Award for Light and Dark

Congratulations to Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith, directors and subjects of the film Light and Dark which I blogged about here and here in connection with another film ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)’. They won the Current TV Best Documentary Award at the  Night of the Living Docs event in London. They came away with a rather splendid trophy and a grant to make another film. Both directors had no idea they were in with a chance of winning and were by all accounts suitably gobsmacked when receiving the award.

Light and Dark is a phantasmagorial autobiographic film exploring the minds of Michael Smith and Tom Stubbs, both have alter-egos, but whereas Michael’s Alter-ego is a muscled anthromorphic fox with a taste for sex, dark humour and violence, Tom’s Alter-ego is an earnest, technology obsessed video engineer.

It’s the contrast between the two alter-egos that really makes the film, with Tom’s alter-ego (mustacheoed video engineer Graham Lightside) ultimately presented in a similar heroic framework to Michael’s Dark Fox. Graham Lightside is Tom’s reaction to the overblown technology obsessed male who one meets in the media world. I remember Tom and I seeing documentary photography students at our college wearing military commando vests and SWAT team boots as they photographed old ladies in the streets of Newport, South Wales, we would surmise that in their heads they imagined themselves on the streets of then wartorn Sarajevo. There’s a lovely shot of Graham exclaming “It’s render time!” in a low voice as he clicks a button on his mouse, Cue diving electronic tone and close up of the timebar on his mac.

Michael’s alter-ego, the Dark Fox, is perhaps an outlet for his frustrations as a young man who is somewhere on the Autistic spectrum. Creativity is bursting out of him in the form of his artwork and the attendent stories his characters live through, his humour is dark and unconventional, even socially unaccceptable (we see him delight in the reactions of his youth worker to his artwork), yet he and Tom’s alter-egos have more in common that you might think.

Through a combination of animation and live action, talking heads, documentary footage, the film-making process laid bare, costumes and even a song at the end, the two directors talk about, and act out their alter-egos. All within the space of ten minutes.

I’ve also seen some wonderful extra footage of Tom explaining his teenage artwork to Michael, which I hope will one day be included in an extended edition or something.

Here they are with the award in London.

Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith in London with the award for Light and Dark

Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith in London with the award for Light and Dark

And here is a piece of video I shot of Tom’s band My Two Toms performing on stage after the showing of Rime of the Ancient Mariner (on Bicycle) and Light and Dark at the Cube Cinema in Bristol (October 17th 2008). They are joined by Michael Smith, who is drawing on acetate and projecting the results onto a screen as the music plays. The camera was my old Kodak compact digital, very poor quality, bad focus and noisy mechanism. The quality of filming is not helped by the laughter of the audience in the immediate vicinity. The camera went the way of all circuits later on in the evening when I dropped it on Tom’s kitchen floor whilst trying to take a pic of his household bicycles. Without any further ado, I give you a very poor quality film of My Two Toms Vs Michael Smith. If you can’t read what Michael has written on the acetate due to the poor focus of my camera, leave a comment and I’ll give you a transcription.

If you’re interested in seeing Light and Dark by Tom Stubbs and Michael Smith (and I really recommend you do, it’s funny, moving, funny, beautifully made, inspiring, funny and did I mention that it’s funny?) it’s exactly 10 minutes long and I believe DVDs may be available at an extremely reasonable price. Leave a comment expressing your interest and I’ll get details from Tom.

For more on what Tom does, go to which is the artists collective he works with.

It is an Ancient Mariner, and he stoppeth one of three

On Friday October 17th 2008, in Bristol at The Cube Cinema, there’s going to be an event that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. My good friend Tom Stubbs (one half of the back-porch, West-country, banjo-xylophone-mandolin-guitar duo My Two Toms, one quarter of lo-fi supergroup The Lonely Ponies, community film-maker, artist, animator and alter-ego of Graham Lightside) is showing three films that he has directed or co-directed. They are the following:

The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)

Shot in a frantic week in September 2007, and only recently finished ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle)’ is a travelogue that cycles in the footsteps of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge whilst also somehow being lost at sea with The Ancient Mariner.

Armed with a photocopy of the poem four intrepid Artists travel a route that Coleridge would’ve regularly walked, from Nether Stowey to Bristol. Along the way they drew as many people as they could into The Mariner’s plight.

The team worked with a primary school, a school for people with learning difficulties, several community groups, two homes for elderly people and a pub.

The film knits together The Mariner’s tale with drama, reminiscence, writing & animation, to make a psychedelic yet perfect mix between entertainment, community outreach and human interest.

Directed by Tom Stubbs, co-directed by Jay Kerry, Jon Nicholas and Joff Winterhart. Produced by Wolf + Water. Running time 50 minutes.

Shape UP

20 min video about healthy eating for adults with learning difficulties

written by Stephen Clarke + Tom Stubbs

A biggerhouse production for Learning Disability Services, Somerset in association with the engine room

Light and Dark

A Phantasmagorial autobiographic masterpiece exploring the minds of Michael Smith and Tom Stubbs, both have alter-egos, but whereas Michael’s Alter-ego is a muscled anthromorphic fox with a taste for sex, dark humour and violence, Tom’s Alter-ego is an earnest, technology obsessed video engineer.

All the films are superbly realised and beautifully produced. At the same time they are laced with humour, yet moving and engaging. I’ve been meaning to blog about The Rime of The Ancient Mariner (on bicycle) for ages, it’s just so marvelous that I want to share it with everyone, but it utterly defies description. It has too many lovely moments – Joff drawing the scenes described by residents of an old peoples’ home as they share their memories, A drunken narration of the poem in a rowdy west-country pub as the locals cheer on the press-ganged reader, a serendipitous meeting with a descendant of Wordsworth come to trace the same route, the way the primary school children throw themselves into the task of telling the tale, the double-booked hall.. it’s all good.

When I saw Light and Dark for the first time I was blown away. It’s very short and as soon as it finished I watched it again immediately. Again it defies description, all I can say is turn up on Friday 17th, watch and enjoy.

Music will be provided by the aforementioned My Two Toms and Bucky.

Admission £6 (£5 concession)
Friday 17th October 2008
Doors open 7.30

For directions and a map to the Cube click on the link below.

I hope to see some of you there.

Bucky – The Bike That I Ride

I was lucky enough to go to college with some extraordinarily talented folk, two of whom were Joff Winterhart and Tom Stubbs. Here we see some footage, shot by Tom, of Joff and his chum Simon, playing together in their band Bucky. The track is called The Bike That I Ride and is featured on their terrific album All The New Mistakes, which can be purchased from here.

This is the only song they do about bicycles, other subjects include but are not limited to:

  • Glasses in rock
  • Raiding the trust fund to build a patio
  • Libraries
  • Girls called Mary
  • Teenage research
  • Swimming Pools
  • Dogs on acid

It’s full-on lo-fi garage rock. Yesterday’s music of tomorrow, today!

Published in: on January 19, 2008 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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