15 May 2017
Films made on Factory Records money (Part 1) 
The official info sheet for FAC 9 describes it as the matrix number for films made on Factory Records money. However, according to Ikon man Brian Nicholson, that is not strictly true because he knows for a fact that Ikon's Malcolm Whitehead paid for one of the short films shown at that event in 1979 at the Scala Cinema in London. In this exclusive two-part interview for Cerysmatic Factory which is finally seeing the light of day, Brian talks to Malcolm about The Factory Flick and Too Young To Know Too Wild To Care:

BRIAN NICHOLSON: How did the Scala Cinema show come about?

MALCOLM WHITEHEAD: I was still working full time at the airport and finishing off the Joy Division film. One of the downsides of working in isolation was that there was a tendency to discard things or not finish things. Tony had seen it, was impressed, as he had not realised that you could shoot sound on Super 8. One day he contacted me and said that he wanted to show the film at the Scala cinema in London (the original Scala on Charlotte Street not the one at King's Cross). I was making excuses, saying it wouldn't stand up to projection in a cinema. But I relented and so it forced me to finish the film. The event at the Scala was promoted by Stephen Woolley. It featured Don Lett's Super 8 Rankin or The Punk Rock Movie (can't remember which, though some of the footage from The Punk Rock Movie came from Rankin) and Charlie Salem's film The Factory Flick. When Tony and me eventually got there he realises that we've got to play a wildtrack for Charlie's film as it had no soundtrack. So me and Tony had to rush out and buy a copy of Unknown Pleasures to play as the soundtrack.

FAC 9 The Factory Flick

BN: What about the ACR and Ludus films?

MW: I just remember the Don Letts film, Charlie's film and my Joy Division film. They showed it 3 times during the day.

BN: Was Fac 9 just The Factory Flick?

MW: No Fac 9 was the event, the stuff Factory showed.

BN: Who else was there from Factory?

MW: There was just me and Tony. Paul Morley turned up later with his chums, I remember because his mates were taking the piss out of him when Rob Gretton mentioned his name in my film. Whether anyone else came later I'm not sure as I had to leave during the last showing to get the train back to Manchester as I was at work the next morning.

BN: What did you think when you saw it on the big screen?

MW: Absolutely gobsmacked. It was the first time I'd shown a film in public and to a packed house (though the first house wasn't that packed because it was too early in the day). The dark bits didn't look great. It was projected from the projection booth.

The main thing I learned on the day was Don Letts was a bit arsey. I was talking to the usher, who was a nice girl, he comes in, she asks him for his pass and he plays holy fuck "Don't you realise who I am?" all that sort of shite. "These are my films." And I gave him the Whitehead stare and he starts backing down. I said, "I don't know who you are, why should she? You've no need to talk to her like that."

Later on in the bar the girl came and asked for my autograph in front of him. I said why do you want my autograph? She said "You might be famous later on" and gave him a stare! So that was good, the first autograph I'd signed – the first of about four in my life! The first screening in a cinema and then when Tony and me went to the bar there was the first ever encounter with a Space Invaders machine. We both thought – what the hell is this? Me and Tony started playing like a right pair of Mary-Ellens. Not hitting anything for about the first 6 turns. Then Tony embarrassed me by buying, because it had just come out and it was cool, a Space Invaders T-shirt that they sold behind the bar! After that I came away from the machine and shortly afterwards I caught the next train home.

BN: Was your film shown at The Factory?

MW: No, the only other place it was projected in public was with Mark Reeder in Berlin. I can't believe that I actually sent the film, the original Super 8 film! It came back OK though.

FAC 20 Too Young To Know Too Wild To Care

BN: According to the Factory Shareholders Analysis from around that time we were to expect an "all speaking film by Mr Whitehead". What was this film?

MW: I had a couple of ideas. Tony mentioned Too Young to Know, Too Wild to Care to me but I'd also mentioned to him about doing a film of the Peterloo Massacre, set in the present day. Shot guerrilla style at the scene of the massacre in St Peter's Square and near the Midland Hotel, with the Hell's Angels as the Cheshire Yeomanry. I'd sorted a few bikers out and we were going to do it early one summer morning when the police had gone for a brew. I wanted to do it on the site. I was going to cross cut that with some rural shots near Dunham Hall. I shot some Super 8 test footage of the rural stuff but in the end it came to nothing. So, then it was going to be Too Young to Care.

BN: Did you see a script of TYTK?

MW: Yes, I saw a script but Tony wanted Ian to be in it but he wouldn't. Liz (Naylor) asked me to try and persuade him but he wasn't having any of it.

See also: Part 2: The Video Circus, FACTUS 5 and Below The Canal

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See also FAC 9, FAC 20 at factoryrecords.org.

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Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

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