.

Now, I hope the people of West Bromwich will forgive me when I say, the town centre needs a lot of tlc. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the high street looks like it was tidied up by Darth Vader and a few blaster-happy storm troopers. I, and I believe most locals would agree that 20 million could be used to far better effect in renovating a town, which is now only getting a second look because of the very thing the Council wish to close down.

Ironically, a few years ago this same argument raged during the planning and building of The Public. I wonder what those people who opposed the project are saying now?

As a filmmaker, I felt I had to reach out to Linda Saunders and the dedicated team at The Public and offer to record some of the genuine feelings of the locals. I was forced to edit a lot of footage from the Tea Dance as some of the comments by the elderly attendees were…lets say ’18 rated’.

It’s a simple and honest video – well worth 5 minutes of your valuable time.


Do people like to jump on moving trains?

A long time ago I worked with a guy, (let’s call him Dick) who despite knowing very little about the film business, taught me a lot about people. In the three years that Dick and I worked together (before he ‘did the dirty’ me), I learned a few valuable lessons about how people think. One of them was ‘people like moving trains’.

Now I’m a few years older myself, I’ve been lucky enough to experience some of the situations that Dick and I spoke about, as well as add a little of Mi Experience to the mix.

So do people like moving trains?

Well, if you’re trying to get on the 6:15 to Birmingham and it’s pulling out of the station then no, BUT, that’s not what we’re talking about here. In business people DO like moving trains! If you’re starting a film or media project, no one really wants to be the first person to jump on-board. No one wants to have the pressure of being the first to champion your project just in case (I’m sorry to say it) it’s crap. So many, many times good projects fail to get going because no one will get aboard the best train in the station.

So for Mi current project I’ve taken a different strategy – I decided to green light it myself! Yep that simple. I decided not to ask for anyone’s approval or backing, I put the proposal together, wrote the script (The Crooked House), started a website (The Haunted Kingdom) and finally began work on a background documentary AKA The Life and Death and Life of The Black Country.

So how is it going? Well funny you should ask – very well.

Mi company owns enough equipment to begin shooting and so far we have shot three ghost stories (for The Haunted Kingdom), two events for the documentary and we have a gaggle of interviewees coming down the pipeline in the next couple of weeks. Things are moving forward and some days I don’t know how, but momentum is gaining and the train is moving because it has to. And people are jumping aboard because, like the 6:15 to Birmingham, they feel they need to. I look forward to rewarding their faith with some quality entertainment.

Please take a minute (well three actually) to watch a great ghost story related by Anthony Ledington.

The radio – In Mi Experience!

Despite the slow start while I was still in LA, now I’m here on the ground (and can talk to people face to face) interest in The Life and Death and Life of The Black Country is growing.

A local Wolverhampton radio station enjoyed hearing about the project and seems open to follow up stories in the run up to Halloween.

The Haunted

The Black Country is Alive – With the Dead!

Wednesbury based production company Guvnor Media Ltd. is using a documentary project to “raise the spirits” of The Black Country.

In the run up to Halloween, Guvnor Media Ltd. is working with The Crooked House pub in Himley to capture a number of local ‘Black Country Ghost Stories’ for their blog, The Haunted Kingdom.

Recently returned from Hollywood, Black Country writer/director Mark Todd said, “Growing up here, I know The Black Country has so many great characters and ghost stories. We want to capture some of these on video and put them on the web for the whole world to enjoy.”

The Haunted Kingdom is part of a much larger project centred on The Black Country and The Crooked House. “We’re hoping that some of the ghost stories we uncover can be used in our documentary, The Life and Death and Life of The Black Country.”

Born the son of a steel worker at the Patent Shaft in Wednesbury, Todd knows what it was like growing up during the blackouts and industrial turmoil of the 70s. Returning from America last year to start the project, he was pleased to see so many new developments in housing and industry. “The amazing growth in The Black Country recently is like a life after the “death” the region suffered in the 1970s when all the local factories closed.”

The third part of The Crooked House Project is a feature film, which is a semi-fictional account of hauntings at the Himley pub. Landlord brothers, Wayne and Jason Penn, are enthusiastic about the project and have readily embraced the little bit of Hollywood happening in their famous tilted pub.

Guvnor Media is confident that The Haunted Kingdom videos will capture the “spirit” of The Black Country and would like to hear from anyone with a ghostly or historical story to tell.

Guvnor Media Ltd


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