Director Shane Meadows and producer Mark Herbert are suitably relaxed as they stroll into the Century Club in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue on a Monday, despite the early morning start and the miserable weather outside.
The reason for their particularly laid back demeanour? The duo, pals who have worked together for most of the former’s projects since the latter formed the Warp Films production arm of the groundbreaking record imprint a decade or so ago, have at last completed one of their longest, most painstaking and yet ultimately rewarding projects.
Monday October 21 has seen their latest project, the excellent Stone Roses documentary, Made Of Stone, arrive in stores and online more than two years after it was mooted.
As Meadows himself notes while officially opening a charity fundraising auction held to mark the release, he’s only just held a physical copy of the 4DVD release in his hands, far later than normal. “It’s the latest I’ve ever had a DVD turn up [ahead of release],” he laughs. “With the Stone Roses things tend to take a little longer.”
Later, after they’ve introduced the auction and talked more about the film, as well as completing a number of interviews with assorted outlets, Meadows and Herbert will elaborate on this while chatting to The Raygun. As well as the way the Roses work, the sign-offs needed at different levels of band management, there was a whole lot more work for both Meadows and Herbert themselves too.
“We had to fit it on to two discs,” explains Meadows. “We could have done about 10 discs. What we’ve hopefully got is the cream of the performances.”
Meadows has long been a proponent of the idea of extras. “With [his first proper release, in the VHS era] extras didn’t exist, but we had a short making of at the end of A Room For Romeo Brass VHS. With the advent of DVD, a lot of stuff changed.
“Maybe with a deleted scene, you’d think ‘we can find a home for this’.”
Made Of Stone, he continues, used the medium more than ever. For with between 300 and 400 hours’ worth of footage filmed, there was plenty left on the cutting room floor. It made Meadows feel less guilty for excising worthy moments for the film’s theatrical outing, a cruel necessity during the arduous editing process.
The home entertainment release also gave them the opportunity to find and add archive footage. Meadows praises Herbert’s tenacity and skill in unearthing 10 minutes’ worth of unseen footage from the seminal Roses Spike Island gig more than 20 years ago. No one even knew any footage existed, but the pair’s ambitions to put together a truly worthy package paid off.
Herbert too pays tribute to Meadows’ work. “There’s a bit of a journey with the extras. But they’re not just thrown together.” He points out that as well as bits for the fans it’s fascinating to watch Meadows orchestrate the camera crew at the Heaton Park gigs that are the climax of the film.
Herbert had earlier given similar praise for Meadows’ work during the press conference, while Meadows added the experience had helped him prepare for one of his next projects, a film about British cyclist Tommy Simpson. “People thought [Made Of Stone] was a strange sideways or backwards step for me, but [now I know] if I want to make something much bigger I can do/ I just kept thinking I can’t do it, how do I go from This Is England to the Pyrenees, the Tour De France with 20 cameras?
“If I’d known I was going to get to Heaton Park with 36 cameras I wouldn’t have done it. But the scale of the production is only wrong if you’re doing it for the sake of it. Sometimes it was just myself, sometimes it was 36 people. It’s about having the confidence to shrink it down when you need to. I won’t go to Hollywood, but I can make something a bit bigger in the future, [Made Of Stone] gave me the confidence I can pull it off.”
As well as that confidence, Roses fans Meadows and Herbert are looking forward to watching the release itself. As Meadows tells the crowd: “I’m massively proud of the fact it’s coming out. This was a passion project for both me and Mark. All the cinema experiences were kind of working. I’ll probably sit down tonight and watch it without any stress for the first time since I started working on it two and a half years ago.”
Later they elaborate to us at The Raygun, with Meadows saying he may use the release to upgrade his TV to an even bigger model. (“Now the picture goes right to the edge,” he laughs, “I can pretend [to his wife] it’s the same size.”) “I’m going to watch it with my kids, with the 5.1 system,” adds Herbert. It’s somehow fitting that both discuss having “premieres” in their own homes.
Now, with the auction for Teenage Cancer Trust up and running (you can see it here), Meadows and Herbert are off, preparing for their own home premieres.
We’ll leave the last word to Herbert himself, as he departs from the initial launch: “Buy the DVD,” his message is, “we get a nice little percentage.”Tags: 4DVD, charity, launch, Mark Herbert, Shame Meadows, Stone Roses, Warp Films
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