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Named one of the top 50 most creative companies in England


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I’m thrilled to have been named one of the fifty most creative companies in England by Creative England and The Telegraph. I’m in sterling company. Read more > http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businessclub/12108314/Revealed-the-50-most-creative-companies-in-England.html


Orion: The Man Who Would Be King wins British Independent Film Award


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Orion: The Man Who Would Be King won the Discovery Award at the Moët British Independent Film Awards (MBIFAs) in London on Sunday 6 December. The film explores the extraordinary story of Jimmy “Orion” Ellis and the birth of the ‘Elvis is alive’ myth and was made over six years.

After premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King went on to win the Gibson Music Films/Music City Competition Grand Jury Prize at the Nashville Film Festival and best international documentary at In-Edit, Barcelona before winning the Discovery Award at the MBIFAs last Sunday. Sponsored by Raindance, the Discovery Award rewards new talents with a bold, and innovative approach to storytelling. Jeanie Finlay had previously been nominated for Best Documentary at the MBIFAs in 2013, for The Great Hip Hop Hoax.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Jeanie for this wonderful, entertaining and emotional film and the recognition it has already received but winning a BIFA really does top it all off,” said Richard Holmes, Senior Film Executive at Creative England. “We are thrilled to have supported this fantastically crafted music doc and hope that many more audiences can experience it for themselves.”

Broadway’s Development Director, John Tobin, says “We congratulate Jeanie on her fantastic and fully deserved Discovery Award success. We’re proud to have supported Orion: The Man Who Would Be King which, by its creative ambition and critical acclaim, has set the standard for film projects we support in the future to follow.”

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King is available to watch on demand on iTunes, VHX, Curzon Home Cinema and We Are Colony and a limited edition DVD & vinyl is available for pre buy now. The film released theatrically in USA via Sundance Selects last week and is a New York Times critic’s choice. www.orionthemovie.com

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Retrospective at Broadway Cinema throughout September


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I am VERY excited about this – a retrospective of (almost) all of my films at the brilliant Broadway Cinema throughout September, culminating in a gala screening of Orion the movie.

Come and see Goth Cruise, SOUND IT OUT (with Tom Butchart Q&A), The Great Hip Hop Hoax, Love Takes and Nottingham Lace on the big screen.

PS – Panto! is showing again at Christmas

More info and tickets – www.broadway.org.uk


The film is the same. Everything feels different.


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Original post on British Council website
May 2015 | North Americas 2015

Documentary star Jeanie Finlay has been on a North America tour to unveil her latest film, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King. Here, in the second of her blogs, she describes her adventures in New York, Nashville, Toronto and Vancouver with a man in a mask.

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THE FILM IS THE SAME. EVERYTHING FEELS DIFFERENT.

I recently arrived back home in Nottingham after a heady and fevered few weeks spent launching my new feature film Orion: The Man Who Would Be King into the world across four north American film festivals – Tribeca Film Festival in New York for our world premiere followed by Nashville Film Festival, Hotdocs in Toronto and finally Doxa in Vancouver.

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The filmmaker is king – Jeanie Finlay blogs from Tribeca


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Original post on British Council Website

April 2015

Jeanie Finlay was in New York last week to unveil her latest film, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here she describes how it happened – and shares some great photos.

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It’s the morning after the night before. The ‘night before’ being the world premiere of my film Orion: The Man Who Would Be King at Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

I have been making Orion: The Man Who Would Be King on and off for around six years – weaved in and around my other films (Sound It Out, The Great Hip Hop Hoax and Panto!) so to finally get to show the film to an audience of strangers was a deeply odd, thrilling, terrifying and exciting experience.

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Orion wins Grand Jury prize at Nashville Film Festival


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http://www.creativeengland.co.uk/story/orion-the-man-who-would-be-king-wins-grand-jury-music-film-prize-at-nashville

Director Jeanie Finlay’s music documentary ‘Orion: The Man Who Would Be King’ took home the Grand Jury Music Film prize at the Nashville Film Festival this weekend.

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‘Orion: The Man Who Would Be King’ follows the unusual story of Jimmy ‘Orion’ Ellis, a small-time singer who rose to fame in the wake of Elvis Presley’s death in 1977. Hidden behind a garish, bejeweled eye-mask and fitted with a fictional identity, Jimmy Ellis quickly became the mysterious Orion and the ‘Elvis is alive’ myth was born.

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Baker’s Dozen “Shy People Telling Small Stories, Quietly”: Jeanie Finlay’s Favourite Films


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Article on The Quietus

Jeanie Finlay, director of Sound It Out and The Great Hip Hop Hoax picks her favourite films, and talks about the final days of fundraising on her next documentary, Orion


Photograph courtesy of Jo Irvine

Filmmaker Jeanie Finlay is feeling frantic. It’s the final few days of fundraising for her next documentary, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, and as her latest Indiegogo campaign (make a pledge here) inches towards its total, she is working on ensuring the rewards for her supporters are of the highest quality.

“We’ve got original Orion eight-tracks that survived the floods in Nashville to give away,” she says, speaking via Skype from Nottingham. “Loads of things got destroyed in the big floods, but these eight-tracks are like cockroaches, they never die. We’re framing them, because no one plays them these days, and offering them as perks.”

Finlay’s breakthrough film, Sound It Out, was one of the first films to be crowdfunded in the UK. The film captured the unique community that builds around record shops – in this case, Teesside’s last remaining independent vinyl emporium – with warmth, wit and sensitivity. It also built its own community, with the film’s supporters (of which I was one among many) rewarded with posters, badges, a brilliantly packaged DVD (dressed up as a 7” single), but more than that, a feeling of connection to the film and a sense of having helped shape, in some small way, the range of films being made. (more…)


Noisey / Vice – UNCOVERING ORION: MEET THE MASKED MAN MARKETED AS ELVIS’S GHOST


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BEHIND THE LENS

By Davo McConville

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Exclusive first glimpse of the Orion: The Man That Would Be King poster.

