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Phil Ilson
The Halloween Society

Halloween continued monthly at Notre Dame, and Volcano lasted another five years, but without the enthusiasm of that first year. Surprisingly, there were no heirs to take over the Festival running as we thought there might, and few new film groups appeared during that time, with many of the originals falling by the wayside. Halloween continued to ride a wave of Cool Britannia and the minor late nineties film explosion – we’d screened Guy Ritchie’s original short at a zeitgeist-y Gangsters themed event, and because of ‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Four Weddings…’ we had continual media attention via cable TV stations and magazine articles, all focussing on this new rise in British talent. We championed many filmmakers who are still working: future Oscar winner Andrea Arnold, music video genius Jamie Thraves, bad-boy animator Tim Hope (who performed a regular stand-up titled ‘Cloth Dreams’ which led to his first Award winning animation ‘The Wolfman’), TV comedy director Vito Rocco, and many hundreds more. But there was no interest via the newly formed Film Council to support events and screenings despite screening much of the work that they had funded. Via the British Council, where I still worked up until 2000, we had invites to present short film screenings at international film festivals, and we made trips to Perth (Australia), Helsinki (Finland), and Halifax (Canada). In 1998 bar entrepreneur Dan Crouch, who had just opened London’s ‘first DJ bar’ the Embassy on Essex Road in Islington, attended a themed Halloween event called Nightclubbing. Dan got in touch the next day with a proposal that was to change things again.

Philip Ilson and Tim Harding (back) with compere Eddie Sponge
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