19-22 January 2006
The first festival you put on is a tough one to top. Never again will you blunder in with quite the same zeal and naivety, a dangerous cocktail that can make anything possible. We had been organising regular events at the Rainbow for a couple of years when we heard talk of a pot of city council money for arts events. Their small grant was matched by the Arts Council and we were away, plotting three days of events from our attic in Balsall Heath. As the brochure deadline grew closer our designer Gas pretty much moved in up there, filling the bin with Cutter’s Choice packets and empty tins of Dax-wax.
For some reason we thought mid-January was a good time for a film festival. I remember driving down wintry Walsall lanes at night to fetch our first batch of brochures, and just before our volunteers meeting we found out that co-founder Pip was pregnant. Other joyous discoveries included: the sound experiments and wonky cartoons of Henry Jacobs, who made us a bespoke film from his hot-tub in Marin County; a documentary on Berlin club Tresor, featuring local techno luminary Tony Surgeon; and the Vladmaster Experience, which combined hand-crafted 3D tableaux with music to create something strange and magical. All viewed through shiny black Viewmasters, imported in an enormous suitcase from Portland.
The action mostly revolved around the Electric and Sunflower Lounge, home to a culminating Super 8 Wake in honour of the soon-to-be-discontinued K40 stock. Port, organ music, black veils, and an impromptu rendition of ‘Don’t Take Away My Kodachrome Baby’ by Paul Murphy which provided the perfect coda. Nobody got paid very much and it was exhausting, but we felt we were onto something.