Listen to the track above. Those pipes belong to a Southern boy whose poor origins led to a love of gospel music and a need to be on stage—not to mention a rapacious appetite for women. If you’re following me down the dusty track I’m walkin’, you’ll know I’m insinuating that Elvis is singing this ditty, and yet “I Can’t Stop Loving You” was released in 1981, four years after the King left the building.

It’s part of the myth-making charted by documentarian Jeanie Finlay in her new film, Orion: The Man Who Would Be King, an investigation into the masked man heavily marketed by Sun Records as the next Elvis Presley. (Or maybe Elvis never died?) He wore the same sort of ornate jumpsuits as mid-70s Elvis, he styled his quiff stiff and tall like Elvis, and he let sideburns make inroads towards his chin. Just like Elvis. No matter that Orion didn’t have The King’s cheeky smile, or that he was four inches taller. Or that if Elvis really were alive, he wouldn’t be… pretending to be Elvis.

(more…)


Hollywood Reporter


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Orion exclusive video premiere’s in the Hollywood Reporter


The Guardian: ‘It’s the small moments that make a bigger story’


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The Guardian
Jeanie Finlay: ‘It’s the small moments that make a bigger story’

With Sound It Out, The Great Hip Hop Hoax and the forthcoming Orion, this artist turned director is making some of the most idiosyncratic music documentaries around.

As anyone who cheered on the luckless Lips Kudrow in The Story Of Anvil will attest, often in rock documentaries it’s the small stories that resonate most. And right now, no one is telling them better than Jeanie Finlay. Her fly-on-the-racks record shop doc Sound It Out (2011) took us surprisingly deep into the psyche of her home town, Stockton-on-Tees; while The Great Hip Hop Hoax (2013) followed two chancers from Dundee who conned the music biz into believing they were the US’s hottest rappers. She’s filmed a vessel full of holidaying goths (Goth Cruise, 2008), while her next project, Orion, is the tale of a masked Elvis soundalike. Her tips for aspiring film-makers are equally offbeat.
(more…)


Under The Mask – an interview with Jeanie Finlay


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Under The Mask – an interview with Jeanie Finlay

Original Article on The Greedy Pig

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Philip Kelly

Ahead of it’s Irish premiere this Thursday 26th at Dublin’s IFI, we had an interesting if slightly ill-prepared chat with the fantastic director of The Great Hip Hop Hoax – Jeanie Finlay.

As the phone rings I’m feeling like a bit of a fraudster. The phone rings and rings. This doesn’t help. It feels like I’m not going to reach an answer phone so I hang up. I’m feeling a bit fraudulent as I’m ringing director Jeanie Finlay having not viewed any of her work. The screener for her latest feature The Great Hip Hop Hoax hasn’t arrived yet and as it later turns out I’ve not been observant enough to notice that I can rent her previous documentary Sound It Out on the film’s official website. And now it appears that I can’t even dial a number correctly. Much like the subjects of Hip Hop Hoax, I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. Well, a minor one anyway.

The Great Hip Hop Hoax tells the tale of Silibil n’ Brains a Californian hip-hop duo set for greatness. What no-one knew was the pair were really students from Scotland, with fake American texas accents and made up identities. In a genre of music steeped in ‘keeping it real’, Silibil (real name Billy Boyd) and Brains McCloud (real name Gavin Bain) fooled everyone from music fans to Sony Music. But where do the lies stop and are Boyd and McCloud just fooling themselves?

The phone is answered. It’s Jeanie. She apologizes and explains she got delayed on the morning school run. I apologize for having not seen her film yet but I’d still like to talk to her about her work. So we do. And as I was to later find out, school runs are just one of the many many things that keep Jeanie busy. She is an artist and filmmaker continually on the look out for new stories to tell. Having studied Art and Music at university Jeanie went on to spend nearly 10 years creating large scale video art, installation and interactive work. Off the back of an “arty” and interactive 10 minute short film she was offered a 60 minute documentary commission by the BBC. She went straight into the project as director. “It was really liberating,” she says. “Just being able to go ‘Oh right . . . this is what I want to do!’. The conversations I was having while I was photographing people . . . they seemed like the Work. They emerged as the most interesting thing so why not film them.”

Jeanie spotted the tale of Boyd and Bain’s Milli Vanilli style escapades in a Guardian article and was instantly drawn in. “I contacted Gavin (Bain) and he agreed to work with us but then he signed a fiction deal which meant that his rights were tied up. At that stage we were working with Billy (Boyd) as well and for a while we thought we could just tell the story with Billy. But my heart really wasn’t in it. I wanted to tell the story with both of them.”

Tied up in releases and with boredom creeping in Jeanie set about making another “smaller” film in the form of Sound It Out, a portrait of the very last surviving vinyl record shop in Teesside, North East England. “We were really delayed on Hip Hop and I was really bored just not getting on with making a film,” she says. “It just seemed really time consuming and a really really long way from actually holding a camera so I decided to make Sound It Out and just see what happened.”

Portrait is an important word when it comes to Jeanie’s films and word uttered many times over the course of our conversation. “All of my films are portraits in a way but as I delve more into documentary they have more of a narrative drive,” she says. “On Sound It Out I was going up North. Staying with my parents. Sleeping in the bedroom I had as a kid and just going to the shop filming. My mum did child care. It just felt really simple. It was a small film. I was doing it for the love of doing it in a way. I had a sense that there was something good there but it was one of those films I was never going to be able to raise money for.”

