The IMI 28th Feb 2022

Why is Alcopop! Records getting into film?

The UK-based independent label announced its first foray into film this month, launching a brand-new distribution arm with the acquisition of feature length documentary Hollywood Bulldogs: The Rise And Falls Of The Great British Stuntman. Founder Jack Clothier tells The IMI that this is just the beginning…

You’ve heard of the Marvel Universe, get ready for the Alcopop! Universe.

Earlier this month, one of the UK’s most respected independent labels, Alcopop! Records, unveiled a new distribution arm for film.

To be clear: this is not merely a record label taking greater control over its music videos – this is a step into the movie biz proper.

The Oxford-based label – which is home to acts such as Clean Cut Kid, False Advertising, The Subways and, as of last year, Pulled Apart By Horses – made the announcement alongside the unveiling of its first film acquisition, Hollywood Bulldogs: The Rise And Falls Of The Great British Stuntman.

Narrated by award-winning actor Ray Winstone, the documentary tells the rough-and-tumble story of the small community of British stunt performers who came to dominate Hollywood in the 1970s and 80s.

The film’s digital release is set for April 4 and will be followed by a Blu Ray and a stunt bike edition that comes with a custom-painted Hollywood Triumph Scrambler, no less.

According to Alcopop! founder Jack Clothier, this is just the beginning of the Alcopop! expansion.

Speaking to The IMI, Clothier says that we could see the company move into a number of other creative industries in the future – from literature to contemporary art…

 

Why film and why now?

During lockdown, we had a good look at what Alcopop was delivering. I feel proud about everything we’ve done in the past, music is always going to be first and foremost, but I’ve found myself getting more into wider culture. I think it happened to a lot of us when that cultural opportunity went away during the pandemic. It makes you think about how important it is. Obviously, we are just a small part of the arts but it got me thinking that there’s no reason to stop at music.

I think if I was a marketing executive, I’d probably describe it as building the Alcopop! Universe, which is what we want to do. We want to get involved with this wonderful culture in the UK and lend a hand in other avenues where we feel we can be of use and be there for talented creatives that are putting out stuff we love. And to have a bit of fun!

This is the beginning of what we’re trying to do with Alcopop! We’re going to be moving into other avenues. If I can get the money together, my primary goal is to build a website like the old Micro Machines game on the Megadrive, where you’d be able to drive a mini boat around a bathtub and stop in at many different hubs across Alcopop! along the way.

Clothier's design brief for a future Alcopop! website.

I feel that, with the building of the team during lockdown and the way the label is progressing, we can do that. We’re in a privileged position where we can help people.

In terms of this film specifically, I’ve been a long-time friend of one of the directors, Jon Spira. He’s historically been a bit disappointed with some of the results that distributors have had in the past. He’s had some wonderful successes with the films he’s worked on, but sometimes the distributors don’t really care, you know? They see it as get in, make some money and roll on.

Jon knows what we do and the care we put in, he showed us the film and we were besotted. It’s a cracker, narrated by Ray Winstone and a beautifully moving and positive tale of stunt people through the 20th Century to the present day. It’s all of those films you watched growing up, with lots of interesting tales that we found absolutely captivating.

They showed us the film and asked if we wanted to get involved in distributing it. They sold exclusivity to Britbox for a period of time and then we’ve been able to get it out in new directions.

It’s been a lot of work, we’ve had to get new distributors in place, learn a lot about the film world… It’s different but it’s exciting and keeping us on our toes.

 

What have you noted in terms of similarities and differences between the film industry and the music business?

The big thing I noted is there’s an associated cost with films when it comes to getting them out to distributors. I was expecting it to be like music but there are costs that I wasn’t anticipating.

The other thing is that film feels a bit like what a dystopian indie music future could look like. There are far fewer venues where you can show a film live. There are some amazing independent cinemas out there but there are more music venues in towns than there are little cinemas – so that’s been a challenge.

 

Do you think there are going to be lessons from this that you can apply to the strategies you build around music?

Definitely. And I think that’s partly why we want to do this. These worlds complement each other but come with different disciplines.

Already, it seems to me that when it comes to physical media, film has a similar thing to music where, despite the naysayers who claim that physical media is dead, it definitely isn’t. It’s about tapping into that film community. Something that reinforces my faith in making products that are really exciting and that people want is that, when you get a product like a brilliant film, people who are buying the physical version want something interesting. They want collectible bits and fun things. That, for me, has been really positive and reaffirming.

We’re releasing this as a stunt bike edition, where people will be able to buy the Blu Ray with a motorbike for £13,000. It’s tapping into that thing: some people want to watch it digitally, some people want to watch it physically, and some people want a stunt bike.

Do you anticipate this move creating new opportunities for your music roster going forward?

Yeah. We work with really creative people in music – Clean Cut Kid being an example, who put together incredible visuals for what they do. They’re real perfectionists, they shoot on retro cameras… If you had a look at any of the last couple of Clean Cut Kid videos, you’ll see that they’re just wonderful pieces of art.

Having that link into film is going to be really positive when it comes to working with our visually creative artists because we have a platform for putting things out. Yes, it comes with its associated costs, but it means that we are now in a place as a label to say, “If you want to make a short film, we can get it out there and really help.” We can make the two collide.

The hope is that, as we step further into the film world, there will be more collaborative opportunities there – the most obvious being music for film but there’s documentaries as well. It all gives us more options to make things real.

 

You said you want to go down a number of different creative avenues. What kind of other things do you have your eye on?

Literature is something that I’m super into the idea of. We’re working with one of our artists on a potential audio book, which is very interesting to me.

Contemporary art is something that we’re not ready to go into yet because I don’t feel I’m there at the moment, but my partner is an artist and I’ve found myself popping into the galleries in East London and really appreciating some of the brilliant stuff that’s coming out. So that’s something that I think it would be lovely for Alcopop to get involved with down the line in time.

In terms of moving into film, audio stories and potentially even physical books, they’re all open to us and it feels very exciting. I don’t feel the need to say, ‘We are a record label.’ That’s what we do first and foremost, but the opportunities to move out are just superb.

Seeing the amazing seam of art that’s coming out at the moment in this very difficult time under a government who I feel don’t care enough about culture, with all these closures and the arts being trampled on all over the place, I think it’s up to us as a creative industry outside the mainstream to do what we can to help.

The IMI