Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Oh, Blimey! Being Frank...

Long-time readers of this blog will know I'm a big fan of Frank Sidebottom. The Bard of Timperley (or, correctly, his alter ego Chris Sievey) passed in 2010, but his fans haven't forgotten him. There have been exhibitions, music fests and fundraisers. Plans seem well-advanced for raising money to pay for a statue in Timperley, and former Oh! Blimey Big Band member Jon Ronson is one of the creative forces behind a new film called 'Frank', which will star Michael Fassbender, shown below as the eponymous lead.

The big news today, though, is the launch of a crowdfunding drive for a much more relevant project, Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story.

Visioned by filmmaker Steve Sullivan, it's a feature-length documentary covering the varied and fascinating career of one of Britain's most creative and overlooked artists. As well as unknown and lost footage of Frank Sidebottom, Sullivan has been able to reunite post-punk band The Freshies (remember 'I'm In Love With The Girl On the Virgin Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk'?) to talk about their work; there's interviews with his family, long-term sidekick Dave Arnold (whom I once watched as he struggled in vain to flush poster paint out of the sandstone facade of the Chelsea Art Space), and features on Sievey's work as an animator. He's been shooting footage since last autumn, interviewing fans and generally joining up a highly unusual arrangement of dots to bring a full appreciation of this body of work to a wider audience.

Having gone as far as possible, Steve is now reaching out to fans, asking them to back the project through Kickstarter. He's aiming to raise at least £20,000 by the end of May, and there are some excellent incentives to back the film, even if you aren't a fan of Sievey's work. Amazingly, the project is already halfway to the target in the first day, but the word needs to be spread which is why I'm writing this. I don't think 'genius' is too strong a word to use to describe Chris Sievey. An excellent musician, illustrator and animator, to me he wasn't just technically gifted, he expressed a peculiarly non-linear worldview through his art, as evidenced in the fully-realised Frank's World he formed around his best-known creation.

As mentioned, Steve Sullivan is offering some nice rewards to backers of Being Frank, and I'm going to sweeten the pot. That's right. The first of my readers to pledge £100 (and you'll need to prove it - email from Steve perhaps) will get some Sidey stuff from my own collection, some of it signed, all of it hard-to-find. I'm thinking a CD, postcard from the Frank's World DVD or similar. The Kickstarter page is here, and you can visit the film's website to download this poster which you can share online or print out and display.

This Is From The 'Frank' Film...
 It won't be bobbins, little frank. It'll be ace, fantastic and top. I think about the films they made about Manchester contemporaries of Sievey. It took over 20 years to get Joy Division on the silver screen. The idea of getting Chris Sievey's work out a few years after his passing doesn't make up for the loss, but the belated appreciation of a genius deserves to succeed. So help it to succeed already!

Thank you.

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