Moviedrome, transmitted by the BBC between 1988 through 2000, was a program for authentic film lovers, who enjoyed discovering fantastic unknown cult films, presented by directors Alex Cox and Mark Cousins. Simon Kennedy, a fan of the show himself, believes that mind-bending television shows like Moviedrome, are necessary now more than ever.
Some of us, who are old enough to remember Moviedrome, think of it with a kind of nostalgic melancholy. Launched in 1988 by the BBC, it was a sort of abode for cinephiles, who enjoyed stepping out of studio mainstream productions, and who would prefer to dive into something more adventurous and daring. Director Alex Cox was the presenter of Moviedrome, from 1988 to 1994, and this period witnessed the most self- declared “cult” films of the time, such as The Wicker Man, and The Man That Fell to Earth. Although it was planned originally for Moviedrome to have a different director presenting each week, Alex Cox was popular with audiences, and therefore was the permanent host until filmmaker and writer Mark Cousins took over in 1997.
Project director and otrora film critic, Simon Kennedy has launched an ambitious project on Kickstarter to bring Moviedrome back from its long retirement. Kennedy clarifies that in the beginning it would start out as a feature film, but has hopes that eventually it would screen on television, the BBC of course being the logical network of choice. In an email Q&A with Art Film File, Kennedy spoke about the Moviedrome project, and why it’s important to bring the show back.
AFF: How did this idea start, to bring back Moviedrome, after it’s been off the air since 2000, I believe?
SK: I remember as a teenager watching some amazing films via Moviedrome, introduced by Mark Cousins. This left me with the impression that film was not only a serious subject but also could be used to open discussions on alternative film in the mainstream sphere. Moviedrome was a pivotal series for film fans and cult movie enthusiasts. The idea came about in a discussion between myself and a good friend on the rise of cinema clubs in the UK and the movements like the secret cinema / themed cinema screenings. We want to add to this conversation by introducing Moviedrome to a new audience but also wanted mainstream television film viewership to have an alternative arena for engagement.
AFF: I watched your Kickstarter project video, and I think it’s fantastic that Alex Cox seems to be on board. Is Mark Cousins going to be making an appearance as well?
SK: Mark is fantastically busy. When interviewed he did say that he wants to focus on his filmmaking. He currently is working on a host of film projects alongside his fantastic 8 1/2 foundation. Alex Cox is interested in working on the project but once again he has a new film that might reduce his time. We have approached a few other people to present and are in discussions!
AFF: What about the BBC? Are they backing this project as well? If not, how will you handle possible copyright issues, by launching a web series with the same name?
SK: The BBC is not behind the project yet. We are in discussion with other companies in regard to production. The copyright issues pertaining to Moviedrome, is simple. The trademark is in UK law dead. This means that it can be used in order to develop the idea without infringing on copyright. We have also now applied for the trademark and are awaiting the intellectual copyright offices confirmation of our request. This should then clean up any problems in that regard!
AFF: How many episodes do you plan to shoot, for starters?
SK: A season of 20 films to test the production team firstly. Then we will launch are web series in late August. This will be focus on a season of genre related films (30 in all!). We will later move on to public screenings in cinemas (the films are to be confirmed due to rights clearance). Then the world!
AFF: So, from what I understand, based on your description on Kickstarter, the series would go from cinemas and then possibly to television, and not launched on television directly?
SK: That is correct. The issue is that people today connect with films far differently than they did 30 years ago. We now have vast competitive groups (Cable, Web based media, On demand services etc). This means that films have less pull than they did before but the audience is there and we have data to prove that our ideas can work on a slower more tech forward design. This is to say that we can grow the brand and movement from web to cinema to television/ cable in a short but structured way.
AFF: Do you have particular films or filmmakers that you would like to present or maybe have them guest-host this new version of Moviedrome?
SK: There are too many to mention. I am like a kid in a candy store, when I think of all the great films not on offer. The films I would love to screen would be international films like ONIBABA or DRY SUMMER. Genre favorites like TENEBRAE, KEOMA or HELL DRIVERS. Directors would include Fulci, Friedkin, Carpenter, Bava, Dutt and many many more.
AFF: Finally Simon, what is your film making background, and what other projects have you been involved in?
SK: I have been a filmmaker for much of my life. I worked on a self-funded project. Their Life in Mine, but this is my first produced work and film series. I come from a background of film reviews, having worked as a journalist for Film News and Front Row reviews, as well as documentary work on family and personal history. I have worked for House of Fraser, Smythson, OKA Direct, Pylones, and Harvey Nicholls, mostly in finance roles, but I currently study at Birkbeck University of London, where I am working towards a B.A. in Film and Media.
WATCH SIMON KENNEDY’S MOVIEDROME PROJECT ON KICKSTARTER: