A Savoyard's First Brush with Censorship
A Savoyard's First Brush with Censorship
A feature-length experimental documentary, exploring the history of alternative publishing in Manchester.
A feature-length experimental documentary, exploring the history of alternative publishing in Manchester. Read more
About this project
This largely untold story is a vital part of Manchester's cultural history, intertwined with, but adding a new dimension to the well-known narratives around the City's art and music scenes over the past four decades.
Savoy Books are an independent publishing house based above a locksmith shop in the South Manchester district of Didsbury, founded and run by Michael Butterworth and David Britton. In 1989 they published Lord Horror, the last book to be banned in the UK under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act; in part a response to Britton's time spent in Strangeways prison, and Savoy's constant persecution by the corrupt Police force at the time.
In Lord Horror, accredited to David Britton and co-authored by Michael Butterworth, the eponymous main character is a vile time-travelling demonic presence based on 'Lord Haw-Haw', alias William Joyce, the wartime traitor hanged in 1946 for his infamous 'Germany Calling' radio broadcasts.
In 2014 The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books curated an exhibition displaying and discussing some of the material from Savoy’s vast and often controversial archive, focussing on graphic novels and comics, including the infamous Lord Horror. As part of this exhibition the Life and Use of Books invited seven artists including Clara Casian to respond to Corridor and Word Works, a series of small press magazines published by Michael Butterworth prior to the founding of Savoy.
Clara Casian's film made in response to Corridor #2, which was deemed obscene at the time of publication, explored the history of underground publishing and book selling in Manchester, offering snippets of interviews and footage that have sparked the interest and imagination of viewers.
Clara's research towards her initial short film led to a surfacing of rare and previously unseen footage, often documented by Jay Jeff Jones, a contributor to experimental art and writing magazine Wordworks. Jones had been aiming to produce a documentary himself, a peek at the "low culture-high culture hybrid of Savoy", and this content which was shot but never shown offers an insider look at the Savoy publishing house and their shops. The discovery led to an intensive exchange of ideas and original material from the personal archives of Jones and Michael Butterworth, and this will be important in structuring the narrative of the film, however through continued research it is expected that further material will come to light.
This new film will trace a recent history of experimental, alternative publishing in Manchester and the UK via the history of Savoy Books. An experimental and innovative approach to storytelling will utilise previously unseen footage dating from the 1980's and 1990's, featuring visual records from Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, John Coulthart and Michael Butterworth along with found and archival footage sourced from the BBC and Northern film archive. The film will also necessarily approach censorship debates, considering the cultural and political context of the sensationalism around obscenity trials.
Clara will utlise Savoy's near-endless catalogue of publications and comics, as well as records by Pj Proby and Fenella Fielding, and references to the Savoy mini-documentaries by Clive Barker; A-Z of Horror, Year Zero Savoy and Channel 4's Banned in the UK. Whilst focusing on Savoy Books as a starting point, the film will also include references to Alfred Jarry and Pataphysics, early Surrealists and Vorticists, the New Wave film scene, and the underground US and UK comic strips that influenced Meng & Ecker and Reverbstorm.
We Need Your Help!
We have secured production support from artplayer.tv and as such will have access to the correct equipment for digitising various kinds of analogue records, as well as restoring recordings originally made by Jay Jeff Jones. We have put together a team of experienced film-makers, directors, researchers and promoters in order to deliver this project. We have gained a strong network of professionals throughout the UK and now in the US through our previous programming, and through these connections have access to rare primary materials, and the potential to contact further important figures.
We're currently in possession of previously unseen footage that documents Savoy's history and have accessed vast amounts of material from New Worlds, Pre-Savoy and Savoy archives, including books, comics, records and newspaper cuttings, but there is still much to do! Your pledges will be used to complete and continue the research described above and towards the production costs of the film - see the breakdown of costs below.
Production –This includes cinematography and equipment rental, partly supported by artplayer.tv, as well as payment for crew.
