Garth Gratrix

Garth Gratrix is an artist and curator living and working in Blackpool with his cat Jilly. He creates work that responds to existing material or spaces that he has worked in and is interested in abstract and minimal art as a way to explore identity from the perspective of LGBTQIA+. His work predominantly references and advocates for coastal culture, its playful euphemistic charms, its familiarity and opportunities to escape and looks at things from new and more relaxed perspectives.

Clancy Mason asks Garth some questions about his practice, films, influences and his hometown. 

 

CM:  Can you tell us a little bit about your work/practice? 

GG: I have an international portfolio with exhibitions in the UK, Norway, Iceland and South Korea. I established Abingdon Studios- a leading artist studio and project space provision in the heart of Blackpool, with programmes including WORK/LEISURE, an international residency scheme, SCAN (a new seaside curators and artist network) in development and The Coast is Queer, the first residency platform in Blackpool to support and develop LGBTQIA+ artists from across the UK. I have previously delivered programmes of activity that bring artists together to collaborate in empty spaces as part of my nomadic curatorial platform titled In Collaboration With (ICW).

I have supported over 200 artists over the last 5 years and most recently curated the UK Young Artist of the Year Art Prize in partnership with UK New Artists, Robert Walters Group and Saatchi Gallery.

My last solo exhibition was titled Shy Girl, installed at Grundy Art Gallery and supported by Arts Council England.

Shy Girl (2020) at Grundy Art Gallery, supported by Arts Council England.

CM: What is your involvement in the WGFF 2020?

GG: I have been invited to curate a collection of footage sourced and adapted from the LUX and BFI archives; in particular, to explore how LGBTQIA+  themes or past unseen footage can be seen, perhaps for the first time, or in a new way for audiences in Blackpool.

CM: If you could share any pearls of wisdom with anyone trying to get a career in the arts off the ground, what would it be?

GG: I am learning that the best way is to crack on and get something up and running yourself. Most of the work I have achieved has come through my own initiation and determination to see an idea come to reality. However, you need other people’s help, you can’t do it all yourself. Ask questions, invite people into your ideas and see how they become stronger and more realistic through shared learning. 

Understand where you fit, or where your idea comes from. That may be through history, through current politics out of frustrations about what you feel is missing culturally. However, understand that and communicate it clearly and concisely. This helps other people know how they actually can help and why you have approached someone in the first place.

Don’t chase money. Develop and progress the thing you genuinely love and have passion for. Others will feed off that and usually want to help someone that is authentic and shows personal commitment and drive. Never expect anything, none of us are entitled to something, just because we feel we have put the most work in, or we live there. It is often a game of chance and luck, but be ready and confident in your ability for when your time comes, and it will. 

Treat someone as you would want to be treated yourself. We are all always learning on the job, there is not one way to work in the arts. Be kind. Unless you are 100% financially solid on your own and can fund an lifelong career, you’ll need ongoing working relationships that are positive. Nobody likes to be or feel used in the moment, work with people you actually like and stay connected with them in a way that is mutually beneficial. 

Garth Gratrix, Cheeky Felicia, 2019. Colour installation, Abingdon Studios Project Space as part of The Fortnight with Harry Clayton-Wright

CM: Are there any career highlights you are particularly proud of?

GG: Ignoring, the above humility, I’ve done some amazing things! In all honesty I would say curating an exhibition of young artists from across the UK, in Seoul, South Korea. It was possibly the most stressful and demanding exhibitions to date, but taught me so much about communication beyond my comfort zone, flying solo in a new place and having confidence in myself to do something well that also supports others.

Also, I was particularly proud of my latest solo show, Shy Girl. It was the first time I achieved my own funding application and it created some really exciting new ideas for me and my work moving forwards and some great new collaborations with other artists I admire. It ticked a number of items of the bucket list in one go and I have a book to mark the achievement.

CM: What is your connection to Blackpool? What are the challenges and highlights of living and working here?

GG: I was born and raised here, moved away, then came back like a moth to a flame (or Illumination). My family is of football heritage, with my Grandfather, Roy Gratrix, being considered a legend player for Blackpool FC. Blackpool also has a gay community that I see as culturally significant for the UK, and one where I feel safe and welcomed. 

Challenges: Convincing the world around you that Blackpool is culturally relevant and not just a thing to reminisce over or look back at its former accomplishments. People think they know the town before they visit, this creates a difficult crowd when trying to show them something more altruistic and opportunistic as a destination that is affordable to live and work as a creative. With this in mind, it is a challenge to just be the artist you might want to be. It is still a hard career to get accepted as such, a career. It often feels like you are 20% artist and 80% convincing others that you can be an artist here. The town can take creative people for granted and can misplace its culture versus tourism priorities sometimes (in my opinion), so the trick is trying not to become free added value for others getting paid.

