home Well it does seem a while now since 1994, when we launched Screen Edge as a focus for cutting edge movies. We started pitching the idea of a film-maker taking his future into his own hands. This was an obvious and logical move from the perspective of someone with a DIY punk background. I was constantly meeting film-makers who were spending up to five years to bring in the finance for their movie. My point being that a filmmaker should spend his time making films and the camcorder is the ideal tool for the job.

So the pitch was - write a script that could be shot simply, concentrating on content rather than format. Think about the wine and not the bottle! Good title, good story, good casting and plenty of rehersal. I even had badges made saying "FUCK Production Values", to press the point home.

At Raindance '94, we influenced a couple of guys to write such a script. 'Two Bad Mice', was planned as a camcorder movie, but was eventually shot on Super 16mm film in Summer '95. As far as we know this film has not as yet seen the light of day. It was a valiant attempt, but my belief is that it was a mistake to shoot on film. On video they could have fully produced the film for a fraction of the cost and it would have been seen sooner. They forgot the rules and were courted by the prospect of a theatrical run.

There's a lesson to be learned from Screen Edge's first theatrical outing. Rhythm Thief, winner of best directors award at Sundance 1994 played five nights at the Prince Charles Cinema in Liecester Square. The movie received phenomenal national press coverage and managed to pull a pitiful average of 90 people per screening. It did not even help video sales. I rest my case.

We have shown films from BetaSP video onto a big screen many times. They have always looked and sounded great. The prediction is that celluloid will eventually attain the status currently enjoyed by Opera and Ballet, and that digital imaging and projection will become the norm. I suggest that the distinctions between the words; cinema, movie, film and video are becoming increasingly blurred. film-making and fatliners

By 1997 the word seems to have spread somewhat. We continue to talk to many people who are considering or are already producing a camcorder movie, using formats ranging from analogue Hi8 to digital widescreen Beta. The street level film-making fraternity is gaining momentum all the time and we are beginning to see more interesting and entertaining work from the UK.

Located deep in the Peoples Republic of West Yorkshire, there is an outlaw band of film-makers known as 'Smile Orange'. Led by Julian Butler and Gus Bousfield, the group has already produced a movie called 'ILLKILLYA'. This 100 minute epic has been broadcast on late night TV and was shot and edited entirely on VHS video. The group shot their second feature 'FATLINERS' on Hi8 video during summer '96. Smile Orange have now joined forces with Screen Edge on this latest project.

When people ask me what Fatliners is like, I respond "Its bloody awful, but it'll make you laugh". Its like somewhere between Monty Python and Benny Hill with a bit of Ed Wood thrown in for good measure. The film is set in a world dominated by wrestling, where the good guy always wins. A number of rogue wrestlers travel back in time to change history in favor of the bad guy. The shoot featured a cast of 150 people and more costumes than you've ever seen!

Why a film shot at such a low level? Firstly; unlike a lot of the UK stuff we've seen, John Bentham shouts directions to passing aircraft 'Fatliners' is full of energy. Secondly, we think it's important to prove the point that films can be made on a camcorder and move through the system via festivals etc. In short - our aim is to replace the missing rungs from the bottom of the film career ladder. Believe me when I tell you there's never been a better time to change the rules.

And being a hands on sort of revolutionary I'm off now, with my digital handycam, to help the Smile Orange brigade make their next movie 'THE PIKE'!

John Bentham - April 1997