Post-production – Sound recording, Colour Grading, Sound equipment rental, Editing, Licensing Fees for archival footage from BFI, North West Film Archive, BBC. We will be collecting material in obsolete analogue formats that will need to be corrected and digitised.
Travel - Costs include flight, accommodation, car rental, gas...coffee
Other projects that we're in the process of fulfilling:
The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books is currently exhibiting 'Life and Use of Books: Butterworth (The Green Frog Exhibit)' at Kent State University, Ohio with plans to tour a version of the exhibit to other academic institutions.
The rewards we're offering for your donations are drawn from the back catalogue of Savoy Books and the work of the The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books. Here are a few highlights...
Corridor 1-5, Wordworks 6-7 Edited by Michael Butterworth
A Kickstarter exclusive offer - Digital copies of 7 small press publications inspired by New Worlds.
David Brittain, Eduardo Paolozzi at New Worlds (2013)
Brittain's book places Paolozzi's 'science fiction' art of the late '60s in the context of the new SF, and offers fresh insights into the way images and a fragmentary, collaged approach to writing informed the controversial prose of Ballard, Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Norman Spinrad, M John Harrison and others.
Reverbstorm series of seven comics featuring Lord Horror and host of other characters such as the Ononoes (pictured) in #4 The Auschwitz of Oz.
"Like Baudelaire, Beardsley and Breughel meeting in a crack house, Reverbstorm presents, with diamond focus, a portrait of the incoherent, incandescent rot at the heart of the Twentieth Century. Highly recommended." ALAN MOORE
Fenella Fielding reading La Squab: The Rose of Auschwitz
A CD of readings by Fenella Fielding from David Britton's La Squab: The Black Rose of Auschwitz described by Savoy thus; "Masquerading as a book for children, the primary inspirations of La Squab are The Wind in the Willows—if Grahame’s classic had been re-written by Adolf Hitler!—and the ‘Fudge & Speck’ comic strip created by celebrated Beano cartoonist Ken Reid."
Use & Abuse of Books Exhibition merchandise T-shirt - featuring print by Kris Guidio
Clara Casian is a Manchester based, Romanian artist, working with a variety of media including performance, moving image, sound and light. She often works on durational projects that employ seriality, repetition or that develop gradually with a collection of events, sites and objects. Clara completed her Masters in Fine Art at MMU. Her work includes research in the digital field and collaborations with artists, makers and collectives.
Arnold Pollock is a documentary filmmaker / artist / actor who lives and works in Manchester. He studied Interactive Arts at the Manchester School of Art. His films have been screened across galleries in Manchester and Brighton. Arnold has worked with a range of clients and individuals including; BBC North West Tonight, The Anthony Burgess Foundation, Cornerhouse, Derby City Council and the late Roger Llyod-Pack.
The Exhibition Centre for the Life and Use of Books is an interdisciplinary curatorial unit formed in early 2014. Co-directors Robert Carter, Lauren Velvick and Daniel Fogarty have backgrounds in visual art, design and journalism and through the Life and Use of Books seek to uncover hidden and esoteric cultural histories, and to facilitate meetings and exchanges between divergent audiences.
artplayer.tv is a FACT product showcasing the UK arts sector's moving image work. It is an online video platform dedicated to the arts with over 125 channels by UK arts and media organisations. A valuable resource for arts professionals, researchers and arts lovers alike, artplayer brings together hundreds of videos produced within the arts sector right now and over the last five years. An extensive archive of performance and lecture recordings as well as communicator of current events and exhibitions, www.artplayer.tv is an important link between artists, arts organisations and audiences.
Risks and challenges
The vast majority of our research has to be conducted using first hand material and in-person interviews, and as such is it imperative to begin as soon as possible, as time takes its toll on the figures involved, as well as their printed materials.
Material is also often held in now obsolete technological formats such as floppy disc, or film-reel.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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