Shining a light on the close-knit community of artists, promoters, and collectives within Bristol, we caught up with the makers of the Boiler Room & British Council documentary Keep Bristol Weird after the Bristol screening a couple of weeks ago.
It’s an undeniably exciting time for Bristol’s vibrant and ever-burgeoning music scene. The city has always had a certain way of doing things a bit differently, working at its own pace and not succumbing to the transience of current trends elsewhere. With a truly DIY ethos at the heart of so much going on in the music community right now, there’s no denying that the current wave of artists, especially within the broad realms of avant-garde noise, are carving out a distinct sonic landscape for Bristol.
With Keep Bristol Weird, producer Anaïs Brémond and director Hugo Jenkins focussed on certain pockets of Bristol’s DIY underground club and electronic scene. Explaining how the documentary came about Anaïs says “we basically both wanted to make the same films but I work at Boiler Room and I wanted to make something about Bristol, and then Hugo is a freelance director and he came up with the same ideas so we developed the project together”.
Given how many different facets there are to the scene here, narrowing down who and what to focus on is quite a big task. Detailing how they chose what artists, promoters, and collectives to include in the feature Hugo explains, “I originally wrote to focus mainly on a few strands of the DIY culture in Bristol and then Anaïs kind of opened the whole thing. Anaïs put together a big document and then together we figured out who the best people to film were”. Adding to this Anaïs says “there were also so many people who we wanted to include in the film ‘cause there were so many things, but that’s why we did those films at the beginning because it wouldn’t work to include with the musicians, and the DJs, and also the parties, that would be too confusing. It was hard to boil it down ‘cause there’s so much going on in Bristol” she expresses, “and Hugo is from near here” she adds on how a lot of those included in the documentary came to be on their radar.
Attending the Bristol screening ahead of the documentary’s online release, I did have some apprehensions given certain problematic elements of Boiler Room. However, the final doc the duo has created is an insightful, carefully considered feature on a close-knit community of artists, promoters and collectives representing Bristol right now. Capturing how supportive and innovative a community it is, watching the film in a room full of pretty inspiring people featured in the documentary, who are all doing such exciting and diverse things, was lowkey a little emotional and I feel pretty grateful to be amongst such a brilliant and eccentric little community.
Speaking to Hugo and Anaïs after the screening, the reception the documentary received was undeniably animated; “I didn’t really know what to expect or how people would react” Hugo expresses. Having held a showing in London a few days before, Anaïs emphasises how different the reception at the Bristol screening was; “[I’m] excited that people liked it. It was so fun to see it and feel people’s reaction. We watched it with other people that don’t know the scene and their reactions have been so different. People were really laughing at moments that I didn’t really see people laughing at before”.
Check out the full Boiler Room and British Council documentary below.