Seeing more artists moving here and having spaces to be able to show and develop work is something of a highlight to be involved in and help grow.

Highlights: Soooo many! Being part of a small arts ecology means you can be focussed and develop work that takes new risks, it isn’t over-influenced by a self-congratulatory circle that you might find in established art scenes and be the best version of yourself. Being able to be in an art studio five minutes away from our famous promenade is a dream come true. Seeing more artists moving here and having spaces to be able to show and develop work is something of a highlight to be involved in and help grow. Being invited to be involved in some wonderful and ambitious projects over the years and meet so many incredible minds living by the sea is a bit of a hidden gem and I’m just pleased to be part of it all.

CM: Covid-19 has been challenging for everyone. How are you managing to remain creative during this time?

GG: When covid-19 hit the UK, literally within a week, I had lost all existing contracts for 2020 (except WGFF and The Coast is Queer residency programme in development). Thousands of pounds of income removed, without warning. It was and remains difficult. However, what it has forced upon me is much need respite. Artists rarely take time off (it’s virtually impossible for self-employed creatives to do so), so I have been able to really appreciate my surroundings again and Blackpool as a place perfect for taking time away, a home from home. 

I am terrible with digital interaction, I’m feeling my age as an elder of the Millennials, but finding ways for it to be useful for me. Such as reaching out to artists I’ve always wanted to work with and perhaps not had time to strike up a conversation yet. Staying in contact with queer artists outside of Blackpool via phone has been crucial to my work as an artist and for my sanity to exchange ideas and keep friendships going.

I am reading more, my cat Jilly is oblivious and loving that I am home to sit on 24/7. I am able to run errands for the family, who, although all in Blackpool, I have barely seen. So even in this climate, I am connected more with them.

As director of Abingdon, we are still pushing forwards planning activity and commissions for artists post Covid-19, so that we can open our doors to more people to engage with arts and culture again.

CM: Here are some quick-fire movie questions:

1) CM: What film do you wish you could see again for the first time and why?

GG: Titanic, because now I know what happens. and I now hate My Heart Will Go on #donetodeath.

2) CM: Have any films influenced your own work/practice? Which ones and how?

GG: I enjoy watching artist moving image pieces from artists such as:

  • Peter Fischli (b.1952) & David Weiss (1952 – 2012): The Way Things Go, (1987). 
  • Bruce Nauman (b.1941): Clown Torture, 1987.
  • John Wood (b.1969) & Paul Harrison (b.1966): Twenty Six (Drawing and Falling Things) collection of short films/kinetic performances 
  • Mike Kelley (1954-2012): Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #1 (A Domestic Scene), (2000).
  • Matthew Barney (b.1967) Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002)

All very different artists, but I get inspired by the varying ways in which they work with objects, spaces and use film as a medium to perhaps help us understand performance, character, and identity within our everyday surrounding, whether those realities are constructed or staged or more DIY and truthful.

As a gay man, quite a few films help me brush off shame and just learn to be comfortable with who I am:

  • Beautiful Thing (1996)
  • Pride (2014)
  • The Birdcage ((1996)
  • Weekend (2011)
  • Philadelphia (1993)
  • Paris is Burning (1990)
  • Mulholland Drive (2001)
  • Boys Don’t Cry (1999)
  • Call Me By Your Name (2017)
  • MILK (2008)

3) CM: Is there a filmmaker you would like to collaborate with and what would your collaboration look like?

GG: I’d be more interested in collaborating with the artists mentioned above and how we could use film as a tool to explore ideas. If Derek Jarman was alive today, there would be a restraining order with my name on it.

Gay director, Bryan Singer (X-Men), as maybe I could get a date with Wolverine.

Gay director, Kenny Ortega (Hocus Pocus), as the maker of my favorite childhood movie a) to say thank you and b) can he take me to grab a drink with Bette Midler.

Garth’s childhood favourite, Hocus Pocus (Picture: Disney/Kobal/REX)

4) CM: Can you recommend any contemporary films / filmmakers, from the last 10 years, which you think are pushing boundaries and doing exciting things with film?

GG: Steve McQueen, the only filmmaker to win an Oscar and the Turner Prize. 

5) CM: What three films would be on your ultimate Lockdown Movie Marathon?

