Monday, 13 January 2014
Things are moving swiftly in the posthumous world of Frank Sidebottom, with several big things all happening at once.
This Friday sees the premiere at Sundance Film Festival, Utah of FRANK, a big budget, fictional 'fable' starring Michael Fassbender in the title role.Filmed in New Mexico and Dublin, it's been totally kept under wraps and has made TIME OUT's list of 'Top five most anticipated films for 2014'.
In preparation of this, the films screen writer and Ex Oh-Blimey's band member Jon Ronson wrote an article for The Guardian. Read that Here
The documentary I am involved with Steve Sullivan's BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY, which gives an amazingly surreal but factual account of Chris's life and exploits, is now in the final week of shooting.
Jon Ronson is also releasing an E-Book "Frank: The true story that inspired the movie" on January 16th.
Add to this a biography 'Out of his head' written by long-time Manchester rock journalist Mick Middles, is well under way and shouldn't be too far off being published.
Let's look at these occurrences in a little more detail:
Firstly, the Fassbender movie. We interviewed Jon Ronson for the documentary last Thursday and he urgently wanted to get the point across that it is little more than a 'fable' based on the concept of Frank. It's not set in Timperley, there is no crap keyboards etc. This is why the 'Hollywood' head is purposely different from the original. I see a LOT of Frank fans criticizing the couple of stills that have been released. If Frank disciples can't come to terms with this loosely based story....then there is gonna be a lot of bitter disappointment.
This is where Steve Sullivan's documentary comes into it's own. It's officially sanctioned by the Sievey family and tells the whole story, first hand, by the people that saw it unfold. Family members, close associates, band members and loved ones have given untold insights, some hilarious, some emotional and dark, into what made Chris tick. Supplementary to this is the mind-blowing archive we have had access to.Valiantly rescued from an imminent journey to the tip by Chris's brother, Martin Sievey, I'd estimate 700 plus hours of virtually unseen video and cine film alongside unheard reel to reels, cassettes and CD's. Not to mention the boxes full of photos, newsletters, fan correspondence and artwork.
It's worked in two ways. Firstly, as a top notch cache of material to actually put in the film but almost more importantly, it has served as a 'detective' paper trail...giving us a thousand leads worthy of pursuit.
As the shooting process comes to a close, the editing will begin. For sure a mammoth task but once completed, I have no doubt we are sitting on THE definitive life story of Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom.
I wish the Fassbender FRANK movie every possible success on it's release this week and I have no problem with it not being factual. Before his death, Chris gave his approval and was instrumental in the development of the project. He both understood and accepted it was never going to be factual. He preferred it that way, actually. He excitedly talked to me about his own film that would follow on from it's success and that was going to be a true account. Happily, even after his death, it turns out that film is still being made in the form of BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY.
If the big budget film is even moderately successful. then perhaps worldwide interest in the underlying true story will be stimulated? Imagine if just one percent of that potential audience want to know more about Sidebottom and come looking for Steve's film?
To summarize, FRANK is scheduled for general release May 2014 with a UK spoken word tour FRANK: MY STORY by Jon Ronson in March. The Steve Sullivan BEING FRANK documentary is set for a summer release to hopefully tie in very nicely with all the other activities leading up to it.