Jeanie continued to film Sound It Out on and off for about a year when in 2009 she was introduced to crowd funding. Crowd funded projects are common place in today’s Twitter and Facebook feeds but at the time it was an entirely new model . Jeanie tells me that her first few pitch videos were just explaining how it all worked. While the experience was fruitful she doesn’t see it as just a ‘free money’ template. “It’s a massive amount of work. It’s not just a sticky plaster that’s going to save the film industry.” And what about now, with some of the ‘bigger’ industry names like Zach Braff and Spike Lee adopting it? “I don’t think it should replace other ways of raising money. Hip Hop was commissioned and funded in a traditional way but there is a lot of positives to doing crowd funding beyond just money. The real liberation is going directly to your audience.” With 50 festivals to date, in over 20 countries, had a theatrical release in the UK (with more countries planned) Sound It Out has certainly found it’s audience.

“It evolved into a thing,” Jeanie says. “I was just gonna make it then I don’t know . . . sell it in the shop! But then it got into South By Southwest and it got a much bigger life than ever intended. It grew . . . like knitting jumper.” Sound It Out’s greatest strength as a film is its simplicity. In a sense it presents you with one canvas, a little record shop in Teesside, the characters moving in and out of the shop creating the paint on the canvas. “Sound It Outwas purposefully small,” Jeanie says. “I had some involvement with a writer who had written a book, about all the record shops in the UK and he was encouraging me to branch out. ‘You should include this shop and this shop . . .’ and I said ‘I really don’t wanna do that’. It’s really important that this is one tiny microcosmic shop in the place where I grew up. It’s as much about the North East and the men that go in the shop as it about ‘record shops are under threat’.”

We talk for a bit about crafting stories into films and Jeanie explains that her approach is to let the film find its own method of telling itself, figuring out what form it needs to take, an approach I feel is unique to documentary film. “The idea of making fiction where you have develop a script for years and raise massive amounts of money seems really daunting and unappealing but also the stories I’m drawn to you couldn’t make up . . . they’re real.” I ask her about influences and she tells me she’s a big fan of Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda. During the month of September Broadway Cinema in Nottingham (where Jeanie has an office) screened a season of her top five films: Black Narcissus (Powell and Presburger), After Life(Hirokazu Koreeda), Pretty in Pink (John Hughes), American Movie (Chris Smith) and The Agony and The Ecstasy of Phil Spector (Vikram Jayanti). “The thing that I like about the Koreeda films is that they’re really small,” she says. “Like in After Life, they take a big universal idea: ‘what memory would you take to the after life?’ and just boil it down. What’s great is that it has documentary elements, it has real people talking about what the moment would be for them. But it’s really slow. I forgot how slow it was until we showed it in the cinema. We had a walk out!”

While Sound It Out was gaining more momentum with various screenings and publicity, Gavin Bain got in touch again. His rights were available again. The Great Hip Hop Hoax was back on. “The story of both them was the real heart. We reveal the hoax in the first 4 minutes, it’s in thetrailer. The film is about their relationship, how they did it and what the impact was on them . . . and how the bromance soured.” Since we spoke I’ve been able to catch up on Jeanie’s films – like the true professional that I am. The story of Silibil n’ Brains rolls out on a knife edge and at every turn you’re living the lie along side the pair. It’s not an exposé of a terrible and corrupt industry but instead a film that cleverly explores how lies create masks and how the masks affect those underneath. In a way I never wanted Bain and Boyd to be found out . . . I was rooting for their imagined personas just as much as they were.

As I said, Jeanie keeps busy with two more films, Orion and Pantomime, on the way and one more currently in the “thinking about stage”. While editing Hip Hop she was already shootingPantomime, a film she feels will be similar in tone to Sound It Out. Finishing a day of editing on Hip Hip she would then head off that evening to film an amateur dramatic pantomime in Nottingham. “Amateur dramatics allows people to be something different but they also have their normal lives as well,” Jeanie says. “And I wanted to make a film about Christmas, British Christmas. This seemed like the perfect thing to do.” For Jeanie, multiple projects on the go is necessary but also fun. “I love making films and it’s just a way of keeping things interesting,” she says.

Like Hip HopOrion is also set against the backdrop of the music industry but she isn’t deliberately creating a canon of work that explores the various facets of the industry. “The music industry is just a way into the story,” she says. “The music industry involvement just makes things more extreme.” Orion, again, was a story that found her – a story that literally looks at a man in a mask. And it all began with her husband Stephen buying a record at a car boot sale for 50p. “The man on the cover is wearing a mask, gold vinyl inside, Sun Records . . . it immediately looks kitsch and interesting but I’m not interested in kitsch or irony. It’s more the idea of what’s this real story underneath . . . how did that man end up wearing a mask?”

Looking under the mask revealed the story of Jimmy Ellis, an unknown singer, plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spotlight to masquerade as Elvis back from the grave. Hundreds of thousands believed the lie and even though donning the mask gave Ellis the fame he sought wearing it for 5 years had its cost: it totally destroyed the sense of his own identity. As Jeanie describes the excitement of unearthing a totally new story I’m curious to know where she sees herself in these stories. Will she ever be pulled into the portrait and onto the screen?

“The thing that’s really interesting about making films as opposed to art works is the audience. You can be shy or an introvert and tell a quite story but the act of [film] distribution enables you to shout it in a way. That’s really exciting to me . . . I feel like I’m in every frame but no one needs to see me. I can’t think of anything worse!”

The Great Hip Hop Hoax will open this year’s Stranger Than Fiction 2013 season at Dublin’s IFI this Thursday 26th. Jeanie Finlay will be in attendance so you can ask her all the questions I should have.

For more on future films and to watch video on demand screenings head to jeaniefinlay.com


The Telegraph – The Great Hip-Hop Hoax director: ‘they created these characters that they despised and hated’


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The Great Hip-Hop Hoax director: ‘they created these characters that they despised and hated’

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Jeanie Finlay, film-maker behind The Great Hip-Hop Hoax, talks to David Gritten about her new project and explains why big audiences are not relevant.

