Last Autumn we were asked by Creative Black Country to make a half hour film documenting their groundwork groups presented by Fizzog’s Dancing Grannies.
The aim was to make something that was fun and could be shown in front of all of the community groups at a party, which would be a rare chance for all of them to see what each other do. In some cases it would also be a rare chance to have some respite from their routine.
A gonzo-style exploration was the inspiration for a loose narrative to link the disparate groups together. Fizzog’s Dancing Grannie characters would also be able to disarmingly bumble into the groups they came across. Fizzog knew their characters so well that it made it very easy to improvise interviews and break out of character when necessary.
The main priority was that interviewees were in on the joke, felt comfortable and were respected. A lot of work was done to make sure they knew what was about to happen and who we all were. That way Fizzog could lead a rambling conversation with no pressure on the interviewees. The relaxed, messy style often brought out the funnier confident sides in people. We also made sure we had a tiny set up so that we didn’t crowd out the groups. Craig Bush shot everything, with Paul McHale standing in one day. Pete Styles recorded and mixed the sound. Fizzog rocked up in costume. I directed and produced. In practise, it meant that the day started off like a little tea break with all of the interviewees being privy to any artifice, which could have caused confusion otherwise.
In terms of any plot, we only had to bookend the film with some motivation and closure. The bus stop idea came about purely from the amount of dancing we’d already filmed and having to fit a new location into an existing filming day. It summed up their role in the film nicely, but I only realised the Gregory Is A Dancer rip-off till afterwards. Anti-Social Bus Stop Dancing should just be a thing that is in all films. Everything in between was them discovering stuff they didn’t know.
What made the project special was that everyone working on the film were also discovering stuff. I’m relatively ignorant to what’s going on in the Black Country and the groups by definition were ‘hard to reach’. We went to some spaces and buildings that are hidden gems, people were going through things that we’d never had to think about, and there were some incredible acts of selflessness.
Here’s the full film
Presented by: The Fizzogs (Sue Hawkins, Jacky Fellows, Deb Nicholls)
Filmed by: Craig Bush, Paul McHale
Sound Recording: Pete Styles
Sound Mix: Pete Styles
Editing: Craig Bush, Louis Hudson
Colour: Craig Bush
Directed & Produced by Louis Hudson
Commissioned by Creative Black Country