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Phil Ilson
The Halloween Society

In the early nineties, my schoolfriend Tim Harding and I got hold of various cameras – 16mm, super-8, and hi-8 video, and began making stupid films. Neither of us had any training in filmmaking, but I was a big film fanatic and Tim had been to art college which had fuelled an interest. We also made some film loops to accompany live gigs by our friend’s band Spin, as it was the height of indie dance psychedelia with the likes of Primal Scream and the Stone Roses drawing heavily on sixties imagery. Under the name Halloween Society, we also made low budget promo videos for Spin and other friends’ bands No Man, The Rub, and Angel Cage. The choice of the Halloween name was pretty random – it was like choosing a band or company name, and we’d just had a fancy dress Halloween party, so it was forefront in our minds.

It was also during this time, while flicking through the film listings of Time Out, that we came across Exploding Cinema – an open access film evening based in South London. Our first trip to a vegetarian café in Clapham was scuppered as we’d got the wrong night, although in retrospect I remember attending some raves in the squatted Cool Tan Factory in Brixton and sitting in the Super-8 Cinema there which sold tea and cakes, and this was the early beginnings of Exploding Cinema. I also later found out that the Exploding organisers were regulars at David Leister’s late-eighties Kino Club live cinema events which had inspired them, therefore I’m sure it’s possible to draw a line further back - but that’s for discussion elsewhere. For a while David actually became part of Halloween as our official projectionist. In late 1993, Tim and I made it to an Exploding Cinema show at the Union Tavern in Camberwell, and became regulars, even bringing some of our own ‘efforts’ down to the show such as our sci-fi epic ‘Invasion of the Fishmen’.

Exploding Cinema Programme
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