By  06 Sep 2013  Original article >

Documentary film-maker Jeanie Finlay was told long ago never to describe her films as small. “It’s the small stories that are really hard to get commissioned,” she notes. She was also once advised by a senior broadcasting executive not to refer to her films as music documentaries: “I’d never win an award, never be in competition, because music docs weren’t taken seriously.”

Being a single-minded person, Finlay has since continued to make small films, many of them with strong musical content. “I think there’s a real beauty in something small and magic,” she says. “And as for music docs, I think they have to be more than something that’s just for the fans of an artist. They have to be about people.”

Her new film, The Great Hip-Hop Hoax, bears this out. It’s about two young Scottish rappers, Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd, who tried in 2000 to make it in the music business but got nowhere. After a humiliating rejection by a record company auditioning acts who could be “the next Eminem,” they decided to pass themselves off as Americans.

They adopted American accents that they had to maintain all their waking hours. They invented phoney life stories for themselves, claiming they came from small towns in California. They started acting loudly and aggressively, as they thought American hip-hop artists would. And they named themselves Silibil ‘n’ Brains.

Remarkably, they got away with it, and even secured lucrative advances from Sony UK to pursue their careers. On the strength of their deception, they scored a lucrative record deal. They enjoyed a starry lifestyle, mixing with celebrities, heavily indulging in drink and drugs and having lots of sex. But their lives and their friendship cracked under the strain of having to live a lie 24 hours a day.

Finlay learned about them from a newspaper article, and immediately decided to make a film about them. But she had to interview them separately – throughout the making of her film, the pair were no longer on speaking terms. Still, she got to make the film after long delays – though she had to resort to animated sequences to portray events in Silibil ‘n’ Brains’s career that she could not re-create any other way.

Her credo that music docs need to be about more than the actual music holds good here: “The thing that struck me was that they had the freedom to be anyone they wanted to be, and they created these characters that they despised and hated. That’s really interesting: the idea you reinvent yourself and you hate the person you’ve become.”

We meet in the Kentish Town offices of her new film’s distributors. Finlay, a candid woman with a direct gaze, red hair and a soft northern accent, discusses her career with touches of self-deprecation. She operates beneath the radar of the mainstream British film industry: she lives with her husband and daughter in Nottingham, where she went to university.

For a few years she was unknown outside the narrow confines of Britain’s low-budget documentary world – but she received wide acclaim for Sound It Out (2011), her film about a vinyl record shop in Stockton-on-Tees. Surrounded by pound stores and shuttered retail businesses in a depressed area, the shop, called Sound It Out, is a haven for local people, some of them music fanatics, others who just merely browse and like the friendly, communal atmosphere. Finlay and Tom Butchart, who runs it, were friends from school days.

Finlay calls it “my accidental movie. It was a really joyful experience, really, and completely instinctive.” She pitched the idea to the BBC and was told it was charming, but there was not enough of a story to make into a film. “I thought, ‘you know what, I think you’re wrong. I’ll just make my film. If I keep pitching it, I’ll lose all the joy in it.’ I was already fed up of meetings, meetings, meetings. So I thought: I’m just going to have a go.”

Sound It Out was one of the first British films to be crowd-funded: the process raised enough money to enable her to complete it. After its modest release, Finlay hit the road and accompanied it to 50 British cinemas, where she answered questions after each screening: “Basically, I toured the film like it was an indie band.” As a pleasing unforeseen consequence, Sound It Out, which billed itself as the last vinyl record store in the north of England, is now thriving – Finlay’s film has attracted visitors from far and wide.

Her next film also flies in the face of what passes for industry wisdom: titled Orion, it’s about an obscure singer named Jimmy Ellis, who signed to Elvis Presley’s label Sun Records, and had a voice uncannily like that of The King. “Hundreds of thousands of people thought he was Elvis, back from the grave,” Finlay says. “He made records. But he died in a shooting 14 years ago.”

Yet another film in the works confirms what Finlay is all about: “Pantomime is similar in tone to Sound it Out. I shot 120 hours, a lot of it backstage, of a local amateur dramatic version of Puss in Boots. It’s a series of storms in teacups, really – people trying to get their costumes on, Puss in Boots losing his sword. It’s a funny and heartbreaking portrait of people who take part in a panto, and how it changes their lives. One guy’s a taxman. Another guy hates Christmas. What interests me is what’s underneath a person.”

There’ll be music in Pantomime too, but for Finlay the key is its modest budget and scale: “I’m not saying I don’t want big audiences, but for me there’s something about small documentary films. There’s a real power in a small question, asked gently and quietly, to someone who’s very shy.”

The Great Hip-Hop Hoax is on release now


INTERVIEW: God is in the TV


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Jeanie FinlayRead full article >
As I am writing this Jeanie Finlay is in Austin, Texas, promoting her new film at SXSW Festival. She sent me this interview from the airport lounge just as she was about to board the plane. For that, I am forever grateful. Most of you may have heard from her from her brilliant filmSound It Outdocumenting the last record store in Teesside, and all that inhabit it. Her new film ‘The Great Hip Hop Hoax’ has been causing waves already.

Described as a serious and meticulous filmmaker, Jeanie also brings great pathos and humour to her films. Laughing with the people she covers, but never laughing at them. Hers is a unique style, that brings out the best in Independent British filmmaking today. I talk to her about her influences, the state of the British Film Industry, and her latest projects.

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When and how did your journey into film making start?

I made artwork and wrote music for many years before I ever picked up a camera. the conversations I had with people as I photographed them were more interesting than the images so I decided to start filming them. A maverick commissioner at the BBC commissioned a 60 min film (Teenland) off the back of my artwork and a 10 min film. I’ve not looked back.

Who were your inspirations growing up and….now?

When I was about 10 we had to write an essay for school entitled “my hero”. Most of the girls in my class wrote about Lady Diana and her flicky hair. My essay was about Kenneth Williams. I was kind of obsessed with him and what I saw as his arch wit.

I loved John Hughes films and Andy Warhol and my best friend’s sister who was a goth that looked like Souixsie Soux.

