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Luke Morris - Interview

  by Mark Rowland

published: 24 / 9 / 2009

Luke Morris - Interview


Luke Morris, the producer of the new 'All Tomorrow's Parties' film talks to Mark Rowland about its making and the initial reaction towards it

All Tomorrows Parties is ten years old this year, and in that time, has become the discerning indie music fan’s festival of choice. From its humble origins as Belle and Sebastian’s Bowlie Weekender to its current incarnation as an international festival, promoter and record label, ATP's presence on the festival circuit is now established, with high profile bands and artists stepping on board to curate the festival – in some cases even coming out of a long hiatus to get involved in the festival. ATP’s community feel and interactivity (fans have also chosen acts for certain festivals, and have an influence over the choice of curators) very much fits the decade that gave us social networking, blogging and greater access to artists. The festival has an atmosphere that isn’t matched by any other – bands and fans alike walk around the site, watching bands and taking in everything going on around the site. Impromptu live sets are performed everywhere, such as inside a chalet, or on the beach. In celebration of the festival’s ten years of existence, Warp Films have released an All Tomorrows Parties documentary, spanning the festival’s history. It is no ordinary music documentary, however; there are no talking head interviews, no narration, no director, even. True to the ethos of the festival itself, the film is stitched together from contributed footage of varying quality, some of it even shot on mobile phones. The footage came from bands, fans, news stories and the organisers themselves, and producer Luke Morris, who developed the idea, let the footage tell the story, capturing the feel of the festival itself, rather than relying on high profile reminiscence. The festival is indeed the star of the film, and although the documentary doesn’t have a narrative to speak of, it does a pretty good job of selling the festival to newcomers, and will bring back many happy memories for those who have been before. Luke Morris talked to Pennyblack about the challenges and enjoyable experiences putting the film together and showing it at special screenings across the world. PB: What do you think is the appeal of the All Tomorrows Parties festivals, for the bands, the fans and for you as a filmmaker? LM: The unique setting, the community of fans and musicians, the sense of discovering music, but mainly the fact it’s run by people who care about music and the audience’s experience more than making money PB: How did you get involved in the making of the documentary? LM -My first ATP experience was pulling into Camber Sands to see Vincent Gallo playing football and then Yoko Ono popping her head out of a chalet door. Later that night I saw Suicide and PJ Harvey on a Pontins cabaret stage and thought it would be great to capture all this on film. PB: The idea to use the footage of the fans and bands from ATP fits perfectly with the festival’s aesthetic. How did that idea come about? LM: Doing it this way seemed like the best way to represent the communal atmosphere of the festival and sustain the DIY aspect that All Tomorrow’s Parties and Warp are all about. It also made sense economically because we started the project off with no money. Unlike outdoor festivals like Reading and Glastonbury, where fans camp out in tents, the fans at ATP would bring camcorders and cameras with them because they have chalets to lock them in. We wanted to take advantage of this as we thought it was the best way to represent the festival’s collective spirit. We posted adverts online, put calls out through the ATP mailing list and trawled YouTube looking for footage captured by fans on mobiles, super 8, HD and DV. We discovered Paris-based filmmaker Vincent Moon (who has since become acclaimed for his Take Away Shows and work with bands like REM and Arcade Fire) this way. He shot footage at Thurston Moore’s Nightmare Before Christmas in 2007, which I think was his first ATP, and sent it to us. The footage was fantastic and we invited him back to every festival since. PB: How did you go about collecting the footage and when did you start collecting it? Were people quick to respond, or did it take some time to build up enough footage? LM: The first calls went out in 2006 and we gradually built up more and more… PB: Were there any points when you were worried you wouldn’t have enough usable material for the film? LM: Our problem was more that we had too much footage to trawl through. Making sense of it all was a big challenge, especially for Nick Fenton. the editor responsible for shaping the final cut (he also cut Heima and Arctic Monkeys at the Apollo). We didn’t get too much footage in from the early years in and there were some seminal ATP moments – the Boards of Canada set, Public Enemy DJing in the Queen Vic – that just never surfaced. PB: How many hours of footage did you have in the end? LM: We ended up with about 600 hours of footage, with submissions and contributions from over 200 people. Although we only used footage from less than half of them in the final film we still credited everyone on the end of the film. These are the All Tomorrow’s People. PB: With so much footage to string together from so many sources, what were the challenges in making it into a coherent film? LM: The biggest challenge is trying to represent the festival in 85 minutes. We wanted to represent its spirit, rather than making a chronological narrative, which was the best way to use the footage we had. PB: The film is being shown at screenings across the world. What sort of reactions has the film had so far? LM: The reception has been fantastic, with the exception of one or two people who wanted to see a chronological narrative. PB: Were there any particular screenings so far that stand out as the most memorable? LM: The Edinburgh Film Festival premiere that was put together with Future Cinema was a highlight. They did the whole venue up as a 50s holiday camp, complete with donkeys, blue coats and bingo. Mogwai played a surprise gig after the film although it was probably the worst kept secret in town. Some of the recent screenings have been pretty extraordinary - the one at Park Hill Flats in Sheffield as part of Warp 20 and a recent screening at the Liverpool Philarmonic. PB: What’s the next step for the film? Will it be on general release, or limited to select screenings? When will the film be out on DVD, and what extras can people expect from it? LM: Next is the UK big screen/live tour in October. It’s kind of a low fi 3D screening – bringing the film to life with Les Savy Fav, and good that people can watch it with a beer in their hand. The DVD and download will be out in November via ourtrueintent.com. PB: Thank you.

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