A sunny Friday afternoon in Cambridge. Thinking Girl’s Crumpet Clive and I are in town for the Super 8 festival, where for reasons that remain pleasingly unclear, Code Grey is in competition.
Always up for a party if nothing else, we’ve met up with Doco Domsy and set ourselves up with booze and grub. It’s the perfect afternoon for slightly beery chat about films and film-making, and the three of us indulge fully. At the back of my mind, the thought that there is a Q&A at the end of our screening that I maybe should not be head-dribblingly drunk for raises a tentative hand before getting shouted down. I’m far more eloquent after three pints or so. I’m a goddamn raconteur after five.
We wander through Cambridge, Dom taking photos for an imaginary press kit. I feel a little bit like a rock star, and a lot like a drunken twat. I can’t really give the camera love, but I do a mean growl. Which’ll do, apparently.
One last beer by the Cam, and I start to get the giggles. And I don’t feel drunk at all. Just nervous. But ready. This isn’t like a Straight 8 screening. I know exactly what’s being presented. There’s no fall back now. This is a film that’s had some hard work and a lot of heart and soul poured into it. It’s grown up now, and it’s ready to strut like a player.
I poke my head into the screening room a half-hour beforehand to announce my presence (resisting the urge to bellow “L’auteur est arrive” – alright, it was six pints by now) to be greeted by Simon, one of the organisers, who was so pleased to see me that he did a little dance. More people should do that. I might have to insist on it.
The room fills, and we settle in for the programme. Fifteen films, a strong European presence, and a fearsome sense of the quirky and surreal. Code Grey feels positively mainstream amongst the art pieces, documentaries and animation on display. We’re just a dumb little shuck and jive show with a neat little idea at it’s heart. We’re on last, and don’t quite get the reaction I was hoping for. Chuckles rather than belly laughs. That’s the problem if you make a comedy. There’s no such thing as an appreciative silence.
After the films, the Q&As. It’s a room full of directors, and they’re all erudite, amusing and interesting. I, on the other hand, have had six pints and am a twitchy mess. I gabble through my questions, pointing out Clive and trying to namecheck everyone, trying to crack a few funnies, and doing the one thing I really didn’t want to which was to out myself as a colourist. I don’t like to talk about the day job when I’m being a film-maker. Especially as I knew at least one person afterwards would make the joke about a colourist making a black and white film.
This did indeed happen, and the smile I gave was indeed as thin as you’re imagining.
Two minutes or an hour and a half later, depending on where you were standing, I sat back down. I was shaking faintly. But I was assured by Clive and Dom that I had indeed been charming, witty and erudite, and that people had laughed at my jokes. However, in a headrush of unprovoked egotism I’d given myself full credit for the idea behind Code Grey, which was all Clive’s.
I took shit for that for the rest of the night, and deservedly so.
Unfortunately, there seemed little opportunity to meet with the other directors after the screening, as the other bar at the University Student Union was hosting a members-only darts night, and seemed unwilling to let us stick around. Shame, as I’d genuinely wanted to congratulate the guys that made it down to Cambridge on a job well done. I’ll try and dig out some links to my faves over the next few days.
After the screening, there was little to do but eat and drink more, and chat about films and film-making until the early hours, which we did at the very excellent Cambridge Chop House, and our digs for the night, The Portland Arms. These places are both most worthy of your patronage.
We left Cambridge the following morning, Clive to his acting classes, me to the Reading Beer Festival, which was another afternoon of beer, food, and yakking. Really, I’m going to need a diet and a vow of silence after this weekend. Twitter has documented my feelings on that one, so check the status bar off to the right.
Turns out if we’d stuck around for the final night, we would have been around to receive our award for best UK film. I had the email with that nugget of good news while starting this post. It’s a result far above and beyond what I could have expected, and proof that there is life after Straight 8. I’m sending massive hugs out to everyone involved in the making of Code Grey, and urge you if you’ve not watched the film yet to check it out.
It’s officially worth your while.