Now… I really admire filmmakers or artists who follow their own path and make bold work. I adore Kore-edo, John Waters, Powell and pressburger, and have been known to ask What Would Dolly Do?

How do you choose what subjects/people to cover…or do they come to you?

My films usually start as a very personal response to something or a notion that catches me out of the corner of my eye and once I’ve seen it I can’t shake it.

Teenland, Goth Cruise and SIO are all hugely personal and connected to my life in one way or another. TGHHH was something I read about but I kept thinking about my (Scottish) father and the improbability of him ever sacrificing his “Scottishness”. Orion was triggered by my husband buying a mysterious record at a car boot sale with a masked man on the cover.

Sometimes, when I’ve spotted something with potential I start looking around to see if everyone else is seeing the same thing too!

I’ve noticed that you film people that much of society might consider ‘outsiders’ [Although I certainly don’t see them as such] Is there a particular reason for this?

I’m interested in telling small and shy stories. I sometimes feel like a shy person in the role of an extrovert, as a filmmaker. I’ve found a way of connecting with an audience – a film can make a very small and intimate story accessible by thousands, but without the need for shouting.

I really enjoy interviewing people who have never been on camera before and might see themselves as unlikely contributors. Who really wants to hear from someone who wants to be in a film?

One of my favourite films [so far] has been of course…. the Sound It Out documentary. How did that all come about and why do you think it has struck such a chord with people?

I grew up with Tom and SOUND IT OUT records is in my home town. I was spending a lot of time up north – my Mum was going through chemo at the time and the shop offered me a real haven. I looked around and realized that it was a haven for everyone else in there. After a few years of joking that I was going to make a film I did just that, staying in my old bedroom at my Mum & Dads and spending lots of time in the shop.

It was the first time I’d filmed anything without a crew and was interested about giving it a go – the camera work may be a bit shonky at times but so is the shop. After about a year of filming on and off I thought I had something interesting – it just offered so much, an opportunity to make a film about my home, men, music and makina. I pitched it a couple of times to broadcasters and was told that there was no story that could sustain an audience. I disagreed and realized that continuing to pitch the film would kill the love I had for the project so I decided to crowdfund a micro budget to get the film finished. I honestly thought we’d have a local screening and sell the film in the shop. When we got into sxsw everything changed and the film has now been seen all over the world.

I hope that the film demonstrates what Tom says –“ it’s emotions, emotions and memories, records hold memories”. Tom and SIO, (and other shops like it) are very important to many, many people.

I still get emails about it and it nearly always makes me cry, it means so much.

You have a couple of really interesting projects happening at the moment, one of them being The Great Hip Hop Hoax, can you tell me about that or are you sworn to secrecy?

It’s all going to start very soon – we premiere The Great Hip Hop Hoax at sxsw next week!:

Californian hip-hop duo Silibil n’ Brains were going to be massive. What no-one knew was the pair were really students from Scotland, with fake American accents and made up identities.

Their ‘Hip Hop Hoax’ lasted three years and fooled record label execs, girlfriends and band members. For a while the boys lived the dream but in the end the lie destroyed their friendship and almost their lives.

As soon as I read about the deception Silibil n’ Brains pulled off I knew I wanted to make a film about their story. I was intrigued with how the lie took on a life of it’s own and ran away from them.

Everybody lies everyday, it’s human nature but what happens when you lie about your whole identity to get what you want? I felt haunted by the idea that the boys changed themselves fundamentally, all for the hollow promise of fame. I wanted to discover how they did it and what the lasting effect on them was…

www.hiphophoax.com

I was looking at your ‘Top 10 Director’s Notes’ for 2012. An interesting choice of films there. Beasts of The Southern Wild is at Number 1. This is a very wide ranging question I know, but what makes a truly brilliant film?

I just like films that really are their own animal and are bold. Whether they are quiet Japanese fiction – Afterlife or I wish by Kore Edo, fantastic characters: American Movie, Racing Dreams, Prodigal Sons, passionate fantasy worlds: A matter of Life and death or Black Narcissus or just completely take your eye out of the blue – Wake in Fright.

I’m based at Broadway Cinema and try and see as much as possible, often without reading anything in advance.

Screen International has been quoted as saying about you “Jeanie gives her projects time. She’s a serious, meticulous thinker, not a documentarist for the Big Brother Generation” And this is so true. How do you think reality TV has saturated other forms of TV or film making? Do you think it has ruined it for the foreseeable future? Or can it be clawed back from the ’15 minutes of fame’ generation?

The irony of this is that I absolutely loved the first few series of Big Brother and was completely addicted – they were a series of storms in tea-cups and I found the boring everydayness really compelling.

It’s all a bit like a snake eating it’s own tail now with the endless Hello interviews and book deals talking about the same moments over and over. The whole pursuit of fame for it’s own sake is really charmless. I hate filming people who think it will be their key to a fortune – which with my films is never going to happen!

I think people will always make good work, good films, there may just not be funding from broadcasters to get those films made or broadcasts slots available to show them. BBC4 continue to show the best docs on British television.

Arts funds are being cut left, right and centre, how did you go about getting funding for your films, and how difficult was it?

It’s always tough and we live in interesting times. My films have been a combination of arts funding, small commissions, broadcast commissions and crowd-funding campaigns (see my article on www.jeaniefinlay.com) . It’s good to be open to new and varied ways of doing things, it’s the only way to get any project moving.

If you could film anyone you wanted and had unlimited funds…..tell me what your dream film would be to make?

I can’t really say but it’s something deeply uncommercial, uncommissionable and would never attract funding in a million years.