GG: Considering my answers beforehand, I’m in need of a bit of Hocus Pocus, Devil Wears Prada and Mrs Doubtfire in these desperate times. Good switch off easy watch movies. It can all be research and sometimes I just need to eat popcorn.

CM:  Post Covid-19, do you have any plans for the ‘new normal’?

GG: Not worrying about what normal is anymore, it can all and will always change.

Stay up to date with Garth Gratrix on  Twitter and Instagram

Header photo: Garth Gratrix, Shy Girl, solo exhibition, Grundy Art Gallery, 2020.

Harry Clayton-Wright

We had a great time working with Harry Clayton Wright, who joined the judging panel of the Winter Gardens Film Festival International Short Film Competition in 2019. We asked Harry to dream up some ideas about what he might like to create for the following year’s festival.

Clancy Mason catches up with Harry to talk all things creative, recent events and what his new project might look like.

CM: Can you tell us a little bit about your work/practice?

HCW: I’m an entertainer, theatre maker and performance artist working across mediums (stage, screen, galleries, nightclubs). Playing with form not only keeps things interesting, but also allows me to experiment with how I can channel my craft. Where and what that manifests into is what best suits the idea. I try not to limit myself creatively which makes things both more challenging and exciting. 

Having spent the majority of my twenties touring internationally as a dancer and performer in cabaret spectacles, I returned home to focus on furthering my solo practice and embark on my thirties. My debut solo theatre show, Sex Education, won a Brighton Fringe award in 2017 on its debut outing and earned a Total Theatre Award nomination at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2019. Last year, I co-wrote and starred in a short film called Deep Clean – directed by GRAMMY nominated and UK Music Video Award winning David Wilson – which was selected by SXSW, The Iris Prize in Cardiff and NewFest in New York. 

Another interest of mine is that I also specialise in durational performance. The Slumber Party was my 107-hour performance (that’s around four and a half days) where I played a teenager who wouldn’t leave her bedroom and day or night you could come and see me inhabit this character who lived in a glass fronted box. This premiered at Glastonbury and has since been performed in Australia at the Adelaide Fringe. Then last year I also debuted The Fortnight in Brighton and Blackpool, which was a two-week durational performance piece where every day for 14 days I premiered a brand new eight-hour performance piece. So, as you can tell, it’s been a varied career but one I’ve enjoyed immensely.

CM: What is your involvement in the Winter Gardens Film Festival 2020?

HCW: The WGFF is such an exciting and important event for Blackpool. After loving my experience with the festival last year – being part of the jury, seeing so many great films and attending fantastic events – I jumped at the chance to be involved again. 

In regards to my involvement this year, we’re taking inspiration from both an iconic movie superstar and local queer history crafting a performance party that recreates Divine’s appearance at the Flamingo in 1986 with an event that features newly created and bespoke visuals, in collaboration with film students at Blackpool and the Fylde College, paying homage to John Waters with the party featuring a live tribute honouring the legend herself, Divine. 

Harry chats to a Winter Gardens Film Festival (2019) volunteer

CM: If you could share any pearls of wisdom with anyone trying to get a career in the arts off the ground, what would it be?

HCW: Invest in and craft good documentation of your work. Learn how to sell your ideas and form a strong pitch. Find a USP, get a gimmick, hone your style. Create your own opportunities and take the lead. 

If you wait for the gatekeepers to let you in, or the permission to make work, you might be waiting a while. Know the marketplace, stay ahead of the curve, be iconic. 

“If you wait for the gatekeepers to let you in, or the permission to make work, you might be waiting a while. Know the marketplace, stay ahead of the curve, be iconic.” 

CM:  Are there any career highlights you are particularly proud of?

HCW: Touring the world many times over and being able to explore new places and make meaningful friendships along the way is something I’m very thankful for. To have had the opportunity to perform on some incredibly hallowed stages is something I cherish. Sex Education being so well received at the Edinburgh Fringe was so meaningful and having that connection with audiences when performing the show is always special – I was invited to take the show to Sydney Mardi Gras in February of this year which was also a dream come to true as a queer kid from Blackpool. But the process of making our short film Deep Clean and seeing an act I’d dreamed up in my house fully reimagined as a Hollywood production number and sharing that experience with not only my friend, but a director as renowned and talented as David Wilson, with such an exceptionally talented crew on board, is an experience I’ll treasure forever. 

