The Documentary-maker's Tale


Last Updated on Monday, 22 July 2013 11:58



Iron Maiden – London O2 Arena – November 2011

I am sat with Owen Oakeshott watching the support band scream their way ruthlessly through some dirge about nuclear war or the plight of bee colonies, when I receive a text.

“Do you want to be in my film?”

I was delighted, drank more overpriced lager out of a wax paper cup in celebration, and started to think about how I would negotiate a deal like Alec Guinness rather than Mark Hamill. The gig was a blur of excitement, even the obligatory stuff from the new album. I even think that Janick Gers gave me an encouraging wink, he could tell how charged with energy and passion I was. Or it might have been Dave Murray. We had cheap tickets.

Seb didn’t come to Iron Maiden (we don’t usually text each other when we are in the same room). He had scoffed at the idea of seeing another metal band that we’d all seen decades  ago still parading their 30-year-old paunchy, balding, Sanatogen-fuelled bobbins…

Saxon – Bournemouth (Boscombe) O2 – A few months later

Over a quick pre-gig pint Seb tells me the role he had in mind for me has been eradicated in the second draft of the script. It is “superfluous to the narrative” or something. It also appears that the role was of a 40-something, rotund, simple farmer type who spoke with a charming south west accent. I was in a way glad that the role had been spiked…too stretching. Saxon were brilliant.

Anyway, documentaries! Never done one before. So I’m teaching myself as I go. I hope this shows in the “quality arc” of my output so far – I am at Conscious Incompetence at the moment according to Abraham Maslow’s 4 Stages of Competence. Interestingly although attributed to Maslow, who is much better known for his humanistic Theory of Self-Actualization, there is no historical evidence that he came up with or contributed to the 4SoC theory. You’re welcome.

What I have basically realised on my journey to become a documentarian (everyone else is having a ‘journey’, so I’m going to as well) is that you need 3 things;

Quality Equipment

Quality Editing Software

Absolutely Bloody Shit Loads of Film Where Nothing Happens, Poorly Indexed & Stored On Several Hard Drives



This is admittedly more than 3 things

The self-control to not scream “Fuck's sake Seb you wanted this documentary, now give me access you precious tart!”

A copy of Anvil: The Movie

A really big book on how to direct documentaries – thanks Ross – which is too heavy to read in bed or on the train

The eye for a story


A Brain

A Heart

The skill is then blending them together. And you can only get better at that the more you do it and the more self-critical you are.

This is why my first clip where Owen rolls in the mud was shot on my phone and suffers from poor sound quality, lacking pace, wobbly, poor / no narrative and dreadful use of clunky graphics. And why my “Making of the trailer…” mini-doc a few months later was just a bit shit.

But I have footage,  lots of footage. Some that people will never remember or even realise was being taken (I have my defence of ‘testing the night settings’ already worked out).

And we have lots of footage yet to be made. Seb meeting Gene and Paul. KISS’s management stealing my camera - I have a spare, hah! Joey Essex turning up to audition for the role of Grigorss. Several more hours of Seb & Owen talking absolute drunken shite in the pub. All of this and more will be at the very least weaved into the DVD extras section of The Elder, or hopefully into my very own standalone documentary which will premiere at the Basingstoke Film Festival.

Will this do?

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