17 May 2017
Films made on Factory Records money (Part 2) 
Welcome to the second and final part of Cerysmatic Factory's exclusive interview between Brian Nicholson and Malcolm Whitehead of Ikon, the video wing of Factory Records. Some of the mysteries of The Video Circus, the FACTUS 5 compilation and the undone ACR compilation Below The Canal are explained:

BN: Whose idea was the Video Circus?

MW: Because Tony used to travel between Manchester and Liverpool quite a lot for Granada he knew the art crowd in Liverpool. The woman who was in charge of the Bluecoat at the time asked him if he wanted to do something. Ian had died by then and we had all the Apollo stuff. I was working in Tony's basement at Old Broadway by then. He comes down and says he'd been talking to the Bluecoat about our set-up and they said do you want to put something on with video. We hired 8 or 10 Unicol stands from Holiday Brothers (local AV Hire company) and acquired some large TVs, not monitors, they all worked off RF. So I suggested we put them in a circle with the screens facing inwards. Tony liked that and he ran with the idea and sorted it all out. He had this great poster made, but it wasn't Saville. Can't remember who it was. It was spilt into three sections. For the first part we had Section 25 – New Horizon; ACR - Back to the Start; New Order – Ceremony and No Escape from the Cabs. Then we had the Apollo stuff from Joy Division and finally Facus 5.

BN: Who created Facus 5 (Videoshow' titled 'From Manchester to New York Direct')?

MW: It was Tony's video. Facus 5 was already done before Ikon started properly. Tony hired the equipment to do it including the camera and Umatic portapak for the ACR videos shot near Winter Hill at Rivington Pike.

FACT 46 The Video Circus poster

BN: What was the Video Circus (FAC 46) like?

MW: Fucking fantastic. Me and Tony get there on the day and Oz the sound guy is there and he'd put dirty big fuck off speakers in-between the monitors. So it was – a couple of monitors then a speaker – it ended up looking like Stonehenge! So we all think it looks good and Oz says "I've got a ropelight in the back of the van." So he connected that to the top of the monitors and made it look like a fairground or a circus. Anyhow we go off for a bite to eat and then a drink. I was saying – nobody will turn up. It'll be a disaster. We go back to have a run through before it opens and there are crowds up the street and outside the building. We manage to get in and check things out. I stand on a stage that is over looking the set-up when the punters are in and I nearly had a little cry. It really was that good.

BN: How did people view it?

MW: Well it was incredibly loud for a start. The live Apollo footage sounded like you were at the gig. People wandered into the circle, watched a bit and came out. They all took turns. It was all very orderly.

BN: I always thought you toured it?

MW: We did but not as the Video Circus but as A Factory Video.

BN: Was it the same content?

MW: For a while yes. We showed it all over the place. I can't remember every show.

BN: How was it shown?

MW: It was different at every place. At Nottingham University Paul Smith (Doublevision/Blast First) put it on and it was fabulous. He had TVs all round the pillars in the SU.

BN: Is that when you first met Paul?

MW: Yes. Then we went to Northampton with Bauhaus at a youth club. For that show we used a video projector hired from Holiday Brothers. We did it at Heaven in London and the only other one I can remember is Newcastle with ACR. But we continued showing stuff all through the 80s at the Cornerhouse, ICA and Riverside and I seem to remember you doing one in Blackburn.

BN: That was a nightmare Happy Mondays, Ikon video and an NF stage invasion.

BN: Finally what ever happened to the planned ACR release (FACT 38 Below The Canal)?

MW: We had enough stuff to put on it but the workload at Ikon was incredible. I was working 12 – 14 hours a day and it was just one of those things that kept being put back. We had all the videos that Tony had shot, the Back to the Start video, footage shot at Heaven, the Tribeca film by Michael Shamberg and the gig footage from the Hacienda which was meant to be on there. The band had shot some Super 8 footage of a US tour and I also remember there being a Betamax tape from the States which we couldn't get transferred. Jeremy had also made his own stuff.

Huge thanks to Brian and Malcolm.


See also: Part 1 The Factory Flick and Too Young To Know, Too Wild To Care

See also FACT 38, FACT 46 and FACTUS 4 at factoryrecords.org.

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