Deep Clean: a short film directed by GRAMMY nominated and UK Music Video Award winning David Wilson – selected by SXSW, The Iris Prize in Cardiff and NewFest in New York.: Photo by STUDIOGRABDOWN

CM: What is your connection to Blackpool? What are the challenges and highlights of living and working here?

HCW: I feel so lucky to have grown up in Blackpool with access to the incredible heritage and traditions of entertainment at my fingertips and it’s had a profound impact on my life and career. Only now I’m older do I realise how lucky I am that being around these historic, beautiful and wonderful institutions – the Winter Gardens, Blackpool Tower, the Grand Theatre, Blackpool Pleasure Beach to name but a few – has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. 

It’s amazing that these experiences are normalised to us in our childhoods at such an early age. Your imagination is always so stimulated. There’s fun around every corner. As I got older and realised I wanted to become a performer, while I was aware it required dedication, achieving that goal didn’t feel impossible because of the accessibility of those experiences on my doorstep. Whenever I mention I’m from Blackpool I always feel like I make sense. Plus my complete obsession with wigs, feathers, sequins, glitz and glamour can easily be traced. 

In regards to the challenges of living in Blackpool, while there’s a really exciting arts movement in the town with so many incredibly talented artists and creatives, how I’ve been earning the majority of my living over the past few years means touring and working outside of the town. Therefore, I’ve had to be away for long periods of time and as a homebody who loves to be around family that’s always very conflicting. I’ve been constantly living out of suitcases and was always on trains or planes, so trying to find and make more local sustainable work can sometimes be a challenge. But that’s why I’m so excited to be collaborating in partnership with the WGFF to craft new work, inspired by local history, and show it on home turf. 

CM: Covid-19 has been challenging for everyone. How are you managing to remain creative during this time?

HCW: I was in the middle of touring my show when the crisis hit, so initially there was a lot of admin around postponing dates and other cancelled work/plans. Since then, I’ve been putting together an online magazine experience in the form of a new zine called You Otter Know which has been commissioned by Homotopia as part of their Queer Art Always series launching mid-June. 

Then there’s been dreaming up this new work for the WGFF which in this current climate of course offers challenges in terms of when and how. But the bonus in crafting something new is that there are no rules and now is the time to think outside the box and when it’s safe and the right time to be in a room together, we’ll be ready to provide the fun, joy and escapism!

CM: Here are some quick-fire movie questions:

1) What film do you wish you could see again for the first time and why?

HCW: Parasite. One of the best films I’ve seen in such a long time. Can’t tell you how much I loved it. 

Song Kang-ho in Bong Joon-ho’s award winning film Parasite
Image copyright © 2020 Curzon Artificial Eye

2) CM: Have any films influenced your own work/practice? Which ones and how?

HCW: The films of John Waters opened my mind and inspired a love of just making the things that you want to see in the world, Showgirls (an iconic movie experience) influenced my style of dance, Ziegfeld Follies gave me a love of SPECTACLE.

3) CM: Is there a filmmaker you would like to collaborate with and what would your collaboration look like?

HCW: Chris Cunningham. I hope it’d be beautiful, funny and fucked up.

4) CM: Can you recommend any contemporary films / filmmakers, from the last 10 years, which you think are pushing boundaries and doing exciting things with film?

HCW: Parasite, The Florida Project, Climax, The Handmaiden, beautiful and exciting films, put them on your list and watch them immediately. 

5) CM: What three films would be on your ultimate Lockdown Movie Marathon? 

  • Train to Busan (if you can cope with a zombie film at this point in time, this is excellent). 
  • Rear Window (an isolation themed classic)
  • Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (a non-stop giver of joy and a personal fav) 

CM:  Post Covid-19, do you have any plans for the ‘new normal’?

HCW: Having so many plans curtailed, I’m trying to be as open and flexible as possible to what the future holds because it looks like we’re in this for a while. I’m allowing myself to rest and feel inspired, as I’m very aware that we’re going to have to approach things differently from here on out and I want to be on full batteries for that. 

Artists and creatives have long adapted to challenges and something that feels important to me is sharing in the joy of being together and creating spaces for experiencing art, so when the time is right and it’s safe to gather again, I wanna be ready to offer that. But given that not everyone will maybe be able to be in the same room, with a lot of people having to shield and social distancing measures needing to be employed, I also want to have strategies that work in tandem with what that’ll have to look like. 

Embedding digital strands into live work going forward and employing clever alternative methods of sharing projects, so that things can be experienced by as many people as possible even if we can’t all be together.