I would love to make a film about my sister Claire and how she creates character when she designs costumes. Maybe one of these days I’ll follow her and Julia Davis around – they come up with some very dark things.

http://www.jeaniefinlay.com/wordpress/

https://twitter.com/JeanieFinlay

http://www.directorsnotes.com/2013/01/02/jeanie-finlay-2012-top-ten/

http://schedule.sxsw.com/2013/events/event_FS14101


PopLives #21: Jeanie Finlay. Irish Times


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Original Article>

PopLives #21: Jeanie Finlay

Fri, Oct 19, 2012

Every week this Q&A will find out what various heads in music, film, fashion, theatre, bukes, performance, tech stuff, and whatever else are consuming.

Jeanie Finlay is an artist and filmmaker and the director of Sound It Out, which screens at OneTwoOneTwo this weekend.

(photo by Jo Irvine)

What are you reading?
I’m ploughing my way through the Wallander series. I love the Swedish TV series about the dour, taciturn detective. The books are wonderful as you get to know what he’s thinking.

Last film you saw and your verdict?
I finished an intense 5 month edit on my new film The Great Hip Hop Hoax yesterday. Today was my first day off in a long time so I spent the morning lying in and I watched Say Anything on the iPad. I think it was the only brat pack era film I hadn’t seen. It’s no Pretty in Pink but John Cusack is always worth a watch. It did make me wonder whether John and his sister Joan were contractually obliged to be cast together. (She plays his sister )

You have a golden ticket to Easons, what magazine is first on your list?
The Believer for smart writing or Make magazine for great ideas to make at home. I buy both if I’m in the States.

What are your most clicked bookmarks?
Apart from the obvious – Gmail and Facebook – I love Rookie. It’s the website I wished had existed when I was a teenager. Full of articles like how to do your first beehive, advice for living from John Walters and a column called “ask a real man” where readers ask “grown ups” like John Hamm home truths. They’ve been trying to persuade Obama to take part. Letters of note and Brain Pickings are also high on my list.

Do you have a favourite podcast or radio programme?
This American Life. Always interesting and heartfelt true life stories of American life. If you don’t already subscribe, do it today.

When you fall into a YouTube hole what’s the general subject matter of the videos you’re watching?
Usually some kind of 1960s girl singer smorgasboard – hunting down Nancy-Dolly-Dusty-Bobbie Gentry-Dusty-Shangri Las et al on late night tv specials.

What song should we listen to right now?
‘Streamers’ by Sophia Brous. She’s like licorice ice cream. Not everyone will like her but if you do you’ll love her.

Which boxset/TV series do you have on the go at the moment?
I’m so desperate for Breaking Bad to come back I just watched it again from the beginning. The best-made programme on TV. I also loved The Great British Bake Off for the tears and the constant talk of “soggy bottoms”

Last gig/concert you went to and your verdict?
Anxieteam on delicious record label Hello Thor. Two artists came together ( Jon Burgerman and Jim Avignon) and Anxieteam was born. Songs about eating soya and living in New York as foreigners against a hand drawn back drop.

Which app do you use the most?
eBay or twitter (@jeaniefinlay) I’m usually bidding or watching a combination of vintage frocks and camera geek equipment. I’m always looking to pimp my camera kit.

And finally, if you read watch one documentary this month, make it…
American Movie. If you haven’t seen it, I’m jealous of you as you get to watch it all for the first time. It’s the heartbreaking and painfully funny story of the making of horror film Coven.

Sound It Out, a documentary on the last record shop in Teeside, screens in the Light House Cinema on Saturday as part of OneTwoOneTwo a brand new music documentary festival in Dublin.


The Times – Meet the Stars of a Very Small Kingdom


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Read original article >
The Times


A film-maker from the North-East has made a warm, funny and insightful portrait of her home town – and its last record shop

Record shops up and down the country are facing closure. Three hundred have shut in the UK over the past decade, partly because of a loophole that has allowed online music companies to avoid VAT by shipping from the Channel Islands, thereby offering prices
that record shops couldn’t hope to match. One quietly inspiring film-maker from the North East, however, may have helped to turn the tide. For more info visit : http://ontarioexteriorsolutions.ca/

Jeanie Finlay wanted to make a film about her home town of Stockton-on-Tees, a place she describes as “like Middlesbrough, only less glamorous”. Hearing that an old school friend called Tom Butchart was running the last surviving record shop in Teesside, she

began filming. Sound It Out is a warm, funny, insightful portrait of the community based around the shop — also called Sound It Out — that has been a hit in America, after its premiere at the SXSW Festival and a review in The New York Times that raved: “Like a mint pressing in a bargain bin this film is a rare find.” It also helped Butchart to win Stockton’s Small Business of the Year award, and it has shown how important record shops can be.

“It’s an accidental film,” Finlay says. “Stockton is like the annoying member of your family that you don’t want anyone else to slag off: the high street may be nothing but charity shops and pound shops, but I’ve still got a lot of affection for the place. When I
heard that Tom, who I remembered as a shy boy with a stutter, had opened this record shop where he was the king of a very small kingdom, I decided to go up there and start filming.”

Finlay soon realised that she wasn’t making a film about the plight of a small record shop, but portraits of the people for whom Sound It Out is a haven. We meet Shane, an obsessive Status Quo fan who says “there’s nothing better than playing Quo solid for a
week” and plans to be buried in a coffin built from his melted-down record collection; Mack, who comes in from the pub and sings the record he wants until Butchart identifies it; and a pair of teenage metalheads who explain how if it wasn’t for buying records they would have killed themselves long ago.

Finlay’s film is as non-judgmental as it is revealing, with people on the margins of society celebrated for their eccentricities.

“The interesting people soon revealed themselves,” Finlay says. “Everyone kept saying to me, ‘Have you met Shane?’ I hadn’t because he was following Jean Michel Jarre on tour. Then he came back, and I knew he was brilliant from the moment I met him.”

Shane Healey is an example of the kind of person the shop attracts. A middle-aged B&Q employee with a shiny pate and long hair at the back and the sides, he was born with
cerebral palsy and water on the brain and says that he has been treated as “a spacca” for much of his life. The shop is one of the few places where he is accepted for what he is: different, but also bright and charismatic.

