MARK THOMAS TALKS MIKE GARRY + JOE DUDDELL – TEXT LUKE BATHER
Eight years ago, the father of Manchester’s musical heritage, Tony Wilson, passed away after a battle with cancer. Shockwaves were felt worldwide, and as an almost immediate reaction the Manchester poet Mike Garry penned the poem ‘St Anthony’ in tribute.
Now, in order to properly honour Wilson, Garry has teamed up with composer Joe Duddell to create a reimagined recording of the poem, which is accompanied by Soup Collective’s video featuring a cavalcade of musical legends from Manchester and beyond.
The video serves as a testament to Wilson’s cultural importance, both for Manchester and the world at large. We spoke to video director Mark Thomas about this mammoth video undertaking and what it’s like to have a two-day shoot transform into a yearlong project.
Word Is Cheap: The St. Anthony project looks to have been a massive undertaking – how did you first come to be involved?
Mark Thomas: Soup were asked to get involved many moons ago now, Pete Jobson from the band I am Kloot got in touch and introduced me to Mike Garry, the poet. Being Manchester-based and all, there were lots of shared connections already, and we’d previously worked with the composer Joe Duddell on a few projects.
They already had the starting point of it being an ensemble cast and from there it was a case of working out the approach and feel of it.
It felt like a true Soup Collective project with everyone chipping in time and effort to turn it into a really strong finished piece, from trawling the streets of Manchester for the animated sections to getting a consistent lighting look across all the performances.
Lots of favours were pulled and everyone went completely out of their way to make it happen, from the cast through to lighting and studio use.
WIC: The video was a year in the making, but reportedly shot in two days, what were the factors behind the lengthy preproduction and what kept you involved?
MT: At the production helm were Mike Garry, Ali Hudson and Pete Jobson, Mike seems to be one removed from pretty much everyone in Manchester and managed to get in touch with so many people from his little black book, so the initial shoot came together quicker than I’d have imagined.
The core shoot was two days but then more people wanted to get involved once word spread and we couldn’t really say no, so shooting panned out a bit longer than expected. The folks over at Bentley, Bentley & Bentley covered the London contingency, Keith Walker filmed John Cooper Clarke, Sean Walker filmed Iggy Pop with Mike and Mike Garry personally saw to capturing Phillip Glass, which is a joy to watch.
WIC: What motivated you to have Steve Coogan and Iggy Pop start the poem before cutting into Mike Garry’s reading?
MT: Two of the most recognisable voices in popular culture! It seemed too good not to at least try it. We did experiment with more but it quickly became muddled, I’m really chuffed with what we’ve ended up with.
WIC: The video has some great, poignant moments – were there many happy accidents?
MT: Loads, I think that’s part of the reason it took so long. There was 20 odd hours of rushes and playback to go through, so we’d come back to it after being head down in a project and suddenly see loads of subtleties and nuances that hadn’t been picked up on before. One thing that I only really picked up on later on is you do feel a sense of shared history amongst everyone. It’s lovely working with something so simple in form; it makes you appreciate all the character and expression.
WIC: Was there anybody you wanted to get involved with the video that declined, or anybody you had to say no to?
MT: There were a few people who just couldn’t make it for one reason or another, not for want of trying. But all in all, everyone went all out to make sure they could, finding the time and making the trek to the different studios – The Sharp Project, MJS Collective and Drop City – that were kind enough to host us.
It’s testament to the drive of Mike Garry and all the producers that so many people got involved, and of course to the love and respect for Tony, who had played such an important part in all their lives.
WIC: If you want to buy the single, visit the following links. All proceeds go straight to The Christie Cancer Hospital, where Wilson was treated.
BUY Physical – http://saintanthony.tmstor.es
Buy tickets for the launch event on Fri August 14th at the Old Granada Studios – http://stanthony.tickets/
DONATE Text your donation: FACT65 £ followed by the amount to 70070
More information can be found at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/StAnthonyMCR