Stay up to date with Harry Clayton-Wright on  Twitter and Instagram

📸 Header Photo Credit: Rosie Powell

Mykey J Young

Mykey J Young is a multi-disciplinary artist, producer and director based in Blackpool. He creates and produces exciting and engaging concepts and programmes with heart and soul for the cultural and commercial sectors, both on home soil, throughout the UK and across the globe.

Clancy Mason catches up with Mykey to talk about his project plans for the Winter Gardens Film Festival, his love of musicals and his creative journey so far.

CM: Can you tell us a little bit about your work/practice? 

MJY: I like to make works at all scales from intimate cabarets to large-scale spectacle, outdoor arts and festivals.  I love to blend skill, fuse styles and dream big. 

CM: What is your involvement in the Winter Gardens Film Festival 2020?

MJY: I am REALLY excited to have been commissioned by the WGFF for 2020 and will be creating a (hopefully) hilarious and interesting series of performances to accompany the ‘Sing-a-long’ screening of ‘Calamity Jane’.  I am going to create the pre-screening event in two sections. 

For the first I’ll be working with a group of local young actors, prospective graduates and volunteers to create a veritable smorgasbord of eye-catching and charismatic Western themed characters and interactive activities to keep our audiences amused and entertained before the film starts. 

For the second I’ll be throwing Drag and Music Hall Culture, Musical Theatre, Cabaret and themes of ‘Calamity Jane’ in to a blender to create ‘Miss Molly Mackenzie’s Showtime Saloon Sing-a-long’ – a bite size spectacular that gets the audience warmed up and ready to sing along with the screening of the film. You can expect stockings, suspenders, song and dance and maybe even a comedy prop, or two! (whip crack away, which crack away, whip crack away!) 

Festival favourite: Calamity Jane (1953)

CM: If you could share any pearls of wisdom with anyone trying to get a career in the arts off the ground, what would it be?

MJY: Working in the arts can sometimes feel unachievable, like it’s beyond your grasp. When I first started out I was from a very different background. I worried that I wouldn’t fit in, that I wouldn’t ever be good enough, that I wouldn’t be taken seriously and that I wouldn’t ever be able to get a foot in the door. I just didn’t know where to start, so for a long time, I didn’t. 

I found my way when I stopped letting those little vampires (the voices inside my head) stop me from giving it a shot. I sought out support from Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme (CPP). I attended a surgery with LeftCoast (the Blackpool CPP) where I was encouraged to be honest with myself and explain what I wanted to achieve. When I finished rambling (for probably a good hour or so), the team helped me to structure a plan for how to bring my ideas to life and supported me along the way with advice, training and mentoring. 

It was one of the first times I felt seen or even understood. I was heard and my ambitions and dreams given serious credit for what felt like the first time in my career. That is the beauty of working in arts and culture. You can do you, with no need for an apology. 

There is so much support out there for anyone who wants to start a career in the arts in every role, not just as the artist. CPP still runs across the country to this day and no matter where you are from, even if you don’t have a CPP, there is arts support in almost every region of the country. You just need to seek it out. 

Since then, I have been persistent in working hard, developing my practice and building a professional and personal support network and I haven’t looked back. It’s tough at times, but it’s the same in every industry. That’s just life!  

My best advice would be that if you want to achieve something, you just have to switch your mindset to a place where you believe that you can do it. If you can visualize it, you can make it happen. Once you make that tiny change, the only thing that can limit you is your imagination. You just have to take a shot and go out and grab it with both hands.

Go for it, be brave, be bold and be brilliant! 

That is the beauty of working in arts and culture. You can do you, with no need for an apology.

CM:  Are there any career highlights you are particularly proud of?

MJY: I really do count my lucky stars to have worked on a whole host of gorgeous projects but I am particularly proud to have created the first LightPool Festival, which won the Best Tourist Event award at the 2017 Lancashire Tourism Awards and featured work and performances from over 60 international artists and directors. 

Another favourite project was working as an Associate Director on ‘We’re Here because We’re Here’ – a living artwork, masterminded by Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller. The artwork unfolded simultaneously in villages, towns and cities across the entirety of the UK to mark the 100th anniversary of The Battle of The Somme. The project was under the strictest of embargos and was a kept a complete secret until the day it took place when thousands of volunteers took to the streets, representing every single soldier who had lost their lives fighting for their country. It will forever be one of the most emotionally moving projects I have ever worked on and I am so proud to have been a part of it.  

‘We’re Here because We’re Here’ Photo: CJ Griffiths Photography

CM: What is your connection to Blackpool? What are the challenges and highlights of living and working here?

