Name: BRISTOL BAD FILM CLUB
Mission: TO SHARE FILMS THAT ARE ‘SO BAD THEY’RE GREAT’ WITH THE PEOPLE OF BRISTOL
Working in At-Bristol I’m lucky to work on some very unique events. It was on one of these nights that I met the team behind Bristol Bad Film Club. I managed to catch up with Timon Singh to talk more about what makes these bad films so appealing and why the club has gone from strength to strength.
“I’m a massive film nerd. I grew up watching all the films that people usually watched – James Bond, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, but I always had a fascination with the films that were a bit shit, but still wildly entertaining. Films with monsters, ninjas, giant sharks and more often than not, excessive violence and nudity.” His taste in B-movies became apparent at university. “After convincing my flatmates to stay up till 2am with me to watch a film about vampiric alien babies that tormented a crew of astronauts and was clearly filmed in a quarry in Wales (the film is called Inseminoid), I realised not everyone appreciated ‘bad films’ as much as I did. However after a few beers, the whole thing was bloody hilarious!”
Flashforward six years, and Timon is out of university and stuck in a boring 9-5 job. “As I’m writing articles about insurance, inevitably, the mind drifts towards other things. I had long realised I didn’t have the talent for film-making, nor did I want to spend my time writing about film (it just took the fun out of watching movies) – however I could show films! Films that no-one else showed! Films that no-one had ever heard of! Bad films! Curios! Awesome B-movies!”
Bristol is lucky in it’s outlets for alternative and old movies including venues and film groups. “The Cube, Watershed, 20th Century Flicks, South West Silents are all amazing, but B-movie nights were rather infrequent. There was just no Bristol equivalent of the Prince Charles Theatre in London that regularly did screenings of monster movies or midnight screenings of the ‘Citizen Kane of Bad Films’ The Room.” Roping in a friend to help him launch his idea, Timon started small with ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’. The film shown above the Lansdown Pub in Clifton. It sold out – all 50 tickets. The next screening, 110 tickets to watch ‘Samurai Cop’ at the Old Police Station in central Bristol – also sold out. They kept selling out, so he decided to keep doing them.”
Four years later and the monthly events still sell out with all profits going to a different charity each time. “Online, we’re regarded as experts in our ‘bad film’ field. We’ve done double bills, outdoor screenings (including at the city farm surrounded by animals!), sci-fi screenings in the Planetarium and movie marathons! At the end of July, we had Arnie-geddon to celebrate Schwarzenegger’s 70th birthday. 200 die hard Arnie fans descended on Winston Theatre for three movies back to back. It was a great night!”
One of the biggest but most rewarding challenges for Timon was getting Tommy Wiseau to Bristol. “He’s arguably the most famous B-movie director at the moment, especially with James Franco’s adaptation of Greg Sestero’s book ‘The Disaster Artist: The Making of The Room’ coming out later this year. He is everything you’d expect – eccentric, weird, but very friendly and great with his fans. Of course, he’s also demanding and only drinks Red Bull!” Timon also really enjoyed the BBFC 2nd anniversary event for 500 people outside in Victoria Park watching ‘The Valley of Gwangi’ “It was a family friendly film about cowboys finding a lost valley of dinosaurs, it was a beautiful evening and balloons were going overhead while the film was playing. It was a wonderful night and afterwards we had so many compliments from people who enjoyed the film and the experience.”
When BBFC screened ‘Lifeforce’ at the Planetarium, the At-Bristol crew reached out to a couple of local scientists who they thought might be interested. “One of the scientists was Andrew Glester, who runs ‘The Cosmic Shed’ podcast. He enjoyed my intro and the film (I think!) and invited me on his podcast to talk about films. Andrew had Benedict Cumberbatch on, ‘The Martian’s’ Andy Weir and SETI’s Jill Tarter to talk science and sci-fi.” Andrew kept inviting Timon back and he’s now a regular host on the show. “We’ve even gone to conventions together to get interviews and earlier in the year, we were able to meet the original Uhura, Nichelle Nichols, which as a Star Trek fan was amazing. Plus she said I was cute and stroked my beard!”
BBFC’s regular venue is now at the Bristol Improv Theatre which has 120 capacity. “It’s a perfect audience size for us, and it means we sell out every month. However, we still often use other venues including The Wardrobe Theatre, The Planetarium for special sci-fi nights, Redgrave Theatre for massive events (THE ROOM!) with its 310 capacity and Windmill City Farm for outdoor screenings involving killer animals.
If you’d like to find out more, or even make your way to one of BBFC’s events then all you need to do is check out there website below. “We just recently hosted a 12 hour action B-movie maration called Genre-Geddon. Our upcoming shows are going to be well worth seeing as from the 13th-17th September, Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero will return to Bristol for, not just screenings of ‘The Room’, but their new film ‘Best F(r)iends’!” There’s a screening each month and tickets are always £5. “We’re still going thanks to the support of Bristol’s bad film-loving community. For £5 you can afford to take a risk on a weird film and if you didn’t like it, at least it goes to charity.”