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Teenland - production still
A film by Jeanie Finlay

Our friends in the TV!

The musical Somewhere mastermind Tim is on TV tonight!

Well ... he's not on in person but his fantastic musical presence can be felt
throughout tonight's new documentary by Jeanie Finlay ...

Teenland - In Teenagers' Bedrooms

Four bedrooms, four teenagers, four portraits of life behind the closed bedroom door.
Teenland - takes us into the sanctuary of four British adolescents on the brink of
adulthood and explores their passions, obsessions and hopes for the future.

TV Broadcast Premiere - Wednesday 30th May 2007, 10.00pm, BBC4 60 minutes

Jeanie is also a friend of Somewhere and this is her TV premiere too, Tim's job was to create suitably teenage cover tracks for each of the programme's characters.

Many familiar faces feature in the different bands but sadly Karen & I's vocals for
Hushabye mountain hit the cutting room floor - just too creepy apparently ...

I know it's on at the same time as the Desperate Housewives Wedding but you can
all record that!

Is Cumbria a women in film hotspot?!

I recently attended a panel dicussion as part of the surprisingly good Women's Arts International Festival, in Kendal. The topic was 'women in film' and it was put together by the laudable but horrendously-titled 'Birds Eye Film Festival' which - no, has nothing to do with frozen peas at all - but screens women's films at an annual event in London, as well as doing a lot of good education / awareness-raising work.
I'll own up to being still a tiny bit miffed at our film Bata-ville's rejection from the Birds Eye Film Festival ( I mean, how many women director-made road movies about shoemaking were we up against that year?!) but I dutifully attended the panel with an open mind, there were some very notable speakers on it including one of the producers of the Full Monty!
The chairwoman conducted the event with a slightly self-effacing, slightly dotty and slightly posh manner that despite myself (I have good friends who can be just like this) I find a little cringe-making in a public speaker, especially when under a feminist heading. This was perhaps encouraged by the small audience, but there were some good points made, especially towards the end when cinematographer Zillah Bowes suggested the industry started to ensure that at least one woman was included in training schemes etc, pointing out that 'working your way up' in the industry seemed still to be nigh-on impossible for women (you basically went 'in' at the level you wanted to operate at , either by studying it first or fluke - like me!) But anyway, down to my main point.....
As I was musing on this, I noticed that the other women film-makers based in Cumbria did not seem to be in the audience or on the stage - Mags Scholes (whose recent short 'Call Me' made with Jo Hutton is in Cannes this year) and Juliet McKoen, and 3 bear animations. In fact, of the active Cumbrian film-makers that I am aware of, most are women, and there is a high standard of professional achievement there - for example, feature films being made and not just shorts.
I wonder if in fact the question might be more - what is it about the urban, centralised film industry that discourages or excludes women - as opposed to how they are successfully operating in the rural or provincial contexts, such as Cumbria?
Discuss...

Maryport Bata factory
date unknown...

Maryport pathos

Frank Zappa sang ' I come from nowhere, and you should go there, just try it for a while. Cos the people from nowhere always smile'.
I have a weakness for nowhere places, as does Nina - we're from there, and for us they are truly somewhere.
Recently posted on the beguiling YouTube site are two archive films featuring our beloved Maryport, one of the 'nowhere' towns featured in our first film ''Bata-ville'. Apparently it was made in 1979 by Thames TV and according to the site its 170 minutes long, which makes me think it must have been a series....
Making the film (just a few years ago but still pre-YouTube!) we were stumped for good archive of the former Bata shoe factory on the outskirts of town and sourced this one aerial photo which appears in the film. It seems so odd now that noone we came into contact with mentioned this film (by - I think - Ray Gosling), assuming it was broadcast that is.
In the first instalment online the sense of a disappointed and downtrodden town which we experienced decades later is pervasive, a talking head even dates the ennui back to the times of Napoleon! Working now in nearby Egremont from time to time, I come into contact a lot with the "Why on earth would you want to do something up here?' line from locals, which funnily enough was the case in West Cumbria in the 70's - when in the film, the presenter comments on the number of locals who have asked him why they're bothering to film Maryport!
I think this might be a clue to why the film was never mentioned to us during our research - the local mindset is so fixed in its belief that noone's interested that the film has been edited out of the collective consciousness - because it refutes that.
As new bits go online I hope to catch a frame or two of the old Bata factory, the shop, or even some of our Bata bus passengers, though if I do I will be just a little sad we didn't source this in time for our film....

You can look at the films here and type in 'Maryport Archive'...

Komi-san shares our model wonder!
Thanks to Steven Ounanian for the photo

Return of the Seven Samurai

Last week a little bit of Japan came to the Lake District and we were re-united with our friends from Toge at Grizedale. They had a busy week - from working on the developing Grizedale farm to collecting mountain vegetables and running a cafe in Coniston ... more of which on the Grizedale blog.

Karen and I were able to show them the (almost) complete version of the Toge house which we've collaborated on with a sculptor from Lilliput Lane. Not only were the villagers pleased to see the model, it turns out that a group of the women there are planning to manufacture them and sell houses as Toge souvenir products. Karen took them to the Lilliput factory for a visit and apparently they took such detailed notes the guide must have thought we were all mad.