MYJ: “When people ask me why I ‘do what I do’ I always tell the same story. “I was inspired by the place that I grew up in and had a bizarre childhood, with experiences that just wouldn’t have happened anywhere else except in that place and at that time.”  

The quote above is taken from a work in progress that focuses on my own self-reflection, as I analyse exactly what part Blackpool really had to play in shaping me to become who I am today, but most importantly, why. 

I am a huge fan of Blackpool. I am passionate about it. I care about it. I see it as a Wonderland, where anything can happen and it inspires me and my work, daily. Where else do you have two Ballrooms, a Frank Matcham Theatre, an Opera House, a Circus and a Theme Park on your doorstep? It takes me 5 minutes to walk to a seafront that on a summers day can make you feel like you are in an exotic country and 5 minutes in the opposite direction to walk to a Victorian park, steeped in history with its own Art Deco café and boating lake. I am spoiled for choice in my hometown and I often take it for granted. 

Working as an artist or creative in a northern seaside resort can come with its challenges. It’s no secret that arts and culture are severely under invested in this area. Accessing funding and space and finding support to create work can be extremely difficult to navigate. ‘High quality work’ is, more of then than not, bought in rather than supported to be created here. 

That said, we do have a small, passionate and highly proactive creative community made up of amazing artists, curators, excellent thinkers, producers, makers, doers and go-getters, who, when they join forces, are unstoppable. I’m really proud of my talented friends who continue to work here and together we are all leading change, bit-by-bit!

It is EXCELLENT that The Winter Gardens Film Festival have provided so many top quality commissions to local artists for 2020 and I am proud and thankful to have the opportunity to work with them, in my hometown. 

CM: Covid-19 has been challenging for everyone. How are you managing to remain creative during this time?

MJY: Being in a situation that has forced me to slow down is really, really strange. Work/Life balance isn’t usually a phrase in my vocabulary. I very much live my work, but that’s just how I have always been and it really does make me happy. But now, things have changed and I find myself with much more time with my own thoughts than normal. 

I wouldn’t normally dedicate so much time to going on walks, taking time to stop and breathe or even taking time to just forget about working all together for a day or even two. In doing this I’ve found real clarity of thought in the moments of calm and that has unlocked a whole new level of creativity in my brain. 

Some days I am excellent and some days I am not. Some days I can’t stop creating and some days I just want to stay in my pajamas and binge watch Schitts Creek (in my daily quest to master my impressions of Moira Rose).

Normally, I would just push through these feelings to keep going, but this situation has taught me that we don’t need to go at 100 miles per hour all day, every day. In fact, it’s most likely counterproductive. 

My friend Tina has this saying – ‘be kind to yourself’, and I have been repeating that in my head every day since things began to change.  

Forcing myself to stop for a moment is making me more creative in turn. If I have a great day, full of ideas, I go with it. And I work hard. But if I am faced with a day where I just don’t feel up to it, or I don’t feel creative, then I let it go and I don’t make myself feel guilty for it like I used to. 

This is such a strange situation for us all to be in, that I really do think that all we can do is our best and try to find the positive in every situation, even if at times we feel like Dorothy Gale, trapped in that tornado!  

So that’s exactly how I’m managing to keep being creative during these times, by following Tina’s advice and just being kind to myself. 

You should try it…it works! 

This is such a strange situation for us all to be in, that I really do think that all we can do is our best and try to find the positive in every situation, even if at times we feel like Dorothy Gale, trapped in that tornado!  

Mykey on working through the COVID-19 pandemic

CM: Here are some quick-fire movie questions:

1) CM: What film do you wish you could see again for the first time and why?

MJY: Mrs Doubtfire. Because despite having seen the film probably more than a thousand times, I still laugh uncontrollably every single time. I would like to have the chance to watch it again for the first time but as an adult and not as a child, understanding all of the subtleties and genius of Robin Williams from scratch. It’s one of my all time favourite films. 

2) CM: Have any films influenced your own work/practice? Which ones and how?

MJY: Oh gosh, this is really difficult to answer because there are too many to mention and I can already hear the eyes of film buffs across the country rolling as they read these answers. BUT…

For comedy and improvisation it would have to be the aforementioned Mrs Doubtfire along with Hocus Pocus. For pure style and opulence, Moulin Rouge. For stylisation, Cabaret, along with the Studio 54 revival of the stage show that starred Alan Cumming.  (AMAZING!)

And whether or not you laugh at me, Mean Girls is an absolute favourite of mine and in turn the Broadway musical that was inspired by the film. I was furious that Tina Fey beat me to it with the adaptation! (I know we are talking about films and I keep bringing up musicals, but it all goes hand in hand with me!) 