Then there are Frankey and John-Boy, an unemployed DJ and MC duo, who make a tinny style of dance music called makina. They look like shaven-headed tracksuit-
wearing delinquents who you would cross the street to avoid. “When I was a kid I did judo near to their estate, and I was scared of boys like them,” Finlay says. “Then you find
out they’re sweet lads who are nice to their mums.” As Butchart says: “The shop is somewhere for people to go and escape their lives for an hour. That’s important.” Or, in Mack’s words: “You can get anything you want in there … except loose women from Taiwan.”

Finlay specialises in turning her camera on marginal figures. One of her most popular documentaries is Goth Cruise, which follows 150 black-clad self-proclaimed outsider types on a luxury liner cruise from New Jersey to Bermuda. “I went to a Goth wedding a few years ago,” Finlay says. “They were talking about this cruise and I thought: can you be a Goth in the tropical heat, on a floating shopping centre?”

Absolutely. Armed with total sunblock and black bikinis, the Goths frolic on beaches and make the most of the duty-free shopping. Then there is Home-Maker, Finlay’s debut, which follows the lives of housebound people in Derbyshire and Tokyo. “It started off as a community project. I was meant to show elderly people how to use computers,” she says. “But they had absolutely no interest in learning; they just wanted to chat.”

If you’re wondering how Finlay funds her ventures, she doesn’t. Sound It Out had no backing; the editing, distribution and marketing was paid for through crowd funding, which works in much the same way as a sponsored swim.

“I’m friends with a lot of American film-makers who have no funding; they just get on with it,” she says. “You don’t know what you are making until you make it, so although I’m broke, you end up with something interesting.”

Finlay has two projects in development. The Great Hip Hop Hoax is about a pair of Scottish singers who pretended to be American rappers to land a record deal with Sony, and Orion is about the rise and fall of Jimmy “Orion” Ellis, a masked American singer briefly marketed as Elvis Presley returned from the grave. When Ellis took his mask off his career collapsed.

Sound It Out is emerging as George Osborne closes the VAT loophole that has hit record shops so hard. “Music sales have declined gradually, but CD sales migrated to offshore
internet retailers at a rapid rate due to the VAT advantage,” says Richard Allen, an independent retailer who lobbied the Government to change the law. “Normally politicians and the music industry don’t mix very well, but in this case George Osborne has made a decision that could save record shops.”

Shops such as Sound It Out may occupy a small place in British culture, but that’s what makes Finlay’s film special. “Sound It Out is about a small shop, in a small street, in a small town,” she concludes. “I’m interested in making small films. That way I get to turn the camera on people that I would never normally meet, but who turn out to be very interesting indeed.”

Sound It Out screens at selected cinemas this week. For details and to
request a screening, go to sounditoutdoc.com


Ali Emm tells us why and how you support the latest documentary from Jeanie Finlay.


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Original article from Left Lion

When tapes became de rigeur in the eighties, they said vinyl was not long for this world. When CDs came striding in in the nineties they said that tapes and vinyl had definitely had their day. When minidisc were released, well, nobody paid the blindest bit of notice really, but tapes were hardly anywhere to be seen. Now it’s all gone digital and mp3s have taken over the CD market. So if technology is so progressive and mediums have come and gone, why do we still find ourselves with the cumbersome yet delicate vinyl in our hands and hearts?

From the first smell of my parents’ vinyl cleaning cloth to being allowed for the first time to lay the needle on one of my dad’s LPs, I was hooked. The Saturdays of my youth were whiled away in town with mates: Topshop, Miss Selfridge, the local hippy shop with the obnoxious smell of myriad scented candles, sitting around and watching life go by. Oh, and record shops. I started off with the standards: Woolworths, Our Price, Virgin and HMV but I soon discovered proper record shops and never looked back. Hours were spent flipping through the racks and taking in the tatty walls of flyers, posters and ads – you just didn’t get the same feelings in HMV. I’d go to neighbouring cities and wander the back streets to find new record shops and see if they had anything extra to offer me. None had decent carpet, none were well lit, all had someone I was too scared to talk to behind the counter but most importantly, vinyl outnumbered CDs and tapes and I always felt like I was in Aladdin’s cave.

I digress; the point is that vinyl will never die. Favoured by DJs and music lovers, it’s more than just sentimentalism that keeps them being pressed – it’s not the medium but the sales point which technology has shifted. The internet has given so much but has taken away a number of tactile pleasures and one of them is the fingertip shuffle through stacks of vinyl. In Nottingham, although we still have the likes of Oh My Gosh and the mind-boggling Rob’s Record Mart, we lost Selectadisc over a year ago and Funky Monkey has bitten the bullet too. We’re lucky as a city to still have a number of record shops, some places are barren of the grooved black discs and the obsessives that hold them.

Jeanie Finlay, a locally based filmmaker of the documentary persuasion, hails from the North East and her latest film, Sound it Out, is the observational portrait of the last surviving record shop in Teesside. The shop is struggling against the recession and the obvious technological changes in our buying habits, but it’s still going and over the last eighteen months, Jeanie has been collecting footage of the owner and punters that make the place so special.

If Jeanie’s previous documentaries (Lace City and Goth Cruise) are anything to go by, this is going to be an entertaining and insightful film that will tug at most music lovers heart strings as well as giving us a chance to see the vinyl addicts at play.

Sound It Out is due to be shown as part of Sideshow in Nottingham on Saturday 11 December. There are still funds to be raised so that Jeanie can finish her film and get it in the can. There’s a simple solution though, dob her some money – whatever you can afford – and the film gets made and you get a credit on the film. It will be very much appreciated and they will give you a MASSIVE shout to all their followers. The more you donate the louder they scream!!!

You can donate and support Soud It Out at Indiegogo.