3) CM: Is there a filmmaker you would like to collaborate with and what would your collaboration look like?

MJY: OF COURSE! I absolutely adore Baz Luhrman. EVERTHING about his style and direction makes my heart soar. I just ADORE his work.

I mentioned earlier that I see Blackpool as a Wonderland and this was even more so growing up here as a kid. In my minds eye, I always see my childhood memories in filmic quality. They play out just like scenes in a movie. It would be incredible to collaborate with Luhrmann to tell a story inspired by some of those memories.  Just imagine how it would look. WOW! 

4) CM:  Can you recommend any contemporary films / filmmakers, from the last 10 years, which you think are pushing boundaries and doing exciting things with film?

MJY: Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ always sticks out in my mind as an amazing movie in the last decade. The aesthetics were stunning and the use of colour exceptional. I love it when the cinematography takes me by surprise and with this film it really did.  I might go and watch it again now… 

5) CM: What three films would be on your ultimate Lockdown Movie Marathon?

  • Connie and Carla 
  • Priscilla Queen of the Desert
  • To Wong Fu, with love, Julie Newmar (I know, camp or what? I am ridiculous.) 
A firm favourite: Priscilla Queen of the Desert

CM:  Post Covid-19, do you have any plans for the ‘new normal’?

My new normal will mainly consist of never, ever taking anything in my life for granted, ever again. And being with the people that I love as often as possible. <3 <3 <3

Over and out…MJY xxx

Photo credits: Mykey J Young

@mykeyjyoung

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You were never lovelier

Opening Night: You Were Never Lovelier (1942)

Doors open 7:15pm, Screening starts 8pm, Friday 3 February

Year: 1942
Running Time: 97 mins
Director: William A. Seiter
Starring: Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Adolphe Menjou, Isobel Elsom, Leslie Brooks
Cert: U
You Were Never Lovelier 

We’re heading down to Argentina for this romantic musical comedy starring dance legend Fred Astaire and the iconic Rita Hayworth

This clever cocktail of humour, romance and stylish musical numbers features music from composer Jerome Kern (Ol’ Man River, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, The Way You Look Tonight) and lyricist Johnny Mercer (Jeepers Creepers, Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive, Moon River) in a sparkling digital restoration.

Astaire plays Robert Davies, a dancer who likes to have a flutter on the horses. After losing his money gambling, he looks for a job in a Buenos Aires nightclub and is soon pulled into the middle of an elaborate scheme where he falls for Maria – the club owner’s daughter played by Hayworth.

There are intrigues a-plenty as Maria mistakes Robert for a fictional admirer concocted by her meddlesome father, but how long can they keep up the charade when love is on the cards?

Released in 1942, this lavish production must have provided much needed escapism from the war, set in a far-away location with infectious Latin sounds from Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, beautiful costumes and a heavy dose of Hollywood glamour.

Hayworth is a beautiful dancer, gracefully keeping step with Astaire, who said in his autobiography that she was his favourite dancing partner. Whether a romantic, graceful waltz or a high-energy tap routine the dance numbers are exceptional and promise to keep your toes tapping all night long!

Dance Party!

Make sure that you wear your dancing shoes as we’re holding a swing dance party after the screening in the Grand Foyer with live dance band the Billionaires.

Tickets are available online now.

Standard Ticket £10:

  • Cocktail on arrival
  • Film Screening in Opera House

VIP ticket £15:

  • Cocktail on arrival
  • Film Screening in Opera House
  • Entry to the 1940s swing dance party in the Grand Foyer: Live music and lindy hop dance

This is a fundraising event to restore the 35mm film projectors in the Opera House.

Buy Tickets

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Date: Sunday 24 January
Venue: Derham Lounge
Time: 7:30pm

Tickets: £5

Young Frankenstein

Year: 1974  Running Time: 106

Director: Mel Brooks
Starring: Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Kenneth Mars, Gene Hackman, Richard Haydn, Teri Garr, Liam Dunn, Danny Goldman, Oscar Beregi, Richard Roth, Mel Brooks
Cert: PG

Genre: Comedy

A nostalgic, hilarious spoof-tribute to classic horror films, and in particular, of Mary Shelley’s classic novel. It was shot in the same castle and with the same props and lab equipment as the original 1931 Frankenstein film.

Dr. Frankenstein aims to fulfil his grandfather’s legacy by bringing a corpse back to life. With help and hindrance from servant Igor, buxom assistant Inga and needy fiancée Elizabeth, his experiment yields success and unexpected consequences.

Young Frankenstein received two Academy Awards nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound. Watch out for the wonderfully crisp black-and-white cinematography by Gerald Hirschfeld too.

We’re ending the Winter Gardens Film Festival on a high with a real riot of a film. It has a range of slapstick and farce to dirty, bawdy humour to irreverent satire. Something for everyone!

Take a look at the Facebook event.

Tickets are available from the Winter Gardens Box Office, Church Street or online via Ticketmaster (booking fee applies).

 

Young Frankenstein trailer

Frances Ha (2013)

Date: Sunday 24 January
Venue: Derham Lounge
Time: 5:30pm

Tickets: £5

Frances Ha

Year: 2013  Running Time: 86
Director: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
Cert: 15
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Greta Gerwig is Frances, a young woman in New York trying to sort out her ambitions, her finances, and her close but changing relationship with her best friend, Sophie.

Written by Baumbach and Gerwig, Frances Ha gets at both the frustrations and the joys of being young and unsure of where to go next. Witty and carefree, this sparkling city romance is a fine example of contemporary independent American cinema.

Frances Ha Trailer

Frances Ha – Official Theatrical Trailer from IFC Films on Vimeo.

Take a look at the Facebook event.

Tickets are available from the Winter Gardens Box Office, Church Street or online via Ticketmaster (booking fee applies).

Modern Times (1936)

Date: Sunday 24 January
Venue: Baronial Hall
Time: 3:30pm

Tickets: £5

Modern Times

Year: 1936  Running Time: 87
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
Cert: U
Genre: Comedy

Over 100 years since his most famous character The Little Tramp appeared on screen and 112 years since Charlie Chaplin appeared on stage at the Winter Gardens,  we are screening his classic comedy Modern Times.

Featuring several of the most celebrated sequences in comic cinema and a musical score written by Chaplin himself, this is a cutting satire of the Great Depression and the dehumanising effects of industrial development.

Paulette Goddard stars as The Gamin who joins the Little Tramp in escaping from the big city. Feel like escaping modern life?  This film is as engaging today as 80 years ago.

Archive footage: Mayor of Blackpool on Sing As We Go (1934)

Date: Sunday 24 January
Venue: Baronial Hall
Time: 1pm

Tickets: Free for wristband holders, Sing As We Go ticket holders and Civic Trust Members (please bring you membership card).

Mayor of Blackpool on Sing As We Go

Year: 1934  Running Time: 10
Genre: Archive

From the Town Hall archive: The 1934 Mayor of Blackpool Mr Charles Edward Tatham makes a speech thanking the creators of Sing As We Go for filming in Blackpool.

This film was discovered in late 2015 tucked away in Blackpool Town Hall basement. It has been digitally restored by Blackpool Civic Trust and this will be the first public screening of this footage.

Sing As We Go (1934)

Date: Sunday 24 January
Venue: Baronial Hall
Time: 1:45pm

Tickets: £5

Sing As We Go

Year: 1934  Running Time: 80
Director: Basil Dean
Starring: Gracie Fields, John Loder, Dorothy Hyson
Cert: U
Genre: Comedy

When the textile mill closes, putting her out of work, Gracie finds herself experiencing all of the amusements of Blackpool.

The most famous and fondly recalled of Gracie Fields’ British vehicles, Sing as We Go! captures vividly the sights, sounds, slang, customs and attitudes of the working classes in 1930s industrial Lancashire, while at the same time conveying a genuine sense of joyousness and delight.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Date: Saturday 23 January
Venue: Opera House
Time: 9pm

Tickets: £5

Carnival of Souls

Year: 1962  Running Time: 79
Director: Herk Harvey
Starring: Candace Hilligoss, Sidney Berger
Cert: 15
Genre: Horror, B-Movie

Carnival of Souls is a strange, atmospheric and unforgettable horror film. It focuses on a young church organist Mary Henry (Candace Hilligoss) who is haunted by visions of a ghoulish netherworld after surviving what appears to be certain death when a car in which she is a passenger, plunges over the edge of a bridge into the river below.

Mary begins a new life in a sleepy Utah town, home to a derelict carnival and dancehall. Still struggling in the aftermath of her accident, she is haunted by an enigmatic figure that slips inside her dreams and calls her to the ruins of the former pleasure ground – about which the local Mormon congregation know more than they choose to reveal.

If you like this, you may also be interested in the Carnival of Souls Cinema in the Dark event.