Documentary makers in Dragon’s Den style pitches


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GUARDIAN – Read Original article

Doc Week started today. The week long event features training, classes, talks – and the chance to sell your ideas to the experts

Doc Week: Doc week pitch Documentary makers were invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of professionals. Photo: Tom Allan/guardian.co.ukDoc Week kicked off this morning with a “Dragon’s Den” style pitching session at the Scottish Storytelling centre, with a panel of industry experts from around the world.

Heartwarming and inspiring


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gothcruise-6Comics waiting room

GOTH CRUISE – Directed by Jeanie Finlay

Even if you aren’t a goth, you know someone who is or was. The one subculture that still thrives despite its roots in the 1980s, goth is everywhere and running strong. And yet still, after over twenty years, completely misunderstood by “mundanes” or “norms.” Who are the goths? What are their values? Important questions. But the most important question is this:

What do goths do on vacation? (more…)


A darkly light tale of acceptance


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Monsters and Critics

Smallscreen Reviews By April MacIntyre Nov 23, 2008,

“It’s all fantasy; why not every day?” –  Goth participant at the annual Whitby Goth Festival.

(more…)


A documentary that isn’t just for the freak clique


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www.leftlion.co.uk

Nottingham-based filmmaker Jeanie Finlay is currently showcasing her debut feature-length documentary around the country, so all aboard – Goth Cruise is ready to sail.

(more…)


EM Media adds Hip Hop feature doc to its slate


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Article on Screen website

EM Media, the UK’s regional screen agency based in the East Midlands, announced a new addition to its slate today at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

(more…)


Furtherfield article: Home-Maker


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An Interview with Jeanie Finlay: Jess Laccetti

Jeanie Finlay’s Home-Maker begins with the questions – what makes a house a home, and how does this change if you can’t leave? Entering the domestic spaces of seven people living in Tokyo or Derbyshire, Finlay centres in on the household as a way of uncovering individual interaction with public and private selves. Telling personal stories with the aid of house-hold objects, fragments of narrative, and new media technologies is a new way of thinking about portraiture. The successful blending of new media with Finlay’s key questions makes each reader feel as though she or he is a guest, sitting down for a cup of tea, immersed the detail of each room and voice.
(more…)


Part oral history, part documentary, Home Maker builds on the relationships that Finlay established…


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Elayne Zalis. “At Home in Cyberspace: Staging Autobiographical Scenes.” PHD

Background

United by a common tendency to raise questions about the meaning, recollection, and locus of “home” in a digital age, the five hypermedia Web sites on this virtual tour open up arenas for staging autobiographical scenes differently. Broadening the scope of The Home Project that the trAce Online Writing Centre maintains, and drawing on theories of spatiality and cyber-culture, the survey of Family Portrait, Grandfather Gets a House, The Family Album Portrait, Home Maker, and Heard It in the Playground shows how these networked experiments with collaborative storytelling and a composite approach transform personal home pages into new spaces for cultural intervention that, while merging “private” and “public” spheres, provide forums in which culturally diverse casts of characters showcase theatres of recollection for heterogeneous audiences around the world.

(more…)


Jeanie Finlay and the “bad boy of documentary”


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Event Preview: Jeanie Finlay & Nicholas Barker

To coincide with Nottingham based artist Jeanie Finlay’s Home-Maker installation at Lakeside’s Djanogly Theatre, she and self-styled “bad boy of British documentary” Nicholas Barker will be meeting to talk about their differences and common ground.
(more…)


Warmly intimate, engaging and wistful.


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Exhibition Review – Home Maker

Walk into the Djanogly Theatre and you find yourself looking at a large plywood box, like the back view of a film set. Enter the doorway on one side and it’s as though you’ve stepped into the flat of a grandparent.

(more…)


Home-Maker – Something of a rarity.


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Home-Maker Feature and Review

Modern culture’s long-standing obsession with youth makes Nottingham-based artist Jeanie Finlay’s interest in the lives and voices of the elderly something of a rarity. Homemaker is an exploration of the lives of seven people, four from South Derbyshire, three from Tokyo, seen through the lenses of their memories and homes.

(more…)


Poigniant… A quiet celebration of the dignity to be found at the centre of a life


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Transcontinental empathy: Jeanie Finlay’s strangely fascinating installation Home-maker.

Wouldn’t most people be sorry to live by themselves when they could be living with a partner? Not Roy. He loves solo living because it means his ex-wife isn’t with him: the ex-wife, we learn through Jeanie Finlay’s strangely fascinating installation who roy refers to as a “street angel but a house devil”.
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A largely unprecedented, highly novel approach to portaiture


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Home-Maker – Guardian Guide, Pick of the week

Jeanie Finlay recently set herself up as a temporary artist in residence in the homes of seven housebound older people in both Derbyshire and Tokyo. Staged in a series of mockup rooms, her video projection record the self-contained living environments of her protagonists as well as their inevitably wistful reminiscences.

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Teenland – Four docs interview


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by Charlie Phillips

We spoke to Jeanie Finlay, the director of a new documentary called Teenland. Teenland takes a look inside four teenagers’ bedrooms. What goes on behind the closed doors of teens and what are their hopes for the future? We spoke to the doc’s director, Jeanie Finlay. You’ll be able to see the doc on May 30th at 10pm on BBC4. For now, go here for a full preview

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An almost-fairytale atmosphere as we push the doors into the forbidden kingdom of teenage minds.


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Four Docs – Teenland

Jeanie Finlay is a young director from Nottingham, who just made a brilliant 60 minute doc about teenager’s bedrooms. Called Teenland, it relies on an almost-fairytale atmosphere as we push the doors into the forbidden kingdom of teenage minds.

Watch it – it’s a really good intimate piece of filmmaking from a relatively-new British docmaker. Not showy and not patronising, it lets the kids speak for themselves and takes us on an anthropological journey through their habitats. We interviewed her and you can see her fascinating answers here: